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legato help
#594841 05/05/04 06:16 PM
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9 months after becoming aware that I play hopelessly nonlegato-ish, I'm afraid I must report I've incorporated virtually no legato into my playing.

How should I incorporate legato techniques? My fingers articulate precisely but I hear no flow. I attack the keys even on the softest notes. It's like my fingers are like wooden joints. I kind of sound like Glenn Gould playing Bach....not so good of course.

Help.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: legato help
#594842 05/05/04 09:22 PM
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hello apple
I'm only a novice but this may be of some use..........
My piano teacher says I play excellent legato for someone of who has played piano for a relatively short period of time. She says it's because I'm a singer........
Imagine you are singing the notes. forget your technique. Picture how you want to hear your phrase and then play it...........


How now, brown cow.
Re: legato help
#594843 05/05/04 09:36 PM
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Is your wrist tense?

Good legato comes form the whole arm, not just the hand - move your arm with the contour of the melody and you will notice a difference.

Re: legato help
#594844 05/06/04 05:52 AM
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If you want to play more with your arm, think you are playing with your back.
The muscles in the back will command those of the arms which will command those of the forearm etc.

You can imagine you are skating so as to be taken within a rythm and let the music play itself.

You can even be a singing skater laugh


Benedict
Re: legato help
#594845 05/06/04 06:29 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by apple:
My fingers articulate precisely but I hear no flow. I attack the keys even on the softest notes.
You said it. Use less fingers. Don't lift them up so high. What Brendan said - less tension, more arm and shoulder. Think of the notes overlapping into each other.

Hope that helps.

Re: legato help
#594846 05/06/04 08:55 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by apple:
I kind of sound like Glenn Gould playing Bach....not so good of course.
Don't be fooled by GG's staccato.
His 'melodic continuity' (ie. the 'line', how each note relates to the previous and the next one) is top class.

Aside from what Brendan said, concentrate on listening (how each note relates to the previous one)

Re: legato help
#594847 05/06/04 10:02 AM
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Here's a technique to help you learn legato; be aware that it involves very close listening to what you are doing.
Play a scale very slowly. Do not release the first note until the second note of the scale has sounded - yes, the sound will overlap and be momentarily blurry. Practice scales with this "overlapping" sound and then begin to reduce the length of the overlap so that, eventually, you can learn to release your hold on the one note at precisely the moment the next one begins to sound.

Doing this with a scale helps you hear the legato in both ascending and descending lines. Then do the same thing with a phrase of music - preferably one with step-like intervals, initially.

Then try the same technique with arpeggios and, eventually, with phrases of music that have varying intervals.

If you do this very slowly - and patiently - for some time, it should help you develop a "legato line." You must, however, listen to what you're doing and analyze accurately what you hear.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: legato help
#594848 05/06/04 11:34 PM
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My director turned to me tonite and said "And you,,, could you try to play with more legato". smokin Tension is my problem... I can never play without becoming excited and tense.

I'll work on legato techiniques this summer. I thought Bach's Aria from the Pentecost Cantata would be a good practice piece... I like the the scales and arpeggios approach... that'll keep me occupied for a couple months.

thank you


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: legato help
#594849 05/07/04 10:03 AM
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Do you play with extremely curved fingers? If so, you may want to try stretching them out more and playing a bit more with the pads of the fingers. Another thought, in legato passages try to imagine that you are pressing into the keys through thick molases - that should help slow down your attack. What your arm is doing is very important, as Brendan said. As far as keeping fingers closer to the keys, it depends on the situation. You may want your fingers to be higher if it gives you more presence of tone and makes the notes sing out better. Also, varying finger distance gives you better control over dynamics and allows you to give the stronger notes more emphasis. One final thing that often gets overlooked, the pedal can be your close friend when it comes to legato. Developing a legato pedal technique takes some time, but it is well worth it as it will totally enhance your legato sound, making it seem even more legato than is possible on a hammered instrument.

