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#1086323 - 01/07/05 12:56 PM Hands Together Challenge
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Ok, here is my problem. I can play somewhat successfully hands together if both the treble & bass notes fall on the beat. If one or the other falls between beats, it messes me all up. In other words, if I'm pressing the finger(s) of both hands down at the SAME time, I can keep the rhythm. If I have chords or bass notes between held or syncopated melody notes, it's all over, even if I can play the parts beautifully hands separate. This is killing me while I'm trying to learn "The Entertainer" from Alfred's Book 1, because there are so many 8th notes in the melody, and the bass notes are all quarter notes.

Is there any exercise I can do away from the piano to break the interdependence of my hands? Can I rub my tummy and pat my head or something? Anything to learn independence of hands![/b]
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#1086324 - 01/07/05 01:10 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
I'm sure other people will have better suggestions, but here are a few:

1. Practice reallllyyy sllooowwwwly. You've probably already tried this.

2. Try subdividing the beats into 8th or 16th notes to see exactly when the hands will play on the same beat, when they'll be playing on separate beats, and how long they'll be separate.

3. Draw a line between the LH and RH (treble to bass clef) notes that fall on the same beat just to more visually see what falls together.

Developing independence in your hands is difficult. I used similar techniques to the ones I described when I was taking drum lessons. It helped me to very visually differentiate which hands and feet were playing at the same time and which ones weren't.
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#1086325 - 01/07/05 02:03 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Can you play it well hands separate? I mean *really* well.

Pick a fairly longish section, get it down pat HS, then when you're ready to do HT, slow down a lot and start playing with the right hand and only hit the first note of the left hand. When you can do that, then do the first two notes of the left hand, etc. etc.

Worth a try.

As Mark said, you need to go very slowly. I take it you skipped "Blow the Man Down". ;\)

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#1086326 - 01/07/05 03:47 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Hands separate is helpful to me at first, to figure out where the notes are, and the timing and fingering, and most other aspects of playing those notes sequentially.

However hands separate practice seems of no help at all to me to then play hands together, because it instantly becomes a whole different world with entirely different concerns. Which sounds exactly like what Jerry is describing too...

What works for me (this Entertainer version was the first time my teacher told me to try it) was to think of the metronome clicks as eighth notes.
One tick for an eight, but hold a quarter for two ticks. This gives you an easy synchronization for those syncopated notes, and it quickly becomes natural.

Dont speed up the metronome at first.. Yes, eights are twice as fast as quarters, but instead, learn to play it correctly hands together at a slow enough speed that you can actually do it. Practice isnt helpful unless you can actually do it.

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#1086327 - 01/07/05 08:12 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
the point is counting - HS first (run through LH and RH a few times with counting) before HT with the same counting. join hands together slowly and count.

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#1086328 - 01/07/05 10:38 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Thanks, everyone for your suggestions. I shall work through them all.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:
I take it you skipped "Blow the Man Down". ;\) [/b]
I feel so ashamed. Am I that transparent? \:o

I made a note on the top of Pg 89 (Blow The Man Down) several weeks ago: "Can play fine HS, cannot do HT." And that's not all...there are others with the same note...

I had forgotten about them. I'm so lame. \:\(
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#1086329 - 01/08/05 12:49 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3407
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Jerry, you are not lame, it sounds like you're doing a great job! Getting stuck means that you're doing something that's challenging enough for you to make you get stuck! Pat yourself on the back for that (while chewing gum and rubbing your tummy ;\)

Seriously, what do you do when you practice HS? If you're just doing the part of one hand, then it's not enough. Are you following the score for the other hand even though you're not playing it?

Are you singing the other hand's part? When I play the left had part separately, I sing the right hand part, but I found I rarely did that when I practice right hand HS (in other words, I rarely sing the left hand part). When I noticed that I did that, I made it a point to make sure that my HS practice for right hand didn't just forget about the left hand. For some songs, I can get away with it, but when I get stuck, I try to go back and make an effort to sing the left hand part, and that seems to make my HS practice much more effective.

Another thing you can do is play HS for only *one* measure, do the left hand and then the right, and do it really slow, not at the tempo you can play HS, but at a tempo that you think you could play HT. (Sometimes you get to used to the good tempo of HS and when you slow down for HT, that throws you). Anyway, only do one measure, HS. Then do that measure only, HT. Keep this up until you start to feel angry (no, you should stop before then!) See if that helps. And let us know how you do! \:\)
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#1086330 - 01/08/05 05:30 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Luke:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:
I take it you skipped "Blow the Man Down". ;\) [/b]
I feel so ashamed. Am I that transparent? \:o

[/b]
Busted!
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#1086331 - 01/08/05 07:54 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3150
Loc: Virginia, USA
Hands together has been my frustration too but it is getting better.

The best way to do it is something called "dropping notes." It is well described in some of Bernhard's posts on another forum.

