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#346279 - 01/29/05 08:51 AM Thumb Over??  
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In a recent quest to begin breaking through some speed barriers in my playing, I read somewhere that unless you learn the "thumb-over" technique, you will never be able to attain to higher speeds. In theory, every thing that was said about the thumb's vertical movement limitations, etc, were logical (I think the author was Chang?). But when I sat down and began to finger some scales with the thumb crossing over, everything ground to a halt. What am I missing here? I can't see how in the world you could cross over with this technique. I've asked several more accomplished pianists this question and each time I get the raised eyebrows... confused

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#346280 - 01/29/05 09:00 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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it's basically hand shifting technique: you shift your hand over and position your thumb at the next note you play. for example, C major scale:

123(shift hand and position your thumb)1234

this is for upward scale only, on the down side, do as usual.

#346281 - 01/29/05 09:46 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Is this a recommended technique? Should I work on developing this instead of the traditional thumb-under?

#346282 - 01/29/05 10:11 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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It's not non-traditional. "Thumb under" is actually pretty rare - only practical at slower tempi that require legato. All the fast stuff is accomplished by "thumb over" hand position shifting.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#346283 - 01/29/05 11:04 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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So "thumb over" is really a misnomer? The idea isn't to move the thumb over the hand, but simply to just shift the thumb over to the next key, right?

This really confused me when I read about it in Chang's book, but I think I understand now.


Sam
#346284 - 01/29/05 11:35 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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So I guess I'll work on that, seeing that my issue is not being able to go fast...

#346285 - 01/29/05 11:44 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Correct!

Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
So "thumb over" is really a misnomer? The idea isn't to move the thumb over the hand, but simply to just shift the thumb over to the next key, right?

This really confused me when I read about it in Chang's book, but I think I understand now.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#346286 - 01/29/05 11:50 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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what the heck.......i always used my thum under technique for fast stuff. but thanks alot, now i know.


Yundi Li (http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/play.htms?LINK=rtsp://ra.universal-music-group.com/dgg/yundiLi-liszt-W-COVER.rm)
#346287 - 01/29/05 11:51 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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is this for this for the left hand also....like in chopin's revolutionary etude???


Yundi Li (http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/play.htms?LINK=rtsp://ra.universal-music-group.com/dgg/yundiLi-liszt-W-COVER.rm)
#346288 - 01/29/05 11:52 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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I don't understand the difference between these two. Can someone explain in more detail?

#346289 - 01/29/05 12:27 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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It's for both hands.

It's nearly impossible to explain but fairly easy to demonstrate. There's really only a small subtle difference between the two.

When you cross under, the thumb is directly underneath another finger at some point.

When you "cross over," the natural rotation of the wrist brings the thumb slightly up and into position for the next group of notes. (For example, in a RH E Major scale, after you play the EF#G#, the wrist rotates slightly as the elbow moves to the right, thus placing the thumb directly over the A but not directly under any other fingers...)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#346290 - 01/29/05 12:42 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Interesting. I've always used thumb-under. But I guess when you play a scale very fast, it automatically becomes thumb over in a way. Anyway, doesn't it seem that you can play quicker scales thumb-under since your thumb would already be in the position? (But again, when you go fast, thumb-under kind of turns into thumb-over right?)

#346291 - 01/29/05 12:43 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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So that's why I always see pianist's hands raise in fast scaler passages. I was wondering what they were doing.

#346292 - 01/29/05 01:51 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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How fast should a scale be in order to require or prefer the thunb over technique? For example, which technique would be preferable for the E major scale at the end of the Chopin Scherzo in E? Does the answer to the question depend on the skill/preferences of the player? Are there gradations of technique in between the the methods?

#346293 - 01/29/05 01:58 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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With the right hand thumb on F# and the other fingers on A#,C#,D# and F natural respectively, and with the hand toward the rear of the keys, repeat the group upwards in a fast, smooth arpeggio. The sensation of "thumb over" is more or less forced on you because you can't get it smooth and fast any other way. Then just remember the sensation and apply it to scales and other figures.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
#346294 - 01/29/05 02:09 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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I don't really play a lot of classical music, Pianoloverus, but as far as what I do play is concerned, yes, I find there is a gradation available for most figures.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
#346295 - 01/29/05 04:00 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:

