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Peyton Offline OP
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I've periodically come across this problem in my playing in the past but as I've been working on some Satie pieces I've noticed it more and it bothers me. The problem is, when playing chords with my left hand, to get the fingers to play evenly. Take the 7th Gnossienne for example. On most of the chords I will play the low note then come up for the three note chord and I can just hear my pinky hitting a touch before the other two notes, especially if the pinky is playing a black key. I have tried lifting my left elbow a bit and if I really concentrate can get an even chord but as soon as I really start playing...there I go again. Are there some exercises I can work on for this?

It's funny but years ago I was reading a Chopin biography and I remember reading that this problem was a pet peeve of Chopin's with his students. That has stuck with me but I've never done anything about it.

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Is your pinky flat and playing on the side rather than curved and on the tip like the other fingers?


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Peyton Offline OP
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I think fairly curved on the white notes but flat (er) on the black.

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Practice playing the chords on a flat surface. The reason your pinky hits first is that it's lower than the others. So play it first on a flat surface so all the fingers are the same length, and then transfer that to the keys. Go back and forth a few times like this.

You can also practice playing the figure in question, but leave out finger 5 in the chord, only play the top notes while only resting the pinky on its corresponding key without pressing it down to sound. This will take a bit until you can make sure that note doesn't sound. Only when you can do this successfully should you add it back in.

I wouldn't do anything about lifting your elbow, assuming you are seated at an appropriate height.


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Peyton Offline OP
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Thank you! I'll try that.

The reason I had thought to raise my elbow a bit was that perhaps my hand was a bit rotated to the left causing the pinky to hit first. I like your approach better... smile

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Great advice, I also saw a series of videos by Seymour Bernstein on youtube, he has it on his personal channel, the guy is a sweetheart and answers in his comment section.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNYH8GQrdrc you should watch the whole series but he explains here how to achieve what you're looking for.

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Place you hand on the keys, in the position of the chord, but don't play it. Make sure that each finger is touching the key it should play, but not pressing it down. Your hand is now in the right position to play the chord.

Don't actually play the chord yet! Lift your hand about an inch above the keys and then bring it gently down until it touches them again. Did each finger touch at the same time?

When you can "play" silently like this and feel all the fingers touching the keys at the same instant, try actually playing the chord.


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If the pinky is playing first, the joints on the longer fingers might not be strong. Check that the first joint (next to the finger tip) is not bending backward when you play. You can also imagine that your hand is pressing down to grasp a cushion or lean on a sandbag or something like that. Thinking about evening out three separate fingertips is hard, but our hands have years of practice grasping an object simultaneously.


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Peyton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by YadielOmar
Great advice, I also saw a series of videos by Seymour Bernstein on youtube, he has it on his personal channel, the guy is a sweetheart and answers in his comment section.


Wow, a very helpful video. I also just discovered that ethan Hawke has done a documentary on Seymore. Should be interesting.


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