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Exercises for the thumb? (Read 628 times)

Offline maxim3

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Exercises for the thumb?
« on: June 30, 2019, 10:30:14 PM »
I think just about every piano text I've ever seen has exercises devoted to getting the thumb around, thumb under, thumb over etc. etc. There are a zillion of them. I'd like to do some thumb exercises for a total of a few minutes a week.

Are there some that are most widely considered excellent (by people who believe in the value of exercises)? Or all they all more or less the same?

Offline georgey

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Re: Exercises for the thumb?
«Reply #1 on: July 01, 2019, 12:17:14 AM »
I think just about every piano text I've ever seen has exercises devoted to getting the thumb around, thumb under, thumb over etc. etc. There are a zillion of them. I'd like to do some thumb exercises for a total of a few minutes a week.

Are there some that are most widely considered excellent (by people who believe in the value of exercises)? Or all they all more or less the same?

I don't play the piano.  But I seem to recall that Brahms has some good exercises for the thumb.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Exercises for the thumb?
«Reply #2 on: July 01, 2019, 03:08:13 AM »
I don't play the piano.  But I seem to recall that Brahms has some good exercises for the thumb.

Who?  Oh, that guy.  More seriously, I've never gotten very far with it, let alone mastered it, but the Brahms study for LH of one of Bach's chaconnes seems pretty much tailor-made to work every aspect of the thumb, at least in LH.  IIRC.  It's not very hard to read, though, and it doesn't have to be played at tempo.

At any rate, you wouldn't get much music out of it lacking an opposable thumb.

Similarly, I'm tying to summon up in memory which of the Chopin préludes work the thumb.

The first one, certainly.  Very brief, and doesn't need to be played at tempo.  The third (G major) uses thumb in both LH and RH as a kind of a "pivot" around which reach is extended.  The second (A minor) is, looked at a certain way, almost a Hanonesque study in endurance and precision at slow speed.  Can't be played without working the thumb pretty good.

There are quite a few which are way beyond many people's technique, but could be used slowly as exercises.

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For a more "exercise" thing, you could try, in the right hand, for example, reaching an octave and, with the thumb alternating with the octave note, play as much of a given scale (major, minor, one of the modes perhaps) upwards until you reach the limit of how close you can reach the octave with your thumb ascending.

I just thought of that one, thinking it's a fun idea, sort of a RH variation on doing a boogie woogie pattern in LH.

E.g., it would look like:  C3, C4, D3, C4, E3, C4 F3, C4, G3, C4 and so forth.

Slightly more interesting than just playing all scales with thumb alone.

I think the variations on this kind of exercise are pretty vast, limited only by your imagination.

Instead of using the pinky on the upper octave as a pivot or an anchor, you could use other fingers/tones while continuing to work the thumb.

For example, you could use finger two on, say, the second degree of a scale, and isolate moving the thumb up and under the second finger.  I'm not sure I'd spend a lot of time on that variation, for fear of getting too enthusiastic and straining one of the tendons. 

There's really no limit, and the advantage is you don't need any sheet music for these, since they're so simple.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Exercises for the thumb?
«Reply #3 on: July 09, 2019, 12:25:11 PM »
I doubt the value.

But if you want a text that goes into thumb exercises in excruciating detail, it's that Leschevitzki one, and it's a free download.  Yeah, I misspelled it, haven't a clue how to spell it right, but there's nothing else close. 
Tim

Offline maxim3

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Re: Exercises for the thumb?
«Reply #4 on: July 09, 2019, 08:36:53 PM »
I assume you are referring to "The Leschetizky Method" by Theodor Leschetizky... 'excruciating detail' is right. In fact it's downright intimidating. I think I'll just stick with Hanon for now, which at least doesn't make me tremble with terror = )

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Exercises for the thumb?
«Reply #5 on: July 10, 2019, 11:36:33 AM »
I don't know any exercise that can't be done incorrectly and therefore not work.

It's not just the notes, it's the intent of the exercise and the matching of the form to it.

Several times I've been at a master class or group session where the creator or teacher of an exercise demonstrated it, and it was done significantly different from the way I'd been doing it. 
Tim