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#2159231 - 09/28/13 06:01 PM Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together
Beautyflowing Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 11
Loc: Denmark
Hello i am trying to play Philip Glass - Truman Sleeps, as i adore the song.

I am studying the song from:
and trying to get cooordination of hands from this synthesia:

I can play the left hand part well, with my eyes closed. I can play the right hand part somewhat stutteringly, but also with my eyes closed (octaves).

It is my biggest barrier, playing with my left hand and my right hand at the same time.

In order for me to have any chance of playing the octaves in the right, together with the melody in the left, i tried to find out how they are interconnected.

When listening to the song, i thought the left hand theme played entirely independently of the right hand octaves, that are sprinkled on top.

After looking at a sheet and synthesia i found what i thought would be my breakthrough.

It seems the octaves (played by right hand) are played every other note (or every 2nd note).

So the Classic left hand theme goes :

F - G# - C

The right hand theme enters upon the C, and progresses every second note after that.

So this is how i play:
Left hand goes : F - G# - C - F - G# - C - F -
Right hand goes: X - XX - F - X - G - X - G#-
X = pressing nothing, i had to put it there due to format)

Quite simply in order for me to overcome the massive brick wall that is playing two seemingly seperate melodies, i had to find some common ground.

I thought the solution was progressing with the right hand on every other note. So when my left hand plays 2 notes, my right hand plays 1.

Even though it seems to match synthesia, and sheets, it sounds utter crap.

I dont know what im doing wrong but it doesnt seem to be working for me.

If anyone has some tips on how i can put the two hands together for a beginner, i would like to hear them.

I find the two melodies on top of each other exquisitely beautiful, and it is frustrating me somewhat that i am butchering them so thoroughly.

By the way, the connection i thought would Work for me, playing right hand every 2nd note, i do know this ceases to be the case once i hit the octaved A# Which lasts for 4 notes in the left hand (or half a bar on sheet).

But in my experience my right hand sounds crap way before i ever reach A#.

Right hand goes F - G - G# - A#

Usually sometime by G#, A# or C Octaved, ive butchered the right hand melody.

I would appreciate some insight if anyone has comments

Kind regards Henrik

Edited by Beautyflowing (09/28/13 06:04 PM)

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#2159337 - 09/28/13 08:10 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3776
Your problem appears to be that you are a beginner, and this is not beginner music. Thus, you are biting off more than you can chew.

Hands together is an intense growth process, and having a good teacher guide you is priceless.

Most beginners have to start at the beginning with very simple hands together music, very slowly, and grow beyond that with carefully selected repertoire and exercises.

From time to time people come to my studio and want to play something like this piece which is way over their head. The only success I have had is to convince them that they have to do the "heavy lifting" of working their way up to that level, which is often a long and winding road.

Sorry, there is no magic potion for this, as far as I know.

Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

#2159354 - 09/28/13 08:46 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3987
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Rocket88 is probably right, Glass's music is much more challenging than many people think.

But perhaps there are a few more things you might try, since you've gotten this far. first of all, you do have a traditional score for this piece, right? Assuming you do, here is my advice (such as it is)

First, at least for a while, stop listening to the original, or the tutorials, at tempo, and definitely stop with the synthesia. For a little while, get away from the original tempo, because you need to be able to coordinate both hands, and that will work better if you don't have a too-fast tempo playing in your head that your hands are trying to match. If possible, play from the score, and try to get the melody into your head, and your hands, at a slower tempo than what you're getting from the various YouTube videos.

Now, you said
I can play the left hand part well, with my eyes closed. I can play the right hand part somewhat stutteringly, but also with my eyes closed (octaves)

So first of all, you probably need to do more HS with the RH part, so that you are not "stuttering" when you play RH only.

Another thing to try is to play the LH part, and sing the RH part. (yes, out-loud) If you're able to do that, then that should bring you closer to being able to play it.

Now, as far as HS practice, it's important to be able to play HS at tempo. But then, once you can do that, before you try to play HT again, practice HS at a much slower tempo. This is to get you ready for HT. Be sure you can play HS correctly, but slowly again. Then, work on just a very small portion, HT, very slowly. Figure out where you have a RH stutter, and play those notes, plus the notes just before and just after them, HT, very slowly until you can get rid of the stutter. Don't speed up yet. Now start playing larger portions of music, HT, but very slowly. Don't rush the process, give yourself enough slow-practice until you're consistently able to play HT, and then gradually speed up. When you get stuck, have a hand "stutter" or your two hands slip out of synch, slow back down, do a little bit of slow HS if needed, and then try HT again, very slowly!

Did I mention that you need to play slowly? laugh

If you can't play correctly, HT, very slowly, then it is probably the case that this piece is too hard for you.

Good luck!

Edited by ShiroKuro (09/28/13 08:47 PM)
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#2159380 - 09/28/13 09:42 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18129
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Shiro's advice is spot on. Another thing you may want to try is to simply play the top note of the octaves at first, until you have the rhythm down, and then add the bottom note. Octaves are notorious for tripping up beginners. smile
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#2159381 - 09/28/13 09:46 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
btcomm Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/07
Posts: 291
Loc: California
I went through the same thing you are going through and for the longest time never got anywhere with coordination until I finally gave up and got a teacher. The best thing I could ever have done. I think Rocket88 is correct. This is not a beginner song. I was so against having to get a teacher and figured before getting one I would not go more than 2 or 3 lessons just to get the "basics". That was more than 4 years ago and it's been great. A teacher will quickly get you started on solving your coordination problem --- the right way.

#2164474 - 10/10/13 02:39 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
We've probably all experienced similar difficulties with much easier pieces. As I've advanced, at glacial speed, from beginner to intermediate, my teacher has requested/allowed less and less HS when playing compositions; it can be more effective to play HT from the beginning, going as slowly as need be, and using HS primarily to work out fingering, etc on tricky passages. Learning an entire piece HS may make it harder to learn the piece HT ... or if not harder, exactly, certainly more frustrating. It's a bit like having to completely learn the music again.

I still do a fair amount of HS work with Hanon, scales, etc. Even though it's easier to get from HS to HT with exercises than with musical pieces, there's always a loss of speed and control that has to be overcome.

Not sure any of this will help you much in your current predicament, sorry. But it's a thought for the future. HT very slowly plus HS to work out problems.

Best of luck and let us know how you progress!
Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

#2164482 - 10/10/13 03:14 PM Re: Truman sleeps - i cannot put the two hands together [Re: Beautyflowing]
anrpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 208
Loc: Chicago
Speed is the root of all evil. Slow way down, I mean way down. Try 1/2 tempo and that doesn't work 1/4 tempo. Find a speed in which it is very easy for you to play. Think of it this way: If you had a whole day to play one note would it be difficult? How about 12 hours? There is a speed which is slow enough for you to handle both hands easily, find it and only then gradually increase the speed. You can play anything if you are willing to start slow enough.

The suggest to stop listening is a good one; just because you can hear it in your own head does not mean your fingers have any idea what to do, you must train yourself is the same manner you would with a piece you were completely unfamiliar with.

Just my 2 cents.
Andrew Remillard
Downers Grove, IL 60515


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