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Author Topic: Fur Elise fingering (reading Chang)  (Read 5761 times)
torchygirl
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« on: April 24, 2005, 11:19:08 PM »

Hey all!

I am reading Chang and decided to start Fur Elise in an attempt to better understand his references.  My teacher is out of town (now I'd love to have daily lessons since I'm quite confused!!).  I have (finally) figured out what Chang means by interruptions ( Embarrassed) (hey, the numbering didn't seem to add up at first!!), but am a bit clueless with what to do with them. Cry  I have also been listening to a recording of it (would love recommendations for a better one).  I am using the www.mfiles.co.uk printout.

So, on measure 54 (32 on printout - which excludes repeats) I have been working on that set of 32nd notes by playing the lower notes simultaneous with the G - attempting to simulate fast play (with a loose wrist).  Then I've been separating them by pretending the lower notes are almost like grace notes to the G's.  Is this correct? 

Also, Chang mentions using both the 1st and the 2nd finger as the optimum way to play this series.  Could anyone elaborate on that?  I have been using the thumb until D then switching to the second finger and going thumb under to onto G (haven't gotten to thumb over yet) and then getting all confused (fetching  Grin).

How the heck do you guys include the sheet music image?  I have been trying to just include my snippet, but no go!  I will post url between image markers thinking perhaps.....but I'll sign off first not knowing what's coming up.

Fondly,
Karen


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piano sheet music of Für Elise
torchygirl
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2005, 11:24:26 PM »

Grrr, didn't work.  I'll just do this for now.  Double grrrrrr (I only resort to this strong a language when it's been a really rough day....so pardon me).

http://www.mfiles.co.uk/Scores/Fur-Elise.pdf

Karen
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xvimbi
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2005, 12:56:34 AM »

So, on measure 54 (32 on printout - which excludes repeats) I have been working on that set of 32nd notes by playing the lower notes simultaneous with the G - attempting to simulate fast play (with a loose wrist).  Then I've been separating them by pretending the lower notes are almost like grace notes to the G's.  Is this correct? 

Also, Chang mentions using both the 1st and the 2nd finger as the optimum way to play this series.  Could anyone elaborate on that?  I have been using the thumb until D then switching to the second finger and going thumb under to onto G (haven't gotten to thumb over yet) and then getting all confused (fetching  Grin).

That is one way to do it, but starting slow and increasing the speed works well too. What chord technique neglects is a that this section is a great place to learn about forearm rotations. Play the first GG in measure 32 by holding thumb and the pinky more or less rigid. Relax the other fingers. Now, rotate your forearm left and right to play the GG repeatedly. Then, add some small amount of movement to the thumb and the pinky. Get the hang of that feeling. Then work on the rest. Walk your thumb up to the D, but play the D with your second finger. Then, do not do a thumb-under (TU). At the final speed this section must be played, TU doesn't work well. Instead, while you are pivoting on your pinky, contract (close) your hand so that the thumb falls onto the E. Then continue. A (potential) hurdle will be the GFD|C in measures 32|33, while there is GFD|E in measures 35|36. These things always confuse the brain. Try thinking about these four-note groups as composed of two two-note groups, if you have problems there.

This section is the most difficult one. You need to get it to your fastest speed, otherwise everything else will be too slow. There are several stumbling stones in this section. Learn it HS first really well, before attempting putting the hands together. Measure 27, LH, this is probably weird. First, getting the hang (again) of the forearm rotation is one thing, but also, the chord is quite dissonant, which doesn't help getting it worked out, plus forearm rotation with fingers 245 playing a chord is not trivial. Measure 28: If you have problems with the grace note, forget it for a while. Get the rhythm right first, then just drop in the extra note (you can just let finger 3 drop onto it and kind of roll off onto finger 2 playing the A). Similar with the turn in measure 31. It has to be played within a single 16th note. Take your time with that. Most importantly, make sure from the very beginning that your rhythm is correct. Keep it steady.

Finally, get a decent recording. A MIDI file doesn't really do this piece justice.
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torchygirl
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2005, 02:26:39 AM »

Once again xvimbi, thank you for your help.   (If you don't mind my asking, is xvimbi meaningful in some way that I am ignorant of?)

When you say that I can work this part out slowly first, you mean that this particular passage doesn't play any differently fast or slow (ie, your body movements don't need to change, they have the same form at any speed)?

Excellent advice on the C to E switcharoo (thinking of it as 2 sets of 2).

Not worried about turn yet and am just ignoring it for now (I did google up it's definition).

Steady rhythm, ha!  I laugh.  I guess I could keep it steady over one measure! 

Thanks again xvimbi.

