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#1058470 - 02/04/08 05:55 PM Independant right/left hand
peny Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Ottawa
I am amazed to see how the the piano players can play wiht the right and left hand independantly.
I try to do it and the right hand always tries to follow the left hand. It looks such a hard task.
Are there any specific exercises to develop this independant motion.?
Thanks

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#1058471 - 02/04/08 06:11 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
YD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 590
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Welcome to the forum, peny!

It'll just come to you. Of course, there are plenty of material for hand independence development, such as (progressively harder) Bach's inventions, Brahms 51 exercises, some Chopin Etudes (e.g. Trois Nouvelles #1), easier Liszt pieces (Consolation #3), etc; I am sure other suggestions will follow.
At what level are you? That would help narrow suggestions.
_________________________
Yuri
FWIW; YMMV

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#1058472 - 02/04/08 06:27 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
peny Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Ottawa
I am at the lower end of the rung ( beginner) .But would like to include such exercises early on even if at basic level. I am learning to play on my own with books and forums such as this one. Thanks!

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#1058473 - 02/04/08 06:38 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4373
Loc: Jersey Shore
It is/was my biggest obstacle in playing, but with constant practice to my amazement it finally started to work...just practice...

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#1058474 - 02/04/08 07:39 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
mom3gram Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 1131
Loc: New Jersey
I'm just on beginner stuff, and there isn't a whole lot of HT in the music I'm playing. Usually it's just one note, or one combination of notes with the left hand in a measure. I find myself having to stop and think where my right finger and where my left finger have to go, and then I can go on normally with the rest of the measure. I'm hoping that eventually I will either remember where to put my fingers or be able to recognize the notes quicker or both. It's good to hear that it was difficult for most of you, and that practice made it all come together.
_________________________
mom3gram

ALFRED'S ADULT BOOK 1 GRADUATE


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#1058475 - 02/04/08 08:56 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
apollo33 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 25
Loc: US, PA
I was going to start my own thread about this but maybe I can just add my question onto here.

I'm also a beginner and also have a lot of trouble with "hand independence". My question for more experienced pianists is whether this is only accomplished by "brain independence". By that I mean, devoting half of your attention to each of the 'continuous melodies' that the two hands are playing, as opposed to devoting your whole attention to how the two hands are interacting with each other.

For example, if the left hand plays C-D-E and the right plays E-D-C with the same rhythm, the 'brain independent' method would think of the hands playing each of their parts separately, and any coincidental notes would be just that--coincidence. Whereas the other method would think, "now my left pinky and right middle fingers are playing C and E together, then D and D, then E and C together."

Does that distinction make sense? And if so, is 'brain independence' the only way to be good?

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#1058476 - 02/04/08 09:40 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
AnthonyB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/28/07
Posts: 659
Loc: Center City, MN
peny:

I would suggest checking out these early exercises from the file link for exercises I posted in this thread:
Sydney Smith Method Thread

You might also want the original source of the book listed in the first message of the thread.

The benefit here is all of the exercises I've transcribed over with modern fingering also have midi files that you should be able to play on your computer to hear what they should sound like. To me hearing all the notes playing together is a big step in getting them ready to attempt HT. \:\)

I'm a beginner myself and I typed in those exercises before I got my Alfred Adult Book 1.
_________________________
Roland FP-7 / Pianoteq 4.5.1


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#1058477 - 02/04/08 10:03 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
The best suggestion that I can give for hand independence is to just be patient.

IMO we all go through stages. First we need to focus on each individual finger playing the correct note. Then we focus on each hand playing its own part. Eventually, it will just be you playing the piano and both hands work together as one. Sometimes a piece may even go through the same progression, but it does happen.

In this respect, brain independence is not what I consider the final goal, as much as integration of your brain and both hands.

Be patient, don't rush, don't worry about trying to force it. It will come together. I agree that Bach is especially good for developing this, but the Inventions are not beginner pieces. When you have been through a level or two of a method book, start trying some of the pieces from the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook, then some of the little preludes before jumping into the Bach Inventions.

Rich
_________________________

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#1058478 - 02/04/08 10:14 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
lizzy's dad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Suburb of Seattle
Be patient.

