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Technique building/repair/start over? #2751020
07/12/18 02:35 PM
07/12/18 02:35 PM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 338
East Coast, USA
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XenondiFluoride Offline OP
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XenondiFluoride  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 338
East Coast, USA
Hello everyone,

This afternoon I decided I would go take a look at a hannon book that I got ages ago thinking I was going to actually use it. I knew I had bad technique, however I was unaware of just how bad/non existent it is. I stumbled through the first five ( my 4th finger needs more strength) and then started skipping through the book to see what else I was terrible at. turns out that I am really only decent with tremolos and repeated notes. (alright with octaves).

I finished most of my summer classes so I got time for the rest of the summer, I know that is not a huge amount of time, but I need to improve. The problem is, while running though the book for an hour was interesting, I seriously doubt I could stick to it for an hour a day for more than a week before I get bored. (I know I should not be getting bored and looking at the long run, but why do you think I jut got around to testing the book today after 11 years of "learning piano")

To give you an idea of the paradox situation I am in, I can play Liszt's un sospirio, paganni etude one, and trancendental 1. pretty decently, and pieces like Schubert arabesque op 90 4, claire de Lune and deux arabesques are on the easy side for me (in terms of speed of learning them and how well I feel I can play them). (I am not great at reading music so that is all I can play right now) Yet, I do not know music theory/scales/keys/anything I should know.

I keep telling myself that I am going to start from the basics and work my way up, but I cannot help but feel bored and disillusioned whenever I start back towards square one. (playing a liszt piece even badly is much more interesting then finger exercises even if I need the latter much more) The reason why I can play these "higher level" pieces is primarily due to me mindlessly repeating hard sections enough to build up muscle memory (also terrible I know).

I was going to get a teacher, but during the semester I am focusing on classes, not piano, and during the summers I do internships and more classes. Further more though, I clearly cannot listen to myself, and did not listen to all the advice my past teacher gave me. My last teacher gave up on me ever leaning anything theory related, and I cannot blame her in the least. I would want to get a new teacher now simply so that I have no previous condition to fall back to.

I am right around 20 now, I figure I have around seven years of peak neuro-plasticity before I am going to gradually have a harder time picking up new things, I do not care to be in competitions, or playing islamey, I play only for my enjoyment, but I am noticing hard limits on progress and I want to get better and not burn out.

TL;DR: trash technique never listened to teacher, want to reform.

What are some slightly more interesting finger exercises or skill packed etudes that I should look into? I used to try to convince myself that if I learned hard etudes I would get better technique, but as I mentioned above, I did not really learn a skill more so how to copy it. I was considering Czerny school of velocity, and some old piano books I have lying around, however I am sure that you all might know of some good options.


Any other insight/advice is greatly appropriated, even dishing out of scorn as I certainly deserve some.


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Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751033
07/12/18 03:35 PM
07/12/18 03:35 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,042
New York City
pianoloverus Offline
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Unless your technique is sound and based on knowledge just practicing any exercise is not going to be particularly helpful and might not be at all helpful. Even if your basic technique is sound a particular exercise may involve something you don't know much about. The best solution is a teacher who is willing to work with you on technique.

You should discuss with a potential teacher how major a change(if necessary) you would be willing to make and what areas you want to work on and see if the teacher is willing to proceed that way. There's not much use having a teacher who wants to completely remake your technique if you're mostly looking for minor adjustments.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/12/18 03:35 PM.
Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751049
07/12/18 04:26 PM
07/12/18 04:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10,959
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by XenondiFluoride

What are some slightly more interesting finger exercises or skill packed etudes that I should look into? I used to try to convince myself that if I learned hard etudes I would get better technique, but as I mentioned above, I did not really learn a skill more so how to copy it. I was considering Czerny school of velocity, and some old piano books I have lying around, however I am sure that you all might know of some good options.



I recommend Geoffrey Tankard's Pianoforte Technique on an hour a day which contains very short exercises - mostly one measure each (which you can play in all keys using the same fingerings) - that you can pick and choose to overcome specific technical shortcomings. In fact, just by playing through each of them, you'll rapidly find what your problem areas are, and focus on them. Many of them target the 'weak fingers'.

https://www.amazon.com/Pianoforte-T...ds=pianoforte+technique+on+an+hour+a+day

My last teacher (a concert pianist) gave me that book to iron out all of my remaining technical deficiencies in order to prepare me for my performance diploma exam that I was planning to do in two years' time.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751051
07/12/18 04:27 PM
07/12/18 04:27 PM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 672
Moscow, Russia
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Online content
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Posts: 672
Moscow, Russia
Honestly among finger exercises I consider Hanon's the most beautiful. (Certainly if they are played with expression, as they are meant to be played, not mechanically.)

Consider that rebuilding technique is more difficult than building it. You'll have to play similar exercises for an hour a day for months for new habits to overwrite your previous ones. Not everyone has enough patience fot that. And you need to know precisely what your goal is in terms of sound and body sensations. It's difficult to stick to exercises unless there is a very concrete goal that you want to archieve.

Good luck!

Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751088
07/12/18 06:53 PM
07/12/18 06:53 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 215
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allegro_concerto Offline
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I think you need to work out what you want to achieve, if you find yourself not able to progress and you want progress, you will need to invest in finding a good piano teacher. If you are happy with what you are playing, then you can stay with that. There is a difference between the foundation required between building a small shed Vs a skyscraper.

At the end of the day, it is never about what you can play, it is how well you play.

Also, it is far more interesting/productive to take the difficult passage out and work on them as some kind of variations to Hanon exercises, with emphasis on phrasing and dynamics, and changing rhythms etc... or even transpose to another key. All Hanon does is to take a pattern and repeat, surely most people are smart enough to come up with patterns themselves... The other problem is that Hanon has no context beyond being a finger exercise book, so that is why its very often done mechanically because people are not thinking about its role within a specific location in a piece of music.

Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751109
07/12/18 09:11 PM
07/12/18 09:11 PM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 42
Detroit
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Fidel Offline
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Detroit
Nothing in your post indicates you need to rebuild your technique. Only advanced technicians can work through Liszt Etudes. Further, re-wiring your technique is very hazardous without an excellent teacher guiding the process. If you do it wrong it can disable your ability to play.
I suggest reading Neil Stannard's "Piano Technique Demystified" especially chapters 18 & 19. The book is on Amazon or your local library. It's a quick read and I think has the answers you're looking for. But I'll emphasize what Stannard implies without outright saying so: Get A Teacher!


Baldwin SF-10 (1979)
Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: bennevis] #2751144
07/13/18 02:12 AM
07/13/18 02:12 AM
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 463
Rural UK
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Fareham Offline
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Fareham  Offline
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Joined: May 2017
Posts: 463
Rural UK
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by XenondiFluoride

What are some slightly more interesting finger exercises or skill packed etudes that I should look into? I used to try to convince myself that if I learned hard etudes I would get better technique, but as I mentioned above, I did not really learn a skill more so how to copy it. I was considering Czerny school of velocity, and some old piano books I have lying around, however I am sure that you all might know of some good options.



I recommend Geoffrey Tankard's Pianoforte Technique on an hour a day which contains very short exercises - mostly one measure each (which you can play in all keys using the same fingerings) - that you can pick and choose to overcome specific technical shortcomings. In fact, just by playing through each of them, you'll rapidly find what your problem areas are, and focus on them. Many of them target the 'weak fingers'.

https://www.amazon.com/Pianoforte-T...ds=pianoforte+technique+on+an+hour+a+day

My last teacher (a concert pianist) gave me that book to iron out all of my remaining technical deficiencies in order to prepare me for my performance diploma exam that I was planning to do in two years' time.


+1

When rebuilding my technique after many years, I found that if I listened intently to what I was doing, I was never bored - even if the rest of the family were driven up the wall !


The English may not like music much, but they love the sound it makes ... Beecham
Re: Technique building/repair/start over? [Re: XenondiFluoride] #2751264
07/13/18 04:00 PM
07/13/18 04:00 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,059
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wouter79 Offline
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wouter79  Offline
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Posts: 5,059
Originally Posted by XenondiFluoride

I clearly cannot listen to myself,


That's the real problem.

You can not fix what you can't hear.

I'm in the same boat, even after my teacher points something out I don't hear it quite often.

Originally Posted by XenondiFluoride

And did not listen to all the advice my past teacher gave me.


And with that attitude, you can't fix it. I do take the teacher remarks very serious. In fact, I took this teacher specifically to work on this problem.

I don't know any other way than to bang into the wall until you notice it. Follow everything that the teacher suggest to the letter and try even more. Maybe that will help. Maybe not.

I was not expecting too much but kept working on it. Playing scales (I accumulated already 100+ hours on d minor for example) and "simple" pieces. Forget about that Liszt, it makes no sense if you can not hear what is wrong and you're only learning flawed technique.

I started to hear a bit of what the teacher hears after more than a year, and it's still getting slowly better after 2 years of hard work on this. Teacher is still pointing out these problems but says I'm improving. . So for me this works but VERY slow.


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