Piano songs - Canon in D

Supple wrists and strong fingers in playing piano songs combined with the thrusts of the forearms call attention to the inner voices in the songs’ writing


The phrase from Canon in D shown in Image 1 below stifled me for weeks. Weak 5th fingers and overall unsteadiness in playing the chords were the main causes. Confronted by phrases such as these, more time had to be spent on overcoming the difficulties.

IMAGE 1

Frustrating as it was, the sacrifice in time spent was necessary to achieve the desired results. Not only to fix the technical difficulties but also the quality of the sound produced, namely the tone, articulation and emotion. Lest I was to be content with a formalistic music that is soulless and uninteresting.

There are remedies to strengthen the fingers. Eventually making them strong enough to steadily play chords, octaves and any form of notes arrangements.

Place all 5 fingers on any 5-note chord, then lift each finger one by one playing a key at a time. The phrase shown in Image 2 below taken from Canon in D is a good example to start with. Lift each finger as high as you can to feel the stretch in the fingers.

IMAGE 2

Strong fingers in playing piano songs


Another exercise to consider when practising to strengthen the 5th finger is; press all 5 fingers down on any 5-note chord with a black key. The example shown in Image 3 above is a good one to start with because it has an F#. Hold the 3rd finger at the bottom of the keybed while playing the other notes around it. Put extra effort and repetition when pressing a key with the 5th finger. Next, hold the 4th finger while playing the other notes around it.

IMAGE 3

Later, upgrade the exercise a notch by holding down two fingers. For example, the combinations of the first and fourth or the second and fourth fingers, while playing the other notes around them with extra effort and repetition when pressing a key with the 5th finger.

The exercises described above help to build muscle strength and flexibility in the fingers. Through regular practice, steady execution of phrases in a composition especially the chords could be achieved. Ironically, although something a pianist cannot do without, strong fingers alone do not determine how well a phrase is played. It is the wrists that do so.

Supple wrists and piano songs


The wrist has two ways to move. Up-down and side to side also referred to as the lateral movement. Use the wrist's lateral movement and thrusts of the arms to practise the exercises introduced above to produce a steadily flowing musical phrase and loose piano playing.

The wrong way to play is with the hand fixed in one place because lateral adjustment using the wrist is not applied thus causing strain in the forearm. As a result, the quality of the sound being produced is diminished as well.

The wrist and the arms work together when attempting rotary movement in pressing the keys. Paying close attention, notice that it is the forearm that rotates, the wrists merely rotates with it. Playing the phrase in Image 4 below demonstrates this. Rotary movement removes the need to play with piston fingers. Prolonged playing with piston fingers does not serve pianists well because it causes injuries.

IMAGE 4 

Make the piano sing with sweetness and roar with vehemence under the dominance of strong fingers and supple wrists. Strong fingers can be developed with piano exercises that exert their muscles and loosen the joints.

Supple wrist means to use its up-down and lateral movement combined with the thrusts and rotation of the forearm. Properly executed motions involving the fingers, wrists and forearms result in a light, clear touch on the piano. As a result, they call attention to the beautiful inner voices and details in the music’s writing.

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