Gravity. Use it? No.
We are often instructed to follow these rules: "use gravity", "free fall", "let go", "relax", "rest down", "drop weight into the key"! What a Trap.
Are you caught in this piano technique Gravity Trap?
Heavy layers of piano technique mythology have suffocated our ability to play effortlessly and expressively. Why has this happened? Mere tradition.
We are athletes who need agility and coordination, not strength. Playing requires complex neurological and physical action, not weight, relaxation or exercises.
Most pianists whom I see for technique problems are finger-oriented...fingers do all the work. Of these pianists, many come also from a background of relaxation, arm weight, resting down or free falls.
Their fingers hold up and drag around a 7- to 12-pound arm. Imagine running with weights on your ankles...Imagine getting a beautiful tone with a brick....
No wonder there are so many frustrated pianists.
Where's the Action?
If we are not going to use arm weight and strong independent fingers, then how will we depress a key? And how will we shape and color phrases? By learning the answer to the question, “Where’s the Action?”. Effortless Playing provides the answers.
We will be using action in our entire body for playing. Each body part has a role and action that coming articles will address.
Let's begin by taking a load off — so that ultimately the fingers, hands and arms can do what they do best.
How? By overcoming gravity!
Where is your shoulder?
The pectoral/shoulder girdle is the set of bones that connects your arm to the rest of your skeleton.
When I ask pianists where their arm connects to their skeleton, most answer that it connects at the top of our arm. But there is no skeletal connection there. It only connects to the skeleton at the Sternoclavicular joint. So it is vital that all students have the correct vision of their body map. The Clavicles and Shoulder Blades must move freely while we play. They are one required source of action when playing.
MUSCLES of the SHOULDER
But that's our "back". Right.
We begin there because these pectoral girdle muscles assist with the support and movement of our torso and arms.
Now focus on your shoulder blades and the muscles that move them.
Imagine your shoulder blades as plates that move freely in different directions across the back surface of your ribs. Place fingers on your clavicle and move your arm in different directions. You will feel how free the shoulder girdle must be to enable playing.
Use your back muscles to initiate movements of your arms — but without shoulder shrugging. Your upper arm will move freely in the shoulder joint.
Your entire arm is now suspended.
How will it feel? It will float and feel empty.
Already we are overcoming gravity and preparing for arm action.