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Also what fingerings are you using?

For example, in bar 3 and bar 4,, try 323 131 212 and 323 131 313

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To whom it may concern: I took my first piano lessons in decades today.
I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but will give it some weeks at the very least.

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Originally Posted by Barly
To whom it may concern: I took my first piano lessons in decades today.
I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but will give it some weeks at the very least.

Good luck Barly!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
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Thank you - strangely exciting.

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Originally Posted by Barly
To whom it may concern: I took my first piano lessons in decades today.
I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but will give it some weeks at the very least.


Please give it some time! I knew from the first lesson that my teacher had the right skills but I questioned whether it was a good fit. I hung in there. After about three months I realized what a great fit it really was

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Hi Barly!

One of the most sought-after piano-teachers of our times, the American virtuoso Leon Fleisher, once stated in an interview:

"It's your musical ideas that form or decide for you what technique you are going to use. In other words, if you are trying to get a certain sound, you experiment around until you find a movement that gets it. That is technique."(Fleisher, 1963).

His two sentences utterly changed the way I approached practising, allowing me to break free of the kinds of never-improving result you're producing. The crux of what Fleisher is stating is this: technique's essential concern is how to produce a certain, wished-for sound (be that a single one or succession of them). That "how to" is the unknown factor here, the problem whose solution must be discovered by way of trial-and-error experimenting. But the question of "how" cannot even begin to be addressed unless one can first specifiy, and clearly imagine, what sound or sounds one wishes and intends to produce. The desired musical ends serve as one's reference for ascertaining whether or not one's technical means - i.e. one's actions - are actually achieving them.

The fundamental requirement for acquiring technical control, it follows, is: can you imagine the sound you intend to produce - its quality, its character that give it an identity - in advance of executing it.? Not after executing it! This simple test may reveal that your present ability to Imagine sounds in advance to be much poorer than you'd presumed, or requires a lot of time to form clearly in your mind. If so, the remedy is to prepare yourself to listen intently to the quality of a sound as you execute it, often enough so you can mentally recall your experiencing of it clearly and effortlessly in advance. This where slow practice is crucial - the amount of time it takes you to accurately imagine the sound dictates the pace at which you play. In the course of such repeated listening in this manner, you're likely to find that your action for executing the sound in question becomes increasingly accurate and refined - without even consciously attending to the action itself.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

https://understanding-piano-technique.com/ocportal
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Bennevis, good sound advice. This is my 6th year of lessons, and we are revisiting Hannon from a couple of years ago and are working at getting it up to speed. It takes months to get a piece to performance. When my teacher plays at the nursing home, I play one or two short pieces before he plays. I used to have really bad anxiety about this, now after 3 years, it is much better. It is practice and persistence.


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Scordatura, what Fleisher said and what you explain sounds right. But it's talking about another level. I'm not saying a later level, to be ignored now, but my current main difficulties aren't there.

I typically have a clear image of what I want the sound to be - not important whether full of dynamic expression and rubato in one case, or completely uniform without even the first of a group of four bearing any stress in another. But the clear picture and the will and the mental state won't help if the fourth finger is uninentionally pressing the key down too little, or in fact sometimes too much, for lack of reliable control, and the second finger is coming down too fast so that the run is uneven, and a jump from the chords to the bass in the left are hit or miss (and all other "sloppy" mistakes.)

Those who give this advice - good advice, as I mentioned - may talk about pianists who haven't got to fight with this (any more). Or they may not be aware of what the problem is in the first place, lucky bastards.

Last edited by Barly; 09/09/19 05:05 AM.
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Originally Posted by Barly
fBut the clear picture and the will and the mental state won't help if the fourth finger is uninentionally pressing the key down too little, or in fact sometimes too much, for lack of reliable control, and the second finger is coming down too fast so that the run is uneven, and a jump from the chords to the bass in the left are hit or miss (and all other "sloppy" mistakes.)

