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#2148089 - 09/11/13 08:36 AM Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination??
carolinagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 54
I seriously need to improve my right hand / left hand coordination. I can play through the right hand of a piece perfectly, and then the left, but when I try to put them together its terribly difficult to make my hands do different things. I need help! Can someone recommend a good exercise that will help me get this coordination thing down? It is frustrating me no end! Thanks!
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Yamaha CLP 440 Delivered on April 16 2013
Started playing piano April 16 2013

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#2148123 - 09/11/13 10:09 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
Just play as slow as you need to play the peice, hands together to play it correctly. Make sure you go as slow as you need to go, using the hardest part in the song as your gauge for just how slow to go. IE if you can't play the hardest part perfectly, go slower. Its painstaking sometimes, but that is THE FASTEST way to master this. Personally, I don't know of any exercise to help with this. Just gotta do the piece like I've stated.
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"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"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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#2148128 - 09/11/13 10:26 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
andal Offline
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Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 22
This is an interesting question. I've stopped practicing hands separately because I find that I basically end up having to start from scratch to do both hands together.

But I'm a novice and I've wondered if I've been missing something.

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#2148134 - 09/11/13 10:38 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
I agree with Sweet06.

It's good to start with hands separate, so we can really understand what each hand is doing. E.g., the beautiful melody in the right hand, the bass lines with the left. If you play hands-together right away, the notes might sound like a disconnected mess. So start with playing hands-separate.

Later, when playing them together... there is no quick trick. You have to be disciplined and start slowly, section by section, before building up your speed again.

Break down the music into small sections, practice hands together at a slow tempo, maybe even with a metronome. You should play at a slow enough tempo where you're making no mistakes. Then increase your speed a little bit at a time. Each time make sure you can comfortably play at that tempo without mistakes, before increasing the speed again.

There is a tendency to want to immediately play hands-together at full speed. It's very difficult to progress this way. All you're doing is making various mistakes over and over again.
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#2148139 - 09/11/13 10:51 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
WoodenKeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/02/13
Posts: 28
Loc: Massachusetts
I started less than six months ago. I had a difficult time as well and then it just happened. Don't get discouraged you will get past this phase. I did the separate hands things for a while but kept trying both hands as well.

Now if I could just improve my note reading!!!

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#2148153 - 09/11/13 11:29 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
KurtZ Online   content
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Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 921
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Bartok's "Mikrokosmos" books one and two will get you where you want to go. There's no LH chord, RH, melody stuff here. Book one starts ridiculously easy. It's a primer for young children after all but by the 10th or 12th exercise, they start to require more thought as the hands start to change positions and the melodies start to get modal. Change of position starts on exercise 18 and real independent movement starts around exercise 20. The books are cheap and commonly available. You CAN find them at imslp but Bartok is not quite yet public domain in the U.SA. and the quality of the sheets is poor. Like I said the books are cheap, around eight dollars each. If you've already started the easy sonatinas or maybe are well into book 3 of a traditional method you might find yourself able to start with book 2 but be warned, it's Bartok, it's harder than it looks.

Another little trick is to just tap the rhythms on your knees, RH on the R knee, desk, dog's head etc. and LH on the left. Ignore the note reading for the moment and just get your hands used to the "dance" required of them.
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#2148192 - 09/11/13 12:16 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2397
Loc: Virginia, USA
Bach or other Baroque music, when you are that level, will help.

Not to put a damper on this but you'll have this issue at every level of music you reach. The whole is way more than the sum of both hands!

(I still can't get the hang of basic syncopated pop bass lines but can do counterpoint OK, it's what you practice you get the hang of!)
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#2148195 - 09/11/13 12:20 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
carolinagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 54
Thank you for the great advise. I am going to order the Mikrokosmos books now, at least the first and maybe the second one. I WILL get this! I practice all I can, but you know how life manages to get in the way. I do get at least two practice sessions in per day, usually ranging from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
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Yamaha CLP 440 Delivered on April 16 2013
Started playing piano April 16 2013

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#2148241 - 09/11/13 01:34 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
actually now that i think of it! you CAN do some things to help without just doing what i said. i still think thats a great way but theres other things to help prep you to get to that point. Take the easier hand, typically left and try talking to someone while playing, try thinking of something else while keeping tempo and playing it. the point of this is to get that on auto pilot. you CANNOT think of two things at the same time. That will make the transition to hands together a lot quicker when that left hand starts doing its own thing.
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"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"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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#2148248 - 09/11/13 01:46 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
If you've ever programmed, you can compare it making a function in your brain. Instead of remembering all the movements individually and each note, you are remembering the pattern and calling that pattern by thinking of other things and doing those movements. that way you can call that pattern in your brain and focus on the melody or whatever the harder part is.
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"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"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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#2148258 - 09/11/13 01:58 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: carolinagirl
I seriously need to improve my right hand / left hand coordination. I can play through the right hand of a piece perfectly, and then the left, but when I try to put them together its terribly difficult to make my hands do different things. I need help! Can someone recommend a good exercise that will help me get this coordination thing down? It is frustrating me no end! Thanks!

