Introduction: How to Solve Your Problems Playing With Both Hands Together
One of the most common challenges that we piano players deal with throughout our years of playing is getting both hands together correctly and easily when we play a piece.
Some of the most encountered issues are things like not playing both hands together in tempo, making mistakes in one hand when you start using the other one at the same time, forgetting what you're supposed to do with one hand while your other hand is playing, trying to play too fast when you first play a piece with both hands together, and more.
In this lesson, I'm going to give you a specific method that will help you conquer these challenges and will help you everytime you start a new piece and want to play with each hand at the same time.
This Method is called the Three S Method.
There are 3 specific things that you can do that all start with an S to really get ahead with 2-handed piano playing.
The first one is really simple...let's see what it is in Step 1.
Step 1: Simplify
When you "simplify" a piece, you just take out the complicated parts.
This would mean things like trills, articulations, dynamics, etc.
Just focus on the notes, in other words. Also, focus on the Key Signature so you will play the right notes, but don't worry about written words, markings that show you how loud or soft to play, or any other markings.
Try breaking the piece down one measure at a time too...don't try to play the whole piece at one time.
Tempo is important too at first. This is connected to our next step in this method which we'll look at next.
Step 2: Slow Down
You already guessed this one, didn't you?!
Slow applies to so much when we're learning the piano, and it's no different here.
Not only do we need to play our notes slowly, but we need to practice the different sections/measures of the piece slowly.
If we apply Step 1 right here, we would simplify things by playing one measure at a time, instead of trying a whole line in the piece.
Playing faster than we can actually play is really the most common cause if problems with our playing anytime we're having some issues. The good thing is, that we can solve most of those issues by simply slowing down.
This is especially true when it comes to learning to play with both hands on a new piece. We have to basically do what we do with one hand with the other hand in terms of practicing the notes separately, and then putting them together.
Think about this...when you can't playing something, it's not because you can't play the notes, it's because you can't play them at the tempo you're trying to. Once you find that good slow tempo, you'll be amazed at how much easier what you're trying to play will be!
The next and final step in this Three S Method is specifically applicable for 2-handed playing. Ready to learn the final S?
Step 3: Separate
Separation is the Queen of simplifying when it comes to playing with both hands together.
Think about it; you already separated out the more complicated parts in Step 1 so you can just focus on the notes. Slowing down allows you to really see what the notes are and play them correctly.
Separation is further applied when you take one measure at a time, or one line at a time instead of the whole piece or line at once. *Make sure that you don't always start with the same measure(s) or section(s) each time you sit down to practice this...alternate where you start so you'll be just as strong on each measure, and not just the first few measures.*
This also means you can separate your hands and just practice one at a time while you learn the notes. Then, you will play them together and it will be a lot easier than if you just try to play both hands together from the beginning. Give yourself time to really learn, slowly. Then, playing faster will be a cinch!
When you are a beginner and are first starting to play with both hands, always learn one hand at a time. Mix it up too..don't always learn your right hand first. Start with your left hand sometimes as this will actually strengthen it.
Now that we have gone over the Three S Method here in this lesson, let's grab our keyboards and get ready to play through a music sample and how we apply each of these steps in this specific example.
Ready to practice with me?
Step 4: Come Practice With Me
The best way to learn how the Three S Method works on a specific piece is to go through it with me at the keyboard so you can try practicing yourself these different things.
We will simplify, slow down, and separate out different parts of the sample so you can see how this method actually works in real time.
Then you will be able to take this into your practice sessions each time you start noticing any challenges in playing with both hands for either the first time or just in a new piece or exercise.
Simplify, slow down, and separate...learn this, and you're set to go!