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#931473 - 03/03/08 07:03 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, sorry to delay my response; I've been up in Seattle all day.

There's something weird about the quote. That second part I didn't say!

Anyway, yes, I often practice 7 notes per click of the metronome. It's just that when the metronome is going so fast, I sometimes get off beat and don't recognize it.

With one octave per beat, you've reached the top of the scale on the 5th click, (4 octave scale); on the 9th click, you've finished. So if you want to play a scale at 208, set your metronome to 120, and let your fingers rip!
_________________________
"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
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#931474 - 03/03/08 07:09 PM Re: Velocity
keystring Online   content
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Link to the article on scales, use of the thumb, issue of (not) twisting hand including some small files, in case it is pertinent or helpful. Link

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#931475 - 03/04/08 03:33 PM Re: Velocity
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Velocity is slowing us down!

Think faster and the fingers will move!

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#931476 - 03/04/08 04:49 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi Betty - oh, I can play fast all right. I am just looking for effective tricks to help my students pick up tempi.
_________________________
"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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#931477 - 03/04/08 08:53 PM Re: Velocity
Luthrin Offline
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Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 53
Loc: UK
Thanks for a very interesting thread, and I hope it's not considered too off topic if I ask a related question which was prompted by John's comments:

Does a grading of a piece mean that the player should be able to play it comfortably at the recommended tempo?

The reason I ask is that one piece I've always enjoyed warming up with is a study in C by Heller, Opus 46 No. 1. I believe this piece is considered ABRSM grade 5 standard. On my sheet music this is marked 'Allegro assai' with a quarter beat at 152, and I currently find it impossible to play it at this speed. I can play it cleanly at 112, pretty well at 120, but around 128 it begins to get sloppy and I start missing notes. It's not scales, but it's primarily sixteenth note runs up and down (alternating hands).

I currently haven't got a piano teacher (I'm about to restart lessons) and I have no way to assess my ability, but one of my ambitions is to play this piece at 152 and reach what might be considered intermediate standard. However, based on the tempi discussed on this thread I now wonder if grade 5 students would be more challenged by the Heller at full speed than I previously thought.

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#931478 - 03/04/08 09:30 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
That's a fun etude. My Peters Edition, #3562, edited by Ruthardt, suggests mm = 126. If you can play that cleanly, you're doing well indeed!

By the way, rotate or rock your wrists, if you are not doing so now, and it will help you with those figures. Also, practice it very slowly, and see which way you can roll your wrists to manage good tone, and then as you speed back up, make the motions smaller, but still keep them, and it should really help.

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#931479 - 03/05/08 01:32 AM Re: Velocity
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CSharpCoder:


The reason I ask is that one piece I've always enjoyed warming up with is a study in C by Heller, Opus 46 No. 1. I believe this piece is considered ABRSM grade 5 standard. On my sheet music this is marked 'Allegro assai' with a quarter beat at 152, and I currently find it impossible to play it at this speed. [/b]
If you were taking the exam the only thing that would matter is whether you met the composer's intentions. If it feels 'quite fast' (allegro assai) you've achieved the correct tempo.

Heller is a fantastic composer.
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#931480 - 03/05/08 04:14 AM Re: Velocity
Luthrin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 53
Loc: UK
Thanks for the replies John and kk - very helpful.

I have the Augener's Edition #6188 (H. Scholtz).

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#931481 - 03/05/08 02:58 PM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
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Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
I used to struggle to play even scales in 16th notes at quarter-note=120.

I went to a different teacher and he taught me that velocity, accuracy, ease, and relaxation are actually by-products of correct posture and technique and not goals in themselves.

Now I can play even scales in 32nd notes at quarter-note=120.

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#931482 - 03/05/08 03:40 PM Re: Velocity
Ted2 Offline
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Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
A superb trick to develop velocity in any passage at all, not just scales, was given to us by Brendan a few years ago. It can be applied to any difficult playing involving continuous similar movements. Instead of playing the whole thing slowly and carefully and gradually speeding it up, break the passage into any convenient small bits - bits which, in isolation, can be played without tension - and play the bits separated but up to speed. Often the "bits" might coincide with hand grips or positions but not necessarily. Then over time, usually a surprisingly short time, eliminate the "microsleeps" and join everything together.

