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How to improve technique? (Read 4618 times)

Offline kitloong

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How to improve technique?
« on: September 06, 2003, 06:11:39 AM »
How to improve my technique??
I play Hanon to improve.
Any suggestion or recomendation?

NetherMagic

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #1 on: September 06, 2003, 06:47:46 AM »
brahms 51 exercises
czerny

Offline pskim

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #2 on: September 06, 2003, 06:48:56 AM »
There are several ways of improving technique and I'm a firm believer in Hanon for the basic foundation of technique.  You can practice technique from the pieces that you are practicing, i.e. the technical parts where you need mechanical working.

But to improve your technique, period, is to practice scales and other finger exercises.  Some of you might think that scale exercises are not essential and you think you can practice from the pieces you are playing without having the basic technical foundation.  Well, think again.  Even the old great masters of the piano HAD to practice scales.

I personally used Hanon, Pischina, some of Liszt, and McFerren.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #3 on: September 06, 2003, 04:29:21 PM »
Didn't Liszt practice technical stuff several hours a day? If he did it it can't be bad.

I do know this, my teacher has been playing for 40 years and she still practices scales and stuff every day, she considers them invaluable.

boliver

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #4 on: September 06, 2003, 05:11:13 PM »
I am a firm disbeliever in technical exercises. All the greats did in fact not practise them, and Ashkenazy being one example says he gets all his technique from the pieces he plays,
Ed

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #5 on: September 06, 2003, 06:12:22 PM »
That is not true, many of the greats did technical pieces. Ashkenazy did technical pieces also, think about it he did Chopin's etudes at 17. Therefore he developed quite the technique through them. Remember etudes are also technical and finger studies.

boliver

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #6 on: September 07, 2003, 02:35:27 AM »
This was my point exactly - technique should be acquired as and when required through pieces of music (such as the Chopin etudes) rather than a book of scales or Hanon type exercises,
Ed

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #7 on: September 07, 2003, 05:50:45 PM »
Quote
This was my point exactly - technique should be acquired as and when required through pieces of music (such as the Chopin etudes) rather than a book of scales or Hanon type exercises,
Ed


There are many methods of technique acquisition, and  scales and excersises are an important component. If you didactically say you should only acquire technique through pieces, you are unnecessarily limiting the tools you have at your disposal to better your technique.

Also, a lot of pianists - Richter, Ashkenazy, etc. - might have said they did not practice scales and exercises, but it's up to me to listen to them, and decide whether I believe them or not. If you believe them, then there's a bridge that spans the East River into Brooklyn I'd love to sell you. As for myself, I can tell in about 30 seconds of listening whether someone practices their scales.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #8 on: September 07, 2003, 06:08:34 PM »
Hmoll, I am not saying it is impossible to acquire technique through technical exercises, I am merely saying it is just as valid to acquire it through pieces. Furthermore, time spent on technical exercises detracts from time spent on practising pieces, so why bother with them? I seriously doubt you can tell whether someone practises scales (I presume you mean scales aside from pieces) or not - more often than not I am asked how many technical exercises I do (because they think it must be a lot) and when I answer none people are shocked,
Ed

Offline meiting

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #9 on: September 07, 2003, 06:18:19 PM »
Practicing scales and arpeggios make a difference! But it makes more of a difference when you're starting out, than later on. It really helps in acquiring a technique. Ed, I must disagree strongly with your "practicing scales takes time away from practicing pieces" comment. In fact, practicing scales reduces the time needed to practice piece. Most pieces written before the 20th century use a combination of scales, arpeggios, chords, octaves, and skips. If you practice those and are able to play scales and arpeggios etc in all keys, then once you see a scale/arpeggio in the music you can just play it. You won't need to practice every passage individually. Once you've acquired a technique that does not require practicing scales/arpeggios everyday, then you won't need to practice much of the pieces anyway cuz you can play it already.

mei-ting
Living for music is a sad state. Living to play music is not.

