-- Play Piano Nature's Way

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  • Tradition Piano Teaching only teach you "How To" play
  • Sometimes, the "How To" is wrong and anti-scientific
  • Knowing "Why and "What" then you know "How"

In this discussion, every conclusion is directed from the analysis of the facts. That means, every how to is validated by the why not just my personal experiences or some other pianists' experiences.

  • The Piano
  • The Tone
  • The Pianist
  • The Music
  • The Technique

Do you hear the famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz's play here? Do you like the sonorous singing tone? Do you like the nuance, the dynamic shading? Why the play is different? Why the same piano sounds different in different pianist's hands? Why some people feel playing piano easy and some feel difficult? Because the way they play is different! If the talented pianists can play in the nature's way, the less talented can do too. The difference is that perhaps the talent can do it instinctively and the less talented has to do it consciously. I am not a highly talented pianist but I found the piano playing a lot easier, the technical difficulties disappeared and the music sounds much more beautiful after I applied the physics and anatomy to piano playing consciously. I would like to share this with you.

This article grew from my exploration of the application of physics and anatomy to piano playing. It is not a "How to" or step1, step 2.... piano instructions. It is not for the kids, it is intended for the serious adult piano players who like to think and for the parents of young piano students - even the parents do not know how to play, but they can judge if their children's play agrees with the nature's way or not after learning the facts presented in this article.

Tradition Piano Teaching only teach you "How To" play:

When someone starts playing piano, the teacher usually tell you "How to" play: this way or that way. In every lesson, you mimic the teacher, after the lesson you practice at home like the teacher did. And next lesson, you repeat the same process again. This way of teaching, maybe is good for the small kids. But not for the adult or even the young adult. Because, nothing is creative there.

Sometimes, the "How To" is wrong and anti-scientific:

Hannon's finger exercises are anti-human anatomy, it could cause injury of our hands if not used properly. A few authorities had mention it, including famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz, famous Russian piano pedagogue Heinrich Heuhaus and American piano pedagogue Abby Whiteside etc. Technical drills should be in the context of music, not the dry mechanical exercises.

Relaxation technique is only one aspect of piano playing. Our goal is to use minimum motion and energy to achieve maximum result. Our mind, our body and our whole arm ( including upper arm, forearm, wrist, hand and finger) must stay alert all the time, not just relaxation. The distinguished pianist Gyorgy Sander and piano pedagogue Abby Whiteside had mention it.

Knowing "Why and "What" then you know "How":

With a scientific background, I tend to learn things by reasoning and by the facts. not just by experiences alone. In other words. I want to know why and what, then I will know how to. If you learn playing piano by just experiences alone. You will end up with endless practicing hours, aimless routine repetition, fatigue caused by the wrong use of your muscles, not being able to produce the beautiful music, no fun, or maybe you would eventually give up. In order to play piano musically and naturally, You must know what to play and why you should play in the nature's way.

What to play?  Techniques serve the music. You must have a clear artistic, aural image in your mind. You must know The Music, it's structures, forms, rhythms, phrases, dynamics, basic harmonics , etc. In other words, you must know what  you want to hear from the piano.

"Whatever was played, it must be played musically. Further still, it had to be played orchestrally. Moreover, I had to find out for myself how to make the effects. In other words, we first played not the  piano but  music. Then we played music as it is rendered by special instruments."

-- Quote from Vladimir Horowitz

Why should you play in the nature's way not the other way? This will be explained in the topics: The Piano, The Tone, and The Pianist With the knowledge of the sound of the piano, the anatomic fact of our body (especially our upper limb), you know why you should play in the nature's way.

How to Play? After you study the above topics, you understand how to play. Some famous pianist's techniques are mentioned in the topic The Technique. In order to master the technique you have to practice a lot, and practice consciously. The most important thing to remember: you must use your brain to play all the time! Technique is basically mental, the conscious mind must train the sub-conscious mind. The brain must guide the fingers, not the fingers the brain.

In this discussion, every conclusion is directed from the analysis of the facts. That means, every how to is validated by the why not just my personal experiences or some other pianists' experiences.

The topics are as following:

  1. The Piano - factual presentation of the piano actions. An intelligent pianist should know the fundamental physics of his/her instrument.

  2. The Tone - theoretical analysis of the sound and the tone of the piano. The importance of a beautiful tone, the fine tonal balance, can never be overlooked. "A good sound is created by the brain not by the hands."

  3. The Pianist - factual presentation of the anatomy of our upper limb. An intelligent pianist should know the fundamental physiology directly influence his/ her piano technique.

  4. The Music - technique serves the music.  A feeling for rhythm, phrase, nuance and direction is desirable.

  5. The Technique - develop technique based on the above facts and analysis. A sound technique should be a natural one and can never be divorced from music.