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Thread: For those advanced pianists out there:

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    Default For those advanced pianists out there:

    Hey TC pianists!

    I finally got to play piano again after several weeks of moving and settling down. I'm finding that my right hand is extremely stiff and I have difficulty playing quicker passages. Now that I'm about 2.5 years removed from lessons, I need to ask advice of how one's help loosen up their action.

    I must admit, I need help on scales too, but even repeated notes were laborious today. Truth is, I think my problem is even beyond the level of practicing scales and just on the physical tightness of my motion (that I'd rather be much more fluid!)
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    Senior Member Clementine's Avatar
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    I (among many other pianists), use Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist. It's good for warming up, and provides a variety movements for your fingers.

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    When my arms stiffens up, i make sure my hands and fingers is warm and that my blood is circulating properly. Then i take a deep breath, and let my shoulders and elbows relax.

    Should play those quick passages slow, then faster and faster
    Last edited by Ravndal; Jun-26-2012 at 13:58.
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    Senior Member MaestroViolinist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravndal View Post
    When my arms stiffens up, i make sure my hands and fingers is warm and that my blood is circulating properly. Then i take a deep breath, and let my shoulders and elbows relax.

    Should play those quick passages slow, then faster and faster
    That's something I would also say to a violinist!
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    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Here's my practice: I begin with a simple tone, play it a couple of times with different dynamics, with each one I try to obtain the best relaxation, concentrating on three basic points on my hand: wrist, elbow and shoulder. when I'm completely satisfied with one, add another, and so on... the same method I use for turning the thumb under the other fingers. In addition, you may practice Nos. 1 and 2 from Clementi's Gradus ad parnassum, Tausig Edition: you'll find the best way for getting rid of all tenses, which you've mentioned in your hands.

    For playing scales, I always use metronome and never play with both hands unless I'm quite warmed up with each one seperately, otherwise one hand may cover the other one and hide its weakness by any risk.

    Hope it could help, wish you the best
    Last edited by Il_Penseroso; Jun-28-2012 at 17:00.
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    Senior Member Krisena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaestroViolinist View Post
    That's something I would also say to a violinist!
    I'm a violinist and I always play the best when my hands are cold. It's like when they're warm, they're full of energy and I can't coordinate at all and I lose all sensitivity and detail in them.

    I'm the only one I know of who's like this.

    I must be unique.
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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krisena View Post
    I'm a violinist and I always play the best when my hands are cold. It's like when they're warm, they're full of energy and I can't coordinate at all and I lose all sensitivity and detail in them.

    I'm the only one I know of who's like this.

    I must be unique.

    Never heard of anything like it, but if it works.. Though I wouldn't recommend to use your hands without proper warm up. You might get tendinitis.
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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    You cannot rely on motor memory alone to 'resurrect' your previous skill level.

    You must go back to the beginning, as you originally did while progressively building up that skill.

    Your ego or self-conceit may feel a bit or heartily pricked, your frustration level may feel inordinately high ~ I can virtually guarantee you if you go 'back to the beginning' you will progress to your former level more quickly than by doing anything else.

    At each stage, you are re-working the progression which got you to that level when you stopped.
    Each time you are practicing and recalling what to do, how to do it. This goes quickly, step by step, at the 'end' you have reviewed your entire training, your brain as well as your fingers back on top. (the brain runs everything :-)

    Very importantly, too, you must again build up both physical and mental stamina, and there is just no short-cutting that, at all!

    I have gone through it once myself, and other professionals I have known who have had a long hiatus absence from regular practice have confirmed this is the most effective way to 'come back.'

    It may take a few months: the methodical progression is invaluable, and most accelerates the process.

    Be patient, in such instances, everyone has to start where they are:-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Aug-08-2012 at 21:42.

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    My suggestion to relieve tension when you play is the following. Relax your arms from the shoulders down, first; then lift your arms at the elbow, and when you bring them down, that's when you strike the piano keys. When you make your fingers and wrists do all the work, you'll get very tense and uncomfortable. If you make your arms do the work, however, you will have a much better tone and your playing style will be more fluid and relaxed. Good luck!

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    Senior Member Varick's Avatar
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    If you have anyone living with you, show them what a relaxed arm and wrist looks like and then show them what a tense arm and wrist looks like. Ask them (as much as you can ask someone to sit and listen/watch you practice) to point out if your arm and wrist start to get tense.

    It is a very difficult thing to keep in mind. Self-awareness is key in mastering anything, and that in and of itself can take a lifetime to master. Other than that, as usual PetrB has stellar advice when it comes to overcoming piano hurdles.

    Remember to keep your fingers rounded/curled as if you have a small tennis ball under your palm and the wrist stays level with the keyboard and strike from above. Rotate the wrists when necessary and stay loose. Good luck.

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    I agree with Varick, that PetrB gives excellent advise reg. piano practicing.

    I would like to add: Don't use too much strength/power, while playing. Use the minimum power it takes to press a key. Then your hand should not get stiffened.

    Don't let your hands "play by themselves". Always be absolutely aware of every key you press, especially in fast passages.
    Automatism is bad for good piano-playing.

    Take you time. Don't expect too much in a short time. Let the synapses in your brain combine for piano-playing.

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