Developing Independence in My Left Hand : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hi -

I'm a "late-intermediate" adult piano student and would like any suggestions anyone may have for developing my left hand technique. Trying to play pieces like Bach's inventions or Scott Joplin's rags calls for a lot of independence in the left hand.

Any techniques, exercises or even books that anyone can suggest?

Thanks so much.


-- Kathy Handyside (, May 16, 2001


Hi Kathy, I'm going to assume you're right-handed (as I am) so the LH just never seems to be quite as easily cooperative, does it? I would say that the technique for developing LH in Joplin, however, is going to be quite different than that of the Bach inventions. For the Joplin, if you can't get proficient at finding those octave jumps that keeping boucing up to chords while keeping your eyes on the music, your only other choice is to become good at memorizing. (and this will be easier if you have a good understanding of music theory in regard to chords). I prefer to memorize the ragtime pieces that I want to play. For the inventions, I find that good old Hanon exercises help build up the dexterity and quickness in all my fingers. Now, people seem to either love or hate Hanon, but I'm telling you, I can tell when I've been neglecting my Hanon! It can be a bit monotonous, but I believe doing a few each day has great value. annie

-- annie (, May 16, 2001.

Hi Annie -

Thanks so much for the suggestions! Yes, I am right-handed. Do left- handed people have it easier playing piano? I've always wondered. I suppose ambidexterity would be the ideal! ha ha

I'll give Hanon a try (I have the complete book of Hanon exercises).

Thanks again!


-- Kathy Handyside (, May 16, 2001.

I always practice Hanon when I feel I need to shape up. There's nothing better. You can vary the rhythms, dynamics & articulations so that it won't be so monotonous. My 9-year-old daughter loves to play the Hanon exercises with a swing rhythm.

-- Music Educator (, May 17, 2001.

Kathy -

We're in the same place (early-advanced). I agree about the Hanon. my teacher has also had me try to work on various moves with my eyes closed. Sounds goofy, but it sure helps build in confidence. On the Bach, she also has me identify the dominant line in the left and right hands, then practice just those lines (hands together), but leaving out the "less-important" parts. Hard to describe, but it really helps on something like an Invention.

-- Susan (, May 18, 2001.

To Music Educator and Susan -

Thank you both for your suggestions. I will certainly give them a try. I guess I should dust off my copy of Hanon! ha ha I've started reading C.P.E. Bach's "Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments" and he gives an interesting suggestion. He says to try playing memorized pieces in the dark. I'm reminded of that scene in the movie "Shine" in which young David, while at the Royal College of Music, practices the Rachmaninov blindfolded. Similar to your suggestion, Susan. So there must be something to it. I'm starting on Bach's Two-Part Invention no. 8 along with a Telemann fantasia and will try this with both of them.

Thank you again.


-- Kathy Handyside (, May 18, 2001.

Hello! I started playing the piano at the age of 18 and that was my first big problem. When I pursued my Music Degree in Piano, my piano professor gave me Philipp exercise (Exercises for Independence of the Fingers). Try this! It is very effective. All the nerves/muscles of the 10 fingers will be stretched out. With this simple material, and brains, with patience, conscientiousness, and careful attention, one will infallibly acquire, in a short time, absolute independence of all the fingers- both left and write. The exercise is in diminished. For more than ten years, I am still using it and it helps me a lot for fast pieces.

Thanks. Roy Hernando

-- Roy Hernando (, September 30, 2001.

This is to checked my response to your question. In one of my statements said, both left and write. "Write" should be "right." Sorry!

-- Roy Hernando (, October 01, 2001.

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