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#2653774 - 06/15/17 10:42 AM How to practice jumps  
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Is there any good way to practice jumps? Like left hand note A then jump to a chord, then jump to note B then jump to a chord, etc. That is why I ended up memorizing some pieces, just so I could look at my hands. But I am trying to break myself of that bad habit and keep my eyes on the music.

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#2653778 - 06/15/17 10:49 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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You are absolutely right. The best way to practice jumps is just to do them without visual control. Your brain will find the optimal trajectory.

#2653785 - 06/15/17 11:19 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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But what exercises? Does one take the notes and chords out of the piece of music and just practice note A then jump to a chord, then jump to note B then jump to a chord maybe 5 times looking at the hands, then a number of times with eyes closed, etc, etc.

Any particular way to practice this for best results?

#2653797 - 06/15/17 11:45 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Playing musical pieces with jumps is better then playing exercises.

Practically you can derive a chord progression from any song and just play the lowest note of every chord and then the full chord one or two octaves higher.

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#2653799 - 06/15/17 11:54 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
Is there any good way to practice jumps? Like left hand note A then jump to a chord, then jump to note B then jump to a chord, etc. That is why I ended up memorizing some pieces, just so I could look at my hands. But I am trying to break myself of that bad habit and keep my eyes on the music.


Study ragtime wink

Truthfully, the skill takes some time to develop so studying a lot of pieces that require the technique is probably the best way to obtain it. It can help you to try to harmonically analyze the LH. The root note is not random but is usually the first, third, or fifth scale degree. The accompanying chord is usually triad, a triad inversion, or a seventh inversion.

After a while, you know pretty much how far down the keyboard to go without specifically looking--the same way that your right hand probably knows about how wide an octave is.

Try not to cheat it much while practicing... when I'm getting overwhelmed by a piece, I'll start ghosting the bass and it undercuts the music.


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#2653802 - 06/15/17 12:02 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: Whizbang]  
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Originally Posted by Whizbang

Study ragtime wink

Indeed! A brilliant advice!

#2653806 - 06/15/17 12:08 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev]  
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Actually, I can stumble my way (quite badly) through the Maple Leaf Rag and Easy Winners. But I had to memorize these pieces for precisely this reason.

#2653826 - 06/15/17 12:48 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
Actually, I can stumble my way (quite badly) through the Maple Leaf Rag and Easy Winners. But I had to memorize these pieces for precisely this reason.


Two of Joplin's best.

Don't despair. As I said, it takes quite a while. Definitely not your first piece and definitely not your second.

In my case, I am very, very bad at memorizing, so I've always stared at the page while playing. That's probably be an asset in that my prioperception doesn't seem to be particularly finely tuned so I needed lots of practice and couldn't cheat it. Don't beat yourself up.

I do think picking it up through repertoire is probably preferable to exercises. If you really want to do exercises, maybe get a book of ragtime pieces (or download some sheets from imslp.org since rags are pretty much public domain), cut out the bass lines in 8-measure sections (starting at the beginning of a section), then with glue, make an exercise book.

The more simply-structured rags usually stick strongly to a boom-chuck bass, so you might start with those first--so authors like Charles Hunter, Charles Thompson, Percy Wenrich, May Aufderheide, Scott Hayden, Tom Turpin. With these composers you're more likely to get root-chuck-fifth-chuck in the bass. Part of Joplin, Lamb, and Scott's mastery was that they were likely to mix up the bass a lot more.


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#2653850 - 06/15/17 02:23 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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When I first first started learning left hand jumps for ragtime I looked around the internet for ways to practice and found Chung smile A controversial book, but it had some ideas that helped me.

One of them was "ghosting" - not good as you're actually playing, as Whizbang points out, but it was of enormous help to me to get the jump down. I'd play the bass and then, as quickly as I could, jump up to the chord *position* and stop, not actually playing the chord. The idea was to learn to get my hand in position directly over the chord *before* playing it, rather than trying to slide into it on the move. It took a lot of slow and then moderate practice, but it was worth every minute smile


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#2653853 - 06/15/17 02:43 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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I don't see how that helps you hit the base to begin with. I think I may actually have more trouble hitting the base note than I do hitting the chord thereafter, although I do have issues with both.

