One of the biggest challenges for pianists, particularly in the staccato playing scale cosmos, is to avoid a downward, pack-a-punch “thumpy thumb!
This unwanted lead weight-loaded attack often interrupts a buoyantly springy journey, transforming it into crowded pile-up of space-less notes.
Yet it seems inevitable that the shortest finger of each hand would overcompensate for its size by adding clout to its arrival, unless the player deliberately deals with its over-assertion.
During a recent lesson with an adult student, a staccato romp in E Major imbued the “UP”-lift of the thumb to counter its fall down flat persona.
And a mental image of the “bouncy” rebound effect, with an infusion of UPWARD energy was enough to put the thumb in its proper place along the scale route. But it also needed to be folded into a finger family-centered smooth transit, not HANGING OUT, determined to throw its weight around.
In the universe of forearm staccato, we worked on the UP-ward release of the thumb in a slow, exaggerated tempo that “untangled” the scale. Eventually, it allowed a well-spaced, well-breathed out journey that was unencumbered by tension and nervous acceleration.
Our key lesson prompts were: “rebound effect, UP, short, springy, well-spaced out notes, FRAMING RHYTHM, composure, centering, relaxed breathing.”
Applying the unobtrusive thumb to practicing Bach Invention 1 in C Major, BWV 772: