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I grew up having keyboard lessons (age 8-15), and therefore have a vast number of chords memorized and can easily deal with chord changes with zero thought through memory alone.

Here is what I mean by a piece of keyboard music. I know all these chords and have them memorized and can instantly switch between them with my left hand.

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15 years later, I can still do this, and my right hand is fairly strong and I am confident reading the treble clef and sight reading melodies. I am now (since September) however trying to learn the piano, and my left hand is significantly weaker than my right.

What I am looking for advice/tips on is:

  • Sight reading on the bass clef.
  • General tips on how to make my left hand better.
  • Advice on whether or not I should work independently on left hand parts, and if so, suggestions on pieces that are actually fun to play.

In terms of my level, this is the most recent piece of learnt: https://musescore.com/user/2466621/scores/1463381

I can play this piece reasonably well, but do find a small amount of trouble in quickly getting around the chords in the left hand. The right hand I have pretty much mastered.

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    A piano is a keyboard, so if you can play a keyboard, you can already play the piano? – ericw31415 Dec 6 '17 at 22:36
  • I have updated by question to show you the difference between what I understand as a piece of keyboard sheet music. The stave for the left hand is absent, but the chords are written. – Free2Rhyme2k Dec 7 '17 at 9:56
  • That's much better. Upvote from me. – ericw31415 Dec 7 '17 at 12:38
  • Still hoping for someone to answer :) – Free2Rhyme2k Dec 7 '17 at 13:11
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I grew up playing classical piano, and have also spent time learning keyboard for more modern music. I am right handed and find that my left hand tends to naturally be weaker.

My suggestion for strengthening your left hand would be to buy a piano exercise book and use it regularly. Hanon is one set of exercises, and here is a more recent exercise book. Take pleasure in the knowledge that you are strengthening and improving your fingers' agility and strength, and the exercises can become quite absorbing if not fun.

For that particular song you've been playing, the left hand is playing four-note solid chords and four-note broken chords. Definitely practise the left hand chords separately until you can do them smoothly, both solid and broken. It may help to understand which chords they are so that your knowledge of keyboard chords can help you.

One drill to improve movement between distant chords is to go through the piece, moving your hand as quickly as possible between positions but pausing for a moment in the new location before resuming the song. That should help you memorize the distances faster.

On sight reading the bass clef, the only way to get faster is to gain experience doing it. Try finding an easy music book of familiar tunes in your local library and practice reading through them. If you need to work out the note names one at a time at first, do it. You'll start to recognize them when you next encounter them.

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It looks as if you've learned keyboard in a 'block chord in the LH, melody in the RH' style. Maybe assisted by an 'auto-accompaniment' feature that recognised the LH chord shapes? You CAN play piano like this (particularly if there's someone else in the band taking care of the bass line) but mostly you don't. The LH needs to be more versatile (and the RH sometimes has to contribute to the chords).

Get hold of the music for the ABRSM 'grade' exams. I expect Grade 1 will be trivially easy. (Or maybe not :-) Anyway, find the grade that challenges you, and learn the pieces. A few sessions with a piano teacher will help in assessing your level, and they will be able to show you samples of each grade.

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Here are my suggestions to you:

  • Think about how you learned to play the right hand. Try to learn the left hand with similar strategies.

  • Practice sight-reading the left hand: start slowly, after a few tries you'll get used to it

  • Play scales and other technique patterns: try the left hand individually, then when you get more comfortable, add in the right hand

  • For how you should practice your pieces, it really depends. I might practice hands individually if there are major problems with the notes and rhythms I just can't get, but otherwise I go hands together: that's how you fit together the two parts.

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I have the same problem only that I am much weaker in chords. I play the left hand separately and workup speed after my right hand is perfect, but every 5 times you play the left hand part try it with both hands and self evaluate your progress. If its a particular chord transition or note, focus on that part.

If you get stuck on a part, take a break and play something else and get bac to it tomorrow, sometimes that solves the problem. Last of all, once you manage to play the part decently practise that part every day atleast once so you don't forget. If you do this right and return to it a month later you might be able to play it much faster and more fluently.

Sight reading can only be improved with practise. Get an exercise book for piano and read through bass clef notes. One note at a time at first then you will pick up speed.

To improve your control over your left hand try playing right hand melodies on left hand when you have some time, or even the same melody on both hands at the same time, it will really help you when you have many chords within a short period of time.

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The suggestions mentioned above are very good when it comes to starting from the basics. What you could emphasize more on would be the technical difficulty you face. For this, all that you need to do is practice.

Sight reading, as mentioned, is very very effective. This takes quite some time to get used to it, but it is really worth the effort. Then, you could also try practising scales & arpeggios, broken chords, etc. Perhaps, even make you own small exercise to help in finger coordination & strengthening.

Another suggestion would be to get your hands on a good piano book which deals with technical exercises. For example, Czerny is very good when it comes to finger work. It has benefitted me a lot.

I hope you will benefit from a few of the tips here. Good luck!

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