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is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scales? (Read 15062 times)

Offline mr_liszter

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is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scales?
« on: April 29, 2004, 11:59:29 PM »
i always seem to have a problem playing quick scales if i haven't played for a while and it takes me a good bit of practice to play up to my previous speeds of practice when playing scales. is there any special techniques that hold the key to performing lightening quick scales all the time without mistakes?

(ive tryed things like dotted rythms and slowing right down but these techniques are not brilliant for acheiving super quick scales)

Offline bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #1 on: April 30, 2004, 02:23:10 AM »
Yes, there are many special techniques to deal with playing fast scales:

1.      Play the scale in chords.
2.      Always increase speed by increasing the speed hands separate. It is the HS speed that will limit your HT speed.
3.      Use a thumb over movement.
4.      decrease movement range. And make movement as efficient and economical as possible.
5.      Make the arms move the fingers.
6.      Isolate the parts of the scale that are slowing you down
7.      Practise with total awareness so that you can observe what is going on. Ask yourself what is slowing you down. Then try different approaches until you find a satisfactory one – There are no general solutions to technical problems, only general principles.
8.      Use appropriate fingering.
9.      Remember that speed is mental, so you must do some mental work in parallel with the physical work.
10.      Cluster. That is, do not think in notes, but in note-groups (this is the equivalent of changing gears in a car – you will not get fast in first gear).

Almost as important as what you should do, is what you should not do:

1.      Do not practice slow (practising slow is not for speed is for other purposes), although it is all right to practice in slow motion.
2.      Do not play thumb under.
3.      Do not start the movement from the fingers.
4.      Do not use exaggerated inefficient movements.
5.      Do not use a different finger for right and left hand: the left hand will slow you down.
6.      Do not try to increase speed by practising hands together.
7.      Do not practise mechanically.

Also have a look at these threads where this subject (and related ones) has been discussed:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=perf;action=display;num=1074283725

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=perf;action=display;num=1024518620

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1080296644

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1079372061

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 JeffL

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #2 on: April 30, 2004, 03:47:09 PM »
What is a "Thumb over movement"?

Offline bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #3 on: April 30, 2004, 04:33:44 PM »
Quote
What is a "Thumb over movement"?


Have a look here for a discussion of this issue:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=perf;action=display;num=1072372668
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 mr_liszter

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #4 on: April 30, 2004, 05:14:49 PM »
hey cheers for the help bernhard i can feel them scales gettin faster already most of the info i knew but a couple of things i was in the cold about.
in addition to this subject do you have any suggestions on how often you should practice scales and how much they should play on a ratio with the pieces you play and so forth????
i never seem to play a strict timetable of scales, i play them more or less when i need to and im about to take grade 8 in november is this a good or bad thing??

Offline BET23

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #5 on: May 01, 2004, 05:19:13 AM »
"5. Do not use a different finger for right and left hand: the left hand will slow you down. "



you mean,always keep same fingering for right and left????

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #6 on: May 01, 2004, 11:14:48 AM »
"Remember that speed is mental, so you must do some mental work in parallel with the physical work. "

Yeah, I don't like playing scales fast by themselves.  I usually screw up the tempo but when there is a piece I'm playing that is fun to play and it includes scales, I'm flying.  Truly works!

Then the next day happens and I'm back to playing slightly slower and sloppily.  The motivation of playing them perfectly lies in the fun pieces that include them, and great practice is to repeat those sections over and over and over and over.  Then repeat the previous sentence.

Offline newsgroupeuan

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #7 on: May 01, 2004, 07:24:32 PM »
To quote another user:

"Oh, and for those of you who would like to be able to play faster runs, scales, and arpegios, try "dotted rythem" practice.  this is only for those of you who have mastered your technique at a slow pace and can play moderate to moderately fast as a result of your superior technique and mechanics. Many times, it's simply a matter of being able to think faster.  If you are unable to play a large run fast, try a small piece of the run but it must be lightening fast.  Maybe just 2,3,4 or 5 notes.  Those notes would be played much faster than you could if you were playing the entire run.  As the days go on, you can try adding one note at a time or more.  This will build your tolerance to faster playing.  By the time you are done, your scales will be like lightening.  For  example, lets say you are playing a 2 octave scale like the cadenza at the end of Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody.  Maybe, you try playing the first 3 notes plus the thumb under the 3rd finger only.  Try those 4 notes very fast, almost like grace notes.  play them light as speed replaces volume anyway.  When that is mastered, try starting with the same note you ended on, and then contuing to the next note that brings the thumb under.  that's where most pianists have the most trouble regarding speed in scales.  It's trying to manage the thumb coming under without losing speed or evenness.  So practicting each "thumb under" move at a much fast tempo than you could do if you were trying the whole scale, will allow you to eventually accomplish the whole scale.  You just add each piece together as you master the move at the increased tempo.  This is very effective because you immediately are able to play faster with this tecnique.  you just need more time before you can handle more notes at a given time."
by RG(somethingorother)

Offline bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #8 on: May 01, 2004, 07:30:36 PM »
Quote
"5. Do not use a different finger for right and left hand: the left hand will slow you down. "



you mean,always keep same fingering for right and left????


