2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
Who's Online Now
75 members (Beemer, Blague, Abdol, BachToTheFuture, 1906Weber, 1957, Beowulf, Badger1966, 16 invisible), 499 guests, and 411 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Need Help with LH Technical Problem
#3029302 09/26/20 01:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 51
B
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
B
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 51
Hello: thanks for reading.

A while back, I learned a sonatina by Kuhlau Op. 88, No 1. I enjoy the piece but I have a problem with my LH when playing the first (allegro) section. In Meas. 9 thru 13, the LH plays a series of one octave scales in 16th notes, and I cannot get my LH to play these scales both smoothly and quickly.

I play all these scales fingering 5-4-3-2-1-3-2-1. If I play slowly (quarter note =< 72bpm), everything is good. As I try faster tempos, my LH 4th finger has a problem depressing and making good contact with the key. If I try to force it (more muscle force), the LH gets hung up and the timing is not even. If I try to relax, my LH, the 4th finger note does not sound, and the tone across the scale is uneven.

After playing the piece for at least 6 months, nothing I do seems to help me to play the scales and faster while maintaining smoothness. I repetitively play the passage very slowly (quarter note = 60bpm or less). The LH scales are smooth, but then I still have the problem of slow tempo. I spend part of each practice day doing Hanon or Dohnanyi, and the results are as I described above. I have noticed that if I start out with my 5th finger in contact but not depressing its scale note, I do a little better

One option I have is to use a different fingering; I could play 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1. I can play the scales smoother and faster that way. But I prefer to confront the issue I am having with LH 5,4,3 fingers and fix it, rather than avoid the problem.

I am imagining this is a common problem for amateur piano players, so if anyone has any tricks or tips for how I can play this passage smoothly and quickly, I appreciate it. Thanks.

(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029309 09/26/20 01:37 PM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,823
I
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
I
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,823
I'd begin with this simple exercise for your left 4th finger. Just play

CDEDEFEFGFGA ... 3 octaves up, then down: CBABAGAGFGFE ...
543543543543 ... 3 octaves up, then down: 345345345345 ...

with that fingering, accentuating notes that you play with your 4th finger (I underlined them).

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029326 09/26/20 02:21 PM
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 472
W
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
W
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 472
So this is basically a problem of not playing a good scale, and not a problem with the piece. Some people (like me) work on scales separately to play fast and smooth. I don't think Hanon helps here. I have a teacher. I didn't have the problem you're talking about so I can't help there. But if it's not a problem in your right hand, you might play scales contrary motion and have your left imitate the right or at least compare what is different with the left hand.

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029363 09/26/20 04:43 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 1,217
S
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 1,217
What is the fastest comfortable and even tempo that you can execute on a basic C scale over 2 octaves up and down ?

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029365 09/26/20 04:51 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,927
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,927
There are several practice techniques that can help.

Playing in Rhythms
As surprising as it seems, playing deliberately uneven rhythm helps make the notes more even. Play the following variations:
long-short-long-short... You basically hold down every second note longer and play the short ones quickly.
short-long-short-long... The same but with the notes swapped.
long-short-short-long-short-short... Now you have two short notes between each long.
short-long-short-short-long-short-short... Same but starting on the second note.
short-short-long-short-short-long... Same but starting on the third note.
You can do the same idea with 4 and 5 note runs but if your entire passage is just 8 notes it might not be worth it.

Vary Articulations
The idea is to change the way the fingers play to "unstick" them. Start with everything staccato, then do 2-note slurs starting on the first note and then starting on the second note, then 3-note slurs starting on the first, second, and third note, etc. You can also do slurs that repeat the last note played - e.g. in your passage you would play 5-4, 4-3, 3-2, 2-1, 1-3, etc.

Blocking
You can practice playing the first 5 notes quickly in succession and then holding them down. The idea here is to maintain the minimal amount of tension and keeping the wrist flexible while holding down the notes. After playing check for any tension.

Playing in Reverse
In longer passages where you have changes in direction it's useful to practice them in reverse. Here it might not help that much as it's just a plain ascending scale but keep this one in your toolbox for the future.

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029368 09/26/20 05:10 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,936
Z
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,936
I'd like more info from you before I offered any advice.

What is your usual scale playing speed?
Are there other pieces that you play faster than your scale playing speed?
What is the fastest piece you currently play and at what tempo?
Are you trying to play this faster than you normally play?

Have you been playing the second half of the movement also for six months?

Have you been working on tempo, other than this piece, over the last six months and if so what have you been trying?
What Hanon exercises have you been doing? Have you been using them specifically for tempo?


Richard
Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3029455 09/27/20 04:22 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 118
T
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 118
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I'd begin with this simple exercise for your left 4th finger. Just play

CDEDEFEFGFGA ... 3 octaves up, then down: CBABAGAGFGFE ...
543543543543 ... 3 octaves up, then down: 345345345345 ...

with that fingering, accentuating notes that you play with your 4th finger (I underlined them).


As you know, I play these exercises myself and I find them very helpful. One thing I am not sure about especially when playing 5-4-3 (or 3-4-5) is how I should play with my pinkie. Should the hand remain in the same position or should the wrist rotate slightly when playing the fith finger? The fifth finger is shorter than 3 and 4 and thus it makes sense that it may be helpful to rotate the hand slightly towards the fingertip of the pinkie while playing it... So - should the movement come from fingers predominantly (from the joints) or should we also use the rotation of the hand/wrist?