If you can type on a keyboard and/or play video games, then your hands are sufficiently coordinated. It may be that, in all this HS practice, you're not truly practicing HT, and just expect it to "be there".

You must practice what you're going to do, so if you want HT, you have to practice the piece that way. wink
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#2148336 - 09/11/13 04:41 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I'm striving through this same thing now.
My base or autonomic mind will do anything to resist.
I've even noticed it trying to only memorize one piece. I don't want that! I want to get them working with greater sophistication of movement...period.
In the end... my teachers best advice... practice...practice...and more practice. I'm working more songs on the side now. Also going back in Alfred's One and doing different pieces. Anything to get different movements...because I have noticed I get tight doing the same movements for long periods right now. I have to admit that Alfred's is smart. Bringing this on, introducing, and training very smart.
I do wish I had more time to practice. Now making sure I practice everyday. Also when I can. Practice as long as I can. Practice often. Even little bits here and there help greatly. Teacher encourages all of this. She also has the wisdom to know that my only lack is practice.
Also with me. I've noticed that getting out and exercising is just as important as the practice itself. Teacher agrees.
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Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2148382 - 09/11/13 05:57 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Sweet06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
I too thought that it was some mysterious skill that needs to be developed. Now, I firmly believe you need to program the actions related to that specific piece and the time to master hands together i'm noticing actually gets a bit easier as you learn to go slow and perfect.
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"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"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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#2148407 - 09/11/13 06:56 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: rnaple]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: rnaple
I do wish I had more time to practice.


While having extra time is nice, more time likely won't equate to better coordination in putting the hands together. A little bit goes a long way in building the neural connections required to play anything hands together comfortably and almost "automatic" with little-to-no thought required in order to do it.

OP, what you may need is a clearly defined strategy for building these neural connections. Try this:

1)Take a small section or phrase of the music you're learning and make sure you can play both hands perfectly by themselves, preferably at a speed slightly greater than what they'll need to play when together. Don't rush this process; when the goal is to be able to play both hands together at the same time comfortably and effortlessly, how can you expect to do this if you can't even do it with one hand at a time. And why do you want to be able to play both hands separately at a speed faster than what's required when they're together? It's because you'll never be able to play faster tempos hands together than what you can play hands separately. Thus one of the easiest ways to increase speed hands together is to increase your facility to play fast hands separate.

2)Once the above conditions have been met, take your small section or passage of music and start practicing both hands together. This will still likely be very difficult (putting the hands together is the most difficult part to learning to play any piece of music) so in order to do it, the most reliable approach is as follows:
  • Practice hands together incredibly slow (because this will likely be what's necessary in order to play the music right with both hands simultaneously at first). How slow is slow? It's as slow as is necessary to be able to play the passage of music perfectly hands together. Do it a few times while keeping the rhythm perfect and while it will still feel awkward and mentally difficult/taxing after a couple perfect attempts, it will steadily become more and more comfortable. Do not expect it, however, to become satisfyingly easy and comfortable immediately - this can take several days (but no more if the section is small enough). As far as worrying about how to speed up: don't. If you practice in this fashion and focus your hands together practice on playing each repetition perfectly and nothing but perfectly regardless of what slow speed it might require you to practice at, each successive repetition will require less and less intense focus to be able to keep playing perfectly. Each day, investigate what the fastest tempo you think you can play your section of music hands together perfectly at is and practice the section at a speed just below what you just investigated until it requires no effort to play. At that point, stop practicing and leave the section alone until the next day. No further progress can be made until after your brain has been given time (i.e. a good night's sleep) to construct the new neural connections necessary to make further progress. Every day, try and spend a little time working through the sections of your music this way (working on the most difficult sections first), and then leave it alone until the next day. After a few days of practicing this way each and every day consecutively, you'll have reached your goal of being able to play the section of music perfectly and effortlessly, and will be dumbfounded by how you ever found the coordination difficult in the first place.


edit: Also read here: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post2127053


Edited by Bobpickle (09/11/13 07:03 PM)

