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I can play inversions quite well with one hand-- it comes naturally-- but I can't seem to play both hands, even with much practice. My teacher, in trying to determine what the block is, had me practice two different scales at the same time, for example, DM left hand, FM right hand. I just can't make my brain work that way. She's looking for exercises that will help. Any suggestions?

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For the scales:

. . . Slow down until you can do what your teacher wants you to do.

That's a neat "hand independence" exercise. It's quite different from "scales in thirds".

For the inversions:

. . . Practice chord inversions in your _weaker_ hand (probably the left) until
. . . you have "muscle memory" for them.

Then try adding the stronger hand.

Do them _slowly_ -- think before you lift your fingers, then play the next chord. You'll be exercising mental faculties that you've never had to use before.

PS -- I don't teach, and your teacher seems to have good ideas, so listen to him/her.




. Charles
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Thanks for the encouragement, Charles. I have muscle memory down pretty well for both hands individually. I followed a tip online and kept my hand in the correct position for a few seconds for each inversion. That worked well. I think impatience is my worst enemy. Since I can do the inversions almost without thinking with each hand, I'm trying to go too fast when playing both hands.

I'm curious as to how hard others find "hand independence" exercises, as you called them. Hate to ask a dumb question, but what is "scales in thirds?"

If there are any other exercises I can do, I would love to hear from others.

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Scales in thirds [Edit -- I may have used the wrong name for this]:

Both hands play the notes of the same scale, but not at the same time. And I should have said "scales in tenths", to be more accurate.

Say G major:

LH starts on G (fifth finger); RH starts on B (third finger), one octave higher.

Each hand plays up and down two octaves, with standard fingering. So the hands play:

LH: G A B C D E F# G

RH: B C D E F# G A B

If you haven't done this, it's a _lot_ harder than it sounds! The thumb-under pattern for each hand is the same as "hands together" scales. But the _timing_ of the thumb-under (and hitting the accidentals) is different than you're used to.

Start slowly, keep timing and dynamics even (or do crescendo-diminuendo if you want to).



. Charles

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 10/25/15 12:58 AM.

. Charles
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Originally Posted by PamDD
I think impatience is my worst enemy. Since I can do the inversions almost without thinking with each hand, I'm trying to go too fast when playing both hands.



Impatience is your worst enemy, so it is good you recognise that. Your best friend is slow practice. Any brain/hand problem can be overcome by simply slowing down the movements, no matter how slow that might be. A daily regime of playing slowly, even just for a few minutes, and you will see progress as the movement becomes ingrained and natural.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

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Hi Pam, I have no idea if this is your problem or not, but many of my students struggle with playing 3-note chords in inversions hands together before they figure out how to keep track of which finger plays the middle note.

Is this how you finger the chords:
Close position (all notes a 3rd apart) LH 531 RH 135
First inversion (top and middle note are a 4th apart) LH 531 RH 125
Second inversion (bottom and middle note are a 4th apart) LH 521 RH 135

This fingering is ideal for note accuracy. Many students try to do everything 135 in both hands because it seems less complicated and you can still reach everything, but the chord shapes change constantly, you have to keep rearranging your fingers, and in the long run it is just harder to be accurate that way. Learning to play 125 on the inversions where the middle note is close to the thumb and far from the pinky takes some time especially since it doesn't happen on the same inversion in the RH as in the LH, but it is well worth the extra learning curve because it makes you very accurate. Your fingers 5 and 1 stay a 6th apart most of the time, fingers 2 and 3 are always where they need to be for their respective middle notes, and when you do have to close slightly for close position, finger 3 will never miss its note so no worries.


Last edited by hreichgott; 10/25/15 09:01 PM.

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Pam, is this just with the triads, or are you doing 6ths, 7ths, Maj7ths, etc? I usually avoid the left thumb for root triads, since it'll be needed elsewhere when you get to those bigger chords. But that's a pop/jazz thing, probably not so important if your goal is classical.



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Heather, I'm playing the inversions the way you stated and you're right, I'm having trouble keeping track of the middle finger. I'll just slow way down. I'm an older adult, so I guess I have to expect to be slower to make progress!

John, I'm playing classical almost exclusively.

Charles, playing the scales starting on different notes really would be a brain-twister, but I'd have to say playing two totally different scales as I've been doing is harder! I did have a bit of a break-through yesterday. I was able to play the FM and GM scales together!

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Originally Posted by PamDD
Heather, I'm playing the inversions the way you stated and you're right, I'm having trouble keeping track of the middle finger. I'll just slow way down. I'm an older adult, so I guess I have to expect to be slower to make progress!

Slowing way down is a great idea.
Do not feel bad. My students who have these exercises right now are all ages 11-17 and they all take a long time to get the hang of it!


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Originally Posted by PamDD
Any suggestions?

Yes, one and IMO the only one suggestion:)
practise, practise, practise, and practise smile

What you might be doing wrong is rushing too soon. Unfortunately, you cannot skip anything. It's only an illusion that if you can play fast, or even if you think you can play fast, you play well. It's wrong, harmful and waist of time. You've got to reduce tempo to absolute minimum and even go one note per second if you need to.

The point is, you have to (1) train your wrists (shape, position, you name it), fingers, as well as (2) train your brain--even if you look at one hand, you should track the second hand.

Last edited by Celdor; 10/27/15 07:40 AM.

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I found staring with just the outer voices. Then just the middle voices. Then everything is very helpful. Each of those steps also break the chord first and then play them together. And of course, slow slow slow!


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