Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto?

Posted by: nleric

Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/11/12 09:31 AM

Hi,
as part of grade 5, I have to C Major in thirds, beginning on notes C and E, using second and fourth fingers, hands seperately only, any advise on how best to relax the arm etc?
Thanks,
Noel
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/11/12 03:07 PM

Don't think of it as your wrist flexing.. if you do, you may actually isolate and tense your forearm in order to actively move your wrist. It's a joint.. it will move on its own as the fulcrum in your arm rotates. Up with momentum, down with gravity. For starters, just focus on your two fingers hitting the notes. If you're completely relaxed and playing this moderately loud, you will feel it reverb all the way up to your shoulder. (That's not to say you'll feel the shock of impact. What I mean is that your entire arm will move.)
Posted by: nleric

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/11/12 04:47 PM

That is exactly what was happening to me , thanks for the advise
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/11/12 07:54 PM

Derulux -- would you give this same advice for practicing staccato octaves?
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/13/12 01:09 AM

Absolutely. When your arm tenses during octaves, there are really only three major culprits:

1. A "too active" wrist, meaning you're isolating and trying to play octaves by literally lifting your wrist(hand) up and down for each octave.

2. A "non-active" wrist, meaning you're isolating and trying to play octaves with just forearm pounding strength (your wrist doesn't move at all).

3. A "finger stretch" issue, where you're firming up your hand too tightly to maintain the "stretch" between your fingers in order to pay the octaves. You're trying to "freeze" the position in your hand, instead of trusting it to hit the octave span.

All three of these are tension issues. All three create fatigue, and all three slow you down. Tension stops you from playing appropriate dynamics and appropriate durations of notes/passages. If you know what the passage needs to do, and can't get it there, start with tension issues.. which means, start with how your hand/arm is moving to and from each of the notes, because that ultimately determines how you play and release that particular note/series of notes.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/13/12 11:51 AM

Oh goody, I do all three of those things grin.

When I play fast octaves (say a detached octave scale), my natural tendency is to play with very small forearm movements, and my wrist completely seizes up.

Then when my teacher points out the stiff wrist, I concentrate too much on moving from the wrist, which creates a stiff forearm. I can't win!

And I definitely have the third issue as well. This one may be partly because I just haven't played a lot of rep with octaves, so there's still some uncertainty. I feel like this issue will be the easiest one for me to overcome.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/13/12 12:12 PM

Yeah, it's definitely a unique problem to overcome. I've found that quite a few pianists fall into one of two categories: fast fingers or fast octaves, but almost never both. Not sure if it's because of the way they develop technique or what, but it certainly seems to be an interesting study.

I learned a lot of ragtime, particularly Scott Joplin, early on in my piano playing career, and I developed a real knack for the stride bass. So, octaves and leaps come very naturally and easily for me. But as you know, I didn't spend any time on Bach, and hardly any on Handel, Mozart or any other classical composer until very recently. So, the fingers suffered for many years.

When we talked about Rachmaninoff, I had a feeling at least one of them was the case, and was leaning towards #3. It seems to be very common, especially for pianists who aren't sure of octaves. I see it all the time when I watch people play. One way to start combatting it would be to play octave scales (or anything with octaves), and inbetween every octave, completely relax your hand. Will be slow practice for a while, but your hand will learn what it's supposed to do pretty quickly. smile
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Any advise on how to best practise wrist stacatto? - 10/13/12 05:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

One way to start combatting it would be to play octave scales (or anything with octaves), and inbetween every octave, completely relax your hand. Will be slow practice for a while, but your hand will learn what it's supposed to do pretty quickly. smile


Thanks, I'll give that a try.