How to make my hands "jump" gracefully while playing (instead of stiffness)?
My piano teacher is always telling me that it looks like I have arthritis when I'm playing my piano songs and that my tone isn't as full and rich because my hands don't move gracefully from one key to another.
Her advice is to exaggerate the finger motions so that I get used to moving my fingers a lot, but it doesn't help that much...
How can I get rid of my stiff fingers while playing?
First of all, let’s separate the problem into parts since there are different solutions to different problems!
1. A Rich and Full Tone
A rich and full tone is not acquired by nimble fingers; it is acquired by weight balance and by controlling the weight and the connection in between the notes. So “moving gracefully from one key to another”, could be another way to say just that.
It is said that the piano is both the easiest and the most difficult instrument at the same time.
We can press down a key and there is sound, without effort. As a comparison a violinist, for example, has to really work to get that tone sounding right; not to play false, with the right fullness, vibrato, and so on.
I can recommend: The Foundations of Technique, a great book about piano technique for adults, both amateurs and professionals.
So, the piano is "easy". We press down a key. OK. Now what? We can’t do vibrato, we can’t make the note lead to the next by intensifying its sound. Done is done.
This is where the piano gets difficult, since it is exactly between the notes all the magic happens! You can only prepare the note in advance; once it is played it can’t be changed.
And the preparation in advance can only be done- in our mind! We have to imagine and imagine hard, the sound we want before we play!
Here is an exercise I do with students who have trouble getting a nice rich legato sound. You could use scales for this exercise, or the melody in the piece you are working with.
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Piano Questions & Answers.