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Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

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Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby mikehalloran » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:16 am

Like the title says. I’ve been meaning to get better on the keyboard for years and it’s about time I got off the stick. It took 8 years for my voice to come back so I’m ready to move on.

I need something for the right hand as my left arm is paralyzed. The Czerny is an obvious choice and I’ve been working in it but I’d like to find something more rock’n’roll for organ.

Any ideas?
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby stubbsonic » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:24 am

Not "rock & roll" per se, but I have a book of Essential Finger Exercises by Ernő Dohnányi. They are brutal. I confess I've not done them very much, but I expect if I did-- they would either help me or give me crippling tendonitis.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby FMiguelez » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:58 pm

The Oscar Beringer, while not the most musical, gives you very good dexterity. Each excercise focuses on certain fingering and independence problems (fingers 4-5, 3-4-5, etc), always with the the same major-minor-diminished pattern in all keys. Kind of like the Hanon, but probably better.

The one I have has a white cover, but I think this is the same book:
https://www.amazon.com/Oscar-Beringer-D ... B0038G2P0Q

The Czerny is very good, and thankfuly musical. I'd keep working on it as well.

Even with the right hand on its own, the Bartok Microcosmos would be also a great, effective and fun way to acquire good piano chops. As you know, it gets progressively harder, and most titles tell you the focus of the relevant technique/problem to tackle. Hell, you might get into this one so heavily that you might end up wanting to sequence the L.H. and play them along with the R.H. Nice excercises with awesome music!

Scales and arpeggios will also excercise the other technical aspects. Not fun, but effective. Oh, also try them going down-up, not only up-down :)
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby mikehalloran » Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:00 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. I may have the Bartok around here somewhere. I’ll get a copy of Beringer, too.

I forgot all about Hanon. For ... I dunno, the first 20 years we were married, my wife started every practice session with him.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby cuttime » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:51 pm

I'm not a physical therapist, and I don't think we are talking about Liszt style pyrotechnics, but I'd start with J.S. Bach's Two Part Inventions. Follow with Three Part Inventions and finish with WTC Books I & II. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Domenico Scarlatti's Sonatas for extra credit.

There's nothing like polyphony to get those hemispheres working together.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby mikehalloran » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:21 am

Physical therapy isn’t the issue. I am incapable of placing my left arm onto a piano with my palm parallel to the keys. My right arm lost none of its functionality but I barely passed my piano proficiency test and, as a string player, never attempted to improve.

I have playing opportunities but would like to get better. Time to woodshed. With two pianos and multiple electronic keyboards, it’s not like I don’t have anything to play.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby Shooshie » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:13 pm

At our age, I'm not sure that technical etudes really serve much purpose other than to make you tired of the piano. They are almost always by 3rd rate composers, who probably were really players who wrote them for themselves to get past some specific hurdles they were facing. Sometimes you get the best, such as Brahms' studies, which are difficult and musical, while preparing the hands for the worst kinds of abuse. In the case of Hanon, Cherny, Dohnányiand so forth, when you get them up to speed, you realize you're just playing mechanical patterns that give you very little satisfaction other than that now you can do them.

I say go with Chopin, Skriabin, Rachmaninoff, but most importantly, Bach. You can record the left hand part for Chopin's etudes, waltzes, nocturnes, etc., and play along with them, adjusting the feel as you get closer to where you want to be.

But Bach is your go-to teacher. He's the master of all time. Every one of those other guys learned their craft from Bach. Since you're a one-armed pianist, you can follow the voices as they dive into bass clef and get even more specialized exercise for your right hand. You'll probably get into grace-noting your bass lines such that you get some contrapuntal satisfaction, much like doing the cello suites (which are also great options for you). When you get these things up to speed, you'll have something to be proud of, not just a finger-masher. People around you will enjoy listening and not develop deep-seated hatred for the instrument or its player. Actually, that applies to you as well! Another big plus for Bach is that most of it is downloadable. Ready to load onto the iPad, at least if you covert to PDF. (most if it already is) Fact is, there is little music that you can't find online if you try hard enough. The legality of it puts some of that into that questionable status, even when it's Chopin or Skryabin, because of the fancy editions for which they like to charge stratospheric prices.

