We have all attended concerts where an artist dazzles us with a technique that seems humanly impossible to match. A phenomenon that has marked musical performances throughout history is an anecdote dating back to 1783, Johann Matthias Gesner describes Bach’s skill as causing “an effect that few Orpheus and less than twenty Arions can claim to equal.” If the technique of these two great composers may seem totally out of reach, it is possible to improve your own playing on the piano and get closer to it!
Is the technique essential for playing the piano?
This question is common, especially for beginners in piano or among those who are still hesitant to embark. As with solfeggio, this worry is recurrent in the practice of almost all musical instruments.
Eighteenth-century musicians have taught us that music must have “something to say,” and that technique or “good performance,” is the best way to get there . Although the fortepiano (the eighteenth-century piano) has a lighter, faster and more sensitive feel, the modern piano is attributed to the technical approach to composition. With some tips, your chances of becoming a true virtuoso will be increased!
The general opinion regarding the body at rest is timeless: the hands should rest quietly in the middle of the keyboard, at an appropriate distance from the keys, and a bench set at a comfortable height to facilitate movement. The descriptions of Mozart and Beethoven encourage this posture. As for Türk, he warned us tirelessly against exaggerated facial expressions, such as grimaces or grunts.
2. The gesture
Most musical concepts develop through small movements (mostly delimited by groups of 2 to 4 notes linked together) that combine in different musical phrases, sections, to form the piece in full. And the gestures must go with the music.
3. From neck to fingertips
The forearm must rest naturally , just in the extension of the arm, and the same for the hand. The arm supports the hand, and the hand the fingers. The forearm moves the hand to the sides. The entire arm includes the shoulder and is used to move forward or backward to reach the top keys, and move wider on the keyboard.
4. The flexibility of the wrist
There is no good gesture without a flexible wrist . If we stick to Beethoven’s advice, it is possible to develop the feeling of “musical impulse” when playing two-note sets: “The idea is to withdraw one’s hand slowly. To achieve this, [the hand] must always be firmly placed on the first note and then lifted almost vertically [by the wrist] when the second note is struck. “
5. The position of the hand on the keyboard
The best solution is to have the precise hand. And for that, it will be necessary that the arm is as relaxed as possible , so that the hand is too, and that by extension your fingers are more assured on the keyboard.
6. The fingers
These are the fingers that do most of the work, naturally arched and relaxed . In the same way, we will play a D major in pentacord by placing ourselves on the furthest part of the black keys : the fingers constantly relaxed, alert, resting slightly on the keys except if they must extend to play on a larger interval.
7. The e finger
For most instruments, a bad fingering equals a wrong note. Unfortunately, for pianists, it is quite possible to play just by completely missing the message of the work. Fingering is explicitly linked to musicality and inseparable from interpretation . It occupies a musical function as important, sometimes even more, than the technical aspect. The best musical effect surpasses the simplest technical choice. And the best way to do that is to develop a better fingering, but more importantly, to make it suitable for the piece you play. For example, applying a legato touch to a song that has many breaks and movements articulated by different links will not be the best effect.
Playing consistently will ensure you get the best results. For example, if a movement is repeated elsewhere on the keyboard and the fingering remains the same, then it will be the same type of sound. But if the dynamics change, it will be a question of knowing how to put the accent on the good notes.
9. The structural function
The base is the bass line (or the left hand). It determines the tempo and the rhythmic energy , gives the timing and clarifies the harmonic rhythm. Listen to the song and start playing again by focusing on the bass line. You will avoid being overwhelmed by technical difficulties.
10. The willingness ed
With the desire to develop and incorporate universal concepts from the eighteenth century you will get a style easier to set to music, rich in new facets and composed of a beautiful sound energy . Weaknesses will be revealed but also magnified because they will no longer be hidden by a long legato line or strings hit too heavy. However, working on these small details will give you a great opportunity to improvise and your technique will only get better!