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Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Sidokar] #2884138 08/27/19 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
I am not sure I follow your line of thinking. If you just heard a boy playing this piece and you decided to jump back to it after a break of 10 years, do you really expect that you can play it well ? So if the point is indeed that you haven't practice the piece at all or very little, your recording doesnt show much of what you can really do. Do you have a piece that you do play well ?

The fact that you have taken lessons in your youth is an advantage, but after a long break, it takes (lots of) time to get back to it. Piano unlike other skills requires regular practice to keep at level.


No, that boy playing it was just a coincidence, a trigger to give myself a kick in the behind. I expected to play it the way I did. No, I can't think of a piece I play well.

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Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884144 08/27/19 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Barly
I'm not looking for a cheap way, I'm looking for advice about effective ways....

If this is indeed what you're looking for, my first post still stands - and it applies to every piece you want to learn.

It is also the standard way for all pianists - of any level - to practice every piece they learn:

......you need to practice the sections or bars in which you're having difficulty, stumbling over or not coordinating your hands. Take them out and practice them slowly by themselves (after making sure that your fingering works for you) until you get them right 100% of the time before gradually increasing speed back up to tempo and putting them back into the passages.

And never play anything faster than you have complete control over all the notes.


"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: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884145 08/27/19 02:54 PM
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Again, thank you.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884266 08/28/19 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Barly


I am bothered a lot by this, and I never had the attitude that I can't be bothered to put in proper work and patience. This is why I asked here, not about quick fixes or to hear that it's fine if I just go on like that and I'll get better over time (which, as opposed to my wife, I think haven't in the last decade since I had an instrument again). I came here to be bothered.


I can understand your worry. It is quite common to think that with age you cannot achieve what you could in your early years. And imo it's partly true, but not relevant here.

Let me tell you about my experience:
I had piano lesson for some years, cannot even remember how long, but never got beyond early method books before quitting at 11. Piano playing was both mentally and physically difficult for me then. I never looked back, although did other things with music.
Then I suddenly was 45 and got the idea that I want to try again. Tried by myself but found the kind of music I want to play way too difficult and got a teacher. That was about 8 years ago. During this 8 years I have had to completely change my lifestyle from a couch potato/fixed sitting on a PC all day to having physiotherapy and exercise. All his just because piano playing was physically too hard because I was incredibly stiff. Oh, did I mention I have small hands and hypermobile joints? After a couple of years I had already accepted that I will never play fast of technically difficult pieces, despite my teacher saying otherwise and always pushing for improvement. Now 8 years later (and older) my fingers can actually do things I could never imagine. It is rather my head that is slowing me down. But I too had doubts on the way: Am I wasting my time? Only my inborn stubborness kept me at it when difficulties hit me, I was never very diciplined.

The moral of this story: Yes, you will be able to play these things well if you keep studying wisely and take care of your body. So do not let doubt stop you from trying, just do it one day at the time. And do not let some people's manners discourage you from searching for help and motivation on this forum. It's just their way. Some people feel that when they are right and know better it is ok to be a little condescending.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: indigo_dave] #2884272 08/28/19 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by indigo_dave


I only have one simple tip. Slow down. It sounds like you basically know the piece in the video. But the stopping and starting destroys the rhythmic pulse of the music. Play it slowly enough so that you're able to play consistently without stopping and restarting. I'm sometimes guilty of this when I sight read certain Bach pieces. Sometimes I have to tell myself to slow down.

No he does not know the piece ! Work out what is wrong in the RH in those unknown sections. I cannot see what is going on in this cell phone picture.(fingering, hand extensions ,contractions, ?)
Work on those bars only ,then work backwards a bar etc,)
To keep these passages fresh ,practice in dotted rhythms later when KNOWN .

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Lady Bird] #2884280 08/28/19 02:26 AM
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outo, thank you for your encouragement!

Originally Posted by Lady Bird

No he does not know the piece ! Work out what is wrong in the RH in those unknown sections. I cannot see what is going on in this cell phone picture.(fingering, hand extensions ,contractions, ?)
Work on those bars only ,then work backwards a bar etc,)
To keep these passages fresh ,practice in dotted rhythms later when KNOWN .


Thanks.