Ryan

Re: legato help
#594850 05/07/04 09:44 PM
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I personnally feel that "ycul" makes a good point about "singing". My teacher often suggests that I sing along or hum or even "da da da" in tune as I play to improve the legato movement and especially to make one hand more prominent than the other if required for affect. She's always saying," make the piano sing"...
However BruceD is "dead on " in the description of technique to practice legato. My teacher has me focus on this precise technique during all scales and arppegio playing. Sometimes I'm lazy but she reminds me to slow down and be consistant with my movement. All in tim. We have to remember to take it slow and gradual to improve our skills.

Re: legato help
#594851 05/07/04 10:13 PM
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I'm hurting my ears.

I've practiced for two hrs. tho, and have made a little headway - till I get distracted.

.........I might as well change my name to ms. pitter patter.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: legato help
#594852 05/09/04 04:29 AM
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Apple,
This way you've been playing for years, using detached finger strokes and so on, does it sound nice sometimes ? If you think it does I'd be disinclined to suddenly change my approach and risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't suppose what I think counts for much really because I do virtually nothing except improvisation and my own music. However, I have grown rather fond of that clear, detached, finger driven sound over the years. No doubt I acquired it through ignorance and brute force, but I've done it for so long that I know I can play anything I want to using it. Also, I always feel very relaxed and seem to have a lot of musical control playing that way. Ten years ago I paid a pianist to teach me legato and after a long time I found I could do it all right. The question then was whether or not I wanted to.

Most of the time now I play in my old fashion, this time voluntarily, because it suits my musical purpose and I simply like detached sounds.

Therefore if you've been doing something one way for many years, be very careful about changing it suddenly. It is possible to arrive at a very disconcerting stage where you feel as if you are falling between two stools, so to speak. Better, I think,to keep your old way active while learning the new in parallel.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
Re: legato help
#594853 05/09/04 09:24 AM
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Just relax. Even if you play the wrong notes, relax your body and your wrists. Try and fall into the notes, press down the keys softly


Ella
Re: legato help
#594854 05/11/04 12:11 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Ted2:
Apple,
This way you've been playing for years, using detached finger strokes and so on, does it sound nice sometimes ? If you think it does I'd be disinclined to suddenly change my approach and risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't suppose what I think counts for much really because I do virtually nothing except improvisation and my own music. However, I have grown rather fond of that clear, detached, finger driven sound over the years. No doubt I acquired it through ignorance and brute force, but I've done it for so long that I know I can play anything I want to using it. Also, I always feel very relaxed and seem to have a lot of musical control playing that way. Ten years ago I paid a pianist to teach me legato and after a long time I found I could do it all right. The question then was whether or not I wanted to.

Most of the time now I play in my old fashion, this time voluntarily, because it suits my musical purpose and I simply like detached sounds.

Therefore if you've been doing something one way for many years, be very careful about changing it suddenly. It is possible to arrive at a very disconcerting stage where you feel as if you are falling between two stools, so to speak. Better, I think,to keep your old way active while learning the new in parallel.
To tell you the truth Ted, I have always tried to achieve perfect clarity. I like every note to sound exactly the way it should; some poing-y some plunky. However, I feel, in part because of the pianos I've played - a 1914 Steinway upright and a 25 yr. old Baldwin grand), that my technique has evolved to the accommodate the 'attack' or vigor I must play with to evoke a broad range of expression.

Now that I'm approaching 50 and I realize that my knuckles have been compacted - getting arthritic, I need to change the way I play.... and of course there's 'the director' who seems to know alot more about playing than I do who thinks 'legato' is better for our ensemble.

Practicing legato has made my playing sound much better. Much.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: legato help
#594855 05/11/04 04:48 PM
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Oh, okay. In your case change is obviously wise. Curiously, at fifty-six I still find playing with a dominant finger component very relaxing and productive of a greater variety of musical expression.

I guess I have done the wrong thing for so long that I might as well keep on doing it now. It would be uninteresting if all players were the same though, wouldn't it.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: legato help
#594856 05/11/04 05:15 PM
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you must be doing something right. (My arthritis, btw is from gymnastic 'abuse'.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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