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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704417
01/12/18 08:57 PM
01/12/18 08:57 PM
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I'm going to say another thing that is stupidly obvious but I think people forget because they have become performance works...

Etudes were specifically composed as exercises most of the time (there are exceptions, but generally speaking...)

Why practice double third scales when you can learn the Chopin double thirds etude, and have a showpiece once you're finished? I have found etudes very helpful when trying to improve one point of technique.


Last edited by computerpro3; 01/12/18 09:08 PM.
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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: BruceD] #2704425
01/12/18 09:24 PM
01/12/18 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by computerpro3
This might seem stupidly simple, but I have really found it to be true...

Practice what you are bad at the most. Don't waste time doing things just because people say you "should" or "have to" or "everyone does." Specifically in context of your question "Best way to progress in technique," - don't waste time practicing things you are already good at.
[...]


Adding to the good advice that computerpro3 made in this post (I won't quote the entire post), let me add to the above portion of it:

When working on a piece, don't spend a lot of time "playing through the piece" from beginning to end, and don't spend a lot of time practicing the parts you already play well. Concentrate your repertoire practice on those sections that are causing the most challenges. From time to time, of course it is necessary to put everything together and play through the entire piece. This latter should not be the primary focus of your practice sessions, however.

Regards,

While I recognise this as good advice, and I have read it many times, I do not entirely concentrate my practice on the difficult sections. I do "play through the piece" quite often. Sometimes, this is for pure enjoyment - but also, I find that my playing of the "easier" sections becomes more and more fluent, and I can concentrate more and more on details of phrasing and expression.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: computerpro3] #2704435
01/12/18 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by computerpro3

Why practice double third scales when you can learn the Chopin double thirds etude, and have a showpiece once you're finished? I have found etudes very helpful when trying to improve one point of technique.


That depends on whether you actually want to learn that thirds (not 'double-thirds') ├ętude. Personally, I have no wish to learn it, and there are many more pieces with thirds that I'd rather play, and have played.

And in any case, if you've never played thirds before, it is almost impossible to master from scratch. Whereas someone used to playing thirds (including chromatics) - like yours truly, from my ABRSM exam days - can even sight-read it. Or at least, sight-read it sufficiently well to realize it's not worth learning, because it sounds too much like a study (unlike, say, Op.10/3, Op.10/12 and Op.25/1 which sound like real music an audience would want to hear and not just for their pyrotechnics).........



"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: bennevis] #2704436
01/12/18 09:58 PM
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Quote


And in any case, if you've never played thirds before, it is almost impossible to master from scratch.



Lol, that's just not true. Anything can be mastered from scratch, given the correct approach and enough work. People also told me I couldn't get into a top 10 school without knowing my scales, but I did it....

I probably can't sit down at a piano and rip off half of the things you said people need to master in a quality fashion. But I can play many concertos, sonatas, etudes, etc, so I don't really care.

Last edited by computerpro3; 01/12/18 10:01 PM.
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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: computerpro3] #2704438
01/12/18 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by computerpro3
Quote


And in any case, if you've never played thirds before, it is almost impossible to master from scratch.



Lol, that's just not true. Anything can be mastered from scratch, given the correct approach and enough work. People also told me I couldn't get into a top 10 school without knowing my scales, but I did it....

You are probably just gifted.

A duffer like me needs to learn his scales just to pass Grade 1.

Actually, there are scales in Grade 1........ wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: bennevis] #2704454
01/12/18 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

And in any case, if you've never played thirds before, it is almost impossible to master from scratch. Whereas someone used to playing thirds (including chromatics) - like yours truly, from my ABRSM exam days - can even sight-read it. Or at least, sight-read it sufficiently well to realize it's not worth learning, because it sounds too much like a study (unlike, say, Op.10/3, Op.10/12 and Op.25/1 which sound like real music an audience would want to hear and not just for their pyrotechnics).........



Uh, if you can't learn how to play those thirds from scratch, how do you learn to play thirds in a scale? It's the same thing...chromatic scale and heptatonic scale thirds with some "trilling", and some left hand notes thrown in.

