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I'm heading into a really busy part of school right now and I'll only have a little bit of time (10-15 mins/day tops) to keep up with practicing/playing.

I figured in this time, rather than try to learn any new pieces in limited time, I would spend any time I have just developing better technique in general.

What are some exercises and technical drills that would be the best/most efficient use of my time?

I'm currently self-teaching and playing beginner Chopin pieces fairly well but with some obvious mistakes and technical flaws. On my next school break I want to start looking at some Liszt pieces. Any suggestions for exercises/drills are welcomed, no matter how simple or elementary they are. Being self-taught, I've definitely missed a fair amount of things along the way.

Last edited by TORaptors2019; 07/31/21 03:48 PM.
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You might like to check out the Palette of Touches book. It has some exercises followed by a short piece to improve your technique:

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These palette series of book are only useful if you have a grand piano because she relies heavily on the double escapement action to produce the ‘colorful tonal qualities’. For most of the books she teaches releasing or playing the keys from ½ or ¾ depth to produce the different tonal sounds all of which is not possible with an upright action. IMO you’d be better off looking at one of graham fitch’s courses on his website and move through one of those to develop good technique. Most of the material he uses is freely available on the web and his videos are really helpful. I’m sure there is other stuff out there which is good. If you are a beginner the pathways to artistry series is useful. But it is primarily for very early students.

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Originally Posted by TORaptors2019
I'm currently self-teaching and playing beginner Chopin pieces fairly well but with some obvious mistakes and technical flaws. On my next school break I want to start looking at some Liszt pieces.
These two sentences basically contradict each other. Liszt doesn't have any easy pieces. Certainly not any that you can attempt while "playing beginner Chopin pieces fairly well but with some obvious mistakes and technical flaws".

If 10-15 mins per day is really all you have then frankly you are not going to make any progress. Just play and have fun at the piano instead to at least have some contact with the instrument.

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Originally Posted by ADIRL
These palette series of book are only useful if you have a grand piano because she relies heavily on the double escapement action to produce the ‘colorful tonal qualities’.

An interesting observation. My teacher got her students into using the Palette of Touches book in a room with Yamaha Clavinova DPs. The default is a grand piano sound. Does the action compare to a grand piano or not? The teacher does have a grand piano at home (can be seen when she is teaching through Zoom) while the room she normally teaches in the conservatory does not. And not all the students have a grand piano at home.

The short pieces in the P of T book were written by various composers including Handel, Haydn & Beethoven. Back in the days when they wrote pieces for the keyboard / piano, it's not a "modern" grand piano with an escape mechanism. And pianos sound differently in different places such as a concert hall, auditorium or a small room. You may be practicing 1 way including dynamics & sustain pedal but perform it differently because you're moving from a small room to an auditorium. Don't take the touches in the book as absolute but be a bit flexible when playing on a different instrument or environment.

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At this level when you tackle FI and Liszt's pieces I would highly recommend stretching exercises and finger independence exercises played on a stretch, if you haven't done these already. By the latter I mean 5-fingers exercises when you hold down some notes while other fingers play, but not on adjacent keys as it's written out in exercises for beginners, but on the keys of widest chords that you can reach.

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I don't agree liszt music is all difficult and I'm sure there are options similar standard to Chopin nocturne





I think it unlikely a self taught pianist can play fantasie Impromptu standard competently! I think if you are limited in time I would try and learn the basics (scales/arrpeggios) of the key as your pieces.

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I think liszt show pieces are very hard indeed. My teacher recommended me mephisto waltz 4 but so far I've avoided it. Almost as hard as the FI !

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Mea Culpa! Thank you for the comment Pianoplayer. I got my copies out again and went through them and watched the online videos of the examples. I have an upright so if you translate her description of depressing ½ or ¾ into the key bed with 1/2 or 3/4 finger/arm weight then it would work well with the upright. If you only had 10 minutes or so a day like the original poster said then working through the series of two books would be very useful in the development of technique and tone.
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The short pieces in the P of T book were written by various composers including Handel, Haydn & Beethoven. Back in the days when they wrote pieces for the keyboard / piano, it's not a "modern" grand piano with an escape mechanism.
You might (or not :)) find this interesting regarding piano action and different technique from the baroque period and later.
https://www.musicandpractice.org/vo...0s-and-implications-for-todays-pianists/

Last edited by ADIRL; 08/04/21 01:33 PM. Reason: Spl
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
If 10-15 mins per day is really all you have then frankly you are not going to make any progress. Just play and have fun at the piano instead to at least have some contact with the instrument.
I disagree, I'm pretty sure you can make progress with some aspects of technique.

