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Hand Independence Boot Camp

Lisa Witt - Jan 15, 2019

 

If you are a piano player, hand independence is an area that will need development and attention in every part of your learning journey. Sometimes all we need to get going on hand independence is a little encouragement and specific instructions for what to work on. We’ve got it all for you in this lesson.

 

1) Touch

 

Having hand independence means you have control of not only what you are playing but how you are playing it. By using legato in one hand and staccato in the other you are developing hand independence skills by developing the control/touch with which you play the notes

 

2) Dynamics

 

Cassi walks you through how to change the pressure and volume between the hands. By playing one hand louder than the other you are further developing your hand independence and control

 

3) Balance

 

Play a waltz-like pattern with your left-hand while your right-hand moves up a major scale. This exercise gives the hands different tasks that will feel a little bit like a balancing act as you line up the different patterns and rhythms between the hands

 

4) Movement 

 

Arpeggios in the left hand will get you moving all over the keyboard while the right hand maintains a static-broken triad. This exercise feels a lot like rubbing your tummy while patting your head. Might take some time to get the hang of but it is possible!

 

5) Rhythm

 

Varying the rhythms you are playing in each hand is an amazing way to develop hand independence. This can be done using very simple scales or patterns so that you can focus more on the changing or opposing rhythms than the notes you are playing.


As you can see, this boot camp will help you to develop many aspects of your hand independence. Remember to breathe, keep a good sense of humor as you practice and don’t give up!

#Learn Piano

#Hand Strength

#Independence

#Hand Independence

#Dexterity

Piano Chord Inversions

Take your chords to the next level with inversions

Lisa Witt - Jan 11, 2019

 

Knowing and understanding chords and their inversions will help you to unlock the keyboard and allow you to play songs in many keys as well as provide variety to your sound. Let's take a look at how inversions work!

 

The C chord is made of three notes: C-E-G. When they're set up this order this is called root position. This is the most common and simple way to voice chords (especially when you're a beginner). If you notate your root position chord on the staff, it resembles a snowman! The bottom note of a root position chord is the root note because it is the note in the chord that decides the chord name.

 

Now, you don’t have to play the chord notes in this order. This is where things get fun and exciting. You can play those three notes in any order and it would still be considered a C chord. When you reorder the notes of a chord so they are no longer in root position, you get what is called an inversion.

 

If you juggle that root note up to the top of the chord you end up with E-G-C. This is STILL a C chord in its first inversion.

 

Juggle that bottom note up again and you end up with G-C-E. Once again, still a C chord but now it is in its second inversion.

 

Juggle once more and you end up back at root position: C-E-G.

 

Learning how to play these chords with their inversions will allow you to move between chords in a progression smoothly. You'll be able to move between chords without bouncing your hands all over the keyboard because you will be able to use inversions to reorder notes close by to create your chords. It's a lot like a puzzle. If I want to move from C to G, I could play root position chords and move my hand OR I could play C in root position (C-E-G) and G in its first inversion. This means my hand doesn’t have to move at all because my 5th finger is already on G. I can move my thumb down to B and my 2nd finger to D. Now I am playing a G chord.

 

The other benefit of this is that by playing your chords with inversions you will highlight different tones within the chord. The highest note played is the one that stands out the most. Inversions are DEFINITELY worth the work. The best way to get comfortable with them is to practice them over and over while saying the note names or inversion out loud as you go.

 

Happy practicing!

 

#Piano Lessons

#How To Play Piano

#Technique

#Chord Inversions

Tips For Playing The Piano Beautifully

Lisa Witt - Jan 8, 2019

 

When you think of someone who plays piano beautifully you will likely be imagining someone with great technique, control and the ability to draw you into their musical story with the way they are able to express themselves at the piano.  Being able to play beautifully comes down to some really small and simple skills or techniques that together will give you the control and knowledge you need to play beautifully.

 

1) Your Wrists

 

Your wrist is the shock absorber of the hand. If you utilize your wrist correctly as you play you will have more control in things like volume and sound so that you can create beautiful phrases. So before you play, try some wrists rotations to get warmed up and ready to go. We’ve got some great examples of wrist exercises in the video above.

 

2) Phrasing

 

Think of your phrases as a musical sentence. You want to gradually build to some intensity in the middle of your phrase and then diminuendo toward the end so be sure to think about the volume and intensity that you are using throughout the phrase. You also want to move smoothly between the notes. You can do this by thinking about the weight you are using in your fingers rather than by bouncing your wrist. You want to smoothly transfer the weight from finger to finger to get a smooth phrase.

 

3) Your Thumbs

 

Make sure your thumbs don’t get in the way. Practicing scales is really helpful for this. The thumb acts differently than the rest of your fingers so when you play it you want to make sure that you are in control of how it lands on the keys. You don’t want it to thump, and you don’t want to trip over it. The more scales you’ve practiced the more equipped you will be to navigate fingering changes and the thumb

 

When you put this into practice you want to consider each phrase before you begin so that you can plan how to get the most out of each and every note. Often, the phrases are shown on the music but you can create your own phrases based on when it feels natural to lift your hand, or where the music needs to pause or breathe. If you sing the melody, you will be able to find out where the phrases are based on where you’d naturally take a breath.

 

When you look at your phrase, consider the following:

 

The time signature. This is so that you can determine which beats are strong, weak or medium. Knowing this will help you to determine where to place an emphasis within the measure.

 

The direction of the notes. If they are moving up you will likely get louder, moving down you will likely become quieter. Determine where the highest note will be in the phrase and allow that to be your apex.

 

How do the notes fit under your hand? Are there fingering changes that will require you to pay attention to your thumb placement?

 

This is a lot to think about but you can begin by noticing just one of these at a time. Simply bringing awareness and intention to the way you approach your phrases will help you to connect to the beauty of the music you are playing and as a result the ability to express it.

 

 

Enjoy!

#Sight Reading

#piano technique

#Piano

#Playing Beautifully