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#3183463 01/08/22 04:31 PM
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When learning a new piece do have any time spent where you ignore rhythm? Such as figuring out fingerings etc. or do you try to play in rhythm from the start even small chunks even if super super slow?

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Getting the correct notes and rhythm is the first thing I do when I play through a new piece. Fingering comes second. It doesn’t mean that the rhythm is 100% accurate in the initial playing, but I play the notes according to their value. Depending on how complicated the rhythm is, I then get it more accurate using a metronome.



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I agree with PianogirlNW
Notes and rhythm are the first priority for me. The reason I make rhythm so important is I consider those two things as a unit, and I don’t want to start by learning an incorrect rhythm any more than I would learn incorrect notes.


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Music is comprised of two things...sound, and rhythm.

Too many people learn to play the sound, (the notes) and later try to paste on the rhythm. But doing it that way means that you have unavoidably learned some kind of rhythm while learning the notes, and that rhythm is possibly faulty, and must be overcome. Better to learn it together, correctly, as dogperson said.


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Hi in the introduction video to the Faber Adult Piano Adventures book 2 Randall Faber demonstrates ( 1.4m into the video) the importance of learning rhythm stating that if you have rhythm and play wrong notes it can still sound ok.

I always try to learn the notes rhythm and fingering in chunks Very slowly from day one hands separately if necessary. Hope this helps



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Originally Posted by Sebs
When learning a new piece do have any time spent where you ignore rhythm? Such as figuring out fingerings etc. or do you try to play in rhythm from the start even small chunks even if super super slow?
For me, finding out fingerings does kind of come first, but I'm not even thinking about the rhythm, usually when I'm doing that -- I'm thinking of hand positions and how they move around. So it is more of an intellectual process which doesn't affect the rhythm. That said, every time I play a passage, I try to have the notes and rhythms correct. Bonus points if I can get in some phrasing ideas as well.

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I analyze a piece before I start learning it, and work fingering out right away. Then I read through, tapping the rhythm out so I know more or less what to expect. When that’s complete, that’s when I play it for the first time, usually hands separate so I can hear the character of the piece. By then, yes, rhythm is set and I adhere to it.


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Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like two different styles and I have been using the style of ignoring rhythms (to an extent) and learning fingerings and notes, etc. now Im thinking if i should try to apply correct rhythm sooner even if at snails pace. I got the idea from living pianos where he mentioned you should play correct dynamics from the start because you're always playing a dynamic so why not play the correct one. I know there are so many variables and different scenarios and we all learn different. Interesting to see that there is mix of approaches on this.

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Rhythm for me is just about everything in music. Other properties can be imperfect or absent but without rhythm there is no life for me. By rhythm I do not mean adherence to simplistic metre or written pattern but something on a much deeper level which can be felt, transmitted and with luck sometimes remembered and replicated. I concede that this priority is not shared by many better pianists.


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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like two different styles and I have been using the style of ignoring rhythms (to an extent) and learning fingerings and notes, etc. now Im thinking if i should try to apply correct rhythm sooner even if at snails pace. I got the idea from living pianos where he mentioned you should play correct dynamics from the start because you're always playing a dynamic so why not play the correct one. I know there are so many variables and different scenarios and we all learn different. Interesting to see that there is mix of approaches on this.

Hi Sebs
While there are different approaches, don’t all responses come to the same conclusion: ‘Rhythm should be learned ASAP’?


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
I analyze a piece before I start learning it, and work fingering out right away. Then I read through, tapping the rhythm out so I know more or less what to expect. When that’s complete, that’s when I play it for the first time, usually hands separate so I can hear the character of the piece. By then, yes, rhythm is set and I adhere to it.
How can you work out the fingering before reading through the piece? I've never heard of a single pianist that does that and it seems completely wrong.

Most(virtually all) pianists work out the fingering as they play through the piece and often try out multiple fingerings for a passage before deciding on which works best.

I also think most teachers would advocate for playing the notes and rhythms together as one reads through the piece unless the notes or rhythms are particularly complex.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/08/22 08:32 PM.
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like two different styles and I have been using the style of ignoring rhythms (to an extent) and learning fingerings and notes, etc. now Im thinking if i should try to apply correct rhythm sooner even if at snails pace. I got the idea from living pianos where he mentioned you should play correct dynamics from the start because you're always playing a dynamic so why not play the correct one. I know there are so many variables and different scenarios and we all learn different. Interesting to see that there is mix of approaches on this.

Hi Sebs
While there are different approaches, don’t all responses come to the same conclusion: ‘Rhythm should be learned ASAP’?

Yup of course. And ideally learn it all ASAP haha. What I was getting at, is do others practice notes and fingering while ignoring rhythm? Or are most adhering to rhythm from the very start of learning the piece.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ebonyk
I analyze a piece before I start learning it, and work fingering out right away. Then I read through, tapping the rhythm out so I know more or less what to expect. When that’s complete, that’s when I play it for the first time, usually hands separate so I can hear the character of the piece. By then, yes, rhythm is set and I adhere to it.
How can you work out the fingering before reading through the piece? I've never heard of a single pianist that does that and it seems completely wrong.
Obviously this is part of reading through the piece. You can’t figure out fingering if your hands aren’t on the keys, lol. Sorry if I wasn’t specific enough. My first attempt at “playing” is not the first time I go through the piece with my hands.


