This is LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about the importance of rotation when playing arpeggios. What makes arpeggios so difficult? Even compared to scales, which have third and fourth finger crossings, as well as thumb crossings, arpeggios can be even more difficult. This is because your thumb and your third finger have to cross so far over, it makes it difficult. The way to practice this is to have the metronome set at a slow speed. Practice preparing your thumb as early as possible, which means right when the second finger plays, the thumb tucks under.

Instead of waiting until the thumb needs to play, prepare the thumb when your second finger plays.

Right after the thumb releases, it tucks under. Train your hand to prepare the thumb early. The left hand does exactly the same thing coming down. That is an essential technique. Practice without moving your arms up and down. Work with the metronome slowly, then increase the speed. Get it to two notes, and eventually four notes to the beat. You might have to work with progressively faster metronome speeds to get it that fast.

There are countless ways to practice arpeggios, but today I’m going to show you an essential technique, which is:
The rotation of the hand.

You don’t want to have an abrupt crossing of the thumb or your fingers at the point at which they cross over. Naturally, preparing the thumb early is a great way to avoid this. But there’s more to it. No matter how much you tuck your thumb under, it’s not all the way to where it needs to be. In a C major arpeggios, the right hand thumb crossing going up from a G to C is really far! So you should rotate your hand slightly to put your thumb over the next key. It’s important that it be a smooth motion, not a jerky one. This allows for playing fluid, faster arpeggios. Practice slowly, preparing the thumb in advance. Eventually you get to the point where you’re rotating the hand slightly, in a smooth manner. That is the rotation of the hands in arpeggios.

You’ll find in scales that this technique is not necessary, because you don’t have nearly as far a reach. But there are many places in music, with broken chords of different sorts, where this rotation of the hand is really important. It is also useful in being able to delegate the weight of the hand for balance, which is a subject for another video.

If there is a subject you would like for me to cover, let me know! I have a whole list of subjects from my students and other people who contact me on a daily basis. I appreciate the support! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

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Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

How to Play Arpeggios: The Importance of Rotation

This is LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about the importance of rotation when playing arpeggios. What makes arpeggios so difficult? Even compared to scales, which have third and fourth finger crossings, as well as

Welcome to Living Pianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about achieving fast, smooth arpeggios by preparing your thumbs way in advance. You know what arpeggios are. But how do you play them fluently? Scales are hard enough with thumb and finger crossings. But with arpeggios, there is a secret to achieving smooth thumb crossings. In the left-hand you have fourth and third finger crossings. But going down in the left-hand or going up in the right hand, you have thumb crossings. I see so many students moving their whole arms for thumb crossings. They move their elbows in and out which disrupts the sound. It doesn’t allow for playing fast. Many people find it helpful to reach with their thumbs. But by the time they do that, it’s already too late!

The secret is to tuck your thumb under when you play the second finger.

That’s right. When the second finger plays, the thumb tucks under. That way, it’s already ready for the next note. The left-hand coming down does the same thing. You don’t want to wait! If you wait to move your thumb until the moment of the crossing, it’s already too late. So tuck the thumb right when you play the second finger. Then you don’t have to move your arm with your elbow going in and out. You are prepared way in advance.

Slow practice of stretching your thumb under right when you play the second finger is the secret for getting smooth thumb crossings in your arpeggios.

If you’ve never tried this before, try it! Work slowly at first. I suggest 60 beats per minute at one note to the beat because you have to train your hand to do this. It’s not going to do it automatically. But once it does become automatic, you’re going to get smoothness and speed out of your arpeggios like you’ve never had before! This is a really important tip. Let me know how it works for you in the comments on LivingPianos.com and YouTube. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

For premium videos and exclusive content, you can join my Living Pianos Patreon channel! www.Patreon.com/RobertEstrin

Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

The Secret of the Thumbs in Arpeggios

Welcome to Living Pianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about achieving fast, smooth arpeggios by preparing your thumbs way in advance. You know what arpeggios are. But how do you play them fluently? Scales are hard enough with th

Arpeggios are simply broken chords. Scales and arpeggios form the foundation of technique, not just for the piano, but for virtually all musical instruments. I’ve talked about how to practice scales and arpeggios in the past. Today, I’m going to give you three ways of practicing arpeggios specifically. If you like this, I could probably give you 10 more ways of practicing them because there are many ways of practicing arpeggios.

