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Having problems with left hand arpeggio accompaniment pieces - how to practice? (Read 452 times)

Offline handz

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Hello

I am an amateur, self-taught, I am playing for years but never really practiced scales etc - this usually puts me off quite fast. But I definitely need some serious practice now.

I am "ok" with playing pieces that need octaves (actually these are my favorite to play) I can play Scriabin 11 6 / 11 14  - in terms, even it is sloppy "I can", but for god's sake I can't play anything that requires melody in the right hand and arpeggios in the left (chopins nocturnes which use this are my nightmare, same are the parts in Clair de Lune, Arabesque etc)  I can play  Nocturne 9 2,  I  can play  Rachs C sharp prelude (surprisingly nice piece to play),  I think I am generally  ok with chord/octave pieces but anything that requires steady left hand up and down arpegios are just impossible for me - are there any easy pieces / etudes / practice pieces for this kind of technique? thank you
In progress: <br />Scriabin: Preludes op 11 nr 6, 10, 17, 1<br />Rachmaninov: Prelude C# minor<br />Fibich: Poeme<br />Mussorgsky: Pictures at Exhibition Promenade, gnome

Offline roncesvalles

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I think a good starting point for this is Mozart and the Alberti bass (try k545).  The left hand stays stationary for the arpeggios, so you can get used to the hand coordination that way.  You could practice your arpeggios as well, starting with a stationary one octave arpeggio in your left hand and with your right hand play the notes of the arpeggio in quarter notes (if you're playing eighths in the left), getting used to the interplay of hands, eventually mixing it up so you play the notes of the arpeggio in different order in the right hand (like C, E, G;  C, G, E; E, C, G; E, G, C; G, C, E; G, E, C), first mastering this and then doing simple chord progressions.
In a lot of repertoire you're going to play arpeggios over more than one octave.  After you've gotten the hang of practicing with a left hand stationary arpeggio pattern, you can try practicing the same way but increasing the left hand's arpeggio to a second octave.  Once you can do this with control and ease, you might want to try some of Field's easier nocturnes.  They are a step towards the Chopin but aren't as chromatic, and there are less polyrhythms.  Last year I learned a couple Field nocturnes and Scriabin's Op. 11 no. 21 (the Scriabin has a very simple right hand which makes it a good piece to learn to play arpeggio accompaniment, but the left hand's arpeggios involve some large stretches that may be uncomfortable if you're not used to left hand arpeggios), and now I can play Chopin's easier arpeggio nocturnes.

Offline getsiegs

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I think the pieces you've listed as being troublesome to you would be great to start learning. Debussy's first Arabesque isn't too complicated other than the polyrhythms and a few awkward spots, and the flowing nature of the piece could really help you get more comfortable with arpeggios. After that you could try stepping up to Clair de Lune. Another piece I'd throw in the mix is Liszt's Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major. It's such a lovely piece and the RH is very easy for most of it. For nocturnes, maybe Op. 72 No. 1 in E minor would be a good choice? It's on the easier side, as opposed to Op. 27 No. 2 in D flat which is one of the harder ones (but is a great challenge for managing LH arpeggios while the RH carries the melody!)

Offline anacrusis

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What aspects of playing arpeggios do you have trouble with? If it were an arpeggio going up and down in the "same spot" where you don't have to move your hand to a new position - (going up) G B D F (and then going down again) D B G for example - would that be difficult for you? Or is it when you have to pass over the thumb to a new position that you get problems? What exactly are the problems you experience?

Offline handz

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I think a good starting point for this is Mozart and the Alberti bass (try k545).  The left hand stays stationary for the arpeggios, so you can get used to the hand coordination that way.  You could practice your arpeggios as well, starting with a stationary one octave arpeggio in your left hand and with your right hand play the notes of the arpeggio in quarter notes (if you're playing eighths in the left), getting used to the interplay of hands, eventually mixing it up so you play the notes of the arpeggio in different order in the right hand (like C, E, G;  C, G, E; E, C, G; E, G, C; G, C, E; G, E, C), first mastering this and then doing simple chord progressions.
In a lot of repertoire you're going to play arpeggios over more than one octave.  After you've gotten the hang of practicing with a left hand stationary arpeggio pattern, you can try practicing the same way but increasing the left hand's arpeggio to a second octave.  Once you can do this with control and ease, you might want to try some of Field's easier nocturnes.  They are a step towards the Chopin but aren't as chromatic, and there are less polyrhythms.  Last year I learned a couple Field nocturnes and Scriabin's Op. 11 no. 21 (the Scriabin has a very simple right hand which makes it a good piece to learn to play arpeggio accompaniment, but the left hand's arpeggios involve some large stretches that may be uncomfortable if you're not used to left hand arpeggios), and now I can play Chopin's easier arpeggio nocturnes.