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I can get the rhythm reasonably well when playing intermediate pieces but not 100% Some of the shorter notes held too long & the longer notes held too short. After learning the notes have to play with the metronome a few times to line the notes correctly.

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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ebonyk
I analyze a piece before I start learning it, and work fingering out right away. Then I read through, tapping the rhythm out so I know more or less what to expect. When that’s complete, that’s when I play it for the first time, usually hands separate so I can hear the character of the piece. By then, yes, rhythm is set and I adhere to it.
How can you work out the fingering before reading through the piece? I've never heard of a single pianist that does that and it seems completely wrong.
Obviously this is part of reading through the piece. You can’t figure out fingering if your hands aren’t on the keys, lol.
You can also imagine it in your head. With some experience, you see the patterns of hand positions and the underlying logic so you don't have to work easier passages out on the keyboard. You'll only have to work out those which are not obvious, which decrease in number as you get better.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ebonyk
I analyze a piece before I start learning it, and work fingering out right away. Then I read through, tapping the rhythm out so I know more or less what to expect. When that’s complete, that’s when I play it for the first time, usually hands separate so I can hear the character of the piece. By then, yes, rhythm is set and I adhere to it.
How can you work out the fingering before reading through the piece? I've never heard of a single pianist that does that and it seems completely wrong.
Obviously this is part of reading through the piece. You can’t figure out fingering if your hands aren’t on the keys, lol.
You can also imagine it in your head. With some experience, you see the patterns of hand positions and the underlying logic so you don't have to work easier passages out on the keyboard. You'll only have to work out those which are not obvious, which decrease in number as you get better.

I have not heard any experienced pianist espouse this approach that you work out fingering in your head. Learning a piece and working out the fingering is a very tactile experience. Fingering a piece is an iterative process where you continually fine-tune.



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Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like two different styles and I have been using the style of ignoring rhythms (to an extent) and learning fingerings and notes, etc. now Im thinking if i should try to apply correct rhythm sooner even if at snails pace. I got the idea from living pianos where he mentioned you should play correct dynamics from the start because you're always playing a dynamic so why not play the correct one. I know there are so many variables and different scenarios and we all learn different. Interesting to see that there is mix of approaches on this.

Hi Sebs
While there are different approaches, don’t all responses come to the same conclusion: ‘Rhythm should be learned ASAP’?

Yup of course. And ideally learn it all ASAP haha. What I was getting at, is do others practice notes and fingering while ignoring rhythm? Or are most adhering to rhythm from the very start of learning the piece.

Learn notes and rhythm together. Fingering can be introduced and fine-tuned when you are playing the correct notes and rhythm. You do not want to play incorrect rhythm so that you will need to unlearn and relearn something so core to the music.


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Many of us when approaching a totally new piece will play it at quite a slow tempo, not at performance tempo. Inevitably, a fingering that works when playing slowly does not always work when a passage or a work is brought up to tempo.

That said, no matter how slowly I may play through the first couple of read-throughs, I do observe the note values, as much as possible, as they are written.

Fingering, what few changes that may have to be made, I will refine later.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Sebs
When learning a new piece do have any time spent where you ignore rhythm? Such as figuring out fingerings etc.

Of course, in the very first beginning, when the notes are complicated. For instance, when playing four or more notes at the same time, I go like... F5 on E and F2 on B - no that is B flat, and then F1 on G and ehm F2 on C - or would F3 be better? What comes next? But if the notes are not complicated, I try to include rhythm.

Originally Posted by Sebs
It sounds like two different styles and I have been using the style of ignoring rhythms (to an extent) and learning fingerings and notes, etc. now Im thinking if i should try to apply correct rhythm sooner even if at snails pace. I got the idea from living pianos where he mentioned you should play correct dynamics from the start because you're always playing a dynamic so why not play the correct one.

As soon as I have the notes figured out somewhat, I include rhythm. I ignore dynamics and instead play all notes at a comfortable mezzo piano.

Originally Posted by Sebs
...why not play the correct one.

Because in the beginning I can only handle correct notes and rhythm. There is simply no space in my mind for dynamics as well. Also, I have noticed that it is not a problem at all to start learning notes and rhythm at mezzo piano, and then, once I am able to play this - though usually very slow - I can add dynamics. I have never experienced that the erroneous mezzo piano is ingrained in my mind and now I need to spend a lot of time to unlearn it. No. Never.


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Even if you incorporate dynamics from the very beginning when you learn the notes and rhythm, the dynamics will change the more you explore the music. As an example, there is a crescendo marked in measure 3. On which note will you start the crescendo? How gradual/fast will it be? Do the beginning and ending volumes need to be adjusted? How soft is a ‘p’ within the context of thd particular piece of music?

Notes and rhythm are more static with less flexibility in interpretation and more critical for correctness.


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"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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