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Im new here! Technique/theory questions #2858639
06/14/19 07:27 PM
06/14/19 07:27 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
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Perchperkins Offline OP
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Perchperkins  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2019
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Greetings all!

Im new to the piano forums, and relatively new to piano playing, Ive started playing a year ago and take private lessons at my local community college. So far Ive learned..

All my major scales and chromatic scale.
I know but have not mastered in both hands my major, minor, diminished, augmented and suspended chords, along with first and second inversions. but given a few seconds I can easily formulate them.

I am very fortunate enough to be able to play on my schools 1976, fully refurbished, steinway Model B. An INCREDIBLE piano. the action is incredibly even across every key and it is easy to play it as softly as possible, which I do often.

Since I've been practicing, I play every scale and chord as softly as the piano will let me, sometimes barley audible, while focusing in to make sure that when I play chords softly, each hammer hits the key at precisely the same time (sometimes when playing slow and soft one or two hammers lag behind, and some don't register at all sometimes). My logic is that its easier to play loud and fast than it is to play soft and fast with an even touch across all the keys. once you learn to play soft and fast and smoothly, playing harder and louder is a piece of cake, however doing it the other way around is a no no.

my fingers gradually curl, and arch the sharpest towards the front half of each finger. I keep my wrist in line with my arm, which is almost parallel to the floor.

Are there any exercises to help accelerate learning chords on both hands? me left hand can play chords effortlessly, and my right hand is just starting and has not developed any real feel for chords.

Also, to all you experienced classical pianists, what would you tell your younger self to avoid technique-wise if you could go back and fix something?

I realize a lot of people play incorrectly early in their life and it cripples them. Its like learning the bass and treble clef as "F.A.C.E and "All cows Eat Grass) The letters representing the notes between the lines. I told my teacher this and he said "thats like saying, here im going to teach you how to play basketball and have you sit in a wheelchair for your whole career"


Cheers!
Nick

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Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: Perchperkins] #2858729
06/15/19 05:34 AM
06/15/19 05:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 272
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Sidokar Offline
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Not sure from where you got these fuzzy ideas. Each dynamic level come with its set of challenges. I dont know what fast is for you but when you go really fast you have to lighten the touch to make the speed possible. You should do most of your work at normal volume and then alternate different gradations to get used to vary pp, mp, p, f, ...if you play your scales only at very low volume you will not build the ability to play them fast at normal volume. In classical music chords are often times not played evenly but by emphasizing one particular note, the melody usually but could be an inner voice as well. Anyway those are more advanced skills for later.

Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: Perchperkins] #2858757
06/15/19 08:20 AM
06/15/19 08:20 AM
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Posts: 132
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PianoYos Offline
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I'm by no means an experienced classical pianist. I've done everything with no formal training, but I have a hunch that might give me some better insights as to the dos and don'ts when you first start learning, because, as you might guess, I've had to struggle for a long time with correcting bad technique, and even relearning pieces completely because I had done so incorrectly in the beginning.

Originally Posted by Perchperkins
My logic is that its easier to play loud and fast than it is to play soft and fast with an even touch across all the keys. once you learn to play soft and fast and smoothly, playing harder and louder is a piece of cake, however doing it the other way around is a no no.


I sort of agree with this, actually. When you practice loud and fast (which used to be my m.o.), your wrists stiffen, as do the palms of your hands, and that sets you up for very bad habits in the future, and makes it difficult for you to play even basic passages in a legato way. Now, I wouldn't say playing harder and louder is easier - there's actually a huge distinction between producing a loud sound, and producing a full sonority. It's the latter you want, and the former is unpleasant to the ears because it just sounds like banging.

(If you're curious what the difference is between "loud" and "full", check out this video of Domingo and Michael Bolton doing a duet singing Ave Maria. Not piano, but Domingo's voice is full and beautiful, and, sorry to say, but Michael Bolton's is just loud.)

Originally Posted by Perchperkins
my fingers gradually curl, and arch the sharpest towards the front half of each finger. I keep my wrist in line with my arm, which is almost parallel to the floor.


I'd be careful with keeping your wrist too rigid, because it'll hinder you from playing fast scales and arpeggios. It's better if you get used to rotating your wrists according the passing of your thumb when you play these things.

Originally Posted by Perchperkins
Are there any exercises to help accelerate learning chords on both hands?


Personally, I think the best way is to sight-read some simple waltzes. They're great for learning chords. Although, if you're looking to focus on playing chords in your right hand, the only piece I can think of is Chopin's Nouvelle Etude No. 2 - the entire piece is in chords for the right hand. I say this with some hesitancy though, because it's actually a very deceptively difficult piece to play - I only mention it so that you can familiarize yourself with playing chords in the right hand.

Originally Posted by Perchperkins
Also, to all you experienced classical pianists, what would you tell your younger self to avoid technique-wise if you could go back and fix something?

