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#2101133 - 06/11/13 07:42 PM Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation
nomad311 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 2
Hey all, first time post here for me. I've been a guitarist for oh around 24 years now, wow that's really the first time I've thought about that. I've recently just started plunking around on the piano trying to figure it out. I can learn music well by ear which is what I have been doing. My main issue is trying to figure out how to separate my hands. Playing guitar for so long, my hands are always working together doing the same things. Something like the Charlie Brown song is driving me crazy because I can play the music correctly with each hand separate, but when I try to put them together ... wow it's a disaster! Any suggestions? Thanks!

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#2101174 - 06/11/13 08:37 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1050
Loc: Southern California
Welcome to the forum Nomad311. The number one tip from my time on this forum, is to slow it way down during practice. If you can play it hands separate, slow the tempo way down, like to 1/4 speed when putting it together. Slow enough so it feels rather easy. The tempo will come, though not immediately.

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#2101175 - 06/11/13 08:38 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
bfeils Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/29/12
Posts: 25
You just need to learn the left and right individually and when you try to play them together play it very very slow, much slower than would be musical. Your brain will start to make the necessary connections and it will fall into place. The more different parts you learn the faster it will happen.

-brandon guitarist for twenty years piano 1.5

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#2101177 - 06/11/13 08:39 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: Sand Tiger]
bfeils Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/29/12
Posts: 25
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Welcome to the forum Nomad311. The number one tip form my time on this forum is to slow it way down during practice. If you can play it hands separate, slow the tempo way down, like to 1/4 speed when putting it together. Slow enough so it feels rather easy. The tempo will come, though not immediately.


Beat me to it. haha

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#2101192 - 06/11/13 09:00 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Playing hands separate with different rhythms, etc, is one of the more challenging things for piano players.

I have had students who took several years of intensive work to gain that independence. Others not so much, but few find it easy.

Suggestion: Find a piano teacher, for your style of music a Jazz teacher would be good, and learn how to play the piano. Hands together will be part of it, but that is something that is brought in slowly, and built upon gradually.

Hands together at the piano is, in lay terms, establishing a new and different brain pattern, one that I do not believe is found elsewhere in much the same way as for the piano.

BTW, I have had numerous students who were proficient in another instrument, usually guitar, and they usually are shocked that not much translates over to piano, especially hands together.

Also, I recently began studying the guitar, and basically nothing regarding physically playing the instrument translates over from piano, particularly strumming, finger-picking, types of sounds, etc.

Very sobering! Best wishes on your journey.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2101237 - 06/11/13 10:49 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
nomad311 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 2
Thanks all. Thats all pretty much what I had expected. I was ya know, really really hoping for a super secret piano guy trick that would just make it all work. Oh well! I can handle some things that are in similar rhythm like Chloe Dancer by Mother Love Bone, or Love song Sara Bareilles. Songs with different rhythms, again like the Charlie Brown theme, kill me. I've only been messing around with the piano for a few weeks, so I guess it'll just come with perseverance and time. Maybe a little cursing too wink Thanks again.

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#2101301 - 06/12/13 02:27 AM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
I also jumped into piano after some time with the guitar. I struggled with the same thing. I still am :P But if you just work through small sections at a time, and as slow as you need to get through it, eventually it will start coming to you. The next piece you learn will seem just as hard though, and you'll want to tear your hair out because you remember how long it took you the first time smile But after some months I have found the independence to come to me easier. Keep at it.
_________________________
Zaahir

Self-taught renegade - Kawai CL-36

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#2101334 - 06/12/13 05:43 AM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1586
Loc: Australia
seven months daily practice after swapping from guitar and I think I am just getting some (not alot) of hand independence. As others have said practice everything very slow, practice hands separate until you know the separate hand parts fluently. Then put hands together that to be as difficult as learning hands separate difficult.
I have found scales, arpeggios, finger strengthening exercises to get me to this point of believing it is possible now.

As with everything connected with the piano there is no magic fix, no super secret, just plain old hard work.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2102493 - 06/14/13 01:23 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
Quarkomatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
I just learned "Linus & Lucy" recently. Once I had the hands learned separately, I had to slow it way way down to put it together. It took a while to get it, but once it clicked, I could play it as fast as I can move my fingers.

The key for me is to figure out how the LH and RH parts line up. When does the LH play alone, when does the RH play alone, and when do they play together? Get to learn the little cues of remembering that one hand is holding a note while the other plays 2 notes, etc. Count it out slowly, down to the sixteenth note division "1-e-&-a".

You often hear people talk of "hand independence" in piano. I'm not a very advanced player, but I have to wonder if such a thing really exists. Probably there are people who can learn something hands separately, and then play both hands together without a hiccup. But is this something that can be learned? When I start putting hands together, it's more like I'm fusing them together into a single part (hence the advice of paying careful attention to how they fit together). This has gotten easier over time, but I think I am just getting faster at combining the parts. It doesn't feel like my hands are acting independently. Maybe it's just splitting hairs.

For those familiar with computing concepts, I would say that my consciousness is single-threaded, and I've never really felt like I've had 2 active threads at the same time.

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#2102505 - 06/14/13 01:53 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: Quarkomatic]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
Originally Posted By: Quarkomatic
You often hear people talk of "hand independence" in piano. I'm not a very advanced player, but I have to wonder if such a thing really exists. Probably there are people who can learn something hands separately, and then play both hands together without a hiccup. But is this something that can be learned? When I start putting hands together, it's more like I'm fusing them together into a single part (hence the advice of paying careful attention to how they fit together). This has gotten easier over time, but I think I am just getting faster at combining the parts. It doesn't feel like my hands are acting independently. Maybe it's just splitting hairs.


I'm not that experienced either, but I've already experienced a song where you do really need independence. I would think improvisation requires this too? But mostly you would probably be correct, and in these cases I would think at least one of your hands becomes reliant on muscle memory which makes it become effortless after loads of practice? You're breathing and typing at the same time....your breathing is - err - muscle memory in this case.
_________________________
Zaahir

Self-taught renegade - Kawai CL-36

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#2102521 - 06/14/13 02:17 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: floydthebarber71]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 196
Loc: USA
I come from decades of string playing. Mind you I don't play classical stuff, but I've never come across anything where my hands were independent in my mind. They are always related somehow rhythmically. In another thread about figuring out a syncopated rhythm, I suggested sort of "bongoing" it out on a table to get the rhythm fixed before one proceeds. When it comes to technique there is magic shortcuts. As in things that one has not considered. However getting the good stuff to seep into the grey matter, that's the part where there is no shortcut. Have fun. I know I will be.

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#2102522 - 06/14/13 02:19 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: floydthebarber71]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Originally Posted By: floydthebarber71
You're breathing and typing at the same time....your breathing is - err - muscle memory in this case.


No.

Breathing is controlled by the autonomous nervous system, which runs automatically without our thinking.

Digestion, heart rate, and many other things are on "automatic". Muscle memory has nothing to do with it.

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#2102545 - 06/14/13 03:22 PM Re: Guitarist trying out piano. Need help with hand separation [Re: nomad311]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
Yes I didn't mean it literally, just to serve my example. Anyway, it was just a thought, that was my point...you are not really thinking when muscle memory takes over.
_________________________
Zaahir

Self-taught renegade - Kawai CL-36

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