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#915605 - 01/01/08 10:25 PM The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
One of the most frequently asked questions here regards the measured LH tremolo that accompanies the main theme of Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata.

So, here are my suggestions for tackling this infamous accompaniment:

First, the major joints need to be free of tension. This means the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Keep in mind that tension is cumulative, so I'd suggest practicing this section after you're warmed-up or have taken a short break, not after you've already been playing for an hour straight.

Try varying the height of your wrist and the height of the bench. Also, avoid extremes - your wrist should not be concave or overly convex (I prefer a slightly raised wrist.) Another interesting way to practice is to turn your bench and your body about 60 degrees to the right. This will keep your left elbow away from your body in a more natural position. Once you've got the hang of the passage in this position, it'll be easier to transfer that feeling to your regular position.

Visualize two things - imagine your left arm is a garden hose and that the sound is the water. For the sound to flow freely out of your hands, there can't be any kinks in the hose. As you practice, feel for those kinks and free them up when they happen.

One more bit of visualization that helps - imagine a light breeze passing through the crook of your elbow and through your armpit. Tension in those two joints spells disaster, so keep them well ventilated!

Practice on doorknobs and salt shakers. Every time you open a door, use your left hand and rattle the knob a bit. Every time you add salt to your food, sprinkle it on with your left hand.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915606 - 01/01/08 10:34 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
wdot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 728
Loc: South Carolina, USA
These are all really good suggestions. As an alternative, you could arrange to be left-handed like me. I can play octave tremolos all day with my left hand. Now my right hand is another story entirely.

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#915607 - 01/01/08 10:35 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
"But Kreisler, that's BORING, I want to really play the piece!!!"

Okay fine, try these exercises. The key is to keep it nice and light. Don't make it happen; let it happen.

Exercise 1 - Burst Practice

This works well for anything that has running sixteenth notes. Passagework in Mozart concerti, the LH of the Revolutionary Etude, and the Pathetique:



The dotted 16ths in the LH should have a light relaxed bounce to them. This will help you build points of relaxation into the passage.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915608 - 01/01/08 10:39 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Exercise 2 - Triplets

Often the problem with the tremolo is that the 5th finger is underdeveloped and the thumb is too clunky. As a result, the hand is off balance and favors the thumb side, creating a sound that's too loud and a feeling that hinders speed.

Practicing in triplets can help! Again, keep it light and gently throw the hand to the left as it rotates toward the 5th finger (we're talking millimeters here, don't overdo it - it's more a feeling than an actual motion.) When the hand rotates to the thumb side, feel for a slight throw - it's like following through in a baseball swing. You have to finish the motion and keep it round. Stay fluid, don't jerk your wrist back and forth!

_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915609 - 01/01/08 10:44 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Exercise 3 - Accents

In this exercise, I suggest accenting the lower C slightly. This will keep the hand weighted more evenly and give you a better sound. The key here is to keep that thumb light:



For another little trick, stop every now and then and squeeze the muscle between your LH thumb and 1st finger with your right hand. That muscle is the largest single muscle in your hand, and when it tenses up, your whole hand loses flexibility. Take a break and massage that muscle every now and then.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915610 - 01/01/08 10:48 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Exercise 4 - One Less Accent

Once you've got the hang of exercise 3, try halving the number of accents, putting them only on the strong beats. One bit of advice that many advanced pianists go by is to let your ear guide the technique. Listen for that low C, and your hand will find a way to make it happen. If you don't listen for it, the thumb will take advantage of you and butt in. Keep your ear on finger 5 and let it guide you through the passage. (But keep it light - a tense 5th finger is dangerous too!)



Finally, try all of the above exercises with a 5th or 6th in the LH instead of an octave. It might sound strange, but it'll help you find the right motions and make it all feel more comfortable. It'll make your practicing feel like less of a struggle, and the technique will transfer to the octave quite easily.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915611 - 01/01/08 10:56 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
And finally, some general advice:

Practice for comfort, not speed. It's 100 times easier to make a comfortable passage faster than it is to make a fast passage more comfortable.

This is a physical skill. GI Joe's maxim does not apply. Knowing is not half the battle. Patient and consistent implementation of knowledge wins this war.

There are no shortcuts. Stop looking for them. Concern yourself with two things - the sound you want and physical comfort. Enjoy the journey and you WILL get there!
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915612 - 01/01/08 10:59 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Okay...let's hear from everyone else, too.

Are you an advanced pianist? How did you conquer the LH? Are you a beginner? What works best for you?
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915613 - 01/01/08 11:00 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
It's 100 times easier to make a comfortable passage faster than it is to make a fast passage more comfortable.
[/b]
So, so true!
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#915614 - 01/01/08 11:48 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Secondo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 312
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Hi Kreisler:

Your exercises inspired me to go to the bookshelf and look for Ruch Slenczynska, Music at Your Fingertips, which I haven't looked at in years. Great way to strengthen the fingers and get rid of accents. Thanks!
_________________________
Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B

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#915615 - 01/02/08 01:57 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5462
Loc: Orange County, CA
This is awesome!!! Thanks!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#915616 - 01/03/08 01:29 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19280
Loc: New York City
Do you think that a lighter action makes the tremolos easier? When I played this work about 50 years ago, I don't remember having tremolo problems but my piano had a very light action. Or maybe I really did have problems but it's been too long to remember them!

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#915617 - 01/03/08 05:56 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Kreisler - excellent posts and suggestions. Much of this applies to Alberti bass patterns and miserable Haydn accompaniments as well.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#915618 - 01/04/08 01:39 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
HappyGoLucky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/03
Posts: 295
Loc: Arlington, VA
Thanks for these excellent exercises. Your visualization suggestions are particularly helpful.

Once I got the tremelo technique down and was working toward getting the LH tremelo up to speed, my teacher recommended that I neither rest my LH fingers on the octave keys, nor raise my fingers off the octave keys. Rather, the trick to speed was to keep my the fingers "almost" on the keys at all times, lifting them not more than a few centimeters. It really improved my speed.

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#915619 - 01/04/08 08:38 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 549
Loc: Japan
You request advice form other pianists. I am an Advanced player.