Karen
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xvimbi
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2005, 02:48:48 AM »

Once again xvimbi, thank you for your help.   (If you don't mind my asking, is xvimbi meaningful in some way that I am ignorant of?)

Yes, it does have a meaning, but only insiders would know.

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When you say that I can work this part out slowly first, you mean that this particular passage doesn't play any differently fast or slow (ie, your body movements don't need to change, they have the same form at any speed)?

Not quite. I meant, work it out at fast speed, then play it in slow motion. The problem is, though, you need to make sure you know what the motions should be at high tempo. Your teacher needs to show you. Then speed up over time, whereby the emphasis must be on complete control over every note. Make sure your body is free of unnecessary tension before you get faster. Take measure 27 again (LH). This measure will probably require some time to bceome completely comfortable. I can tell you more about it if you want to. Everything else should be fairly straightforward. One more thing: a section that sounds legato at high speed will not sound legato when done with slow motions. Try to get used to that. Don't try to connect notes, which will require lingering in the keybed and, often, reaching for the next note, which will result in tension and joint issues.

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Steady rhythm, ha!  I laugh.  I guess I could keep it steady over one measure!

I would like to mildly insist on this, though. I know it is tough, and it requires a lot of discipline. It is tempting to play fast a measure that one can do easily, followed by playing slowly a measure one is having problems with. However, this is a very bad habit. In the long run, it pays off to play the whole shabang at the fastest, steady tempo, no matter how slow this ends up being. There is no problem working on small chunks at different tempi, but when you play an entire section, play it in one tempo and try to be rhythmically correct. Actually, make correct rhythm a top priority. So many problems resolve automatically once you've mastered the rhythm.
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torchygirl
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2005, 06:46:00 PM »

Yes, it does have a meaning, but only insiders would know.

Gee, suddenly I feel like I'm sitting at the school lunch table all by myself Grin.

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Not quite. I meant, work it out at fast speed, then play it in slow motion. The problem is, though, you need to make sure you know what the motions should be at high tempo. Your teacher needs to show you. Then speed up over time, whereby the emphasis must be on complete control over every note. Make sure your body is free of unnecessary tension before you get faster. Take measure 27 again (LH). This measure will probably require some time to bceome completely comfortable. I can tell you more about it if you want to. Everything else should be fairly straightforward. One more thing: a section that sounds legato at high speed will not sound legato when done with slow motions. Try to get used to that. Don't try to connect notes, which will require lingering in the keybed and, often, reaching for the next note, which will result in tension and joint issues.

Love to hear what you'd have to say.  Yes, I've kind of realized that I can't legato it in the usual way.  I wonder if all really fast phrases are played "legato" because the extra motion to staccato them can't be done?

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I would like to mildly insist on this, though. I know it is tough, and it requires a lot of discipline. It is tempting to play fast a measure that one can do easily, followed by playing slowly a measure one is having problems with. However, this is a very bad habit. In the long run, it pays off to play the whole shabang at the fastest, steady tempo, no matter how slow this ends up being. There is no problem working on small chunks at different tempi, but when you play an entire section, play it in one tempo and try to be rhythmically correct. Actually, make correct rhythm a top priority. So many problems resolve automatically once you've mastered the rhythm.


I don't have a good, intuitive feeling for how fast that is.  As a result, I am just playing everything (here, at least) as fast as I can.  I listen to the music, and attempt to approximate it.

Also, I think that maybe my "chord to pseudo grace note" method is resulting in your arm rotation method.  I end up with a petting-the-dog sort of movement (imagine a dog standing in profile, head to the right: start the stroke at the head when play the thumb, slide down the neck and start lift to go back towards the head to play the pinkie; repeat).  My thumb leads the rotation doing a clockwise circle to get up to the next note, and my pinkie stabilizes the back of the hand on the G.  Yes?  Maybe I will videotape my hands on this (but don't hold your breath seeing as how I spent about 1/2 hour trying to get the silly music piece in here....couldn't find any links that were relevent!).  In the not too distant future we will video conference about this and all these wordy explanations will seem archaic!  (Better start working on my situps!)

Well, you have been very patient with me xvimbi (I say that "x-vimbee" but perhaps I should be saying "16 maybe I"   Smiley  Thank you for your insights.  Others are free to join in.

Karen
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xvimbi
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2005, 07:15:30 PM »

Love to hear what you'd have to say.

Well, let me ask you first whether you are having difficulties with this measure in the first place.

Quote
Yes, I've kind of realized that I can't legato it in the usual way.  I wonder if all really fast phrases are played "legato" because the extra motion to staccato them can't be done?