Which reminds me... don't forget to grab some Real Books or other fake books. Remember when we used to meet someone in a dark alley and get those things under-cover as if we were buying weed? Such a guilty feeling, walking away with a coat full of... MUSICAL CONTRABAND! How the hell were we supposed to know how to play the friggin American Songbook? Fortunately, now they are 100% street legal. If you buy them, that is, rather than get someone to slip you the disk with about 130 fake books, completely indexed, in PDF form. I'm not saying I haven't SEEN one of those disks, but I'll tell you that the main ones that I use are Real Books that I totally bought and paid for. Even so... it STILL feels like contraband. [Sigh...] I'll never get over my sordid past. [You can get them from Amazon.]

There may be Minus One records (or whatever they call them these days) with bass and drums for a lot of jazz stuff. That would give you freedom to practice the right hand walking chord inversions, etc. This would make you more marketable than all the classical stuff, but the classical stuff will give you more dexterity. When practicing fake books, work on your transposition. In fact, you can do that for anything.

Honestly, leave Hannon, Dubaczeskianis, Roadrunneranova, and WileECoyotivich for the up and coming Evgeny Kissins, Garrick Olsohns, and Khatia Buniatishvillis. What you want is to enjoy connecting with music again. Everything is a technical exercise until you've got it down. Beethoven wrote two thick volumes of fantastic technical exercises (sonatas), Bach wrote two books of the WTK, not to mention dozens of concertos and other pieces for keyboard, and Chopin and Skriabin and Rachmaninoff wrote more etudes and preludes than you'll ever get through. Not sure how satisfying Rach would be with one hand. Of course, there is always the Left-Hand Repertoire, which you could do with the Right. Call it a transcription!

Happy reconnecting with the piano!

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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby MIDI Life Crisis » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:06 pm

Frankly, I never really felt that tech exercises did much. They can build strength and prepare you for what's to come, but for my money, I just learned what was coming and improvised around stuff (still do) to build technique. I am so far from an "academic" musician it ain't funny - or maybe it is!

Let's see... the most important thing I think I ever did was learn to sight-read better. I still feel insecure about it, but it has opened the doors to so much great music and concepts.

So here's what I would do... find pieces you like and aren't too hard and master them. Clementi sonatinas Op 36 (book 1) are great for that purpose and you'll get a nice ego boost from making them sound great. Even one handed! I'd also look at the Bach Two Part inventions. Again, even mastering one hand can be a great and inspirational accomplishment. If/when you're ready, I then move to Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and I'd even hit Bach's Well Tempered Clav (at least the easy ones - and there ARE easy ones). Even just sections of pieces can be very useful in building strength and technique.

Of course, then there's jazz and playing around with arrangements of your own making can also go a long way towards developing great technique and creative music creation. Play stuff in as many keys as you can, bit above all, make sure you're enjoying the music you're playing. There's nothing worse than trying to master a piece you don't like. It's like trying to kiss someone you don't love. Sure, you'll get through it, but it just won't have as expansive an impact as kissing someone you do love.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby FMiguelez » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:17 pm

MIDI Life Crisis wrote: I'd also look at the Bach Two Part inventions. Again, even mastering one hand can be a great and inspirational accomplishment. If/when you're ready, I then move to Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and I'd even hit Bach's Well Tempered Clav (at least the easy ones - and there ARE easy ones). Even just sections of pieces can be very useful in building strength and technique.