It may sound trite but the way I eventually conquered the left hand tremeloes was to play many times over the boogie woogie pattern. I know it may sound terrible to you classicians but by marching up and down with those octaves and working the C,F and G chords in the right helped me. This is an example of how experimenting and messing around can widen the scope of your playing. I've been playing Pathetique on and off since I was 12. I feel absolute zero stiffnesss in the shoulders, wrists and finger joints. I love the tremeloes. They are a holiday for me even with no pedaling.

Admittedly playing them on a digital is easier than on a heavy action acoustic. But I also can play on acoustics strongly and without tiring. If you do a lot of that pinkie to thumb walking you develop a strong little finger. My little finger is very powerful from playing of many other pieces with a rythymic base pattern such as the Rondo Al Turca by Mozart. Check out that piece as it has a really excellent octave run in the bass. Also try and play Finlandia the piano score by Sibelius. That also has a lot of nice left hand tremeloes and will build you up. Practice those and you may return to Pathetique armed with more confidence.
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#915620 - 01/07/08 06:48 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
eFatz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 78
Loc: Singapore
actually my solution is very simple
just cut down on the amount of unnecessary motion (means, do NOT do a lot of very pronounced pronation and supination). The less your hand moves, the less energy you waste, and the more effortlessly you can play.
if you think the tremolando of the pathetique sonata is difficult, try the piano part of the kreutzer sonata or the 2nd ballade by liszt... pages and pages of that stuff

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#915621 - 01/12/08 09:58 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
I'm a new member here ... bit more time on my heands these days, so thought I would browse some of the piano related sites.

After reading ALL the above ... I'm in a state of shock ... although I guess I shouldn't be surprised ... I have known for several decades how IGNORANT just about ALL pianists and teachers are regarding BASIC technique.

If I have time in the next day or so ... I'll respond at some length ... although it may be a week before I get to it ... we'll see

HOWEVER ... just to summarize ... I have NEVER read such RUBBISH in my entire life ... MOST if not ALL of the above will not in ANY WAY assist you ...

In fact ... MOST of the above is guaranteed to cause INJURY

NOT ONE of the above contributors have even a BASIC understanding of piano technique

Sorry ... sad tale but true

Ian Mac

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#915622 - 01/12/08 10:15 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
cool, i hope to hear what you'd say soon! i don't play this yet, but am always curious about techniques someone would describe.

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#915623 - 01/12/08 11:48 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Brendan Offline


Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5303
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:
HUAH [/b]
Awesome, we'll wait for that expert commentary.

Thread contribution:

For my hands, I find a dropping motion to be helpful in maintaining freedom. A fluid, continuous up-down motion at the rate of one "drop" per bar keeps the thumb relaxed. Tension comes from being locked in the same position for an extended period of time. If you "hit the ground running" on the first beat of each bar there's a little more flexibility as opposed to trying to control it too much. Someone earlier mentioned the Kreutzer Sonata - yes, it's the same issue there as well. I found those passages very challenging until I started experimenting with dropping within a wrist motion.

The same principle can be applied to most technical issues: the octaves in Petrushka, Chopin's Thirds Etude, etc. Of course, the REAL issue is evening out tone quality and making sure that the drop doesn't produce an accent.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#915624 - 01/13/08 01:14 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Loki Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/05
Posts: 1035
Loc: Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:


In fact ... MOST of the above is guaranteed to cause INJURY

NOT ONE of the above contributors have even a BASIC understanding of piano technique

[/b]
So practicing in different rhythms and relaxing your body is guaranteed to cause injury?? Funny, I've never heard that one before.

Also:

When I played this piece, I did what Brendan suggested and started the tremolo flat and grouped upward every measure.
_________________________
Houston, Texas

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#915625 - 01/13/08 01:20 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
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OK ladies and gents ... I'll copy and paste each of the above comments ... MY comments will be in the body of each.

I'll try to be brief ... although that's not in my nature ... so we'll see what eventuates.

I apologize in advance to those contributors who feel offended by my comments ... (unfortunately Tobias Matthay has a lot to answer for ... still creating havoc after a century of pianists developing bad and injurious habits)

################################################
One of the most frequently asked questions here regards the measured LH tremolo that accompanies the main theme of Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata.

So, here are my suggestions for tackling this infamous accompaniment:

#####
#####
#####
#####
I've not had time to scour the archives here to see just how many have problems with this sonata ... I'll take ur word for it ... but there are numerous similar examples ... but this is as good as any for ME to start commenting on
#################################

First, the major joints need to be free of tension. This means the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Keep in mind that tension is cumulative,
#####
#####
#####
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I cannot disagree with the basic statement ... HOWEVER - an understanding of the physiology is imperative ... it is how we USE the joints u mention that is critical ... we MUST use our body in the most natural way ... use the "joints" in a fashion that they were designed for! EXAMPLE ... the elbow is but a HINGE ... it is not to be used in any other way! The wrist must NEVER be considered as a joint of rotation ... more on that later. I'm sure many of you have heard the phrase "forearm rotation" - a good recipe for pain, failure and injury!
The other issue here is HOW to minimize tension ... i say MINIMIZE because without SOME tension we would have spaghetti like limbs incapable of precise and controlled (both conscious and learned / memorized) movements.
Just saying ... "be free of tension" is not very useful. One would need to be observed by an expert so the particular problem with a particular student can be analyzed
#################################################

so I'd suggest practicing this section after you're warmed-up or have taken a short break, not after you've already been playing for an hour straight.
#####
#####
#####
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WHY ?????? There should be no difference whether you've been playing for 6 minutes or 6 hours (NOTE - when I mention "hours" of practice ... i'm assuming that an advanced pianist has built up to that amount of practice over YEARS and is probably following a schedule SOMETHING like 45 minutes playing ... 15 minutes break ... 45 minutes playing etc etc etc
((There can be an issue of lactic acid build up during / after extended performance of "big" repertoire ... there are ways to minimize this ... we'll leave that for another day))
#################################################