Here are three good starters for you:

Let’s start with a basic C major chord which forms the foundation of a C major arpeggio. Since you’re going all the way up and down the keyboard with both hands, you have to deal with finger crossings. I suggest you reference Hanon60 Selected Studies for the Virtuoso Pianist. This is a resource for all the fingerings of all major and minor scales and arpeggios as well as exercises and additional materials. The first way to practice arpeggios is perhaps the most fundamental. I’ve talked about this before in videos and I’m going to recap this because it’s essential.

You must practice slowly first to develop independence of the fingers.

As you get faster, place the fingers closer to the keys to get speed and lightness. You want to use the metronome when practicing arpeggios and scales because the whole idea is to measure your playing because you want to achieve precision. You must strive for evenness in tone, touch and timing.

Of course you can practice arpeggios with different phrasing and dynamics. For now, I’m going to suggest you play them at a strong level always from the fingers. It won’t do any good to practice arpeggios or scales using your arms or wrists because as you go faster, they’re not going to be able to keep up. The whole idea is to develop the strength of your fingers. So, watch how you can approach arpeggios slowly. If you’re a beginner studying arpeggios, I recommend putting the metronome at 60 and going one note to the beat, then two notes to the beat, and finally playing at four notes to the beat. You can even do gradual metronome speeds raising a notch or two at a time if you run into difficulties going faster. There is a brief demonstration on the accompanying video on how to practice this way with the metronome.

Notice a couple of things. First of all, you want to avoid any up and down motion with the arms. Use only your fingers. Notice how you raise your fingers to achieve independence and strength. You get the feel of exactly where each key is. It provides an opportunity to dig into each note gaining security. Once you’re comfortable, you should do that at least four times before moving on any faster. Then you can go to two notes to the beat. Notice, as you get faster, the fingers must be closer to the keys. When transitioning to four notes to the beat, you want to have your arms almost floating in air just above the keys because they don’t have the strength to support the arms at great speed. At four notes to the beat there’s less motion of your fingers as well. They are kept very close to the keys. You must spend sufficient time at each speed. At one note to the beat, you might spend around five minutes mastering it. If you’re playing only an arpeggio at one note to the beat at 60, five minutes is a pretty long time! This helps you gain great strength and independence of the fingers.

So we’ve covered one way of practicing arpeggios which is essential. It think it’s probably one of the best ways to practice arpeggios. You may get to a stumbling block and get to a point where you know you can do one note, but getting to two notes or four notes to the beat proves to be very difficult. You’re wondering how you can get it any faster. Are there any shortcuts? I’m going to show you a couple!

One shortcut is to practice in chords. Here is how to do this: Delineate where the thumb crossings are and play two notes together, then play the thumbs. You can watch how to achieve this on the accompanying video. Once you are comfortable, you can do that at two notes to the beat. Doing four notes is probably too fast for this practice technique depending upon the tempo you choose You want to get it fluent so you get the sense of the thumb crossings which are essential for smooth transition of registers. Instead, of trying to go faster, try breaking up the inner notes quickly and land on the thumbs securely holding them longer so that you gain security of the thumb crossings in both hands. This helps you get the sense of how the thumbs anchor you versus the finger which hover over the other two notes of the chord. You must strive for evenness playing the inner notes cleanly.

So, those are three ways to practice arpeggios. You may be able to invent other ways of practicing them as well. There are always more piano lessons and videos coming from LivingPianos.com Your Online Piano Store info@LivingPianos.com 949-244-3729 Robert Estrin

3 Ways to Practice Arpeggios on the Piano

Arpeggios are simply broken chords. Scales and arpeggios form the foundation of technique, not just for the piano, but for virtually all musical instruments. I’ve talked about how to practice scales and arpeggios in the past. Today, I’m going to

This video deals with the correct fingering in scales and arpeggios on the piano as found in Charles Louis Hanon’s The Virtuoso Pianist. Last week we covered the basics and a good routine for the first lessons of his text: Learning Hanon Part 1 – The First Lessons.

When it comes to playing other instruments, fingering for scales can differ greatly. For the violin or the French horn (which I also play) or other woodwind instruments, there are a number of different fingerings for scales and everyone’s approach can be quite different. Fortunately for the piano there is a resource that everyone pretty much adheres to – which is Hanon.

