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#2306587 - 07/24/14 04:23 PM Question about finger reach!
Plopsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/26/14
Posts: 7
Loc: Ireland
Hi all, this is my first topic on the forum, though I've been lurking for a while!

I'm only a beginner, playing for a few months. I've only had a couple of lessons and no one near me do lessons during the summer so I'll have to make do with teaching myself for a while more.

This week I decided to see how I fare with Beethoven's moonlight sonata, and the first twelve measures are no problem. Until I get to measure 13 and 14 and I see these:



Now perhaps I have really small hands, but the furthest my hands can span comfortably is one octave, so I can only assume that most of the bass clef notes are played with the right hand? (If anyone has any insights I'd love to know!)

Would I be at a big disadvantage only being able to play one octave?

How far can ye all reach?


Edited by Plopsy (07/24/14 05:06 PM)
Edit Reason: Sonata not symphony!

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#2306591 - 07/24/14 04:31 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Saranoya Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 622
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
You play the triplets with your right hand. Then you don't need a reach wider than an octave (well, not here, anyway ... there are couple of places in that piece that do require a slightly wider reach).

FYI (though I suspect it's just a typo): this is the first movement of a sonata, not a symphony smile.
_________________________
Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

Currently Playable
Bach 846, 926, 930
Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
Burgmüller 100/3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25
Chopin 72/1
Clementi 36/1
Grieg 12/1, 7
Tchaikovsky 39/9

Future
Burgmüller 109
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#2306593 - 07/24/14 04:31 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver
Play the bass line with the left hand. The triplets and melody are right hand. Note it will be octaves in the right hand as well. By doing this you can fully hold the half notes and stuff without relying on the pedal.

Don't think of bass clef as left hand and treble clef as right hand. While that is often true, it does not have to be. What happens if you get a piece with three clefs?

Btw, Moonlight Sonata (not symphony).

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#2306603 - 07/24/14 04:43 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: MALDI_ToF]
Plopsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/26/14
Posts: 7
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
You play the triplets with your right hand. Then you don't need a reach wider than an octave (well, not here, anyway ... there are couple of places in that piece that do require a slightly wider reach).

FYI (though I suspect it's just a typo): this is the first movement of a sonata, not a symphony smile.


Yep, sorry that's a typo! Thanks for the advice I'll give that a go. I'll see what happens when I get to a section with more than an octave reach. I can just about get one key further if I move my hand down to be nearly vertical and at the front of the keys, but I doubt that that's good practice!

Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF
Play the bass line with the left hand. The triplets and melody are right hand. Note it will be octaves in the right hand as well. By doing this you can fully hold the half notes and stuff without relying on the pedal.

Don't think of bass clef as left hand and treble clef as right hand. While that is often true, it does not have to be. What happens if you get a piece with three clefs?

Btw, Moonlight Sonata (not symphony).


That's the mistake I was making, I've always assumed that treble clef is right hand and bass clef is left hand. The only time I've seen sheet music with three clefs was with an extra one for vocals!

Thanks for the tips smile

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#2306617 - 07/24/14 05:07 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: Plopsy


That's the mistake I was making, I've always assumed that treble clef is right hand and bass clef is left hand. The only time I've seen sheet music with three clefs was with an extra one for vocals!

Thanks for the tips smile


Rachmaninov prelude in Op 3 has four clefs at the end!

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#2306636 - 07/24/14 05:57 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
David Farley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 299
Loc: Illinois
John Thompson has a surprising (to me) amount of three-clef pieces in his red books. I didn't do the Thompson method when I was a kid, and don't recall encountering much of any three-clef keyboard music until I started studying organ.

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#2306673 - 07/24/14 07:21 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 605
Loc: Louisiana
Quote:
Would I be at a big disadvantage only being able to play one octave?

How far can ye all reach?


Hey Plopsy, your hands will stretch. When I started, I could reach 9, now they'll play 10ths.
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2306694 - 07/24/14 08:16 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Rerun]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2562
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: Rerun
Quote:
Would I be at a big disadvantage only being able to play one octave?

How far can ye all reach?


Hey Plopsy, your hands will stretch. When I started, I could reach 9, now they'll play 10ths.


This has been my experience too.
I always notice it when I am playing something that I have marked as AS FAR AS I CAN REACH. And then at some point, I start playing wrong notes, because I can suddenly reach a little bit further down to the wrong note.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2306730 - 07/24/14 10:02 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Oongawa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 258
If you're a beginner, you might want to hold off on this one. It isn't easy, and keeping track of four sharps, plus accidentals, plus double sharps tossed in here and there, plus the things like you pointed out here, may bring you frustration. It's such a rich and gorgeous piece that it's tempting, but playing it before you're really ready might diminish your enjoyment because it will be frustrating.

