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Uneven scales, overactive thumb (Read 2287 times)

Offline expressman70

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Uneven scales, overactive thumb
« on: February 20, 2016, 09:56:00 PM »
Hello all!

 I am still having some issues with the thumb being too loud in arpeggios, especially the 7th chords, and scales, especially the c major. Are there any recommendations to achieve a smooth equal scale and arpeggios. I have read some stuff, but it would be great if you could share your experience about this if you ever faced it.

Thank you!!!

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 10:31:43 PM »
Use the force Luke! (in other words try listening)
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline mjames

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #2 on: February 21, 2016, 12:03:00 AM »
stop feeding it so much sugar
Composing/improvising

Chopin's 4th ballade and 3rd sonata.
Scriabin Op. 42 no. 1, 2, and 3.
Bach Partita No.4

Offline recnepspencer

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #3 on: February 21, 2016, 12:20:09 AM »
There are a few things you can do: First, just play it very slowly so you can focus on consistent velocity. The next thing you can do is try either turning off the metronome or turning it to 1 note per tick. The metronome is good for keeping an accurate tempo, but it can cause undesired emphasis on the tick notes.
Recently learned:
Beethoven- sonata 32, op111, I
Chopin- sonata 2, scherzo
Liszt-Etude 4, S.136
Rachmaninoff-Prelude C Sharp Minor
Learning:
Liszt-Transcendeal Etude 2
Chopin-Etude op25 no 11

Offline jimroof

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #4 on: February 21, 2016, 08:29:57 PM »
Hello all!

 I am still having some issues with the thumb being too loud in arpeggios, especially the 7th chords, and scales, especially the c major. Are there any recommendations to achieve a smooth equal scale and arpeggios. I have read some stuff, but it would be great if you could share your experience about this if you ever faced it.

Thank you!!!

Here is where the 'arm weight' proponents would argue that the keys are mostly controlled by the weight of the arm that is transferred to the piano through the fingers in lieu of the fingers STRIKING the keys.  If we are really going to rely on finger strength, then there is not a pianist alive whose fourth finger can compete with the the other 4.  However, the fourth finger IS totally capable of transferring weight to the keys. 

I would encourage you to at least TRY to feel a constant arm weight through your hands as you do some scales at moderate tempo.  My guess is that your thumb is not so much too strong as it is too detached from the process.  If you play a piece that calls for bringing out the top note in RH chords, are you able to do that OK or does the thumb like to make its note speak out too loud too? 

As you play your scales, see what happens if you LITERALLY let your fingers act as legs that are holding up your arms.  Your arms have to be very relaxed for this to happen, as well as your shoulders.  So, thinking in terms of the right hand, using C as the scale, the weight from the thumb on C is transferred to 2 on D, the from 2 to 3, then the thumb efficiently rotates under 3 to take the weight off of the middle finger in a smooth transfer.  Obviously this kind of playing is not possible all the time, but if you can get the hang of it, it is a great way to even out bumpy spots in passage work and also to control dynamics by ONE thing (arm weight) instead of trying to get FIVE things (fingers) to act properly together.
Chopin Ballades
Chopin Scherzos 2 and 3
Mephisto Waltz 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto 3
Schumann Concerto Am
Ginastera Piano Sonata
L'isle Joyeuse
Feux d'Artifice
Prokofiev Sonata Dm

Offline kawai_cs

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 08:53:20 PM »
it is a great way to even out bumpy spots in passage work and also to control dynamics by ONE thing (arm weight) instead of trying to get FIVE things (fingers) to act properly together.

+1. What an amazing explanation!
Chopin, 10-8 | Chopin, 25-12 | Haydn, HOB XVI:20

Offline expressman70

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #6 on: February 21, 2016, 09:44:11 PM »
Here is where the 'arm weight' proponents would argue that the keys are mostly controlled by the weight of the arm that is transferred to the piano through the fingers in lieu of the fingers STRIKING the keys.  If we are really going to rely on finger strength, then there is not a pianist alive whose fourth finger can compete with the the other 4.  However, the fourth finger IS totally capable of transferring weight to the keys. 

I would encourage you to at least TRY to feel a constant arm weight through your hands as you do some scales at moderate tempo.  My guess is that your thumb is not so much too strong as it is too detached from the process.  If you play a piece that calls for bringing out the top note in RH chords, are you able to do that OK or does the thumb like to make its note speak out too loud too? 

As you play your scales, see what happens if you LITERALLY let your fingers act as legs that are holding up your arms.  Your arms have to be very relaxed for this to happen, as well as your shoulders.  So, thinking in terms of the right hand, using C as the scale, the weight from the thumb on C is transferred to 2 on D, the from 2 to 3, then the thumb efficiently rotates under 3 to take the weight off of the middle finger in a smooth transfer.  Obviously this kind of playing is not possible all the time, but if you can get the hang of it, it is a great way to even out bumpy spots in passage work and also to control dynamics by ONE thing (arm weight) instead of trying to get FIVE things (fingers) to act properly together.

