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Playing both hands at different tempos

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Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by SnowmanAU on Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:58 am

Hello

I have encountered a section of a piece I would like to learn that I find particularly difficult because both hands appear to be doing separate things and playing at different tempos. What advice can you give me on this particular topic? This section specifically

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by jytte on Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:01 pm

Welcome to our forum, Snowman Smile

It's basically the same as with all pieces that present a challenge to us. Practice small pieces (maybe just one bar at a time) veeeeery slowly (and I do mean as slooooooow as it takes) until you get it, then up the speed gradually.

That's what I do.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Rickard on Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:12 pm

Nah don't practice very slowly and get up to speed gradually, that wastes alot of time and is unnecessary. After all the motions for playing slow aren't the same ones that are needed for playing fast. First off all like Jytte said you should practice small pieces at the time AND I also want to include that you should practice one hand at the time.
Some benefits of practicing small pieces at the time:
- You can practice things that you find hard instead of practicing a big section where one or two things are hard and rest are easy. It saves alot of time to practice things you don't know how to play.
- You can practice something 10, 100 or even 1000 times to learn technique without wasting alot of time.
Some benefits of Hands Separate practice:
- Instead of learning both technique and hand coordination at the same time (like with Hands Together practice) you can seperate these tasks by only learning technique using hands separate practice. And then once you've learnt the technique you can practice hand coordination by playing hands together.
- You can switch hands often so if one hand gets tired you can play with the other hand for a few minutes and then switch back.

There's a thing called parallel sets that can help you get to the right speed quickly.
Anyways, I suggest you take a look on this book and read some stuff in it:
http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book


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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by SnowmanAU on Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:14 am

Thanks for the help, although I have not been able to practice this yet I did read over parallel sets. From what I understand, parrallel sets helps pianists play notes in quick succession which is not exactly my problem in this particular section of the piece (though it does seem helpful for further section of the piece).
I was looking for help on more hand indepedence technique if you know what I mean
thanks again

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by VictorCS on Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:47 pm

I almost agree 100% with Rickard, but use metronome at half or less ( depending on how fast the piece is and how skilled you are ), then increase speed. Practicing a piece at a higher tempo will usually cause sloppy playing in the end. When you get it right at half speed, increase that a tad ( be it after 1 round or 10 ), and keep doing so untill you reach the real tempo. The most important thing is a good rythm and foundation.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Kelly on Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:45 pm

I agree with Victor's statement, starting slow is important, so don't rush through the piece, it won't help you and it'll take you longer to learn it.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by willis77 on Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:30 pm

Something I've found in my short time playing is to go slow at first! For me, it is way easier to go slow and play it right than to go fast, goof up, and have to unlearn. Unlearning errors takes way longer!

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Pianoted on Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:33 am

I'm a beginner and I find it helpful to practise pieces that are graded for beginners. So my advice to you SnowmanAU about this piece would depend on which level you're at.

If you have been playing for some time it would be fine to take on this piece. If you're a beginner then maybe you should start with easier pieces, for one hand or two but with simple notes and similar tempo for both hands.

By spending some time on easier songs you build up tecnique and feeling for rhytm which make you better equipped for dealing with more difficult pieces. When you go directly to songs that are above your level you can easily get discouraged.

Actually the fact that you say you have problems with a piece like this, with different tempos for right and left hands, tells me you're probably in the beginner's group.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by SnowmanAU on Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:55 am

I've practiced this slowly hands separately and I think I can play this particular section satisfactorially hands together. The book listed above was also a considerable help.
By the way I have been playing on and off for several years so I probably forgot the technique.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Pianoted on Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:13 am

That's great SnowmanAU, good luck with your practising.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Matthieu Stepec on Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:03 pm

Hello!

I read Rickard's comment and I strongly disagree. You should never practice too fast.
After all the motions for playing slow aren't the same ones that are needed for playing fast
If you have a good technique, yes, they are the same... That's all that needs to be said about it.
Also, for this section you obviously need to play with hands together, because the problem is only coordination...
Now this piece is a tango, or at least it has a tango rhythm on the left hand. What I usually do for tango is to:
1) try to keep "feeling" this constant rhythm on the left
2) if the parts get too complicated, just remember the rhythm of the right hand and set fix "points" where the left hand should fall in.

Do this with care and precision! Never let any passage get sloppy. Define for yourself very exactly when what notes should come.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Matthieu Stepec on Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:07 pm

You might also want to try the rhythm "on the wood" i.e. not on the keys but on a table for example. This will allow you to be focused on the rhythm only without having to care for notes. I just tried it and learned this section pretty fast!


Last edited by Matthieu Stepec on Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:08 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Pianoted on Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:32 pm

Thank you for this Matthieu Stepec, it's good to have an advice from an experienced and well-schooled pianist about those things.

I'm very suspicious about this book many have been mentioning, Fundamentals of Piano Practice. That's where this idea of starting fast comes. The author is not a pianist, he's a scientist, so therefore he is probably not a good source for piano advice. Obviously he's teaching wrong things.

