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I played the piano for years now, but stopped taking courses when I started college. I don't have time and budget, as a student, to take classes again, so that's why I'm asking here.

I am trying to learn Liszt's Campanella (just started). Thing is, I have fairly small hands, and I'm having a hard time hitting the right notes at the beggining (starting mesure 5) when playing at the right tempo. Do you have any exercise I could try to do, or any advice on how I could play it ? Or should I stick to the old, well known "play it slower hundreds of time and eventually you'll speed up" ?

Thanks !

  • You can try to separate the melody from the organpoint, by practising with the correct fingers, first the upper part, then the lower part. It's like practicing each hand by itself, but instead you solve one of the problems at a time. I think the answer you already received covers the jumps. Break down the problems: What makes this difficult? Identify as many aspects as possible and practice them separately. – noumenal Jul 29 '16 at 22:40
  • one of the best exercises for movement - particularly with not-very-big hands - Chopin Etude 1 in C Major. The trick being not to stretch and to move the wrist to get the notes in (RH) – Mark Oct 18 at 10:20
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Well, yeah, the first four bars are the easy bit.... < grin >.

Just "playing it slower hundreds of times" won't work. Everybody can play this 100% accurately if they go slow enough to take aim at each individual note, one note at a time.

Start by playing scales (diatonic and chromatic) in jumps, for example

  • in 10ths C E' D F' E G' etc
  • or 12ths C G' D A' E B' etc
  • or double-octave jumps.

Start at a tempo where you have to use a continuous back-and-forth movement of your hand and arm, not pick off the notes one at a time - for example playing 8th notes at a tempo of about 80 BPM. Then speed up when that gets too easy ;)

Then try different sized jumps where you keep either the top note or the bottom note constant, for example

  • C C' C D' C E' C F' ..... C B' C C''.
  • C C'' D C'' E C'' F C'' ....

Concentrate on how the different sized jumps feel. When you start to get confident at playing these exercises accurately at a steady tempo, try them with your eyes closed!

Practice these with both hands (separately, and together.) The Liszt doesn't need your left hand to do this, but if you alternate between your hands you can practice for longer without getting tired, and really you are training your brain as much as your hands. (And being able to skip around the keyboard confidently with your left hand is useful in its own right, of course.)

Then you can get back to what Liszt actually wrote, and you should quickly make some real progress.

  • Yep, the "slower hundreds of time" didn't sounded that useful :p I'll try this, thank you ! – MiraLief Jul 12 '16 at 19:04

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