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #10 on: September 07, 2003, 09:08:36 PM »
Mei Ting, your method requires pointless learning of every scale and arpeggio, including inevitably many which will never be required. Furthermore, most pieces I play (predominantly 19th and 20th century) have either variations on the scales or the scales where a non-ABRSM fingering is required. Fair enough scale practise could in theory reduce the time required to learn a piece, but the time spent practising scales plus the time spent learning the piece is surely greater than just learning a piece without much previous scale work,
Ed

Offline meiting

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #11 on: September 07, 2003, 09:21:31 PM »
Ed, unfortunately for you, you're wasting a lot of time learning these pieces when if you had learned the scales, you'd be able to play them without practicing. I don't practice scales anymore, but I did from when I was 3 to 8. That was all I needed for scales and arpeggios, predominantly the Cortot book of exercises. Now I only have to practice specific passages in certain pieces. Most of the things that I pick up, i can play right out of the bat or sight read.
Living for music is a sad state. Living to play music is not.

NetherMagic

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #12 on: September 07, 2003, 09:23:37 PM »
well I think that scales and arpeggios are important, but not everyone of them are important.  I think that one should only practice the different keys involved in the particular piece that one's practicing

Offline meiting

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #13 on: September 07, 2003, 09:27:07 PM »
But that's exactly it.. when I practiced scales, albeit a long time ago, I did all of them, so I don't need to practice the certain scales in a piece now. Muscle memory lasts a surprisingly long time :)
Living for music is a sad state. Living to play music is not.

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #14 on: September 07, 2003, 09:33:02 PM »
Quote
Most of the things that I pick up, i can play right out of the bat or sight read.


So can I,
Ed

Offline Irock1ce

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #15 on: September 08, 2003, 09:48:15 AM »
jesus. mei ting.. i just went to your website.. your repertoire is huge...........  
i think ill be going back to my scales and arpeggios now. 8)
Member of Young Musicians program at University of California, Berkeley.

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #16 on: September 08, 2003, 05:57:47 PM »
In addition to what meiting said, which I agree with, the other point I made is you are limiting the tools you have at your disposal if you have an attitude that exercises and scales are a waste of time.
If you have a technical problem in a piece, it can be very useful to find a technical exercise that emulates whatever that technique is - legato octaves, repeated notes, rapid ascending sixths, etc. By taking the technical problem out of the context of the piece, you are looking at the technique in a different way, which can be very helpful in getting over whatever problem you are having.
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Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #17 on: September 09, 2003, 04:56:18 PM »
I disagree entirely and fundamentally with you Hmoll,
Ed

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #18 on: September 09, 2003, 05:35:19 PM »
Quote
I disagree entirely and fundamentally with you Hmoll,
Ed



Which do you disagree with, the idea that you shouldn't  limit yourself by an almost idealistic aversion to scales and exercises, the fact that all the great pianists used them to acquire technique - despite what a handful may have said, which I don't believe - or the fact that taking a specific technical problem in a piece of music out of context and into a technical exercise can solve that problem?

Take my word for it, an open mind is a great thing to have in music, and in any of the arts, and you can disagree as "fundamentally" as you want, but I'll continue to practise as I do not because  I prefer not to close my mind to  the tools available to me in learning music, and solving technical problems.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #19 on: September 09, 2003, 06:40:01 PM »
Quote

an almost idealistic aversion to scales and exercises, the fact that all the great pianists used them to acquire technique - despite what a handful may have said, which I don't believe


Are you saying they are lying?
Ed

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #20 on: September 09, 2003, 07:40:21 PM »
Quote


Are you saying they are lying?
Ed



Out of respect to them, I prefer to say that they are "prevaricating."

Richter, for example, is famous for saying he didn't practice scales. Unfortunately, there are too many first hand accounts of people hearing him practice scales to make that statement credible.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #21 on: September 09, 2003, 09:54:23 PM »
Prevaricating is a synonym of lie,
Ed

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #22 on: September 09, 2003, 11:37:27 PM »
Quote
Prevaricating is a synonym of lie,
Ed



No kidding. Thanks for the English lesson, but it's really more of a euphemism, since it's  a  gentler term than lie, deceive, falsify, fake, etc.





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Offline bachopoven

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #23 on: September 09, 2003, 11:59:39 PM »
I am just a beginner, so for the most part, I take what other advanced players say for granted. But one thing I know: exercises like Hanon are boring (sorry Hanon.) Chopin Etudes aren't.

