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#1052970 - 11/24/04 01:07 AM Hand postion
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
I am now learning various hand positions which are Middle C, C and G.

Can anyone tell me do I need to memorise now all these position and where my thumb, index etc etc fingers need to be placed immediately. Also is it necessary for me to stick to my mind what note will fall under if I press my index, third or fourth etc.

Sorry if I dont get it clear ...
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An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

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#1052971 - 11/24/04 02:48 AM Re: Hand postion
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3240
Loc: Virginia, USA
I think that what you need to do instead is learn the keyboard.

At least, that's something I struggle with as a beginner.

But it seems to make sense. You really need to be able to reach out and put a finger, any finger, on G or Ab without having to look or count keys. I think that is more important than looking at it from the viewpoint of the hand, which keeps changing every time you move it.
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#1052972 - 11/24/04 06:46 AM Re: Hand postion
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
That's kind of a hard question to answer. Like Tim says, the goal is to be perfectly at home having your hands anywhere on the keyboard and playing any note. So as I'm playing, I'm not thinking "Finger 3 is on G." I'm thinking "G is over there, so what's the best way to get a finger over there."

I too started out in "five finger position." Believe me, it gets easier. And the way it will get easier is just keep playing and playing and playing.

Hang in there!
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#1052973 - 11/24/04 06:50 AM Re: Hand postion
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
And the way it will get easier is just keep playing and playing and playing.[/b]
Which is exactly what I will be doing if I can ever break away from these darned forums! :rolleyes:
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#1052974 - 11/24/04 06:55 AM Re: Hand postion
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Another way to think about finger position is intervals. When you learn to recognize intervals in the music, it may correspond to which finger you use. So, for example, if your thumb (1) in on the root, and the next note is the third, you'd probably play it with the middle finger (3). Of course, there are plenty of times you might not for one reason or another, but if you're playing generally "in position" and aren't moving your hands around too much, I feel it helps to think in intervals.

I find that I'm getting better at recognizing interval patterns, so to speak, so that if I'm playing a triad and recognize the pattern, I can hit the low note, for example, and the other fingers fall naturally into place.
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#1052975 - 11/24/04 06:59 AM Re: Hand postion
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Luke:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
And the way it will get easier is just keep playing and playing and playing.[/b]
Which is exactly what I will be doing if I can ever break away from these darned forums! :rolleyes: [/b]
Uh-oh, looks like Jerry needs an intervention to release him from the grip of the PW forums.
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#1052976 - 11/24/04 07:48 AM Re: Hand postion
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
You really need to be able to reach out and put a finger, any finger, on G or Ab without having to look or count keys. I think that is more important than looking at it from the viewpoint of the hand, which keeps changing every time you move it. [/b]
I'm sure that's the concept that I'm still missing, I just dont get it yet. After a year, I can play some stuff, Schumann's The Merry Farmer was the last one I completed, but I'm memorizing and watching my hands instead of the music. Which is very expedient, as far as it goes, but my teacher is rather unhappy. So I was sent back to some simpler remedial work.

I have little problem playing either hand alone, by just watching the intervals instead of my hands. But the teacher says intervals alone are not enough for more complex music. And then two hands together is an entirely different situation, a serious coordination problem, needing much slow repetition to get it. An entirely different world which seems to require memorization.

I think I am supposed to be seeing A's and G's up there on the music sheet. And I can and do, but not very fast, and not while actually playing. My knowing G isnt any help to my fingers without looking to find G. My fingers can find a third easily, but not by the absolute key name.

And I can play easily enough without watching hands (except for the jumps), but I'm still doing that by memorization, this key here, then that one, instead of knowing G and C. Whether I watch or not, it is still "this key, than that key", and not G or C. When watching the music, I see intervals or familiar patterns up there, but not note names. It all maps to "this key" or "that key" for me.

I have not found any way out of that. My fingers just have no use for knowing the key name G or C. There must be some really large concept that I've missed.

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#1052977 - 11/24/04 08:09 AM Re: Hand postion
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Lightnin, this technique from Bernhard is working for me: LEARNING KEYBOARD TOPOGRAPHY . It's helping me with some kinds of jumps as well.

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#1052978 - 11/24/04 09:52 AM Re: Hand postion
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Thanks Bob. My first thought was that one cant be feeling around that much when playing, but I see Bernard's comment "this is just for the moment". I ran through it once, and it wasnt any problem. The starting point blind was the only new concept, and I will keep trying that. I'm still thinking its not the same thing as finding that random note up there, down here, in time, but I suppose he is just saying feeling is a plan for doing that.

But it does seem to me that the notion of "sight-reading" (whatever that is for a beginner), and the concept of slow repetition a few thousand times, just doesnt really have much in common.

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#1052979 - 11/24/04 11:09 AM Re: Hand postion
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"My first thought was that one cant be feeling around that much when playing"

This is true. But as you say, this is only the beginning. Once you're used to it, you can tell where your fingers are by just the slightest touch.