By the way, there's an error in your YouTube link at the bottom of your post(s.) The "[/url]" is included in the link, sending the user to a website with a message saying the page cannot be found.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Matthieu Stepec on Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:09 am

Thanks for pointing out thie "url" issue, but I can't fix it Sad it's a bug of the forum.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Rickard on Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:37 am

Pianoted wrote:Thank you for this Matthieu Stepec, it's good to have an advice from an experienced and well-schooled pianist about those things.

I'm very suspicious about this book many have been mentioning, Fundamentals of Piano Practice. That's where this idea of starting fast comes. The author is not a pianist, he's a scientist, so therefore he is probably not a good source for piano advice. Obviously he's teaching wrong things.

By the way, there's an error in your YouTube link at the bottom of your post(s.) The "[/url]" is included in the link, sending the user to a website with a message saying the page cannot be found.
Why don't you read the whole book instead of reading 1 or 2 chapters and giving up?
Who could write a such book better than a scientist with alot of piano experience? Imagine if there wouldn't be any good textbooks in other subjects such as math, would it be good if the teachers would teach alot of different ways of counting math and only a few good teachers would know the best methods by what they remember?
Anyways, he claims that alot of the piano practice methods he has written down have been invented and re-invented again because of a lack of documentations. Which might very well be truth, for example he claims that Mozart used mental play in order to accomplish amazing feats. Now everyone can learn it because there is a textbook that says what it is, why and how it works. Sure Andrew also teaches mental play (he calls it Mind Play), if Andrew wouldn't be taught it from a teacher knowing about this method or stumble on it upon an accident he wouldn't know about its' existance without an external source.
Either way, explain to me why you consider these the wrong methods:
1. listening to several recordings of a piece in order to get a clear understanding what it sounds like
2. analysing a piece to understand the time signature and find how many bars are repeated so you know how many bars you actually need to practice.
3. Starting from the hardest place in the piece (ofc as long as the piece is within your skill level), why? because you need to practice it the longest time in order to learn the technique
4. Practice one hand at the time to learn technique, practice two hands at the time to learn the hand coordination instead of learning both technique and hand coordination at the same time by starting off by practicing using both hands. Another benefit is that your hands get less tired if you switch, you can also teach the "weaker hand" to become as good as the "stronger hand". For example by playing the "weaker hand" twice as much as the stronger hand or letting the weaker hand practice material of about the same difficulty as the stronger hand.
5. Use continuity rule, for example if you practice one bar end with the first note of the second bar, this way you can easier connect the different parts.
6. Play musically, don't just bang away but work on playing with correct dynamics, legato, staccato, tone, color etc. It is importiant to play musically instead of playing like a robot (like for example when playing Hanon exercises). Although he doesn't recomend Hanon or similar type of exercises he considers scales and arpeggios to be necessary skills plus he talks about other types of exercises like practicing quick jumps, correct finger lifting, parallel sets (for aquring higher speed), palm stretching exercises and so on.
7. Relaxation is importiant and you should practice relaxed almost all the time.
8. Using parallel sets in order to get past "speed walls" and quickly get up to the correct speed.
9. Piano practice is about control, not developing finger strength.
10. Mental Play is the best way to memorize and aquire absolute pitch. Mental Play doesn't work well without absolute pitch. Mental Play is also very importiant for learning to play musically.
11. The thumb under method should be used for slower pieces and legato play while the thumb over method should be used for fast passages (fast pieces).
12. Although a begginer should learn the curled finger position later on a pianist needs to learn the flat finger positions. It's a necessary freedom to be able to switch between the curled position and flat finger position where needed. For example if you play both black keys and white keys it might be a good idea to use the curled position on the white keys while using the flat finger position on the black keys. A good scale to practice both the thumb over method and flat finger positions is the B Major Scale.

Ofc there's much more very useful information it and besides the things I covered are on a very very basic level but should summarize some of the methods good enough. Obviously like I said many of the methods have been invented and re-invented in the past (but never written down). As you see Andrew already teaches some of the methods but not all. So are you saying that Andrew is also teaching wrong things (such as one hand at the time, mental play, relaxation, listening to recordings, analyse the piece and so on)? I recommend that you actually read the whole book before saying that it's teaching the wrong methods.
Anyways, I told my piano teacher about this book and he said he will start reading the book when he finds more time so hopefully he has read at least some of it by now so he can tell me what he thinks.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by jytte on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:22 am

Matthieu Stepec wrote:Thanks for pointing out thie "url" issue, but I can't fix it Sad it's a bug of the forum.

No Matthieu, it not the forum's fault, you didn't enter the correct path, you need to ad a "/" to the end of the url when adding the link in your signature page, then it'll work.

see
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by jytte on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:25 am

As to the "fundamentals", yes he is a "pianist", and no, like everything else out there, it's not a bible, but it does have pertinent information. It's up to ourselves to sort what we can use from all of our sources.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Pianoted on Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:21 am

Rickard, I'm not saying everything in this book is wrong, just pointing out that, like Matthieu said, it was wrong to start by practising fast, at least one item. I think this theory comes from Chang's book, correct me if I'm wrong.

