I'm a self learner, unfortunately I did not have any lessons. I try to work on scales, keys, articulation, tempo, etc. myself. And I also try to curve my fingers whenever I can.

I can't read notes super-fast yet, but I can sight-read from low to high C, with chords, sharps & flats. I know some music theory, all types of chords, inversions, etc.

In my 2 years experience I was able to memorize and can play the following tracks:

  • Nuvole Bianche, Ludovico
  • I love you, RIOPY (still have some trouble)
  • Angels, Robbie Williams
  • My Heart Will Go On
  • Comptine d`un autre ete - Yann Tiersen (still have some trouble)
  • plus some basic 4-chords songs like The Scientist

All of the above in their original keys and hopefully the correct fingering :) I've learned a lot from them, especially various left-hand patterns.

Now I'm trying to learn Pern by Yann Tiersen. I noticed I have 3 problems with my playing right now and I'm looking for some help or guidance that would help me overcome this.

  • I find it incredibly difficult to play arpeggiated Bflat chord in the left hand (see image below). I don't even know what fingering I should use here. Should I lift the whole hand? It goes like: Bflat -> F -> Bflat -> C (then it goes back) -> Bflat -> F -> Bflat and then it repeats but the highest note is D not C. I've played this pattern in My Heart Will Go On, but not on Bflat. It's incredibly difficult for me to not to accidentally press some keys when "pivoting" on my finger 2 (on the F key).

measure from "Pern"

  • To add to the above problem in this piece Pern by Yann Tiersen I have to "wait" with the left hand because the tempo in the left hand is twice slower. Im not sure what should I do. Should I keep the keys pressed (pivot on them) or should I lift them and immediately try to jump on the next key?

  • And lastly, the piece repeats the intro pattern on 2 octaves in the right hand (it just moves to 1 octave higher). I find it really troubling too (same thing happens in his other piece Comptine dun autre ete). The weight of the keys is smaller and my hand just goes crazy and I feel like I have to learn it twice... (but the notes are identical, just the wrist position and the weight of the keys change).

I know this is a broad question, but I'd appreciate any advice on how to improve on the above. I already know half of this piece, it's pretty easy. Just the intro and outro are killing me... :)

  • A couple of points come to mind, thus not a complete answer. On an upright or grand piano, the weighting of the keys shouldn't vary by very much at all moving an octave - what piano is it? It should be possible to pedal your way through rather than holding notes - especially if your hands are small. But pedalling is quite a difficult technique to acquire by yourself - a lot of players overpedal, and it all goes muddy. Lessons with a teacher will be a great help.
    – Tim
    Dec 22, 2021 at 16:05

1 Answer 1

  • I find it incredibly difficult to play arpeggiated B♭ chord in the left hand.

Notice that in the first three-note grouping, the final note, B♭ is marked staccato. This means that the first grouping can be played 5-2-1 (some might prefer 5-3-1), and then the staccato allows the entire hand to move, since a legato connection to the following C is not necessary.

The same idea holds for the second three-note grouping. Those are marked portato (staccato and tenuto), which means to allow some separation between each note. A fingering of 1-2-5 (or 1-2-4, or even 1-2-1) will work well here, again since a legato connection to the following low B♭ is unnecessary.

B♭ arpeggios can also lead to hand-position problems. Please see this post for tips, particularly the final picture, which shows almost exactly the hand position needed for the beginning of this passage.

  • Should I keep the keys pressed (pivot on them) or should I lift them and immediately try to jump on the next key?

As indicated above, it's okay to lift where the notes are marked staccato or portato. For the others (from low B♭ to F, and from F to the upper B♭), each note should be held until the next note is played.

There should not be any pivoting or twisting needed (especially because such movements, done frequently, can lead to injury). The combination of the above fingering plus the hand position given in the linked post should eliminate any rotational movements.

  • The weight of the keys is smaller and my hand just goes crazy

The most common cause of this is that when you play, you play by moving your fingers only, holding your arm in place. This over-control of movement actually leads to less control in one's playing. Relaxation is essential, and when achieved, the small differences in key weighting — or even bigger differences between different pianos — will be fairly insignificant.

Again, the post linked above given some basic tips for establishing and maintaining a relaxed hand and arm. Similar points are also made in this post about curved fingers. A post about arpeggios contains a list of relevant tips. There is also a post on seating position, which might be relevant for you.

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