Achieving Hand Independence – Increasing Complexity (Part 3/4)

In the previous post, I laid a foundation for practicing hand independence.  The exercises I gave were fairly basic, though they’re crucial to understanding the learning process.  Each new, consecutive pattern is derived in some way from a previous pattern, but made slightly more difficult. This way, I’m always maintaining an optimal level of difficulty.

The following continues with this sequence, and adds considerable difficulty.

Adding Pitch Variance

Adding pitch variance in the right-hand should happen very gradually and rigidly.  Otherwise we risk this exercise becoming too difficult, or morphing into a creative, improv session.  Here’s how you might start:

Charleston 10

Using half notes in the right-hand, pitch syncopation would look like this:

Charleston 11

The 3-note grouping augments the length of the pattern and places pitch accents in different places.  The syncopation may be harder to feel with half notes; it’s more evident with quarter notes and eighth notes.

Charleston 12Charleston 13

Notice that using 4-note groupings is easy because there’s no pitch syncopation:

Charleston 14

Of course, feel free to experiment with 5+ note groupings!

Increasing Complexity

I can expand on these 3-note and 5-note groupings to create many more possibilities for the right-hand.

Charleston 15Charleston 16

When you add pitch syncopation to these patterns, they become extremely difficult.  Here are a few examples:

Charleston 17Charleston 18

Charleston 19

By this time, hopefully you’re getting a good feel for this linear sequence of difficulty.  It never ends, so I’ll stop here and let you figure out where you can take it next.  Also, keep in mind I’ve only given exercises for the right-hand; this sequence can be applied to the left hand too!

The Charleston can be shifted around in the bar:

Charleston 20

You can also start incorporating other chords, and larger sections of the blues:

Charleston 21

Pick a new left-hand pattern and if necessary, start from the beginning, away from the piano.


Thus far, the exercises thus far, haven’t included improvisation.  At some point, improvisation can be added, but very gradually and rigidly.  One way to do this is to keep a constant rhythm, but improvise notes.

From the exercises above, you could improvise using constant half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes or 3-beat figures.  When you get really comfortable, you could try my simple exercise!

By this point, the left-hand pattern has probably become more intuitive.  The focus can now shift from hand independence to more creative, improvisation exercises.  This is good news!  This is exactly what you set out to achieve!

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