There are no real secrets to hand independence. It takes time and practice. Find a book with phased exercises, like Alfred's, and stick with it.

You'll get it. Hang in there.

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#1058479 - 02/05/08 06:54 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by apollo33:
I was going to start my own thread about this but maybe I can just add my question onto here.

I'm also a beginner and also have a lot of trouble with "hand independence". My question for more experienced pianists is whether this is only accomplished by "brain independence". By that I mean, devoting half of your attention to each of the 'continuous melodies' that the two hands are playing, as opposed to devoting your whole attention to how the two hands are interacting with each other.

For example, if the left hand plays C-D-E and the right plays E-D-C with the same rhythm, the 'brain independent' method would think of the hands playing each of their parts separately, and any coincidental notes would be just that--coincidence. Whereas the other method would think, "now my left pinky and right middle fingers are playing C and E together, then D and D, then E and C together."

Does that distinction make sense? And if so, is 'brain independence' the only way to be good? [/b]
What an interesting question. I am a beginner as well, and I have my answer, but I am really interested in what more experienced players have to say.

For me, in any case, it's all patterns. I don't have any conscious thoughts about which notes are which, and probably could not tell you what note/notes I was playing without looking.

In fact, if I do think about it, then I freeze as I lose muscle memory and my hands just sit there waiting for instructions that never come.

Even when sightreading (such as it is for me), I try and not think, just do it. Quickly recognize the intervals and play it without thought.

So, for me, at least, the goal is to "get the brain out of the way" so I can start to play the patterns/intervals at speed. I know, the brain is working in the background, on automatic, monitoring all the time, and never stops, and is in full subconscious control, but if I drive the thoughts and take control, then it's freeze time.

So, my answer, if it's not too late, is neither. Hand independence is independence from me, not my brain.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1058480 - 02/05/08 11:31 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
This is an interesting question and not one I have thought about for a long time.

I am an advanced player. It is difficult to analyze what is going on in my head when I read a piece of music, but I don't think that I consciously differentiate between the left hand and the right hand. This may sound odd but it seems to me to be the case.

I do not think of the bass stave and the treble stave as two different "areas" but as simply notes ascending from middle C in the treble and notes descending from middle C in the base.

I look at intervals to determine what the notes are and I automatically allocate fingers to those notes without much thought of what the left hand or right hand is doing. In a way I think that is the key. I just read the music and do not focus consciously at all on what each hand is doing.

Very rarely do I practice hands separately, unless I am trying out different fingering variations for something complex to achieve. I think that is because I see the music as a cohesive whole rather than two jobs for different hands. I suspect I am a ten fingers visualiser rather than a two hands visualiser.

I have actually tried sitting at the piano just now to see what I do and am still none the wiser really!

I suspect that after a while hand independence simply becomes automatic.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1058481 - 02/05/08 11:59 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
uncle mark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/07
Posts: 29
Loc: Lexington, Ky
 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:

I do not think of the bass stave and the treble stave as two different "areas" but as simply notes ascending from middle C in the treble and notes descending from middle C in the base...

..I suspect I am a ten fingers visualiser rather than a two hands visualiser.

[/b]
Why haven't I thought of it that way? I am also struggling with getting both hands to work independentley and it has been driving me crazy. \:\( I can't seem to get past it, getting both hands to 'do thier own thing'.

I am going to try thinking in this way during my next practices. I am sure it will take time to achieve, but at least it gives me a new direction.

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#1058482 - 02/05/08 12:16 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
it's going to take time to get your brain thinking about doing 2 things (on 2 hands) at the same time. it's not about total independent of LH and RH, rather a coordination skill.

when i first started learning by myself, i did a lot of 2 hands exercises, such as one hand playing 8th notes, and the other playing 16th, and later switch hands doing the same. you can make a lot of exercises based on such principle: let each hand playing something different and then same and then different/switch and then same... it will eventually make your brain get used to do the different things on both hands at the same time.

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#1058483 - 02/05/08 01:40 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
If you want to do some simple had independence exercises, one very basic one is to play contrary motion scales over one or two octaves. For example, start at middle C with both thumbs and go up with the right and down with the left hand.

