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#2328995 - 09/19/14 01:23 PM My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 50
I have noticed that I can't play basic melody with my right hand, while doing something simple with my left hand(like an alternating 4th for example). The first few times trying this, I noticed that if I start alternating a 4th with my left hand, as soon as I try to touch one melody note, my left hand stops! Interesting, because generally speaking, I consider myself to be good at multitasking... but not in this way I guess! I tried a new approach to see if I could do this basic exercise. Instead, I didn't pay any attention to the fact that my right hand was about to come into play, and kept my mind on my left hand. It felt a bit uncomfortable as I didn't feel like I was in control of things, but surprisingly, it worked. I was able to note independently of the left hand, though I couldn't really play more than 3 or 4 notes per barre without being sure that I could keep the left hand going. This got me thinking that juggling is quite similar in a way, and to a small extent might improve one's piano playing!

Perhaps I'd be more comfortable if the base hand was my right. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that I'm used to playing lead with my left hand on guitar! At this stage I'm familiar with nearly all the chord inversions. My muscular memory has gotten used to knowing how to get them all. I'm not going to be able to memorise any more unless I can apply them to songs, etc. But in spite of this I have no idea what do with a chord when playing to make it sound less boring. That's something that I can't teach myself. I am aware that there's endless possibilities with what you can do when holding down 5 of 6 notes, but I need basic exercises that will lead to giving me basic platforms to improvise on top of.

So if anybody knows of any particularly relevant help or links to my question......

Thank you


Edited by Visalia (09/19/14 01:33 PM)

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#2329005 - 09/19/14 01:53 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
Doritos Flavoured Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/12
Posts: 108
Loc: Brazil
try counting the beats and matching the notes of both hands to the rhythm

and of course, much practice at a slow tempo... practice makes perfect is rarely more true than in music...

ah, you used to play guitar. Of course it makes quite a difference going from using both hands to strike a single chord to using both hands freely. It comes with time.
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#2329009 - 09/19/14 02:07 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
Stefo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/14
Posts: 46
Loc: Italy
Guitar native here as well!
I second what Doritos Flavoured said. I had the very same problem (I still do when improvising, but that's more a keyboard knowledge problem, I think), and I am overcoming it by focusing on when each note (regardless of the hand) falls during one measure. I'm not sure if this helps with finger indipendence, because it's more of a both hands thing, but it's helping me a lot. Put simple, it's like "the bass is in quarter notes, the melody is in eight notes, so every two melody notes there's a bass note" kind of thing.
If you played guitar, you should have no problem following a beat, so try it!

PS: I wouldn't worry about the left hand "heritage" from the guitar, since it's both hands that play a melody anyway. Also, your left hand should be stronger than a left hand that has never played, so that's good!

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#2329023 - 09/19/14 03:03 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 632
Loc: Chicago
Voicing chords is a huge area. What kind of music are you looking to play, and do you plan to play solo or with others? Both of those make a big difference on what basic chord voicing you can use.

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#2329027 - 09/19/14 03:23 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: jjo]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: jjo
What kind of music are you looking to play, and do you plan to play solo or with others?
Elton John! Take this blues piece from 7:46 onwards for example. What's he doing with his left hand? If I could start with doing that, would it be good for hand independence?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObV-6BiMtT8&list=LLDDql0AsdOsLIgfFUFtXy8g

Playing would seem more like jumping in the deep end for me right now, although I'd love to be able to do it!

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#2329063 - 09/19/14 05:55 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 632
Loc: Chicago
You say you learned all the chord inversions, so perhaps you're playing triads or four note chords in the left hand? If so, that's too dense. Try just playing the 1 and 7, which is called a shell voicing. The other notes of the chord should be covered with the right hand. Or play the 1 and 10 (which is a third, but spread out). My ear isn't good enough to hear exactly what he's playing, but for rock, generally 2 or 3 notes in the left hand. Any other harmony notes can be in the right hand. You can cluster things closer together in the right hand because it down't sound so muddy in the upper registers, but anything closer than a 5th, say, in the bass, is too muddy. Hope this at least gives you some ideas to play with.

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#2329078 - 09/19/14 06:46 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: jjo]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: jjo
You say you learned all the chord inversions, so perhaps you're playing triads or four note chords in the left hand?
I usually hold an octave and try to bring in the 5th too.
Originally Posted By: jjo

Try just playing the 1 and 7, which is called a shell voicing. The other notes of the chord should be covered with the right hand.

