strength and stamina

Discuss technical aspects of piano playing and recording.

Moderators: pianolady, techneut, robert

Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:20 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Postby Mozartiana » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:38 pm

Thanks so much for your reply. What are the new technique books these days> Do you have any titles I could look up?

Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby johnmar78 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:23 pm

check your pm.

Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 3:12 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Postby pepasch » Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:26 am

Hello all,

I do not visit this forum very often but i couldn't help noticing this thread. Let me add my two coins.

I find it odd that people associate piano play with force and strenght and stamina. I have many reasons for that:
- The force needed to press a key is in the order of grams (our arms can lift a thousandfold !!)
- The force with which a key is pressed down has no effect on the loudness, (only the downward speed of the key has effect on that!!)
- piano playing has very little to do with macro motoric and and a lot mith micro motoric.
- piano playing asks for complex muscle coordination. High muscle tension disturbs coördination.
- the higher the speed, the more challenging the mucle coordination is. The more disturbung a high muscle tension will become!
- To use downward force is only one way of pressing a key. There are many others that are far more effective, even for fortissimo (use of weight and inertia of the arm).
- Piano playing is about movement patterns, as is walking. Muscle activity should initiate and support movement patterns, not enforce them. You do'nt do that for walking either (if you did, you would be rather a stick)!

I could go on and on.

greetings from Holland,
-- Peter Schuttevaar


Postby Anonymous » Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:12 pm

It takes very little strength to play the piano; a small child can do it. We train not as the body builder trains, that is, to build muscle strength, but rather we train to develop physical coordination, refined movement. "Endurance training" of the type suggested by such repetition studies as Hanon, Czerny, etc., all can have a detrimental effect, unless they're played correctly, in which case they aren't necessary. So, find a teacher who understands how to use the forearm (rotation) for power. This is the one basic, underlying tool that all pianists with excellent facility are using, whether they know it or not. Ref: Tobias Matthay, Dorothy Taubman, Edna Golandsky, et al. (Look at your hand on the keyboard; you can't even put it there without rotating the forearm toward the thumb.)


Postby Anonymous » Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:27 pm

PS: "Relaxation" is as wrong a concept as "tension". You can't selectively relax muscles. If your concept is to relax, you'll fall off the piano bench. It takes some tension to play; the question is how much. The answer is: very little. In other words, muscles are flexing and unflexing in the correct amounts to produce the desired results. But a good technique doesn't start with these concepts. Fingers, hand position (level) and forearm involvement are the crux of the matter. Training begins with how the fingers depress the keys. (It's so easy to demonstrate and so difficult to describe in words.) One idea to consider is: are you lifting your fingers away from the keys so that they seem more air born than at rest? (From your description of symptoms, it sounds like it.) The fingers fall (are directed) toward the keys and come up only in order to go down again so that they feel down, rather than up. It's rather like walking. You lift one foot off the floor in order to place in down again, not to hold it in the air.

Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby johnmar78 » Sun Jan 06, 2008 8:56 pm

Thank N43. relaxzation means...ease of tension as much as possible. It does not mean sleep on the key beds.. I agree totally. One must relax as much as possible to a point that they dnt fall on piano.Its an art to0 find that point of breaking sound.

Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:14 pm
Location: Canada

Postby Nicole » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:38 pm

I was reading a Canadian article last night that said it takes only 50 grams of weight to press a key down. I'm thinking of the weight of about a 300 calorie chocolate bar then. That's not a lot of weight. The author of the article argues that one needs only to move 50 grams of hand/fingerweight faster to make a louder noise -- not increase the weight to 500 grams, or worse yet and more commonly, increase to pushing 5 kilos of body weight to produce loud notes. I have no opinion on this, just wanted to add about what I read.

Posts: 692
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:29 am
Location: Germany

Postby MindenBlues » Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:54 am

I think a much better description for relaxation is "release". It is nothing what can be done really actively by command. It means just the opposite instead: undoing!

The human muscles are constructed that they have one way of action what can be controlled: that is the muscle contracting action. Unwanted tension, also regarding piano playing, occurs if one uses other muscles to perform the opposite muscle action instead to RELEASE the muscle.

Posts: 2388
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:03 pm
Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...

Postby juufa72 » Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:35 am

Talk about strength and stamina: ... re=related

Only Alkan would compose something as crazy as this.
Madam, what makes you think that I play with my hands?

Site Admin
Posts: 9925
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Location: Netherlands

Postby techneut » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:58 am

juufa72 wrote:Only Alkan would compose something as crazy as this.

Probably so. But much as I love Alkan, what an awful piece of drivel this is... the sort of turbo-Czerny rattle that gives Alkan a bad name. Great as a purely mechanical etude of course. This guy is amazing, but you can tell even he is struggling towards the end, things get a bit sloppy compared to the razor-sharp precision of the start. This perpetual wide stretching must be excruciating on the hands so he has my full sympathy.
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer

Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:59 am

Postby Adam » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:16 pm

Talk about strength and stamina: ... re=related

Only Alkan would compose something as crazy as this.

I probably wouldn't even last 30 seconds playing that etude, without getting sore hands...

Return to “Technique”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests