15 • The Seven Principles of Highly Effective Piano Practicing

The seven principles of highly effective piano practicing
of basic scales and arpeggios with arm weight (*)
including a methodical study illustration (**):

• Balanced spine
Left to right and top to bottom. Your torso supported by solid ground, just as when you stand upright and relaxed.

• Wavelike motion of the arm
Curvilinear; two points, -> 1 upper 3 < -> 2 lower -> 4 arm moving consecutively and alternating, not simultaneously. Imagine a rope tied to a door. You can send a wave through that rope and impact on the door. Your arm (upper and lower arm including hand - fingers to the wrist) should move like a wave. In resting position the arm hangs naturally like bridge between the shoulder and the fingertip on the key. The shoulder is uninvolved and grounded in the balanced spine.

• Stable wrist
Dome with center at the wrist. The finger is but the extension of the arm when weight is applied. Point through the keyboard from a stable and flexible wrist, don’t dip and don’t buck with the wrist, as it only follows and continues - through the fingers to the key - the wavelike motion of the arm. (*)

• Forward down movement
Through the key at an angle to a point under the keyboard. Like a rapier thrust against a solid body at an angle, the finger becomes at FF as strong as Damascus steel, and as flexible. The curvature of the individual finger should be natural to the position of the cluster at hand under a stable wrist. (*)

• Fingers relaxed and ready on the cluster
Ergonomic position and deliberate relaxation of the passive fingers on the whole group. Keep your hand flexible and your elbow in motion; keep your fingers close to each other as the tips form a curved line on the topography of the keyboard; different positions on different clusters.

• Front of the key
Taking into account the mechanics of the key apparatus - basically a seesaw-catapult (what a concept) and the shape of the hand. Imagine a square on the tip of the key. The ideal position is in the center of that square, or as close to it as the natural position of the hand on the cluster permits. There is more control and more functionality on the front of the key.

• Very slow and very loud from the arm
* Practicing arm weight is a "first things first" matter. Like the violinist, who learns first bowing and then fingering, we ought to do the same. Arm weight has a loud and slow beginning; a connection of arm weight to sound is found at first playing FF. After arm weight has been established, finger independence (facility) can be approached at first playing PP; it has a very soft beginning and slow as well.

Once arm weight is established in rhythmically regular groups (scales, four note inversion arpeggios, three note scaling arpeggios, and all the permutations of clusters all passages are made of) another element is added: double dotted groups of 2,3,4, and more notes; each group as fast as possible while as clear as possible while as loud as possible using combined arm weight and independent finger movements. Remember: Volume and speed are on a balance scale.

** Download PDF: The Seven Principles of Highly Effective Piano Practicing

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