I definitely never practiced thirds scales before learning that etude, and then learning that etude was largely a matter of being able to play third scales, so I don't understand the dichotomy.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704460
01/13/18 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by asb37

I just finished Rachmaninoff Prelude Op 23 No 5 in G minor. I would say this probably slightly above my level. I spent 2-3 months learning the piece, and I can play it well. There aren't a ton of missed notes. However, despite a LOT of practice, several sections don't feel completely comfortable, and I will miss a few notes when I play it at full tempo.

Overall, I can play this piece well, and I'm happy with how it turned out and will perform it. But I wish it was a little more comfortable, so that every performance could be done confidently.

Hi Asb,
2-3 months really isn't that long. If you keep it on hand and play through it a few times a week for the next few months while you're mostly working on other things, it will settle in and get more comfortable.

Quote
Or, perhaps I should start practicing scales, arpeggios etc. Right now I do no exercises or warmup, I devote all of my time to learning new pieces, maintaining repertoire, and sight reading. As an amateur, I figured this was the best use of my limited time at the piano, but I'm not sure.

If practicing scales/arpeggios, should I just practice all in major/minor keys in order? Do people usually do Hanon exercises as well?

I'm currently in between teachers, but I'm meeting with a new teacher this week. I'll definitely ask her too.

I don't think scales, chords and arpeggios need to take long. 15 minutes a day is plenty and you could probably do some good work in just 5 minutes. I have my students do one key at a time and we rotate through the keys at a pace that makes sense for them. People who do have more time to work on technique should have an etude to work on, too.

To computerpro and others who question the value of playing scales etc:
Can one be a competent pianist without working on scales? Sure. I know plenty of competent pianists who rarely play scales. But all of them readily admit that they'd be more competent if they were more diligent about scales.
We can probably all agree that scales are likely to make us better at doing certain things at the piano, and they are unlikely to make us worse. One could always try including a scale, chord and arpeggio regimen for a month or so, seeing what the results are, and deciding whether one likes that result enough to keep the regimen.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: hreichgott] #2704465
01/13/18 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
[quote=asb37]
We can probably all agree that scales are likely to make us better at doing certain things at the piano, and they are unlikely to make us worse.


Yes, practicing scales will make you better at playing scales.

Quote
One could always try including a scale, chord and arpeggio regimen for a month or so, seeing what the results are, and deciding whether one likes that result enough to keep the regimen.


Sure, but I was responding specifically to the OPs question of the "best" way to progress in technique. I am not saying scales are useless. I am simply saying that they are not the best way to improve your overall technique if you have limited practice time.

I really don't understand the fascination with hammering away at scales. It seems to be one of those things people do because they think it's part of "working hard" or some nonsense.

Once you can play a scale evenly and with quality up to the maximum speed you will ever see it in rep, what's the point in continuing to spend 30-60min per day doing it? It's a scale. It's not Petrushka.

Last edited by computerpro3; 01/13/18 12:40 AM.
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704474
01/13/18 01:35 AM
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Strangely I rarely encounter scales in my pieces that are not in some way "off' ("wrong notes") and if I do they tend to be short and only in one hand. If one wants to play Wolfie spending time with scales may pay off, but I wouldn't touch him with a stick. In general music that is based on showy scales is as boring as those scales themselves imo.

This is a never ending discussion because people are hard set on their beliefs just like in so many other things in piano playing...As an amateur with a big job 15 minutes is a long time and I will rather use it on the music that I want to play and save things like scales to those rare occasions when I have excess time. For me it is enough that I know the basic scales. I see no benefit for me to drill them and all the variations (which I could never get my mind properly engaged with because it bores me to death). When I encounter something in music it will be polished then.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: outo] #2704489
01/13/18 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
Strangely I rarely encounter scales in my pieces that are not in some way "off' ("wrong notes") and if I do they tend to be short and only in one hand. If one wants to play Wolfie spending time with scales may pay off, but I wouldn't touch him with a stick. In general music that is based on showy scales is as boring as those scales themselves imo.

This is a never ending discussion because people are hard set on their beliefs just like in so many other things in piano playing...As an amateur with a big job 15 minutes is a long time and I will rather use it on the music that I want to play and save things like scales to those rare occasions when I have excess time. For me it is enough that I know the basic scales. I see no benefit for me to drill them and all the variations (which I could never get my mind properly engaged with because it bores me to death). When I encounter something in music it will be polished then.

