Piano Technique: Spot checking for relaxed arms, wrists, and hands (Video)

I think of a whole arm/wrist/hand continuum when playing the piano, and I urge students to alleviate tension anywhere in the spectrum by lifting arms off the keys with a feeling of buoyancy. In this gesture a pupil can monitor the sensation of hanging, dead weight arms in space, and then gently practice lift-offs and drop-downs on the keys. (without a crash landing)

In this sample video, an adult pupil works on refining her C# minor staccato scales through various tension-relieving steps. Thinking “horizontally,” as well, she focuses on not pulling downward on the thumbs, causing unwanted accents. Visualizing a horizontal “plane” of staccato rendering, though vertically “bouncing” from note to note, promotes definition and evenness.

In segment two, the student creates a very well-shaped set of contrary motion scales in Triplet 8ths Legato, internalizing a rolling feeling that reflects in her supple wrist approach.

For staccato playing in the C# minor Arpeggio, she has learned to “snip” a well-shaped legato.

All these romps through C# minor can benefit from Spot Checking for arm/wrist/hand relaxation. In addition, preserving a physical/musical image of what advanced fluid playing will assist present and future practicing.

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