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Building Dexterity?
#2720515 03/11/18 11:22 AM
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Hi all. Looking for tips on how to build up finger dexterity.. Right now I'm hugely struggling to play even stepwise phrases (not sure if that's the right term, basically consecutive notes in a scale) without messing up, either by using the wrong finger at the wrong time (Czerny op 599 no 16, C through G in a 5 finger pattern, sometimes I'll inadvertently skip a finger/note), or hitting the wrong note with the right finger (Bach invention in D minor mm. 2, go to hit the E with the thumb, end up hitting D instead.) Any suggestions?

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720518 03/11/18 11:30 AM
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Same as on the other thread: write in fingering, play hands separately if necessary, slow down as much as necessary, look at your hands if necessary. Maybe change the title of your thread as what you asked would not usually be called dexterity.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/11/18 11:33 AM.
Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720534 03/11/18 01:39 PM
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Are you sure you are not just playing too fast too soon? You can only go faster after you have managed to build the basic coordination for a specific type of passage and fingering. Some people build muscle memory very quickly but it can also take quite a while to get the required stability and it all falls apart if you play too fast. And often muscle memory is not enough, you need to think about some tricky fingerings while you are playing. And teh ability to think fast enough is also something that takes time and developes with slow practice. You only play fast to check if the fingering works at all, then back to slower tempo until you are ready to up the tempo.

I also have the tendency to mix fingers and play the wrong one if I am not concentrated enough, it's just something I need to "practice" away. And it does not happen on one sitting, so practice only as long as you can keep your concentration and then just come back the next day. If you stop before becoming a total mess you will notice some miraculous progress in a few days even if it seemed you didn't learn anything the day before.

You do seem to suffer the common disorder of impatience, which is not good for learning pieces like that... you need to let all the details sink in as slowly as is needed.

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720547 03/11/18 03:00 PM
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Agree. Slow down until you find a tempo at which you can play it without mistakes. And stick to that tempo until you feel absolute confidence in playing every bar. Then raise the tempo in small steps.

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720551 03/11/18 03:36 PM
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I think there's some disconnect here, so I'll just try to connect each point.. I don't think it's a matter of impatience, or a matter of "not seeing things improve overnight". I've been trying to play piano for 10 years. Czerny op 599 no 16 is not a piece that someone playing for 10 years should be struggling with. It's also not a piece that should requiring writing in fingerings as the right hand doesn't move, and doesn't change what finger is playing what note. Slowing down also has not made a difference, even down sub 10 bpm.

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720562 03/11/18 04:33 PM
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Oh, well, 10 bpm is really slow indeed!

I feel very embarrased, but may I ask you about your age and any existing health issues to consider?

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720563 03/11/18 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
I think there's some disconnect here, so I'll just try to connect each point.. I don't think it's a matter of impatience, or a matter of "not seeing things improve overnight". I've been trying to play piano for 10 years. Czerny op 599 no 16 is not a piece that someone playing for 10 years should be struggling with. It's also not a piece that should requiring writing in fingerings as the right hand doesn't move, and doesn't change what finger is playing what note. Slowing down also has not made a difference, even down sub 10 bpm.


Good point
https://youtu.be/juWIA1gtHto

I just read through the other thread. I would suggest that you put the Bach D minor invention aside and work on some fundamentals with your new teacher, who, hopefully will be able to identify and help you overcome the issues you are facing.

Have you ever tried simply playing 5 finger patterns (either hand) on a table top away from a piano?

And perhaps the piano isn't your instrument. Even though I've been involved in music my entire life, I had absolutely no aptitude for either the violin or clarinet when I studied them in my youth, and I never mastered the pedal board when I studied organ in college.. We ultimately can only do what we can do, and there are many ways to make and enjoy music.

.


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Re: Building Dexterity?
Iaroslav Vasiliev #2720566 03/11/18 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Oh, well, 10 bpm is really slow indeed!

I feel very embarrased, but may I ask you about your age and any existing health issues to consider?


No need for embarrassment. I'm 28 (started at 18), and no real diagnosed health conditions. Just some coordination issues (I make typos a lot typing, even though my job involves using a keyboard all day).

