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#1166529 - 03/21/09 07:18 PM What are good exercises to get better octaves?
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
So I was realizing the other day that my octaves kind of suck. What are some good exercises or pieces that I could look at to really improve my octaves? They're definitely something I need to get better since octaves play a huge basis in a lot of the more mature piano works, and I want to be able to play those at some point!
Thanks!
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166531 - 03/21/09 07:35 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19197
Loc: New York City
Try Schumann's Important Event from his Kinderscenen or(much harder)Chopin's g minor Prelude for LH octave practice. For RH maybe the octave passages in Mozart's Rondo a la Turca or the theme from Schumann's Abegg Variations.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/21/09 07:40 PM)

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#1166532 - 03/21/09 07:39 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: pianoloverus]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Wow, Bach Two parts in octaves? That's intense. I'm assuming you need to leave out the trills, yeah? Haha. thanks for the Schumann suggestion also, I'll check it out.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166533 - 03/21/09 07:41 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
The requirements differ depending on dynamics, articulation and tempo, the only common element being the handspan itself. Do you mean octaves generally in all contexts, or something more specific?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1166541 - 03/21/09 08:02 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Well, I guess I mean generally in all contexts. I'm not doing any pieces that have any difficult octave passages, but I want to in the future and want to know what I need to do now to prepare for that. The octaves in the Schumann seem like great LH work. I should probably start doing scales in double octaves also...
I realize that each piece has different requirements on what to do with octaves, but I want stuff that'll help prepare me for all of them in general.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166543 - 03/21/09 08:02 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7740
Doing scales and arpeggios in octaves is always one simple option for working on them, at least as a start. Of course, there are a zillion octave etudes, too.

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#1166549 - 03/21/09 08:21 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
argerichfan Online   sick
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8802
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: xxmynameisjohnxx
... but I want stuff that will help prepare me for all of them in general.

With your teacher's permission (and only so), I might recommend Dohnanyi's octave exercises in his Essential Finger Exercises. But don't worry too much about practicing all the octaves with 1/4 as opposed to 1/5, it can lead to unnecessary fatigue.

Hanon certainly covers octaves (if more generally), and Rafael Joseffy's School of Advanced Piano Playing addresses the issue also, though his exercises cannot be memorized -all important for concentration- as quickly as Dohnanyi.
_________________________
Jason

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#1166557 - 03/21/09 08:36 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: argerichfan]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Well my teacher has me doing Hanon right now....but I'm only at the beginning, nowhere near the octaves part. Although, I could just got ahead and look at the octaves exercises now and then ask her more specifically at my next lesson what to do for octaves.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166647 - 03/22/09 12:32 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Chopin etude 25/10 - although it's for legato octaves. Just practice octaves. In scales, arpeggios, repeated, make up your own patterns, etc. My philosophy is, if you can't play something, play it.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1166652 - 03/22/09 12:44 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Pogorelich.]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Hm, although the Chopin Etudes are a bit above me right now, perhaps after I get a basic proficiency in my octaves [can play scales without mistakes, go through the hanon exercise 51 at a good speed with no mistakes] I could start playing with 25/10, just as a technical study for now.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166653 - 03/22/09 12:47 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Pogorelich.]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I should have known that Czerny penned some octave studies! IMSLP doesn't have them, but the Henselt Library does:

http://www.henseltlibrary.org/Czerny-op553-Octave_Studies.pdf

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1166657 - 03/22/09 01:05 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Thanks! I've got plenty of stuff to use now. I think I'm gonna start with the Hanon exercise 51, the preliminary octave studies, then perhaps move the the Czerny and then do the Chopin Etude just as a technical study, not as a performance piece. I'll probably only do the first page or so of the Chopin, not even the whole thing..unless my teacher wants me to do the whole thing. I'll also do all my scale of the weeks in octaves. My octaves really aren't terrible, they're just no where near as good as they need to be.


Edited by xxmynameisjohnxx (03/22/09 01:07 AM)
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166693 - 03/22/09 05:03 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
JBB_Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 54
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Chopin's etude is the best for this. I tackled it as a teen, and while I couldn't play it to tempo or at all well, it helped my octaves tremendously. The key will be doing it slowly enough so there is NO tension when you play the study and VERY gradually moving the metronome up one click at a time so the tension doesn't creep in. Another piece you can probably do that will help you with octaves is Brahms' Op. 79 No. 2.

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#1166704 - 03/22/09 06:22 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: JBB_Piano]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Play your scales as octaves? That's what I do.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#1166731 - 03/22/09 09:02 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
argerichfan Online   sick
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8802
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
I should have known that Czerny penned some octave studies!

Czerny's Art of Finger Dexterity (#33) has an effective octave etude. Josef Llevinne played it frequently as an encore, and one can only imagine what he would have done with it.
_________________________
Jason

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#1166734 - 03/22/09 09:09 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: argerichfan]
pianojosh23 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 600
I don't know, I might be wrong, but I think Prelude in G Minor (Rachmaninoff)would be very good for improving octaves/chords. I finished a few months ago and it's seemed to have made my octaves/chords better. It's quite a demanding piece though.

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#1166761 - 03/22/09 10:39 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: pianojosh23]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19197
Loc: New York City
I am always surprised that some posters make suggestions without it seems to me considering the level of the the pianist involved. Although not specified by the OP, my recollection from other of his posts is that he is nowhere near the level where pieces like the Chopin Etude or even the Czerny would be appropriate. Of course, one could play these pieces half speed or even less and they would be of some benefit, but I don't think they are pedagogically sound at this point.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/22/09 10:41 AM)

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#1166768 - 03/22/09 11:01 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13757
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I agree with pianoloverus. Most of the replies in this topic are just lists of things that involve octaves.