I tend to agree with you, and for the same reasons. Apart from having a completely contrary view of Mozart.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: trigalg693] #2704499
01/13/18 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by bennevis

And in any case, if you've never played thirds before, it is almost impossible to master from scratch. Whereas someone used to playing thirds (including chromatics) - like yours truly, from my ABRSM exam days - can even sight-read it. Or at least, sight-read it sufficiently well to realize it's not worth learning, because it sounds too much like a study (unlike, say, Op.10/3, Op.10/12 and Op.25/1 which sound like real music an audience would want to hear and not just for their pyrotechnics).........



Uh, if you can't learn how to play those thirds from scratch, how do you learn to play thirds in a scale? It's the same thing...chromatic scale and heptatonic scale thirds with some "trilling", and some left hand notes thrown in.

I definitely never practiced thirds scales before learning that etude, and then learning that etude was largely a matter of being able to play third scales, so I don't understand the dichotomy.

How long did it take you to play it properly at the speed of, say, Ashkenazy?

(I did say "master")....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704500
01/13/18 05:53 AM
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Isn't this kind of useless? Should we next make an exact count of the hours each one of us has used to practice scales in our lives and then discuss what else could have been achieved in that time.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704523
01/13/18 09:24 AM
01/13/18 09:24 AM
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In technique development there is one main principle - the principle of isolation. In order to learn or improve some technique element most quickly and efficiently it must be practiced in isolation, that is, separately from any other element. This is what exercises are meant for, and this is why no etude can compare to them in efficiency.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704539
01/13/18 10:50 AM
01/13/18 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by asb37
In general, what is the best way to progress in piano technique over time, so that one is able to play more difficult pieces and learn pieces more quickly?

I can think of a few options:

1. Learn pieces at or below your current level, and polish them so that they are nearly flawless.
2. Learn pieces slightly above your current level, accepting that they will take more time to learn and likely not be flawless despite a lot of practice.
3. Practice scales and/or exercises.

Thoughts?


Hi,
I've only been taking lessons less than a year and it's been a rollercoaster ride. On my first lesson, my teacher started me with scales & finger exercises and my first piece. Week after week she would add more scales, more fingering exercises and another piece.

In that time, she has helped me build a repertoire of 9 pieces, each has a musical element or technical challenge that serves to build a solid musical foundation. The benefits of this knowledge base is that my singing in the choir has improved!

I have small hands, and the pieces she selects has helped me improve my hand stretch. Memorizing my repertoire pieces also allows me to focus on "telling a story" with the music. I'm not at the point where I am confident performing without the sheet music. I hope to get there some day, but it's not necessary when playing for family & friends or church.

Sight reading is my biggest challenge and the Czerny and Berens exercise books are a big help especially in gaining confidence when faced with sheet music that has octaves notated or music with a lots of sharps & flats and 4-note cords!

I hope to improve my sight reading skill by participating in the 40-Piece Challenge.
With the advice I've seen here and on PianoTV, I'm starting with Minuet in G (Bach). It's a piece that's below my current level of lessons. I thought I could sight read it at tempo after about a week, but I will slow it down more so that I can check it off and move on.

I hope this helps and best of luck with your musical endeavors!


Dona Nobis Pacem
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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704550
01/13/18 11:35 AM
01/13/18 11:35 AM
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From your post, I conclude that you have a very thoughtful teacher, Lady Acadia.


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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2704596
01/13/18 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
In technique development there is one main principle - the principle of isolation. In order to learn or improve some technique element most quickly and efficiently it must be practiced in isolation ...


In order to improve some technical element most quickly and efficiently properly it must be practiced in isolation mindfully and musically.

It is not what is practiced that is the issue so much, but how it is practiced. The potential for developing technique in a non-musical way is greater when it is being developed outside of any musical context. Personally, I've never been able to get musically excited about scales, arpeggios, drilling chords and such.It is not to say it can't be done though. On the other hand I have no issue with always trying to play musically with everything I choose to learn and from the first measure. The choice for me then is a personal one. I'm in no hurry, and have been satisfied with progress using a repertoire only approach.

