On Hand Independence and Wasted Youth

I struggle with hand independence. It’s a fucking nightmare, I’m telling you. There’s a solution though: take Dohnányi exercises, play them for 10 years (starting when you were 4) — ? — PROFIT! My problem here: I started a bit later, and I hate exercises that sound like they were deliberately written to torture me and make me feel like crap. I love playing things that matter musically. So I thought, okay, why don’t I play some arpeggios with the left hand, like this:

Screenshot 2019-03-14 at 21.48.43

Then add some scale runs with right hand (F Dorian in this case), like so:

Screenshot 2019-03-14 at 21.50.07

Then stop playing the 5th in my left hand Fm7 arpeggio:

Screenshot 2019-03-14 at 21.53.07

Continue playing the same rhythmic figure with the left hand, but sex it up by switching to broken 10ths (F — C — Ab). Keep doing the scale thing with my right:

Screenshot 2019-03-14 at 21.54.53

Then go back to my Fm7 arp and instead of removing 5th, get rid of the 3rd, which will completely change the rhythmic pattern and fuck up the right hand. Switch to 10ths as soon as the right hand starts to unfuck itself again.

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At every moment I can try and switch from running a scale to actually improvising in key to see if my left hand can handle it:

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Of course, there are also other things like other mode degrees to play with the left hand (for example, v or IV7 instead of i), other scales (like, parallel Lydian or Aeolian, you know?) etc. Thus, by the end of a 12-hour session, you will have achieved total hand independence and absolute fluency in all keys and all modes. All by doing just this one exercise!

Just kidding. Go build a time machine and start your piano lessons when you’re 4. Or at least build a time machine so people like me could practice more AND write about it! Laters—

Piano day (1h 40m)


  • Transposing Hanon (3 random exercises from Book 1) to F & Bb major

Modal studies + left hand

Rhythmic studies + hand independency + modal studies

  • Moving accents + scale runs (Dorian C thru Eb)
  • Mixolydian scales
    • I7 chord apreggiated with LH
    • Scale runs + articulated b7, 5 and octave with RH

Piano day (1h 30m)

  • Improv + scale studies
    • 2-octave Phrygian scales in all keys
      • With both hands
      • In harmonic thirds + 1-5 shells in LH
  • Left hand + technique / speed
    • Intervallic patterns
      • 1-5-10 (m & M)
      • 1-5-9-10-1-5-6-4 (M)
      • Combined with A-B shells in RH (7-3-5 to 3-7-9 around the cycle of 4ths)
  • Interpreting pop tunes
    • Katy Perry — Lost (verse)
      • LH
        • Intervallic patterns: 1-5-9-10, 1-5-6
        • Shells: 1-5
      • RH
        • Shells & voice leading
        • Inversions

Piano day (2h)

  • Improv + scale studies
    • 2-octave Dorian scales in all keys with both hands
    • Same in harmonic thirds in RH + 5ths in LH
    • Harmonic thirds in RH + 1-5-10 in LH
    • Applying Dorian scales (also in thirds) over chromatic progression of m7 shells (3-7-9) — lesson 13 from Dan Haerle’s “Jazz Improvisation for Keyboard Players”
      • Emphasis on accidentals of each key
  • Left hand + technique / speed
    • m7 & maj7 arpeggios around the cycle of 4ths
    • Intervallic patterns
      • 1-5-10 (m & M)
      • 1-5-(8va)-1-3-5-7-(8va)-1
  • Interpreting pop tunes
    • Katy Perry — Lost (first couple of lines)
      • Block chords
      • Shells
      • Intervallic patterns