Try varying the height of your wrist and the height of the bench.
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NEVER, NEVER, NEVER vary the height of the bench ... your seating position and HEIGHt is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL ... once it is correct you must ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use the SAME HEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is basic and CRITICAL ... I will often spend an hour EXPLAINING and ESTABLISHING seat hight for a new student .......... it is ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL FOUNDATIONS WHICH MUST BE CORRECT ... i cannot emphasize this enough ((with a young student who is growing ... you must continually asses and adjust))
AND ... i am talking about PRECISE seat heat ... to within half a centimeter
################################################

Also, avoid extremes - your wrist should not be concave or overly convex (I prefer a slightly raised wrist.)
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Good point ... HOWEVER ... you must understand WHY ... it's no good just saying the above as there are small physiological differences between individuals ... and this determines the most best approach for each individual ... ALSO COMES BACK TO SEAT HEIGHT ((which can be affected by a variety of reasons ... think for a moment ... 2 pianists are both 5'10" in height ... one has a long body and one a short body ... both have different length arms and legs!!!! THEREFORE the both must sit at DIFFERENT HEIGHTS ... and THIS will have a direct bearing on the angle of the forearm in relation to the horizontal ... THIS will have bearing on the height of the wrist ... THIS WILL HAVE BEARING ON THE FREEDOM OF FINGERS TO WORK IN A NATURAL AND EFFECTIVE MANNER ...
It;s not a simple subject ... there is "no one size fits all" but it is a CRITICAL PART OF THE FOUNDATIONS OF PIABO PLYING .... sadly most often not understood and in the main ... overlooked out of ignorance.
################################################

Another interesting way to practice is to turn your bench and your body about 60 degrees to the right. This will keep your left elbow away from your body in a more natural position.
#####
#####
#####
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Sorry mate ... but that is a TRULY FRIGHTENING THOUGHT ... practice sitting at the piano in an asymmetrical way????? destroy the "memory" of good habits????? Sorry ... i just don;t get it ... and i am 100% sure that it would be only SLIGHTLY detrimental at best ... CERTAINLY no good can come of it ... I think ur mistaken about wanting to have ur elbow AWAY from ur body ... the MOST NATURAL way to see where EACH INDIVIDUAL should have there "relaxed" elbow is to just stand up and let ur arms hang ... ... it differs with individuals ... for a skinny person with narrow shoulders ... their elbows will gently touch their body ... certainly NOT "away" from their body ... for a muscular person with broad shoulders ... yes ... the elbows will be several inches away from their body ... for most ... almost touching will be most natural .......... i'm just a bit scared that these "suggestions" you make are only confusing and WRONG ... i'll rephrase ... sorry ... i'm NOT just a bit scared ... i am suret that you should NOT be spreading such erroneous and uninformed ideas re piano plying ... sorry
to anyone who follows these ides ... u will most certainly fail and risk PERMANENT injury
################################################


Once you've got the hang of the passage in this position, it'll be easier to transfer that feeling to your regular position.
#####
#####
#####
#####
RUBBISH ... try it and waste ur time ... or maybe u will be lucky and experience a short term placebo effect ...
#################################################

Visualize two things - imagine your left arm is a garden hose and that the sound is the water. For the sound to flow freely out of your hands, there can't be any kinks in the hose. As you practice, feel for those kinks and free them up when they happen.
#####
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My arm is a garden hose and sound is running water ... hmmmmm OK mate ... i'm sure ur students appreciate the symbolism ... ... ... but for me ... i'd rather UNDERSTAND the issues at play ... EXPLAIN the issues ... and DEMONSTRATE solutions which are SAFE AND EFFECTIVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#################################################

One more bit of visualization that helps - imagine a light breeze passing through the crook of your elbow and through your armpit. Tension in those two joints spells disaster, so keep them well ventilated!
#####
#####
#####
#####
a breeze flowing through my armpit ... ... okkkkkkkkkkk ... no comment - i NEED A BREAK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

more to follow in the next day or so
#################################################

Practice on doorknobs and salt shakers. Every time you open a door, use your left hand and rattle the knob a bit. Every time you add salt to your food, sprinkle it on with your left hand.
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Oh ... nearly missed this last little "gem" ... very natural thing to do - twisting doorknobs!!!!!!!! a VERY VERY quick way to cause permanent injury .....!!!! just try twisting a doorknob backwards and forward RAPIDLY (rattle it like a tremolo!!!) for 30 seconds or so ... I REST MY CASE!!!
################################################
apologies for spelling and grammatical errors - i;m never inclined to reread and correct
################################################

ian mac

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#915626 - 01/13/08 11:32 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
that doorknob thing is funny!

 Quote:
First, the major joints need to be free of tension. This means the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Keep in mind that tension is cumulative,
#####
#####
#####
#####
I cannot disagree with the basic statement ... HOWEVER - an understanding of the physiology is imperative ... it is how we USE the joints u mention that is critical ... we MUST use our body in the most natural way ... use the "joints" in a fashion that they were designed for! EXAMPLE ... the elbow is but a HINGE ... it is not to be used in any other way! The wrist must NEVER be considered as a joint of rotation ... more on that later. I'm sure many of you have heard the phrase "forearm rotation" - a good recipe for pain, failure and injury!
Question: why is 'forearm rotation' a problem? what on earth i could do if i want to rotate my hand to a different direction? do you mean hands have to be totally flat (except up/down wrist motion as you mentioned), which certainly is impossible when playing anything?

i'm just trying to understand what you imply on this. thanks for your post!

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#915627 - 01/13/08 03:36 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I should mention that this seating arrangement is for LH only practice. Obviously it's harmful for the RH! Also, keep in mind the basic physiological principles you've already admonished me for ignoring - the arm is naturally positioned so that forearm rotation is more easily accomplished with the arm slightly away from the torso and not directly in front of you.

When you stand and let your arms hang, your arm is to the *side*, not in front. My suggestion of turning your body keeps your arm in a more natural position - to the side of your body.

Don't worry, it's 100% physiologically sound. I'm quite familiar with physiological principles.

Also, with respect to varying the bench height, I mean to vary it so that you can find the optimal height for your body. Of course you'd stay with the optimal height once you've found it.

Something else you said was incorrect, though. The height of the person doesn't matter at all. The only thing that determines bench height is the level of the elbow as compared to the level of the keyboard. Absolutely nothing else matters. And there is no best height - excellent and comfortable players exist whose elbows are both slightly below and above the keyboard level, but generally speaking, most people are more comfortable slightly above.

