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#1204589 - 05/23/09 12:43 PM My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Hey Players. I wanted to post my finger technique and maintenance tune-up which keeps my brain and fingers talking the same language in order to play jazz piano at the highest level I can. This is especially important if I have not touched the keyboard/piano in several weeks and this workflow is compared to what I would be doing in a gym for my muscles.

But I am also interested in what program you may doing and what you found in the way of exercises that has kept you going. I also don't have a grand piano right now and use 2 Casio Privia 88 weighted keyboards which are about as close to an acoustic piano for touch and action.

Anyway here goes. The first warm up I do is Hanon #1. That's it. Hanon for me is in one key and I have been through most of the book when I was at Berklee and have found things that work a little better in my case. Next thing is I set the metronome at 120 bpm and do all 12 major scales in 3 octaves eighth note triplets, then 4 octaves of sixteenths. Sometimes hands separately. Next is 2 octaves of major and minor arpeggios but just C through B. I'm pretty warmed up now for level 2. I then pull out my very worn book, Ernő Dohnányi Essential Finger Exercises. I do the first 2 pages in several keys, both hands and this book has done more to develop strength and finger independence that anything I have tried.

After my time with Dohnanyi exercises, I'm ready for level 3. Minor scales, both hands all 12 keys. Then Bach WTC BK 1 Prelude in Cm and Prelude in D Major. Both hands and separately, always working to increase speed and listen to anything I have as one of my true idols and Bach wizard, Glenn Gould.

Ok, so this takes care of the classical technique and now ready to move on to jazz. I have many backing tracks of standard tunes in GarageBand installed on my MacBook, so I go through the ones I may play on a gig and polish them up. I have several jazz lick books and try to learn a new lick daily in several keys. I then put on Coltrane's Giant Steps and have a series of exercises I learned when studying with the bebop master and improv wizard himself when I was in Boston, Charlie Banacos. I have a backing track and adjust the tempo and try to play it as smooth and fast as possible.

I then move to major and minor tenths in the left hand, light stretching, and voicings in all 12 keys. Then I play different boogie woogie and bass patterns with left hand for facility.

Whew! I can go through all the above exercises in about an hour and then I am ready to take on whatever I have to work on the rest of the day. The list I have of things to work on would probably cover 12 pages here, so time doesn't allow for that.

Anyway, after many of years of playing I found I get the best and fastest results from my program here to keep my keyboard facility up to the max.

I am very curious what some of you guys are doing to keep your technique at the piano/keyboard optimal. I'm sure there are other things I don't know about to what I have already mentioned, so feel free and leave us your own tips and tricks. Have a good one.

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (05/23/09 12:43 PM)

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1204824 - 05/23/09 08:13 PM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Cudo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Heidelberg, Germany
Originally Posted By: nitekatt2008z
Hey Players. I wanted to post my finger technique and maintenance tune-up which keeps my brain and fingers talking the same language in order to play jazz piano at the highest level I can. This is especially important if I have not touched the keyboard/piano in several weeks and this workflow is compared to what I would be doing in a gym for my muscles.

But I am also interested in what program you may doing and what you found in the way of exercises that has kept you going. I also don't have a grand piano right now and use 2 Casio Privia 88 weighted keyboards which are about as close to an acoustic piano for touch and action.

Anyway here goes. The first warm up I do is Hanon #1. That's it. Hanon for me is in one key and I have been through most of the book when I was at Berklee and have found things that work a little better in my case. Next thing is I set the metronome at 120 bpm and do all 12 major scales in 3 octaves eighth note triplets, then 4 octaves of sixteenths. Sometimes hands separately. Next is 2 octaves of major and minor arpeggios but just C through B. I'm pretty warmed up now for level 2. I then pull out my very worn book, Ernő Dohnányi Essential Finger Exercises. I do the first 2 pages in several keys, both hands and this book has done more to develop strength and finger independence that anything I have tried.

After my time with Dohnanyi exercises, I'm ready for level 3. Minor scales, both hands all 12 keys. Then Bach WTC BK 1 Prelude in Cm and Prelude in D Major. Both hands and separately, always working to increase speed and listen to anything I have as one of my true idols and Bach wizard, Glenn Gould.

Ok, so this takes care of the classical technique and now ready to move on to jazz. I have many backing tracks of standard tunes in GarageBand installed on my MacBook, so I go through the ones I may play on a gig and polish them up. I have several jazz lick books and try to learn a new lick daily in several keys. I then put on Coltrane's Giant Steps and have a series of exercises I learned when studying with the bebop master and improv wizard himself when I was in Boston, Charlie Banacos. I have a backing track and adjust the tempo and try to play it as smooth and fast as possible.