Re: Building Dexterity?
Carey #2720569 03/11/18 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey


Have you ever tried simply playing 5 finger patterns (either hand) on a table top away from a piano?

And perhaps the piano isn't your instrument. Even though I've been involved in music my entire life, I had absolutely no aptitude for either the violin or clarinet when I studied them in my youth, and I never mastered the pedal board when I studied organ in college.. We ultimately can only do what we can do, and there are many ways to make and enjoy music.

.



If you mean doing stuff like just tapping 1-3-5-2-4, 1-3-2-4-3-5-2-4-1-3, etc, yeah, I do tapping exercises like that whenever I have an open surface and nothing my hand otherwise need doing (meetings at work are a common time.)

Originally Posted by Carey

And perhaps the piano isn't your instrument. Even though I've been involved in music my entire life, I had absolutely no aptitude for either the violin or clarinet when I studied them in my youth, and I never mastered the pedal board when I studied organ in college.. We ultimately can only do what we can do, and there are many ways to make and enjoy music.


Yeah, that's why I made my other post the other day. I actually also started playing guitar 4 years prior, and in terms of learning new music and remember it, I find piano much harder. I love music, and would love to play to express myself, but after a point, it becomes more enjoyable to just listen to it than struggle playing.

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720571 03/11/18 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Oh, well, 10 bpm is really slow indeed!

I feel very embarrased, but may I ask you about your age and any existing health issues to consider?


No need for embarrassment. I'm 28 (started at 18), and no real diagnosed health conditions. Just some coordination issues (I make typos a lot typing, even though my job involves using a keyboard all day).


It seems that I have no good advice for you. At your age and without serious health issues you should be progressing pretty quickly by training, both your piano skills and your typing should have sufficiently improved by now after 10 years of practice. I don't understand why it doesn't happen.


What does your new teacher think about it?

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720581 03/11/18 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
Originally Posted by Carey

Have you ever tried simply playing 5 finger patterns (either hand) on a table top away from a piano?

If you mean doing stuff like just tapping 1-3-5-2-4, 1-3-2-4-3-5-2-4-1-3, etc, yeah, I do tapping exercises like that whenever I have an open surface and nothing my hand otherwise need doing (meetings at work are a common time.)
I've finger tapped my way through more meetings than I care to remember. ha
Originally Posted by Carey

And perhaps the piano isn't your instrument. Even though I've been involved in music my entire life, I had absolutely no aptitude for either the violin or clarinet when I studied them in my youth, and I never mastered the pedal board when I studied organ in college.. We ultimately can only do what we can do, and there are many ways to make and enjoy music.
Quote
Yeah, that's why I made my other post the other day. I actually also started playing guitar 4 years prior, and in terms of learning new music and remember it, I find piano much harder. I love music, and would love to play to express myself, but after a point, it becomes more enjoyable to just listen to it than struggle playing.
I'm pleased to hear that you have the ability to express yourself musically through the guitar. Learning any instrument involves a certain amount of hard work and frustration - but it should never be a struggle. smile


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Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720583 03/11/18 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
I think there's some disconnect here, so I'll just try to connect each point.. I don't think it's a matter of impatience, or a matter of "not seeing things improve overnight". I've been trying to play piano for 10 years. Czerny op 599 no 16 is not a piece that someone playing for 10 years should be struggling with. It's also not a piece that should requiring writing in fingerings as the right hand doesn't move, and doesn't change what finger is playing what note. Slowing down also has not made a difference, even down sub 10 bpm.


I was talking about the Bach of course, which you just started. Personally I find Czerny a waste of time. Do you have any musical interest for that? If I cannot connect with something musically I am usually quite uncapable to learn it with consistency so I avoid such exercises. In those cases slowing down doesn't help me much either.

One thing I imagine might contribute to such issues is lack of finger activity causing "sloppy" playing. Sometimes you even need to exaggerate in the beginning to build the connections.

The years you have played can be irrelevant actually, what has happened during those 10 years is what matters.