For example, from practice, you kind of know the general location, all it takes is a reasuring touch of your pinky against the side of the F# key to ensure you're going to play that inverted F chord. To be absolutely sure, on your way to the F, you let your pinky touch the E# and slide across the space between E# and F#. Now you know absolutely that you're going to play F with your pinky.

By extrapolation, you can do the same with any finger. If I'm going to play an A, then I let my index or middle finger slide right up against the Bb key. I can also get it from the other direction by using F# as the guide.

It's only been a couple of weeks, so I'm still getting the hang of it, but already I can sight-read a one note at a time meloday and even some harmony without looking at the keyboard.

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#1052980 - 11/24/04 11:35 AM Re: Hand postion
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
If only the C, G,and F positions are learned then it becomes difficult to move to other positions as some young ones think that the thumb ONLY PLAYS C, the 5th finger only G, etc.
As soon as possible it would be good to have the student move up a half-step and play the five-finger position there and continue this until all positions have been covered using the same fingering.

A diminished 7th with all five fingers in an open position could then be done. Printed music is not necessary for the closed (5-finger position) or the open (7th chord). It helps the student to feel different positions, conditions them for transposing and improves their technical facility at the same time. The seventh chord practice would pre-suppose that the hand of the student is large enough to accommodate that. Equating the read note with the proper key on the keyboard would take some work in recognition.

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#1052981 - 11/24/04 11:59 AM Re: Hand postion
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around the problem here, and I'm not completely sure there is one. . . .

 Quote:
I think I am supposed to be seeing A's and G's up there on the music sheet. And I can and do, but not very fast, and not while actually playing. My knowing G isnt any help to my fingers without looking to find G. My fingers can find a third easily, but not by the absolute key name.

And I can play easily enough without watching hands (except for the jumps), but I'm still doing that by memorization, this key here, then that one, instead of knowing G and C. Whether I watch or not, it is still "this key, than that key", and not G or C.
A couple of things:

You know this whole coordination thing? Like one hand is loud and stacatto and the other is soft and legato? Or just one hand doing pretty much anything differently from the other? That's *hard!* I'm not sure you're doing badly at it, really.

I don't think I could sight read much of anything without looking at my hands at all. There is some glancing up and down, and that's OK (I hope). So if you're reading the music and seeing "G" and you know where that is on the keyboard, and if you see "F" and know that's the key next to it, I'd say you're doing fine.

Cindy -- who remembers learning to play stacatto on one hand and legato on the other was sheer torture
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#1052982 - 11/24/04 12:03 PM Re: Hand postion
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Cindy -- who remembers learning to play stacatto on one hand and legato on the other was sheer torture [/b]
Yep, I'm currently working on a couple of short pieces in my method books, left hand legato Alberti bass, right hand stacatto. It just shouldn't be that hard!
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#1052983 - 11/24/04 12:10 PM Re: Hand postion
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Oh, the dreaded Alberti bass! My nemesis!

After I had worked up my entire K545 piece and performed it at group class, the reviews came in: "Too bumpy. Too mechanical. Not smooth enough. Needs to sound more like running water. How about you play the left hand with *finger pedaling.*"

I had never heard of finger pedaling. (Instead of playing fingers 5-3-1-3 one after the other, you hold the first note until your strike the third note.) I thought my head was going to explode! But it's worth it. It gives the piece a really buttery feel.

So, Mark, show up at lesson doing that finger pedaling thing with stacatto on the other hand and your teacher will be impressed! ;\)
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#1052984 - 11/24/04 12:39 PM Re: Hand postion
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
No butter in my music, thank you. I'll stick with plain.
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#1052985 - 11/24/04 01:20 PM Re: Hand postion
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Bob: Then that "feeling" part is certainly what I need to work on, and I will give it a good try.

So do you actually see C's and G's up there on the music? And then actually think of it in terms of playing a C or G key too? In all cases? No intervals? Really? I can almost see the letter name quick enough on the music, but then I cant figure out my fingers on the keyboard, unless I look, or know an interval.

The harder piece has been memorized with cycles by the time I can play both hands well enough to go. The memorization seems unavoidable, and then reading after a few dozen times seems unnecessary. And the problem is that I relied on that, the easiest way, instead of learning to read letter name oriented (which I assume is right and better, but I'm not certain I understand how to do that yet). I just did an easier remedial piece, and tried really hard to NOT memorize it, to just play it through every time. It was easy enough I could, falling back to intervals however. Even so, memorization is still automatic after several times, and then its really hard not to depend on it.

Surprisingly, I do recognize the chords, and do think of that F chord as F on the keyboard, but I may have to look to find F, depending on the jump.
Bernards method should help that part.