Scales and exercise are not the problem or a waste of time, but it is important the student understands why they are doing them and how to practice them. This is not so big of a concern when the student is with an experienced teacher and this is part of the structured curriculum. It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.

Last edited by Greener; 01/13/18 02:15 PM.
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Greener] #2704606
01/13/18 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
In technique development there is one main principle - the principle of isolation. In order to learn or improve some technique element most quickly and efficiently it must be practiced in isolation ...


In order to improve some technical element most quickly and efficiently properly it must be practiced in isolation mindfully and musically.

It is not what is practiced that is the issue so much, but how it is practiced. The potential for developing technique in a non-musical way is greater when it is being developed outside of any musical context. Personally, I've never been able to get musically excited about scales, arpeggios, drilling chords and such.It is not to say it can't be done though. On the other hand I have no issue with always trying to play musically with everything I choose to learn and from the first measure. The choice for me then is a personal one. I'm in no hurry, and have been satisfied with progress using a repertoire only approach.

Scales and exercise are not the problem or a waste of time, but it is important the student understands why they are doing them and how to practice them. This is not so big of a concern when the student is with an experienced teacher and this is part of the structured curriculum. It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.


Good points, Greener. Thank you.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Greener] #2704619
01/13/18 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Scales and exercise are not the problem or a waste of time, but it is important the student understands why they are doing them and how to practice them. This is not so big of a concern when the student is with an experienced teacher and this is part of the structured curriculum. It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.

Those are really good points, Greener, thank you.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Greener] #2704630
01/13/18 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
In technique development there is one main principle - the principle of isolation. In order to learn or improve some technique element most quickly and efficiently it must be practiced in isolation ...


In order to improve some technical element most quickly and efficiently properly it must be practiced in isolation mindfully and musically.


I totally agree with you that every exercise should be played musically and mindfully. I don't get why the words "quickly", "efficiently" and "in isolation" are striken out.

Originally Posted by Greener
I'm in no hurry, and have been satisfied with progress using a repertoire only approach.

Very good.

Originally Posted by Greener
It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.

If this is a personal attack on me, I have to say that, firstly, this forum is called "Pianist corner", and it seems to be a proper place to share some of my experience and knowledge. And secondly, though no forum can provide sufficient instructions for playing, of course, it is not a good reason to hush up any ideas.


Last edited by Iaroslav Vasiliev; 01/13/18 04:21 PM. Reason: addition
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704661
01/13/18 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev

Originally Posted by Greener
It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.

If this is a personal attack on me,

It is not.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev

I have to say that, firstly, this forum is called "Pianist corner", and it seems to be a proper place to share some of my experience and knowledge. And secondly, though no forum can provide sufficient instructions for playing, of course, it is not a good reason to hush up any ideas.

Yes, for sure it is the right place for sharing experience and knowledge. It is also a place where knowledge and ideas are challenged and new perspectives offered. This thread is a good example of varying views. Overall the dialogue is healthy as it inspires the type of thought that may cause us to view the same issue in a different way. There is no right or wrong.

The concern I mentioned in the above quote (of mine that is above) was not in relation to anything specific you or anyone has said throughout this thread. Rather, just a concern for anyone that may be reading. Maybe it will illicit some thought, but whether it does or doesn't will be up to them. If you have the feeling of being hushed it is of your own creation.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: asb37] #2704662
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Iaroslav, I have found your posts to this forum extremely helpful, and I am very glad that you are sharing your experience and perspectives with us.


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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Greener] #2704668
01/13/18 07:10 PM
01/13/18 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Scales and exercise are not the problem or a waste of time, but it is important the student understands why they are doing them and how to practice them. This is not so big of a concern when the student is with an experienced teacher and this is part of the structured curriculum. It is a concern though when someone comes to a teaching forum like this and gets the idea they need to be drilling scales and arpeggios without any more context then that.

The teaching forum is Piano Teachers Forum, and the beginner's forum is ABF.

Pianist Corner is where experienced classical pianists exchange ideas - sometimes in a robust manner - and it's assumed that pianists here are interested in classical (not pop or jazz or new age, all of which have their own forum), and have had teachers, or still having teachers. So, I think your concerns, though laudable, are misplaced here.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: bennevis] #2704720
01/14/18 02:38 AM
01/14/18 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

How long did it take you to play it properly at the speed of, say, Ashkenazy?