Yes, I'll have to get used to that 1 and 7 with the left hand. I know it's not done as often as the octave, but I've seen it done on the rare occasion(on synthesia that is)

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#2329081 - 09/19/14 06:51 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1280
Loc: uk south
jjo, I think Visalia is a keen Elton fan. The jazz voicings don't work so well.

Visalia, he's not doing anything at all tricksy with the LH from 7:46, it's like a very slow ragtime boom-chuck type thing (actually it's more like a kaboom-chuck). All the heavy work is in the RH. Admittedly, it would take some time to develop the ability to keep the LH disciplined while throwing the RH around so freely. But I wouldn't confuse this with natural 'independence'. It's more of a practiced thing.

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#2329097 - 09/19/14 07:40 PM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1280
Loc: uk south
- try this for the LH - it's in Bb

Bb,Ab notes together (jjo's 1 and 7) - that's the boom
- then in the same register
D,F,Ab - that's the chuck

do that pair of chords twice then do the same thing up a fourth (in Eb)

You should be able to hear he's doing it slow with a strong staccato.

If you want to try the kaboom, drop down quickly from an F to the Bb,Ab interval (F in the middle of the two notes).

The RH is another story....

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#2329198 - Yesterday at 07:00 AM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: dire tonic]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: dire tonic

Bb,Ab notes together (jjo's 1 and 7) - that's the boom
- then in the same register
D,F,Ab - that's the chuck

do that pair of chords twice then do the same thing up a fourth (in Eb)
Thanks, I tried that. It's pretty cool. I would look upon the D,F,Ab as a diminished chord which I suppose would sound kind of bluesy, and giving that the m7 interval is sort of derived from a 7th chord, that would make sense too.

Would the RH be Bb blues scale??
Originally Posted By: dire tonic

If you want to try the kaboom, drop down quickly from an F to the Bb,Ab interval (F in the middle of the two notes).
So if the boom and chuck were half notes, the F would be a pick-up note that would be a quarter note?


Edited by Visalia (Yesterday at 07:09 AM)

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#2329199 - Yesterday at 07:04 AM Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: dire tonic]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
But I wouldn't confuse this with natural 'independence'. It's more of a practiced thing.
then what would be an example of natural independence?

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#2329525 - 39 minutes 49 seconds ago Re: My Initial Thoughts on Left/Right Hand Independence [Re: Visalia]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1280
Loc: uk south
Yes, D,F,Ab together form a diminished triad but here it's important to perceive it as part of the full Bb7 which he's broken into 2 parts (boom-chuck). I think it would mislead to treat it as a diminished triad.

Originally Posted By: Visalia
Would the RH be Bb blues scale??

I reject the scale approach in blues and popular music. It won't offend the ear but whizzing up and down the scale is a poor starting point if that's all you end up doing. And it won't sound a bit like Elton who does very little in the way of scales, using instead some fairly commonplace cliché licks, e.g., @ 7:53 in the RH (Bb) he plays a full bar of straight 8ths, the first is Db,F, followed by D,F seven times. It's basic but effective because of what follows, which is much less basic, but there's no pro blues pianist on earth who hasn't played that lick at some time or another. The key to unlocking this style is getting those licks. Scales don't come close.

His Eb ideas are less conventional but essentially simple, rapidly oscillating between various inversions of Eb and Db major triads in mixed timings sometimes in 8ths, sometimes 8th triplets. Just try holding the Eb7 in the LH and in the RH play the Eb then the Db triad, that should give you an idea of what he's getting at there.

If you want to advance you need to figure out how to break down these licks yourself. You could take the lazy route and use an online blues-licks resource but I don't think that will lead you to developing a style of your own. Start by listening closely to what you think you CAN deconstruct and work your way up.

Originally Posted By: Visalia
So if the boom and chuck were half notes, the F would be a pick-up note that would be a quarter note?
Yes, the pick-up (ka-) would be half the duration of the boom. But I would write the boom-chuck as note-rest-note-rest (all 1/4 notes) so that would make the ka- an eighth note, specifically 1/4note-1/4rest-1/4note-1/8rest-1/8note(=ka).

Re 'independence'. I think it's a mythical goal, a rainbow's end. You can get better at doing different things with your two hands but most of the time the two hands are interdependent anyway. What may seem like a pianist's display of independence is no more than a larger library of tricks. Throw him something even trickier and he'll stumble...until he's learnt it. But then, having learnt it, he has a greater aptitude to take on even more difficult things. It requires practice, then even more practice.

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