This can be done in all keys if you like.

Then you can play arpeggios with one hand whilst playing the scale with the other.

The only reason that I recommend you try this kind of thing, is that the patterns are repetitive and so require little brain power. You will soon find that you "switch off" and find your hands doing different things quite happily.

I think it is helpful that the two hands play different notes - not just different rhythms.

There are many more advanced exercises, but all you guys here seem to need is confidence that you can quickly get your hands to work independently of each other.

Good luck

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1058484 - 02/05/08 03:29 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4373
Loc: Jersey Shore
Personally I think practice rewires your brain to give you hand independence...

It would be cool if a neuro scientist could do scans on a beginner to see how this happens over time...

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#1058485 - 02/05/08 03:47 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
There's a trick to train hands independence.

Play your right hand melody and add just the first note of the left hand without letting the left hand stop the right hand from playing the whole melody.

Repeat but this time play two notes on the left hand again without letting them disrupt the right hand flow.

Repeat and this time play three notes.
And so on till you have played all the corresponding left hand.

Then just play the left hand accompainment and without disruptings the left hand flow just play the first note of the right hand melody.

Repeat and this time play two notes of the right hand without disrupting the flow.

And so on till you have played all the corresponding right hand.

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#1058486 - 02/06/08 11:44 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
YD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 590
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
One of the more prominent pedagogs (Sandor IIRD, or was it Fink?) strongly stated that there is no such thing as "independence." I believe he meant finger independence, not left/right hand), but the same argument can be implied to hands. Instead what you are achieving is hand/finger dependence on higher level. Indeed, if it was "independence" we tried to achieve, we would have horrible time trying to then synchronize the hands. This argument suggest that one way to achieve this higher level of finger/hand synchrony is to do a very traditional "slow counting" practice, especially with pieces that have melodic lines in both hands with varying rhythmic patterns. At early level one of the best material for this type of practice is Bach's 2-part inventions (BWV772,773 etc). They are pretty easy to play, and are rewarding musically. Play them very slowly counting all the 8ths (1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&), or even 16ths (1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a-3-e-&-a-4-e-&-a). That'll get you started on the right path \:\)
_________________________
Yuri
FWIW; YMMV

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#1058487 - 02/06/08 11:58 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
Stacey E Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 81
Loc: Chicagoland Area
This is an interesting thread, I've never really thought about how both hands are playing different stuff at the same time. I started lessons as a child and so it just seems pretty natural.

I also wonder what specifically happens in the brain from a beginner's perspective and then an advanced player - be a cool medical study on brain functioning.

I think it's a matter of time - like when you ride a bike and your body is balancing, your feet are pedaling and your hands are steering - it was really hard at first, but eventually becomes natural. We've all seen kids weaving all over the place trying to do all three at the same time, and then crash into something, but then a few weeks later are zipping around the neighborhood. Simplified, I know, but still maybe kind of the same idea.

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#1058488 - 02/06/08 12:21 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by apollo33:
I was going to start my own thread about this but maybe I can just add my question onto here.

I'm also a beginner and also have a lot of trouble with "hand independence". My question for more experienced pianists is whether this is only accomplished by "brain independence". By that I mean, devoting half of your attention to each of the 'continuous melodies' that the two hands are playing, as opposed to devoting your whole attention to how the two hands are interacting with each other.[/b]
When you're a beginner, it's easy to think about the problem as hand independence when you first start playing pieces with different themes or different rhythmic movement between the two hands. But this is really only a simple case of the more general problems of "layers" in a piece.

For example, in three, four, or five-part counterpoint each hand is responsible for multiple independent themes (or sometimes one of the themes is passed back and forth between the two hands). It is also common to have to play an accompaniment and a melody in the same hand.

I'm with AJB in that it's hard for me to know what my brain is doing when I play, but in general I think the most important thing is to be able to hear in your head the sound you want to create: the rhythmic and dynamic balance between all the lines of the music so that, for example, if you need the melody to really sing out over some accompaniment, you hear that in your head first and then your subconscious directs your hands according to which fingers are responsible.

