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#1276895 - 09/28/09 08:59 PM Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 69
Loc: Michigan, United States
Does anyone have any tricks for teaching students how to play different dynamics in different hands? I am specifically working with several students on bringing out the RH melody and playing the LH softer. This is one of those things that I know how to do well myself, but I don't remember how/when I learned it or exactly how I am doing it! Tips/tricks?

THANKS!
_________________________
Jessica S.

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#1276899 - 09/28/09 09:05 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: michiganteacher]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11909
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
"shadow playing": Have them play the RH alone, while pretending to play the LH. The LH shouldn't press down any keys, but still do the motions on the surface of the keys with correct fingering. Once they can do this rather well, then have them play with sounding the LH, but to keep it very soft.

Also, I tell my students that no matter what eh dynamic marking, the melody should never be less than MF. The melody is always one dynamic marking above the harmony.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1276912 - 09/28/09 09:23 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: michiganteacher]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: michiganteacher
Does anyone have any tricks for teaching students how to play different dynamics in different hands? I am specifically working with several students on bringing out the RH melody and playing the LH softer. This is one of those things that I know how to do well myself, but I don't remember how/when I learned it or exactly how I am doing it! Tips/tricks?

THANKS!

Hands separately, to listen carefully to each hand that way first, sometimes one phrase at a time. Then put hands together, just one phrase at a time, listen for the rise and fall of each phrase.
Asking the student to listen for the melody line when playing hands together works well for me. They listen for the melody line and it comes out.
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#1276914 - 09/28/09 09:26 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jessica, different students respond differently. A trick I recently learned is using stage imagery. You have a soloist singing on stage, and some back up singers singing on stage. Which one do you want to hear, which ones should be in the background? Pretend that your right hand is the solo singer, and the left hand is the back up crew. Reverse roles. This doesn't work for all, but for a surprising number it will work.

Why it works is because students are listening and using their ears to listen and the hands respond without their thinking about it.
_________________________
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Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
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#1276917 - 09/28/09 09:32 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: John v.d.Brook]
PianonaiP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/09
Posts: 119
Loc: Central PA
yeah it definitely has to be a connection with their ears, cant be a mechanical "play left hand this much lighter, ect" I learned by learning chopins 4th prelude, e minor, and listening to recordings and trying to replicate. Also I think by learning this way with their ears, they will have a greater ability to adapt to different pieces that require the same technique but varying degrees of loudness.

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#1276991 - 09/28/09 11:54 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: PianonaiP]
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 69
Loc: Michigan, United States
Yes, you're right. Now that I really think about it...when I play, I am definitely listening to the melody and it makes a difference in how I play. Morodiene, I love the shadow playing idea, too! Thanks much...I am excited to try these out with students.
_________________________
Jessica S.

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#1277006 - 09/29/09 12:48 AM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: michiganteacher]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 841
One of my tricks for this is to have them play the right hand an octave higher to bring out a l.h. melody, or the left hand an octave lower to bring out a r.h. melody.

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#1277064 - 09/29/09 04:03 AM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Candywoman]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I have my students feel like one hand is sinking into the keys while the other hand is floating on the keys. I also play on their shoulders so they can feel the difference.
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#1277099 - 09/29/09 06:21 AM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: PianonaiP]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: PianonaiP
yeah it definitely has to be a connection with their ears, cant be a mechanical "play left hand this much lighter, ect" I learned by learning chopins 4th prelude, e minor, and listening to recordings and trying to replicate. Also I think by learning this way with their ears, they will have a greater ability to adapt to different pieces that require the same technique but varying degrees of loudness.


It needs to be both. Plenty of students have perfectly good hearing and listening skills. However, listening does not provide useful feedback in itself, unless the student also knows what adjustment they can make to improve the result. Neither is any less important. I don't think there's any real difficulty in showing most students what quiet playing sounds like (something that should always be demonstrated by the teacher, for them to hear). The question is whether they know how to soften it up while maintaining control.

Personally I'm a firm believer in showing students how to play loudly with weight first. Even just doing this once often makes it easier to go on to play it softly and with control. A frequent problem is to play pianissimo with excessive slack (resulting in some notes not sounding and others being very lumpy). There are certain things that will indeed make them play softer but which introduce new problems. I'm not so keen on the 'floating' idea personally (unless in response to someone who is overwhelmingly heavy handed). I think it's important still to feel positively into the keyboard and rest plenty on the fingers (between notes), rather than to think of it as not going in. It can introduce arm tensions, when the students simply prod down the keys from a held arm, rather than play actively enough to rest upon them. The biggest problem is to think of it as if they were slowing the key down, rather than moving it slowly (but consistently, in one single movement) through the point of contact. Different things work for different students, but I think it's always important to keep them exercising control over each key, rather than allow vagueness to creep in. Pianissimo should still be felt as releasing energy into a key, rather than as holding eneergy away from it.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (09/29/09 06:48 AM)
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#1277347 - 09/29/09 01:57 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I don't believe this is valid.
The whole idea is flawed in my
opinion. That is, you note that
you can play like this (but
don't remember how you learned it).
Therefore, you conclude that you
should teach your students how
to do this, and right now, not after
they have a similar amount of experience
as you have.