Hope that clarifies some of my ideas. Thanks!


 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:
Sorry mate ... but that is a TRULY FRIGHTENING THOUGHT ... practice sitting at the piano in an asymmetrical way????? destroy the "memory" of good habits????? Sorry ... i just don;t get it ... and i am 100% sure that it would be only SLIGHTLY detrimental at best ... CERTAINLY no good can come of it ... I think ur mistaken about wanting to have ur elbow AWAY from ur body ... the MOST NATURAL way to see where EACH INDIVIDUAL should have there "relaxed" elbow is to just stand up and let ur arms hang ... ... it differs with individuals ... for a skinny person with narrow shoulders ... their elbows will gently touch their body ... certainly NOT "away" from their body ... for a muscular person with broad shoulders ... yes ... the elbows will be several inches away from their body ... for most ... almost touching will be most natural .......... i'm just a bit scared that these "suggestions" you make are only confusing and WRONG ... i'll rephrase ... sorry ... i'm NOT just a bit scared ... i am suret that you should NOT be spreading such erroneous and uninformed ideas re piano plying ... sorry
to anyone who follows these ides ... u will most certainly fail and risk PERMANENT injury
################################################
[/b]
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915628 - 01/13/08 03:40 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
This is a fairly common topic of discussion. There is some controversy on the use of the word rotation, because none of the joints themselves actually rotate. The elbow is, as Mac has suggested, just a hinge. (The wrist doesn't rotate either. Only the rotator cuff in the shoulder rotates, but that's not a joint that comes into play in our current context.)

However, the end result feels like the forearm and hand rotate or rock back and forth, and while the vocabulary doesn't really describe in an explicit way what's going on, it does "do the trick" with most students.


 Quote:
Originally posted by signa:
Question: why is 'forearm rotation' a problem? what on earth i could do if i want to rotate my hand to a different direction? do you mean hands have to be totally flat (except up/down wrist motion as you mentioned), which certainly is impossible when playing anything?

i'm just trying to understand what you imply on this. thanks for your post! [/b]
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#915629 - 01/13/08 08:16 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
ahhhh ... so easy to stir you guys up \:\) \:\)

have a great day

i'm bored with this site now ... think i'll go fishing ... or maybe a road trip on my HOG for a few days ... or ... hmmm maybe sit at home and listen to some Scarlatti and Liszt ... they go so well together \:\)

i might return to this board one day ... never can tell \:\)

if anyone is experiencing the SLIGHTEST pain when playing ... PLEASE STOP !!!!!!!!!!!! IMMEDIATELY !!!!!!!!!!

i REALLY REALLY REALLY get sooooo sick and tired and sad with SOOOOOOO many young pianists fighting AGAINST their body because stupid ill informed "teachers" tell / show them dangerous techniques

it is ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL how many young pianists at Julliard, Manhattan and Beijing are taking DRUGS ... REGULARLY

SUCH DRUGS AS CORTISONE TO MASK SYMPTOMS FROM INJURY AND BETA BLOCKERS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PSYCHOLOGICALLY SUITED TO PERFORM

I HAVE PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THAT ... AND IT'S A SIGNIFIANT PERCENTAGE ... OBVIOUSLY I CANNOT QUOTE AN ACCURATE % ... BUT I WOULD BE CERTAIN IT IS IN EXCESS OF 50% .... TRULY FRIGHTENING

I HAVE PERSONALLY HAD PIANISTS FROM THOSE 3 INSTITUTIONS AND EVERY UNIVERSITY / CONSERVATORIUM IN AUSTRALIA COME TO ME FOR HELP WITH INJURY ... MOST IN TEARS

teachers ... i like that word ,,, but i guess Professor or Doctor or whatever sounds a lot more impressive ??? hmmmmmm???

TECHNIQUE is not understood by many ... in fact MOST college / uni famous professors haven't got a clue .... TECHNIQUE is taught to YOUNG people .... it should all be in place by age 12 or so ... improved for the next couple of years ... then it's all done ... just a matter of learning how to USE your technique

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#915630 - 01/13/08 08:23 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:
So, here are my suggestions for tackling this infamous accompaniment:
[/b]
Sorry I came a little late to this party. What are your suggestions for tackling this passage? I only see refutations of others' suggestions.

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#915631 - 01/13/08 08:26 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:
i'm bored with this site now ... think i'll go fishing ... [/b]
That was helpful.

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#915632 - 01/13/08 09:36 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
"""Something else you said was incorrect, though. The height of the person doesn't matter at all. The only thing that determines bench height is the level of the elbow as compared to the level of the keyboard. Absolutely nothing else matters. And there is no best height - excellent and comfortable players exist whose elbows are both slightly below and above the keyboard level, but generally speaking, most people are more comfortable slightly above."""

the height of a person and the "build" of a person does matter ... eg - long body ... short body ... long upper arms etc etc ... this DIRECTLY affects the seating height

BUT ... I THINK WE ARE BOTH ON THE SAME PAGE HERE ... I LIKE SOME ASPECTS OF UR EXPLANATION BETTER THAN MINE ... i think we are both trying to get pianists to sit at a height which ensure the forearm is "" more or less"" horizontal ... of course exceptions abound (Arrau, Gould)

the critical thing is that if u sit too low ... then there is a tendency to raise the shoulders ... creates undue tension ... and the reverse creates slouching and no proper foundation to build on and often low elbows , dropped wrists etc etc etc

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#915633 - 01/13/08 09:59 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
That's it? Use the body in a natural way, use the elbow as a hinge, keep the bench at the exact correct height, determine how far your elbow hangs naturally from your body, and you will be able to play this left hand passage? Sorry, Mac777, this all seems very vague and general to me. I'm having a hard time believing that's all there is to it.

By the way, I don't appreciate your condescending tone here and the rather cowardly way you chose to exit this thread. If you have something to share, share it, if you disagree, disagree, but I think everyone posting here does so because they believe they are offering helpful advice. There are ways of disagreeing in a respectful way, and I think all the people who have posted here deserve respect. Nothing wrong with refuting other's ideas, but what exactly do you offer instead? (That's a rhetorical question - truthfully you've lost my interest in what you have to say).