I then move to major and minor tenths in the left hand, light stretching, and voicings in all 12 keys. Then I play different boogie woogie and bass patterns with left hand for facility.

Whew! I can go through all the above exercises in about an hour and then I am ready to take on whatever I have to work on the rest of the day. The list I have of things to work on would probably cover 12 pages here, so time doesn't allow for that.

Anyway, after many of years of playing I found I get the best and fastest results from my program here to keep my keyboard facility up to the max.

I am very curious what some of you guys are doing to keep your technique at the piano/keyboard optimal. I'm sure there are other things I don't know about to what I have already mentioned, so feel free and leave us your own tips and tricks. Have a good one.

katt


Hi,

I used to do similar stuff years ago. Now the only thing I do, sitting in front of a piano, is playing music.
Isn't every piece of music at the same time a control of technique? Of course you have to be sincerely with yourself and play in an adequate time.

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#1204856 - 05/23/09 09:27 PM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: Cudo]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Well, what works for one may not work for another. Remember what I was saying, a tune-up if I haven't been playing for weeks and even sometimes months. I don't have to do all this stuff on a regular basis. If I'm playing a lot, then I just do what comes with the gig set.

katt

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#1204934 - 05/24/09 03:12 AM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
No offense intended, but if I have not been playing for weeks then what you suggest is probably a quick route to an episode of tendonitis. I would need to very carefully and very gradually get back in shape, not do some sort of classical marathon workout and risk straining delicate muscles and tendons. And I have far better jazz exercises to practice than Hanon and Dohnányi exercises.

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#1204991 - 05/24/09 07:48 AM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: Jazz+]
Riddler Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
... And I have far better jazz exercises to practice than Hanon and Dohnányi exercises.


Jazz+, if you could elaborate, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,

Ed
_________________________
http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.


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#1205064 - 05/24/09 11:38 AM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: Jazz+]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
No, my thing works for me and I have been playing 25+ and still cranking. Remember, I am only listing what I do that works, not recommending anyone to do things the way I do them. The teachers I studied at Berklee with recommended Dohnanyi but to do them SLOWLY, one exercise at a time. If they don't work for you, there are always some alternatives. I have also taught some of my more advanced students Dohnanyi, and we had no problems. But there are wrong ways and correct ways to use the system. Actually, I reversed CTS problems by using Dohanayi that took stiffness and stress on my wrists and strengthen my fingers where I had more control and relaxsation.

But I am interested in some of the exercises that build strength and technique. I have the Cznerny books, but never got much from them. I have the large scale book by Cooke, mainly for reference and scales. Bach WTC has been invaluable, especially for jazz because it "exercises" all the fingers and helps the brain connection to the fingers to follow new directions.

katt

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#1205065 - 05/24/09 11:40 AM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: Riddler]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I think everyone is different and its important you find what works best for you. I know that every time I work on hanon I start having problems so I don't really work on them much. But I've heard that a very well known LA jazz pianist used to work on Hanon in 12 keys.. I don't know how someone can do that without hurting themselves.. but I guess it works for him.

For me I start improvising at very slow tempo and make sure I am relaxed and gradually increase tempo. And I work on placing accents on different part of the beat.. that can help with finger strength issues.

I also like Bach Invention and Bach Preludes that has a lot of lines. And I play my transcription at slower tempo, or create exercises based on something an idea/lick I like. I'd rather do it this way than work on exercises, because I know I will actually be using these ideas in my solos.

I know a lot of schools require that you learn classical pieces to improve your chops.. but I never felt right about that.. you should learn classical pieces for the music, I don't feel right treating great pieces by chopin or beethoven just as a means to an end. Why play music you can't appreciate?? On the other hand I think its great when jazz pianists learn classical pieces to have further understand of piano music.


Edited by etcetra (05/24/09 11:44 AM)

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#1205298 - 05/24/09 11:09 PM Re: My Jazz Maintanence and Fingers Tune-Up [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Yes, for me the most effective Baroque music I have played that helped my technique with was Bach. Bill Evans played a lot of Bach as did Oscar Peterson. Bach fugues and preludes are not easy, but when you finally play through the piece, there is much satisfaction and content. You understand more about counterpoint, building up the left hand fingerings. Several teachers I worked with helped me by writing fingering patterns. I also feel that pianists who play and study Bach also gain much by hearing how each voice or pattern in the music is put together as a whole. For me, Bach has to be mastered a bar at a time slowly and then the speed comes as time well spent going through it.

You also wonder how much expresso Bach must have drunk when he wrote the Cm and D Major preludes, he must have been amped up to the max. I mean these 2 pieces have no time to come up for air to take a breath.

Bach's ideas are things that I could not have figured out without working through them. The music is eternal, it never gets "old" or dated as history has shown us. Just some $$

katt

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