OP, I would personally do scales most of the time, and try to perfect my scale technique. Since your time is so limited, I would try to focus on just one thing for a few weeks, in which case daily practice would improve your skills at that one thing.

Another possibility is sightreading. Doing it for 15 minutes a day, you will gradually get better.

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Not sure if anybody uses / used Schmitt exercises. It's like Hanon exercises for improving techniques.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Not sure if anybody uses / used Schmitt exercises. It's like Hanon exercises for improving techniques.
This is the old-school classical exercise book I've enjoyed using most! Granted, I'm only good for the beginner ones, but things I enjoy get done more often, so that's a win-win.


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I am not sure how you came to calculate that 15mns is the max you can spend, why not 20 or 30mns ? Would that make any difference ? I doubt 10 more minutes per day would have any impact on your remaining activities.

That said what you can do is simple exercices to maintain a minimum amount of contact with the instrument, but dont expect to make any (significant) progress. Certainly nothing that would allow you to tackle a Liszt piece unless you can already play it today, like some of his most simpliest pieces (Consolation 1 or indeed Nuages Gris though this last one is part of his latest compositions and is not so representative of the typical Liszt music).

Basic exercices like scales, trills, and arpeggios would do and the Schmitt book has also a number of finger exercices that are usefull. There is also the opus 848 by Czerny (daily exercices) which has a number of small exercices which you can do quickly and cover most basic technical components. And the older Cortot set of technical exercices which has also a number of small exercices which you can do daily and dont take a lot of time. The Tankard pianoforte technique has a comprehensive range of exercices. There are also plenty of other books more or less difficult.

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I sometimes practicing with piano version of Whiskey Before Breakfast (https://musescore.com/user/2593256/scores/5643413). It is quite small in musical form and fingers are well flexed.

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I rather like the Technic is fun series. You can find a book at your level.

https://www.alfred.com/search/products/?query=technic+is+fun


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by TORaptors2019
I'm currently self-teaching and playing beginner Chopin pieces fairly well but with some obvious mistakes and technical flaws. On my next school break I want to start looking at some Liszt pieces.
These two sentences basically contradict each other. Liszt doesn't have any easy pieces. Certainly not any that you can attempt while "playing beginner Chopin pieces fairly well but with some obvious mistakes and technical flaws"

Hehe...you beat me to it.


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Originally Posted by TORaptors2019
...

I figured in this time, rather than try to learn any new pieces in limited time, I would spend any time I have just developing better technique in general.

Being self-taught, I've definitely missed a fair amount of things along the way.

How long have you been at it?

If you have the desire, the limited amount of time you have to allocate now is of little consequence. 80% of technique is in your mind. Of the 20% that is actually physical, you should have a Teacher for that. If you ask me, you're better off doing what you're doing and work on fixing and perfecting your beginner Chopin pieces by focusing on the sound you should be producing. If you can hear it properly, your technique will catch up, without the exercises. Developing your listening skill is what will help most with this temporary, limited amount of time at the moment. I think.

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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by TORaptors2019
...

I figured in this time, rather than try to learn any new pieces in limited time, I would spend any time I have just developing better technique in general.

Being self-taught, I've definitely missed a fair amount of things along the way.

How long have you been at it?

If you have the desire, the limited amount of time you have to allocate now is of little consequence. 80% of technique is in your mind. Of the 20% that is actually physical, you should have a Teacher for that. If you ask me, you're better off doing what you're doing and work on fixing and perfecting your beginner Chopin pieces by focusing on the sound you should be producing. If you can hear it properly, your technique will catch up, without the exercises. Developing your listening skill is what will help most with this temporary, limited amount of time at the moment. I think.


I would also advise working on the Chopin: eliminate the obvious mistakes, work on the technical challenges and learn to listen—- better than any book of exercises. You mentioned previously needing guidance on pedaling: Chopin will be a good place to train your ears and your foot to work together.


"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

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Thre is no such thing as a "good exercise". It's only good to adresss certain issues.

You need to know the issues you have, analyse them, and determine the right practice to work on them.

This is normally where the teacher comes in. Since you are self-teaching, you are assuming you can do this yourself


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Originally Posted by wouter79
Thre is no such thing as a "good exercise". It's only good to adresss certain issues.

You need to know the issues you have, analyse them, and determine the right practice to work on them.

This is normally where the teacher comes in. Since you are self-teaching, you are assuming you can do this yourself
I think most would agree that scales and arpeggios are good exercises for most anyone except possibly very advanced pianists or complete beginners. But the problem with any exercise is that unless it's done properly it may not be of much benefit. A good video can give one good ideas on how to do a scale correctly but cannot correct one's mistakes or answer questions.

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