Piano technique - Importance of coordination

Improve piano technique by focusing on improving the coordination of the various parts of the body such as the fingers, hands and arms involved in piano playing

Most compositions I have learnt to play thus far have their melodies written in the treble clef. By design meant to be played with the right hand. Since I am right handed, I have never felt any akwardness in how the notes in the compositions are arranged. As a matter of fact composers considered the human anatomy, the structure of the piano as in the placement of the keys and the strings which the hammers strikes once they are pressed when contemplating a composition. Otherwise no harmony could exist in the sounds created.

Like all useful things we have today, they are the result of thousands of years of experience, trials and errors. Earlier musicians figured out the relationship between sounds of different pitch, built the piano based on that knowledge and by adhering to a few principles of music writing, we get a combination of sounds composed to be harmonious.

Coordinated motions results
in improved piano technique

Because good music follow pre-determined principles which includes consideration of the placement of keys on the piano and the pianist’s own anatomy, practise concentrated on the coordination of motions involving the fingers, hands and arms result in significant improvement. Much more so than spending a lot of time and energy on finger muscle building exercises.

This realization revolutionized how I practised scales. They are so monotonous that I used to invent excuses why I did not practise them. I understood their value in improving technique, practised in the many possible keys such C major, A minor, F major and so on widens one’s grasp of the limits in the range of the pitch and tone of the piano. Accuracy and sharpness in pressing the keys also improve as a result. Yet pratising them felt tedious.

With possession of the new insight, I incorporated the motions of my elbows to move the arms right and left along the stretch where the keys are on the piano. Combined with the swivelling of the forearms my hands are piloted to their target keys where the fingers are positioned to press them accurately. Practising scales became more of an exercise to develop the habit of coordinating the motions of the elbows, forearms, hands and fingers. Not merely a grind of hitting the same sequence of notes over and over again. Put first priority on focusing on correcting the motions of your body, second priority on the reading of the notes and striking of the keys.

Improving piano technique
practising with both hands

The importance of coordinated motions is more apparent when practising with both hands. I was taught to learn to play every new song on the piano one hand at a time. Either the right or the left first does not really matter, each to his own. Although I prefer to practise with the right hand first to get an idea of the melody and grasp the rhythm. Then practise the accompaniment with the left hand. Despite having been able to play single hands smoothly, I always stumble when I begin to practise with both hands. Such is the wiring of the brain that completely new neurons have to be built to play a newly learnt song on the piano with both hands. Therefore the need to put in the effort, time and energy to practise with both hands. Proficiency acquired practising with the right hand plus proficiency acquired practising with the left hand does not equal proficiency playing with both hands instantly.

Piano practise is an exercise in developing habits to coordinate the motions of the fingers, hands, arms and the rest of the body involved in the act of playing the piano. The natural inclination is to focus the attention on what is written on the music score and keys of the piano, but it is how well the motions of the various parts of the body coordinate with one another that leads to improved technique.

Continue reading next page>>>

Return to beginning of 'Piano technique' series