Shooshie wrote:But Bach is your go-to teacher. He's the master of all time. Every one of those other guys learned their craft from Bach. Since you're a one-armed pianist, you can follow the voices as they dive into bass clef and get even more specialized exercise for your right hand. You'll probably get into grace-noting your bass lines such that you get some contrapuntal satisfaction, much like doing the cello suites

I totally agree about the Chopin and the Bach. And the L.H. sequencing. Anything by Bach is amazing, from his Kleine preludes and fugues to the WTC, from the Ana Magdalena to his suites.
And what can I say about Chopin? Just going over Op. 10 #6 is a total joy. Oh, and of course, Op 10 #4 is THE epitome of fingering! Crazy fast and twisty!

Shooshie wrote:Honestly, leave Hannon, Dubaczeskianis, Roadrunneranova, and WileECoyotivich for the up and coming Evgeny Kissins,

:?

Shooshie wrote: Garrick Olsohns,

:)

Shooshie wrote:and Khatia Buniatishvillis.

:P :love:

You missed Yuja Wang, BTW.... Unforgivable Shooshie! :smash: :brucelee:

:mrgreen:
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby Shooshie » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:49 pm

Just had a cool thought. Imagine working on Beethoven Sonatas, but singing the bass clef. I mean, singing an appropriate voice reduction of the bass clef. Since that's your range, it could be quite a show. Most importantly, it would preserve the left-brain/right-brain split that is so crucial to music in general, but piano especially. Perhaps it would all take place in the left-brain, if your right is not fully operational, but it would still serve the same purpose, and who knows what might happen if your left brain begins to "divide" into separate processors. Bach might even be better. Two part inventions, preludes, various other pieces. Once this stuff starts working on your brain, who knows what might wake up? Of course, that's pie-in-the-sky thinking. No false hopes here... just do it for the sheer pleasure of it.

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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby Shooshie » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:58 pm

FMiguelez wrote:
Shooshie wrote:and Khatia Buniatishvillis.

:P :love:

You missed Yuja Wang, BTW.... Unforgivable Shooshie! :smash: :brucelee:

:mrgreen:


Yuja Wang is great, of course, but when I'm listening to her, I always find myself thinking "I COULD be watching Khatia Buniatishvilli instead." Then suddenly I'm clicking on a link and listening/gawking at my favorite young pianist. Here's the thing about Khatia. She's getting better. A LOT better. She's going to be immortal. I mean, when she's an old lady like Marta Argerich (at whom I also used to gawk, lovingly of course), she's going to be loved for her pianistic powers, alone, just like Marta. Someday we'll not want to look so closely at her sausage outfits, but we'll love all the same, because she's such an incredible talent. Mark my words... Khatia is going to set this world on fire. She's the Wonder Woman of the keyboard!
:unicorn:

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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby mikehalloran » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:46 pm

Which reminds me... don't forget to grab some Real Books or other fake books
I've been giving those to my wife for years. I liked to sight read those when doing solo guitar gigs — tons of fun.
Garrick Olsohn...
He lives in San Francisco but I don't run into him very often. That's why I asked you guys!

Seriously, thank you for the suggestions. Technique is where my focus is right now but Hanon and Czerny are dull for the listener.

Singing the left hand — never considered that — but yes, that might be fun.

Bach, of course. Long ago, I attempted to tackle the Brahms arrangement of the Chaconne for left hand. Never thought of doing it with the right. I have that somewhere.

Might assuage the guilt of having a very fine piano that I never play. Could happen.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby David Polich » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:12 pm

Try lifting one end of a Hammond B3. Plenty of "exercise" right there. If no Hammond is available, lifting up a Rhodes in its case is a good alternative.

Sorry...couldn't resist.
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Re: Recommendations for keyboard exercises?

Postby bdr » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:15 pm

I agree with the idea of not doing too many exercises, you may as well try to make music. I had lessons from Terry Trotter a few years back..he would get me to do one or two exercises, usually Behringer or Brahms, some Bach, some Mikrokosmos, and some standards.

Also, have a look at this website
http://www.practisingthepiano.com/
Graeme Fitch is a wonderful teacher- his ebooks have totally improved my playing and approach to good practicing.
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