It's slightly different. True legato is when the sound of one note stops EXACTLY at the moment the sound of the next note begins. It is one of the most difficult technical aspects of playing the piano (too me anyway). When playing very slowly, one has to release the first note simultaneously with the depressing of the next key. In reality, when a key is released, the note will still sound a bit and slowly peter out. This is called decay, and it depends on the piano and how the key is released. As a consequence, if one presses the next key while the sound of the first note is still decaying (its key has been released), one will end up with a slight non-legato. To cut a long story short, at faster speeds, one can practically play portato or even staccato and still achieve a legato effect, because of the sound decay.

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I don't have a good, intuitive feeling for how fast that is.  As a result, I am just playing everything (here, at least) as fast as I can.  I listen to the music, and attempt to approximate it.

I would defer this to a later point in time. IMHO, it is more important to play accurately at this point. This does include rhythmic accuracy.

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Also, I think that maybe my "chord to pseudo grace note" method is resulting in your arm rotation method.  I end up with a petting-the-dog sort of movement (imagine a dog standing in profile, head to the right: start the stroke at the head when play the thumb, slide down the neck and start lift to go back towards the head to play the pinkie; repeat).  My thumb leads the rotation doing a clockwise circle to get up to the next note, and my pinkie stabilizes the back of the hand on the G.  Yes?  Maybe I will videotape my hands on this (but don't hold your breath seeing as how I spent about 1/2 hour trying to get the silly music piece in here....couldn't find any links that were relevent!).  In the not too distant future we will video conference about this and all these wordy explanations will seem archaic!  (Better start working on my situps!)

I'm not quite sure. It's more like the following: Put your right hand on a table. Now, rotate your forearm such that the hand pivots around the pinky, thus lifting all other fingers off the surface. Now, reverse the motion, until the thumb hits the surface. Keep on going in the same direction, i.e. the hand now pivots around the thumb. Do this "rocking" motion back and forth. This is forearm rotation. There is no lateral translation of the hand involved, as in your petting example (if I understood correctly). The interval between the pinky and the thumb is then controlled by stretching the hand more or less.

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Well, you have been very patient with me xvimbi (I say that "x-vimbee" but perhaps I should be saying "16 maybe I"   Smiley  Thank you for your insights.  Others are free to join in.

My, it's pronounced "x-fimbee", of course Cheesy
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torchygirl
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2005, 11:41:42 PM »

Well, let me ask you first whether you are having difficulties with this measure in the first place.

I have not worked on it a great deal...I could be contending with the 32nd notes for a bit.  But the teeny bit I have worked on it was just trying to play all the notes simultaneously at speed (or there abouts Wink....are you recommending a metronome?).


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I'm not quite sure. It's more like the following: Put your right hand on a table. Now, rotate your forearm such that the hand pivots around the pinky, thus lifting all other fingers off the surface. Now, reverse the motion, until the thumb hits the surface. Keep on going in the same direction, i.e. the hand now pivots around the thumb. Do this "rocking" motion back and forth. This is forearm rotation. There is no lateral translation of the hand involved, as in your petting example (if I understood correctly). The interval between the pinky and the thumb is then controlled by stretching the hand more or less.

Yes, you are right.  My petting example was not accurate because that hand doesn't move that much ...so it's petting a dog that's moving back and forth under my hand! Grin

And I'm trying not to rock, but to circle, because of that agonist antagonist stuff (or something like that), right? Cheesy

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My, it's pronounced "x-fimbee", of course Cheesy

Shouldn't your name be spelled "xfimbi" then? Smiley

Karen

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xvimbi
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2005, 01:49:56 AM »

I have not worked on it a great deal...I could be contending with the 32nd notes for a bit.  But the teeny bit I have worked on it was just trying to play all the notes simultaneously at speed (or there abouts Wink....are you recommending a metronome?).

Have you worked out the motions? If so, what do you use?

Concerning metronome, I would recommend using a metronome if you have problems keeping the correct rhythm without a metronome. When you are working HS on that section, you will either have to count (aloud) or use a metronome.

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And I'm trying not to rock, but to circle, because of that agonist antagonist stuff (or something like that), right? Cheesy

I think you could live with the agonist/antagonist motions. The muscles that drive the forearm rotations are in the upper arm. I wouldn't worry about it unless you feel tension there after repeatedly playing this section (do you feel tension?). Make sure your shoulder is not raised. In a fast passage like that, one can get excited easily and start raising the shoulders, tensing the neck, clenching the jaws and/or breathing irregularly. Pay attention to those things. Also, make sure your upper arm, wrist and hand are inactive. The forearm is active, and the fingers are slightly active. Initially, you may indeed have to add some lateral motion to play the octave interval (depending on how large your hand is). If it is fairly small, add that lateral motion ("pet the dog"); don't reach for the lower note by stretching your hand.