Have a look here where this way of fingering scales is explained in full:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1080296644
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 Alp635

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #9 on: May 16, 2004, 07:59:38 PM »
Hmmm...

For me, I have made some realizations that have been working out for me.  THe problem of the scale is the crossing of the thumb under.  That is the most likely place for uneveness.  So...I don't pass my thumb under, rather, I retain the same hand position and just move my hand.  Like a violinist who practices shifts, You need to learn how to shift the hand quickly without sticking your thumb under.  Sticking the thumb under causes tension in the thumb, thus locking up the whole hand.  Also, it forces the hand to twist a little which is inefficient and is in most cases the reason for an unwanted accent or uneveness.  THis is my approach and it seems to be working for me...try it out and see if it works.  


Offline newsgroupeuan

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #10 on: May 16, 2004, 09:08:57 PM »
hmmm.. right,

1.Play 123,  instead of putting thumb under  shift hand to right, place thumb on next key,  1234,  instead of putting thumb under  shift hand to right, place thumb on next key etc.

2.Go through it in slow motion,  NOT SLOWLY (If you know what I mean),  and see which movements you could cut out to make it more efficient

3.  Cluster (see bernhard's post above)


Offline bannatyne

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #11 on: May 24, 2004, 05:32:49 AM »
doesn't anyone here have instinct? :)good luck :)

Offline bannatyne

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #12 on: May 24, 2004, 09:05:43 AM »
I  have to say as well that the 'perfect technique' is a complete myth.
Also speed, (much like hand span) does not make the pianist.
The trouble with playing fast is that so many people can do it, but how many pianists are great musicians as well as technicians.

f0bul0us

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #13 on: May 24, 2004, 11:27:16 PM »
Quote
I  have to say as well that the 'perfect technique' is a complete myth.
Also speed, (much like hand span) does not make the pianist.
The trouble with playing fast is that so many people can do it, but how many pianists are great musicians as well as technicians.

It's probably a myth depending on what your definition of perfect technique is. For me, someone has perfect technique if they can get through a piece and bring out all the musical demands while at the same time delivering a thought provoking and original performance with technical ease and charisma. Since what I think perfect technique is may be entirely different from what you think, it may not be a complete myth, but a half truth.

Offline nick

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #14 on: July 01, 2004, 03:25:15 AM »
Hi Bernard. I am very interested in increasing my speed as well. Gradually increasing speed I have tried many times and it is always the same: I increase gradually, maybe 2 numbers on metronome every other day, and it does get faster and then it becomes very difficult, a bit of a strain, and then it gets worse. Not perfect. I have been trying slower practice and this saturday will be 2 weeks. I want to see If i notice a difference.  In college I did the dotted rhythmes exclusively for many hours a day, and did achieve some speed, but since many pianists don't do them, I reason they are not necessary for speed. I read what you wrote,and maybe you got some of that information from a website  that now I can't remember, but I remember the term HS as opposed to HT in that site. I did this for a while, and the notes after awhile were slighted, thin, not full sound, and I did not like it. Any ideas you have more would be great to hear. Do you have all the speed you need? I am working on the Appassionata, 3 rd move, and I have it at 104 on the metronome with 4 notes to the beat almost totally perfect, just 2 parts a little strained or not as perfect as the rest.
Nick

Offline janice

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #15 on: July 01, 2004, 04:08:49 AM »
Quote


Almost as important as what you should do, is what you should not do:

1.      Do not practice slow (practising slow is not for speed is for other purposes), although it is all right to practice in slow motion.
2.      Do not play thumb under.
3.      Do not start the movement from the fingers.
4.      Do not use exaggerated inefficient movements.
5.      Do not use a different finger for right and left hand: the left hand will slow you down.
6.      Do not try to increase speed by practising hands together.
7.      Do not practise mechanically.



I haven't read all of the posts as of yet, so my apologies if it is mentioned later, but it would help me if you could tell me what I should do INSTEAD, rather than saying what I SHOULDN'T do.  Thanks!!! :)
Co-president of the Bernhard fan club!

f0bul0us

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #16 on: July 01, 2004, 04:13:57 AM »
Go to Cziffra's grave site, knock on the tombstone, look at where his coffin lays and say, "Hey, show me how you make your scales so fast, then go back and rest"

Offline bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #17 on: July 02, 2004, 02:52:39 AM »
Quote
hey cheers for the help bernhard i can feel them scales gettin faster already most of the info i knew but a couple of things i was in the cold about.
in addition to this subject do you have any suggestions on how often you should practice scales and how much they should play on a ratio with the pieces you play and so forth????
i never seem to play a strict timetable of scales, i play them more or less when i need to and im about to take grade 8 in november is this a good or bad thing??


I personally do not have a rigid schedule for scales (Robert Henry has one. Have a look at his post – reply #8 in the thread below and listen carefully, since Robert Henry always has amazingly useful information:
http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=perf;action=display;num=1024518620)

What I myself do as a matter of habit is to always go through the main scales in the pieces I am learning.

