Piano technique - Mechanics

Improving piano technique is a matter of applying the proper mechanics in the pressing of keys, in other words coordinating the muscles involved in the execution


A passage played well enough to resemble a presentable piano rendition - after months of practising Canon in D by Pachelbel, a small portion of it is now firmly in my grasp. While there is still a long way to go before being able to play the whole composition completely, it is still an commendable accomplishment.

I could now use the passage as a warm up exercise before starting to study the next bars and phrases. It is like gaining a beachhead upon landing on a newly discovered patch of land. Once you have gained a solid foothold on the beachhead you can explore the rest of it.

While looking forward to the day when I am able to accomplish the feat of performing the whole of the composition, it occurred to me that all I have to do is apply the same process I have been using thus far on the remaining phrases. “What are they?” I asked myself as I began to reflect.

Mechanics in piano technique


One of them is the correct application of the mechanics in executing a musical phrase on the piano. They are the movements of the fingers, hands, wrists, forearms and to an extent the shoulders and the rest of the body. Each of their muscles have to be coordinated so that you may extract the underlying virtues of the gift of music.

For example, obvious to any observer it is the fingers that determine and control the accuracy in pressing the keys on the piano. One may also say the fingers too determine the tone, its volume and duration. However, the fingers are not able to do so on their own because the muscles that move them are small, therefore tire when fatigue sets it. Stronger muscles near the fingers such the hands and arms support them to result in accurate piano playing producing good tonal quality from the beginning of a composition until its end.

Another instance of coordination at work is in the use of the wrists. They guide the hands towards the keys of the piano. They do so through their unique ability to move laterally and updown. Lateral movement of the wrist coordinated with the opening the palms wide allow the fingers to reach keys that are separated further apart from each other. For example reaching for A with the fifth finger of the right hand while the thumb is on middle C. Coincidentally if you wished to play AC together as a chord the wrist’s updown movement makes it possible.

Improve coordination to
improve piano technique


Developing the skills to coordinate the use of the muscles residing in the arms, hands, fingers to.  support the fingers create sounds that mirror the artistic image a composition was intended to project. Improving coordination therefore leads to improvement in piano technique. Resulting in efficient use of practise time through the elimination of redundant drills and wasteful exercises. Freeing oneself to focus instead on exercises that brings greater benefits. Such as those that contribute towards articulating the artistic image more eloquenly, better tonal control and tempo dynamics. 

The thrusts of the arms reaching for keys located further away, rotary movement generated by its muscles to rotate the hands while the fingers stay curved to hit certain combination of notes and the use of the wrist’s unique abilities to move laterally and its updown motions are coordinated movements that produce a lucid piano rendition. It is a skill that can be developed and improved by turning it into a habit during each practise session. Besides the noticeable difference in the resulting music, one can expect the added benefits of improved endurance, delayed fatigue hence increased productivity.

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