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Shouldn't your name be spelled "xfimbi" then? Smiley

Most certainly not. There are some languages where the "v" is pronounced like the English "f"
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torchygirl
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2005, 02:05:26 PM »

Have you worked out the motions? If so, what do you use?

I am just using chord attack I guess it is called.  Playing all notes at once.

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Concerning metronome, I would recommend using a metronome if you have problems keeping the correct rhythm without a metronome. When you are working HS on that section, you will either have to count (aloud) or use a metronome.

Xvimbi, I am trying to use Chang's methods.  So that means I am just working on a few notes at a time.  I don't think you recommend doing the metronome at the 1/32nd note speed, do you?  I guess I am thinking you would use them over groups of notes.  I haven't really put the notes together well enough to attain full speed yet.  Shouldn't I work within my abilities to play it (somewhat near) correctly?

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I think you could live with the agonist/antagonist motions. The muscles that drive the forearm rotations are in the upper arm. I wouldn't worry about it unless you feel tension there after repeatedly playing this section (do you feel tension?). Make sure your shoulder is not raised. In a fast passage like that, one can get excited easily and start raising the shoulders, tensing the neck, clenching the jaws and/or breathing irregularly. Pay attention to those things. Also, make sure your upper arm, wrist and hand are inactive. The forearm is active, and the fingers are slightly active. Initially, you may indeed have to add some lateral motion to play the octave interval (depending on how large your hand is). If it is fairly small, add that lateral motion ("pet the dog"); don't reach for the lower note by stretching your hand.

Stretching your hand is bad?  I do try to stay relaxed.  Although sometimes I'm sure it's hard to when my focus is so stressed.

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Most certainly not. There are some languages where the "v" is pronounced like the English "f"

I am so provincial  Embarrassed.  Enlighten me please?  I know "v" sound at least is in English, Spanish, Russian (no "v" shape that I can recall), French....
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xvimbi
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2005, 02:46:13 PM »

I am just using chord attack I guess it is called.  Playing all notes at once.

Does that mean you are playing all four notes (F,G,B#,E) at once? I am not sure if that’s the best way to go about it. Chord attack is useful, but it does not apply to any situation. In other words, don’t just go through the piece and learn everything using the chord attack. In places where the notes are fairly far apart, using the chord attack will likely result in a stretched, tense hand. Chord attack is really good for short scale fragments and similar situations where the notes are close together. Also, you will have to change your motions quite drastically when you abandon the chord attack in this measure. Might just as well start working on those motions right away.

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I don't think you recommend doing the metronome at the 1/32nd note speed, do you?  I guess I am thinking you would use them over groups of notes.  I haven't really put the notes together well enough to attain full speed yet.  Shouldn't I work within my abilities to play it (somewhat near) correctly?

You should always stay within your abilities. That’s what I mentioned earlier. Practice the chunks at speed if you want, but when you put them together you will have to play at one speed, which is the speed of the slowest chunk in the set. I’m not sure I understand your question about the metronome. I guess you are referring to the speed in the recording you have and which you may consider “final speed”. No, I don’t recommend that, for several reasons. One of them is that you need to practice not only the chunks but also the transitions between the chunks. But when you put everything together, your brain will initially need some time to recall what the next note is going to be. Your “brain speed” is what will limit your playing speed. One can’t achieve full brain speed right away. That’s one of the reasons why slow-motion practice is still extremely important.

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Stretching your hand is bad?  I do try to stay relaxed.  Although sometimes I'm sure it's hard to when my focus is so stressed.

As a general rule, stretching the hand is indeed bad. Stretching means being at the limits of one's range of mobility. This in itself is already bad enough, but when you start moving around with connected parts while one or more of them are stretched, you set yourself up for problems. Of course, one often can’t avoid stretched hand positions, e.g. when playing large chords. In these situations, one must try to reduce the time spent in the stretched position as much as possible. For example, if your hand is rather small, you may need to stretch to play the two G’s an octave apart in the fast section. Don’t! Rather, add a lateral motion to move your hand back and forth. One of the most common bad habits is “reaching”. Say, you have to play G with your thumb followed by a B an octave higher. In order to achieve a legato effect, one would be tempted to dwell on the G and stretch as much as possible to reach the B with the pinky. This is very bad, and if you observe yourself, I am convinced you will find that you are doing this all over the place. Everybody does! I still do it often enough, although I know better, and I have to tell myself every time to stop it. The Taubman approach is centered around concepts such as “NO STRETCHING”. A smooth, fluid technique and, sometimes, proper use of the pedal can help a lot.