I talk about impatience because of my own past: I do not have aptitude for playing the piano if I compare with other instruments that I have studied due to actual physical and cognitive problems. I cannot play consistently, I have good days and bad days. So I had every reason to quit and spend my time with something more reasonable. But I did not and have still made some imo good progress in the last years with playing. So I believe you can do too if you are able to analyze what to work with and experiment with different study methods. But you will need patience because it takes time to see the results. We can give you some ideas what to try but if you have unique problems you will need to find unique solutions.

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720585 03/11/18 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
Originally Posted by Carey
Have you ever tried simply playing 5 finger patterns (either hand) on a table top away from a piano?


If you mean doing stuff like just tapping 1-3-5-2-4, 1-3-2-4-3-5-2-4-1-3, etc, yeah, I do tapping exercises like that whenever I have an open surface and nothing my hand otherwise need doing (meetings at work are a common time.)

Can you do that reliably at the piano? The piano will give you aural feedback about whether you are playing these exercises accurately or not.

Also, can you play these at varying speeds (at the piano, since playing away from the piano won't give you the proper feedback)? For example, quarter notes, then eighth notes, then sixteenth notes?


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Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2720603 03/11/18 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
Hi all. Looking for tips on how to build up finger dexterity.. Right now I'm hugely struggling to play even stepwise phrases (not sure if that's the right term, basically consecutive notes in a scale) without messing up, either by using the wrong finger at the wrong time (Czerny op 599 no 16, C through G in a 5 finger pattern, sometimes I'll inadvertently skip a finger/note), or hitting the wrong note with the right finger (Bach invention in D minor mm. 2, go to hit the E with the thumb, end up hitting D instead.) Any suggestions?

Personally I find it important to practice accuracy separately from dexterity. Part of the “art and craft” of playing music is blending the two skills - but when they are unbalanced they can derail each other. On the flip side, when they are both firing off at the same time it’s very satisfying!


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Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2721241 03/14/18 08:06 PM
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Without having heard you: I'm in the "try it slower" camp. Like, a lot slower. And not necessarily with a metronome. I assume you could look at a note, take as long as necessary to get the proper finger ready over the proper key, ensure you're over the right key with the right finger, play the note accurately, then move on to the next one. And be 100% accurate in that way.

Assuming you can do that, the next question is just about how you want to learn the piece and how you practice. If you just want to sightread the piece for fun, then I'd suggest picking a reasonable not-too-frustrating tempo and just play through it and don't worry about the wrong notes, just have a good time. If you want to seriously study the piece and make it sound good, don't be afraid of going incredibly slow -- you are learning not just notes and fingerings but learning all the sounds and making decisions about voicing and phrasing and articulation. That has to be done incredibly slowly at first, and probably with a lot of repetitions of any sections that required a lot of thought to puzzle out.

And forget this word "should" !!!

Regarding Czerny 599/16: I myself could probably sight-read through it now (30+ years playing) at quarter=144ish with a bunch of wrong notes but not getting lost and having a good time. Or as good a time as one can have with an exercise like this.
To be certain that all the notes and articulations were 100% right, the fingering was good, and creating a plan to make it as interesting to an audience as possible, I'd have to do it at least once extremely slowly, like 16ths at 144 instead of quarters, or even slower, here and there -- I don't mean the entire piece that slowly, but I mean abundant slowings-down and frequent long pauses for thought and repositioning of arm.

For my students of 10 years experience the greatest problem they'd have with an exercise like this is saying "I can do this easily" but never bothering to practice it in a way that is accurate and musical -- and then stumbling through it in lesson and saying "How come I can't do this easily??"


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Re: Building Dexterity?
PianoStudent88 #2721347 03/15/18 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev


What does your new teacher think about it?


So far it seems like she is still overestimate what I can do, using my playing of Moonlight Sonata, Mvmt 1 (which i played during our interview) as her basis. Which is kind of a misleading piece since most of the difficulty is bringing out the musicality, as opposed to technical challenges.


Can you do that reliably at the piano? The piano will give you aural feedback about whether you are playing these exercises accurately or not.

