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Big leaps made easy. (Video)

by Bruce Siegel on September 11th, 2010

Whatever kind of music you play, you need to be able to re-position your hand on the keyboard quickly, accurately, and without losing control of dynamics. Here’s a strategy that can make a huge difference in your playing.

You’ll hear some pretty cool pieces in this lesson (parts of them, anyway), including music by Satie and Joplin. I especially enjoyed playing the Bartok at the end of the video.

  1. christophe permalink

    big leaps, how interesting. i was inspired just yersteday to go back to some rag-time as
    a warm up for my Liszt hungarian rapsodie (#7 in Dm)!
    the notes of the rapsody are not too hard to learn, but the leaps are big and not so easy
    to memorize at a fast tempo. The music (like in the finale) has to sound fast and
    furious, with a ramboxious and ebulliant energy. (like I told you before, I really enjoy
    the middle folk tune and its delightful variations).
    So I was very excited to play 3 ragtimes that I don’t remember having played before
    (original rags, easy winners, reflections rag). I like the joyful feel of Joplin but also
    there is for me such tenderness in the melody/harmonies, especially if not played fast.
    so i have a question for you, the run and wait approach works at slow tempo, but can you
    use it for a fast bouncing (like in rag-time)? or in the rapsodie, probably not since
    you have to go as fast as you can. I’ll experiment…
    I notice one thing that’s hard for me is to play broken chords in parallele octaves when
    the hands are at opposite end of the piano (so you can’t look at both hands).

    Thank you Bruce!

  2. Bruce Siegel permalink

    “the run and wait approach works at slow tempo, but can you
    use it for a fast bouncing (like in rag-time)?”

    Great question, Christophe. I just experimented a bit, playing the Maple Leaf Rag (the “trio” section). The “waits” become very short indeed, but they’re still there.

    It seems to me that whenever I move into position as quickly as I can, and then wait—even if it’s only for the tiniest instant—it helps me to stay in charge of the situation and feel more confident that I’ll always hit the right notes, at the right time, in the right way.

    In fact, the “hurry-up-and-wait” approach may be even more essential when the shifts are really quick! (And the “waits” microscopic.)

    But do experiment with this and let me know what you think.

  3. christophe permalink

    it works! I love it. I had heard of it before but I guess i forgot. I feel more in control when my hands go back and forth like in ragtimes.
    thank you:)

  4. Bruce Siegel permalink

    Glad to hear it works for you, Christophe!

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