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#38814 - 08/06/08 01:44 AM Wrist float-off question
C.Y. Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 15
What is the purpose of wrist float-off practice? To have a relaxed wrist?
Does it mean that it's better to do wrist float-off for all 4 beats or 3 beats notes?

This video clip seems to have a lot of wrist movement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfwuxA1G8YQ

This video clip seems to have some wrist movement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2sdOwMkdf8

This video clip seems to have very few wrist movement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STJOZZufG3o

Is it correct that as long as wrist is relaxed, wrist float-off is just personal preference? Thanks!

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#38815 - 08/06/08 11:38 AM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: C.Y.]
John Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/29/01
Posts: 2454
Loc: Bellingham, WA
I ain't Ms. Arlene, but I can say that the wrist float-off is used at the end of musical phrases as a "breath"; literally giving the arm-wrist-hand a chance to relax between phrases, and also to separate each phrase (instead of connecting multiple phrases together).

The flipside of the LIFT is the DROP. "What comes up must come down" - use gravity. Often pianists neglect to use the impetus and natural gravity that arm drops provide; we are constantly LIFTING, DROPPING, TRANSFERRING WEIGHT to each finger, then LIFTING again.

I prefer exaggerating the motions in young beginners; it's easier to refine the lift/drop later than to try to incorporate it after years of not using it!

But Arlene is often more eloquent!

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#38816 - 08/06/08 11:58 AM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: John]
Arlene Steffen Moderator Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
Oh, pish tosh! You answer just fine, Sir John.

A problem that often crops up in children learning this gesture, though, is they try to get it to work from the elbow. I often try making the wrist into a marionette body part where I control the string, pulling up on the wrist, then letting go of the string. Works like a charm!

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#38817 - 08/06/08 12:03 PM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: John]
Lillystar Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 02/04/08
Posts: 16
John, you underrate yourself!!

For C.Y. The muscial phrase as John noted is the equivalent of a sentence or complete thought. For example if you sing the first phrase in the song "Happy Birthday to You" you'll notice a pause at the end of "to you". You sorta sing the whole phrase in one breath and then pause. A musical phrase is indicated by a line connecting the first note of the phrase to the last note of the phrase.

The wrist float-off is beginning training in the art of releasing the last note of a musical phrase (sentence.)

Randy writes about this in one of the online newsletters - No. 2 Level 1. Look for 'Newsletter' tab at the top in the menu.

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#38819 - 08/06/08 02:42 PM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: Lillystar]
John Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/29/01
Posts: 2454
Loc: Bellingham, WA
One thing I do quite a bit is use brightly-colored "scrunchies" to play "marionette". I got 6 assorted colors super-cheap at Rite Aid; these were just the simple, thinner elactic ones...not those bulky types.

EVERY child asks "what are those for" when they see them, so I get to demonstrate their use often! We also switch roles, so they get to try to lift MY heavy arm and drop it.

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#38822 - 08/06/08 11:36 PM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: John]
C.Y. Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By: John
The flipside of the LIFT is the DROP. "What comes up must come down" - use gravity. Often pianists neglect to use the impetus and natural gravity that arm drops provide; we are constantly LIFTING, DROPPING, TRANSFERRING WEIGHT to each finger, then LIFTING again.

I hope I understand what you said correctly. So pianists often do lifting and dropping and when it is dropping, pianists should use the natural gravity along with his/her own force.

Originally Posted By: Arlene Steffen

I often try making the wrist into a marionette body part where I control the string, pulling up on the wrist, then letting go of the string.

That's a great way to practice. How about sagging wrist (rest on the edge of the keyboard), any tip to correct this problem? Right now I hold a drumstick against the edge of the keyboard (parallel) and level it a bit higher than the base of the keyboard (where he could rest his wrist) so he couldn't sag his wrists.

Originally Posted By: Lillystar

For C.Y. The muscial phrase as John noted is the equivalent of a sentence or complete thought. For example if you sing the first phrase in the song "Happy Birthday to You" you'll notice a pause at the end of "to you". You sorta sing the whole phrase in one breath and then pause. A musical phrase is indicated by a line connecting the first note of the phrase to the last note of the phrase.

The wrist float-off is beginning training in the art of releasing the last note of a musical phrase (sentence.)

Is that line called "slur"? I can understand a group of notes that connected by a slur is like a sentence. But what if there is no slur line or just staccato, should one look for a rest sign or a bar line or a long note as the end of phrase now? Is there a rule to teach kid how to see the music phrase or as they get older and have more experience, they will just know like an instinct.

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#38826 - 08/07/08 01:43 AM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: C.Y.]
Arlene Steffen Moderator Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
[That's a great way to practice. How about sagging wrist (rest on the edge of the keyboard), any tip to correct this problem? Right now I hold a drumstick against the edge of the keyboard (parallel) and level it a bit higher than the base of the keyboard (where he could rest his wrist) so he couldn't sag his wrists.


Same thing. Pull up on the marionette string. The wrist should be parallel with the arm, not raised. Be careful, though. Trying to concentrate on too many things at the same time is more frustrating than productive.

Is that line called "slur"?

A slur is the curved line showing notes that should be played legato.

But what if there is no slur line or just staccato, should one look for a rest sign or a bar line or a long note as the end of phrase now? Is there a rule to teach kid how to see the music phrase or as they get older and have more experience, they will just know like an instinct. [/quote]

In most Western music, phrases fall logically in measure groups of 2, 4, 8 or 16. Four and 8 are the most common. There is often a pattern to the phrasing (2+2+4 or 4+4+8). Just because notes are staccato doesn't mean they aren't thought of as a phrase. You can often listen for the harmony (or the implied harmony) to tell where the phrase ends.

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#38841 - 08/07/08 11:25 PM Re: Wrist float-off question [Re: Arlene Steffen]
C.Y. Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By: Arlene Steffen
In most Western music, phrases fall logically in measure groups of 2, 4, 8 or 16. Four and 8 are the most common. There is often a pattern to the phrasing (2+2+4 or 4+4+8). Just because notes are staccato doesn't mean they aren't thought of as a phrase. You can often listen for the harmony (or the implied harmony) to tell where the phrase ends.


I think I kind of understand what you said. A slur alone doesn't mean it is a phrase. A phrase could have two or more slurs. So now I know I should look at groups of measures. Like the "Russian Sailor Dance" in lesson book, it sounds like every two measures is a phrase and each phrase has similar melody (not sure if I use the correct term or not, 1 measure of slur and 1 measure of staccato).

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