Welcome back to our continuing series of piano exercises. Today we will be focusing on developing your octave technique.
I remember growing up as a kid and watching my father Morton Estrin mortonestrin.com and being enthralled by the way he played octaves – I wanted to develop my technique to play like him and my other inspiration, Vladimir Horowitz. At the time my hands were simply too small to achieve the results I wanted but I kept practicing.
My hands even as a full grown adult never became very large. I’ve struggled my whole life developing strength in order to play octaves and large chords well. Today I’m going to share a few tips for how to improve your strength and octave technique.
If you can’t reach an octave I’m afraid this lesson wont be much help to you. You might grow into it over time. The good news is that if you can reach an octave at all, this lesson will help you develop stronger, faster octaves!
The secret to this technique, and octaves in general, is the hand position. The key is to develop an arch between your pinky and thumb equalizing the strength of your weaker pinky to your stronger thumb. Your other fingers should be up and out of the way. If you have time to watch the video included with this article it shows an excellent visual representation of this technique. The goal of this position is to generate an equal amount of force between the thumb and pinky finger – which will help greatly in developing strength to play octaves.
For octave technique you will want to rely on the arms to place the hands over the keys, not for any up-down motion. All up-down motion should come from the wrist. I have explained this technique a number of times before and it’s explained in detail in the video included with this article.
To perform the exercise, set your metronome to 60 and then play a C major scale at one note to the beat in octaves and play the notes only from your wrist using the arms to guide your hands over the correct keys. This might seem like an easy exercise but it must be done correctly in order to be effective.
As you progress through the exercise and feel more confident you can play two times on each note for each beat. As you become comfortable, add one extra note each to each beat until you reach your limit. As you play faster, be sure to keep your hands closer to the keys and lighten up to help increase your speed.
Play through this exercise every day and you will develop brilliant octaves!
Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729