Playing Piano Technique

The piano technique represents the bricks on which you as a piano will evolve. Try and understand why the piano technique is so important. Take a look at this piano lesson and you’ll have a clear image about the piano technique.

What does the piano technique mean?

When grappling over a period of years with the complex problems of the playing piano technique, it is only too easy to lose sight of our aims and the means by which they may be achieved a state of affairs partly due, no doubt, to the fact that in learning to play a musical instrument intellectual, emotional and physical factors are involved to an unusual degree. Although it is ultimately impossible to separate them into water-tight compartments, it may be helpful at certain stages of our work to consider independently these three types of activity.

It is the intellectual side the ‘thinking’ as opposed to the ‘feeling’ and ‘doing’ that is so often neglected. Piano students must be persuaded of the value of indeed, the necessity for clear thinking in connection with their practicing and playing. But, be it noted, clear thinking! This, rightly directed, will lead to precise, controlled physical action, and, guided by a positive and firmly held musical aim, to certainty in performance.

wrist-action-piano

What must we do in order to play the piano?

Let us try to look at piano technique afresh and reduce it to its simplest terms. What, from a physical point of view, must we do in order to play the piano? Sure, you can play and learn the piano keys and the keyboard diagram. But that’s not enough!

Two things:

  1. The first important thing that we do in the piano technique, is that we must move the keys, and we must move the pedals. That is all! And the countless theories of touch, of arm weight, forearm rotation, high wrist, low wrist bent finger, flat finger, curvilinear arm movements and so on almost ad infinitum are intended to help us to do the first of these things: to move the keys.
  2. The second, the use of the pedals, has not been the subject of so much analysis; it is perhaps surprising that theorists have not more fully brought their ingenuity also to bear on this.

Let us leave aside the problems of pedaling and confine ourselves, for the present, to the work to be done by the fingers, hands and arms, and perfect our piano technique.

21-1 fingertips direction

The four big mistakes

There are only four ways in which we can fail to play correctly indeed, perfectly from a physical point of view.

  1. Firstly, we may play ‘wrong notes’. In other words, we may move a key (or keys) other than those which, at any given moment, we intend to move. This is the most obvious form of error, and one from which even the greatest pianists, being human, are not immune; but although this may comfort students for a similar failing in their own performance, it must never be made an excuse for carelessness in practicing. Clearly, perfection in the playing of right notes must be a constant aim. The other ways in which we may fail are, perhaps, less obvious to the uninitiated.
  2. Secondly, we may play any note a little too soon or too late an error of rhythm, an error in the ‘when’ of the sound.
  3. Thirdly, we may play any note too loudly or too softly an error of dynamics, an error in the ‘how’ of the sound. This fault arises from a misjudgment of the amount of force needed to move the key. Should the force applied be too weak it may even fail to produce any sound at all a very disconcerting occurrence.
  4. Lastly, we may fail accurately to time the upward movement of the key. In other words, we may, having sounded the note, hold down the key for too long or too short a time an error of duration. This kind of error is more serious than might at first appear. As we shall see later, the precise duration of sounds often has an important bearing on the question of tone quality. These, then, are the only possible ways in which we may fail to play, from a physical point of view, perfectly: we may fail to play the right notes, we may fail to play the notes exactly when they should sound, we may fail to play the notes exactly how they should sound, and we may fail to control their duration.

wrong-posture

The right technique

Let us now state our aims positively, and thus formulate a definition of technique: The technique is the ability to make every right note sound exactly when, exactly how, and for the exact length of time we intend. This may well seem at first sight to be an absurd oversimplification, but a little reflection will show that if, in the playing of any musical composition, each of these requirements is fulfilled, the performance will be technically (that is, physically) perfect.

As far as technique goes, the greatest pianist can do no more. We are, of course, leaving aside for the moment all considerations of interpretation. From, an interpretative point of view any performance, however technically perfect, may be open to criticism.

Technique

Interpretation depends upon our musical intentions, and the way in which we intend each sound will determine whether our interpretations are musical or unmusical, artistic or inartistic, convincing or unconvincing. Our intentions are governed by two things : the quality of our musicianship, and the quality of our artistic imagination.

Our knowledge of music can never be too great, and knowledge is something all can acquire. The balance of phrases and the structure of melodies, the pointing of climax by the use of exciting harmonies, modulation, the importance of key-design in large works, the contrapuntal styles in fact, all the things which together make form in music, provide fascinating material for study. The would-be artist should not stop here. The study of orchestral music will heighten his appreciation of tone-color and further stimulate his imagination.

The wider his field of musical experience, the deeper will be his insight into the music he wishes to interpret. But considerations of interpretation may well be left until the problems of technique have been examined more closely.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m wondering why you chose this particular photo at the top of the page that says, “piano playing technique” because the technique the person is using in the photo is pretty bad. I was looking for a photo for a flier & I googled images “piano technique.” When this photo came up I had to look at the page where it was originally posted because it’s such an odd photo to use for this purpose. It’s really bad looking technique! Surely you see the tension in the fingers (in both hands even)…the extended thumb in the LH and especially that curled pinkie in the right hand – both of those techniques could potentially cause injury. Just saying….

     

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