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How to improve my technique ?

Discussion in 'Technique' started by manjuke, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Hi,
    I am 29 years old. And I have completed up to Grade VIII in both Theory and Practical Piano Music Exams. I have completed the Trinity ATCL Exam 4 years back. But I am not very much satisfied with my Piano playing techniques. All my past teacher did was trained me for my exams, and all they did was pushed me to practise my examination pieces only (Yet I never blame them, they did there best and because of them I have developed my piano playing skills. So I am eternally thankful )

    In profession I am a Software developer, yet I am pretty much keen on doing music further. (I can squeeze 1~2 hours from the day to practice/play piano). And I am planning on doing the next exam that is LTCL perfectly. And this is where I need all you pianists and piano experts help.

    Please tell me the correct way of practicing and improve myself to play very complex piano works (such as chopin's works) I do not want to improve for the sake of passing exams. I want to be a good piano player.

    I did purchased a CD containing all the piano exercises in PDF format. So I can take printouts. As I went through the site and found that Hanon's and Czerny's books are the best for my requirement and I have the following. But I do not know where to start or how to use those materials correctly.

    I have the following

    Czerny

    * 100 Progressive Studies, Op. 139
    * 110 Easy & Progressive Exercises, Op. 453
    * 125 Exercises in Passage Playing, Op. 216
    * 160 Eight-Measure Exercises, Op. 821
    * 24 Piano Studies for the Left Hand, Op. 718
    * 30 New Studies in Techniques, Op. 849
    * 40 Daily Exercises, Op. 337
    * Six Octave Studies, Op. 553
    * Preliminary School Of Finger Dexterity, Op. 636
    * Practical Finger Exercises, Op. 802
    * The Art of Finger Dexterity (Books 1 to 6), Op. 740
    * The Little Pianist, Op. 823
    * The School of Velocity (Books 1 to 4), Op. 299


    Hannon

    * The Virtuoso Pianist

    So someone please assist me on this matter..

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. Chopinesque

    Chopinesque New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm not sure that I can help as I'm not a teacher, and I'm in a similar position - I'm a software developer working for a diploma in my spare time, but would be very interested to read the replies.

    I've recently started to play Hanon and find it very useful for the weak fingers on the LH, but once these exercises are mastered, I can't see much point in repeating them daily. The Cramer exercises are meant to be quite good, but are so difficult to learn that I might as well use that time and effort to learn new music.

    Difficult pieces can offer so many technical challenges that it's not always necessary to practice separate technical studies. I suppose it depends on what you want to play - if the advance piece you want to learn contains lots of octaves or arpeggios you might want to choose specific studies for these techniques, or you might even be able to create your own studies based on the most difficult bars on the piece.

    I don't normally read books about piano technique (time is better spent practising, or learning more music theory!), but I've recently read a short book by Walter Gieseking entitled Piano Technique which offers some excellent advice.

    There's also a good online book written by CC Chang:
    http://members.aol.com/chang8828/contents.htm

    I would love to hear more regarding your ATCL experience and the preparation you did for it as I'll be taking this exam too.

    All the best.
     
  3. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Hi Chopinesque,

    Well there's someone similar to me.. Who's doing music while developing software.. Nice to meet you m8.

    I too have the Hannon's Exercises Book, I too have been practicing it. When it comes to practice I would like to know how you do it.. Say you do 1 hour of Hannon per day.

    * So how many exercises do you practice within that hour.
    * Do you practice slow and increase the speed ?
    * Or do you practice specific number of exercises all the hour ?

    These sort of things I like to know..

    Even I have completed the ATCL Chopin's piece is a big challenge for me as my technique is not that good.

    And thanks a lot for the link to the book by CC Chang. I've downloaded the PDF version of it..

    And I am very glad to share my ATCL experience with you.. Anything you like to know, just let me know.. (Well it was a big challenge, as I have to do it with my Job. As a Software Developer you know how projects can be time consuming and do not show any mercy ;))

    So m8, I am too waiting for some one to reply and give us some kind of idea.. :)
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi,

    I am an adult and play just for the fun of it too. I think we may have talked about this before on the forum, but it’s good to do so again because new people come in and may have different ideas.