Just my 2 cents.
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Presently working on:
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'69 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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#2306782 - 07/25/14 01:07 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Oongawa]
Saranoya Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 622
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: Oongawa
If you're a beginner, you might want to hold off on this one. It isn't easy, and keeping track of four sharps, plus accidentals, plus double sharps tossed in here and there, plus the things like you pointed out here, may bring you frustration. It's such a rich and gorgeous piece that it's tempting, but playing it before you're really ready might diminish your enjoyment because it will be frustrating.

Just my 2 cents.


True, but also, not necessarily true.

I played this piece in a live recital (and also in an ABF quarterly recital) about 8 months after I'd first started piano lessons. I came equipped with some experience from childhood, but that was very, very limited. If the OP is truly motivated to play this piece above all others, he can learn a lot from tackling it. It may even become the thing that will keep him motivated when the going gets though.

But OP, be forewarned: it will likely require a level of obsession that not many people have. I was four months into my lessons when I first got started on this piece, and it took me another four months to get it to a playable level. Then in January of this year, I decided to learn a Chopin Nocturne with less than 18 months of lessons under my belt, and *that* took me almost 6 months to learn and polish. Now I'm moving on to Mozart (Piano Sonata n° 11), and I wouldn't be surprised if it's going to take me until the live recital in April of next year to get that one under my belt.

I'm saying: yes, go for it, but know what you're getting yourself into. Because once you've learned the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, you may no longer be satisfied with method books, or Grieg miniatures, or someone's "Album for the Young". You'll want to tackle ever more "advanced" things, and they will take up huge chunks of your time and dedication.
_________________________
Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

Currently Playable
Bach 846, 926, 930
Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
Burgmüller 100/3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25
Chopin 72/1
Clementi 36/1
Grieg 12/1, 7
Tchaikovsky 39/9

Future
Burgmüller 109
Bartok Sz 56
Mozart K331

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#2306884 - 07/25/14 09:39 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Saranoya]
carlos88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/13
Posts: 92
Loc: Colorado
Quote:
Now perhaps I have really small hands, but the furthest my hands can span comfortably is one octave, so I can only assume that most of the bass clef notes are played with the right hand? (If anyone has any insights I'd love to know!)


Some composers or editors give hints with the stem direction of the notes in sections like this, where it may be unclear which hand is responsible for which notes.

The notes with the stem up are taken with the right hand, those with stem down are taken by the left hand.

I don't remember if this is true for the Moonlight Sonata first movement, but based on the image snippet above, this convention may be being followed.


Edited by carlos88 (07/25/14 09:42 AM)
_________________________
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#2306889 - 07/25/14 09:44 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
David Farley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 299
Loc: Illinois
Didn't Robert Schumann wreck one of his hands by using some kind of machine that was supposed to increase his reach?

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#2306899 - 07/25/14 10:02 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Greener Online   content

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1207
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: Plopsy

... I'll see what happens when I get to a section with more than an octave reach.


HINT: You will not need to wait long ... a tenth coming right up soon in RH. But, only 2 of these throughout the entire 1st movement, I think. Based on what you have told us, you will not be able to play this solid right now, as the score calls for. So, roll it instead (low to high). It will sound fine. One day you will play it solid smile , is my bet.

EDIT: Sorry, its only a 9th (not at a keyboard so I guessed, but BZZZZT, it's a 9th.) So, you may be able to play solid. However, if not clean every time, roll instead ... suggested.


Edited by Greener (07/25/14 10:24 AM)

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#2307005 - 07/25/14 02:09 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Greener]
Plopsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/26/14
Posts: 7
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: Greener
Originally Posted By: Plopsy

... I'll see what happens when I get to a section with more than an octave reach.


HINT: You will not need to wait long ... a tenth coming right up soon in RH. But, only 2 of these throughout the entire 1st movement, I think. Based on what you have told us, you will not be able to play this solid right now, as the score calls for. So, roll it instead (low to high). It will sound fine. One day you will play it solid smile , is my bet.

EDIT: Sorry, its only a 9th (not at a keyboard so I guessed, but BZZZZT, it's a 9th.) So, you may be able to play solid. However, if not clean every time, roll instead ... suggested.


You're dead right!, I'm just at that bit now in measure 16


What exactly do you mean by rolling it? Does it mean to play the lower note with your thumb and quickly lift your hand and move it upwards to play the high note?

What I'm thinking for this part, is that because the left hand notes are tied over from the last bar, to bring my left hand over to play that higher C and then return to it's position. Is that sort of thing frowned upon as bad practice?