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#915634 - 01/13/08 11:28 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
This is a fairly common topic of discussion. There is some controversy on the use of the word rotation, because none of the joints themselves actually rotate. The elbow is, as Mac has suggested, just a hinge. (The wrist doesn't rotate either. Only the rotator cuff in the shoulder rotates, but that's not a joint that comes into play in our current context.)

However, the end result feels like the forearm and hand rotate or rock back and forth, and while the vocabulary doesn't really describe in an explicit way what's going on, it does "do the trick" with most students.


 Quote:
Originally posted by signa:
Question: why is 'forearm rotation' a problem? what on earth i could do if i want to rotate my hand to a different direction? do you mean hands have to be totally flat (except up/down wrist motion as you mentioned), which certainly is impossible when playing anything?

i'm just trying to understand what you imply on this. thanks for your post! [/b]
[/b]
Thanks, Kriesler! i see your point. what you're saying is that instead of actually rotate forearm, you actually lift elbow which enable the hand rotate to a different direction from the body. it makes sense, and i do remember that my teacher told me the exactly same thing when playing scale (RH ascending).

it's too bad that Mac is getting bored to explain anything further.

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#915635 - 01/14/08 01:17 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
"""JerryS88
Full Member
Member # 16113

Icon 1 posted 13 January, 2008 05:59 PM Profile for JerryS88 Send New Private Message Edit/Delete Post Reply With Quote That's it? Use the body in a natural way, use the elbow as a hinge, keep the bench at the exact correct height, determine how far your elbow hangs naturally from your body, and you will be able to play this left hand passage? Sorry, Mac777, this all seems very vague and general to me. I'm having a hard time believing that's all there is to it.

By the way, I don't appreciate your condescending tone here and the rather cowardly way you chose to exit this thread. If you have something to share, share it, if you disagree, disagree, but I think everyone posting here does so because they believe they are offering helpful advice. There are ways of disagreeing in a respectful way, and I think all the people who have posted here deserve respect. Nothing wrong with refuting other's ideas, but what exactly do you offer instead? (That's a rhetorical question - truthfully you've lost my interest in what you have to say)."""

#####
ahhh ... i'm not a very giving person

$500 an hour and i can show u ... then u too can have the effortless technique to play some MUSIC

with some business sense ... you too can be in demand at retire at age 50 odd to go fishing

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#915636 - 01/14/08 01:20 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
"""JerryS88
Full Member
Member # 16113

Icon 1 posted 13 January, 2008 05:59 PM Profile for JerryS88 Send New Private Message Edit/Delete Post Reply With Quote That's it? Use the body in a natural way, use the elbow as a hinge, keep the bench at the exact correct height, determine how far your elbow hangs naturally from your body, and you will be able to play this left hand passage? Sorry, Mac777, this all seems very vague and general to me. I'm having a hard time believing that's all there is to it.

By the way, I don't appreciate your condescending tone here and the rather cowardly way you chose to exit this thread. If you have something to share, share it, if you disagree, disagree, but I think everyone posting here does so because they believe they are offering helpful advice. There are ways of disagreeing in a respectful way, and I think all the people who have posted here deserve respect. Nothing wrong with refuting other's ideas, but what exactly do you offer instead? (That's a rhetorical question - truthfully you've lost my interest in what you have to say)."""

#####
ahhh ... i'm not a very giving person

$500 an hour and i can SHOW u ... then u too can have the effortless technique to play some MUSIC

... far too many "academics " trying to explain MUSIC and piano playing through the written word ... it's a DOING thing

with some business sense ... you too can be in demand and retire at age 50 odd to go fishing

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#915637 - 01/14/08 02:05 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
""That's it? Use the body in a natural way, use the elbow as a hinge, keep the bench at the exact correct height, determine how far your elbow hangs naturally from your body, and you will be able to play this left hand passage?""

you obviously did not read my first post on this thread very carefully

i said i would work my way through the entire thread ... EVERY comment so far is just a result of the first ill informed contribution i read here ....

HUNDREDS or common errors to address if i had the inclination

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#915638 - 01/14/08 08:42 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mac777 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 10
Loc: Queensland AUSTRALIA
and try MOVING ur fingers !!!!!!!!!

rather than some spastic gyrations with ur forearm

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#915639 - 01/15/08 11:25 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
classik51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/07
Posts: 77
Loc: Canada
I thought you were gonna go fishing?

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#915640 - 01/17/08 06:16 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Dear Mac777

Please go fishing. Whilst there, please reflect a little on the way you come across.

It is rarely useful to read posts from people who are only capable of criticism, with very little constructive input. And please, if you insist on posting, would you stop littering your sentences with uppercase words? It makes your text difficult to assimilate quickly. A basic grasp of spelling and grammar would also help you make your points, such as they are, much more clearly.

I am sure that you really can charge $500 an hour as a music teacher and that you really are an incredible businessperson who retired ever so young, but there is very little in your writing style that adds credibility to your assertions. Nor is it clear why they are relevant except as an attempt at self aggrandisement, with the presumption that it will add to your credibility. The reverse is more likely true.

We do not all need to agree with everything Kreisler says. However, his posts stimulate polite debate and many may appreciate his efforts, as a tutor and player, to be helpful. And he is always polite. This is the mark of a cultured man.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
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#915641 - 01/18/08 10:36 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
From Brendan:

 Quote:

For my hands, I find a dropping motion to be helpful in maintaining freedom. A fluid, continuous up-down motion at the rate of one "drop" per bar keeps the thumb relaxed. Tension comes from being locked in the same position for an extended period of time. If you "hit the ground running" on the first beat of each bar there's a little more flexibility as opposed to trying to control it too much. Someone earlier mentioned the Kreutzer Sonata - yes, it's the same issue there as well. I found those passages very challenging until I started experimenting with dropping within a wrist motion.

The same principle can be applied to most technical issues: the octaves in Petrushka, Chopin's Thirds Etude, etc. Of course, the REAL issue is evening out tone quality and making sure that the drop doesn't produce an accent.
This is exactly what my teacher told me to do with this (actually one "drop" per beat..Down,up,up,up..Down,up,up,up..etc.)! It is great advice...your tremolos will become like riding a bike..