I doubted this would work at first but having used it for a few years I know it does work. I don't know why it works. It also has unexpected and widespread implications in improvisation, but these are not pertinent to the present thread.
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#931483 - 03/05/08 04:00 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks, Ted. Can you recall what the original topic was about? When I searched on velocity, I didn't find much.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#931484 - 03/05/08 04:16 PM Re: Velocity
Ted2 Offline
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Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Gosh, that was a long time ago. It would be well into the archives by now. The thread topic wasn't to do with velocity as such. I recall some talk about its application to double notes, Chopin 25/6 and the like. There isn't much more to it than what I said. It's very simple and very general. Brendan didn't actually invent it; it has been a common method for many years. It just isn't talked about very often for some unfathomable reason. In any case, I'm only an amateur who hasn't had lessons for years. I'm sure Brendan will explain it much better if you ask him.
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#931485 - 03/05/08 07:37 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks, Ted2. Appreciate the reference.

When I have some time, after returning from the Musikmesse in Germany, which makes me salivate every time I think about being there next week, I'll dig in and see if I can find it.
_________________________
"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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#931486 - 03/05/08 11:39 PM Re: Velocity
Keith W Offline
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Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 131
Loc: MD
This idea of taking small bits and working at them (and specifically, the hardest bits, when there is variation) is amost central in Chang's Fundamentals book (free online). In my (limited) experience, it appears that if I try working on more than a measure or two at a time, my ability to improve declines quickly. It appears much more efficient to work out the pieces and then string them together. I haven't tried that for scales much, but it might be helpful...

The other thing Chang harps on repeatedly, is to work HS until you are up to/beyond speed, and THEN work HT. And/or, return to HS any time you want to really work at your technique/velocity. I can imagine that applying to scales also.

Keith
_________________________
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#931487 - 03/05/08 11:44 PM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
See that's the thing-
Velocity is not something you work at. It's something that comes automatically with proper training and physicality.

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#931488 - 03/06/08 10:07 AM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Mr_Kitty - If you are playing scales at mm = 240, that must be close to a world's record! That's an impressive 16 notes each second. I wonder if anyone or any institution has kept accurately measured records on ultra-velocity performance.
_________________________
"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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#931489 - 03/06/08 10:18 AM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
It's not a world record, John.
It's a level any pianist in any Russian conservatory reaches.
It's a level any of you could reach too if you did the right stuff.

Here's a video of mine. It's rather speedy I guess...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7HFR5D70oyw

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#931490 - 03/06/08 10:22 AM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
That's a nice tempo, mm = 92. A lot of performers go a bit faster, mm= 104. But you were talking about twice that speed!
_________________________
"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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#931491 - 03/06/08 10:29 AM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
For scales...
Personally I wouldn't want that Etude to be any faster. People already complain it's too fast and lacks musicality.

I don't practice scales regularly. I practiced alot of scales one summer a couple of years back. But that isn't what got them to be so speedy.
As my technique advances, I become closer and closer to the key surface at all times.
The closer I get to the key surface, the faster and more even everything becomes.

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#931492 - 03/06/08 11:12 AM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, my question was, does anyone have any tips for helping students improve velocity past what seems to be a natural barrier, mm = 120 or so. I hope no one read into that question that I don't play scales any faster than that! Please!

When you sugested you could play them at mm = 240, I was rather astounded. mm = 208 is about the upper limit I have heard from colleagues and artists. This is not to say they cannot play them faster, I just haven't heard it played faster. But then again, this isn't what I'm normally looking for when listening to an artist practice, either.

But again, I reiterate, this is not what I am looking for in my question.

And thank you to all who have posted ideas, suggestions and reference materials. They have been helpful.

John
_________________________
"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
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#931493 - 03/06/08 11:32 AM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
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Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
You have to isolate the problem.
If people cannot get their scales beyond mm-120, the problem lies in their thumb tuck-unders and finger 3 and 4 turn-overs.
Let us take C+. The most difficult scale by far to play quickly and evenly.
Going up in the RH, your student is probably using their 3rd finger on E as a pivot to get their hand from the first position to the next position. Coming down in the RH, he/she is probably doing the same thing using the thumb. They are pivoting the weight of their hand and/or arm on that tiny little thumb or 3rd finger.
This pivot motion is very large, clumsy, and inefficient.

