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looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
#2244535 03/10/14 11:41 PM
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i am so tired of either stomping through quiet passages, or failing to get any sound at all out of my instrument; but the passages themselves aren't sufficient on their own to help me develop the necessary technique. i'm not looking for miracles or instant gratification -- just exercises that will help me develop the 'subtle touch' muscles while keeping the notes audible. something along the lines of 'yoga for the hands', that with patience and repetition will develop my hands and brain, and teach me some control - ?

*thank you* for any suggestions.


thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

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Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244594 03/11/14 04:31 AM
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There are a lot of ways to do it. And probably this thread will fill up with a ton of great approaches. That said, a first step could be: Practice slowly - really slowly - and get to the bottom of the keybed. Feel the bottom really securely. Meaning feel exactly where it is. What it feels like to reach it. What it feels like to release it.

Do it hands separately with whatever you're working on that needs to be soft. But the key is SLOW, SLOW, SLOW and controlled so you can feel the bottom of the keybed consistently and securely.

A related step is let your hearing guide your fingers. Rather than letting your fingers guide your hearing. Which means as you play soft really HEAR what it is you're trying to play at that soft dynamic level that you're trying to play it. That may seem obvious. But it's one of those things that sometimes gets kind of lost in the shuffle.

So ears first. Fingers (hand, arm, etc.) second.

Hope this helps ...

Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244675 03/11/14 09:34 AM
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I still work through some of the exercises on the "How to Teach and Play Debussy", http://www.stevepur.com/music/debussy_piano/dumesnil/dumesnil.html, under the 'As a first and all-important principle, I want to point out the absolute necessity of studying the "pianissimo."' section.

The most useful thing I was told about soft playing is - use firm fingers, the softer, the firmer.



I'd rather play badly than not at all...
Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244713 03/11/14 11:27 AM
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Is the action in your piano in good regulation? If your instrument isn't well regulated, p to pp to ppp will always be an exercise in frustration.

Forrest

From Carlos' web link above

"You will notice, if you press a key down gently and slowly,that just before it reaches the bottom there is a slightresistance, which releases under the pressure of your finger.This part of the action is called in French, the "doubleescape." You can use this to great advantage in"pianissimo" work, by getting your tone from this lowerpart of the stroke. More than ever, keep your fingers in contactwith the keys, and do not allow these to come back all the wayup,--only about half way, keeping the two pedals on all the time."

but this will not work well unless (from later in the post)

"CONCERNING THE PIANO

A factor of primary importance, for the execution and study ofDebussy's music, is the piano used. No one can practise tonecoloring efficiently on an instrument with a pounded-out action,worn-out hammers, and wabbly pedals. While it is not alwayspossible for students to play on a new piano at all times, stillit is possible, and absolutely necerrary, to have one that iskept constantly in perfect condition, with the action smooth, thetone evenly voiced, and the pitch true. "

Last edited by woodog; 03/11/14 11:32 AM.

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Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244736 03/11/14 12:04 PM
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I was reading the book of Badura Skoda about playing Mozart and at certain point he mention about playing the pp in the A minor sonata... he specifically mention how to go just couple of mm ( 0.080" for the US) down in the key to get the pianissimo effect at that speed... It took a heck of a regulation to my piano to be able to do that and still is not as nice as it was when I did try a fantastic piano with a fantastic renner action.
At the same time we do need to consider how LOUD a piano can be while playing FF... and at the end of the day it's a matter of contrast. you can play the most possible pp on your piano and it still sound "loud-ish" but you can play a FF and it's very loud.. the important part is not playing pp as mp and ff as mf with a very limited dynamic range.

Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244763 03/11/14 12:46 PM
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The tip about keeping in the keys is good. Keep deep in the keys.

I don't believe in the pedals-down thing.

The left pedal particularly is for changing the brightness of the sound, not for softer. And it's usually not so reliable in what exact effect it has. On my piano it does a lot while I can barely hear a difference on my teacher's piano. Also it has entirely different effect on uprights and grands.

The right-pedal is to sustain notes, not to make them softer. It's an effedt that you need or do not need. And if anything, the right pedal will make sound louder, not softer.


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Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2244885 03/11/14 05:37 PM
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What has worked for me is to use the digital with headphones, and just turn up the volume. Do it little by little, when you get a good ppp at one level, turn it up a little more. The control learned that way does translate to the acoustic piano, but of course, with a little adjustment.


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Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2245623 03/12/14 08:44 PM
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Thank you all! And of course I'm happy for more suggestions from any others who might wish to weigh in.

@Forrest: Interesting that you should ask about my piano's regulation. I had it regulated recently, and it does have some new quirks. Overall, though, I'd say it's improved, but I'm still getting used to it.

I shall try all of the suggestions here -- except practicing on a digital piano, because I have no access to one. I bad not known about the online Debussy 'how-to'.

The point about contrast is really a good one. I think it has helped me to figure out that I need to develop my range of 'loudness' -- because I'm not good at contrast generally, I don't think.

!


thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A
Re: looking for exercises/practice tips for p to pp to ppp
thorn_was_taken #2249240 03/20/14 03:26 AM
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here's what I do:

nah, forget it, I agree


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