Briefly, here's how it goes. Take a short section, maybe two bars. Or two beats, whatever fits your needs. Get one hand going, repeating that section. At the right time, add just one note from the other hand. Each time you come by that place. As this becomes comfortable, make it two notes. Then three, etc. When you're playing all the notes in both hands, stop, and *very important* repeat the same process starting with the other hand. This seems slow and frustrating at first but for me it was absolutely the best way to make progress getting hands together to work.
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#1086332 - 01/08/05 05:51 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
TimR,

Never heard of that.. but it does sound effective!

Jerry,

Give it time.. it will be hard now, but it will come as second nature sooner than you think. I was amazed Thursday when I, after stumbling thru it in my lesson, just sat down and sight read through Bizet's Gypsy Dance from Carmen (LOTS of offbeat notes, but a pretty simple left hand) and played it pretty well.

Just takes time. My teacher will be blown away when I show up playing this well after a week.
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====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#1086333 - 01/08/05 08:06 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Jerry,

I can't play any version of "The Entertainer" either, for the same reason.

Stupid rhythm.
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#1086334 - 01/08/05 09:44 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
I'm glad to hear it, Cindy. (Glad for ME, not for you ;\) ). This means I'm in good company. \:D

Of course, the whole thing would be a lot easier if I wasn't playing hands together while simultaneously attempting to apply lip balm... (A little cross-forum reference there to a thread I recently started in the Coffee Room). \:D


(Hey! This was my 200th post!)
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#1086335 - 01/09/05 02:41 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3407
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Maybe you can use the lip balm to wax the piano so it doesn't get chapped lips either. I mean, so it doesn't get dusty.. no, wait, wouldn't the lip balm just attract more dust? Then again, if you got lip balm on the keyboard you could just slide over the keys and

Wait! Are you trying to get your piano addicted too?! "Here, the first one's free"

it's a slippery slope...
_________________________
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#1086336 - 03/16/05 04:22 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Why does everything go upside down when it's time to use both hands? \:\(

It's really frustrating... I think I'll go back and try it really really slow.

Grrr...
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#1086337 - 03/16/05 05:25 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
SteveT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 56
Loc: London
I have a solution for you. It's working for me.
Get this book from Chang. You can download it from this site
http://members.aol.com/chang8828/contents.htm
it's the best thing since sliced bread. You'll be playing anything hands together in no time.
The book is free but he asks for donations if you like it. It's worth gold, so please give him something for the immense value that is this book.
It has quite literally caused my progress to leap ahead.
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#1086338 - 03/16/05 05:43 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Now that Steve has bumped this up . . .

Jerry, care to give us a report on how it's going?

Cindy -- who *is* actually working through a simple version of "The Entertainer" to try to address this problem her own self
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#1086339 - 03/16/05 06:15 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3202
Loc: Midwest U.S.
This is my own toughest problem, too. I have a wonderful complex Latin piece which is one of those things I most want to play and play well, called "Histoire d'un Amor". There is truly almost no place in the entire complex piece where the right and left hand notes coincide on a beat. I can do either hand all the way through perfectly. But every time I try putting them together, it's a royal mess. I think this is perhaps where us older beginners may have our greatest disadvantage. I've read that musicians who train early as children actually develop far more neural connections between the two halves of the brain that facilitate that right-hand/left-hand coordination thing. For me, my hands seem equally strong, but the coordination thing for complex rhythms never seems to get easier. I've been trying that "drop-in" method for several days. It helps, but the process is still painfully slow. Annoyingly, my favorite music is classical Latin and much of it has those complex rhythms my ears find so interesting but which give me endless fits. Lecuona's "Malaguena" with beats coinciding seems simple by comparison to those offset rhythms. I hope this aspect of playing eventually gets easier, since I have a whole stack of such pieces I someday hope to play. I can spend an 8 hour practice on any one of them and see very little improvement. But if anyone wants to play them as a duet, I can do either hand alone perfectly. \:\(

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#1086340 - 03/16/05 07:32 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
i guess the best way to do HT with different rhythms is to divide a bar further down to the beats (8 or 12 or more if necessary), then look vertically at notes and see which notes (RH & LH) belong to one beat (as you divided), and then count the beat and play HT one beat at a time.

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#1086341 - 03/16/05 07:45 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
mikewu99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 314
Loc: Audubon, PA
Step one is to train your left and right hands to keep separate rhythms regardless of the notes. Take the music away from the piano. Work on just tapping the LH and RH rhythms on the tabletop with your whole hand (all fingers together). Once you can do that, then tap the rhythms on the tabletop with the particular fingers you will use - again, don't worry about notes. Once you can do that, then go back to the piano again.

I can assure you that very soon this will become second nature and you won't even be able to fathom how you ever had problems.

Of course eventually you will have to figure out how to play triplets vs. eighth note and you will be back drumming at the table again...I still use this method when confronted with an oddball rhythmic pattern...