Also we all know Brendan has the background, training, and demonstrated expertise to lend credibility to this advice...vs someone who would rather be fishing (trolling...?)
_________________________
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#915642 - 01/19/08 11:10 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
eFatz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 78
Loc: Singapore
I think to understand what Mac is saying, simply read Gyorgy Sandor's book "On Piano Playing". A lot of his ideas are very similar to Sandor's teachings (like stop playing when you feel pain, use the most economic motion to play, etc).
but true, in terms of piano playing, a lot of things cannot be simply explained in words like this. You really need someone to sit next to you and show you how things are done. Otherwise, if you mis-interpret what is written, it leads to more pain and injury..
anyway $500 an hour is ridiculous. Even Sequeira Costa doesn't charge that rate.

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#915643 - 01/19/08 04:09 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
That's the funny thing about Mac's posts - many of his ideas are well-established, and he seems to have some knowledge of the subject.

What I found interesting is that he dismisses Matthay as old-fashioned and dangerous, but many of Matthay's ideas are physiologically sound and in line with Sandor's thinking as well.

If I thought his comments were simply that of a disgruntled troll, I would have deleted them, but despite his combative style, his ideas do warrant attention.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915644 - 01/19/08 08:18 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Schubertian Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 937
Loc: Dallas, TX, US
Physiologically sound yes - but he has the personality of a gila monster.

oh sorry -
_________________________
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#915645 - 01/21/08 07:09 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Mac knows more than you guys give him credit for (except for Kreisler).

I hope he enjoyed his fishing trip.

Seriously. Fishing is a wonderful way to relax...............and catch fish!

"His" ideas DO warrant attention. Do not dismiss them because of his combative style.

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#915646 - 01/22/08 05:45 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
The problem is, or perhaps was as mac777 has seemingly vanished, is that he was not really expressing his ideas. Rather, he was mainly being derogatory about others and then throwing a few snippets of information out. He then concluded this limited range of postings with some remarkably silly remarks about how we could benefit from his expertise for $500 an hour.

He does not seem to have grasped the purpose of a public forum.

He may have some good ideas, or at least be capable of repeating the ideas of those who taught him, but his method of expressing them is so abrasive that any gems that he may have to impart are largely obscured by the rather childish invective.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#915647 - 01/22/08 08:38 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Vanish? He just went fishing...

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#915648 - 01/23/08 04:02 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
And has not returned. We must send out a search party.

Maybe in the meantime the ideas touted could be explored?
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#915649 - 01/24/08 12:05 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
....or the ideas trouted?
lol I shouldn't be allowed such opportunities for PUNishment.......

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#915650 - 01/24/08 02:21 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Not to carp on about it do you think mac777 would take his payment COD? Maybe he only gives lessons at his plaice. I must say I am beginning to feel like a fish out of water in this thread, so maybe it is time to tuna up my guitar and crab a beer.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#915651 - 01/24/08 12:37 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Okay you win, hands down. ;\)

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#915652 - 01/24/08 08:26 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
WOW! This is my first visit to this forum. Is this how it always goes?

When I saw that the tread was in reference to the "Pathetique", I opened it immediately as I am currently pulling this sonata out of mothballs.

I was reading Kreisler's suggestions with interest and then wham. Not good - not good.

I am still wondering if anyone has any further, and civilized suggestions on practicing the tremolo passages. For the most part, keeping relaxed and practicing in rhythms seems to be the most effective for me, but I welcome all suggestions.

Haven't we all decided on the proper bench height long ago?

Since I'm not a fisherman and don't drive a Harley, I might as well hang around here in hopes that this was an aberration.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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#915653 - 01/25/08 08:28 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
mario 08 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 26
Loc: Australia
This movement of the piece is all about total relaxation. Slow and steady rehearsal is the key. Shoulders need to be relaxed and wrist resting comfortably on the keyboard. Think relaxation. Think floating along. Remember your Left hand is free to ' float ' at all time arround the bass end of you piano.
Try to think of both hands working as one cohesive unit. Remember the metronome. Most important in rehearsing a piece of this nature. Remember to make much of the dynamics in this piece - this also gives you a chance to slow up a little. Remembeer that this piece ( like all pieces ) is the composers expression of his thoughts and feelings. You must adopt this approach when you are playing at all times.. Each movement of this work brings its own challenges. Just as the first movement presents the challenge of the left hand so the third movement presents a challenge of a different nature for the left hand throwing regularly to the right. The second movement has the challenge of the right hand as balanced against the left hand in sound.

Just relax and above all think of the music effect you are stricing to create. Lots of rotary exercises will help you to limber up before you start to play the first movement. Some scale to ready your fingers.

Enjoy the piece. I am doing a revision of this piece after some 20 years. I selected an Associated Board edition ( for editorial markings and clarity of print and a fine illustration of ornaments used in this piece ).
_________________________
Maurice

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#915654 - 01/25/08 08:35 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Marty_2:
WOW! This is my first visit to this forum. Is this how it always goes?

Since I'm not a fisherman and don't drive a Harley, I might as well hang around here in hopes that this was an aberration. [/b]
This was definitely an aberration, and I plan to clean up the post pretty soon.

Welcome to the forums!
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#915655 - 01/25/08 09:57 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Mario - what exactly do you mean by "rotary exercises"?
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#915656 - 01/25/08 10:57 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
Hi Maurice,

Thank you for your insights and suggestions.

I am not familiar with Associated Board editions. Can you provide any further info. I see that you are from Australia and wonder if these are available in the US. I would love to check out their editions.

Thanks,
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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#915657 - 01/25/08 11:21 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
You (or anyone else for that matter) will never be able to play the first movement using rotation techniques with as much speed, fluency, and control as a someone who keeps their hand still and lets the fingers do the work.
However, to achieve this level of technique takes many many hours at the piano.

If you do not practice 2000 hours a year (i.e. you have a day job) then using rotation will probably work just fine.

Good luck with this difficult sonata. Please post recordings of your progress!