I see this as similar to how
people watch top concert pianists
in action and note how seemingly
effortless and relaxed they play,
and then conclude that the secret
to playing like them is to simply
relax at the keyboard, and then,
without any effort, you will be able
to play like them. Of course
this is completely invalid because
it ignores the decades of hard
work and sacrifice concert pianists
put in in order to develop
the strength to be able to play
in a seemingly relaxed way.
Nevertheless, this relaxation
school of piano instruction has
taken hold and attracts many
followers, since relaxation implies
lack of effort and hard work.



Edited by Gyro (09/29/09 02:00 PM)

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#1277379 - 09/29/09 02:41 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Gyro]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"I see this as similar to how
people watch top concert pianists
in action and note how seemingly
effortless and relaxed they play,
and then conclude that the secret
to playing like them is to simply
relax at the keyboard, and then,
without any effort, you will be able
to play like them."

??? And where did I say anything to suggest that? On the contrary, that's why I said that they need to play loudly first, so they can learn what muscles are required for use in controlled softer playing. Where on earth are you coming from exactly? I recall exactly how I learned to play quietly- which as I stated is by first playing loudly and then reducing the intensity (while maintaning what is activated within the muscles).

"Of course
this is completely invalid because
it ignores the decades of hard
work and sacrifice concert pianists
put in in order to develop
the strength to be able to play
in a seemingly relaxed way.
Nevertheless, this relaxation
school of piano instruction has
taken hold and attracts many
followers, since relaxation implies
lack of effort and hard work."

Am I to take it that because I used a single instance of the word 'weight', you presume that I teach a method that is solely based around relaxation? Are you really that stuck in the mantra that you continue to repeat it, without any regard to whether it's actually relevant or not? You could scarcely be more mistaken. Excessive relaxation held me back for years. I am as aware as anyone how to counterproductive it is to overrelax the wrong muscles.

Besides, you didn't say anything of relevance to the topic of discussion, nevermind my post. Would you like to follow through with some detail on what you believe is the best approach? Or do you only speak in such loose generalisations?


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (09/29/09 02:47 PM)
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1277452 - 09/29/09 04:37 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5932
Loc: Down Under
I think in so far as Gyro was responding to anybody (it isn't a thing he generally does) it was to the OP, who did say the things Gyro quoted. It's the problem with the way the boards are set up, so that if you just hit the reply button on the last post it comes out as if you're responding specifically to that person. I haven't found a way around that, except to scroll right back to the original post and hit reply there.

Where's Gyro coming from, you ask? GyroLand, a land far, far away...
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1277518 - 09/29/09 06:47 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: currawong]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: currawong
I think in so far as Gyro was responding to anybody (it isn't a thing he generally does) it was to the OP, who did say the things Gyro quoted. It's the problem with the way the boards are set up, so that if you just hit the reply button on the last post it comes out as if you're responding specifically to that person. I haven't found a way around that, except to scroll right back to the original post and hit reply there.

Where's Gyro coming from, you ask? GyroLand, a land far, far away...


I don't think the original poster said anything about relaxation either. Still, I suppose that when you've repeated the same stock response enough times, it's probably all too easy to regurgitate it once more, without stopping to check what the discussion is about.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1277543 - 09/29/09 07:33 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: michiganteacher]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1081
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: michiganteacher
Does anyone have any tricks for teaching students how to play different dynamics in different hands? I am specifically working with several students on bringing out the RH melody and playing the LH softer. This is one of those things that I know how to do well myself, but I don't remember how/when I learned it or exactly how I am doing it! Tips/tricks?

THANKS!


My previous piano teacher had a trick: with the cover over the keys, flop the left hand lightly, having the fingers barely touch the lid, while the right hand slapped it firmly, just to get the sensation of different hand weight. It's awfully tricky, but that helped me get the sensation into my muscles.

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#1277633 - 09/29/09 10:34 PM Re: Loud vs. Soft in Different Hands [Re: Nikalette]
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 69
Loc: Michigan, United States
Thanks Nikalette! And thanks for all the other ideas..It's nice to have a "bag of tricks" to try with different students.
_________________________
Jessica S.

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