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#2264588 - 04/20/14 02:18 PM Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano
The Lark Ascending Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Hi, I'm 37 and I bought a digital piano (px-150) 2 months ago for my daughter. She's not playing much and I've decided to use it for myself a bit. I always loved classical music.

I took a month to learn Bach/Petzold Minuet in G major. Now I can play it stupidly fast. I thought at first it would take a week to learn and now know better.

I am now attacking the G Minor version.

1 - Yesterday morning, at my first real session, while practicing the second line left hand, I had my left harm becoming completely numb. From hand to shoulder. I instantly stopped playing. It took a good 20min to come back to normal.
Today I can play ok but there is a permanent pain in my hand from my pinky to my wrist. I guess it's just my muscles and nerves reacting to a new thing. Normal?

2 - The minuet is quite hard to learn for me. Is it normal to pass weeks on a single page? Will it go faster in few years? I wonder if it's a memory or motor system limitation.

3 - Right now I only do a C Major scale before starting playing. Should I learn more scales and Hanons? Maybe some arpeggios?

I am unconfortable to start a method as I dont like their repertoire. I only want to learn songs I like. My goal is to be able to play Mozart Sonata 16 "facile" in 5-6 years. Realistic?

Bach is harder than I though but it's very rewarding. Very.
I now regret not getting a digital piano earlier in my life.

thanks


Edited by The Lark Ascending (04/20/14 02:39 PM)

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#2264603 - 04/20/14 02:55 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
hreichgott Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1092
Loc: western MA, USA
1.) If you are in pain, don't play. Repeat, don't play. That will make everything worse.

Take a few days off (or a few days right hand only if the right hand doesn't hurt). If a few days rest don't help then go to the doctor.

Once the pain is gone then try to analyze what you are doing physically -- where is there tension, where is there unnecessary movement, are you trying to play too fast all the time, etc. We all have things to work on to help us move less tensely and more fluidly.

2.) You seem overly focused on speed. Learn the piece slowly, beautifully and accurately before pushing up the tempo. Yes, it's normal to spend a few weeks on one short piece, and you can be the judge of the cost-benefit ratio of the difficulty of pieces you're working on at present smile A mix of easier and harder pieces is good for most students; easier pieces are at a level that will come together in a couple of weeks, harder pieces can take several months. Sight-reading (pieces easy enough to play the first time you see them, without preparation time) is good too.

3.) Scales and chords in all keys are always a good idea. Hanon is not, especially if there's already a tendency to injury or tension. In your scales and chords, focus on even, beautiful-sounding, relaxed playing, and on accuracy. Do not worry about speed until later.

Method books and Mozart "sonata facile" (K. 545): Anyone can learn anything given enough time and dedication, so you could learn that Mozart now if you wanted. The question is how good you will sound playing it. Developing a beautiful sound takes some people longer than others. If you are working without a teacher, that will greatly increase the amount of time it takes you to get to that point.

Some good collections of music in between Anna Magdalena and Mozart K. 545 are "Easy Classics to Moderns" edited by Denes Agay, and the Suzuki books 2 through 5. (Suzuki is a method, but the books themselves are just collections of non-simplified classical repertoire in difficulty order; the method is in how it's taught by trained teachers, and lots of people just use the books without really teaching Suzuki.)
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sometimes a bagatelle is just a bagatelle. Beethoven Op. 33
Daily 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 2, Pischna
Loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
Always a fan of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2264646 - 04/20/14 05:00 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: The Lark Ascending
Hi, I'm 37 and I bought a digital piano (px-150) 2 months ago for my daughter. She's not playing much and I've decided to use it for myself a bit. I always loved classical music.

I took a month to learn Bach/Petzold Minuet in G major. Now I can play it stupidly fast. I thought at first it would take a week to learn and now know better.

I am now attacking the G Minor version.

1 - Yesterday morning, at my first real session, while practicing the second line left hand, I had my left harm becoming completely numb. From hand to shoulder. I instantly stopped playing. It took a good 20min to come back to normal.
Today I can play ok but there is a permanent pain in my hand from my pinky to my wrist. I guess it's just my muscles and nerves reacting to a new thing. Normal?
No! There should never be numbness, pain, fatigue at all when playing or after playing. Your body is telling you something is wrong with your technique and if you fail to listen, you'll lose the ability to play.

