Piano Masterclass | Godowsky’s Octave Exercises
Piano Masterclass | Godowsky’s Octave Exercises


We have already discussed the important role of the thumb and of the 5th finger when playing double stops, but the remaining fingers we have not yet discussed. I often see that, when playing octaves, many students let the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers hang down. This is a bit counterproductive, because one can hit some unwanted notes by mistake. Therefore, one should hold the middle fingers high when playing octaves and the wrist goes down a bit. That means, the tension in the hand is kept in order to fix the octave and the other fingers assist in keeping the tension. Now I would like to present a few
exercises by Leopold Godowsky, the first one is for the octave. We play the first note, i. e. the first octave with two voices and the rest with only one finger. The sense of this exercise is that the hand retains the span of an octave and does not suddenly form a fist as I sometimes see that is, playing the octave and then losing the tension of the hand. In the exercise I play the first octave in two voices, afterwards I will just touch the lower voice lightly with the thumb and vice versa the thumb plays and the 5th finger touches the key. This exercise can also be practiced as follows: I play the lower voice staccato and vice versa. When playing chromatic octaves, the position of the thumb changes depending on whether I play on the white or black keys. On white keys, one plays with round fingers and on the black keys with a bit stretched thumb. So, the thumb should touch the key as much as possible with the fingertip and when I play on the black keys, I stretch my thumb. In tempo it looks like this: Here the position changes. Also the octaves in Chopin’s Polonaise. Three ways of playing an octave Now I would like to present
three ways of playing octaves, the first ones, from the E flat Major
Concerto by Franz Liszt, are played practically with the whole body but mostly from the shoulder in order to attain a fortissimo. It looks like this: The second example from the A flat major Polonaise by Frederic Chopin is played with the wrist. Cantabile, Legato Octaves

14 thoughts on “Piano Masterclass | Godowsky’s Octave Exercises”

  1. HNNNNGG says:

    Sehr schön erklärt, hat mir sehr geholfen!
    Vielen Dank für die Mühen!

  2. Philip Christian says:

    Wonderful A++

  3. Grosejay says:

    I am sorry but you just do not have enough videos up here!!:-)

  4. PointyTailofSatan says:

    Now teach me so my hands can span a twelfth like Rachmaninoff! lol

  5. dada78641 says:

    Fantastic videos, great demonstration. Thanks!

  6. Bei Bei Miao says:

    Exclellent …

  7. EDP - Electronic Dance Piano says:

    Hey I tried your tipps and they really immediately helped me. 🙂 It feels now more comfortable for me to do Octaves.

  8. Sergey Kh says:

    Can you explain how to play octaves cprrectly on a black keys? When I play octaves on a black keys, my 3th and 4th fihgers alway poke into the front board of the piano.

  9. Jgn says:

    what does he say at 3:45? anybody? right before then, he says something about play staccato with one finger. And then he says something that is not on the subtitles. i dont know german at all. need some help here.

  10. MarchandMusic says:

    Where did the Neuhaus quote come from? An article? A book? I have never seen this before. Thank you.

  11. JD says:

    I think I read that Van Clibirn could span 14.
    I’m sure Rachmaninoff had a greater span than 12.

  12. JD says:

    To have all of what he is saying explained you only need to remember 2 Ks.
    Kullak and Kuhlau
    They both did a book of octave exercises.
    If I remember correctly the Kullak is best. It teaches the same thing as this video
    It improved my octave playing greatly.

  13. A Chopin's fan says:

    Thank you for the exercise.

  14. edtskyline says:

    Wonderful! Thank you!

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