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 Post subject: Fast Octaves
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:37 am 
A lot of pieces that i play seem to demand fast octave/large chord playing and i have to admit i am struggling a bit. Has anyone got any hints or tips to help me improve my technique and allow me to play them basically as fast as normal passage work. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong...cheers


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:08 am 
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do it very slow and let the key puch your finger up... after a couple of days you can improve your speed and its really important that you don't have any tension in your wrist (I had some troubles with it for 2 months!)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:01 am 
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If you need to play chromatic octave runs it is perhaps helpful (and sounds better) if you alternate the fingering between pinky and 4th finger, sometimes even with 3rd finger while moving from one octave note to the next. So that you have a leading voice, capable to play legato and fast (because of finger alternating), while the thumb just moves along. For RH and LH it's the same.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:29 am 
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Hi, octave runs practice with first and fifth ( 4 ) finger separately, then play it commonly with two fingers. Start with few chords and practice it, get it to tempo, think about its like one fluent movement,then add next chord, and next chord ...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:30 am 
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could you explain why with 1 and 4th finger??

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:26 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
I think because it gives a chance for the muscles which operate the 5th finger a chance to "rest". Since that your 4th finger is much stronger than the 5th you can go for a lot longer playing octaves with the 1st and 4th.

But the only problem is trying to train yourself playing with the 4th finger. At first it seems uncomfortable and you will sometimes slip and play a 7th instead of an 8th or sometimes you will play two notes with the 4th finger.

I still can't "perfect" that technique. ...someday....just someday :D

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:16 pm 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
could you explain why with 1 and 4th finger??


Beside what juufa said, it is so that if you like to play octave runs legato, you have no other choice! You need to take the pinky, ring finger alternating so that at least one note of the both are executed legato. Or even the middle finger too, alternating between pinky + thumb, ring finger + thumb, middle finger + thumb (if the reach is enough for an octave for middle finger + thumb).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:50 am 
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I tried to do the 4 but there is so much more tension.... in my hand

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:19 am 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
I tried to do the 4 but there is so much more tension.... in my hand

Try using the 4th for black keys. This should create much less tension compared to doing all of them with the weak 5th, besides the legato issue MindenBlues stated. At least it does for me, though I'm no virtuoso, you must know.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:56 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Oh and another reason why the 4th finger is useful:


Play a F octave with your left hand using the 1st and 5th fingers. Now notice that it will take a couple more milliseconds for you to lift your 5th finger up to the F#. Your 4th finger is at an advantage to play the F# because it is a lot closer to it than the 5th finger.

Hope this made sense.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:07 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
Oh and another reason why the 4th finger is useful:


Play a F octave with your left hand using the 1st and 5th fingers. Now notice that it will take a couple more milliseconds for you to lift your 5th finger up to the F#. Your 4th finger is at an advantage to play the F# because it is a lot closer to it than the 5th finger.

Hope this made sense.

Yes, this is what I wanted to say. :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:40 am 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Hot damn this guy is fast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kv6v8Bo ... ed&search=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xjiIlc5 ... ed&search=

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:15 pm 
juufa72 wrote:

Hot damn this guy is fast:




Wow thats fast! :o He looks like that old superhero The Flash :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Fast Octaves
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:20 am 
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Steele wrote:
A lot of pieces that i play seem to demand fast octave/large chord playing and i have to admit i am struggling a bit. Has anyone got any hints or tips to help me improve my technique and allow me to play them basically as fast as normal passage work. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong...cheers


Practice slowly and absolute relaxation on your wrist (actually your whole arm) :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:57 pm 
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I practiced the 4th finger method. you can do it in 30 minutes and then you can speed up. it really works!

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:55 am 
indeed ... relaxation is the key to fast octaves... but does the type of the piano (grand or upright) affects?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 pm 
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Stephen Farrugia wrote:
indeed ... relaxation is the key to fast octaves... but does the type of the piano (grand or upright) affects?


not really, a reasonable good piano-upright,,can acheive almost the speed of grand, any faster,,is that necessary..I doubt that would make any better. but perhaps for your own ego and satisfaction... But what affects the speed is the key weight and resistance. like mine is 10% heavier and modified. so if i play on standard grand or upright. I can PLAY faster... I hope this helps....


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 Post subject: Re: Fast Octaves
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:16 pm 
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hunwoo wrote:
Practice slowly and absolute relaxation on your wrist (actually your whole arm) :)


Mega bump!

As of lately, I've been practicing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody and during the final ~2 minutes you have to play lots of octaves at a high speed. However, even when practicing relatively slowly my hand starts to hurt due to the repetitive motion. How exactly can I relax my wrist ( while having a rather small hand ) and still play these octaves?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:59 pm 
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no woories adam, small hands,,,,just like mine....I will prove to you something in near future taht a small hands could do.

You need to cheat by switching your playing from using fingers instead of USING YOUR UPPER BODY WEIGHT..another words, lean the fingers on the keys with body weight behind it....its NO EFFORT at all. Sometimes you need to switch your wrist to finger or arm weight..body. By switching or alternating in between all your body parts can reduce lots of stress......di you get it>???or pm me.