That's not even a contradiction. Knowing is all kinds of things: I've known the piece since my youth, I was probably familiar with it from recordings before the piano teacher introduced me to it. I also know it in the sense that I'm not surprised by any turns of tune the way one might be in sight-reading. But I don't know it in terms of knowing to play it properly, obviously.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884283 08/28/19 02:29 AM
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But again, it's not about this piece in particular, and I may start with something easier. Same approach of slow speed, singling out passages, variation in staccato/legato, rhythm and the like - it seems the consensus here is that this is more useful than Hanon-style etudes.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884303 08/28/19 04:05 AM
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Bennevis's belligerent and arrogant attack seems both unnecessary and unnecessarily unpleasant for a friendly forum like this. Barly is an pianist in need, not some Amalekite to be smote hip and thigh!!

Barly is asking about his technique, not presenting a performance to be critiqued. For adults, technique is not synonymous with playing the right notes, it is the conscious biomechanical process of how we move from one note (or notes), to the next, in the most optimal and controlled way. And the happy consequence of good technique is that we stop playing wrong notes except when we haven't quite learned the piece!

Your video suggests what your problems might be, but the angle isn't ideal. My feeling is that you use your natural coordination to get your fingers on notes, and relying far too much on isolated fingers to push them. As a consequence, your tone is shallow and I suspect you are very conscious that your fourth and fifth fingers feel hopelessly weak. You also show indications of trying to play with an open hand position (stretching out fingers anticipating where they will be needed, rather than moving to the notes in coordinated fashion), which makes for unevenness and also tension and fatigue. What you really need to do is ensure that your fingers are supported by the hand and arm for each note (the moment you achieve this, the days of weak fourth and fifth fingers are over!) But for that, you really do need the services of a competent teacher who understands technique properly (and certainly in the UK where I live, these are rarer than hens teeth.)

You did ask should you do Donhányi exercises and the like. NO!!!!!! At least, don't do them unless you have discussed them with a proper teacher with a good reputation for understanding technique. The problem with exercises is that they tell you what notes to play, they do not tell you how. And some of Dohnányi's are potentially physically ruinous if you get the "how" wrong. The problem is that a lot of people make the false analogy with sport, assuming that a hand feels weak in the way a bicep might. And so drill technical exercises in the hope that muscles will grow and give them strength, which is actually a profound misunderstanding (and also a dangerous one, as it can lead to physical injury, especially when you get older).

If you live in the UK, then perhaps you could send me a pm and I'll tell you who I could recommend. If not, good luck. And don't let the likes of Bennevis put you off.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Hatchestron] #2884306 08/28/19 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
Bennevis's belligerent and arrogant attack seems both unnecessary and unnecessarily unpleasant for a friendly forum like this. Barly is an pianist in need, not some Amalekite to be smote hip and thigh!!

Barly is asking about his technique, not presenting a performance to be critiqued.

Your outrage is misplaced.

The OP presented a piece which he hasn't practiced and asked for a diagnosis of technical problems - though he then changed that to 'practicing' issues when the advice people gave were all based on that. Hence my - and others' - exasperation.


Quote
For adults, technique is not synonymous with playing the right notes, it is the conscious biomechanical process of how we move from one note (or notes), to the next, in the most optimal and controlled way. And the happy consequence of good technique is that we stop playing wrong notes except when we haven't quite learned the piece!

It seems you failed to notice that the OP hasn't properly learned the piece.....

Quote
Your video suggests what your problems might be, but the angle isn't ideal. My feeling is that you use your natural coordination to get your fingers on notes, and relying far too much on isolated fingers to push them. As a consequence, your tone is shallow and I suspect you are very conscious that your fourth and fifth fingers feel hopelessly weak. You also show indications of trying to play with an open hand position (stretching out fingers anticipating where they will be needed, rather than moving to the notes in coordinated fashion), which makes for unevenness and also tension and fatigue. What you really need to do is ensure that your fingers are supported by the hand and arm for each note (the moment you achieve this, the days of weak fourth and fifth fingers are over!) But for that, you really do need the services of a competent teacher who understands technique properly (and certainly in the UK where I live, these are rarer than hens teeth.)

.

You're over-diagnosing and making wrong assumptions. Seriously.
You're obviously not a teacher.

BTW, my first advice to the OP is to get a good teacher.


"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: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884312 08/28/19 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Barly
But again, it's not about this piece in particular, and I may start with something easier. Same approach of slow speed, singling out passages, variation in staccato/legato, rhythm and the like - it seems the consensus here is that this is more useful than Hanon-style etudes.


