Piano songs - Canon in D

Improve technique in playing piano songs by focusing on the motions of the fingers, arms and hands, improved tone, tempo, accuracy and expressiveness ensue


It is how contact is made between the fingers and the keys of the piano; touch. It could also be the way the arms and hands guide the fingers to land on a key accurately or even how their speed is controlled and adjusted to vary tempo from phrase to phrase. These are some of the technique involved in piano playing, the sum of the movements performed by the pianist to produce music.

Improving one’s music making means to improve technique. However, when technique is mentioned it refers to such a general term, I used to wonder if I wished to improve my technique where do I start?

Improving technique to play piano songs


Without a clear understanding of its definition I focused on improving the sound I was producing on the piano. Made adjustment to the tone and tempo during practise. Of course I was not wrong I had to adjust the movements of my fingers, hands, arms and the rest of body in order to improve the sound.

KEYPOINTS:

  • What? - Movement
  • Why? - Improves technique
  • How? - Coordinate the movements of various parts of the body to move in harmony

However the sound is a by-product of the movement, to really be effective in working to improve technique my primary focus should have been on improving my movement.

The shift in perspective had a profound impact how I approached my practise routine. Less troubled by the sound when it was not up to expectation but paid more attention to the movement of the fingers, hands, arms and the rest of the body.

A problem I encountered many times as a beginner was with the movement of the fourth finger. Its unwanted movement actually. When playing phrases with high paced tempo my fourth finger got gummed up to the fifth finger, dragged along with the fifth finger when it pressed down on a key. The fourth finger was not strong enough to be independant of the fifth finger.

Muscle application for technical
improvement in playing piano songs


There are small muscles in the fingers that regulate their movement, when fatigue sets in, my fourth finger gets gummed up to the fifth finger. What I did not know was that there are other muscles further away from the fingers such as in the hands and forearms that are bigger therefore stronger when properly applied could solve my problem of gummed up fourth and fifth fingers and fatigue. Focusing my piano practise on exercises that apply these muscles properly turned out to be the optimum way to improve.

For example when permitted, instead of relying on the fingers alone to hit keys, make use of the up down and side to side movements of the wrists. Playing the notes circled in the phrase shown in Image 1 below is one instance when the wrists’ unique abilities contribute significantly to their effective execution. 

Combined with the forearm which muscle is able to rotate itself thus rotating the wrist and hand along with it, we are granted with another dimension in the motion of the fingers when attempting to land on the keys of the piano. Known as rotary movement it allows for the fingers to be guided towards the keys without exerting too much strain on them because the bulk of the work is done by the muscles in the forearm.

Improving technique means to improve the specific movements involved in executing a group of musical notes by pressing the corresponding keys on the piano. There are many, such as the touch of the fingers as they make contact with the keys, foot stepping on the sustaining pedal, arm stretching out to make wide leaps and more. Each should be improved individually one at a time until they are perfected.

Return to beginning of 'Piano songs - Canon in D' series