Stop playing for now until there is no pain or numbness. That might be a few days, a week, whatever it takes. No playing at all. During this time, you can look for a piano teacher who can correct your technique, and perhaps also give your daughter lessons so she can be motivated and learning at a pace that works for her. Don't play until you are under the guidance of someone who can help you.

Quote:
2 - The minuet is quite hard to learn for me. Is it normal to pass weeks on a single page? Will it go faster in few years? I wonder if it's a memory or motor system limitation.
Faster than what? What is your current tempo that you can actually play the whole piece at? Try to find the one speed that you can manage the whole piece at with minimal errors. You may be trying to play it faster than intended.

Quote:
3 - Right now I only do a C Major scale before starting playing. Should I learn more scales and Hanons? Maybe some arpeggios?
I say no, since you are having technical difficulties. Adding more technical drills will only add to your problem right now.

Quote:
I am unconfortable to start a method as I dont like their repertoire. I only want to learn songs I like. My goal is to be able to play Mozart Sonata 16 "facile" in 5-6 years. Realistic?
It depends. With a good teacher that you listen to, assuming you can get the technical problems worked out, yes.

Quote:
Bach is harder than I though but it's very rewarding. Very.
I now regret not getting a digital piano earlier in my life.

thanks
I agree. Bach is difficult and awkward, but very rewarding in many ways.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2264649 - 04/20/14 05:19 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
A443 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1411
Again--just to make sure: NO; there should never be any numbness, pain, fatigue during/after playing the piano. You are doing something wrong; listen to your body! :-D

Yes: with time you will recognise the patterns faster and it will not take so long to learn a new piece. If you will analyse the piece you are working on away from the piano--in order to notice all of the relationships--then learning the corresponding body movements at the piano will happen faster. All of those notes aren't random; once you can see all of the patterns and relationships, your brain will better condense the information down to a few key points (i.e., somewhat like an outline). This, then, allows your brain to focus more on other aspect like body movement.

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#2264658 - 04/20/14 05:49 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
The Lark Ascending Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Thanks for the replies and wise advices. I will take a teacher. I found a school not too far from here.

Thanks Heather for the Suzuki and Denes Agay books. I will certainly look into them.

Quote:
Will it go faster in few years?


I was talking about the learning time, not playing speed. But you are right for the playing speed. I often forget to play musically, to let the music breath, especially when practicing. Playing fast is not the goal. Still, I wish I could play my scales amazingly fast! My thumb over is not very smooth.

I will forget about the Hanons for now and wait the teacher for the scales. After 1-2 days off I will resume with the Minuet in G minor. I can do the first page at slow speed now.

Thanks for the help. And thanks Heather to make me notice the Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin in your signature. Amazing piano piece.

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#2264660 - 04/20/14 05:51 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: A443]
The Lark Ascending Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Quote:
Yes: with time you will recognise the patterns faster...


A443; Thanks, that is exactly what I wanted to know! That's a good new and give me hope for the future.


Edited by The Lark Ascending (04/20/14 05:52 PM)

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#2264673 - 04/20/14 06:38 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1635
Loc: Australia
As per the previous replies, there is nothing normal with pain. This is the repercussion of going too fast too soon and many of us have done that, especially in sport. So while your hand recovers it is a good time to research how to practice and yes it's not just a case of putting all your effort into a piece to learn as fast as possible.

I have been learning piano for 15 months and since I have been average at everything I do in life I see no reason why I can't consider myself an average learner. One of the first things that confront you is the length of time it takes to learn a single piece. For the beginner even a simple piece like the Bach Minuet in G (although this is a grade 2 piece) holds technical difficulties. Our brains, great machines as they are, require a long time to digest and learn these small detailed movements which at first just seem so foreign. A month to learn beginner pieces is not overly long but some pieces are learned quicker than others. So to maximize your learning it is best to be learning three or more pieces at once. My current learning curve for an average piece at my grade level, seems to be around a fortnight to learn the notes and three months to get the piece sounding ok. I will have to put more time in if it's something above my grade level and I have several pieces I am taking to the six month mark. So the rule of thumb it the harder the piece the longer it takes to learn.