Thank you so much for your time for such a long reply - I will definitely try this and Fields Nocturnes as well.  Thank you!!!
In progress: <br />Scriabin: Preludes op 11 nr 6, 10, 17, 1<br />Rachmaninov: Prelude C# minor<br />Fibich: Poeme<br />Mussorgsky: Pictures at Exhibition Promenade, gnome

Offline handz

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I think the pieces you've listed as being troublesome to you would be great to start learning. Debussy's first Arabesque isn't too complicated other than the polyrhythms and a few awkward spots, and the flowing nature of the piece could really help you get more comfortable with arpeggios. After that you could try stepping up to Clair de Lune. Another piece I'd throw in the mix is Liszt's Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major. It's such a lovely piece and the RH is very easy for most of it. For nocturnes, maybe Op. 72 No. 1 in E minor would be a good choice? It's on the easier side, as opposed to Op. 27 No. 2 in D flat which is one of the harder ones (but is a great challenge for managing LH arpeggios while the RH carries the melody!)

Believe me, I have tried but they give me a headache and frustration, honestly, Clair de lune is a bit easier to me but play it in tempo is impossible for me.

COnsolation n.3 is beautiful, this one I tried already some time ago and it may be a good idea to give it another try!

thank you
In progress: <br />Scriabin: Preludes op 11 nr 6, 10, 17, 1<br />Rachmaninov: Prelude C# minor<br />Fibich: Poeme<br />Mussorgsky: Pictures at Exhibition Promenade, gnome

Offline handz

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What aspects of playing arpeggios do you have trouble with? If it were an arpeggio going up and down in the "same spot" where you don't have to move your hand to a new position - (going up) G B D F (and then going down again) D B G for example - would that be difficult for you? Or is it when you have to pass over the thumb to a new position that you get problems? What exactly are the problems you experience?

Mostly 2nd option - I can play the arpeggios, this is fine, I just can't play them along with melody in RH. When I need to move LH to a new position - things fall apart.   I can play the start of Fantasie Impromptu, but once arpeggios have to change in LH I start to hit wrong notes, I can overcome it by playing million times over and over to get it to muscle memory but this is extremely time consuming and head hurting, I cant play these with any ease....
In progress: <br />Scriabin: Preludes op 11 nr 6, 10, 17, 1<br />Rachmaninov: Prelude C# minor<br />Fibich: Poeme<br />Mussorgsky: Pictures at Exhibition Promenade, gnome

Offline ranjit

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Interesting! I was self taught and I had the opposite problem -- I could play melody+ accompaniment really well (I could tackle a Chopin nocturne after a year and a half), but I couldn't play HT Bach etc. to save my life.

Can you improvise? Try and improvise covers of pop songs (seriously!). Or even other pieces of music. After practicing for a while, your brain should get used to thinking about the melody and the accompaniment doing its own thing. Good luck!

Offline roncesvalles

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It's just going to take a bit of practice.  It's going to feel awkward at first, but you'll get used to it, and sometime in the not too far future playing many kinds of arpeggios under a melody is going to be second nature to you.

At first it might be a good idea to understand the music.  Look at the arpeggio and say what chord they are arpeggiating.  Look at the melody and see what it's doing (is it starting on the fifth and making a move towards the tonic?  is it just using tones common to the arpeggio?  is it moving stepwise, so it has both chordal tones and non chordal ones?).  Knowing this kind of thing can help you, because the new arpeggio configurations and hand motions require a lot of processing for you at first when it comes to coordination with both hands.   You can also try things like, if there's a note in the rh that sounds right when you move your hand in the lh that is giving you problems, just omit the rh note for the time being, playing every other rh note in the measure comfortably, so you can focus at first at your hand choreography.  then when you're more comfortable slow it down, maybe even pause if you have to at the jump or shift of lh hand position, and play it with the rh note, and gradually work on making that pause or deceleration less and less.  It's going to be a process, but you can probably play arpeggios right now hands separate, and you can play melodies, so it's mostly a matter of processing and habituation .