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Practice Question

Posted By: Fatih

Practice Question - 01/08/13 05:55 PM

Guys , i am a beginner and i have a technical question about practicing piano.

Let's say that i am practicing an etud which teaches you how to do finger passages(or some other basic etudes)

It is very easy to do with only one hand. Either right or left... But it is really hard to do it 2 handed. Should i always practice using 2 hands or should i also do 1 hand practicing?

The reason i am asking that is because i feel like 1 handed practice is very easy and i should only practice using 2 hands but on the other hand i am thinking maybe i shouldn't bind my hands to each other. I think that if i always practice using 2 hands , in songs my hands will want to behave the same way( I don't know if this behaviour of body parts have a particular name).

I hope i am clear guys. I don't want to get any bad behaviours.

TY smile
Posted By: Mark...

Re: Practice Question - 01/08/13 05:58 PM

After hands separate, do hands together but super slow and build up speed as you go. Hand independence develops over time with practice.
Posted By: hamlet cat

Re: Practice Question - 01/09/13 04:44 AM

Every beginner experiences the difficulty of playing hands together. Its gets easier after time has passed with practice. Always practice hands separate at first. Alternate left and then right hand. Get to know the piece very well hands separate. Then go hands together and slow it down as slow as it takes at first. Don't worry about the timing, just concentrate on getting the right notes at first. Get the right notes every time, slow it down more if you are missing some. Once you have the right notes you can start playing a bit faster and get the timing right. (with and without metronome). Speed up a bit at a time until you get to tempo. smile
Posted By: Fatih

Re: Practice Question - 01/09/13 10:10 AM

Ty guys. I will do what you suggest smile .
Posted By: zrtf90

Re: Practice Question - 01/09/13 10:19 AM

I hope I'm not too late with this, Fatih!

When we first tackle a new piece at a level close to our limits we are usually faced with four or five kinds of difficulty.

1. The first kind is reading difficulties. Too many accidentals and ledger lines can prevent us reading the score quickly and accurately and responding at the keyboard. These problems are best solved before we actually sit at the piano and start playing the piece through.

If you spend time analysing the music before you start playing you can work out what notes are being used just by counting ledger lines. If you're also doing a harmonic analysis you can write in the chord name under the staff and know that the note is a seventh or an octave or whatever, or whether it's a major or minor chord.

Other reading difficulties occur when notes with different rhythms are close together and it isn't immediately obvious where they occur (notes with stems up and stems down create an optical illusion when printed close together). Once again, these problems are best solved before attempting to play the piece by following the score or by audiating it slowly until the correct rhythms are understood.

2. There is another problem I usually solve before the next step and that is a logistical one. Whether or not it is a difficulty is debatable but I sort out fingering first. This may involve distributing the notes between the hands as well as the fingers. You can solve the problem on the first day at the piano by looking closely at each measure in turn and sorting it out and pencilling it in. In time you may be able to do this before you sit at the piano and not have to pencil anything in.

3. Then there are the mechanical difficulties. These include stretches, changing finger on one note, weak finger trills, passing the fifth finger under the fourth, etc. As our piano mileage increases these decrease but they are best solved by practising hands separately. The worst of these problems need to be solved before you are able to play hands together but HS practise can continue each day after you start putting hands together until all the difficulties are solved and target velocity has been reached.

4. Next are the psychological difficulties, leaps that require looking down at the keyboard and consequently taking our eyes off the score, crossing hands, etc. These are best solved by practising a quick glance down at the keyboard a beat or two in advance and then make the leap blind. Many of these problems can be overcome by memorising but that is a workaround not a solution and doesn't help when both hands skip in different directions at the same time.

Skips within the octave can be achieved by expanding and contracting a relaxed hand in support of the fingers and this improves with experience. Leaps between one and two octaves can be achieved by rapidly changing the thumb and fifth finger and beyond two octaves by visually targetting the key a beat or two prior.

Once again, a few years of keyboard topography will reduce the extent of these difficulties and practising "glancing" will suffice until then. You might try reading a page a day without taking your eyes off the score for building topographical awareness. But don't start with stride.

5. Finally there are the co-ordination problems when combining the hands with different rhythms, polyrhythms, and so on. Real beginners even suffer with assymetric motion. These cannot be solved by practising hands separately but need not be left until both hands are each memorised or proficent on their own. Simple rhythmic problems I solve by putting words to the music to give me the correct timing and then learn to play the resulting rhythm slowly. Starting with a metronome set at 60 bpm and using four clicks per semiquaver may sound extremely slow - but you try keeping up with it the first few times through a Bach fugue!

It is not "slow" practise that solves these problems it is practise at a speed at which you can play. This will be slow at first but what sounds slow to a listener may not be so slow to you when your brain is reading four separate melodies simultaneously and controlling each finger individually.

Basic polyrhythmic problems such as two against three and three against four can be practised using our scales. Once the resulting rhythm gets into your head it's really quite easy.

Complex polyrhythms, such as Chopin's fioriture, need a separate and often unique solution. This usually involves isolating the measures and careful work with a slow metronome or advanced counting techniques.

Posted By: sinophilia

Re: Practice Question - 01/09/13 11:24 AM

Richard, that is so useful! Thank you!

I find point 1 particularly important. I for one enjoy music theory and analysis, and I find that being able to identify signatures, chords, and patterns helps with self-confidence and relaxation and makes the following steps a bit easier. At the very beginning one has to learn the alphabet of music, but when the brain is able to grasp words and sentences the fingers seem to follow so much better.
Posted By: zrtf90

Re: Practice Question - 01/10/13 12:48 AM

Thank you, Diana.

What would it take for you to participate in a theory and analysis thread? I've read a few posts that suggest our current one is over people's heads.

We're only too happy to answer basic questions but I understand people's reluctance to interrupt the flow.

Would easier pieces do it?

Anyone else?

Posted By: Fatih

Re: Practice Question - 01/10/13 09:14 PM

Richard, thanks a lot man. These are all so precious informations. I hope you didn't write it all for me smile .
Posted By: DinaP

Re: Practice Question - 01/11/13 12:57 AM

Another thing that helps me is to break the work down into measures -- work just one or two at time and when mastered with hands together work on the next couple till comfortable and then put what you can do so far, even if still slowly, together --- etc.

Sometimes start with the last measures rather than the beginning of a shorter piece (since I'm a relative beginner, most of my Etudes and pieces are quite short) -- then add in reverse order -- this gives a psychological learning advantage -- when playing through what has been mastered to the present time the last part has been played the most and the newest part is in the beginning so one tends to relax more as one progresses through the piece
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