If you can afford a teacher then it's the best decision you will ever make. If you cannot then perhaps consider fundamentalkeys.com which although I have not tried it is repeatedly mentioned here as a good method concentrating in classical works.

Scales and Hanon are not for the complete beginner so they can wait a while.

take this link here for a list of pieces graded which is a great resource.

Read this for an insight into how to practice.

Have fun enjoy the journey and am I sure we would all love to know how you go from here. Submit into the Achievement of the Week thread in this forum if you so feel inclined.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2264685 - 04/20/14 07:25 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
A443 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1411
@The Lark Ascending, I don't know if it will help, but here is a close-up of the Pezold:


All the best!

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#2264776 - 04/20/14 10:40 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
The Lark Ascending Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Amazing links earlofmar, thanks!! The .xls will help finding an adequate repertoire for my level.

A443, thanks! I've seen all the videos on youtube of course. That was my first reflex as my sight reading is poor. I chose this one and watch it on my ipad over my DPiano; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqS2_KsFuSs

It is invaluable. Kids today are so lucky to have internet... not only for tutorials but for easy access to all the music that survived the ages.

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#2264783 - 04/20/14 11:01 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
A443 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1411
Just FYI, I pushed my wife to make that video, under much protest. However, I think it is important for more professional pianists to record the repertoire for beginning students of piano. Those pieces actually can and should be interpreted artistically from a theoretical standpoint....just like everything else.

That is what makes YouTube a game-changer for the next generation of piano learners. Five years from now, I expect there to be many professional recordings of the entire piano repertoire from which to choose--performed by pianists you've never heard of, living in places you've never been.

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#2265200 - 04/22/14 07:31 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
You might want also to check this channel, there are a couple of interesting pieces of information about how to interpret Bach's minuets (amongst other things) https://www.youtube.com/user/JaakSikk/videos
You might also at least check the free part of Jaak Sikk's piano course. The first lessons concentrate on good hand position and technique and might help.
I have had (and still have) a lot of hand problems (thumbs for me) and I couldn't agree more with the other posters, if in pain, rest, if it doesn't go away, seek medical help, there is nothing more frustrating than being willing to work hard to learn a skill and being hold back by your body but the more you damage it, the longer it takes for it to recover.
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2265473 - 04/22/14 07:24 PM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: Jean-Luc]
The Lark Ascending Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Thanks Jean-Luc for the links. I am going to watch them after kids homework.

No more pain today! I will be able to resume my efforts.

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#2265643 - 04/23/14 12:18 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
Marinelife Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/14
Posts: 38
Loc: DC/Maryland
Hello from another beginner,

You will be delighted to have a teacher. If you ever have numbness again, please do see a doctor. I recently had compression of the ulnar nerve from a blood draw that leaked, and had weakness and loss of control in that hand as well as pain. It healed, but I would have been heartbroken if it had not.

I love that minuet and am going to play it soon in my first evaluation (not counting the one I had thirty-five years ago, at the same level). Wish me luck!

Your teacher will have a plan for the scales. I am more thorough with them than I was as a child. I have a scale book (I expect that there are a number of equally good ones) and knowing the cadences, inversions, and relative minors makes these pieces make a lot more sense.

I also have a phone app to drill key signatures and notes above and below the staff, so I find that I can read music more easily now than I could back then.

Best wishes! Let us know what you play next.

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#2265667 - 04/23/14 01:33 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
8 Octaves Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015


Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 424
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: The Lark Ascending

I am unconfortable to start a method as I dont like their repertoire. I only want to learn songs I like. My goal is to be able to play Mozart Sonata 16 "facile" in 5-6 years. Realistic?