This "technique" simply will not work at high speed. The results will most likely be uneven at the relatively slow tempo of 120.
Do you follow me here, John?

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#931494 - 03/06/08 12:03 PM Re: Velocity
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I'm not familiar with the term C+. Is that C or C#? C#/Db is one of the 3 easy scales. C and Bb are the two most difficult, with F being close behind. In C#/Db, the 3rd finger is on Eb

I do not teach "pivot" motions, rather wrist leading (pointing in direction of travel), with a wrist drop on the thumb when it's called for.
_________________________
"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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#931495 - 03/06/08 12:09 PM Re: Velocity
ocd Offline
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Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 201
Loc: North East
Mr. Kitty,

What would you suggest instead of pivoting?

oce
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#931496 - 03/06/08 12:15 PM Re: Velocity
keystring Online   content
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Loc: Canada
Mr. Kitty, have you looked at the book by Cooke that was under discussion? Do the kinds of things he proposes, especially as preliminary exercises, address what you are talking about? C+ is short form for C major, correct? In the RCM book we have a choice of C+, C maj, or "C major" as terms. I have never seen is written as C+ outside of RCM, however.

The question I ended up asking myself is whether the hand pivots around the thumb, or the thumb pivots under the hand. Which moves, so to say?

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#931497 - 03/06/08 12:40 PM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
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Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
By C+ I meant the C major scale.
What you describe as a wrist drop is exactly what I'm talking about avoiding.
The wrist doesn't lead. The fingertip must lead.

Keystring- pivot and scale do not belong in the same sentence.

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#931498 - 03/06/08 01:29 PM Re: Velocity
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
There is no pivot in the sense that you're going to be turning somewhere. The arm must push in the direction of the scale, the body needs to lean in the same direction, and the wrist should be held slightly high so that the fingers play right on the tip. The area on the thumb where you play is minimized this way.

How can we explain this without showing it? Mr. Kitty, maybe you should make a video.
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#931499 - 03/06/08 01:43 PM Re: Velocity
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11663
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Keystring- pivot and scale do not belong in the same sentence.
I am sure I have seen it in the same sentence. I would not think so either. Well, in fact, I have seen it in demos - something I don't follow anyway: you don't know enough about the demonstrator.

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#931500 - 03/06/08 01:54 PM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Minaku
the wrist does not need to be held slightly high in order for the fingers to play right on the tip.
The arm should never push in a scale. If the arm pushes, the fingers may not be able to keep up, resulting in an uneven and slow scale.

In playing scales, the fingers and thumb do all of the work. ALL OF THE WORK.
The arm glides gently along while the fingers lead.

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#931501 - 03/06/08 02:43 PM Re: Velocity
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
In my experience, Mr. Kitty, it's much easier to get a larger-mass object, like my body or arm, direct the flow of energy than have my fingers crawl ahead like so many insect legs. Rather, I'd save my energy and take my body in the direction the scale is going. If it's a scale in one hand, then my arm is going to be going in that direction.

When I'm doing a scale in this fashion it really is the movement and the intention of the body that shapes the speed and the energy within the scale. I can't imagine having my hand lead my arm around the keyboard. It has to be the other way around. At any rate, I call the movement of the fingers in a scale like this "incidental" - that is, you're moving your arm in such a fashion that your finger is at the right place at the right time with a minimum of extension and effort. The fingers just focus on getting on and off those notes, and the arm carries the fingers where they need to go.
_________________________
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New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#931502 - 03/06/08 02:57 PM Re: Velocity
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
The fingers never ever crawl ahead. When I play my knuckle bridge is always in a perfectly straight line with my elboy. I never bend my hand to one side or the other (sort of like waving goodbye). The fingers are never "ahead" or the hand or the arm.
The fingertip always leads, but not by any number of millimetres of sideways motion. The arm, and and wrist go with the fingertip always. It's all very difficult to explain in words.
What I'm trying to describe to you seems exactly like what you call "incidental" movement of the fingers.
The fingers focus on getting to the notes and the arm carries the fingers where they need to go.
I don't think of that as the arm leading the fingers. I see it as being the other way around. But the fingers are never out-of-line with the rest wrist and arm.
Do you get what I'm trying to say? I know I'm not expressing myself very clearly.
My apologies.
Words are so clumsy sometimes.

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