The first thing that popped into my mind was:

"What do you mean by make octaves better? Do you mean articulation, voicing, speed, changes of direction, repeated octaves, or the different techniques involved?" Until the original poster answers some of those questions, none of the exercises will do any good.


Frycek's suggestion is very good - at the early stages, simply playing octave scales can be very useful. Another great exercise that can help you practice the wrist and arm motions is playing slurred scales:

CD DE EF FG GA AB BC C
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1166816 - 03/22/09 01:33 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA


Edited by sotto voce (03/22/09 03:29 PM)
Edit Reason: nm
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1166821 - 03/22/09 01:46 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: sotto voce]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1456
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
I say start with what you have in your Hanon book. Start with those "detached" and "wrist" exercises like 48 & 51 that precede the actual octave scales, and I recommend exaggerating the looseness of your wrist to start until it becomes second nature.

Daniel
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#1166868 - 03/22/09 03:43 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Ridicolosamente]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Yeah, if you read my post above I say that I'll start with the Hanon, then play scales, perhaps then go to the czerny and seeing as all that will probably take a few months, maybe work slowly through the first page or so of the Etude at a slow tempo. I know the etude is above me right now, especially since I think 25/10 is one of the more difficult of Chopin's....
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1166935 - 03/22/09 07:09 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Getting the playing of octaves shipshape can be enhanced
by discovering a passage in a masterpiece ... as in the case of
Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto opus 73... m 334-361 ...
here’s the heart of the passage (spread over 3 pages) ... my school avoid the soul-destroying exercises in Hanon and Czerny.



PS From an edition for two pianos ... the numbering of the measures is my own and might not match other editions.

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#1166951 - 03/22/09 07:58 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: btb]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Doing the chromatic scale in double octaves is an excellent drill. Strive for precision. I first play with 1-5 only, and then I'll do 1-5 on white keys and 1-4 on black keys. It's quite a workout, and as others have pointed out, you need to be loose to be successful at octaves.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1167060 - 03/22/09 11:50 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Kreisler]
argerichfan Online   sick
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8802
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Until the original poster answers some of those questions, none of the exercises will do any good.

I thought my first post in this thread answered your concern.
_________________________
Jason

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#1167098 - 03/23/09 01:44 AM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Kreisler]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I agree with pianoloverus. Most of the replies in this topic are just lists of things that involve octaves.

The first thing that popped into my mind was:

"What do you mean by make octaves better? Do you mean articulation, voicing, speed, changes of direction, repeated octaves, or the different techniques involved?" Until the original poster answers some of those questions, none of the exercises will do any good.


Frycek's suggestion is very good - at the early stages, simply playing octave scales can be very useful. Another great exercise that can help you practice the wrist and arm motions is playing slurred scales:

CD DE EF FG GA AB BC C



I didn't see this post, but I do just mean octaves in general. I'm planning to just start with basic C major scales and Hanon exercises. Some of the other things posted will be useful once I am proficient at playing octaves accurately, but right now I'm not that great at even something that simple. I've just never practiced octaves before really. Thanks for the slurred octaves scales suggestion, sounds good to me. I also had forgotten about doing chromatics in octaves, that is quite a workout. I just played through a number of C major scales and was doing fairly decent at it at a moderate speed. My wrists were as relaxed as possible. I realized at the end that octave scales make a MUCH better warm up than regular scales do, my wrists feel so loose and warm now. laugh.

I also really don't mind working on Hanon exercises like many people do, I find them fairly enjoyable and I think it's good that they're drills that once I get them into my hands and fingers properly, I can run them basically without thinking. Of course that's assuming I got em in my hands properly....if not it sucks. Haha.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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#1167323 - 03/23/09 02:16 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13757
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There is no such thing as "octaves in general." The techniques used in different contexts can vary widely, and each of the different techniques require different kinds of training and preparation.

If you're asking us to give you advice on all possible types of octave playing, then you're asking the impossible. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, not compiling a list of all the steps you're going to need to take.

My advice was very pragmatic advice. You need to be specific about what aspect of octave playing you want to improve and work on that.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just think it's important to work on technical issues in some depth. I want you to be the kind of pianist who can play 6 Chopin etudes really well. Not the kind of pianist who can play the first 8 measures of all of them.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1167352 - 03/23/09 03:23 PM Re: What are good exercises to get better octaves? [Re: Kreisler]
xxmynameisjohnxx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 625
Loc: San Diego
Well, I guess I'm wanting to improve my speed and accuracy in octaves, a long with getting a good solid wrist motion. I realize you're just trying to help, and I wasn't specific enough with what I was wanting to do. I'm just wanting to get a solid base for my octave playing so that when I encounter them in a specific musical context, I don't need to spend the time getting the basic wrist motion and accuracy down and I just need to figure out how to apply the wrist motion and accuracy to the musical context.

And I'd much rather be able to play 6 etudes well than the first 8 measures of all of them as well. So, thank you!
Side note, I think my teacher is prepping me for the revolutionary etude right now, some of her comments and the pieces I'm playing seem to point towards that, but there's still a fair amount of work before I get there, I don't wanna get to far ahead of myself, haha.
_________________________
Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.

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