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#2307013 - 07/25/14 02:21 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Saranoya Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 622
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: Plopsy
What exactly do you mean by rolling it? Does it mean to play the lower note with your thumb and quickly lift your hand and move it upwards to play the high note?


There should be minimal actual movement of the hand. You play the lower note with your thumb and the higher note with your pinky, but instead of hitting both keys at the same time (which would require a reach you don't have), you hit the lower note and release it (the pedal will sustain it), then immediately (within a fraction of a second) hit the higher note. That way, you can shift your hand slightly to reach the high note, in a way that you couldn't if you had to hit both notes at exactly the same time.

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#2307017 - 07/25/14 02:32 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver
Might I suggest that if a roll is needed, and it is in a place where musically it might make sense, you use some rubato and slow down just a hair so when you do the roll, it does not sound rushed. Then get back up to speed after the roll. I think it could work in this case and make the roll sound smoother.

Try without the roll though. 9ths are easier in slow pieces as you have more time to make that stretch with your hand.

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#2307035 - 07/25/14 03:18 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Greener Online   content

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1207
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF
Might I suggest that if a roll is needed, and it is in a place where musically it might make sense, you use some rubato ...


I will agree that this may make sense in some instances and be preferred.

Not here though for this movement. It isn't needed. What really makes this movement come off well, is a very rigid and constant meter throughout.

I'm no teach though ...

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#2307039 - 07/25/14 03:32 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Greener]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: Greener
Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF
Might I suggest that if a roll is needed, and it is in a place where musically it might make sense, you use some rubato ...


I will agree that this may make sense in some instances and be preferred.

Not here though for this movement. It isn't needed. What really makes this movement come off well, is a very rigid and constant meter throughout.

I'm no teach though ...


You are right. It does depend on the piece. One would have to sit down at a piano and try and see what it sounds like. Perhaps neither sounds great (it is supposed to be played solid) and you might have to pick the best of the worst.

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#2307091 - 07/25/14 05:29 PM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Rerun]
Johan B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 972
Loc: The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
Originally Posted By: Rerun
Quote:
Would I be at a big disadvantage only being able to play one octave?

How far can ye all reach?


Hey Plopsy, your hands will stretch. When I started, I could reach 9, now they'll play 10ths.


Your hands will stretch?......your hands will be bigger.....depending of age......sorry....stretching hands.......nice fairy tale...... grin grin

Cheers,
JohanB
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Currently working on:Sonaten of Haydn/Mozart, Suites Bach/Händel, Sonate pathetique Beethoven
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#2307976 - 07/28/14 12:51 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Plopsy]
Art_Vandelay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Stillwater, OK
Originally Posted By: Plopsy
Originally Posted By: Greener
Originally Posted By: Plopsy

... I'll see what happens when I get to a section with more than an octave reach.


HINT: You will not need to wait long ... a tenth coming right up soon in RH. But, only 2 of these throughout the entire 1st movement, I think. Based on what you have told us, you will not be able to play this solid right now, as the score calls for. So, roll it instead (low to high). It will sound fine. One day you will play it solid smile , is my bet.

EDIT: Sorry, its only a 9th (not at a keyboard so I guessed, but BZZZZT, it's a 9th.) So, you may be able to play solid. However, if not clean every time, roll instead ... suggested.




You're dead right!, I'm just at that bit now in measure 16


What exactly do you mean by rolling it? Does it mean to play the lower note with your thumb and quickly lift your hand and move it upwards to play the high note?

What I'm thinking for this part, is that because the left hand notes are tied over from the last bar, to bring my left hand over to play that higher C and then return to it's position. Is that sort of thing frowned upon as bad practice?


The problem with that is you're supposed to hold this dotted half note. If you play it with the left, then return to the octaves while pedaling, the high C will be lost. Even if you don't change the pedal, the C will fade away faster if you don't hold it.
_________________________
"If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis."

"If life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life'll be all like whaaaaaat?" - Phil Dunphy

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#2307978 - 07/28/14 12:56 AM Re: Question about finger reach! [Re: Greener]
Art_Vandelay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Stillwater, OK
Originally Posted By: Greener
Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF
Might I suggest that if a roll is needed, and it is in a place where musically it might make sense, you use some rubato ...


I will agree that this may make sense in some instances and be preferred.

Not here though for this movement. It isn't needed. What really makes this movement come off well, is a very rigid and constant meter throughout.

I'm no teach though ...


There are many places in this piece where rubato is appropriate. For example, the harmonic change from E Major to E minor. If you play through this without any rubato, it will sound stale and uninteresting, but if you take a little extra time on the last E major arpeggio, the change will sound more significant.
_________________________
"If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis."

"If life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life'll be all like whaaaaaat?" - Phil Dunphy

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