When you "cross over," the natural rotation of the wrist brings the thumb slightly up and into position for the next group of notes. (For example, in a RH E Major scale, after you play the EF#G#, the wrist rotates slightly as the elbow moves to the right, thus placing the thumb directly over the A but not directly under any other fingers...)
I did lessons for around 8 years until around 7 years ago. I was only taught thumb under. I had tried to learn some pieces which involved fast ascending scales, like Chopin Prelude No.24, and I always hit a wall. I wondered why I could fly down a 3 octave decending scale in maybe 2 seconds, but not ascending.
Recently I read that book by that guy, 'Chuan C. Chang'. I thought that he was trying to make some joke when he talks about the thumb over. Then I read the line; "Students who have learned only thumb under will have a hard time trying to understand how anybody could play thumb over". So I'm currently trying to convert. I'm beginning to get the hang of it.
Should the wrist be rotating, leaning onto the little finger' side of the hand? Take a C major scale first 3 notes, CEG fingered 1 2 3. As we go to the 3rd finger, should the forearm rotate slightly clockwise, moving the thumb higher, but horizontally closer to it's next note?

And as for decending, somebody said that you just do it as normal. Chang says that it shouldn't be thumb under, but the way thumb-under students play, they're a bit closer to the correct movement. Opinions?

#346296 - 01/29/05 04:01 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Quote
Originally posted by Alan(Lost):
Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
[b]
When you "cross over," the natural rotation of the wrist brings the thumb slightly up and into position for the next group of notes. (For example, in a RH E Major scale, after you play the EF#G#, the wrist rotates slightly as the elbow moves to the right, thus placing the thumb directly over the A but not directly under any other fingers...)
I did lessons for around 8 years until around 7 years ago. I was only taught thumb under. I had tried to learn some pieces which involved fast ascending scales, like Chopin Prelude No.24, and I always hit a wall. I wondered why I could fly down a 3 octave decending scale in maybe 2 seconds, but not ascending.
Recently I read that book by that guy, 'Chuan C. Chang'. I thought that he was trying to make some joke when he talks about the thumb over. Then I read the line; "Students who have learned only thumb under will have a hard time trying to understand how anybody could play thumb over". So I'm currently trying to convert. I'm beginning to get the hang of it.
Should the wrist be rotating, leaning onto the little finger' side of the hand? Take a C major scale first 3 notes, CEG fingered 1 2 3. As we go to the 3rd finger, should the forearm rotate slightly clockwise, moving the thumb higher, but horizontally closer to it's next note?

And as for decending, somebody said that you just do it as normal. Chang says that it shouldn't be thumb under, but the way thumb-under students play, they're a bit closer to the correct movement than with ascending. Opinions? [/b]

#346297 - 01/29/05 11:03 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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As I understand it, the "Thumb Over" technique entails rotating your hand when it is time to do the thumb pass, in order to let the thumb come down vertically instead of move horizontally under the passed fingers(when ascending on the keyboard). A quick flick of the wrist and forearm is characteristic of the "Thumb Over" technique.

#346298 - 01/30/05 06:43 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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i'm practicing this very technique on the c major scale. i can be insanely fast with my right hand when descending, but ascending the scale is always slower. but i have noticed getting faster at it each time i practice. the 123-1234 thumbing becomes tricky.

it's also triky when playing a descending scale with your left hand.

practice. practice. practice.

and when you think you've practiced enough.

practice. practice. and practice some more.

repeat. :-)

#346299 - 01/30/05 08:04 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
It's for both hands.

It's nearly impossible to explain but fairly easy to demonstrate. There's really only a small subtle difference between the two.

When you cross under, the thumb is directly underneath another finger at some point.

When you "cross over," the natural rotation of the wrist brings the thumb slightly up and into position for the next group of notes. (For example, in a RH E Major scale, after you play the EF#G#, the wrist rotates slightly as the elbow moves to the right, thus placing the thumb directly over the A but not directly under any other fingers...)
Great description. I think of the "thumb over" as just describing the actual path of the thumb due to the rotation and shift of the hand. However, regards to the actual movement of the thumb, both "thumb under" and "thumb over" feel exactly the same to me. In both cases I draw my thumb inward toward my palm the same way. Whether it actually crosses under other fingers depends on how fast I have to shift my hand to the next position.

Ryan

#346300 - 01/31/05 03:02 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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I too am new to this thumb over and would really like to know how to accomplish it. Like I've said before, it just doesn't translate well with the written word and I believe I'm just going to have to see somebody do in front of me.
Anyways, from all I have gathered about TO, it is basically a handshift, on C Major, play 123 and slide/shift to F for 1234. The problem I have when I do this is the transition from the E to the F sounds like a stacatto hop, there is no legato about it and if somebody could PLEASE go into detail on how to achieve a more connected transition here I will be indebted to you for life!