Having said that, I probably go through scales more than most simply because I teach them all day long. I do try to organise myself so that different students are learning different scales, so that I get to go through all of them systematically over the course of a week. So, as consequence of teaching I do not do much practice on my own (most of my practice gets done during lessons). By the way this is very effective (much more effective than private practice).

Also once you really master a scale (emphasis on “really master”) you should not need to practise it. You should just use it. It is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn how to do it, there is no need to practice anymore. You just ride it. Riding it will give you all the practice you will ever need. And just like riding a bicycle, if you do not do it for a couple of months, you still can do it. Actually if you don’t do it for a couple of decades you should still be able to do it.

As with everything else, the most important factor is consistency, that is, doing something everyday, this way even if you do just a couple of minutes, in time it all adds up.

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 bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #18 on: July 02, 2004, 02:55:49 AM »
Quote
Hi Bernard. I am very interested in increasing my speed as well. Gradually increasing speed I have tried many times and it is always the same: I increase gradually, maybe 2 numbers on metronome every other day, and it does get faster and then it becomes very difficult, a bit of a strain, and then it gets worse. Not perfect. I have been trying slower practice and this saturday will be 2 weeks. I want to see If i notice a difference.


 I do not believe in slow practice to increase speed. (It is important for other aims though). I am definitely against gradually increasing speed to attain speed. In fact I believe that such a procedure will inevitably create speed walls. I recommend instead to start at maximum speed and gradually decrease speed. I have discussed this at great length in this thread (reply #7). Have a look:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1087278993

Quote
In college I did the dotted rhythmes exclusively for many hours a day, and did achieve some speed, but since many pianists don't do them, I reason they are not necessary for speed. I read what you wrote,and maybe you got some of that information from a website  that now I can't remember, but I remember the term HS as opposed to HT in that site. I did this for a while, and the notes after awhile were slighted, thin, not full sound, and I did not like it. Any ideas you have more would be great to hear. Do you have all the speed you need? I am working on the Appassionata, 3 rd move, and I have it at 104 on the metronome with 4 notes to the beat almost totally perfect, just 2 parts a little strained or not as perfect as the rest.
Nick


I like rhythm variations (some people are actually against them). I find them very versatile, speed work being just one of the problems they can address successfully (others being evenness in playing, creating accents and showing where the melodic lines are).

For speed work, HS is essential. That is where you will get the speed. If you do your practice HS correctly you should be able to join hands straightaway at the final speed. My next favourite practice trick for speed is repeated note groups (like rhythm variations this is a really versatile trick that will address a plethora of problems besides speed).

Finally, clustering is very important. This is the equivalent of changing gears in a car. These are all mentioned in more detail in the link above. Read it all and if you still cannot get it, come back!

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 bernhard

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #19 on: July 02, 2004, 02:57:24 AM »
Quote


I haven't read all of the posts as of yet, so my apologies if it is mentioned later, but it would help me if you could tell me what I should do INSTEAD, rather than saying what I SHOULDN'T do.  Thanks!!! :)


Er… ???

What to do is discussed in the several links I posted in my replies above. I suggest you check them.

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)

Shagdac

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #20 on: July 02, 2004, 06:30:04 AM »
I have 2 questions, I'm not exactly clear on how to practice in "slow motion" without practicing slowly. I understand what you mean by slow motion, but how can you do this without actually slowing your speed?
I think you can practice slowly, without having to do "slow motion", but I can't see how it is possible to do "slow motion" without going slowly. (Hope this makes sense)!

Second...in #3 you have do not begin movement from fingers...could you elaborate on what you mean, and where you should start...wrists, forearms, etc.

I've read the other posts, apologize if I missed it, but am confused on these to points.

Thanks as always Bernhard.

S :)

Offline Saturn

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Re: is there a perfect technique 4 super fast scal
«Reply #21 on: July 02, 2004, 06:54:16 AM »
Quote
I have 2 questions, I'm not exactly clear on how to practice in "slow motion" without practicing slowly. I understand what you mean by slow motion, but how can you do this without actually slowing your speed?
I think you can practice slowly, without having to do "slow motion", but I can't see how it is possible to do "slow motion" without going slowly. (Hope this makes sense)!


If you play fast, there will be certain movements of the hand/arm/wrist that will be required in order for you to be able play the tempo.  However, if play at a slow tempo, you'll be able to play the piece without using the right movements.  Because the tempo will be slow, you won't have to think about the technique required to play it fast.  However, when you try to get it up to speed, you'll have serious problems.

Say if you were to practice a C major scale at a slow speed, like in quarter notes at MM 60.  At this speed, you could use any movements.  You could do a "hand vibrato" on the key if you wanted.  You could use thumb under technique.  You could even play the entire scale just using the fingers 1 and 3.  But no matter how many times you practice the scale at this tempo, your ability to play it FAST will not improve, because there is a different technique required.  You'll need certain movements, like thumb over, and an efficient fingering to pull it off, none of which are necessary at a slow tempo.

So, slow motion practice is simply taking the way you would practice the piece fast, but slowing it down, without changing the movements.

Hope I didn't explain that too badly.

- Saturn