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
Tom97 #3029517 09/27/20 09:58 AM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,823
I
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
I
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,823
Originally Posted by Tom97
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I'd begin with this simple exercise for your left 4th finger. Just play

CDEDEFEFGFGA ... 3 octaves up, then down: CBABAGAGFGFE ...
543543543543 ... 3 octaves up, then down: 345345345345 ...

with that fingering, accentuating notes that you play with your 4th finger (I underlined them).


As you know, I play these exercises myself and I find them very helpful. One thing I am not sure about especially when playing 5-4-3 (or 3-4-5) is how I should play with my pinkie. Should the hand remain in the same position or should the wrist rotate slightly when playing the fith finger? The fifth finger is shorter than 3 and 4 and thus it makes sense that it may be helpful to rotate the hand slightly towards the fingertip of the pinkie while playing it... So - should the movement come from fingers predominantly (from the joints) or should we also use the rotation of the hand/wrist?
There are several points of view on that. The answer depends on piano school and I guess also on the individual relative length of the 5th finger.

Coming from the traditional Russian school I basically utilize grasping motion when playing things like that (and many other things, too). You can imagine it as if there were coins lying on the keys and you'd want to get them by moving your hand and fingers from the knuckles but not besides the point when you feel the key bottom. And yes - it includes a slight rotation when playing with 5th finger, but it's not the "rotation into key" type, it's more like a "position change" rotataion - like the one you use when you play arpeggios or fast scales.

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029567 09/27/20 12:20 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,936
Z
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,936
The essence of "posture" at the piano (as with any other physical activity) is not about a playing position but a system of movement, ideally around a neutral base. We use the skeletal structure as much as possible and the muscles as little as possible. When we use muscles we use the biggest muscles that can get the job done and the smallest muscles only out of necessity.

This holds for handwriting, martial arts, golf or playing the piano; excess tension is to be avoided and the least motion to be aimed at.

If you hold a key down lightly with your fourth finger and play the adjacent key with your fifth finger, you need to rotate the forearm to accommodate the fifth finger being shorter than the fourth. It's possible to play the fifth finger without rotation but it uses a lot of small muscle movement compared to only as much finger movement as you'd use for your fourth and the remainder coming from wrist rotation. It's also possible to use wrist rotation alone but that moves too much of the other fingers.

If you have a relatively long fifth finger (like Liszt) or a relatively short one (like me) the amount of finger versus rotation movement is different. If you play just a few strokes one day then sleep on it then just a few strokes the next day then sleep on it, you will gradually develop the best way for you to play by letting the brain sort it out while sleeping.

If you make a conscious decision about how to do it, right or wrong, and play fifty times today and fifty times tomorrow etc., you will ingrain that method before the brain can sort out a more efficient solution. Further down the line your technique may be hampered from making the wrong decision about how to move.

When you raise your finger does it leave the key or does it stay in contact? When playing the above exercise the fifth finger should slide across the keys to play as that's less motion than lifting off the keys and pressing down again. This excess motion introduces slower playing. One of Liszt's super slow exercises was to keep the fingers glued to the keys. This minimises motion and therefore helps speed. This motion can't be mastered in a day. It takes a short amount of practise every day built up over weeks and months with sufficient sleep in between but the effect on speed is quite remarkable over time. It completely transformed the speed, ease and control I had playing Chopin's Db Waltz, for example.


Richard
Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029612 09/27/20 03:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,941
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,941
I don't think anything is better for this than just spending time on it. Unless your hand is different in some way than everyone else's hand, it will get better. We all have a problem with 5-4-3 because of the way our hands work.

The exercise I use to get my scale speed up is the 1-2-3-4 exercise.

Pick a metronome speed, for you maybe 76 bpm.
1- play a 1 octave scale, 1 note per beat.
2- play a 2 octave scale, 2 notes per beat.
3- play a 3 octave scale, 3 notes per beat.
4- play a 4 octave scale, 4 notes per beat.

So you are starting very slowly, which gets you warmed up. Pay attention to playing evenly at each step.

And don't overdo it. Don't sit and do this (or any other exercise) for 30 minutes. I start my day with something like this, but only for 15 minutes, assuming I will practice for 2 hours total.

Sam

Re: Need Help with LH Technical Problem
BbAltered #3029630 09/27/20 04:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 837
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 837
FWIW - sometimes an "alternate scale fingering" is better, although this is a matter of opinion.
C Major is tough with the traditional fingering, nothing wrong with 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1.
When I studied Beethoven 3rd Piano Concerto with Leon Fleisher, he showed me how playing the opening ascending C minor scales 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1 produced a superior effect.

Keep practicing your scales with traditional fingerings.
You'll get better.
That said, when an alternative one works better for you, do it.

Last edited by Seeker; 09/27/20 04:16 PM.

Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")

Moderated by  BB Player 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Karsten Collection
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
What's Hot!!
News from the Piano World
Our October 2020 Free Piano Newsletter is Here!
---------------------
3,000,000+!
------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Teaching a four-year-old, online!
by Gal Friday - 10/21/20 11:43 AM
Korg NH detail
by Myon - 10/21/20 11:40 AM
Old vs new
by ZootHornRollo - 10/21/20 10:18 AM
New DP Buyer Needs Help :-)
by Badger1966 - 10/21/20 09:12 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics202,338
Posts3,015,738
Members98,970
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2020 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4