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#2113315 - 07/05/13 04:03 PM Help with Stride Technique
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Hi folks

This week, I am learning a12 bars piece 12/8 Blues with strides. LH jumps from bass notes - octave to chords, while the RH plays the melody. I have memorised the piece and I play the RH rhythmically but I can not get to play the LH and not HT rhythmically... Just too much time in the air forward and backward and landing.

I appreciate your thoughts on how to develop my strides rhythmically.

Joseph

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#2113318 - 07/05/13 04:14 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5449
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I was having trouble for a long time when I started playing ragtime and stride. Chang's e-book on piano practice habits had some good ideas, and I found others, too. One that I remember being paricularly helpful was to play the octave, and then move my hand as quickly as possible to the chord, but not to play it. Just practice the movement over and over at speed. Do that until it feels comfortable, and then actually play the chord when you get there. What you want to make sure of is that you are coming down directly onto the chord when you play it, not trying to slide onto it from a sideways movement. I was astounded at how fast I could do it, which told me that I could eventually do it in context, too, which I had doubted before. So that's one idea -

Cathy
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#2113368 - 07/05/13 06:01 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1778
Loc: Pennsylvania
Practice, Practice, Practice ...
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Don

My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2113377 - 07/05/13 06:12 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 735
Speaking from experience, this just takes time to develop.

The following approaches are techniques to get you there, but the techniques themselves aren't the final destination.

* Single handed, then double handed: Play your "boom" then move your hand quickly into position over the "chuck". But don't play the notes! If you're in the right place, then press down the keys, digging in. If you're not, then try again. Why this isn't where you want to be: you actually have a lot more time than you think to hit either your booms or chucks. Rushing equals tension and can lend to a staccato feel. What you're really practicing here is sort of a feel for distance.

* Single handed, then double handed: Big arcs between the boom and the chuck. Because of the lateral travel, it can be good to come down on your notes from above. You're less likely to get tangled in keys on the way. Why this isn't where you want to be: big arcs ultimately waste some travel time and you'll eventually want to make the arc more shallow.

I know this sounds crazy, but a stride bass ultimately becomes more of a relaxed and lazy thing--not that I'm a master of it, but I've played a lot of it and been on the ride the whole way. One key is that your booms are not usually random things. Most often, you're hitting the root or the fifth of the chord you're playing, and your body eventually learns the distance. Even if the piece notates something different (3rds are not uncommon), if you land a root or a 5th instead of the notated value, only you, your teacher, and the music geeks in the audience are going to notice.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2113429 - 07/05/13 08:18 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: Whizbang]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1778
Loc: Pennsylvania
Is there any particular book that you would recommend to get started with this stuff ?
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My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2113460 - 07/05/13 10:18 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: dmd]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 735
Originally Posted By: dmd
Is there any particular book that you would recommend to get started with this stuff ?


I don't know of anything that directly addresses ragtime technique.

I looked at your post history and tried to figure out where you were technically speaking. At the risk of sounding flippant--and I'm not being flippant--I can't recommend highly enough Scott Joplin--Collected Piano Works.

That book was my piano teacher for many years. Now that I have a real teacher, I'm progressing much, much faster, but my years of just stubbornly working on pieces did 1) make me realize I really, really respond to this music 2) helped my skills improve.

I saw that you had made some comments on some blues piano threads--note that ragtime actually straddles the classical and jazz traditions; improvisation is much less important in classic ragtime, particularly, the St. Louis tradition, than in early and later forms of jazz. Ragtime, however, did have an embellishment tradition akin to Baroque, where one improvises on and decorates the repeats.

What this means is that teachers in the classical tradition are very well-placed to teach people classic ragtime. The right hand, in particular, conforms to a lot of classical stuff--the major difference is all the melodic syncopation, but your modern ear, which has grown up listening to 20th and 21st century music won't struggle with that as much as folks in the ragtime era did.

As to whether your teacher might have the patience to help you over the long term with ragtime and stride is another matter!

If the classic works, as published, are beyond your current skill level, then my teacher (and this forum) speak very highly of the Martha Miers' Blues, Jazz, and Ragtime series. Unfortunately, the classic ragtime era was only a couple decades long and it doesn't have the rich repertoire of introductory to insanely advanced pieces that the classical repertoire does. Most official Joplin rags, I'd say, need intermediate skills, and they tend to cap out at the early advanced or advanced level. In fact, I'd love to have a ragtime-themed recital here in ABF, but I'm stymied that there's not many freely downloadable easier arrangements that could ensure everyone could participate.