However. in the words of a fellow forumer, I can say that exercises, or some boring pieces required by a teacher, are the piano equivalent of eating your broccoli. They are stepping stones for getting to the 'promised land.'
"In the beginning was rhythm." - Haydn.

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #24 on: September 10, 2003, 12:58:33 AM »
It is not necessary to eat broccoli before you eat cake,
Ed

(I expect some reply to this being along the lines of: "It is necessary to eat both broccoli and cake to maintain a healthy diet". True as this may be, a healthy diet is not our goal, eating cake is).

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #25 on: September 10, 2003, 01:05:25 AM »
Quote

No kidding. Thanks for the English lesson, but it's really more of a euphemism, since it's  a  gentler term than lie, deceive, falsify, fake, etc.


You can call it whatever you like, but either you think they are telling the truth or not,
Ed

Offline thracozaag

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #26 on: September 10, 2003, 02:57:34 AM »
 I think you have to take a grain a salt with a LOT of things pianists have said through the years.  
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline pskim

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #27 on: September 10, 2003, 08:26:59 AM »
Some people may not need exercises and scales to play the piano.  But like most of the pianists here I need my technical exercises.  I'm not such a genius.

But let me ask you this, Ed.  We all know now that you don't like and don't believe in exercises.  But if you were to teach piano to other people, (if you aren't teaching anyone now) would you tell all your students that practicing technical exercises are a waste of time?  What if not all of your students are like you?  Remeber, these masters of piano who said that they never practiced scales and finger exercises taught already advanced students only, not beginners.

As for me I make a living teaching piano to all kinds of levels of students, not only advanced.  To teach beginners and intermediate students, I need to teach them how to practice properly, techniques and music.  Now if I didn't practice technical exercises before ever in my life, I personally don't think that I qualify to teach these students because I won't know how to teach them.  Why?  Because I never did the technical exercises.

We from this forum never heard you play.  And from what you say you must be very confident of your playing.  I'm not doubting that.  But I sensed that we, who still practices scales to keep up our playing from time to time, are wasting our time by practicing scales.  I certainly don't thinks so.  It works for me as for others here in this forum.  

Anyway, what may for for some, it may not work the same for others.  But firm technical foundation is a key for artistic exellence.  By the way, have you ever seen technical exercises that Liszt wrote?  Phew!  I can't imagine he played all these.  Not the etudes but mechanical exercises that he wrote out for himself.  Now, he can't be wrong!

Offline xenon

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #28 on: September 10, 2003, 09:50:17 AM »
Ed> I hope that you realize that a lack of essential nutrients can deprive physical and mental well-being?  Eating good vegetables, especially the drak green kinds can benefit you health-wise.  Eating these kinds of foods will help prevent diseases from malnourrishment, like scurvy.  Not all people likes broccoli, but everyone loves ketchup!  Just douse the broccolli in ketchup for a delicious and nutritious snack!

Oh, and by the way, cake is the food of heathens.

</joking>

If you couldn't tell, I was joking, just because Ed asked for it :P  I'm sorry, it was a bad joke...

Well, up to this point, I've been practicing technique only because it is a required portion of the exam at my conservatory.  At the Gr 10 level, one has to go through every kind of technical exercise in all 24 keys, totalling to 476 different exercises.  Until then, I wasn't happy with them, and thought it was a waste of time...

Now, I am glad I went throught the pain.  It facilitated in the learning of the Revolutionary Etude a lot.  Because of the years of technical practice, I was able to grasp main concepts quickly.  In relatively little time (compared to previous reperitoire), I had all technical concepts down firm.

I'm not mandating the use of technical exercises.  I am simply sharing an experience.  There are some that may not need it, but for all piano newcomers, it is highly recommended to start technique to build dexterity in fingers and to develope the skill to play complex (and simple too) pieces.