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#1086342 - 03/16/05 09:19 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
Jerry,

A lot of good advice above but a good teacher would do wonders. Your progress would soar. You would be amazed. I played that same arrangement of The Entertainer without much difficulty, However, that wouldn't have happened without the direction and structure of a good teacher.

Sorry if that irritates some self taught people. Just MHO.
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Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1086343 - 03/16/05 09:34 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Wow! I never thought I'd see this thread again. Has it really been 2 months since I posted this? Well, thanks for all the new but continued good advice everyone! It really is appreciated.

And Cindy, to answer your question, check out this thread . \:\)
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#1086344 - 03/17/05 06:12 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
do a search for "repeated note group" exercise for some good tips for solving the HT coordination problem

-Paul
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"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
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#1086345 - 03/17/05 06:56 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
I have read several of such topics in another forum and I am really not sure if it is really necessary to play HS many times before you combine both hands.

I have learned a few pieces by myself and usually I will first get the right notes (except once \:\( ) for both RH & LH and I will play them only a few times. Afterwhich, I combine hand slowly but speeding up gradually and I can play at tempo after several tries HT.

Well, I must admit that I have not come to 16 notes so in doubt if my method is wrong.
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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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#1086346 - 03/17/05 07:31 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
you're fine, Lucky. the idea of HS practice is used mostly for difficult passages or working out fingerings. for some easy pieces, it's possible to play/learn HT all the way through if you could.

for example, Mozart's K545 2nd movement is playable HT or sight reading, because LH has almost all Aberti bass through the movement without much changes, which make it easier to learn to begin with.

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#1086347 - 03/17/05 07:42 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3202
Loc: Midwest U.S.
I'd rather forgotten where I left my little HT piece of Horror, so I just went and played through it a couple of times. My problem is not so much hands-together--I'd finally gotten all those bits interleaving as they should. What's difficult is doing that at *speed*. While I can do either hand at full tempo even without the score and with just the right accent for each seemingly incongruous part, including the most difficult reaches amid weird combinations in any piece I've ever tackled, bringing it hands together *up to tempo* is what actually remains. And that's tough. So my issue is really that speed thing. I'm left to conclude the only reason the things that seem easy now are so only because I've played them 1000 times but this one only perhaps 30 times or so. 970 more to go. I guess that's why they call it "practice". But I think it'll be spectacular if and when I get it there. I think this really will be my signature piece if I ever *do* get it there. Till then, it's the next piece that will have the neighbors saying, "Oh no! Not again!"

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#1086348 - 03/17/05 07:43 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Oh, Signa. You're trying to break me, aren't you?

It took me about six months to learn the second movement of K545. Every time I would try to put the hands together, it felt like I was having a seizure or something. \:\(

Sight read it? Not even with a gun to my head.

Cindy -- wandering back over to the remedial corner
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#1086349 - 03/17/05 09:42 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
sorry, Cindy, i didn't mean to beat you ;\) on this, but it happens to be one of the pieces (not any Bach's though) easier for me to read through.

i don't have much problem with LH Alberti bass, because i have already learned the 1st movement before (though learned it about 3 times in total). i don't even need to do HS much on this but have some problem with memorizing it because i am not learning it a few bars at a time but rather to repeat playing through a whole section on sight. i have played through the whole movement already, and still have a few spots not quite in my memory yet. it's the 2nd week i am learning this, but need at least another week to momerize and polish it.

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#1086350 - 03/19/05 09:58 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
MikeWU99 described how I learned to do rhythms that are not same in each hand. I used to go around tapping out the rhythms on my legs, my desk, where ever I was. It does work. It's kind of like burning a pathway in your brain. Don't despair, Jerry. Once you learn a few of these, it will come faster and easier everytime . It always amazes and thrills me when I learn something in a fraction of the time it took me in the beginning.

Once you know what the rhythms sounds like and feels like you can do it on the keyboard. For me HS is for learning the notes, to learn the rhythm it has to be HT. Doing HS while trying to learn the rhythm doesn't work for me. I hope that makes sense. In other words, if I don't have to concentrate on *what* notes I am going to play in either hand, I can then concentrate on *when* to play them.
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#1086351 - 03/21/05 04:44 AM Re: Hands Together Challenge
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3407
Loc: not in Japan anymore
BTW another way to use HS practice is to make the goal not being able to play HS *at* tempo, but being able to play HS well *above* tempo.

Like most of us, I also slow way down when I go to HT practice, so if I can really play each part HS, very fast, lately I find that it takes me much less time to get up to the desired tempo HT.
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Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
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#1086352 - 03/23/05 01:48 PM Re: Hands Together Challenge
hgiles Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 736
Loc: Charlottesville Virginia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Luke:
If I have chords or bass notes between held or syncopated melody notes, it's all over, even if I can play the parts beautifully hands separate. This is killing me ... [/b]
You wait til you get the desire to start singing along! Now you got three things to try to coordinate!!

Don't get me wrong I am with you! I think it comes down to practice.
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