Also, can you play these at varying speeds (at the piano, since playing away from the piano won't give you the proper feedback)? For example, quarter notes, then eighth notes, then sixteenth notes?[/quote]

I can't even do them reliably away from the piano. They feel like a tongue twister for my fingers, and I get all bungled up (hence why trying to do them was a natural course of action).

Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2721355 03/15/18 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
So far it seems like she is still overestimate what I can do, using my playing of Moonlight Sonata, Mvmt 1 (which i played during our interview) as her basis. Which is kind of a misleading piece since most of the difficulty is bringing out the musicality, as opposed to technical challenges.

I can't even do them reliably away from the piano. They feel like a tongue twister for my fingers, and I get all bungled up (hence why trying to do them was a natural course of action).

I've already advised you on your other thread in ABF, so I'm not going to repeat it here.

Instead, I'll just quote you something very obvious, yet (apparently) so hard for some people to understand and implement:

"The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein (attributed.)

You have to ask yourself the question: How much do you really want to conquer those problems you keep saying you have? If they're not a big deal, fine - carry on playing stuff you like in the same manner. But if you really, really want to sort them out once and for all, you know what you have to do. And the answer doesn't lie in changing to yet another teacher.....


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Re: Building Dexterity?
pianoloverus #2722290 03/18/18 03:13 PM
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Good advice. Listen to Pianoloverus, Outo, Bennevis and the rest of the slow camp.

Last edited by blueheeler; 03/18/18 03:32 PM. Reason: wanted to edit
Re: Building Dexterity?
SvenskNavi #2722441 03/19/18 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
Hi all. Looking for tips on how to build up finger dexterity.. Right now I'm hugely struggling to play even stepwise phrases (not sure if that's the right term, basically consecutive notes in a scale) without messing up, either by using the wrong finger at the wrong time (Czerny op 599 no 16, C through G in a 5 finger pattern, sometimes I'll inadvertently skip a finger/note), or hitting the wrong note with the right finger (Bach invention in D minor mm. 2, go to hit the E with the thumb, end up hitting D instead.) Any suggestions?


Have you tried practising away from the piano? Just forget any particular piece, and imagine yourself playing a group of any five white keys, up and down. Just think what actions you need to take to make it happen as you drift off to sleep. You probably don't even need to move your fingers. The following day see if you can do on the piano what you imagined. You should see some improvement.


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Re: Building Dexterity?
bennevis #2722731 03/19/18 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by SvenskNavi
So far it seems like she is still overestimate what I can do, using my playing of Moonlight Sonata, Mvmt 1 (which i played during our interview) as her basis. Which is kind of a misleading piece since most of the difficulty is bringing out the musicality, as opposed to technical challenges.

I can't even do them reliably away from the piano. They feel like a tongue twister for my fingers, and I get all bungled up (hence why trying to do them was a natural course of action).

I've already advised you on your other thread in ABF, so I'm not going to repeat it here.

Instead, I'll just quote you something very obvious, yet (apparently) so hard for some people to understand and implement:

"The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein (attributed.)

You have to ask yourself the question: How much do you really want to conquer those problems you keep saying you have? If they're not a big deal, fine - carry on playing stuff you like in the same manner. But if you really, really want to sort them out once and for all, you know what you have to do. And the answer doesn't lie in changing to yet another teacher.....


And hence asking people for these different ways of doing things. If I knew all the possible ways to try something until it works, I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't need a teacher, I'd already have the answer myself. I am on here, and I and paying for a teacher, specifically because I do not have that knowledge, and every single thing that I have tried has proven to be ineffective. And for the "changing to yet another teacher", I've only quit a teacher once, and that was because during out lessons she would be sighing and in general seeming very tired and not like she was putting effort into even paying attention, and then just saying "good job". My original teacher that I had for 7 years left piano teaching altogether due to not making enough, and she was the replacement chosen by the school.

But, again, this whole attitude that "you're clearly not trying", "you're trying to take the easy route", etc. is exactly why I'm pointing out that I'm thinking it's a waste of time. I've spent years trying to get better, I've done literally as much as I know to do to try to get better. If I'm not able to think of enough different things to try well then that's a matter of my own stupidity, and not a matter of effort.

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