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#1220771 - 06/21/09 10:02 PM first post. Hand independence exercies??
armstrom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/13/09
Posts: 2
I have a pretty basic question for you more experience players out there. I'm trying to work on getting a left-hand bass pattern going while playing a basic right-hand part on top of it. I'm having that common problem of not being able to keep my left hand pattern going once I add in the right hand. I tend to do well when all the left-hand notes coincide with with a beat on the left hand. My trouble is dealing with a different rhythm on both hands. Such as when playing a basic shuffle pattern or more complex boogie patterns in the bass.

I know one way to work around these issues is to just find the coincident beats between the right and left hands and use them as a "skeleton" around which to locate the rest of the notes that do not match a note on the other hand. I used this method to learn the main part of Ray Charles' "What'd I say" for example. However, what if I don't have a particular piece in mind? I would like to be able to just improvise a lead or comp some chords in the right hand over a standard bass line. I see videos of people doing this all the time online. They'll play the same melody over all sorts of different bass lines. I can't imagine they practice the same melody with all those different bass lines.. so what's the secret? Are there any exercises that can help eliminate the "cross contamination" between the right and left hand? I seem to practice the left hand patterns until I'm blue in the face but can't keep them together with the right hand..

Sorry for the long-winded question! I look forward to any advice from the forum. Thanks in advance!

-Matt

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#1220773 - 06/21/09 10:14 PM Re: first post. Hand independence exercies?? [Re: armstrom]
Blues Babe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/07
Posts: 104
Loc: Everett, WA
Matt: Though I'm far from being an experienced player, I'm dealing with this same issue right now. It seems to me that if one just keeps practicing different pieces in the manner you've identified (find the coincident beats between RH and LH and use them as a "skeleton" around which to locate the remaining notes that don't match a note on the other hand), eventually that skill will transfer into being able to improvise/comp chords in the RH over a standard bass line. Anyone out there have this experience, or am I dreamin'?
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Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

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#1220790 - 06/21/09 11:19 PM Re: first post. Hand independence exercies?? [Re: Blues Babe]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Hey, Matt. My prof at University is brilliant so I am going to pretty much regurgitate to you a useful tool he gave me. He introduced me to something he calls rhythmic meditation (this is mostly for improvisation purposes but it works the same with melodies). It is the coolest thing. He told me to take a bassline (something in odd meters for advanced players) and play it in my left hand over and over and over again. Once I thought I had it down he told me to play it over and over again some more. He said after about 5 minuts I would be bored and very distracted but to remain focused. After 10 minutes I would be thinking "I can't play this bassline 1 more time" but to acknowledge and dismiss every thought from my mind and focus on the bassline. After 15-20 minutes I would start to go into a relaxed musical and meditative state, which I did. Once I got to that point he told me to start to play simple chords, then add lines, add some melodies while continuing to meditate on the bassline. And then, just let the music go... He said he would improvise for hours on the same chord progression/bassline. A big lesson I learned this past year was about how well I play vs. how well I know a tune. My prof sometimes asks me "You know this tune, but do you REALLY know this tune?". This is a way to REALLY get to know something well. The same excercise can be applied to different things like practising left hand voicings while improvising.

Miranda

***Note: Be sure to maintain good posture while doing this excercise as if keep you more focused and you won't fall asleep!

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#1220989 - 06/22/09 12:19 PM Re: first post. Hand independence exercies?? [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Piano N Cheesecake's advice is great.. I just wanted to add few more things.

The way you practice independence is not that much different than classical.. you might want to work on the two hands separate before you combined them. You will have to decide what your RH&LH does first.. like doing arpeggios, but make sure you work the two hands separately until you have them perfect effortlessly. After that combine the, at a very slow tempo, and gradually speed up as it becomes comfortable.

After that try different ideas on RH or LH, but only change one of hand at a time.. you'll notice that some ideas come out easier than others.. its the ones you're having difficulty with that you need to work on.

Also remember that this is a slow process.. it might take days, even weeks for some things to sink in.. so don't be discouraged if you are struggling with something after couple of days.


Edited by etcetra (06/22/09 12:21 PM)

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#1221890 - 06/24/09 12:44 AM Re: first post. Hand independence exercies?? [Re: etcetra]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
It probably took me a year to be able to walk bass and improvise at the same time. But it was very basic. And it was hard to keep the time solid. I don't do much bass walking now when playing solo piano so I'm not well practiced in it (not my thing stylistically) but I remember it took maybe 3 years before I could vary the left hand while improvising (instead of executing a memorized LH pattern).

It seems to operate with constant exchange of priority of brain control of LH and RH with the subconscious taking over briefly on the unattended hand. At least that is my perception of it. Like each part of the brain stealing time from the other but at brief intervals.
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Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP
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#1222200 - 06/24/09 02:51 PM Re: first post. Hand independence exercies?? [Re: jazzwee]
armstrom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/13/09
Posts: 2
sorry it took so long to reply..
Thanks so much for all the great replies! I'll be sure to give those techniques a try. Just to give you an idea of where I'm at now here's a recording of a little improvisation of Hit The Road Jack in D...

http://www.mr2-power.com/hit%20the%20road.mp3

This is an example of a left hand part I don't really have any issues with. It's simply walking down from D to Bb. It's slightly "percussive" (at least that's what I call it) but not quite as complex as some of the boogie bass lines. However, it took me about a week of off and on work (about half an hour a day) to get to where I could improvise the ending of the song. Even with that, you can tell my timing is quite a bit off in places. I ended the recording pretty quickly because it started going down hill fast smile

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