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Exercise Idea
#2851130 05/22/19 12:48 PM
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There a many tunes I love but don't have the chops to play, or the time to devote to learning the whole thing. But I was thinking it might be a good idea to take a chunk out of something to use a finger exercise. Like the first half page of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, 3rd movement, with those quick arpeggios rumbling up from the depths; the first few lines of Scriabin's, I think it's Opus 2 no.12 I'm thinking of; many brilliant riffs can be lifted out Debussy and Chopin; maybe the first couple of minutes of Bill Evans' solo version of Emily; take two or three of the Goldberg Variations and run.

Has anyone tried this, or if it's a bad idea why do you think so? I'd love to hear your thought, both pro and con.

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851170 05/22/19 02:15 PM
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I think this is a great idea, and I have thought about it myself, but never tried. I don't play at your level at all, but the other day I heard a concerto of Ravel, in which the right hand plays single notes very fast, and I thought that I could practise playing these notes, because their melody line is so much more beautiful that those of exercises. Good luck Ken!


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Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851184 05/22/19 02:40 PM
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Animisha, if you're not quite up to Beethoven or Debussy, some of J. S. Bach's 2 part Inventions, or Partitas are pretty manageable for an average player, and make great exercises. Plus, they are great music, so much more enjoyable than endless repetitions of Hanon. And you get to choose the tempo, so go as fast as you can or as slow as you need to.

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851255 05/22/19 07:49 PM
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The most difficult pieces are nothing more than a sequence of one measure strung after the next.

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851290 05/23/19 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by KenBakerMN
... I was thinking it might be a good idea to take a chunk out of something to use a finger exercise ... Has anyone tried this, or if it's a bad idea why do you think so? I'd love to hear your thought, both pro and con.

It’s a great idea, I do it all the time when learning a piece. It’s a natural thing to do if you’re also studying improvisation. The cross-benefits of looking at a piece through the eyes of an improviser-arranger and interpreter can be quite deep.

Depending on the section, I might run it around the Circle of 4ths/5ths or play it with different chord progressions to build up basic chops. Many times I change up the right or left hand patterns to see if I can come up with something more interesting. This is useful in Baroque/Classical music where 2nd repeats can be used by the performer to give the audience something different and interesting, sometimes to try to show it off.

Many works also provide a thematic index to work with and riff against; so I think the idea of improvising with bits and parts of a piece is something the old composers expected.


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Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851294 05/23/19 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by KenBakerMN
Animisha, if you're not quite up to Beethoven or Debussy, some of J. S. Bach's 2 part Inventions, or Partitas are pretty manageable for an average player, and make great exercises. Plus, they are great music, so much more enjoyable than endless repetitions of Hanon. And you get to choose the tempo, so go as fast as you can or as slow as you need to.

Thank you Ken, I will look into those! And I never play Hanon. laugh


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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: Exercise Idea
Groove On #2851446 05/23/19 11:26 AM
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Great ideas, Groove.

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851451 05/23/19 11:40 AM
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This book
https://www.amazon.com/Pianists-Guide-Practical-Scales-Arpeggios/dp/1503344738/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1KQZFRUGD15N5&keywords=neil+stannard&qid=1558625474&s=books&sprefix=neil+sta%2Caps%2C219&sr=1-3

has hundreds examples of scales and arpeggios from great pieces that can be used in the way the OP suggested. The author argues, I think correctly, that practicing passages like those in the book can be more useful than practicing scales and arpeggios in the standard way because the scalar and arpeggiated passages in actual music are not so much like the way these passages are typically practiced.

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851479 05/23/19 12:38 PM
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I'm learning Clair De Lune right now, yet I believe it's over my level. My teacher thinks I can handle it. It'll be a long term project, while I focus on other skills and shorter pieces. I suspect 3 months.

The first thing she had me learn is the Db arpeggios, and other apreggios, that reside in the middle of the piece, and the ending. This is an example of taking a piece from "real music" and learning it as an exercise. After that, I began working on the octaves and chords on page 2, as another exercise. Then I began working on the beginning. Eventually I'll put the whole thing together.

Hope this is relevant....


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Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851551 05/23/19 05:25 PM
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I develop exercises from the actual music (with the blessings of my teacher)
For example, runs can be practiced by playing in dotted rhythms, stopping on different notes of the run (few notes including the next thumb under), staccato instead of legato, etc. Two birds are hit with one stone: the ‘exercise’ carries over to technique in the next piece, and the score is better played 😊

Re: Exercise Idea
KenBakerMN #2851825 05/24/19 02:43 PM
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It is fine as it can act as a catalyst for solving technical challenges however more appropriately you should build your experience level towards more "difficult" pieces so they no longer are considered difficult, this is done by studying many smaller pieces which build your skills. This is a loaded answer since to determine what repetoire you need to build your skills up with has many solutions which depend on your personal situation and where you are at with your piano journey. I rarely suggest to my students to make "difficult" pieces their main focus of study, sure it can be a minor part of your studies but to make it a major part encourages inefficiency and time wasting. Build your skills up and then you can learn all the pieces you like and more in your lifetime.


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