I started learning piano for the last month. I played guitar for long years though. On piano I can play some chords, pentatonic scale at a moderate speed and play the most basic hanon exercises with moderate speed.

I try to play blues, shuffle rhythm with left hand while playing a pentatonic scale with my right hand. The problem is I cant do the most basic comping with my left hand, for example at metronome speed 80, left hand plays a triplet on C note, while right hand plays 16th notes on G. It seems impossible that hands do different rhythms.

It is either this(left hand triplet & right hand 16ths) is "actually" a very difficult thing on piano for a beginner, or I don't know how to practise this.

Because on guitar I can pretty much practise "anything" by slowing down the tempo. But here with piano, this approach does not work. My hands cant keep different rhyhtms even at the slowest tempo.

Any advice would be appreciated

  • 1
    Please clarify: triplet in what note denomination? Do you mean quaver triplets, so 4 against 3?
    – user48353
    May 7, 2018 at 11:06
  • @replete I do a triplet per beat, but second note of the triplet is missing. what is that called? shuffle ?
    – Spring
    May 7, 2018 at 11:09
  • 2
    Right, so you mean that the left hand is dividing the beat evenly into three, and the right hand evenly into four. I'm sure we must have answers dealing with this general issue, so I will look for some. In general, 4 against 3 is not something I would recommend to or expect from someone playing for just a month.
    – user48353
    May 7, 2018 at 11:15
  • Possibly useful: music.stackexchange.com/questions/44128/…
    – user48353
    May 7, 2018 at 11:18
  • @replete thnx! looking forward if you happen to find more stuff on this. So how do you recommend I play a simple 12 bar blues with rhythm? Shall I stop soloing over shuffle rhythm for the moment? Or play triplets with right hand too.
    – Spring
    May 7, 2018 at 11:37

4 Answers 4


On piano, the most common learning method is to start working on a piece by learning and practicing each hand separately, and then working to combine the two. It's like learning a song three times: left hand only, right hand only, and then both together.

What you're working on is even more challenging, because the rhythms don't line up between the hands all the time. It might take you years to master this. You should definitely practice both hands separately and work to make at least one of them automatic - the left hand would seem reasonable for this.

Another exercise to do to work on this is very slowly going through and playing with both hands and taking all the time you need - not even using a metronome, to make sure the notes are lined up. This is more a technique for learning pieces that are completely written down, so if you wrote down something similar to what you want to play and practiced that it might help.

And a third thing to do is to get your automatic left hand going and start with the right hand playing what you are able to play. Perhaps just one note, and start expanding the rhythm. First, play along with the left hand, the same rhythm. Then start subdividing and holding notes longer. Work on this slowly and eventually work up to triplet rhythms (again starting with just one repeated note).

Expect to spend quite a lot of time working on this before you can just comp yourself like it's no big deal.

  • 1
    Tnx this was gold "left hand going and start with the right hand playing what you are able to play. Perhaps just one note" Now I try to do this listening a polyrhtym metronome(on iphone) and tapping my hands (without a piano). For the first time i was able to do it, slowly.
    – Spring
    May 8, 2018 at 9:03

You are asking too much of yourself to be able to play 4 against 3 right now. To work on hand independence, you should play some music that causes your hands to go in different directions (contrary motion.) You can start with contrary motion scales. Start on the tonic note. Have the LH go down the scale and the RH go up the scale each playing one note at a time. Then reverse directions when you get to the end of the scale.

Even if you are not a big fan of classical music, beginner pieces are very helpful for building hand independence. Your hands need to be able to play legato in one and staccato in the other, for example. This is extremely useful for comping later on.

I use this book for my beginner students who are solid readers, and I highly recommend it. The songs are pleasant, have good structure, and there is a tremendous amount that will help with learning hand independence. https://www.amazon.com/Joy-First-Classics/dp/0825680662/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1525748576&sr=8-3&keywords=joy+of+classical+music


What you are trying to do is indeed difficult and while there are many pieces of advice that I think would be helpful to you, I think the core problem is that you have not internalized the spacing between the the semiquavers (16th notes) and the the triplet. In order to do that you need to slow it down to clearly be able differentiate between both rhythmical patterns and their relationship to each other. Not 80 or 60 BPM. Try playing it at 12BPM (It's like playing underwater):

When you are comfortable with that, try doing it at 85BPM which 5BPM above what the tempo you are failing at is that correct?

One thing to note is that successful internalization will probably require a couple of days at least and maybe longer. Do 2-10 mins of the 12BPM exercise for a few days and then give the 85BPM a try. Don't get discouraged.




This is actually a very difficult thing for a beginner on any instrument.

I share Heather S' opinion, that you're asking too much of yourself after one month of playing piano. I am a guitar player and I have noodled around on the piano, and I don't think anyone can do what you're talking about before they've truly internalized it.

If you're really keen to play exactly these two rhythms, here's how I would do it. I would start by working up to it very gradually. I would forget the piano and just try to tap these two rhythms simultaneously on my legs. I would tap my RH slowly enough that I can comfortably tap triplets against it with my LH. Then, add the LH pattern. It would definitely help me to write down the rhythm for each hand. I could scale it to quarter notes (crotchets) in the RH. The LH would then be written in eighth-note (quaver) triplets. I would take a break. Then I would approach from the LH, where I tap it slowly enough that I can comfortably tap RH quadruplets against it, and tap the RH rhythm. I would take another break. I would switch back and forth with ample pauses, and gradually increase the tempi. It will take a lot of focus and repetition, but when the rhythms flow comfortably and accurately at a range of tempi, I would then start applying them to an instrument.

(I have tried this more than once, but only half-heartedly, because I always got bored before I became adept at it. If I were more keen than I was before I would also try to find music with these rhythms in it to listen to regularly between practising sessions.)

If, on the other hand (pun possibly intended), I wanted to acquire general independence, I would just start learning songs from the classical piano repertoire, starting with really easy stuff. If I wanted an extra challenge in this regard, I would learn an easy piece and then switch the roles of each hand.

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