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Descending Scales – Left Hand Rotation


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#1 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 11:58

Since starting on the grade 3 scales, I've noticed that with Eb & Bb majors, I instinctively invoke a marked rotation in my LH wrist when descending, such that my LH thumb (and fingers less so) are almost orthogonal to the keys.
 
I've tried to represent this in the diagrams below:

(1)initial LH position at top of scale. Red arrow shows rotation of hand
TDWawMA.jpg

(2)LH descending, with wrist rotated
3ieLDQY.jpg

 

 

I don't seem to do the same large rotation with any other scales or arpeggios, and I think it originates from trying to manage getting the fourth finger on Ab or Eb (depending on scale) and the thumb under ready for the next note.

 

Although the above is instinctive, instinctively I also feel it is perhaps wrong (as it looks ungainly) and will cause problems in the long run.  Is this conclusion right? Should I consciously try to to keep the hand parallel with the keys instead?


Edited by Ligneo Fistula, 04 December 2018 - 21:23 .

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#2 HelenVJ

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 16:42

A video would help - I'm not sure I understand your diagram ( and I'm not entirely sure of the meaning of orthoganal - somehow that never came up in my teaching dipolmas smile.png). But no, in both LH descending and RH ascending, no matter which scale, it's healthier for the wrist to lead, like a cellist's bowing wrist. See if you can find some online info on Wrist Circles ( more accurately elipses - ie ovals).


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#3 mel2

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 16:44

Have you tried beginning the descent with finger 2 for B flat followed by thumb, with finger 4 on the E flats. For E flat major;finger 3 on the keynotes (Eb) followed by thumb and using 4 on Ab?
If your wrist is still awkward perhaps you are sitting too close to the piano, or elbows too close to the body?
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#4 michael N

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 16:51

I've just tried the scales in the LH and there's no real canting or rotation in my wrist. If it happens I think it's more noticeable in the ascending part of the scale but it's very slight. 

Not that I'm necessarily doing it correctly. I'm too much of a beginner to really know. 


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#5 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 21:03

Thanks.  I've looked at some YouTube videos and every one has the pianist keeping the LH wrist unrotated and ~90° to the keyboard axis.  Looks like I've got a lot of slow corrective practice to do...


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#6 michael N

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 22:44

I found (perhaps still do) the Bb  and Eb scales to be perhaps the most awkward of the major scales. I think it something to do with my ring finger, just doesn't feel right. In your case you may not be moving your elbow/arm out enough. If you don't move your elbow it will force your wrist into an odd position. Of course in reality it's probably a combination of how the thumb goes under and how the whole arm moves out (not much) to the left on the LH descending scale. If you play really slowly and analyse the movement, try to feel the natural 'position', you will get it in no time. 


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#7 EllieD

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 08:29

Definitely ask your teacher. He or she will have ideas. I don't think it's possible for everyone to be exactly the same when playing an instrument as we all have different hand shapes and sizes, so you need to find what works specifically for you. Good luck!


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#8 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 10:26

I did some very slow playing and noted that this rotating-LH-wrist-while-descending phenomenon occurs for Eb, Bb and B majors (out of all the grade 1-3 scales). In all cases, instead of keeping a 'straight' wrist and passing the thumb under, my instinct is to rotate the wrist outward while on 3 so that (1)it's easier to place the relatively weak 4 on the next note and (2) prepare for the thumb depressing the note after (1) without having to use the thumb under manoeuvre.  Thereafter, the wrist remains at the out-rotated angle to the end of the scale.

 

LHDescending-Scales-03.jpg

 

LHDescending-Scales-04.jpg

 

LHDescending-Scales-05.jpg


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#9 zwhe

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:26

Its very difficult to say without actually seeing you play, but my guess is there is some tension in the wrists. You will need to rotate in order to place fingers on the black keys, but if the wrists are nice and loose, they will move back immediately afterwards. I would strongly recommend you see a teacher about this, because any tension now (or incorrect positioning) will really hold back your progression later.

You could try looking up Irina Gorin on you tube - she does some scales lessons with pupils.


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#10 mel2

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:29

Not sure if it would help you (I'd need to see it happening) but my teacher's advice for scale warm ups is to play them with very strong firm fingers -almost bang them ou to begin with. It is important to sit well back from the keyboard, though to give plenty of room for fluid arm movement. Concentrate on the part of the scale where the odd wrist movement occurs and persist in your practise until finger 4 feels equal to the task without twisting tje wrist to 'help' it.
The curious piano teachers advice is to be able to stand up from the piano stool and be able to do a 360 deg turn on the spot; if you can't, you're too close.
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#11 agricola

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 14:17

In any ascending left-hand scale the finger-wrist-arm combination will tend to take up a naturally turned-out orientation when turning 3 or 4 over thumb.  On the way down I would try to recover the same natural and comfortable position.  There is no rule that says you have to have your arm parallel to the keys all the time.  Check that your posture and distance from the piano allows you to move freely from the shoulder throughout the scale


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#12 HelenVJ

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 16:09

Rather than 'rotation',  I tend to refer to lateral ( sideways!) movement of the wrist - which is inevitable, really! The wrisr needs to move independently of the fingers. Also some finger-pivoting is needed when passing the thumb under a black key, but the elbow shouldn't be involved. It's remarkably hard to describe -  I'll try to look out a proper video on Wrist Circles by someone who knows what they're talking about. From your descrption, LF, it sounds as though you're doing the right thing, as long there is no wrist or elbow tension involved.


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#13 jch48

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 17:22

Your description sounds as if you're doing things in the optimal manner. in legato scale playing this movement of the wrist is correct. you just let it happen. Your body knows so don't block it. Really slowly compare trying to move the thumb under with and without any change in the angle of the top of the hand. Any locking in place and expecting the fingers to do everything is not so good. i say the whole mechanism from shoulder to finger tip needs to be flexible so your finger can get to any note. Avoid pinning your elbows to your body. Give your armpits some air as I heard it said once.

If playing scales ultrafast and doing hand-shifts rather than thumb under i'm guessing the wrist doesn't pivot - but that's not what you're asking

 

With the symmetry of the hands and positioning of the black keys LH Bb major descending is like RH D major ascending starting on f# so compare what you feel when doing that.  Feeling and alignment change as the arms move across the body so be aware of that too.

As a right hander and because the RH fast passages tend to be different and more frequent than LH i have greater facility  in my RH and i can feel it in scales.


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#14 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 22:19

Actually, what I have to this point described as rotation in the wrist is more like the result of the left elbow moving laterally (i.e. abduction) and, because the hand is 'fixed' to the keyboard at the finger 3, the finger acts as a pivot causing the odd wrist angle of the hand relative to the keyboard. Rotation at the wrist in the x-y (horizontal) plane is a by-product of the elbow moving out.  There really isn't any tension felt in my arm or joints when I do this which I why at first I hadn't noticed I am doing this. I can only reiterate my thoughts that the instinctive motivation seems to be security and ease in fingering the black note with finger 4 and avoidance of consciously having to make a pre-emptive thumb-under movement as soon as the 2-finger note has been played.


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#15 linda.ff

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:58

Whe would you use 4 on Bb in a LH scale?


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