I realize a lot of people play incorrectly early in their life and it cripples them.


Yes, that would be me...

There are quite a few things I'd tell my younger self:

  • Don't start off with Chopin's Heroic Polonaise
  • Think of having ten independent fingers, not two hands
  • Try playing with as little stress in the wrists and forearms as possible
  • Practice your scales and arpeggios, even if they're boring and seem stupid
  • Learn good fingering


That being said, some things I'm thankful to my younger self for, and things I think you should do:

  • Listen to as many composers and as many works by them as you can
  • Listen to as many pianists as you can (especially the dead ones)
  • Always remember that piano playing should be primarily fun and enjoyable - it's a passion, an art, and with proper training, the piano and music will become your best friends in times of greatest need


I hope this helps somewhat smile

Last edited by PianoYos; 06/15/19 08:30 AM.
Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: Perchperkins] #2858786
06/15/19 11:10 AM
06/15/19 11:10 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
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Perchperkins Offline OP
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Perchperkins  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2019
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Hello PianoYos!

Your insight is fantastic! Thinking about having 10 independent fingers has given me incredible insight and actually changed my point of view compared to thinking about having two hands.

As for my wrist being rigid, I only keep it rigid when playing chords. When I practice chords, I play the chord, then my hand immediately goes into my lap and relaxes. Then my hand goes back up to playing the next chord, and then back in my lap. This keeps my wrist from getting strained, and allows me to simply drop my hand into a chord position effortlessly. I also do chromatic chord progressions. My left hand is great and my right hand is just starting to catch up.

As for scales and fingerings, My teacher is adamant about having good fingering, and I DO rotate my wrist in accordance to the passing of my thumb. I also learn to play the scales starting going up, and starting going down. When I first learned them, it was very easy to just go up and down two octaves without thinking about it. Then my instructor said, play the scale but start by going down, not up, and I froze and couldn't do it.

Also, practicing scales on the steinway is far from boring. I love seeing how quiet I can play them. Its really fun! Practicing them on my Yamaha digital piano however.........

As for composers and listening, Im very into HI-Fi. I build my own single ended tube amp with vintage Tamara output transformers, and I have a 3.5" sony "coral holes baskets" from the 60's which sound incredible. I love to listen to music! However... I really only listen to krystian Zimmerman and it is very difficult to listen to anyone else after listening to him and his recordings.

As for sight reading, I can't do it at all. Im going to be working on that soon. Ive always been very ambitious and tried to learn Chopins Scherzo #2 and that didn't end well. My teacher wanted me to learn etude in e minor, however I lost interest as it was a very slow and boring piece to me.

I have started learning Nocturne 9 No. 2. I absolutely love it and am determined to finish it.



Last edited by Perchperkins; 06/15/19 11:10 AM.
Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: Perchperkins] #2858799
06/15/19 11:57 AM
06/15/19 11:57 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,521
New York City
pianoloverus Offline
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It is much better to have a good teacher demonstrate and correct the student than trying to put all the above into words. I think there are many misconceptions in most of the above posts but the words make if very difficult to discern what the posters mean. I do think think the OP is overthinking his approach to technique at this point in his study.

I definitely wouldn't advise playing scales etc. very softly at this stage and have never heard that recommended by a teacher. Scales are difficult enough for beginners. and I think one should concentrate on evenness and the thumb passing for a long time. Just play with good tone at some mp to mf level.

Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: pianoloverus] #2858813
06/15/19 12:43 PM
06/15/19 12:43 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
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Perchperkins Offline OP
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Perchperkins  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2019
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A few notes....

im just focusing on technique adamantly because I want to set my self up to be as good as I can be.

also, I do play softly and moderately and loud, but im putting an emphasis on playing softly because when it comes to playing softly, its often difficult to register each note evenly and accurately with an even tone. Playing softly is where the most little glitches happen. ALSO I used to play guitar so my left hand needs to learn to play softly. I can easily play fast and firmly with good temperament in my left hand, but when I go to play softly, everything falls apart. My right hand is far better at this.

Let me be clear, I play moderately, loudly, and softly, as well as staccato but I put an emphasis on playing softly because it is harder to play extremely quietly and get every hammer in every scale and chord to register at the perfect time.

Last edited by Perchperkins; 06/15/19 12:44 PM.
Re: Im new here! Technique/theory questions [Re: Perchperkins] #2859058
06/16/19 07:41 AM
06/16/19 07:41 AM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,148
Moscow, Russia
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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Iaroslav Vasiliev  Offline
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Posts: 1,148
Moscow, Russia
I think your main goal for the first years should be to learn to use arm weight and the gravity when playing the piano. You don't use your arm weight when you play pp, quite the opposite, you learn to hold your hands in the air when you play pp, so it's not what I would recommend you to focus on now.


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