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TO and TU (Read 3324 times)

Offline kghayesh

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TO and TU
« on: April 02, 2005, 07:50:38 PM »
I recently learnt about playing scales with the TO (thumb over method) in Chang's book. But i cannot really understand it completely. What i understood is that for eg. when playing C major with the right hand, instead of moving the thumb horizontally to play th F, moving the whole hand to avoid the horizontal motion of the thumb.

Am i right or i am just hallucinating??

Also i would like to know what are the differences between TU and TO, which's better and why.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #1 on: April 02, 2005, 08:16:30 PM »
We really need to put this into the FAQ list. It's been asked and answered so many times.

Here is the gist: In TO, the hand moves the thumb to wherever it has to go. If you look at the Taubman technique, this principle applies to everything, not just scales. The thumb is supposed to move very little, definitely not all the way under the palm and also not a lot in the vertical direction.
"Why is that so?", you ask? Good question, because, of course, you should never just believe what people tell you without asking for cogent reasons ;)

And indeed, there are cogent reasons. Essentially, the vertical movement of the thumb is equivalent to the horizontal movement of the other fingers, and the movement of the thumb under the palm (horizontally) is equivalent to the up-and-down (vertical) movement of the other fingers (take a look). You know how difficult (and slow) it is to move your fingers horizontally, and it is just as difficult to move your thumb up and down. In addition, doing this a lot can lead to injury. So, the idea is not to over-use the thumb. Use the arm to bring the hand where it has to be in order to place the thumb, then use arm rotations to bring the thumb on the key and to depress the key. As said already, the thumb can move on its own, but it shouldn't move a lot.

When to use TU vs. TO? Some people never use TU. I would say, use TO for all situations where you don't have to use TU. Once TO is mastered, you will find that there are very few cases where you need TU (e.g. in legato playing without pedal).

Finally, you don't always have to move the hand to play with your thumb. Take your C major scale, e.g., when you move from E to F, after you played the E, raise your elbow (keep finger 3 on the E), so that finger 3 is almost straight up. At the same time, move your elbow outwards. This will rotate your entire hand around finger 3. The thumb will automatically end up over the F. You just have to drop the elbow, and you are actually already playing the F. Everything wonderfully legato, without moving the thumb at all! Neither TO, nor TU. Well done, beautiful! At higher speed, the motions will become smaller. Use a combination of shoulder, elbow and wrist to realize the same idea.

Now, let's go down, let's say from A to G. Play the A with your thumb and keep in on the A. Use the same motions as described above, to pivot your hand around the thumb to place finger 3 over the G. You get the idea. Make a habit of using your thumb this way and it will thank you forever.

Finally, finally: there are always exceptions. It is OK to occasionally use weird and even dangerous movements if they are required to achieve a certain effect. Just don't use them often, and don't practice them over and over like your scales.

And most important: have fun!

Offline 00range

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #2 on: April 02, 2005, 08:27:43 PM »
Wow, great explanation. Thanks, xvimbi.
'Science is interesting, and if you don't agree, you can *** off.'

Offline kghayesh

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #3 on: April 03, 2005, 10:22:53 AM »
At the same time, move your elbow outwards. This will rotate your entire hand around finger 3. The thumb will automatically end up over the F. You just have to drop the elbow, and you are actually already playing the F

You mean i should rotate my elbow 90% from being perpendicular to the piano to being parallel to it???
Doesn't this sound something like ridiculous??

Offline bernhard

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #4 on: April 03, 2005, 10:39:14 AM »


You mean i should rotate my elbow 90% from being perpendicular to the piano to being parallel to it???
Doesn't this sound something like ridiculous??

This is the problem with writing about movements. If you already know it, you understand it perfectly. (But then you don;t need to read about it ;)).

I read xvimbi’s explanation and thought to myself: “excellent description” :D. I don’t need to add anything. And went to sleep peacefully in the knowledge that your question had been properly sorted out.

Alas. It was not to be. >:(

The best way to get to grips with TO/TU is to have someone demonstrate it to you, and guide you in the movements. Trying to figure it out from a written description usually does not work.

If you want some further confusion ;), have a look here:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,1918.msg15015.html#msg15015
(Thumb under/over – Fosberry flop)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7226.msg72166.html#msg72166
(thumb over is a misnomer – four separate movements and their co-ordination).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.




The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline xvimbi

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #5 on: April 03, 2005, 01:19:11 PM »
You mean i should rotate my elbow 90% from being perpendicular to the piano to being parallel to it???
Doesn't this sound something like ridiculous??

Hey, you asked! I can assure you, there is nothing ridiculous in my description.

As Bernhard indicated, have someone demonstrate this to you. Just to address your specific question: As I mentioned, it is really not isolated motions around a single joint that will place your thumb on the next key. If you only use rotations around your shoulder, you will look like doing the "chicken dance" (which is the right idea, though). Use a combination of motions around hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger joints, and it will be OK. There will still be substantial motion around your shoulders though. The whole point of piano playing is bringing the right finger down on the right key at the right time (well, there are some more aspects, but let's not go into those at the moment ;) ) This is best achieved by distributing all the motions evenly across the entire body. Only moving around the shoulder would be just as inadequate as only moving fingers up and down.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #6 on: April 03, 2005, 02:15:53 PM »
The best way to get to grips with TO/TU is to have someone demonstrate it to you, and guide you in the movements. Trying to figure it out from a written description usually does not work.

One more thing. If you want to see a demonstration, try to get the Taubman videos. Many Colleges and Universities have them in their libraries. Some teachers probably have them too. The videos show a lot of very basic and also pretty advanced motions and what their purpose is. Although, some of them seem to be a bit contrived (at least IMHO), there is a lot to be learned about basic concepts.

Offline Dazzer

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Re: TO and TU
«Reply #7 on: April 03, 2005, 02:47:57 PM »
wow... i must say i've never actually HEARD of anything like this... the mere thought of it SCARES me, that people would practise it conciously... maybe its just my school of training. :D

I'll have to consult my mentor regarding this next time i see him... lolz