#346301 - 01/31/05 08:24 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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OK, so I'm not alone in this quandary. I think what we all need is for someone to post a quick video, demonstrating the right and wrong way to do this technique. Anyone ambitious with a camera out there?

#346302 - 01/31/05 09:32 PM Re: Thumb Over??  
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I'm no expert here, but I think if you just try to play a scale as fast as you can, you will end up not using thumb under.

Think of it as the difference between walking really, really fast, versus running. You can only "walk" so fast before you start to lean forward and start running on the tip of your feet.


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#346303 - 02/01/05 12:58 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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I couldn't really get Chang's descriptions, or those here!! I think I actually already use both methods, but I'm not sure about the over part. It would be great if someone could post a video!! Please! Pretty please!!

BTW for people reading here who are working on speed, if you haven't read all of Chang's stuff about speed (not just thumb stuff) I recommend it. Even if you don't follow all of his suggestions, it sort of gives you a new way to think about some things. For example the idea that you won't necessarily be able to play fast by starting out slow and gradually speeding up, because you may have hand positions/fingerings which create speed barriers in and of themselves etc.

Also his comments about the need to be relax in order to play fast seemed to finally lodge in my head even though I've been hearing basically the same thing from my teacher for years!


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#346304 - 02/01/05 08:54 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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It must be like a trade secret that only members of the "club" are privy to. Sure some will talk about TO and try to explain it, but have you really ever heard anybody "who knows" explain it in detail? Nope.
Again, C major scale. 123 - CDE, now move your hand over and play 1234 - FGAB.
Please tell me how you accomplish this without the hop sound? The third finger has to remove himself from the E key before the thumb can play the F. Explain how to make this legato.

#346305 - 02/01/05 09:59 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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the difference between TO or TU is timing of thumb and hand shifting. TO is to shift your hand and thumb at the exactly same time, while TU is to shift/tug your thumb under palm first before hand moving along.

you're right, there is 'hop' between 123 and 1234, where you have to practice to achive the smoothness of the transition (jump as fast as you can with slight hand rotation towards right(RH)).

TO is mostly for fast scale runs, while TU is for legato playing (as mentioned by others as well). at really fast tempo, no legato is needed anyway, as long as you play every note evenly.

#346306 - 02/01/05 10:03 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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Quote
Originally posted by Rockitman:
Again, C major scale. 123 - CDE, now move your hand over and play 1234 - FGAB. Please tell me how you accomplish this without the hop sound?
Can't be done. You have be moving your hand *while* playing the notes, not just after each group.

Quote

The third finger has to remove himself from the E key before the thumb can play the F.
Only when playing the scale really, really fast. At slower tempi the notes should be overlapped for a legato sound.

Quote

Explain how to make this legato.
Again, either play it really, really fast or use the legato playing technique of overlapping the notes.

Side note:

I personally don't like the term "thumb over" because it makes it sound like (in my mind at least) the thumb should be raised higher than the other fingers. While my thumb has a definite up and down movement, it never raises above the bottom finger 2 (index).

Ryan

#346307 - 02/01/05 10:53 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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"TO is mostly for fast scale runs, while TU is for legato playing (as mentioned by others as well). at really fast tempo, no legato is needed anyway, as long as you play every note evenly."


That, my dear, is THE problem!!!!

I cannot play the notes evenly. In the C major scale, the E sounds like a stacatto note before the F is played. HOW DO I FIX THAT???????????

#346308 - 02/01/05 11:12 AM Re: Thumb Over??  
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The term, 'Thumb Over,' seems really stupid to describe this movement. It sounds like the thumb has to go OVER the other fingers and that's REALLY, REALLY awkward.

In scales I use the thumb under but I prepare it so that when the second finger plays it moves simultaneously to its next note and there is no break in the legato. It does take some conscious practice to acquire this tho.

Arpeggios are played with a 'lightning quick' movement of the thumb to the next position. At slow speeds there is a gap but at fast speeds it is not. And, sometimes words are inadequate to describe what is needed and then the 'force of example' must be used. Music literature is rife with examples where turning the thumb under would impede the flow of the musical line and the rapid shift of the hand is absolutely necessary to get to the next position.

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