Hanon is a great resource for fingerings for scales and arpeggios. The problem of fingering on the pianos is that we have 10 fingers and two hands yet there are 88 keys that will require you to jump up and down the keyboard. Finger crossings are inevitable and can be effortless with the right fingering!

For each scale there are a total of eight fingerings which you must memorize. You can see examples in the accompanying video.

This might sound formidable. After all, how can you memorize eight finger patterns for each of your major and minor scales and arpeggios? While it might seem impossible it’s really not as difficult as you may think. A lot of the scales and arpeggios have the same basic patterns so you will be repeating what you already know. There are some unique scales but it’s not an insurmountable task.

There is one other method of fingering beyond Hanon that I thought I would mention. It’s called mirror fingering. I personally don’t know anybody who uses this technique – The idea of mirror fingering is to have the thumbs play on the same notes in both hands on all scales and arpeggios. If anyone out there uses this techniquewood I would love to hear more about it.

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin: Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

Learning Hanon Part 2 – Scales and Arpeggios

This video deals with the correct fingering in scales and arpeggios on the piano as found in Charles Louis Hanon’s The Virtuoso Pianist. Last week we covered the basics and a good routine for the first lessons of his text: Learning Hanon Part 1 –

Why are scales and arpeggios so important? Since the vast majority of Western music is based upon major/minor tonality, having a mastery of scales and arpeggios is like knowing your addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables in order to do the math. Also, it provides an opportunity to focus purely on finger technique. It is an extraction of just that element of playing without the complexity of harmony, rhythm, phrasing, and expression. Scales and arpeggios also provide an excellent warm-up for your practice.

What are scales and arpeggios? Scales are a series of 8 whole steps and half steps (and augmented seconds found in harmonic minor scales) in which the first and last notes are the same. Arpeggios are broken chords. Generally, scales and arpeggios are practiced throughout a wide range of an instrument repeating the pattern from octave to octave both ascending and descending.

So, what is a good way to practice scales and arpeggios on the piano? First, you must learn the fingering for all the major and minor scales and arpeggios. Fortunately, Hanon 60 Exercises for the Virtuoso Pianist contains the standard fingering for all scales and arpeggios in 4 octaves (which is how you should play them). Unlike some instruments like violin and other string instruments, the fingering for scales and arpeggios is standard for the piano with almost no exceptions. (Mirror fingering is one such exception in which the thumb plays the same notes in each hand in all scales and arpeggios, but this utilized by a tiny fraction of pianists.)

If you have never studied any scales or arpeggios, it is best to master one scale, say C major or G major before going on to other scales. Fortunately, the fingering pattern is the same for C, G, D, A and E major scales. So once you learn C major, you will get a lot of mileage out of your work! Essentially there are 2 fingerings to learn for each hand in both ascending and descending. While the hands each play the same fingering on the same notes going up and down the scale, you will need to focus on the fingers that cross. Going up in the right hand you have thumb crossings, coming down you have 3rd and 4th finger crossings. Because your hands are backward from one another, the left hand has 3rd and 4th finger crossings going up and thumb crossings going down. Arpeggios only have one thumb crossing and one 3rd or 4th finger crossing in each hand. You may need to practice hands separately in order to get comfortable with the fingering.

It is important to practice scales and arpeggios slowly. There are several reasons for this:

– It gives you an opportunity to study your hand positions and the shape of your fingers.

– You can be precise in timing and intensity and make sure the hands are playing precisely together.

– It develops strength by stretching as in dance or yoga exercises.

– It develops strength in the upward motion of the fingers essential for consistency of length of notes.

You should practice scales and arpeggios with the metronome at all times. Begin by playing 1 note to the beat at 60 beats per minute. In the right hand going up (and the left hand going down) be sure to prepare the thumb by keeping it tucked under your hand so it is ready to play well in advance. Play with raised, rounded fingers and use ample finger power, not arm strength since there will not be sufficient time to utilize the arms once you increase the speed. After you have played the scale comfortably 4 times in a row at 1 note to the beat, increase the speed to 2 notes to the beat. Continue the same way. When you are comfortable and have played the scale at least 4 times in a row at 2 notes to the beat, you may try 4 notes to the beat. Be sure to lighten up and stay close to the keys since there isn’t time to raise the fingers at this speed. If you have any difficulty in achieving 4 notes to the beat, lower the metronome to a speed you are comfortable playing the scale many times until fluid. Then increase the metronome 1 notch at a time until you achieve 60 at 4 notes to the beat comfortably many times in a row.