I think to a large extent, it is very difficult to give you a proper set of relevant advices as we have very limited kkowledge of your past experience, your practice routine, skills and weaknesses. The Czerny, Hanon and other exercices have nothing wrong or good in themselves. It all depends how they are being used in an overall technical improvement plan. In addition each teacher will also have their own approach, tools and preferences and so are the members of this forum. On almost any topic, you will get many different opinions.

From the limited amount of information that I have, my sense is that the piece is obviously too difficult at this stage. It is an advanced piece (Henle level 7 out of 9 levels ....). So if you were able to play that piece, it means you would be also able to play a large portion of the entire piano repertoire. From the parcellar information on your piano background, I think you need to get back to a formal practice plan. First step being to establish what is really your current level and what are your main technical weaknesses and as a consequence develop a proper training plan. Since there are no pieces you play well (however probably that you are trying to play again some too difficult), you would need to scale back until you reach the level at which you would be able to play a piece from end to end at speed with limited mistakes.

There is no particular issues that would imped your progress if you have a practice schedule and play everyday with a methodical plan and a proper teacher. What is important when you restart the piano is that you notice by yourself that you are making progress, even if slow. For that it is important to tackle pieces at your level which you will eventually be able to play so that it provides you with positive reinforcement. If you always tackle pieces too difficult which you will have to give up anyway, it will only build frustration.

I would also not compare yourself with talented kids. Anyway there will always be people that play better than you (and me !); it is not relevant as you are not in the same situation as they are. You are an adult with a job, a family life and responsibilities. Piano is a pleasure and a hobby among many other things. What you have to be prepared for is to practice seriously, get a good teacher and arm yourself with a lot of patience.

Kind regards and good luck.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: bennevis] #2884317 08/28/19 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
The OP presented a piece which he hasn't practiced and asked for a diagnosis of technical problems - though he then changed that to 'practicing' issues when the advice people gave were all based on that. Hence my - and others' - exasperation.


I seriously didn't ask for a diagnosis of technical problems, and I didn't change that. The first post is still up there, unedited. For some reason you misunderstood my question from the start, and insisted on this. (I'm not even blaming you - if people misunderstand what I wrote, I obviously didn't write unambiguously enough.)

The situation was: "I play badly. I need to practice, and properly. Look, here is a random sample, only to show how badly I play, and that need to practice, and properly."

Somewhere my explicit question for advice was lost - as I said, I tend to blame my communication skills first - and triggered "You play badly. You need to practice, and properly. Come back when you've done that."

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884320 08/28/19 05:13 AM
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Thanks again, everybody, this is really helpful. I haven't much hope to find a suitable teacher easily, but I may actually try, asking local friends and such. I'd be surprised if somebody knew more than one teacher and was able to evaluate the expertise, but it's worth a try.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884322 08/28/19 05:15 AM
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Bennevis, I still maintain the unpleasant tone of your responses to Barly is inappropriate for an internet forum such as this.

And given your own profile is decorated with an Oscar Wilde quote that excuses your own sloppy playing, I'm not sure you are one to give advice!

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884334 08/28/19 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Barly
Originally Posted by bennevis
The OP presented a piece which he hasn't practiced and asked for a diagnosis of technical problems - though he then changed that to 'practicing' issues when the advice people gave were all based on that. Hence my - and others' - exasperation.


I seriously didn't ask for a diagnosis of technical problems, and I didn't change that. The first post is still up there, unedited. For some reason you misunderstood my question from the start, and insisted on this. (I'm not even blaming you - if people misunderstand what I wrote, I obviously didn't write unambiguously enough.)

The situation was: "I play badly. I need to practice, and properly. Look, here is a random sample, only to show how badly I play, and that need to practice, and properly."

Somewhere my explicit question for advice was lost - as I said, I tend to blame my communication skills first - and triggered "You play badly. You need to practice, and properly. Come back when you've done that."

This is what you wrote, after people gave advice on how to practice:

Quote
What about general improvement, though? Just practice single pieces until I don't make mistakes? I'm afraid that would mean I'll be stuck for a very long time, and then realise I'm simply not getting anywhere beond Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star at a fifth of the speed


And this is from your OP:
Quote
My technical shortcomings frustrate me more and more


.....which give the impression that you don't think that slow practicing which is targeted at the problematic sections (which everyone else except Hatchestron have been advocating) will make any difference. Hence, my responses to you.