    As to my own idea on how to become a better pianist: I don’t think it is bad to practice exercises, but I think I have become a better pianist just by playing/studying pieces. I have a good teacher who shows me places in the music where my technique needs to improve, so then that is what I drill on. Kind of like what Chopinesque said. However, my teacher also has me practicing scales right now to get me to play runs faster and more fluent in music.

    But here is something interesting. I’m currently reading Alan Walker’s biography on Liszt and came across this passage just last night:

    According to his own testimony, Liszt sometimes practiced for ten or twelve hours a day, and much of this labour was expended on endurance exercises – scales, arpeggios, trills, and repeated notes. He set great store by the absolute independence of each finger. Every scale was practiced with the fingering of every other scale (using, say, C-major fingering for F-sharp major, and D-flat major fingering for C major).

    (I hope my teacher doesn't see this. :wink: :lol: )

    Well...we all aren't Liszt, that's for sure. He really was amazing! Anyway, good luck in your piano studies.
     
  5. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I agree with pianolady. Liszt sometimes do just trills for a long period of time but also doing sight readings at the same time too just keep his boreden in control.

    With all that study/exercise books. I DNT use any of them these days, may be when I was 9.

    I would think it is more important as a fine pianist to acheive a relaxed tone before you even started to think to build your finger endurance or musical interpretaions.

    A good technique approach is a vital key to a fine pianist.

    Cheers
     
  6. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Hi,

    So johnmar78, what would you suggest ? How would you think that I should practice or change my practice methods ?

    Thanks...

    ** And other senior pianists, I am waiting a reply from you. I really appreciate if you can donate any of the knowledge on improving piano techniques..
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I won't pretend to be a 'senior pianist', and having a healthy disregard for technique I am not the one to advise. Yet I'll do it.

    Forget scales - play Bach. Lots of it, every day. All things will come to him who plays Bach. Ok, mostly wishful thinking, I know :wink: but there is a large core of truth here. Apart from improving technique, it will also make you a musician.
     
  8. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Thank You

    Hi techneut,

    Thank you very much.. Hmmmm I have Well Tempered Clavier Book I & II.. I think you are referring to that, when you say to play Bach. If not please correct me.. And in those too there are some parts which I find very difficult. And when I come across that, what would you advise me to do.. ?

    So far Thanks a lot... :)
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Thank You

    Not specifically, all Bach is equally good, but if you had to pick one work, yes it would have to be the WTC. Remember this what Beethoven Schumann, and Chopin grew up with, and considered their daily bread.

    Practise them ! Slowly, deliberately, hand apart if that helps you. There are no etudes that prepare you for these challenges, alas.
     
  10. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Thank You

    Hi techneut,

    Thank you very much.. I will practice Bach daily.. And I will let you know the progress in the future.. And at the moment I can practice 2 hours daily.. Hope that's ok..

    Thanks a lot... :) :) :) :)
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I must add that this might not work for everybody. It depends on what your goals are. If you aspire to be a top virtuoso and play all the big virtuoso works, then you must practice your double scales, thirs, and blind octaves. But I do believe that practising Bach is the key to being a complete pianist, much more so than playing the complete Hanon etudes twice a day. It's time better spent as well, I say. Remember that you learn only what you practice.

    Last thing, you must come to love the music as well. If Bach does not appeal to you there is little point in practising it.
     
  12. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Hi techneut,

    What do you mean by Blind Octaves ?

    Thanks
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    From any definition found on Google:

    A trick of piano writing: figures in octaves rapidly alternating between the two hands where the thumbs trace a continuous melodic line while the outer notes fly off at broken intervals.

    A Liszt invention. A good example to be found e.g. in the cadenza of the Racokzy March, see image.
     
  14. manjuke

    manjuke New Member

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    Wow !

    Wow ! That was totally new to me...

    I guess I'll be needing your help (and might bother) a lot in future.. ;-)

    Thanks techneut...
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    But simple: viewing my excercises on my youtube channel.
    Or better:
    1) Brahms 51 excercises
    2) Dohnanyi excersises
    3) Cortot Rational principles.....

    Bye,
    S.
     
  16. mgasilva

    mgasilva New Member

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    Bach's Inventions

    While The WTC is very good, if you find it too difficult I suggest starting with the (2-part) Inventions. They are great for finger and hand independence and also musicality.

    Marcelo
     

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