In terms of general technique, I haven't read anything other than 1) forums and 2) Gyorgy Sandor - On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, and Expression . Piano technique is a highly controversial area and probably impossible to pick up from a book alone--you either learn it through the school of hard knocks or undergo the apprenticeship approach of formal musical instruction that's worked for generations, but I found the book a very interesting read and do try to adopt the techniques. My teacher uses the techniques as sort of rough guidelines--things to keep in mind while playing, but I get other stuff transmitted directly from him from his teachers (and indirectly from theirs).
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2113464 - 07/05/13 10:33 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks Whizbang. Why is it called boom-chuck ?

I never heard of boom-chuck beat before. Googling it, it seems that you can play many folk and country songs in this style. A standard example begins with a bass note on the root of the C chord (the “boom”) followed by the rest of the chord (the “chuck”).

In my case, here are the basic bass notes (octaves) and chords and which are repeated twice in a 12 Bars structure:
C C -> E A# D
F F -> D# A D
G G -> F B D

Is the octave beat called boom and the chord chuck?

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#2113474 - 07/05/13 10:52 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 735
(Replying from phone, so brief).

Boom/chuck is probably onamatopoeic. Ragtime comes from march music and the stride bass tries to simulate a band. Tuba for the bass and mid brass for the chuck. So boom is octaves and chuck is chord.

The spelling of your chords looks a little weird. Ragtime and blues use a lot of 7th chords. A c7 will use the Bb (enharmonic to the a# you list). Similarly eb for the key of F. No biggie, just something to be aware of.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2113518 - 07/06/13 01:31 AM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks Whizbang once again.

Your are right. Initially, it had a staccato feeling and then it felt non-legato as my relaxed myself and my arms. I have some further questions though :

a) what is the difference between the 2 above listed approaches ? In both cases, the LH travels 'arc trajectory' anyway from the boom to the chuck. In case the leap is accurate, how will I still hold it before I 'dig in'. Did you say 'dig in' to accentuate the non staccato touch?

b) for both approaches, you recommended single handed and then double handed. Why bother with HT as in my piece the LH plays the melody and not strides.

c) do you recommend that I practice the strides using the metronome ? Or rather not ? In the former case, what target tempo should I aim for ?


After LH practice, it definitely feels better as my body seems to be learning the lateral hand movements and I am more relaxed striding. I still need to play the LH through the 12 measures and then HT (with the melody) some time tomorrow ( as today I rather speed my RH melody before putting HT tomorrow).


Edited by JosephAC (07/06/13 01:33 AM)

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#2113622 - 07/06/13 08:11 AM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
You can google "IMSLP School of Ragtime" for six exercises by Scott Joplin that might help with the syncopation.

As far as accuracy with the leaps is concerned, hold the bass note, look down at the keyboard for the target chord, look back to the music, then make the leap. As your accuracy improves stop looking down and imagine the target chord instead. As long as you're concentrating you should maintain accuracy.

As long as you're concentrating...

And that's what you need to practise, concentrating. That's what limits our effective time at the piano. This is why we get it right at home but not for the teacher or the recording. That's why mistakes creep in after we've learnt a piece.
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Richard

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#2113692 - 07/06/13 11:05 AM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 735
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
a) what is the difference between the 2 above listed approaches ? In both cases, the LH travels 'arc trajectory' anyway from the boom to the chuck. In case the leap is accurate, how will I still hold it before I 'dig in'. Did you say 'dig in' to accentuate the non staccato touch?


In the first case, the emphasis isn't so much on the arc, but just getting the distance right. In the second case, you're more interested in ensuring a clean landing.

"Digging in" is a way to tell your brain, "remember this." So for a particular chuck, you're trying to burn in the hand position for that measure. But you don't want to burn in wrong hand shapes, so that's the point of verifying before you dig in.

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
b) for both approaches, you recommended single handed and then double handed. Why bother with HT as in my piece the LH plays the melody and not strides.


At some point, you'll need to pair the stride up with what you're playing in the RH. HS focuses on the stride motion; HT helps you fit that into your piece.

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
c) do you recommend that I practice the strides using the metronome ? Or rather not ? In the former case, what target tempo should I aim for ?


Practice the strides slowly enough that you don't miss them and then increase the tempo until you get to the speed required by the piece.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2113803 - 07/06/13 02:53 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks again Whizbang. That is really helpful.