(I did say "master")....


About 1000 hours smirk I haven't practiced it for a while so I can't hit that speed anymore, but my thirds are more than good enough, IMO. I can do the left hand thirds at the end of Chasse neige without practicing at all, I do the descending 1st inversion chord scale in Chopin Sonata 3 1st movement by playing 3rds in the left hand instead of 4ths in the right, and I could do that with zero practice as well. I had to work a little bit on chromatic major thirds for Mazeppa but got it to a pretty good speed within an hour or two.

But this isn't relevant, what I'm saying is you have to practice scales to practice that etude, so it's really the same. Just like normal scales with one note, once you've learned it well enough you don't really have to practice it as much in the future.

I brush up on scales once in a while but I don't understand people who spend time playing them a third apart, a sixth apart, etc. How often do you come across those patterns? There's the end of Chopin Ballade 1, and...that's all I can think of. It's not like it's hard to learn some weird scale in both hands anyways. I'd rather spend time on something like octaves which are always used. I spent a lot of time on thirds because 1. there's a famous etude on them and 2. it trains your hand to feel the correct position and finger movements for all kinds of double note passages.

Last edited by trigalg693; 01/14/18 02:44 AM.
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: trigalg693] #2704741
01/14/18 06:48 AM
01/14/18 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693

I brush up on scales once in a while but I don't understand people who spend time playing them a third apart, a sixth apart, etc. How often do you come across those patterns? There's the end of Chopin Ballade 1, and...that's all I can think of. It's not like it's hard to learn some weird scale in both hands anyways. I'd rather spend time on something like octaves which are always used. I spent a lot of time on thirds because 1. there's a famous etude on them and 2. it trains your hand to feel the correct position and finger movements for all kinds of double note passages.

I agree with you on those. As I've said, I don't obsessively practice (one-handed) scales in seconds just because I play Scarbo, because there's no other piece I'm interested in that has them. Nor one-handed scales in fourths: again, there's only one piece I play that has them.

Scales using both hands that are a weird interval apart don't need much practicing anyway - anyone who has a well-developed scale technique can easily adapt them in that way.

But the thing is - you have to have a fluent scale technique in all keys to get to that stage. And octaves and thirds are something that all advanced pianists will encounter regularly.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: ClsscLib] #2704841
01/14/18 02:33 PM
01/14/18 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Iaroslav, I have found your posts to this forum extremely helpful, and I am very glad that you are sharing your experience and perspectives with us.

Thank you very much! I try to do my best. I'm very glad to hear that I can be of assistance.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Greener] #2704870
01/14/18 03:52 PM
01/14/18 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener

Yes, for sure it is the right place for sharing experience and knowledge. It is also a place where knowledge and ideas are challenged and new perspectives offered. This thread is a good example of varying views. Overall the dialogue is healthy as it inspires the type of thought that may cause us to view the same issue in a different way. There is no right or wrong.

The concern I mentioned in the above quote (of mine that is above) was not in relation to anything specific you or anyone has said throughout this thread. Rather, just a concern for anyone that may be reading. Maybe it will illicit some thought, but whether it does or doesn't will be up to them. If you have the feeling of being hushed it is of your own creation.


Very well. I must have interpreted your words in a wrong way, as if you were reproaching me personally for providing potentially harmful information in the wrong place. That must be because of my imperfect English, I still struggle with it.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2705029
01/15/18 05:59 AM
01/15/18 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Very well. I must have interpreted your words in a wrong way, as if you were reproaching me personally for providing potentially harmful information in the wrong place. That must be because of my imperfect English, I still struggle with it.

I remember sending a PM to ClsscLib soon after I joined this forum asking why some members seemed so hostile. He responded that it is to a large extent the nature of the beast -- the internet, anonymity, lots of people with passionate interests and/or thin skins, etc. All true. I have been both the victim and, I'm absolutely sure, the perpetrator of thoughtless, careless, or otherwise unintentional remarks that were perceived as caustic, insulting, disrespectful, arrogant, or whatever.