In other words, eventually you can't think about hands or fingers; you have to think about the music itself, its structure and how you want the elements of the piece to fit together to make the total sound you hear in your head.

Sorry if this is really vague, but it's interesting to think about sometimes.
_________________________
Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718

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#1058489 - 02/06/08 02:17 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
For developing hand movement coordination:
do percussion type of exercises with whole hand, not the individual fingers and keyboard notes in the music. Just the Left Hand, Right Hand, Hands Together which are the three basic choices.
Read a piece of music slowly enough so that the rhythm comes into play in your in your drumming hands. (TA's - Quarter notes - eyes moving forward on the beat) It helps to say "T" "L" "R" as you play through to "demand" an impulse response from your brain to hand. Make sure you are responding accurately.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
T L R L R T LR L T - - -(for example)

When you have the hands drumming through a small section accurately, put hands on the keyboard and play what you previewed.

(You might need to have prepared each hand separately in order to keep a steady beat with 2 hands.)

Work with lots of examples and you will be more secure with coordination.

Hope this helps those willing to try it.

Betty

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#1058490 - 02/06/08 03:33 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Gilbert Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 442
Loc: Ireland
 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:


when I read a piece of music, but I don't think that I consciously differentiate between the left hand and the right hand.

I do not think of the bass stave and the treble stave as two different "areas" but as simply notes ascending from middle C in the treble and notes descending from middle C in the base.
[/b]
This is one of the most interesting viewpoints on playing the piano that I read on these forums since I joined. I suspect that if you treat the treble and bass clef as two seperate entities then you are in fact asking the hands to do two diffeent things.
_________________________
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail!"

Piano: Roland FP-7

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#1058491 - 02/06/08 04:49 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
David C Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/07
Posts: 7
Loc: UK
I can't help but think working on what the left hand plays, what the right hand plays, then counting as well is creating a lot of work for the brain. Instead, I work in "time slices", ie. on this beat, these notes play, on the next these play, etc etc. In this way I only have to remember the notes that play for each moment in time. I've then found that, for a given section in a piece, one hand will begin to lead the other (like a dance). It tends to be the hand that has the most regular underlying rhythm, which then starts to take away the burden of counting at all. Only when my hands know the notes without thinking am I able to focus on playing musically.

For the more difficult parts, I knock out the extra "frills", get the basic melody and accompaniment secured in my mind, then fill the rest in. All the above may not be the best way to learn in the long term, but it has given me some fairly good (almost passable) results pretty quickly.

The only other thing I do is practice scales, especially parallel motion, as different fingers play at different times.

Dave

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#1058492 - 02/06/08 07:06 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
Dave_E Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 82
Loc: Stanwood, WA
Hi All,

I just posted the same question last month. I like all the "be patient" responses. After 1 month of very religeous playing (1-1.5 hrs a day, my left hand and right hand are starting to do what they're supposed to without trying to follow each other. Didn't try any tricks like adding 1 left hand note at a time or anything like that, just read the music.

Now that being said, I can stumble through any of the pieces in Alfred's book 1. The trick is getting them to flow along without "thinking" breaks in the timing. I suspect this to will come with perserverience and time.

Dave

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#1058493 - 02/06/08 11:29 PM Re: Independant right/left hand
hotkeys Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 788
Loc: Massapequa, NY
Welcome to the forums, Peny.

I have used a combination of methods including the Alfred books and Scott Houston's "Play piano in a flash". I also go online to "musictheory.net" to learn chords, notes and other music theory so I do not have to concern myself about these issues as I practice. Try various different methods and select the method that gives you the most benefit. Best wishes and hang in there!

- Mark
_________________________
...The ultimate joy in music is the joy of playing the piano...

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#1058494 - 02/07/08 04:20 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
I am an adult restarter that had a few years of lessons as a child.