You might benefit from this book:

https://www.amazon.com/FOUNDATIONS-PIANO-TECHNIQUE-Geoffrey-Tankard/dp/0853605793

N.B. These are pure finger exercises designed to develop finger independence and agility. They are nothing like Hanon or Czerny. All are very short and and have no musical value. Only you can decide whether you want to bother with them.....


"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."
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I'll have a look at them, thank you.

(As I mentioned, I got me a teacher, and I'll see what way she deems best.)

Originally Posted by bennevis
Only you can decide whether you want to bother with them.....


Do you think it would be better to take "actual" pieces of music of progressive difficulty and train those fingers with tricky, concrete passages? This is an open question - I've heard both opinions, which seem to boil down to

A. you want to be able to play music, not formal exercises

versus

B. mastering formal exercises will enable you to play all music without surprises so you can focus on the musical aspect

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Originally Posted by Scordatura

"It's your musical ideas that form or decide for you what technique you are going to use. In other words, if you are trying to get a certain sound, you experiment around until you find a movement that gets it. That is technique."(Fleisher, 1963)..


I think anyone approving of this quotation might be wise to remember what happened to Leon Fleisher. Through following his own advice he wrecked his hands, and ended up with dystonia which destroyed not only his career but his ability to use his right hand properly ever again.

I should add that a few years ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly with him. But last year, I returned to the piano having not played much in recent years and out of the first 10 months of this new phase, I spent 3 months incapacitated due to pain and low grade injury. I was playing the Waldstein when I was 12, so I'm not a talentless idiot, but things I did instinctively and could get away with in my younger years caught up with me big time (I'm now over 50.)

Fortunately, this year I met a piano teacher who has transformed the way I use my hands by making me conscious of what I'm doing with them and how they need to move so as not to carry the risk of injury. That is the real essence of technique. When you have that control, you can then concentrate on musical ideas without the body getting in the way.

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Originally Posted by Barly
I'll have a look at them, thank you.

(As I mentioned, I got me a teacher, and I'll see what way she deems best.)

Originally Posted by bennevis
Only you can decide whether you want to bother with them.....


Do you think it would be better to take "actual" pieces of music of progressive difficulty and train those fingers with tricky, concrete passages? ...


Trusting your teacher is probably the way to go.
In general, getting advice from a qualified person that you know and trust seems more rational than asking a bunch of yahoos on a forum.


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Remember that the unconscious brain is the one directing the fingers to go where we would like them to-or not directing them properly because it gets lost. I've noticed that I lose track of where my fingers are on the keyboard such that instead of moving to an adjacent key a finger will move an extra key over. Are you a good dancer or does it take a lot of time for you to learn the moves? The situation is similar. I struggle with similar issues to yours on a daily basis with pieces I should know cold, but I encounter spots where my hands just don't know where to go. It's just that the unconscious brain hasn't assembled the code to a fluent level yet. AND DOES IT TAKE TIME! The unconscious brain also doesn't understand the verbal commands we give it. Practice is the only way to get things done. I would also say that you might jump to another piece and come back to the one you're struggling with as that may allow you to learn a fingering approach in another context that might help. It's worked for me.

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Originally Posted by Barly

Do you think it would be better to take "actual" pieces of music of progressive difficulty and train those fingers with tricky, concrete passages? This is an open question - I've heard both opinions, which seem to boil down to

A. you want to be able to play music, not formal exercises

versus

B. mastering formal exercises will enable you to play all music without surprises so you can focus on the musical aspect

Your teacher is the best person to advise (now that you have one), and I only mentioned the book because you talked about specific weaknesses which are very common in people who haven't had instruction for a long time and not been doing dedicated practicing with a wide range of pieces.

My last teacher was the one who recommended me the follow-up volume (which I definitely wouldn't recommend to anyone of less than advanced skills) to the one I linked, to iron out remaining weaknesses in my technique when I was working towards my performance diploma. I found that it worked wonders for me, because I was having to step up to long advanced works one after the other (which I had to learn and master quickly) while working towards my goal, and could not afford to be bogged down by technical issues whenever something cropped up in them that I'd never previously encountered.