#2653855 - 06/15/17 02:46 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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#2653857 - 06/15/17 02:48 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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My teacher recommended a variation of 'ghosting' as well: jump to the next chord without looking at the keys..... see how far off you are from where you want to be. Repeat until you are consistently hitting the right interval. You are developing your body awareness 'proprioception' of the distance.

This body training works for me for even jumps of multiple octaves

you can do the same exercise in reverse: play the chord, guess where the bass note jump will be, check, repeat until you consistently hit it.


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#2653860 - 06/15/17 02:56 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
I don't see how that helps you hit the base to begin with. I think I may actually have more trouble hitting the base note than I do hitting the chord thereafter, although I do have issues with both.


Well, instead of starting with the bass you start with note/chord before it and "ghost" the bass note smile It's just a different chunk and a different bit of proprioception that's being drilled, as dogperson says.

But whatever - it worked for *me* - try different things until you find one that works for *you* -


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#2653876 - 06/15/17 04:16 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Forearm rotation helps send you to the next place. I do like the ghosting method Cathy talks about, playing the note or chord before the jump and moving fast to the new place without playing there. This can help activate the rotation and the feeling of being "sent" there by momentum. I also find it helpful to be very aware of *exactly* where you want to land--not just over the right key, but where on the key (e.g., long fingers may need to be further toward the fallboard, especially if short fingers will play on black keys anytime soon), where should your whole hand and arm be to play the next chord or sequence of notes, etc. This may seem perfectionistic, but it can really help improve reliability of the jump.


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#2653882 - 06/15/17 04:48 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Leaps are difficult, especially because we tend to tense up in our attempts at being accurate with the leap. Sometimes we don't think we can make it in time - and we can't because we're too tense - other times we are on time but not hitting the notes correctly. So it's important to build in the ability to make that leap working from a big-picture, get to the general area kind of way and refine it to get closer and closer to the actual target.

You start with an exaggerated movement without trying to be accurate at first. Start by playing ALL of your fingers in the general area where you begin the leap, and then leap way up in the air and fall onto the general area that is the target, and again, play all fingers. It will sound lovely laugh .

Keep going back and forth like this as quickly as you can reasonably, getting height to get you there rather than horizontal real estate. Once this is easy and tense-free, then you can try using the fingers in question. Again, just try to be in the general vicinity of where you start and where you begin, going back and forth with an exaggerated height, very quickly. Just let the finger land close to where you need it.

As this becomes easy, continue but now try to start and land on the actual notes. The height may become less exaggerated at this time, but it should still feel the same: you don't want to feel like you are skimming across the keys to get there, you want to feel like you are falling or dropping into the leap. Continue to go back and forth quickly, but it can slow down a bit here if need be. If you miss, fix it on the next pass rather than stopping the motion and starting over.

The idea is to focus on not feeling tension to reach the note in time or accurately, but to be able to keep the muscles free as you do it, which will increase accuracy and timing.


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#2653903 - 06/15/17 05:47 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: Morodiene]  
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Morodiene, when you're referring to leaps, do you mean specifically those of several octaves? Or do you recommend this vertical motion even moving down 1-2 octaves? I too have trouble with this and am working on it. I'm getting a little better, but I can't imagine ever getting to the right note more than an octave away from any random starting position. I find it easiest if I am going exactly an octave, for instance, or if I know I'm going from a G to a lower C, etc. But I can't imagine ever hitting exactly the correct note(s) without looking at all from any random starting place. Also, why do you suggest the vertical aspect? Boy I feel like such a beginner asking frown.


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#2653912 - 06/15/17 06:29 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: dogperson]  
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Originally Posted by dogperson
My teacher recommended a variation of 'ghosting' as well: jump to the next chord without looking at the keys..... see how far off you are from where you want to be. Repeat until you are consistently hitting the right interval. You are developing your body awareness 'proprioception' of the distance.


What you're working on here is proprioception in the big muscles of the arm and shoulder that make the long leap. You can also do that with the computer instead of the piano. Open a scratch file in a word processor, and pick an object for the starting position of your hand. Try to leap without looking from the start object to the "h" on the keyboard. Go back to the start object and try over and over.


