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#3130560 06/22/21 07:26 PM
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Is there a rule of thumb, excuse the pun, as to when one ought to play two adjacent notes with the thumb?


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No idea, I think it depends on your reach and how crazy the piece is, LOL. I’ve done this in Schubert and Chopin. 🤷‍♀️ In my experience, it doesn’t come up often.

Actually, I vaguely remember this in Bach, too. 🤔


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If you have a big stretch, like a 13th, and the bottom two notes are toegether. E.g. RH middle C-D and an octave above D could be played with an extended thumb on C & D and the 5th on the top D.

What about this one - Bar 16 RH minum - C sharp, D , (A) and C sharp above ?



If you want a trick, for this rach piece I could not reach the 2nd for the D so my teacher taught me a cheat where I play the C sharp with the knuckle of the thumb and the D with the thumb and the C sharp above with the 5th.

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Originally Posted by DThompson55
Is there a rule of thumb, excuse the pun, as to when one ought to play two adjacent notes with the thumb?
When the hand is at full stretch, and (usually) both keys are white.

As in the chord F-G-D-G in Chopin's Revolutionary Étude, played with 1-1-3-5.


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My bad, its a 9th not a 13th, i'm not sure 13th is even possible even for rachmaninov lol

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Sometimes there's no choice. Other times playing two adjacent notes with the thumb may just feel more comfortable for a particular person. I use the thumb to play two adjacent notes on the last chord(DEGC) of this piece although I could play each note in the chord with a separate finger:

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/22/21 07:52 PM.
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Playing 2 notes an octave apart with small hands you'd use your thumb & pinkie. Try to avoid playing black keys with your thumb but a 4-note chord that starts with a black key you need to use your thumb.

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Originally Posted by DThompson55
Is there a rule of thumb, excuse the pun, as to when one ought to play two adjacent notes with the thumb?

For me it might have come up about three times in the last nine years on various pieces, so I would not worry to much about it. If there is a rule it is simply to economize unnecessary movement of the hand as in some situations the alternative would be to roll or arpeggiate a chord. But that might not be what the composer/editor wanted.


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Whenever it’s “comfortable” to do so I suppose? Beethoven seems to like this, I’ve done it in a few of his pieces, even some of the slower ones. There’s two Chopin pieces that come to mind as well - the “revolutionary”, as bennevis noted, and a nocturne, op 27 no 1, in the piu mosso section once the piece has fully transitioned to a-flat, there’s a giant chord where it’s more comfortable for me to play d-flat and e-flat with the right thumb. I’m working through parts of the waldstein first movement and there’s at least one place so far where playing a and b together with the thumb makes sense.

So for me at least this isn’t uncommon. My hands might also just be weird, though. grin

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No rule. Use the thumb on two adjacent white key notes when you (1) need to and (2) when you are physically capable of doing so.

You can use the thumb on two black notes as well. I'm playing a Schubert piece right now and there is an Eb-Db-Eb in the left hand where I have to use 5 on the lower Eb and play the upper Db-Eb with my thumb (tip and knuckle). It's easy-peasy in the right hand using 1-4-5.


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Obviously the notes can't be articulated very precisely when played like that, so the rule is to avoid it whenever possible.

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Interestingly, I' currently learning a boogie woogie piece where the original pianist used to use this technique a lot. I'm finding it quite unfamiliar at the moment!

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Originally Posted by Stubbie
I'm playing a Schubert piece right now and there is an Eb-Db-Eb in the left hand where I have to use 5 on the lower Eb and play the upper Db-Eb with my thumb (tip and knuckle).
Schubert giggles whenever people experience finger gymnastics with his pieces. He giggles a LOT. 😂😂😂

This sounds familiar, what piece was that? It may have been what I played, was it a waltz? He drives me nuts.


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Stubbie
I'm playing a Schubert piece right now and there is an Eb-Db-Eb in the left hand where I have to use 5 on the lower Eb and play the upper Db-Eb with my thumb (tip and knuckle).
Schubert giggles whenever people experience finger gymnastics with his pieces. He giggles a LOT. 😂😂😂

This sounds familiar, what piece was that? It may have been what I played, was it a waltz? He drives me nuts.
I am playing from his Complete Dances (Volume I, Henle) and the particular piece is D. 128 no. 3. Most of the pieces are Minuets and Trios in 3/4 time. These are short pieces and I don't spend more than a week or so on each. My teacher has me doing these to work on my timing. She can be very exacting. The pieces aren't easy but they are easier than the other stuff I'm working on and thus I can concentrate on counting.

As an aside, my jaw drops at immensity of Schubert's output. He died at age 31, right? He must have been composing in his sleep. smile


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
As an aside, my jaw drops at immensity of Schubert's output. He died at age 31, right? He must have been composing in his sleep. smile

That's not the waltz I played with the thumb thingie, LOL, but wow, what a lovely bunch! Yeah, I have no idea how he did it, he must have written hundreds of dances. I'm working on Op. 33, No. 10 at the moment. I always find his pieces challenging!


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Originally Posted by fatar760
Interestingly, I' currently learning a boogie woogie piece where the original pianist used to use this technique a lot. I'm finding it quite unfamiliar at the moment!

I am just looking at basic left hand patterns and annoyingly (4 a beginner like me) the second boogie guy plays it 2xC(5) G(1) and 2xC(5) A(1)) compared to the first who plays it 2xC(5) G(2) and 2xC(5) A(1)... now wondering if I've been doing it wrong all this time!

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Originally Posted by Bebe1980
Originally Posted by fatar760
Interestingly, I' currently learning a boogie woogie piece where the original pianist used to use this technique a lot. I'm finding it quite unfamiliar at the moment!

I am just looking at basic left hand patterns and annoyingly (4 a beginner like me) the second boogie guy plays it 2xC(5) G(1) and 2xC(5) A(1)) compared to the first who plays it 2xC(5) G(2) and 2xC(5) A(1)... now wondering if I've been doing it wrong all this time!


My instinct would be to go for the 1st guy there. That said, it's all about what works for you. I'm used to crushing notes together with my thumbs (and rather enjoy it actually), but playing notes next to each other with a thumb feels a little awkward.


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