I remember very well first time I felt that my hands were independent, meaning that I was able to do phrasing with LH also. (In fact the hands are not independent of course, it's more about making diffent movements that still goes together)

The experience came first time I played a piece with LH melody.(I think it was "The Sea Captains story" Jessie blake /Hilda Capp )

Normally RH is the strongest and therefore LH will try to follow the movements of RH. So LH has to be trained to become "leading" or equal with RH.
So my advice would be to play a piece with LH melody and RH accompaniment, I think most piano schools have pieces that is focusing on playing LH melody, if you're not there in your book yet, just be patient, you'll get there ;\)

(For the step before this, to make LH follow RH the method described by Danny Niklas is good. Normally a good method book will take you through these steps, but it's even better with a teacher !)

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#1058495 - 02/07/08 05:12 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
fingersandthumbs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/07
Posts: 53
Loc: kent, england
I started as a piano beginner in July last year working mainly from the Alfreds course. After struggling initially with LH/RH independence, I managed to work through the pieces in Book 1 and started on Book 2 but found that the LH was mainly chord based when I really wanted to be able to play more varied tunes and rhythms in the LH.

I had to take time out from practising when my mother became very ill and after she died it took me a while to get back to the piano. I simply could not face the boredom of the Alfred tunes so I searched some free music score websites and found a number of easy pieces from Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook, easier Mozart pieces and Schumann's Melody from his Album for the Young Op 68. These have been absolutely brilliant for helping me to develop LH/RH independence. I was aware for the first time yesterday that I can now (at last) play some easy pieces through without worrying about what my hands are doing, but concentrating on the dynamics and feeling of the music.

I would also like to thank whoever introduced the Sydney Smith link originally as I find that I can work through this method easily while enjoying the practice pieces.

This post has turned out to be longer than originally intended. I suppose the gist of it is find what suits you, keep practising and be patient.

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#1058496 - 05/28/08 09:45 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
rebirther Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1
Loc: Belgium
Hi,

I am 30 and rather new to piano... I started in september 2007. I did not do specific exercises for independence, just followed a method (Michael Aaron Adult Piano Course). I find that the independence is gradualy improving, so it takes less and less time of "slow playing" to play both hands together...

But what I'm working on now is playing in different dynamics in both hands. That's "rather easy" when the accompanyment (does that word even exist?) is just chords. But when both hands are playing eight notes for example I find it to be much more difficult.
I am told to first thouroughly learn a piece and then just focus on 2 notes. At the very beginning you can even leave a little time between both notes, gradually making that time smaller up to the point where you play both notes simultanously, one loud, the other soft. And then very slowly try to go through the piece, really focussing on the different dynamics. Exageration should also be good for learning. Practice, patience, etc.

What do you think about that method? I would also like to hear personal experiences on this subjects, maybe tricks on how you "got" it. I think I also need a little reassurence that it will come soon ;-)

Thanks

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#1058497 - 05/28/08 10:46 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
Jamie147 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 212
Loc: England, UK
I would love to better understand how the brain works when controlling independant playing. It doesn't happen often but sometimes when I'm improvising common themes and I'm intensly focused and in 'the zone' I have question and answer phrases between the left and right hands. Like they are in friendly competition with each other. It doesn't last long but Its so seperate it feels like its someone else playing and so spontanious I don't know whats going to happen until its been played.
_________________________
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

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#1058498 - 05/28/08 11:14 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
BillM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 1520
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by mom3gram:
....I'm just on beginner stuff, and there isn't a whole lot of HT in the music I'm playing..... [/b]
mom3gram - What is HT?
_________________________
BillM (formerly b528nf7)
Roland KR-17M
Clavinova CLP-150
Piano Vocals of Old Guy Tunes

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#1058499 - 05/28/08 11:26 AM Re: Independant right/left hand
ddh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/06
Posts: 458
Loc: Abitibi
 Quote:
Originally posted by b528nf7:
mom3gram - What is HT? [/b]
HT = hands together
HS = hands separate ;\)
_________________________
Daniel (Pramberger JP 208B)


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Help with dynamics
by noobpianist90
Today at 03:53 AM
Using Kawai MP6 faders/knobs with virtual instruments?
by chicolom
Today at 02:35 AM
Coming up with new compositional methods.
by gsmonks
Today at 01:58 AM
Impromptu in A
by Ritzycat
Today at 12:42 AM
what do you think piano teachers about it?
by Maximillyan
Today at 12:15 AM
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