Piano technique - Heightened senses

Better piano technique improves your sense of the structure of the piano and the composition when seated to perform, muscle coordination makes it possible


Lodged firmly on the piano bench, eyes directed towards the keys and the written score with a sharp gaze. Perched in that position one should be in possession of  a sense of the structure of the piano and the composition.

Of course such heightened sense do not appear overnight. It takes years of practise to develop. On the bright side it is not inherent in anyone. With practise and lots of repetition, as the body’s muscle memory grow stronger and the brain’s neural pathways get entrenched your sense of the structure of the piano and the composition gets elevated.

Heightened senses from
improved piano technique


A concentrated method of piano practise should be applied to reach this elevated height of sensory abilities. Specifically, practise that is concentrated on organized motions. The motions involved in piano playing are not many. The pressing and lifting of the fingers, the wrists’ lateral and updown motions and the thrusts of the arms are the main motions executed by the upper body to make music on the piano. By developing the skills to coordinate these few motions you shall develop your sense of the structure of the piano and the composition. Thus influence the quality of the tone production, rhythm, tempo and the total sum of the piano playing experience.

Due to a busy life schedule, sometimes we are forced to abandon the piano for a few days. Whenever this happens I notice my fifth fingers lose their flexibility and agility when I return to the piano. To regain the smoothness in movement of my fingers I resorted to a simple exercise I have been using since I began learning the piano.

Piano technique exercises
to increase sensory abilities


Position the right hand over the keys with fingers placed on CDEFG beginning with the thumb on C. Pressing only F down with the 4th finger play the rest of the notes one at a time using the rest of fingers while the 4th finger is held down on F. 

Next pressing only D down with the 2nd finger play the rest of the notes one at a time using the rest of fingers while the 2nd finger is held down on D. Then, pressing only DF down with the 2nd and 4th finger simultaneously, play the rest of the notes one at a time using the rest of fingers while the 2nd and 4th finger is held down on DF.

Vary the combination. For example pressing and holding down CE using the thumb and the 3rd finger while playing the rest of the notes using the other fingers. Or pressing and holding down EG using the 3rd and 5th finger while playing the rest of the notes using the other fingers.

Flexible and agile fingers are then put to good effect by complimenting them with the motions of the wrists. The wrist has the ability to move laterally. It is useful for moving the fingers towards nearby keys sideways. Both to the left and right. An easy example is the thumb under manoeuver, once the thumb has landed on its key, the wrist’s lateral movement guides the other fingers towards the following keys. Moreover its ability to move up-down is useful for playing chords allowing for multiple keys to be pressed together evenly. Crisp sounding staccatos are also made possible by quick flicks of wrists’ up-down motions.

In a 3 dimensional space, the thrusts of the arms let the fingers, hands and wrists move freely. Lifting the elbows a little higher opens a wider angle for the hands to move. Furthermore, bigger and stronger muscle reside in the arms that can be coordinated for use to support the smaller and weaker muscles in the fingers. For example the muscles in the forearms generate rotary movement than can rotate the hands thus pressing the keys with little power emanating from the fingers. Such coordination develop your sense of the structure of the piano and the composition, influencing the quality of the tone production, rhythm and tempo.

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