Without wanting to sound didactic, I think we should take Iaroslav's words to heart, particularly the point about members whose first language is not English (although Iaroslav's English seems perfectly fine to me). I recognize that it's difficult to maintain a balance between "enthusiastic" support for specific ideas and denigration of the ideas of others. With our international membership, maintenance of that equilibrium becomes even more fragile. So, yeah.

Regarding the subject of the thread, I am a product of ABRSM and it's difficult to ascertain how valuable the purely technical components of that rather well-conceived learning/testing protocol really were. I tend to think they actually were valuable, partly if not mostly because the scale and arpeggio requirements really helped to entrench the whole concept of keys and other aspects of music theory. Hence, anyone who could play Grade 5 exercises would be well-placed to handle Grade 5 theory. And, of course, there were also the sight reading, aural tests, and general performance requirements that IMO produced a beautifully synergistic study program! Having said which, after Grade 8, I never bothered with rote scale or arpeggio practice again, except where the music I was learning required it.

After learning the Saint-Saens 2nd concerto a couple of years ago, I became convinced that most of the scale and arpeggio practice I did in my youth was of strictly limited value in perfecting the huge variety of scale and arpeggio configurations in that piece. Hardly anything starts or ends on the tonic of the key/chord in question. You get scales in sixths that suddenly disintegrate into broken diminished seventh arpeggios. Etc. It all has to be learned and fingered and then practiced almost (though not entirely) from scratch. And then there's the Scarbo double-notes in seconds, mentioned more than once in this thread: possibly the perfect example of a technique that would be absolutely pointless to generalize in an exercise format.


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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: SiFi] #2705044
01/15/18 08:37 AM
01/15/18 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by SiFi

After learning the Saint-Saens 2nd concerto a couple of years ago, I became convinced that most of the scale and arpeggio practice I did in my youth were of strictly limited value in perfecting the huge variety of scale and arpeggio configurations in that piece. Hardly anything starts or ends on the tonic of the key/chord in question.

Scales are a good starting point for beginners in order to develop the hand flexibility and movement and arpeggios help with the understanding of chords as well. After that it becomes a matter of learning each piece as above. Developing technique is never ending process!

Last edited by Colin Miles; 01/15/18 08:38 AM. Reason: corrections

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Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: Colin Miles] #2705048
01/15/18 09:31 AM
01/15/18 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by SiFi

After learning the Saint-Saens 2nd concerto a couple of years ago, I became convinced that most of the scale and arpeggio practice I did in my youth were of strictly limited value in perfecting the huge variety of scale and arpeggio configurations in that piece. Hardly anything starts or ends on the tonic of the key/chord in question.

Scales are a good starting point for beginners in order to develop the hand flexibility and movement and arpeggios help with the understanding of chords as well. After that it becomes a matter of learning each piece as above. Developing technique is never ending process!


I confess that I've never really understood why the ABRSM makes such a big deal of scales and arpeggios. For grade 7 there are potentially 131 scales and arpeggios that need (in principle) to be learned, although some of these are pragmatically duplicates (e.g., c#/Db). The candidate is expected to be able to play them hands together or hands separately, legato or staccato, on demand. Many have similar fingering, of course, but that's still an awful lot of stuff to remember.

I do understand that scale exercises can be useful for developing finger independence and coordination, but I do wonder whether they deserve that amount of attention.

Re: Best way to progress in technique [Re: kevinb] #2705068
01/15/18 11:03 AM
01/15/18 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
I confess that I've never really understood why the ABRSM makes such a big deal of scales and arpeggios. For grade 7 there are potentially 131 scales and arpeggios that need (in principle) to be learned, although some of these are pragmatically duplicates (e.g., c#/Db). The candidate is expected to be able to play them hands together or hands separately, legato or staccato, on demand. Many have similar fingering, of course, but that's still an awful lot of stuff to remember.

I do understand that scale exercises can be useful for developing finger independence and coordination, but I do wonder whether they deserve that amount of attention.
MOST have similar fingerings. If one can play hands together then hands separately requires no practice.

I think the main purpose of practicing scales and arpeggios is not what you said but learning how to pass the thumb under or fingers over.This technical problem is extremely common in music from the Baroque through the Romantic periods. Scales also help one learn the notes in teach key.

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