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#1039364 - 09/12/07 01:08 AM Loud Left Hand problem
kinghippo423 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 18
Hello everyone,

I've been improving quite a lot in the last 3 moths to my great relief. My problem now is not to play the notes right or following steady pace but to have a less barbaric left hand.

I can't lower the "volume" of my left hand during the parts where melody needs to be the main attraction.

I can't have a quiet left hands when the melody is quiet and warm. I feel that I have a barbaric left hand I can't work this out.

Am I alone here? What I should do to resolve that little problem. I put more time on my dynamics and I just realise that I have this problem that I can't make go away. I'm confused and frustrated.

By the way, why I'm playing louder overall when I play fast and quieter when I play slow? Is it only experience that might solve this behavior?

Thanks in advance.

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#1039365 - 09/12/07 01:46 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
Van Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 1215
Loc: S. California
Just give yourself time. The more you play the more control you will eventually have over dynamics (it'll come to you without even bothering to work on it if you keep at the piano long enough).

I think it's all a piece with general hands independence.
_________________________

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#1039366 - 09/12/07 01:56 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
Monica K. Online   blank

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17776
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
kinghippo, I could've written your exact same post! Especially the part about playing louder when going faster. I'm working an Einaudi piece (Devinire) that is nothing but 16th notes played at, oh, about a MM=one million, or so it seems, and I simply *cannot* play that piece softly. Right now I'm just concentrating on getting the notes right and getting up to tempo, but I know that the step after that will be to work on relaxing my hands so that I can play without pounding the keyboard.

I personally believe that playing completely relaxed is the key to playing softly, but I'll be interested to hear what magic cures the others have to suggest.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1039367 - 09/12/07 02:10 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
I agree with Van, to a point.

I still experience the same issues as Monica (BTW, when did you change your name???).

What I do is when practicing HT scales, focus on your WEAK hand (in my case the right hand) by changing between FFF/PPP while keeping my left hand steady and even. It seems to help, except when learning new stuff when I tense up and just lose any control I think I have.

Again, it boils down to practice practice practice.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1039368 - 09/12/07 02:31 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5509
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I tend to be both louder and faster with whichever hand and in whichever passages I'm most unsure of - the frantic factor \:D (Fortunately for me the left hand in dance accompaniment *is* the important one!) So, as has been said, the more you become familiar with it in your left hand the more you'll be able to be light and sure. I was going to suggest playing it *much* louder, so that you have some feeling of variation, but in fact gmm1's idea is probably better - play easier things, or things you are more sure of, and try to vary the volume in the left hand alone. That way you're not trying to get the notes right and in tempo all at the same time as the volume. It really will come, and practicing on other things will eventually transfer to some extent to this piece. You could also try playing the left hand in chords instead of whatever's written and vary the volume on it, so that, again, you've got fewer things to think about all at once, and you can also maybe get your ear to get used to a softer volume on a particular piece you're working on.

But "barbaric"? Nah - some people *never* have a left hand you can hear, and half the music's gone - left hands forever! \:\)

Cathy
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#1039369 - 09/12/07 03:08 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
bkkmd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 304
Loc: Bangkok, Thailand
I don't have much to add beyond what others have already said. The control will be there eventually when you are comfortable with the piece. Just consciously trying to tell yourself to play it softly. If the piece is still quite difficult for you and you have to spend most of your energy concentrating on getting the right note and rhythm, you may not have much chance of controlling your left hand the way you like either. Try an easier piece and see if you can get your left hand under better control. If nothing else, it is good for the moral to tell yourself that your left hand is not barbaric, just need a bit more practice \:\)

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#1039370 - 09/12/07 05:11 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
PianoN00b Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/15/07
Posts: 262
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Use the left pedal.
_________________________
I am piano noob today; I will be piano pro tomorrow.

Started Piano 7-2007.

By the way, call me Yang. \:\)

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#1039371 - 09/12/07 07:29 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Just consciously trying to tell yourself to play it softly
That's not as good as hearing the correct balance in your head. The real problem is your conception of the piece has left out the proper balance. i.e. you don't really 'know' the piece. Only AFTER you know it can you play what you know.

The only method I'm sure works is to grossly exaggerate both hands - left ppp (or even silent) right ff. This is quite easy to do and trains the mind to 'hear' a balance. Initially, I have students pound the top of the piano with their right while playing anything pp in the left.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1039372 - 09/12/07 02:13 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
HouseHead78 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/06
Posts: 276
Loc: Austin, TX
I have the same issue but it's getting much better. Like Monica it gets worse when the left hand is playing fast but softly. A good piece to work on this is Chopin Prelude in E-Minor, where the left hand just has to be soft for it to work. The second movement of Mozart's K545 is a good one too - working on it now.

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#1039373 - 09/12/07 02:57 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
it's normal at the beginning, because most people are right-handed and therefore have less control over LH than RH.

so, it's all about control over what seems uncontrollable. my LH is weaker and sloppier than RH when playing, and my teacher suggested that i practice LH alone on touch and clarity. so, my advice is to do the same: working on LH only and trying different touch (light/heavy) over some passage until you get the control over any degree of touch you want. after that, try to use different touch over LH & RH (such as LH soft & RH loud and vice versa). once you have gained such control, you'd feel more comfortable with your LH.