If you like classical music, then try Fundamental Keys by Rachel Jimenez. You could also view the video lessons, which should help. I would say since you don't know what you don't know, try to keep an open mind on even song you don't like in whatever method you end up with. Nobody loves every piece of music they work on, but some times, the technique or whatever skill offered by a piece is important. I think it is good to have a goal such as playing the Mozart K.545, but you may want to give yourself no time limit. After all, you may surprise yourself and get there next year or it may take a decade. You get there when you get there.
_________________________
La musica non č mai finita, solo abbandonata.
RCM Level 6 | Concone: Etude in C major | Filtz: An Ancient Tale | Schumann: Waltz in A Minor |

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#2265714 - 04/23/14 05:39 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: The Lark Ascending]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: The Lark Ascending


I am now attacking the G Minor version.

1 - Yesterday morning, at my first real session, while practicing the second line left hand, I had my left harm becoming completely numb.




Now you see why they say that major is happy smile and minor is sad frown !

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#2265722 - 04/23/14 07:18 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: earlofmar]
Kristina1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/13
Posts: 123
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
As per the previous replies, there is nothing normal with pain. This is the repercussion of going too fast too soon and many of us have done that, especially in sport. So while your hand recovers it is a good time to research how to practice and yes it's not just a case of putting all your effort into a piece to learn as fast as possible.

I have been learning piano for 15 months and since I have been average at everything I do in life I see no reason why I can't consider myself an average learner. One of the first things that confront you is the length of time it takes to learn a single piece. For the beginner even a simple piece like the Bach Minuet in G (although this is a grade 2 piece) holds technical difficulties. Our brains, great machines as they are, require a long time to digest and learn these small detailed movements which at first just seem so foreign. A month to learn beginner pieces is not overly long but some pieces are learned quicker than others. So to maximize your learning it is best to be learning three or more pieces at once. My current learning curve for an average piece at my grade level, seems to be around a fortnight to learn the notes and three months to get the piece sounding ok. I will have to put more time in if it's something above my grade level and I have several pieces I am taking to the six month mark. So the rule of thumb it the harder the piece the longer it takes to learn.

If you can afford a teacher then it's the best decision you will ever make. If you cannot then perhaps consider fundamentalkeys.com which although I have not tried it is repeatedly mentioned here as a good method concentrating in classical works.

Scales and Hanon are not for the complete beginner so they can wait a while.

take this link here for a list of pieces graded which is a great resource.

Read this for an insight into how to practice.

Have fun enjoy the journey and am I sure we would all love to know how you go from here. Submit into the Achievement of the Week thread in this forum if you so feel inclined.






Thank you very much earlofmar to have included the link to the grades of so many fascinating piano pieces...
...your list has helped me to comprehend, why some of Bach's pieces are very difficult for me to approach at the moment...
It is curious, that some of Bach's piano pieces SOUND so simple, harmonious and easy,
but as soon as a beginner like myself approaches some of these grade 7 or grade 8 pieces,
it becomes quite clear, that a beginner needs "a little bit" more exercise and time to approach them ...

I still hope, that one day I shall be able to approach my absolute favourite,
which is Bach's Busoni-Chaconne...

Thanks again for the helpful link from Kristina.

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#2265725 - 04/23/14 07:32 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: Kristina1]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1635
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Kristina1



Thank you very much earlofmar to have included the link to the grades of so many fascinating piano pieces...
...your list has helped me to comprehend, why some of Bach's pieces are very difficult for me to approach at the moment...


My pleasure. I also routinely fall into the trap of thinking a piece may sound easy only to find it is beyond me. This list has been a great guide.

I share your love of Bach and hope you find as I do there are many great works accessible (accessible is code for darn hard work)to the beginner.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2270928 - 05/04/14 11:06 AM Re: Few questions from a newbie regarding Bach and playing piano [Re: A443]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1777
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: A443


..That is what makes YouTube a game-changer for the next generation of piano learners. Five years from now, I expect there to be many professional recordings of the entire piano repertoire from which to choose--performed by pianists you've never heard of, living in places you've never been.


In fact, there is a wonderful series of thousands of videos on YouTube, by some fantastic professors of piano in Iowa (a couple of whom are very active here at Piano World), that is well on the way to achieving this very important goal. Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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