However, if you are prepared to take on board what has been advised (which, I reiterate, is nothing new, and which all serious pianists do when learning difficult pieces), I think you will see the benefits in your playing. But it's not going to be a quick improvement, and many casual amateurs don't bother with it. (I don't, with pieces that I have no intention of performing in public - I just play them for fun, no matter how rough & ready they sound.)


"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: need help to improve technique [Re: Hatchestron] #2884336 08/28/19 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
Bennevis, I still maintain the unpleasant tone of your responses to Barly is inappropriate for an internet forum such as this.

And given your own profile is decorated with an Oscar Wilde quote that excuses your own sloppy playing, I'm not sure you are one to give advice!

As you are from the UK, I'm surprised you don't appreciate the irony in what you're saying.

But if my posts offend and/or annoy you, I advise that you put me on IGNORE (click on the box below my profile). That will save you from further stress and aggravation, which (the sages advise me) are detrimental to your sense of well-being, and I wouldn't want to wish that on anyone here in PW........ whistle


"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: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884369 08/28/19 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Barly
But again, it's not about this piece in particular, and I may start with something easier. Same approach of slow speed, singling out passages, variation in staccato/legato, rhythm and the like - it seems the consensus here is that this is more useful than Hanon-style etudes.


You got it!!!! Mindful, SLOW practice of the measures that need it. That may mean hands separate(or not), varying the rhythm of the measure. Always practice with the same fingering.

I will caution that as the piece sounds better, most of us get tempted to start from the beginning every time.... because it feels so GOOD to play what is sounding good. Don’t do that😊 keep working on the problems until they are no longer problems ( that will feel good as well!). Let us know how you are doing with your new practice plan. I wish I would have known how to practice as a child student, but better late than never.

One weird thing I do is use removable post-it arrows to flag the problems. I then practice ‘the flags’ until I can remove them. That feels GREAT to know I have conquered a problem .

You can do this!


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884511 08/28/19 02:02 PM
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Piano playing is complicated. There are no quick fixes for anything, unfortunately. Of course, you know that, and you're not looking for a quick fix.

dogperson gave good advice about not spending your time working on things that are not problems. Your practicing should not always sound good. If it does, you're wasting a lot of time. The idea behind practicing is not to "do the right thing over and over until it sticks." Instead, the idea is to "untangle knots that are causing problems". This is inherently a messy process. You need to embrace that messiness, rather than running away from it.

I can tell by watching the video that you have a lots of knots tied right now. You absolutely can untangle them, and you don't need a teacher for this (but that doesn't mean a good teacher wouldn't be helpful). What you need is a sense of which knot you are trying to untie at any given moment.

There are so many different types of exercises that can help you. Pick one and practice it until you feel you've learned something from it.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884695 08/29/19 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Barly
outo, thank you for your encouragement!

Originally Posted by Lady Bird

No he does not know the piece ! Work out what is wrong in the RH in those unknown sections. I cannot see what is going on in this cell phone picture.(fingering, hand extensions ,contractions, ?)
Work on those bars only ,then work backwards a bar etc,)
To keep these passages fresh ,practice in dotted rhythms later when KNOWN .


Thanks.

That's not even a contradiction. Knowing is all kinds of things: I've known the piece since my youth, I was probably familiar with it from recordings before the piano teacher introduced me to it. I also know it in the sense that I'm not surprised by any turns of tune the way one might be in sight-reading. But I don't know it in terms of knowing to play it properly, obviously.

Yes many different levels of knowing for sure.If you play it wrongly you have then heard it wrong
it is then recorded wrongly in your mind.Mark the wrong areas ,work slowly decide what is wrong. Often two tricky things are causing problems,repair them.Only one hand work please ,then work backwards.Increase speed.If you can.Play those correted areas without an error 3 times in a row
you may have corrected the errors.They may however come back.Start the repair process again !
Your memory can be your undoing.Learn everything correctly from the beginning.
There were some very nice sections in your playing.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2884947 08/29/19 04:05 PM
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Nothing wrong with your technique. It is just that you have to be more patient and play at a tempo that you don't make mistakes.

Re: need help to improve technique [Re: Barly] #2885171 08/30/19 11:12 AM
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In my view, you shouldn't avoid lifting your fingers (not saying that's what you were trying or not trying to do) at least when you practice. It will give you a better sense of how you are using your fingers individually and in the end collectively.


Chopin Op, 24
Czerny Variation on a theme by Rode
Chopin Bolero
Schumann Piano Concerto / Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5

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