Arpeggios can be practiced in the same manner. I suggest taking one scale per week going through the cycle of 5ths with sharps, then flats. Then learn the minor scales both harmonic and melodic. Then on to arpeggios, both major then minor. Once you have all of your major and minor scales and arpeggios learned, you can begin increasing the speed little by little. If you are trying to achieve a truly virtuoso technique, you should eventually have all of your scales mastered at 144 beats to the minute at 4 notes to the beat, and all of your arpeggios at 120 beats per minute at 4 notes to the beat or faster.

There are many other ways of practicing scales once you have achieved this. Some of them are:

– Practice with different dynamics (one hand loud, one hand soft: crescendo to the top, decrescendo to the bottom: etc.)

– Try different articulations, finger staccato (in one hand or both) 2 note or 4 note slurs, etc.

– Rhythms: This is particularly useful with arpeggios. You can make one of the notes long, and the other notes fast.

– Learn your scales and arpeggios in contrary motion.

– Practice your scales in 10ths, 3rds, and 6ths.

There is a lifetime of work expressed in the last paragraph! Realize that any work you do on scales will be beneficial. I suggest making it a small part of your daily practice.

How to Practice Scales and Arpeggios – Piano Lessons

Why are scales and arpeggios so important? Since the vast majority of Western music is based upon major/minor tonality, having a mastery of scales and arpeggios is like knowing your addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables in order t

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about how to keep a piano piece in shape. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing. You have a performance, and you get everything in good shape. But it can be like a ripe banana. Suddenly the whole bunch is just a disaster and you have to throw them away. Sometimes that happens with your piano music! Everything is going just fine, and then suddenly, you feel like you can’t even play! What can you do about this? It’s a tremendous challenge keeping your music on a high level. Sometimes you can peak early. Everything’s in shape, and then at the performance just two or three days later, everything disintegrates. How can you get things back into shape?

Go back to the score!

One of the most important practice techniques for a piece you have learned, whether it’s a reading piece or a memorized piece, is to go back through the score slowly with no pedal, using the metronome, exaggerating everything. Even if it’s a quiet piece of music, it really doesn’t matter what the piece is, play it with everything over articulated. If everything is fine, great! But suppose you’re playing, and little mistakes are happening. You have insecurity, and the technique isn’t clean. Go back to the score! Go slowly. Take your foot off the pedal, and play incredibly deliberately, almost like you’re practicing scales or arpeggios slowly with raised fingers. By doing this, you reprogram your hands. You also reprogram the sound into your head by playing with the metronome very deliberately with raised fingers.

Play slowly and deliberately.

You’ll instantly know if the piece has gone overly ripe, and has started to show some signs of rot. That’s because when you try to play slowly, suddenly you can’t play it! You’ll be tempted to go back to the beginning and play fast just so you can have the satisfaction of playing through it again. But make sure to take the opportunity to slow down and figure out how to play it slowly and deliberately, whatever the piece is. This is the answer: keep your eyes on the score, play with the metronome, without pedal, and play deliberately. If there are staccatos in the piece, you’ll want to articulate those with the wrist. Exaggerate all the dynamics. Exaggerate every finger that goes up and every finger that goes down so you really feel it. You still have the dynamics, but everything is raised up.

Don’t depend upon motor memory.

You’ll find that anything that’s weak, anything you really don’t know, will become obvious. Your fingers sort of have a memory all their own. But you can’t depend upon that. After a while, like making a copy of a copy of a copy, things degrade. You’ll find that the music will deteriorate over time, and your fingers don’t really know what they’re doing anymore if you just keep playing over and over and over and don’t go back to the original source: the score. Use the metronome, take your foot off the pedal so you can hear what you’re doing, and watch the score carefully. You will learn so much! It will help to revitalize your music so it stays in shape. You can get music back into shape using this same technique. Let me know how it works for you! I love to read your comments here on LivingPianos.com and YouTube. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

For premium videos and exclusive content, you can join my Living Pianos Patreon channel! www.Patreon.com/RobertEstrin

Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

How To Keep a Piano Piece in Shape

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about how to keep a piano piece in shape. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing. You have a performance, and you get everything in good shape. But it can be like a