It seems much better if I had straightened this out early, instead of waiting until now \:\)


Cindy: I have played legato and staccato together, this last little remedial piece had a couple of runs of six of them, all eighths. I was surprised that it wasnt much problem, except it was all f, and not loud and soft yet. Now you have me scared \:\) I bet that's the hard part.

I just went pretty slow at first, using the metronome beat as the eighth notes, and held one hand down until the next beat, while tapping the other fingers. After a few times, I could go faster and without the metronome and smooth it out. Holding down is the easiest thing for me, I often forget to let up anyway, so for example, I love those dotted halfs. \:\)

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#1052986 - 11/24/04 02:09 PM Re: Hand postion
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
 Quote:
No butter in my music, thank you. I'll stick with plain.
Chicken! ;\)
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#1052987 - 11/25/04 12:33 AM Re: Hand postion
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi Bob

Saw the link by Bernard and he mentioned about blinding the eyes by touching the black keys. Well, does he mean that you stretch out both your hands and touch the black keys at the same time ?

Oh Cindy, I am already confused on getting the keys right and now you talk about legato left/soft on left and staccato/loud on right ... haha....
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

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#1052988 - 11/25/04 09:59 AM Re: Hand postion
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Well, does he mean that you stretch out both your hands and touch the black keys at the same time ?"

Yes. Both hands have to be completely familiar with the keyboard. You can start with placing your hands in the "home" position described in your Alfred's book without looking. Don't worry that it takes a long time to figure it out without looking because you get better and better at it in a very short period of time.

In my high school typing class, (one of THE most useful classes I ever had - on manual typewriters yet), we learned how to type without looking at the keys. The way we learned was to teach finger memory to our brains by typing ttttttyyyyyyyrrrrrrruuuuuuu, etc. over and over for several days. Then we started typing simple sentences.

Piano is more difficult because you have many home positions, the home position can change after each note, and you're "typing" more than one note at a time. But the principle is still the same. Over a short period of time, your fingers start to learn where they are in the keys and where a given note is in relationship to that position. Provided, of course, you're not constantly looking at your hands. ;\)

Something else must be done as well. Since your fingers use the black keys as a reference guide, you have to play close to, and even within the black keys.

When we first learn to play a C-major chord C-E-G, our fingers are curved with the thumb just on the C key. But to be able to play without looking at the keys, it's better to allow the longer fingers to reach in between the black keys. Once they're up there, it's easy to feel the space between Bb and C# and between Eb and F#.

With the middle finger hugging Eb after feeling the space between Eb and F#, you can play the C chord with confidence without looking down from the score. If you later have to hit D, then play it with your finger between C# and Eb, then you know with certainty that you're playing a D and your finger isn't on C or E.

When I first started playing, I didn't think I could play up in the black keys because when I placed my middle finger between two black keys, then all three keys would go down at the same time. The mistake that I was making was in assuming that playing with flat fingers was how to play. When I figured out that if I curved my fingers properly I could fit my finger between the black keys; especially if I turned my hand just slightly.

At first I made lots of mistakes by playing the black note at the same time as the white one or by bumping the black note first. But after practicing for a while, it became much easier to play close to, and within the black keys. I even posted on the forum my joy in being able to play a C-major scale completely within the black keys. \:\)

Like anything, practice, practice, practice, and you get better. Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off. \:D

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#1052989 - 11/25/04 12:40 PM Re: Hand postion
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Bob-

What an excellent post! Very helpful. I will print it out or bookmark it for future reference. Thank you.
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#1052990 - 11/25/04 09:32 PM Re: Hand postion
LudwigVanBee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/04
Posts: 83
Loc: USA
 Quote:
I have not found any way out of that. My fingers just have no use for knowing the key name G or C. There must be some really large concept that I've missed.
You haven't missed anything. If you are seeing keys as G, C, etc then you need more practice, practice, practice, until those letters disappear from your conscious mind as you are practicing. When you see the word 'piano' do you see each individual letter? Music too is a language that you have to learn so well you have instant 'pronounciation' (articulation) without consciously thinking about the names of the notes (words). Thinking about what name the note is only slows you down just like if you say the word 'piano' by conscioulsy looking at every letter.
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#1052991 - 11/27/04 08:56 PM Re: Hand postion
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
 Quote:
Originally posted by LudwigVanBee:
You haven't missed anything. If you are seeing keys as G, C, etc then you need more practice, practice, practice, until those letters disappear from your conscious mind as you are practicing. When you see the word 'piano' do you see each individual letter? Music too is a language that you have to learn so well you have instant 'pronounciation' (articulation) without consciously thinking about the names of the notes (words). Thinking about what name the note is only slows you down just like if you say the word 'piano' by conscioulsy looking at every letter. [/b]
Thanks Ludwig. I'm sure practice, practice, practice is always the answer. It is true that many things that were mysterious and impossible have become automatic easy instinct now, so maybe it will all come in time. I'm just never sure I'm going the most efficient way.

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