Piano Technique I

Piano Technique is a crucial tool a pianist has to acquire should s/he is serious in playing the piano. It is a technique that helps the player understand perfectly and clearly how s/he executes the notes with different combination of actions in the specific parts of the arm (the fingers, wrist, forearm, upper arm, to the shoulder blade), so that it not only enhances one’s playing, but it also provides the player an efficient yet effective way to produce the desired sound and tone quality with ease with minimum effort.

I understand that some students (or even teachers or pianists) would say, “What is all this trouble about? We play with emotion!” Indeed, many students believe that playing the piano is all about feeling and emotion and therefore they just go with the flow. They are reluctant to understand all the technical issues I present to them.

I was once like my students, thinking that one should play with the heart and soul and there was nothing rational about it. I played with passion. I also thought it was supposed to feel tired and even pain when you practiced a lot; that meant you worked hard and played with much effort to perfect the music. It was supposed to be that you needed all the physical pain and fatigue to express how much work you had put into your craftsmanship. And for me, technique sounded so “scientific”, which was contradictory to a musical playing. But gradually I found even practicing many hours per day was not getting the progress I needed, so I started going to the library and digging up volumes of “piano technique” books, which one could find many by different writers. There are two I would highly recommend:

1. “On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, and Expression” by György Sándor

2. “With Your Own Two Hands” by Seymour Bernstein

In the future entries, I will discuss more about these two books: the first book explains with much clarity and details the technical issues in relation to the different parts of the arms and their actions, and the second book I myself found especially useful concerning issues of the weight in the fingers and piano practice.

Teresa Wong
December 10, 2009.

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