Stride: Left Hand Technique

Posted by: TromboneAl

Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/29/13 10:43 AM

I'm getting some conflicting advice on the LH movements in stride.

One recommendation is that I "bounce" the hand between the low note and the chord. The hand is nice and relaxed, flies up in an arc, and comes down on the chord.

Another recommendation is the "hurry up and wait" approach, in which you move your hand quickly to the next chord or note, and then play it at the proper time:



Any thoughts on this?
Posted by: Whizbang

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/29/13 11:22 AM

Hurry up and wait can lead to a clipped sound and staccato feel if you aren't careful with pedaling. But I recall doing more of that style several years ago and while it may have helped me learn the appropriate distances, I'm doing less of it.

Right now, I'm more gently moving between boom and chuck. I'm not doing a large arc, though. The travel is rather lateral right now, gently arced.
Posted by: Mark Polishook

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/29/13 03:56 PM

TromboneAl,

Avoid BOTH of those approaches. I can explain why if you'd like but, really, better to just focus on a good way to do it. So what you do want is to be relaxed. Absolutely relaxed. Drop your hand into the bottom note of the stride figure. Then with your hand still in contact with the keyboard glide up to the chord you're gonna play next. Don't get to that chord too early! Don't get to it too late! Get to it right on time and that way you're helping your body to feel the rhythm. And do all of this with absolute relaxation.

Practice really slowly and no faster than you can do it in a relaxed state. They're are also a million easy ways to play stride figures. Knowing some of the easy figure will help you with the harder ones.
Posted by: Ted

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/30/13 07:55 AM

I have noticed that too. Trouble is, very good players offer contradictory advice. Some say form a high arc, others say keep close to the keys. I can only suppose that good results can be obtained by different physical means, as in classical music. Therefore it boils down to finding what is best for you. I've tried all sorts over the years and the best for me is a moderate arc, with both bottom and top detached and clear, usually with the top chord played somewhat more lightly than the bottom octave (note, tenth).

My main reason is that I find any other technique too tiring and liable to produce tension and thumping, which I have grown to dislike. Stephanie Trick has the sort of technique I like best - agile, light, rhythmically expressive, not a trace of belting.

Trick

I find I cannot possibly play all that fast thick stuff, tenths and so on in Waller transcriptions, or even ragtime like James Scott or David Roberts for that matter, if I don't play lightly and detached. Might just be getting old of course.
Posted by: Hidden son of Teddy Wilson

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/30/13 11:09 AM

The high arc is good for practicing slowly. That gets you used to hitting the chord every time. But when you're actually playing, you don't do it any more.

And that "hurry and wait" technique, might work on a slow tempo in that Satie piece, but for medium or fast stride I'm not convinced. (I wouldn't even do it on a slow tempo). And, important: no pedal!!
Posted by: jotur

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 04/30/13 11:24 AM

I don't know how I actually play them in real time, but the "hurry up and wait" in practice made a huge difference in my accuracy. And from what I can tell I have a very low arc. I have small hands (it took a couple of years before even octaves were comfortable) so I have to move a little faster - especially between black and white keys - than someone with larger hands does.

But the h&w was vital to me for accuracy when I first started practicing.

Cathy
Posted by: Whizbang

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 05/02/13 12:30 AM

Originally Posted By: jotur
I don't know how I actually play them in real time, but the "hurry up and wait" in practice made a huge difference in my accuracy.


Hi Cathy,

From where I am right now... not super far... I would say that "hurry up and wait" is a good way to start to get it. If one does that, then make sure you are using pedal well to keep things from being clipped. (I will still clip my chucks.)

I -think- that hurry up and wait a good learning technique. Both the techniques that OP mentions seem to me to be ways to start to crack the problem but aren't necessarily where one's technique ultimately lands.

Right now, where I am, is sort of a waving movement, not always accurate, between boom and chuck, and it doesn't seem so frantic and hurried as it used to feel. But I'm also in a phase where I'm feeling the need to play rags fairly downtempo... at least the current rags I'm working on.

It's strange--it's like you start to feel like you have much more time to do that bass the more you do that bass.
Posted by: Ted

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 05/05/13 07:13 AM

I was playing a few Scott rags just now and I realised the possibly important fact that my downward arcs were much higher than my upward ones. I honestly hadn't noticed that before. It is almost as if the path is the outline of a fattish banana, or a squashed ellipse; relatively close to the keys going up but arced jumping down. Not that I have ever been uncomfortable with these movements, but I wonder if advantage accrues by feeling each physical pair as starting with the top chord rather than the seemingly obvious other way around.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 05/06/13 04:47 PM

Pedal every beat then it's not so old fashioned and "boom chuck" sounding.
Posted by: Rollin shoulders

Re: Stride: Left Hand Technique - 05/07/13 09:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Hidden son of Teddy Wilson
And, important: no pedal!!


I like your username! alot actually. haha

and I heard this too, from a book by Ari Kast called "Stride Piano Tricks"