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Piano Technique ~ 

Exceptional technique is achieved by understanding the mechanics of the piano and the way you physically execute your performance on this remarkable instrument.

  • When seated at the piano you should be able to perfectly balance your arms and hands without playing the notes or feeling any tension at all.

  • Fingers should be naturally curved, playing on the tips of the fingers or fleshy part next to your fingernails (Naturally keep your fingernails trimmed).

  • You should form a "paw". Knuckles should not be caved in or too high. Knuckles could be fairly flat, but just slightly up, like a bridge. The same with the wrists and elbows.

  • Wrists should be even with the white keys, never too high or low.

  • Elbows should be out from the body, allowing the weight of your arm to travel freely to your wrists and allowing for horizontal movement across the keys.

  • Always sit up straight, shoulders back, create a small arch in the middle of your back. Imagine a string going up through the center of your body, out of your head. Your pelvic bone slightly turned in towards the piano.

  • You should sit far enough from the piano so that your elbows are slightly towards the front of your chest. 

  • Sit no more than one half to three quarters on the bench. Both feet flat on the floor or pedals.

  • When each part of your body is doing its job, playing is effortless. If it doesn't feel good and wonderful, it is wrong. Going to the extreme range of motion is the main cause of most performance injuries. 

  • "You cannot over practice, only practice wrong." Dorothy Taubman 

Piano Action and You

There are a few considerations that you need to understand in order to develop a beautiful tone and wonderful technique.

1. Weight behind each note. This produces your volume, controlled by your shoulder, arms and forearms. Learning to control the weight creates effortless playing. Tension, and strain using the muscles of your arm create fatigue, and cramps. Practice just dropping your arms into your lap, then onto the keys. Controlled movement, using the weight of your arm is all you need to play effortlessly with a full range of dynamics.

2. Speed behind each note. This creates the speed in the hammer, so it rebounds quickly off the string allowing it to vibrate more freely, producing all of the rich overtones that it is capable of.

If you were to strike a stretched wire with a pencil, even as you hit the wire, the pencil would be dampening the wire. If you could get your pencil away from the wire fast enough, your wire would vibrate more fully, creating more overtones in the process thus creating a wonderful tone quality.

When a key is depressed, the escapement mechanism releases the hammer before it strikes the string. Your "point of sound" (the little bump) is before you hit the key bed. Power does not produce speed. Hitting a key hard retards speed. Aim for the point of sound, use your arm weight and simply let your fingers fall. 

It is also important that you allow your fingers to continue down to the key bed, even though your hammer has already been released.  This is a safety feature that is regulated into a well maintained piano allowing the action parts to reset themselves (referred to as aftertouch).   If this is not done, you might be experiencing double strikes, poor tone and sluggish repetition.

Good technique is effortless because everything is at its absolute minimum.

All Rights Reserved by K. Wayne Land 1998
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