I was watching a video on YouTube today by a teacher who I respect. This lady focuses on publishing video game music arrangements for piano and she is incredibly sharp at it.
This video was pushing towards the approach of never practicing hands apart on piano. It was suggesting that you just go straight in to hands together work at a slow tempo.
Going a little deeper, the justification behind was that if you work hands separate, you teach your brain 3 things. Left hand then right hand then hands together. The theory is that it takes longer to do this approach. I suppose all things being equal it might.
I’ve never taken this approach either in my teaching or in my own learning. I don’t sit in either the ‘together’ or ‘apart’ camp. In my opinion, you should do what you need to do. Let me explain.
When I open a new piece of music I’m going to have a mix of parts I play hands together straight away, sections where my left hand struggles and sections where my right hand struggles (of course… some music my brain struggles too but that’s another story).
This analysis is what drives my practice goals. If I can play something straight away I won’t spend much time on it. Where my left struggles I’ll sit down and figure that out and vice versa with the right. Once I fully understand those tricky sections I’ll put hands together.
My point here is that we should always be flexible in our approach. Don’t just sit with one solution and try to make that fit all. Have a bag of tools that you can use based on your needs at the time. This will be different from person to person and piece to piece so always analyse then use the tool you need.
To see the video, which has great graphics, is here.