Piano Technique III

[anti-rclick] On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, and Expression by György Sándor.
New York: Schirmer Books, 1981.

In this short post, I would like to quote a few paragraphs from Gyorgy Sandor’s book “On Piano Playing” since the words speak for themselves with the minimal influence from my explanation:

“[T]he aligning and adjusting [of the fingers] should be continuous and exact.” (p.55, italics by the author) Here I would like to emphasize the word “continuous” since a lot of the times the problem does not lie in no adjustment but a jerky angular way of the adjustment.

About fingers other than thumb:
“While the other four fingers differ distinctly from the thumb, they also vary among themselves. They differ in shape and size and, although they have adequate muscles. they are not equal in length.” (p.58)

About the third and fourth fingers:
“The fourth finger, in particular, feels weak, but not because it lacks strong muscles. However the flexors and extensors are wrapped together with the third finger’s muscles: hence these two fingers tend to contract and extend together. The fourth finger cannot be totally independent of the third. But it is possible to make the horizontal and vertical adjusting motions so precise, so accurate that activation of the fourth finger can be done effortlessly.” (p.58) That is why these two fingers seem to be stuck together especially for beginners, or even more seemingly advanced students who are wrongly informed with the false notion that the solution to the “independence” of fingers can be resulted from mindless drill of “strengthening” exercises.

About the fifth finger:
“Contrary to common belief the fifth finger is one of the strong fingers…in addition to the forearm muscles, it has a special set of strong muscles at the outer side of the hand… It certainly needs this strength since most of the fundamental bass notes are played by the left, and the melodies by the right hand’s fifth fingers, as well as most of the “virtuoso” octave passages. (p.59)

“We are concerned with avoiding strain to the muscular system- not to the mind!” (p.73) Therefore, strain and work the mind but not the muscles.

In future post, I shall discuss Chapter 9 of Sandor’s book, “Summary of the Basic Technical Patterns”. In this chapter, the author explains in much details the five basic motion patterns- free fall; five-fingers, scales, and arpeggio; rotation; staccato; and thrust- with music examples from works mostly by Beethoven and Chopin.

Until then,
Teresa Wong.
Jan 30, 2010.

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