At the ARCT Performer's level, technique is not required.  Alright!  Though, in ARCT Teacher's, theres a whole lot more ;)
You can't spell "Bach" without "ach"
-Xenon

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #29 on: September 10, 2003, 01:08:13 PM »
To Pskim: If I were teaching (which I am not  - I'm sure to some forumers' relief!) then I would still maintain my "manifesto" as such, in that I believe technique can and should be acquired through the pieces of music that we play. Furthermore, if I (hypothetically) were looking for a new teacher, then I would much prefer they were musically minded than acrobatically able on the keyboard. I cannot say what works for you and other forumers, but I personally think that your time would be much better spent concentrating on pieces of music rather than laborious drills. You said that firm technical foundation is the key to artistic excellence - a concept I strongly disagree with. I could name a list of brilliantly musical pianists whose technique is relatively poor, and many more brilliantly technical pianists whose musicality is lacking if not non-existent. I know which I would rather listen to (the former of course). A prime example of this is an 81 year old Shura Cherkassky stumbling his way through Prokofiev's Second concerto. This playing is however far more musical than, for example, Alexander Melnikov whom I heard "stepping in" for Kissin recently, although Melnikov plays the majority of the notes! One final point regarding your post, you say that Liszt cannot be wrong. As much as I respect Liszt as a composer and pianist, I also respect Ashkenazy as a musician and pianist, and it was he who I first heard say that all technique should be acquired through the music.

To Xenon: Thanks for the dietary advice! I agree with you on the merits of Ketchup, even though I don't like tomatoes (I maintain that there is no resemblance in taste). On a wholly less substantial note, wouldn't you rather have spent your "years of technical practise" on, say, learning the entire Chopin Etudes - giving you a recital programme and equipping you with a fine technique? Are technical exercises really required for ARCT Teaching level? (I am in the UK and am not sure how your system works). That is an outrage! Just a thought,
Ed

Offline Hmoll

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #30 on: September 10, 2003, 04:53:03 PM »
Quote


You can call it whatever you like, but either you think they are telling the truth or not,
Ed



Let me guess. Subtlety is not your strong point.
To spell it out clearly: no, I do not think they were being truthful.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline bachopoven

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #31 on: September 10, 2003, 05:15:06 PM »
Quote
It is not necessary to eat broccoli before you eat cake,
Ed

(I expect some reply to this being along the lines of: "It is necessary to eat both broccoli and cake to maintain a healthy diet". True as this may be, a healthy diet is not our goal, eating cake is).


I think that's a good point. And I don't take it you're trying to split hair here. So yes, I am talking about health and, more relevantly, fitness - such as in conditioning yourself physically before a game.
"In the beginning was rhythm." - Haydn.

Offline xenon

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #32 on: September 11, 2003, 06:07:58 AM »
Ed>

I do have to agree with you that tomatoes are the work of the devil, but ketchup is definitely the top of the whole when it comes to condiments and other delightful things.  Sauce is good, and salsa is also suitable for human consumption.

However, how do you think that I would be able to manage a Chopin Etude at the age of 7, playing Bach's Minuet in G?  Hehe...  It is also shunned upon for little children to play pieces of such complexity as a virtuosic Concert Etude.  They are not emotionally (or physically) developed for it.

However, today at my piano lessons, I was assigned more technical exercises.  Meh, she only assigned one key per week, which is a whole lot better than 24 keys a day.  It's just to keep me fingers in shape, just the same way athletes warm up before playing a game.  She also told me that we would have lessons dedicated to technique, where she would teach me lots of exercises to aid in the learning of pieces.  Sounds fun to me, to push me to my technical limits to see how fast/crazy I can go.

I also checked out the requirements of both ARCT's.  Here are some stats:

Performer's Requirements:
List A (Baroque)
List B (Classical Sonata, all mvts)
List C (Large-scale romantic work)
List D (Impressionistic)
List E (20th Century)
Concert Etude

That's it :)

Teacher's Requirements:

Some pieces, I guess, though not to the magnitude of a Performer
Viva Voce
Pedagogy
You have to "teach" the examiner at various piano levels
All Technique, all keys
Ear tests (Interval identification, chord identification, playback, cadence identification)
Sight Reading (Grade 9 or 10 level)

Ouch, I think I will stick to Performer's.  :P
You can't spell "Bach" without "ach"
-Xenon

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #33 on: September 11, 2003, 08:52:19 PM »
Sorry Xenon I didn't realise you were 7 at the time! Reminds me of a little anecdote though - a 7 year old prodigy went to Theodore Leschetizky for a lesson once, and when asked what piece he was going to play for the great teacher, the youngster replied "Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto", to which Leschetizky replied (in all honesty) "You are too old!",
Ed