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#2148415 - 09/11/13 07:08 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 995
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Good advice here already. Another thing that can help, while playing slowly enough as others have advised, is to pay purposeful attention to which fingers and which notes are playing together. This keeps your mind active while you might otherwise start to think playing slowly is boring--and it can help to cement things faster, as you're noticing patterns rather than just playing by rote.
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Currently working on:
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#2148418 - 09/11/13 07:10 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Bamburg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/13
Posts: 82
I find that it helps me to focus on the sound being produced and my sheets rather than what my hands are doing, and my muscle memory guides them. If I focus too much on coordinating my hands rather than making the music flow I get odd pauses where I'm second guessing myself or just plain over thinking.

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#2148430 - 09/11/13 07:39 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Whizbang Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 787
Originally Posted By: carolinagirl
Can someone recommend a good exercise that will help me get this coordination thing down?


I don't recall having specific exercises that addressed this when I was learning a foundation of piano skills as a child. Instead, it seems the way that this develops is through careful practice of pieces over the years, both hands separately and together.

If you wanted to come up with an exercise that might be the distillation of hand independence, you might try something I used to try to do as a kid: practicing a 3-against-2 rhythm. 3-against-2 can occur in music, for instance, while the right hand plays an eighth-note triplet while the left hand plays two quarter notes. Each hand's figure lasts for the duration of a quarter note.

You don't even need to be at a keyboard, since you can tap your hands on your knees--for every two times you regularly and evenly tap your left knee, you regularly and evenly tap your right knee three times.

You can then move this exercise to the keyboard (on either repeated notes or intervals / arpeggios in each hand).

I found this to be a tough challenge that took me ages to be able to do.
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#2148512 - 09/11/13 11:41 PM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1635
Loc: Australia
I had a bit of trouble with this before and did some research a few months ago. I found the following exercises helped


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hSD3xVxVBc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=TsmXTX3XREk&feature=fvwp


I think what really helped though was what was said before, slow daily practice. Of course you need some saintly patience and don't select the hardest piece in the book (I have spent at least five months on a piece our of Alfreds Book 2 which just won't come together, hand independence being the culprit).

The good news is you don't have to re-invent the wheel each time. A technical skill you pick up today, although it will need to be maintained, will not need to be relearned.
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#2148565 - 09/12/13 02:00 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Clayman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 300
Loc: Prague, Czech Rep.
For me it's a battle every time as well. I started out from scratch 3 months ago and although I can usually get each hand to play its part relatively quickly, whenever I start playing with both, it feels like I have never seen the piece before.

The advice given by Sweet06 I think is the best anyone can give. I always do it that way, slowly working my way through each bar, carefully reading the notes and making extra sure I press the right keys so I don't learn it wrong, and generally getting a feel for how they sound together. After a few days the muscle memory kicks in and I usually play fairly well without thinking about it too much (it almost feels like I botch it whenever I do think about what I'm playing laugh )
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Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

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#2148567 - 09/12/13 02:22 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
co-ordination of hands

Most of us learn to play
the ‚Äúsimpler‚ÄĚ of the two hands ...
until the memory takes over ...
and then add the other hand.

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#2148571 - 09/12/13 02:31 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
That's interesting -- I typically do the opposite. The easy stuff is easy. The hard stuff is what holds us back. So, I attack the hard stuff first, get it down, and then add the "easier" parts after the fact.

I cringe when someone plays an entire piece over and over because two measures are hanging them up.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2148625 - 09/12/13 07:36 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
carolinagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 54
I am very grateful for the carefully thought out replies from each of you. All of these ideas will help me a great deal. Something that Bamburg said was interesting. I have found that if I am looking at my hands, I do far worse than if I just concentrate on the sheet music before me and move my hands without looking. So if I concentrate on the music and not my hand movements, my hands seem to have an easier time with this coordination skill that's being required of them.

I am currently working on Beale Street Boogie by Eric Baumgartner. It's not a terribly complex piece but has has a very fast tempo and many cord changes. It's probably a much harder piece than I should be working on (I started playing in April of this year) but I like a good challenge. I am playing it through very slowly and will continue to work on small sections at a time until I gain the hand independence that I need.
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#2148643 - 09/12/13 08:18 AM Re: Exercises for improving right hand/left hand coordination?? [Re: carolinagirl]
Bamburg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/13
Posts: 82
I googled that piece just out of curiosity and the tempo said "as fast as possible." I'd say you've definitely got your work cut out for you there carolinagirl!

Seriously though, glad I could be of help!

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