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I am so provincial  Embarrassed.  Enlighten me please?  I know "v" sound at least is in English, Spanish, Russian (no "v" shape that I can recall), French....

Keep on guessing Smiley BTW, “v” in Spanish is pronounced more like “b” in English.
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torchygirl
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2005, 06:41:06 PM »

Does that mean you are playing all four notes (F,G,B#,E) at once? I am not sure if that’s the best way to go about it. Chord attack is useful, but it does not apply to any situation. In other words, don’t just go through the piece and learn everything using the chord attack. In places where the notes are fairly far apart, using the chord attack will likely result in a stretched, tense hand. Chord attack is really good for short scale fragments and similar situations where the notes are close together. Also, you will have to change your motions quite drastically when you abandon the chord attack in this measure. Might just as well start working on those motions right away.

Yes, I'm just using chord attack where I need to get transitions faster than is comfortable.  I probably am overstretching quite a bit, not realizing it was bad.

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You should always stay within your abilities. That’s what I mentioned earlier. Practice the chunks at speed if you want, but when you put them together you will have to play at one speed, which is the speed of the slowest chunk in the set.

Yes, this I realize.  And right now my chunks aren't uniform between themselves, but within themselves they are (at least sorta).

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I’m not sure I understand  your question about the metronome. I guess you are referring to the speed in the recording you have and which you may consider “final speed”. No, I don’t recommend that, for several reasons. One of them is that you need to practice not only the chunks but also the transitions between the chunks. But when you put everything together, your brain will initially need some time to recall what the next note is going to be. Your “brain speed” is what will limit your playing speed. One can’t achieve full brain speed right away. That’s one of the reasons why slow-motion practice is still extremely important.

Well, right back at ya UndecidedGrin.  I'm not sure I understand your comments re timing.  Yes, I am practicing the transitions as well, but those are usually the hardest and done at a much slower speed.   I may not be doing the transitions very well because I really don't understand how to move around the piano quickly.  Although I did like your explanation of thumb over on another post....rephrasing to add to the confusion:  it's basically just jumping the hand up, keeping it compacted before the jump to expedite the landing of the thumb on the next note.


 
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Rather, add a lateral motion to move your hand back and forth. One of the most common bad habits is “reaching”. Say, you have to play G with your thumb followed by a B an octave higher. In order to achieve a legato effect, one would be tempted to dwell on the G and stretch as much as possible to reach the B with the pinky. This is very bad, and if you observe yourself, I am convinced you will find that you are doing this all over the place.


Definitely.  I frequently use a large stretch to keep track of my location on the piano without looking (eg, when sight reading).

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Keep on guessing Smiley BTW, “v” in Spanish is pronounced more like “b” in English.

Hmmmm, hows'about Dutch?  I am restricting myself to considering a language which formally has all the letters x v i m b, correct?

Karen
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torchygirl
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2005, 04:04:48 PM »

Also, xvimbi (or others), what is the best way to play the measure you asked about F, G, Bflat, E measure 27?  Do you "leap" between the the lower set (FGBflat on 543 and E on 1)?
 
And (I hope I'm not asking too much) on measure 33, should the fingering from C be 54321, middle finger over so 3, 2, ...?

Thanks for any help!!!!!!!   Smiley

Karen
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2005, 04:35:30 PM »

Here are my thoughts:

Also, xvimbi (or others), what is the best way to play the measure you asked about F, G, Bflat, E measure 27?  Do you "leap" between the the lower set (FGBflat on 543 and E on 1)?

All the notes should fit under the hand just fine. Forearm rotation alone will not be the best way, because the notes in the chord need to be played at the same time, which will be difficult. I find a forward-backward rocking motion with a little bit of forearm rotation the best way. The rocking motion is essentially nothing else than lifting and lowering the wrist by moving the arm forwards and backwards. So, play the E with the thumb, wrist rather low, then lift the wrist until fingers 5,4,2 touch the keys in the chord. Keep on moving the arm forward until the thumb comes off and the chord starts to sound. Reverse the motion to play the E again, and so on. Yes, I use fingers 5, 4, and 2, not 3, but this might be a personal preference. The fingers are slightly active during all this.

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And (I hope I'm not asking too much) on measure 33, should the fingering from C be 54321, middle finger over so 3, 2, ...?

I'm a bit confused about the numbering of the measures right now, but I assume you are talking about the descending scale. Also, try 54321-21.

[Edit: removed some typos]
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2005, 09:03:08 PM »

Thank you again xvimbi for your time and knowledge.

Karen
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