Offline thracozaag

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #34 on: September 11, 2003, 09:29:50 PM »
Quote
Sorry Xenon I didn't realise you were 7 at the time! Reminds me of a little anecdote though - a 7 year old prodigy went to Theodore Leschetizky for a lesson once, and when asked what piece he was going to play for the great teacher, the youngster replied "Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto", to which Leschetizky replied (in all honesty) "You are too old!",
Ed



 Great story, but I'm pretty sure that was Moritz Rosenthal (who had a very sharp tongue).  He heard that Schnabel had been rejected from the Austrian army:
"well, what do you expect??? NO FINGERS!"
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline meiting

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #35 on: September 13, 2003, 04:25:28 PM »
Schnabel certainly didn't have fingers in many of his recordings... as great as they are.. But for any that wants confirmation that he DID have fingers, check out his recording of the Cello sonatas with Feuerman. They are AWESOME.

mei-ting
Living for music is a sad state. Living to play music is not.

Offline kevink

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #36 on: September 22, 2003, 10:07:11 AM »
I suppose I'll jump in the fray.  I know this: I've been playing piano for 12 years, and I've been practicing Hanon for 2 weeks.  I've been well-acquainted with the etude repertoire out there, and I feel that the two weeks of Hanon have made a bigger difference, quicker, than my previous experience getting technique "from the music."  I agree with Hmoll...  There is more than one way to skin a cat.  More to the point: there is a multitude of directions from which one can approach the problem facilitating musical expression, and I do not see how it cannot be beneficial to gain from them all.

Offline sram

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #37 on: September 23, 2003, 08:49:37 PM »
i did practice scales , chords and arpeggioas and others musically challenging leitmotivs.
they help.

but i'd say 90% of my technique came from repertoire...including Etudes from various composers.
And i could perform anything from the  G major minuet to Mazeppa.
But Etudes are real music. Unlike the Hanon , Pischnas etc.
I have never touched those and never teach them either.
It's hard enough to forcefeed scales&chords to students as it is..lol.

Offline eddie92099

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #38 on: September 23, 2003, 09:41:04 PM »
Quote
But Etudes are real music. Unlike the Hanon , Pischnas etc.
I have never touched those and never teach them either.


I think we would get on  :D,
Ed

Offline sram

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #39 on: September 25, 2003, 07:37:51 AM »
well, i'll play the left hand and you do the right hand...k?

Offline nick

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #40 on: July 11, 2004, 10:03:22 PM »
I agree with everthing Eddie has said on this thread. My own experience is that I had to go through the scales and arpeggios, but I havn't played them in many years except in the music I practice. It is hard to say if my current ability is the result of my former scales and arpeggios practice, but my guess is it is not.
Nick

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #41 on: July 13, 2004, 06:53:17 AM »
Simply stated a pianist with a rich background of technical study and one without such rigorous work are not equal. They may each perform the exact same pieces, each have notable reuptations, however the one with the dedication to development of technique alone as part of their daily practice routine will continue to maintain a level of quality that the latter musician cannot compete with. Although I agree that Hannon is wonderful for begining pianists, I also agree that for older, more developed pianists this collection of etudes  becomes petty excercizes, being much easier than the actual pieces they perform. The remarkable power of the trill and tremolo is much more beneficial to developing, and maintaining virtuosic pianism. Liszt himself spent hours each day perfecting his technique that is so well known with exercizes involving trills(he practiced a total of 8 hours each day). Improvising etudes involving simple trills(most beneficial are trills between the third and fourth, and fourth and fifth fingers), and more complex trills in thirds(this is difficult!), and large tremolos is a fun, experimental way of working on technique that is nonetheless effective. I must say, while it is a rudamentry skill, I was quite surprised that so many people hold scales and arpeggios in such high regard as technical excercizes. I suppose each person finds what works for them...
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Offline thierry13

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Re: How to improve technique?
«Reply #42 on: July 15, 2004, 08:11:47 AM »
Hey mei-ting, what's the first concerti you played, when you were young(on the picture). I listened to a lot of your performances, and you're just great !