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#1039374 - 09/12/07 04:17 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
ted.stanion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Portland, OR
This is something that everyone struggles with when they are starting out on the piano. Be assured that it does gets easier with time. I do have one tip that helped me which I don't think has been mentioned yet. Once you are completely comfortable with all of the notes, instead of focusing on making your left hand softer while you are playing, concentrate on bringing out the melody with your right hand. I found that concentrating on one hand tended to make it louder and ignoring it made it softer regardless of my intention.

Ted

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#1039375 - 09/12/07 04:31 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Ted's right, you really have to ignore you have a left hand and put 100% concentration on 'singing out' to the tune.

And when you do hear it you will go wow!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1039376 - 09/12/07 08:43 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
brian13 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 116
Loc: California
this is a common problem amongst all beginners, even intermediates and still some advanced pupils can struggle with.
i struggle with this all the time, but not as much as i did when i first started.

my left hand is very powerful and it overpowers the right hand melody and the too-loud accompaniment mires the melody from singing out.

so all you do is practice and practice.

today, i still have the problem , but it is not that bad anymore.

try Chopin's Andante Spianato. a perfect example where the right hand MUST sing out way above the calm accompaniment of the left hand, but when you first start out practicing this, it is so HARD to separate the two, and many times the left hand is overpowering especially in a delicate melody like this one.

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#1039377 - 09/12/07 08:53 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Brian, a really powerful left hand should make it EASIER to play quietly. Use your ears.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1039378 - 09/12/07 09:18 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
brian13 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 116
Loc: California
then what i should have said was my left hand is less controllable.

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#1039379 - 09/12/07 09:27 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
I also had this problem. What I like to do is take simple pieces and play them slowly.

As an addition, I try to play the piece by trying to focus on playing PP on the left hand, but MF on the right hand.

When that is done, I try to adjust bit by bit to make the volumes less exaggerated, by playing P on the left hand and F on the right hand.

I would keep on making these adjustments until my hands are playing at the correct volumes for the piece.

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#1039380 - 09/12/07 11:36 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
jozart Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 31
Loc: Michigan
Same problem at my last lesson..teacher told me to practice lt hand but do not press the keys..phantom play she called it..then slowly press the keys.....so there's just slight tone...it's working for me..
Jozart
_________________________
Struggling Musician!

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#1039381 - 09/13/07 04:32 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
DDS24P&FOP87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 374
 Quote:
Originally posted by jozart:
Same problem at my last lesson..teacher told me to practice lt hand but do not press the keys..phantom play she called it..then slowly press the keys.....so there's just slight tone...it's working for me..
Jozart [/b]
kinghippo423 -

In addition to jozart's solution quoted above, you might want to try the following which I know sounds silly. Before practicing your piece, try simultaneously tapping your head with one hand and rubbing your tummy in a circular motion with the other for a minute. This will help you control and adjust your volume for either hand.

My instructor told me to do this when I was learning my first Scriabin piece, Prelude Op. 11, No. 15, and I was amazed how fast this worked!

BTW, someone has a decent performance of the Scriabin piece I mentioned above:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFYHBqyG6XM
_________________________
She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)

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#1039382 - 09/13/07 05:29 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
LaValse Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/07
Posts: 1224
Loc: Mumbles, Wales
I will try that. I'd love to see it done on stage before a performance \:\) I love the Scriabin op 11 preludes... My favourite is 21, it's amazing what it projects with so few notes... Actually I love all Scriabin...
_________________________
http://uk.youtube.com/user/sailwavedev

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#1039383 - 06/10/08 07:11 PM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
paperkite Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 32
 Quote:
Originally posted by jozart:
Same problem at my last lesson..teacher told me to practice lt hand but do not press the keys..phantom play she called it..then slowly press the keys.....so there's just slight tone...it's working for me..
Jozart [/b]
I've been struggling to play the left hand softer than the right, also. If I get the left hand soft, the right goes soft too. If I try to make the right hand get louder, the left hand gets loud too (especially on notes that begin at the same time). Just this morning, I sat at the piano before work and tried it again after a good night's rest. Nothing was different -same problem. So, when I read this idea of "phantom playing" I decided to try it even though I thought it would be a long shot.

It worked like a dream! It was like *magic* ! I played the song a few times without phantom playing -same old trouble, despite my best efforts. I phantom played it once and then tried it again. Presto! My left hand was playing so soft that I even had to turn it up a bit!

After only about 3 more rounds of Phantom Play, Real Play, I had it down! Now, when I concentrate on the right (as was suggested here, also), the left goes soft as it should. \:\) Hats off to your piano teacher and thanks for the tip!

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#1039384 - 06/11/08 02:00 AM Re: Loud Left Hand problem
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
It's worth remembering the real difference between forte and piano is key velocity. Whether in different hands or the same hand play the softer tones a tiny bit later. You're right about 'phantom playing', it's a jewel.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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