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#2653969 - 06/15/17 10:49 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: cmb13]  
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Morodiene, when you're referring to leaps, do you mean specifically those of several octaves? Or do you recommend this vertical motion even moving down 1-2 octaves? I too have trouble with this and am working on it. I'm getting a little better, but I can't imagine ever getting to the right note more than an octave away from any random starting position. I find it easiest if I am going exactly an octave, for instance, or if I know I'm going from a G to a lower C, etc. But I can't imagine ever hitting exactly the correct note(s) without looking at all from any random starting place. Also, why do you suggest the vertical aspect? Boy I feel like such a beginner asking frown.
I recommend this for anything above an octave leap.

If you think about it, going horizontally is really hard to do quickly. You have to go as fast as you can and then stop on just the right spot for your finger to then press down a key. That's a really tense thing to go really fast and suddenly stop, let alone be accurate. Also, it negates any ability to use arm weight to press the key, so then it will be tense once you actually hit the note, if you hit the right one!

Going vertical allows arm weight. It's much easier to fall on the correct note than to muscle your way down there. As you actually play, you may not go as high, but you still get some height to use the arm weight and to make it easier to hit the note.

One of these days I'll make a video demonstrating this. It makes the leaps really easy. smile


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#2653993 - 06/16/17 01:24 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Accuracy in the performance of jumps is based on three types of memory: visual, auditory and muscular; and each of them requires development.
  Btw, precise jumps require maximum stability of the hand; however, this quality is gradually weakened at a very mature age ; It requires the selection of more moderate pace .

Last edited by Nahum; 06/16/17 01:25 AM.
#2654033 - 06/16/17 07:39 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by cmb13
Morodiene, when you're referring to leaps, do you mean specifically those of several octaves? Or do you recommend this vertical motion even moving down 1-2 octaves? I too have trouble with this and am working on it. I'm getting a little better, but I can't imagine ever getting to the right note more than an octave away from any random starting position. I find it easiest if I am going exactly an octave, for instance, or if I know I'm going from a G to a lower C, etc. But I can't imagine ever hitting exactly the correct note(s) without looking at all from any random starting place. Also, why do you suggest the vertical aspect? Boy I feel like such a beginner asking frown.
I recommend this for anything above an octave leap.

If you think about it, going horizontally is really hard to do quickly. You have to go as fast as you can and then stop on just the right spot for your finger to then press down a key. That's a really tense thing to go really fast and suddenly stop, let alone be accurate. Also, it negates any ability to use arm weight to press the key, so then it will be tense once you actually hit the note, if you hit the right one!

Going vertical allows arm weight. It's much easier to fall on the correct note than to muscle your way down there. As you actually play, you may not go as high, but you still get some height to use the arm weight and to make it easier to hit the note.

One of these days I'll make a video demonstrating this. It makes the leaps really easy. smile


I have a spot right now where my left is doing this running Alberti type thing in fast eighth notes and there's a giant 11 key leap right in the middle. I'd love to see a video of how to make that not sound awful.

#2654062 - 06/16/17 09:32 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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FWIW, Pianist magazine covers some of the stuff discussed here. Sure, the music and examples are often snippets from advanced pieces, but the principles/ideas are what counts here to make the point at any level. Graham Fitch covers various techniques here.

I've found them useful anyway smile





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#2654126 - 06/16/17 12:54 PM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Thanks for responding Leo smile your comments are always insightful! I tried it last night; specifically to a low C chord and to an F chord several times without looking and I wasn't too far off - only one note generally. Maybe I'll work on this some more for a few minutes / day until I get it right.

Good videos Alexander Borro - watched them both. Second one was more instructive.


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#2654293 - 06/17/17 06:52 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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A good tip I got from Philip Fowke was to use octaves if they are not already there. For example, I have a piece where the 5th right finger is going very high and then I jump 3 octaves down for the thumb, and then back again. He taught me to use an octave chord which makes the jump just 3 keys if you look "in the middle", if you understand what I mean. I have a good feeling of how to play an octave so this made everything easy. Then, when you have practiced this and feel secure, you remove the octave tone again of course.

Sorry for my very crazy explanation, but it should be evident at the piano. Maybe Fitch is also mentioning this in the videos above; I just didn't bother to check it out right now.

