Piano songs - Canon in D

To be able to play piano songs creatively, learn to overcome sympathetic finger movement by building finger strength to produce an overlapping legato


Opening the palm wide, stretching the second (index) and fifth (pinkie) fingers to reach E and C, I sensed the strain in the right hand. Moreover, the fourth finger kept pressing on the B unintentionally. It was also difficult to maintain a binding legato with the hand so strained and fingers stretched to the limit.

Despite the extra effort needed, playing piano songs with creativity is more rewarding. Much more satisfying than merely mimicking. Creativity in music making is heard through articulation and expression, which are influenced by tonal quality among other factors. Strained fingers hindering a binding legato compromise the tonal quality rendering any effort to express creativity futile.

Producing an overlapping legato in piano songs


When the 2nd and 5th fingers are already stretched to the limit, I lost control over the 3rd finger attempting to land on F because of strain in the hand and muscles of the forearm. Unable to overlap the legato going from the two-note chord of EC to F.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? – Overcoming sympathetic fingers
  • Why? – Binding legato. Play with creativity
  • How? – Build finger strength

The solution is to build strength in these fingers, namely the second, third and fifth fingers. Position the right hand by placing the thumb on C. Press the 2nd finger on D and the fifth finger on G simultaneously and hold them down. Then, play the other notes around them with the rest of the fingers one at a time. Meaning to say with DG held down, first play C with the thumb, next E with the third finger and F with the fourth finger.

Position the left hand by placing the fifth on C. Press the fifth finger on C and the second finger on F simultaneously and hold them down. Then, play the other notes around them with the rest of the fingers one at a time. Meaning to say with CF held down, first play D with the fifth finger, next E with the third finger and G with the thumb.

The finger exercise above will build strength in the fingers, specifically independence in the third finger when the second and fifth finger are pressed on the keys of a 2-note chord. It will result in the second and fifth fingers being able to lift away from the keys of DG at the last moment until after the third finger has pressed the F without any strain between them.

Overcoming the sympathetic finger
movement in playing piano songs


Next, I focused on solving the problem with the fourth finger. Usually when I pressed a key with the fifth finger, the fourth finger gets pulled down with it hitting a key nearby unintentionally. The hand’s application of pressure through the fifth finger under stress discharged adrenaline. A hormone that mobilizes energy and diverts blood flow from non-essential organs to skeletal muscle including the fourth finger. Causing it to play unrelated keys unintentionally.

In the absence of stress, the effect of the discharge of adrenaline is minimized. To strike keys with the fifth finger without stress it has to be made strong and the fourth finger made independent of it. This can be done by practicing the following exercise.

Position the right hand with the thumb on C. Press the keys of C, D and G each using the thumb, second and fifth finger simultaneously. While holding them down, play E (using the 3rd finger) and F (using the 4th finger) one at a time repeatedly.

Position the left hand with the fifth finger on C. Press the keys of E, F and G each using the third, fourth and fifth finger simultaneously. While holding them down, play C (using the 5th finger) and D  (using the 4th finger) one at a time repeatedly.

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