Unfortunately, or fortuatelly, I rarely use wrist to play octves..I keep it as last resort,,,


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 Post subject: Re: Fast Octaves
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:51 am 
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Adam wrote:
As of lately, I've been practicing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody and during the final ~2 minutes you have to play lots of octaves at a high speed.

Just out of interest, is that #6 or #4 ?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:27 pm 
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if you merely use your arm's natural weight, the only motion you have to worry about is lifting the arm, along with other tiny motions in the wrist.

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 Post subject: Re: Fast Octaves
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:26 pm 
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Hmm, thanks for the replies. I think I know what you mean, Johnmar78.



techneut wrote:
Just out of interest, is that #6 or #4 ?


That would be Hungarian Rhapsody #6. I've wanted to be able to play this piece ever since I heard it.. ( about 3 weeks ago :lol: )


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:51 pm 
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Adam, keep up the good work and welcome to piano society.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:34 am 
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OK like all have said, definitely use the 4th finger for black notes, and the 5th finger for white notes.

My hands are a little bit bigger than normal, so I actually sometimes find myself using sort of both the 3rd and 4th finger at the same time on black notes. Also, on repeated octaves (as in the same note over and over at a fast speed) I put all three of them on the key: the middle, 4th, and 5th fingers... it seems to help.

What I HAVENT seen anybody say yet (very surprisingly...) is that you need to almost completely eliminate all vertical motion. Your fingers should be touching the keys at all times while playing fast octave passages. When you practice slow, your 5th/4th/whatever finger you're using with the thumb should almost just sort of roll from one note over to the next one. This makes your octave technique so much more efficient, and you can speed up a lot that way.

Another thing I find very helpful, is this: put your hands on your knees. Now, keeping your arm, hand, and everything totally relaxed, raise up the base of your hand (sort of your wrists I guess), and then slap your legs with them (but your fingertips should always remain on your knees), in a tremolo type motion. Do this as fast as you can, while keeping everything completely relaxed. Now, try making octaves feel that way (rather than playing them "with your fingers" think of only making the motion with the base of your hand while your fingers happen to be in an octave position). In fact, practice whatever octave passage you're playing, and play each octave with the base of your hand like I just said, and smash all the notes in between the octave with your hand (like a cluster technique sort of). Always keep everything relaxed (I can't stress this enough :P). Now, take away the notes from the middle, and just play the octave notes, making it feel that way.

The last thing I think about, is playing the octaves without your thumbs. I mean, not REALLY without your thumbs, but only think of playing with your pinky/4th finger/middle finger. In other words, put most of the weight on the outside of the octave. This not only helps you to stay relaxed, but it forces you to voice the octaves well too.

(this is all stuff I learned at a piano camp I went to this summer... One of the master classes was focused on octave technique and I feel like I really gleaned a lot from it... I can probably play octaves at least 50% faster now than I could before)

Hope this helps!

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:36 am 
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Ah, I hadn't seen the second page. So somebody finally DID mention relaxation :P good, good.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:51 am 
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In doing octave work, I think it makes your hand less tense if you have a relaxed wrist and let the wrist turn as you play the octave. The point is to keep the arm and hand relaxed so as not to build up tension and the wrist allows that to happen by turning it towards the note you are playing first in the octave.

Happy playing!
Mozartiana :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:03 pm 
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to make things simple, play octave with ur wrist.
Don't use ur arm.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:23 am 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
go to Youtube.com and search "Alkan + Jack Gibbons + Allegro Barbaro" sheesh! that man is incredibly fast.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:29 pm 
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hunwoo wrote:
to make things simple, play octave with ur wrist.
Don't use ur arm.


Quoted for truth! I found out that playing fast octaves is surprisingly easy when I use my wrist rather than my entire arm. I can play the final section of Hungarian Rhapsody #6 without getting tired/a sore wrist. :shock:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:14 pm 
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my teacher has been teaching me how to use my arm+hands to play octaves. I find it much easier.

if you use your wrists alone, you can injure your hands.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:27 pm 
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Especially if you have carpal tunnel or tendonitis tendencies. But also using your arms can complicate those - you still have to avoid tension in the wrist, which can be just as bad as moving your wrist a lot.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:13 pm 
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My hands are small the size of a 7th, to make it worse my R.H's 5th finger is damaged.

everyday, to start off, I practise chopin's etude op.25 no.10 "Octaves" and I find that it really helps.

remember that when you play octaves, use your eyes to guide your hands and lift your wrists up. Shape your hands like you are holding an orange and you can't let go of that shape.

The other day my teacher actually placed a pomelo on my hand to let me grasp the idea.

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Carrying on to work on Schubert Impromptus op.9 nos.1,3&4 after competition. Going to learn no.2 to complete the set. Carrying on with Czerny op.299 from Bk 2 & working on a couple of Bach P+F's


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