#2654534 - 06/18/17 08:47 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
Is there any good way to practice jumps? Like left hand note A then jump to a chord, then jump to note B then jump to a chord, etc. That is why I ended up memorizing some pieces, just so I could look at my hands. But I am trying to break myself of that bad habit and keep my eyes on the music.


One thing you should try not to do is force the speed.
There should be a nice arch to the next position on the keyboard as Morordiene points out. This supports a steady flow and touch and can be practiced slowly. Accuracy has to be secured first and foremost with the timing. Speed can come only after it is very secure. The motions then remain the same when bringing up to performance tempo.

I've no issue glancing at the keyboard for leaps and isn't a big concern. Accuracy is the most important.

Also prefer a good mix of repertoire over exercises and like the sounds of ghosting method.

#2654770 - 06/19/17 08:01 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Well, I'm not having much luck with any of the suggested methods. I guess I'll just keep doing the jumps while slowly playing the relevant sections. I think that I am hitting the wrong keys less frequently than I was a week ago. I wonder if I will EVER get to 100% accuracy. Sigh....

#2654782 - 06/19/17 08:56 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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I've been working on it also as I've read this thread. I get close but it seems like getting to 100% accuracy really just seems unlikely! Probably a great skill to add to the set though so I'll give it a few minutes a day for a while.


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#2654783 - 06/19/17 09:06 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Try exaggerating the lift/push off. Your hands need this information just as much as the landing point to judge and memorize the distance. For jumps, I usually exaggerate by pretending my hand is an astronaut hop-walking on the moon. Except I'll really push off the current key by reaching for the next note and only take off when I can't reach any further. And then I also exaggerate the landing (sometimes by doing the equivalent of a super-hero landing).

... try it in addition to Morodiene's excellent suggestion of using extra vertical movement! The two techniques work well with each other.


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#2654784 - 06/19/17 09:07 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
Well, I'm not having much luck with any of the suggested methods. I guess I'll just keep doing the jumps while slowly playing the relevant sections. I think that I am hitting the wrong keys less frequently than I was a week ago. I wonder if I will EVER get to 100% accuracy. Sigh....
How long have you been playing piano for? Is it possible you are playing a piece that is too difficult for your current abilities?

Whenever I played a piece that was beyond my abilities at the time, certain passages would never get smoothed out no matter what. Revisiting them a year or more later I could definitely tell that some of those passages became much easier because I had improved. It's hard to resist the temptation to play some of those tough pieces, but I now see the wisdom in only playing those pieces that add only one or maybe two new skills. That keeps things manageable, and I know eventually I'll get to those other pieces if I keep adding the skills needed to play them with ease.

Plus, I tend to like success rather than hitting my head against the wall all the time. wink


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#2654797 - 06/19/17 09:53 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by RVDowning
Well, I'm not having much luck with any of the suggested methods. I guess I'll just keep doing the jumps while slowly playing the relevant sections. I think that I am hitting the wrong keys less frequently than I was a week ago. I wonder if I will EVER get to 100% accuracy. Sigh....
How long have you been playing piano for? Is it possible you are playing a piece that is too difficult for your current abilities?


Ha! It is a totally trivial piece. And to answer the question I have been playing for about a year. The piece is just a classic "In the Good Old Summertime," (with summer starting in another week or so) a slow lazy piece in 3/4 time.

For example, from a chord of F/Bb/D one has to hit the next lower F, or from a chord of G/Bb/D one has to hit the next lower G. (Plus one has to hit the chord coming back.) So, these are only 1 octave jumps. I do hit it often, but certainly not with any confidence, and miss it often also.

#2654801 - 06/19/17 10:32 AM Re: How to practice jumps [Re: RVDowning]  
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Joined: May 2015
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If four days is all you are willing to allow for all of the quality advice you have been given, then I am afraid you are in for a long road of displeasure and suffering with the piano. Go look at a bridge or magnificent building and honestly and seriously contemplate how many years of hard study and practice went into those monumental achievements. Piano is no different. No shortcuts. No magic "app". to push. Just hard and devoted work and study.

Good luck to you.


Ralph

Casio Privia PX-760
Pianoteq Stage
Pianist since April, 2015
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