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#915658 - 01/25/08 02:47 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
This was why I asked the question above really. If it what I understand by rotation, then I would not have thought it the best way forward.
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#915659 - 01/27/08 02:21 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
dreamtime Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/07
Posts: 34
What happens if you start piano after 30? I guess you must be really done by that time \:\) S

"TECHNIQUE is not understood by many ... in fact MOST college / uni famous professors haven't got a clue .... TECHNIQUE is taught to YOUNG people .... it should all be in place by age 12 or so ... improved for the next couple of years ... then it's all done ... "

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#915660 - 01/27/08 11:31 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Who said that?

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#915661 - 01/30/08 01:02 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Loki Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/05
Posts: 1035
Loc: Texas
Mac777 said that at the beginning of the thread if you take a look on the bottom of page 1.
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Houston, Texas

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#915662 - 01/31/08 07:31 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
However, if a pianist began piano after the age of 12, or did not acquire perfect technique before then, that is no reason to despair! We learn better and faster as children. But we can still learn effectively as adults.

To make statements that most college professors have not got a clue seems a bit wild as it is unlikely that anyone will have checked out more than a few. It is a bit like saying that most apples have maggots in them ....on the basis that one has bitten into the occasional imperfect apple. Such generalizations often dilute otherwise interesting arguments.
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#915663 - 02/08/08 05:56 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Poor Dave Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 28
Mac777 is a laid back Queenslander from Australia ;\) Relaxation techniques must be a natural thing for him \:D
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I have a Kawai RX-5G... it sounds like a coffee maker.

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#915664 - 02/19/08 06:59 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
computerpro3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 367
Loc: Connecticut/Cincinnati
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mac777:
blah blah blah am so great I like fishing blah blah blah kiss my feet blah blah blah[/b]
Sorry, but your statement that you have to have technique in place by the time you are 12 is simply ridiculous. I started piano when I was 16 and am doing just fine at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I hope nobody takes you seriously, you might ruin a lifetime of enjoyment for someone.

And I'll trust my teacher's advice over yours anyday when it comes to technique. I don't think YOU won the Naumburg International Piano Competition.

I am certainly open and receptive to what you have to say, but can you at least avoid dissing people who are experienced, competent musicians (like Kriesler and "all the college professors" out there)?

On a side note, I just got assigned the Pathetique. Will be interesting to see how it goes with the infamous tremolo's. It doesn't look that bad but I haven't played through it yet.

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#915665 - 02/21/08 07:04 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Piano-pianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 50
Loc: Rome, Italy
The most important and simple tip to play the left hand of the Pathetique is constantly paying attenction in relaxing the hand.
IMHO

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#915666 - 02/23/08 08:55 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
andanada233 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Rochester, MN
I suppose there is no ONE approach to these difficult notes, for every hand, every physiology is different. But a common complaint is losing the strength (and therefore the control) over the tremelo notes. Hence the need for what just about everybody refers to as rotation. For me, the greatest impediment has been tension in the thumb (which then gets transferred to tension elsewhere).

Some years ago I needed to wear one of those medical bracelets which has a message plate. I found I could move the message plate aroung my wrist by ROTATION only if my thumb were sufficiently relaxed. This sensation of flicking the wrist while keeping the thumb completely relaxed seemed to help me a great deal in grasping what I needed to perform this difficult passage at a satisfactory and satisfying level. Just a thought; hope it might help.

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#915667 - 02/26/08 11:42 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
How is this a difficult passage? There only ARE two notes repeated over and over again....only one octave apart!

Why is there a sticky threaded devoted to this?

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#915668 - 03/07/08 11:03 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
ChopinChamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 113
I play the Pathetique. Truly is a masterpiece, and it amazing how the left hand is so simple yet so challenging. Theres alot of thing you can do to improve the tremolos. Of course, first you want to have a comfortable posture, planted left foot, and make sure your shoulder isnt raised. It all starts with the shoulder. By raising it you lose the comfort of your forearm, wrist, and especially your hand. Try to keep the hand as still as possible. Dont raise your thumb and pinky more that you have to. Kind of juggle the keys, they dont have to all be played staccato. The worst part is when the the tremolos move up from C. This was where my hand got tight. Practice them slow, remember to keep your fingers lowered, of course use 4 on the black keys. I realized that working on pieces that stretch the left hand. Chopin's Op.9-1 Nocturnes middle section really helped me alot with the beethoven..
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#915669 - 03/07/08 11:07 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Secondo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 312
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Mr. Kitty said:

 Quote:
How is this a difficult passage? There only ARE two notes repeated over and over again....only one octave apart!

Why is there a sticky threaded devoted to this?
Mr. Kitty, you have me laughing!
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Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B

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#915670 - 03/08/08 01:19 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
computerpro3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 367
Loc: Connecticut/Cincinnati
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
How is this a difficult passage? There only ARE two notes repeated over and over again....only one octave apart!

Why is there a sticky threaded devoted to this? [/b]
After a week or so of working on this I tend to agree. I am having no troubles at all with the tremolo's; I am having a far harder time phrasing the next page the way I like it without making it overly romantic.

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#915671 - 03/11/08 10:42 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
How is this a difficult passage? There only ARE two notes repeated over and over again....only one octave apart!

Why is there a sticky threaded devoted to this? [/b]
I can't say I ever had much of a problem with this myself - but many people obviously do, and for that reason it's worth discussing, and worth having this stickied for easy reference isn't it? If we confine discussion to what you find difficult we might have nothing to talk about \:\) .

Only two notes repeated over and over. And Chopin's 3rds etude just has a whole lot of 3rds, really. But I for one find it pretty difficult \:\) .
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#915672 - 03/11/08 10:50 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
And the right hand opening of La Campanella only has 2 notes, but the bottom note moves around, so it's maybe a little bit harder than the LH of the Pathetique...

;\)
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#915673 - 03/23/08 04:23 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
pianokris Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/08
Posts: 12
Loc: Scandinavia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Try varying the height of your wrist and the height of the bench. Also, avoid extremes - your wrist should not be concave or overly convex (I prefer a slightly raised wrist.) Another interesting way to practice is to turn your bench and your body about 60 degrees to the right. This will keep your left elbow away from your body in a more natural position. Once you've got the hang of the passage in this position, it'll be easier to transfer that feeling to your regular position.[/b]
I will have to disagree with this. IMHO, a consistently low and muscular 'open' wrist is mandatory if you want to escape from this ordeal unscathed. It is necessary to maintain a certain balance in the arm while allowing a rotational movement to operate freely, but the wrist height is critical. You should adjust positions using the underarm - as steered all the way from the shoulder - not the wrist.

