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I am currently learning Beethoven's "Rage Over A Lost Penny", and I am finding it very hard to play this particular section: enter image description here

The right hand is pretty easy for me here, but it's the left hand that I have trouble with. The jumps cause me to play unevenly, and my hand tires out very quickly. I have tried to practice hands separately. However, playing my left hand alone is fine, but when I try to play both hands together for this section, my left hand has a tendency to rush, so I miss some notes and play unevenly.

The hardest parts for me in this section are the longer jumps, for example, measures 131, 132, and 135. Also for some reason, measures 139 and 140 are very annoying for me.

I am confident that my fingering is correct. From measure 130-136, my fingering for each measure is 51412141, and from measure 137-142, my fingering for every two measures is 5121412131215121.

Does anyone have any suggestions about my fingering, or good practicing methods for this section? Thank you for your help.

  • Your fingerings are fine assuming you have an average size hand (or bigger), but you might want to practice the jumps with the fingering 5 1 5 1 2 1 5 1 etc, to "force yourself" to make a jump and change your hand position, rather than instinctively trying to stretch for the notes. You might also try an exercise playing the first note of each bar an octave lower than written, for the same reason. (See #6 in b3ko's answer.) – user19146 Jun 1 '18 at 9:36
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Some quick tips:

  1. Play it so slowly its not even in tempo. Really try to internalize when your hands play together and when they don't and what notes fall on the beats and what notes don't (this is most important for beginners).
  2. Use a metronome. Start with it as slow as you need it to be to play it well. If that is so slow it is hard to keep where the beat is try putting it at a faster pace but count those as 8th, or 16th notes. Play it so slowly that you don't make any mistakes and then very gradually increase the speed.
  3. Loop bars or other small sections that are giving you trouble. Focus on just the toughest spots before trying it all together.
  4. Take breaks when you are getting frustrated, when your hands get tired, and when you start to make more mistakes then you previously were. Better to practice well a little bit at a time then it is to practice a lot at a time poorly. Perfect practice makes perfect.
  5. If you are having trouble with the left hand practice it by itself. If you can't play it alone you won't be able to play it with the other hand as well.
  6. If you are having trouble with jumps, find some exercises that focus just on that. Or just create one using the types of jumps in this piece that are giving you trouble.
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Beethoven is famous for this kind of figuration in the left hand. If your hand gets tired, it probably means that you aren't using enough arm movement (I'm assuming that your hand has a size where a tenth is a full stretch to reach and you can't do an eleventh in unison).

You might consider an exercise that I found helpful in working on some of his other stuff. Just concentrate on one of the jumps, say the first two notes in bar 130. Play the jump back and forth (GBGBGBGB, etc.) as a single oscillation between the two notes.

Keep your hand fairly relaxed. Don't try to stretch your fingers out to come as close as possible to covering the two keys at once, rather, move your arm from side to side using your elbow as a pivot. Think of the movement you make when you wave your hand from side to side at someone, perhaps someone who is a little ways off. Keep your upper arm fairly stationary, moving it a little bit as a "shock absorber."

Try to only do enough of this movement to reduce the stretch in your hand to the point it becomes comfortable. Think about making the leap in the most economical way possible, balancing the increased motion necessary to pivot from the elbow with the effort required to stretch your hand. Keep working on it until you have the slight leap down and can play the notes comfortably and accurately.

Once you have those two notes down, you can start filling in the other notes in the figure from a single hand position, using the fingers. You'll find that you can make this little leap very quickly with practice, and will be able to keep up with the rest of the fingers.

At bar 131, I'd recommend doing the same thing with GBGCGBGC, etc. as well as doing GCGCGCGC. You have to work out how to combine a tenth and an eleventh in the same fashion, so doing it repetitiously like this will help you dial in the distances required.

Just for fun, here's another well-known headache of this sort by Beethoven, from the first movement of his Op. 90 Sonata (there's quite a bit more of the same):

enter image description here

I used the technique I've described to you to get this and the similar passages down.

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