Piano technique - Unfold the mind

Improving piano technique by practising coordination of the motions involved in playing specific patterns of notes such as between the wrists, hands and forearms


The left hand patterns exercise that I have been practising contains 50 different patterns of accompaniment that can be used together with almost any melody played with the right hand. 

Although I have only been able to play the first three of them, a breakthrough was made recently when I started practising the 4th one. The first 3 were very similar so I had been spending time to refine my execution and hesitated to progress on to something different. But when I did try the 4th pattern I was able to play it correctly. Was it because my sight reading improved? Or because the muscle memory in the fingers, hands and arms contributed to the success?

Unfolding of the mind improves piano technique


The unfolding of the mind was the contributing factor to the success. As you may have noticed I have written a lot about my experience practising Canon in D by Pacheibel, it has been the primary focus of my practise sessions for the past few months. To keep things interesting I maintain a habit of squeezing a few other simple exercises into my sessions. One of which is the left hand patterns exercises. Because they are not the primary focus, I have only been able to practise them sporadically, but for the past two weeks I had been consistent. As a result their rhythm have been absorbed and what was even more impressive my hands and mind were able to anticipate the rhythm of the patterns that came next enabling me to play them well enough on the first attempt.

Which made me wonder, can it be applied to other compositions I am learning? Is there a way to make it possible to be able to learn a composition faster? Without spending extensive amount of time on finger strength building exercises?

As I look back at what happened with the left hand patterns exercise, I was able to play the 4th pattern almost immediately because I had been practising the first three for many days already. The notes involved were the same, only differing in the arrangement. So it occurred to me that I executed similar motions with the fingers, hands and wrists to play the 4th pattern as I did in playing the first three patterns. Conclusion; if I concentrated my practise on coordinating my motions to produce sounds of specific patterns, when they appeared in any other compositions I should be able to play them without much struggle. The result is an efficient way of practising that cuts the time to learn a song. Becoming proficient faster.

Piano technique improves
with better coordination


For example, the clever use of the wrists is a major factor contributing to a successful rendition of a song. In practise I have began to pay close attention to how I coordinate the motions of my wrists with the hands and arms. Such as making sure the arm is parallel to the ground when rotating the wrists because rotary movement originates from the muscles in the arms not the wrists.

Using the wrists ability to move laterally to adjust the position of the hands to enable a loose and free pressing of the keys. Which result in smooth and focused piano playing. Another instance is when staccatos are demanded. My common mistake was to rely on the momentum of the fingers alone to conjure the short and detached effect, but this caused strain in the fingers and the resulting staccato was not as sharp and crisp as I wanted.

When I blended the up-down movement of the wrists with the tips of the fingers the desirable sound was produced. Practising coordination of motions between the wrists with the hands and arms result in a method of playing the piano that can be applied to any composition.

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