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Bart K Offline OP
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I'm playing the famous Rach prelude in C-sharp minor (yeah I know 🙄) and I was wondering how other people might pracice the chord jumps. The way my teacher showed me and which I always practiced so far was to play then quickly jump to the next chord but stop with my hand in position over the keys, then play and quickly jump to the next one, etc. That works great for most of the chords in this piece but then there is this in measure 51 and 53:

[Linked Image]

It's obviously impossible to play these chords on the beat so everyone plays the bass octaves and immediately jumps to the top. But that jump should be much quicker than the rest of the prelude - almost like a grace note. There is no time to prepare the chord after the jump. It has to be immediate.

So, I am trying a different practice technique where I prepare my hands in mid-air while moving in an arc and land on the chords immediately without preparing first. Obviously, I'm practicing it slowly but because it's only one movement instead of two I believe it will help me play this chord the way it should. I made some improvement already but I'm still hitting wrong notes at the moment.

Any thoughts? How would you practice this?

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The right hand is a C octave followed by another C octave, only this time with inner chord notes.

What I do there is when playing the lower C octave, make sure my fingers are clearly resting upon the notes that make up the chord for the next part. Actually and consciously feel the full chord without playing the inner notes.

That way, the chord is already "set" without having to find it when it is needed a moment later.

For the left hand, practice the jump just as an octave, minus the inner notes. Then, after you can do that cleanly and quickly, add in one (or both inner notes).

Also, with the left hand, if your hand is relaxed, as you play the higher E octave, your fingers should rest upon, or be real close to the G# and C# black notes, which comprise the full chord.

BTW, that is how I learn such chord jumps...if too hard, first learn the "shell" of the chord...in this case it is an octave...somtimes its not. Then add in the inner notes.

You can also practice separate from the music that chord on the octaves accessible to the left hand so the chord itself is automatic.

Hope this helps.


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Bart K Offline OP
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Thanks rocket88! Yes, that helps. I have been practicing with the octaves only at first and it definitely helps. I probably need to do it more.

For the C-sharp minor chord in the RH I also practiced with a C#-G#-C# shell at first because I find the full chord tricky. The problem is that I have to play the E with finger 2 and I keep hitting D-sharp with that finger as I'm moving in an arc from the lower part of the keyboard. It's like the hand needs to turn in the other direction that it's moving. Maybe I should do a bigger arc and fall more vertically onto the keys?

Thanks for the tip of preparing the chord as I play the octave. I'll try that trick and see if it helps.

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One thing I have learned about situations like you describe where one finger is continuously playing the wrong note is to over-emphasize the playing of the correct note.

So move your hand slowly to the final upper position, and press the E with your second finger very very hard and distinctly...

This developer a pattern... a clear and distinct brain map for the correct note...kind of like yelling a command to make it totally clear vs softly saying the command.


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Bart K Offline OP
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Ah yes, that makes sense! I'll go slowly and play that E distinctly. smile

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
It's obviously impossible to play these chords on the beat.....
I usually play the chords right on the beat and the octaves just before.

Speaking of which, I actually play the preceding octaves as full 4-note C# minor chords in each hand in bar 53. Somehow, after memorizing it some years ago, that crept in after I hadn't played it for a few months, because that is the climax of the whole sequence and therefore, the loudest chord, and somehow I thought Rach wrote two full chords. By the time I discovered my error, I'd already performed it twice that way, and felt it sounded a little thin when I played it as written, so I've stayed with my 'improvement' ever since..... smirk

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So, I am trying a different practice technique where I prepare my hands in mid-air while moving in an arc and land on the chords immediately without preparing first. Obviously, I'm practicing it slowly but because it's only one movement instead of two I believe it will help me play this chord the way it should. I made some improvement already but I'm still hitting wrong notes at the moment.

Any thoughts? How would you practice this?
Can you land precisely on those chords from 'nothing'? That is, you know the keys you want to play in each hand, and you just play them immediately without any preparation, out of thin air as it were, without any preceding notes to 'guide' you, or to launch your hands from.

I think that is the sort of 'position sense' you want to develop with your hands and fingers, to tackle stuff like this. Almost instantly, you can form the shapes with your fingers that you need to land precisely on those notes in the chords, with all of them sounding together and properly voiced. And you are able to do that from a short distance above the keyboard.

What you could do is to get used to playing the chords by themselves: maybe play them several times (perhaps with different voicings each time) until they feel very familiar and natural, and the positions of your spread hands and outstretched fingers feel totally normal. Play those chords at the start of every practise session, and at the end, as many times as you feel like playing, until you can just sit down at the piano and immediately play them without any preparation.


"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."
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Bart K Offline OP
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Can you land precisely on those chords from 'nothing'? That is, you know the keys you want to play in each hand, and you just play them immediately without any preparation, out of thin air as it were, without any preceding notes to 'guide' you, or to launch your hands from.
That's interesting. Do you keep your hands in your lap and then raise them and play the chord immediately? That seems easier than jumping up by two octaves. I will not torture my wife with more Rach practice tonight (especially at this time 😏) but I will try it out tomorrow and report back.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
So, I am trying a different practice technique where I prepare my hands in mid-air while moving in an arc and land on the chords immediately without preparing first. Obviously, I'm practicing it slowly but because it's only one movement instead of two I believe it will help me play this chord the way it should. I made some improvement already but I'm still hitting wrong notes at the moment.

Any thoughts? How would you practice this?

I dont really try to mold my fingers while being above the keys. The shape of my hand comes naturally based on what chord I need to play. I guess somewhere after leaving the previous chord and before landing on the new one, my hands takes the appropriate form. I usually dont even need to look at my hand, sometimes I would have a quick glance at the target position, if I am unsure. Positionning your hand above the chord is a trick when you have the time to do so, but in most cases you dont have the time nor can you look at the position (in particular if you are reading the score). So you need to be able to shape your hand based on the chord you need to play and at the place where you need to play it.


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by bennevis
Can you land precisely on those chords from 'nothing'? That is, you know the keys you want to play in each hand, and you just play them immediately without any preparation, out of thin air as it were, without any preceding notes to 'guide' you, or to launch your hands from.
That's interesting. Do you keep your hands in your lap and then raise them and play the chord immediately? That seems easier than jumping up by two octaves. I will not torture my wife with more Rach practice tonight (especially at this time 😏) but I will try it out tomorrow and report back.
I think bennevis was saying that what he described is a key to being able to play the chords when you jump to them. What he describes becomes automatic with enough practice.

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You need to do forearm rotation in order to do this quickly. Imagine that it is a special kind of a long arpeggio and practice it this way for some time. Just like in arpeggios the fingers must take the shape of a chord only in a very last moment, otherwise you won't be able to change position quickly.


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