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18 April 2018

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How to play semiquavers evenly

Many years back, an excellent teacher of mine showed me some brilliant exercises to get semiquaver passages even and I would like to share them with you today. The problem often arises with the weaker fingers such as 4th and 5th. For example, when moving from the ring finger to the little finger it is easy to "trip" and rush onto the last note.

In addition to this, it is not only the rhythm that can be affected, but sometimes the evenness of tone. A typical example is the "bumpy thumbs" in a scale of B major. If you play this scale you will notice that the thumbs are always together and the natural tendency is for the thumb to play a little harsher than the other fingers. Try it now and see if you can hear that the thumb notes, are slightly heavier. So lets get to the exercises, which by the way, are suitable for any instrument, not just piano. The first couple use dotted rhythms.
Use these rhythms to play semiquavers evenly

In example A you start with the longest note and alternate long - short - long - short - long - short etc, with a slight emphasis as you would naturally do on the first note of each group and in example B you swap this around. The longer you can make the dotted note and the shorter the demisemiquaver, the better. A lazy almost  triplet rhythm, will be less effective.

Applying this to the scale of B major, you will notice that the accent falls in different places in each octave, contrary to the natural tendency to only accent the thumb notes.

The next pair of exercises uses triplet rhythms.

Using triplet rhythms is an excellent exercise for getting semiquavers even.

Again try and make the long note of each group, as long as possible and the triplet as quick as possible, remembering to slightly accent the first note in each group of four, for maximum effectiveness.

Finally after playing each of the four exercises, you should play the passage normally with straight semiquavers trying not to accent any note.

So why not give it a go, try it on your scales or another passage that involves fast semiquavers and let me know in the comments below if it made any difference to the evenness of your playing.

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