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#2113970 - 07/06/13 09:37 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
This morning, I studied Graham Fitch's section on Measuring Distances, Vol III. He provides a detailed step-wise approach on doing leaps across the piano precisely. His tools Quick Cover, Springboarding and Selective Landing and the embedded demo video provided me the detailed steps to ensure that I execute these steps precisely. They concur with Whizbang and jotur above recommendations.

While initially, the leaps were totally inaccurate, either overshooting or undershooting at a fast or touching adjacent keys. Gradually, I am getting better and better, moving from 10% hit rate to 80%. I know it is a question of concentrated practice to achieve better hit rate.

I know that I am a beginner but accessing this forum and being aware of available tools seem to be paying off. Thank you everybody. I love this way of learning.


Edited by JosephAC (07/06/13 09:38 PM)

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#2113988 - 07/06/13 10:17 PM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
Sweet06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 405
agreed joseph, i feel like this forum helps progress in a ridiculously noticeable manner.... im glad you are finding it as invaluable as i am. Everyone here is so willing to help its very nice.
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"The joy is in the practicing. It's like relationships. Yeah, orgasms are awesome, but you can't make love to someone who you have no relationship with!"

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#2114043 - 07/07/13 02:07 AM Re: Help with Stride Technique [Re: JosephAC]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Here are a few resources I like with advice on putting hands together in pieces. Do note, a prerequisite to trying this should be being able to play through the piece (in sections or as a whole) hands separate comfortably and effortlessly at about 1.5x performance tempo (this is because hands together is 37 times harder than hands separate and so you'll never be able to play as fast together as separate). Only then should you try and divide the piece into small - and overlapping - sections in which to practice hands together. How small? I can't tell you; they could be 4 measures long, 2 measures long, or maybe a quarter of a measure long. The trick to knowing that the length is okay is being able to master (or close to) individual sections within a 20 minute time span. If after 20 minutes, the section isn't mastered, you bit off too much so cut it in half and try again. Really tricky parts may have to be reduced down to as small as two notes, but the point here is anybody can master a section consisting of two notes within 20 minutes. If you do this with the hardest sections first, you'll find that you'll have acquired in learning the hard sections, most all of the technique required for the easier ones. Read more here: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=5177.msg49229#msg49229

Do this for a passage/section, set of passages/sections, or a whole piece and then leave it/them alone for a whole day for the brain to absorb. Rinse and repeat the same exact process (the "learning" process) for 2-7 days until you can go to the piano and, without effort, play the passage flawlessly on the first attempt; this is when it's mastered. As far as combining sections goes, every 2-3 sessions, use a session to practice combining small sections.

Below are the 3 levels of mastery in learning repertoire:
Originally Posted By: Bernhard
Learned: you can play a passage/piece perfectly at the end of the practice session, but the next day it is all gone, or it is full of mistakes. (if it is full of mistakes, you may be practising too much, beyond the point of diminishing returns), You need to keep practising from scratch without skipping any step and without cutting any corners. But it will not take as long as the first time around.

Mastered: You now can just go to the piano the next day and play the section perfectly. Now you have two choices: just play through this section a couple of times 2 – 3 times a week. (You may not even need to do this, if you are joining this section to another one – since this joining practice will take care of it). Or you can neglect it and relearn it from scratch in a couple of months (this is really for complete pieces, rather than for sections).

Omniscience: You can play your piece even if you have not touched it for the past 30 years. You can get to omniscience by repeating your piece every day for ten years (say), or after forgetting and relearning it from scratch 3 or 4 times. I like the second approach the best because:

1. It is always exciting to learn a piece (even if it is one you already learned once).

2. It is doubly exciting to learn a piece in a fraction of the time (it will be a fraction of the time if you have learned it once).

3. It gives the piece a rest and gives you time to improve your technique and understanding of the piece. So when you come back to it, you will relearn it in a vast improved way. The alternative will most likely result in “burn-out” you will end up hating the piece.

4. It is far more efficient and time saving – even though it may not seem so at the time to one’s perception.





I plan to describe my personal approach in greater detail in a new thread soon as well as hopefully gather others' approaches in equally great detail so be on the look-out.


edit: I just made a similarly long post in even greater detail on the Teacher's Forum here if you're interested in reading it.


Edited by Bobpickle (07/07/13 07:46 PM)

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