Really, the Pathetique left hand at speed is in the don't-try-this-at-home category, unless you have a competent teacher to instruct you and guide your movements. The internet is good for many things, but this isn't one of them.
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#915674 - 03/31/08 08:48 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Dan101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 45
Loc: Canada
You've gotten so much feedback so I'll make this short. Try playing your fifth finger on the low C while you repeatedly play the octave above with your thumb. Then do the reverse (all at a loud dynamic level). This will increase your strength.

However, in order to accomplish the tremolo in concert, you must have a rotation of the wrist (like opening a door knob). Lighten up on the dynamic of the previous exercise and try involving this movement in a secondary exercise.

Best of luck.
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You CAN learn to play the piano in a fun and positive way.

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#915675 - 04/10/08 03:37 AM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
rct203 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 20
Loc: FFLD County, CT
just hitting it from another angle here. these tremolos are a series of eighth notes. eight of them per measure. one and two and three and four and... counted like so. it is not a free for all in the left hand trying to get as many notes in as you can. the tremolos have a specific time value to them. this is something that less experienced pianists might not realize or ever had explained to them.

i think if most players saw the eight notes written out in the notation it might make the tremolos less mysterious. a helpful visual aid. it also helps you to sync the right hand to the left. now of course i know the tricky part is the fast tempo in this section of the piece (152-176 in my addition). it is not any easy piece, i am not suggesting that. especially without good technique. my point is that perhaps it would be helpful to some people to think of and visualize the tremolos as the eight notes that they are.

having said that, i have not played this piece yet, so i am not the expert on it. this is just an observation i though might be helpful to some who are having tremolo trouble. perhaps this is redundant but i haven't see it covered in this thread. all i know is that it helped me to look at the first movement in a different way.

i recently finished the second movement and i am working on the third now. after the third, with the blessing of my teacher i will begin the first. \:\)

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#915676 - 05/10/08 01:23 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
What serendipity! I'm trying to get Beethoven Ghost Trio up to snuff for next month and was despairing at the tremolos - particularly the ff chord ones - when I happened upon this thread. This is incredibly helpful - particularly the idea of dropping the wrist with each beat.

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#915677 - 05/11/08 04:15 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
And the right hand opening of La Campanella only has 2 notes, but the bottom note moves around, so it's maybe a little bit harder than the LH of the Pathetique...

;\) [/b]
I have been told that the hardest part is the 454 turns because they are the weak fingers.
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#915678 - 05/12/08 06:58 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
virtuoso_18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 81
Loc: Syria
 Quote:
Originally posted by dnephi:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
And the right hand opening of La Campanella only has 2 notes, but the bottom note moves around, so it's maybe a little bit harder than the LH of the Pathetique...

;\) [/b]
I have been told that the hardest part is the 454 turns because they are the weak fingers. [/b]
Yes, those cannot be played up to tempo unless the agility and strength of the weak fingers are incredible, not to mention endurance as the turns last for several measures. However, if your hand is large enough, they could be played 353 or 343 (the large hand is required to strike a note an octave away with every 3rd turn) which dramatically decreases the difficulty.
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#915679 - 06/11/08 10:44 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
john_v_r Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/31/08
Posts: 15
My approach is to make the RH so breathtakingly beautiful that no one notices any rhythmic slips in the LH. ;\)

Beethoven wasn't writing for such a heavy keyboard as the modern piano. Try this stuff on a fortepiano and you will be astonished at the difference in touch. So do your best. If you have stunningly accurate tremolos but pedestrian melodies, your listener will still be bored.

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#915680 - 07/12/08 02:59 PM Re: The Left Hand of the Pathetique
PeterB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/06
Posts: 1
Loc: East Sussex, England
Evening people. If anybody has any more advice to offer about this piece then I would be extremely interested to read what you have to say.

This tremolo has been causing me a lot of trouble lately. A few weeks ago my semi-regular teacher gave me some ideas about how to practise it which I shall quickly list here:

1 - Practise around four bars and then stop and do the same with the other hand. After a while like this look at something completely different and then revisit the tremolo. Also, vary the tempo at which you practise every so often to see how the technique your are using works at different speeds.

2 - Keep fingers one and five placed on the keys and "rotate" your wrist so that you aren't so much pressing the keys with your fingers but are moving your wrist/arms to allow your fingers contact with the keys. "Feel like you are using the movement of all your lower arm" was the vague jist of what I was told, but it's been a couple of weeks and I honestly can't remember word for word what I was told.

Other advice which I have found helpful from reading online has been in agreeance with Kreisler's extremely useful posts; practising in triplets, etc. I've also read somewhere that fingers 2,3 and 4 should be rested on the keyboard whilst playing the tremolo, while other sources state that keeping these fingers raises or having them move with your wrist rotation is acceptable. Any thoughts?

Now, I actually have been 'tremolo-ing' quite well sometimes (and have recently been able to play about 72 repetitions of the octave - the length of the RH tremolo in this piece - at a very fast tempo with no pain) but at other times my tremolo is not nearly as good and I will either experience pain while playing or my tempo/tone will have worsened. I think this is possibly because I keep experimenting with ways to tremolo and am actually practising over methods that are working for me in the hope of discovering a better technique. But I don't know.

All of that being said, I feel my main problem now is one that has not yet been touched upon in this thread; jumping between one octave to another (eg. Bb-Bb/A-A in the R.H) or, more notably, from Ab down to D in the L.H. When I play the actual tremolos with the change of notes, I find I cannot tremolo nearly as well as when I simply tremolo on any arbitrary octave with no movements. I believe I may be tensing unnecessarily when moving hand positions but I could not be certain. Any discussion on this point would also would be interesting to read.

I'll stop my ranting now and just say finally that if anybody has anything to say at all regarding this tremolo, whether in reply to my post or not, I look forward to reading your posts.

Thanks guys. \:\)

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