Actually I feel the author of FOPP makes very bold statements, which are probably untrue, like when he says in the beginning that this is the first book ever on piano practice. Also the way he dismisses all other teaching methods, some proven by hundreds of years of experience.

Check out this review on Amazon about his book. Somebody gives a low rating, Chang answers and the only argument he can give is accusing the author of the review of lying about his identity and trying to get the star rating down!

If the book helps you that's wonderful and keep using it. I prefer to get material from accomplished pianists and teachers, because I know very little about piano playing myself. Therefore it's easy to fill me up with wrong information, if I'm not careful.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by jytte on Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:02 am

I never understood that about playing fast "right away" either. I don't know about accomplished pianists, but for a newbie like me, I sure have to start veeery slow to be able to "get it" at first, then I can speed it up.
I like his chapters on memorizing though.

I don't know what to make of the discussions about practicing hands separately and/or together.
When I learned Bach's "Jesu bleibet meine freude" (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring) - and that was a very difficult one for me - I found that the only way I could "get it" was to learn and practice the left hand (first part = 13 measures) so that I could play it in my sleep, and then put it together with the right hand (slooowly), then it finally came together.
But for most "lighter" pieces, I usually find it better to learn a few measures at a time, and almost immediately put left and right together, that way left knows "when right goes there I go here" (if that makes any sense at all).
So I can't really say I prefer one method over the other, as I use both.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Rickard on Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:06 pm

Pianoted wrote:Rickard, I'm not saying everything in this book is wrong, just pointing out that, like Matthieu said, it was wrong to start by practising fast, at least one item. I think this theory comes from Chang's book, correct me if I'm wrong.

Actually I feel the author of FOPP makes very bold statements, which are probably untrue, like when he says in the beginning that this is the first book ever on piano practice. Also the way he dismisses all other teaching methods, some proven by hundreds of years of experience.

Check out this review on Amazon about his book. Somebody gives a low rating, Chang answers and the only argument he can give is accusing the author of the review of lying about his identity and trying to get the star rating down!

If the book helps you that's wonderful and keep using it. I prefer to get material from accomplished pianists and teachers, because I know very little about piano playing myself. Therefore it's easy to fill me up with wrong information, if I'm not careful.
Have you read the whole book? He doesn't mean that it's the first book ever written on the subject however I think he means the first ever that actually extensively cover every aspect of piano practice methods needed to become an advanced pianist. Most piano books just cover what you need to learn (scales, arpeggios etc.), give you pieces to play with fingerings, explain legato, staccato etc. and talk about very few methods such as that you should use curled fingers or to move the thumb under when playing scales. Also he doesn't say that you have to play on the correct speed at once but talks about alot of methods to help you do that quickly (practice small segements at the time with one hand at the time, use of parallel sets, thumber over method, flat finger positions, getting the correct rhythm, playing relaxed etc.).
I suggest that you go ahead and read the book to get an idea of how all the methods are defined, how and why they work. He doesn't just give you a method and says that it works because it just does, he explains why it works. It won't hurt you to read it, I promise, it can only do you good.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Rickard on Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:18 pm

Also lets say if a piece is supposed to be played at 140 bpm. Do you really start off by playing the piece on lets say 90 bpm and then use the metronome to up 10 bpm at the time? That's kinda one of the worst ways to learn a piece. First you learn how to move your fingers and hands at 90 bpm then you have to relearn it for 100 bpm and then 110 etc. What if you can't play faster than 110 bpm because of the piece's difficulty? What do you do then?
Either way getting up to the correct speed quickly is importiant and obviously abusing the metronome like what I said above isn't the correct way of doing so. Slow play (for example half or 3/4 of the speed) is importiant too but only when switching hands and also during your last playthrough in order to make use of something called post practice improvement. Anyways, just read the book.

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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by Pianoted on Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:07 pm

This is the first book ever written on how to practice at the piano!

Those are the exact words of the author in the beginning of Preface. See here.
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Re: Playing both hands at different tempos

Post by VictorCS on Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:42 am

Rickard wrote:First you learn how to move your fingers and hands at 90 bpm then you have to relearn it for 100 bpm and then 110 etc. What if you can't play faster than 110 bpm because of the piece's difficulty? What do you do then?

There is nothing to do, because if you do increase, and you do play the piece correctly at 110, you will be able to increase speed further. If you cant your fingers doesnt have enough endurance/strenght and your hands get tired, and this causes sloppyness that causes you to play wrong notes. When I'm jogging, i'm not relearning my jogging pattern if I speed up the next session, I increase the speed of the jogging pattern. I started using the metronome not long ago after I came over this thread in "bb-metalmethod.com", forum with the users of "speed kills", where they wrote about rythm and tone ( piano players doesnt need to worry about tone tho ). Anyway, I started testing this out, keeping good rythm, clean tone and playing at the speed i was able to get clean sound. Epic improvement, i told my brother this, and he's suddenly playing faster than he's ever done.

We all do practice a little different, and something works for others while not for me.
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