piano technique for classical guitarist

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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goodtone
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piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by goodtone » 23 Sep 2009, 20:51

I have a question on piano technique and piano lessons in general. I've been playing classical guitar to a good standard for about 20 years and can read music OK.I have recently started learning the piano and am really enjoying it. I've been practising for a couple of months and can play a simple arrangment of The Entertainer by Joplin, Fur Elise etc. I'm very keen to practice and improve and I know from playing the guitar that getting good advice on technique at an early stage can really save you a lot of work and accelerate the learning process. Because of my experience on the guitar I can work out the fingering of pieces on the piano and have no problems reading music (finding the notes that is - not sight reading yet ). What I'm not sure about is how much technique is actually involved in the piano. I realise there's lot and lots of dedication and practice involved but I'm still not sure about how I should be striking the notes, how my hands should be moving, how I should be sitting etc.
I decided to have a couple of lessons because I didn't want to get into bad habits. My teacher started me off with grade 2 scales and a grade 2 piece. The lessons seemed to be concerned methodically working through the scales and the piece, finding the notes and the timings which I happy to work out myself. But there was nothing about the physical technique etc I had a couple of lessons for piano about 10 years ago and the experience was much the same. If lessons are just about helping you out with notation and timing etc then I'm happy to plod along by myself. So, my question is how much physical technique is there to piano playing i.e is there a standard way to prepare to play the notes, move the hands, position the arms, play staccato, use the wrist etc and would you expect the teacher to discuss this fairly early on ? Or is there no a standard way to play or prepare to play the keys and does everyone just find there own way ?
thanks, Shaun

Gill the Piano
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by Gill the Piano » 23 Sep 2009, 22:04

The trouble is that there are probably as many techniques as there are for classical guitar! I'm the reverse of you in that i played the piano from the age of 4 and then picked up the classical guitar at 30 (I squeaked grade 5 by 3 marks!!) ...:) I've had 3 teachers and they've all taught differently despite all having been taught initially by the same chap. I think you should consult a good local pianist and ask them whom they think you should approach. and when you get a name, make sure you tell the teacher that you want to work on technique from the off, and that you're reasonably secure musically and want to concentrate on technique rather than notebashing. If you have a good ear you can notebash on your own, but technique needs external observation and input. There are teachers who drop in here who know far more than I do about it, but that's my sixpennorth to start you off!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

goodtone
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by goodtone » 24 Sep 2009, 10:39

many thanks for the advice Gill. I know that my progress on the guitar could have been much more rapid had I known what I know now. I'm a bit older and wiser now so want to optimise the time I spend practising the piano and not waste time on pointless excersises etc. Maybe it's just a case of finding the right teacher who can judge your knowledge and tailor the lesson accordingly. I'll persevere.
It's good to hear that you're learning the guitar. It's a beautiful instrument and it's great fun to play duets and ensembles. And you can take it with you :) I'm sure by now that you've found the delcamp guitar forum. If not then pay it a visit. If you google it you'll find it easily. I've posted a couple of recordings under the name of goodtone :) It's a great resource for all standards and has a huge library of sheet music for guitar.
thanks, Shaun

Moonlight
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by Moonlight » 24 Sep 2009, 16:12

Well, I reckon if you have found a good teacher you will be able to pick up technique along the way anyway. I good teacher will be able to see if you are playing with any strain or difficulty and will be able to advise you on the correct technique to play that particular passage or whatever it is.

Most of the technique I have picked up by having a teacher was by her seeing I was playing something the wrong way and then she demonstrates and I copy, then after a few goes I can play that part with the right technique. After picking it up in that piece you can then apply it to other pieces that require the same method of execution. Also a lot of the other stuff I have learned is by asking her questions if I am not sure about something. So if you are not sure you are sitting correctly, or your hand posture is not right just ask if you are doing right, I always ask my teacher lots of questions.

If you are interested in learning only technique then exercises are good for this. They are nothing but pure technique, like finger strengthening, scales in 3rds, octaves ect, scales in different touches legato, staccato ect. A very good book for this would be the famous Hanon Exercises. But there is nothing musical in this book it’s all very dull exercises that don’t sound nice. I do think they are useful for becoming more aware of finger movement though, but I dont see why some people become obsessed with going through the whole book religiously.

Personally I think learning technique is better with studies, actual pieces that cover a particular technique. And as they are a real piece of music, it will sound nice. You could try Burgmuller’s 25 studies Op 100. I’m currently going through some of these as most sound very nice and you can learn a lot through them, I think they would be good for a beginner as I think they cover grade 1-4.
Scales, arpeggios are also good for learning technique, hope this helps :) .

goodtone
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by goodtone » 24 Sep 2009, 23:17

I think you've misunderstood me. I'm absolutely not interested in endless scales, arpeggios and excecises but making music. Technique isn't playing scales and arpeggios. You can play scales and arpeggios with a poor technique or bad technique. Or that's the way it works on the guitar. And if you've not been taught the correct hand position or the way to pluck the strings then you'll find it difficult to achieve any fluency or consistency. There are exceptions of course. You can also hit 10,000 golf balls but if you're swing is fundamentally wrong then you'll never hit the ball right. All you'd be doing is practicing your bad swing 10,000 times and grooving a bad habit.
I'm getting the feeling that most people are not taught much technique with the piano and it's a case of get your hand into a comfortable position and go for it....

markymark
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by markymark » 25 Sep 2009, 00:18

Teachers will indicate some basic techniques such as hand and finger shaping and positioning, hand-control and exercises that develop control over touch, legato and stoccato. These by the way are basic and common techniques taught by all sound piano teachers. As well as this, teachers will cover rehearsal techniques for sight-reading, controlling tempo, looking ahead and not down, restarting a piece when you make a mistake to develop accuracy... these are but a few and again, not much variation to them.

I have to disagree with you over the scales and arpeggios. Unlike the guitar which is a stringed instrument, the piano is technically and by its character, a percussion instrument. Because you are striking keys as well as stretching, controlling volume as well as including aspects of accuracy and speed as well, scales and arpeggios help develop this. While they will not develop technique unless reinforced by a teacher, they still serve a purpose in strengthening, developing and speeding up the hands and fingers.

goodtone
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Re: piano technique for classical guitarist

Post by goodtone » 25 Sep 2009, 20:34

thanks for the helpful information Mark, it all makes sense.
:)
GT

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