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I understand your desire to play one of the last things that you worked on, but you do realize that that piece is like Twister? 😆 It's a difficult thing to start back with. What are some slightly less demanding pieces that you played or want to play?

There are many positives to your playing and sound. The notes "aren't there." An approach is to really nail down fingerings in small chunks and then start putting those together. Slow practice, hands apart at first. Muscle memory is getting the feeling of the connection from one note to another, then from one group of notes to another.



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Medium level Mozart sonata (311) now, for no other reason than that the new teacher happened to have it open when she asked me for a sample. Separate hands and slow is what I'm doing - I'll see what she'll recommend. (I didn't leave with much concrete, and no assignment, we were briefly talking about administrative things when I left, and she was late somewhere. Regular lesson soon.)

Last edited by Barly; 09/09/19 04:37 PM.
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Originally Posted by Barly
Here is a random sample of my level: https://youtu.be/0-Ww_7atb0o (both hands from about 0:55 if you want to jump)

Hi there,

Late to the party but just a few things I'm thinking of. Just like other pieces (I'm thinking also like Fantaisie Impromptu, etc) this Schubert work is a lot more difficult to play well than it appears to be, especially in terms of reading complexity (mainly almost monophonic on both hands for most of the first section). So as you mention you are back to the piano after a long break, it is totally normal to have various difficulties playing it fluently. Its difficulty is actually quite high because of the RH (as many Schubert works).

You will end up succeeding after practicing it (ideally) daily for several weeks. At some point, you will figure out that the best approach for the RH is to be extremely relaxed with almost "slightly dancing" fingers. This won't come right away. Also, as for many works which demand good endurance (here for the RH), as you play through the piece you have to vary things like adding/removing forearm/arm weight as you play, not only for better expression depending where you are in the melody, but also to relax your fingers, etc. Other tricks can also include simple things like at times slightly moving your elbow to the right to help achieve more fluid RH movements, even sometimes slightly moving yourself on the left side for the minor RH passages, etc. In short, staying static makes this piece almost unplayable correctly. So give yourself time. Once you "recorded" the notes and what you need to do from the score, adding this relaxation and slight movements to achieve the needed melody/key "undulations" will remove tension and help you play the piece with less effort. Of course, this is near to impossible to explain in words, so my above modest advice might sound like nonsense or silly. Your new teacher will guide you for sure. But just thought I would try to help..

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I think the most important thing is investing 10-20 minutes each day in only technique buildung exercises. Once you do that, the actual pieces will feel much easier. Here is a video with a warm-up routine of a professional pianist that takes about 10-12 minutes and builds technique:
https://youtu.be/qAAQk3FhQt4

The same channel also has videos on different piano techniques and how to approach and practice them:
Octaves: https://youtu.be/ur0FV0rRY6A
Trills: https://youtu.be/Y73scvQmhcg

And also videos on how long you should be practicing:
https://youtu.be/V1VR0VT0h2c

Hope this helps!

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Thank you, it seems she knows what she's talking about.

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Originally Posted by Piano Fan 93501
I think the most important thing is investing 10-20 minutes each day in only technique buildung exercises. Once you do that, the actual pieces will feel much easier. Here is a video with a warm-up routine of a professional pianist that takes about 10-12 minutes and builds technique...

The same channel also has videos on different piano techniques...
Trills: https://youtu.be/Y73scvQmhcg

....
Hope this helps!



She's young and she's a pro. On trills she has fast firing small finger muscles, that helps but not everybody does. People with slower small muscles will need to incorporate large muscle groups and larger rotations. And her wrist positions won't work for everyone. Be very careful when you watch stuff like this because unless you have her body type, she may end up hurting you.

I get what she's trying to convey but my body and my technique are different so I focus more on the what (trill all fingers, think in multiples of 3, black white, Mozart trills) than the how. There are many ways to play piano. Be extremely mindful (conscious) of the way your body works.

Barly, I see you found a good teacher. Trust their advice but verify. Make sure the tips actually work for your hands/arms.


Just do it. -- Nike
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