Thank you, I also want to add on that if I play scale I manage to have legato going in direction of thumb( RH going from high to low) and bass from low to high. The problem is going opposite of thumb. I don't know why. I am sorry I forgot to add this, as I am fine in going towards thumb.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 01:50:49 PM »
Here's another thing to try in order to avoid the "thumb bump" that can make scales uneven. This is for RH going up or LH going down. One thing that causes the "bump" is that you move the thumb quickly to get it into position, passing it under the hand, and you use that same motion to strike the key. That tends to make it too loud. So try this. Do the scale slowly, very slowly, but when you are going to move the thumb under your hand, make that motion of the thumb quite quick and then stop the thumb over the note you will play without actually playing it, then strike the note with the appropriate volume. If your scale is slow enough, you can do this in perfect time. So everything is slow, except the motion of the thumb positioning itself over the note. Doing this will force you to separate the movement of the thumb into position from the actual striking of the note and give you better control of the volume you produce with the thumb. Of course, when you speed up the motions will blend together again, but you will hopefully have learned how to control the positioning of the thumb separately from the striking of the key.

All the things that others have said about weight, and controlling the sound with the arm are important, too.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #8 on: February 23, 2016, 03:34:01 PM »
Use the force Luke! (in other words try listening)

these are not the droids you're looking for


lol.

alright... you want smooth hands... HANON   lots of it... at least 15-20 mins a day at the beginning of your practice session.  Start slow and use a metronome.  after a few weeks of starting your practice sessions this way...go back to your old routine and see if you don't notice a difference.  Record yourself playing your pieces now...then give a few weeks to Hanon EVERY DAY at the start of your practice...be mindful and try not to detach from what you are doing.---then record your pieces again... I would so love it if you would post both versions.  That would go so far in the Hanon debates around here.

It worked for me... my chops are on the link below... those are from Czerny and Hanon.  

Offline xdjuicebox

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #9 on: February 23, 2016, 09:13:42 PM »
Your thumb is approaching the key too fast. There are a couple causes, but most likely you're not lowering your forearm slightly, and so you compromise for this by slamming your thumb down (the thumb is a short finger and can't reach as low as the other fingers can). To fix this, just drop your forearm a bit (NOT your wrist!) before you play the thumb and come back up for everything else.
I am trying to become Franz Liszt. Trying. And failing.

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #10 on: February 24, 2016, 10:16:38 AM »
Do you shout by forcing air out of your lungs or because you want to?  Do you whisper by decreasing the air or because that's your wish?  If it's not really on your wish list it's not going to happen.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #11 on: February 24, 2016, 03:08:19 PM »
Do you shout by forcing air out of your lungs or because you want to?  Do you whisper by decreasing the air or because that's your wish?  If it's not really on your wish list it's not going to happen.

don't think...do.

we should be a team hardy practice..  my name is Laurie..

Laurie and Hardy.. yuk yuk yuk


Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #12 on: February 24, 2016, 05:48:44 PM »
Yeh, a tag team?  My worst students are always singers - they insist on thinking!  The only result is a funny wave goes over their face and body, and then a sound comes out.  Sheesh already!
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #13 on: February 24, 2016, 11:09:28 PM »
Hello all!

 I am still having some issues with the thumb being too loud in arpeggios, especially the 7th chords, and scales, especially the c major. Are there any recommendations to achieve a smooth equal scale and arpeggios. I have read some stuff, but it would be great if you could share your experience about this if you ever faced it.

Thank you!!!
Have you checked your personal messages?  Please respond by PM.

Thanks.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #14 on: February 25, 2016, 02:18:00 PM »
Yeh, a tag team?  My worst students are always singers - they insist on thinking!  The only result is a funny wave goes over their face and body, and then a sound comes out.  Sheesh already!

too young aren't you...  Laurel and Hardy  -- an ancient slapstick comedy duo from the days when movies first became "talkies"     (not to imply I was around then either--my grandpa showed their movies on his projector,)

as far as singers... I find that if they have made it their 20s without learning to play any instrument, save their "golden throats"--it's almost hopeless.   They have already attained "diva-hood" through singing and playing the piano is just "too hard."   Don't get me started on singers... I will accompany them (for money, of course)--

but it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then for a diva to learn to play the piano.

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #15 on: February 25, 2016, 05:26:19 PM »
On...the....blue ridge mountains of Virginia....
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #16 on: February 25, 2016, 11:40:48 PM »
On...the....blue ridge mountains of Virginia....

Okay, I give up.  For any and all who want to know SPECIFICALLY how to address the Op's problem.  You may contact me by PM.

It is a universally common problem, which, if not properly addressed, will impede any pianist's development.  That is not just my opinion, it is the truth!

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #17 on: February 26, 2016, 07:20:27 AM »
It is a universally common problem, which, if not properly addressed, will impede any pianist's development.  That is not just my opinion, it is the truth!
...and there's no point trying to solve it by mechanical means.  The body doesn't work like that.  Listen for what you want and the body will deliver.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline virtuoso80

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #18 on: February 28, 2016, 03:18:20 AM »
The arm weight post basically says what I was going to say. Another thing to try is accenting different fingers as the downbeat. Make the 2nd note the downbeat, then make the 3rd note the downbeat, (then the 4th note for 7th chords) etc.

You can also mix it up - one of my favorite scale exercises to give to students is to play them as eighth notes in 5/8 time with accents on 1 and 4. You can do arpeggios that way too.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Uneven scales, overactive thumb
«Reply #19 on: February 29, 2016, 12:20:33 PM »
The arm weight post basically says what I was going to say. Another thing to try is accenting different fingers as the downbeat. Make the 2nd note the downbeat, then make the 3rd note the downbeat, (then the 4th note for 7th chords) etc.

You can also mix it up - one of my favorite scale exercises to give to students is to play them as eighth notes in 5/8 time with accents on 1 and 4. You can do arpeggios that way too.

Good suggestions. Another similar thing to do is to practice scales over four octaves in triplets - if you do them three times, the accented notes cycle through all possible fingers and you end up back on the down beat.