Things to keep in mind

Okay, so in the last post, I talked about the stuff I keep in mind while doing exercises. So why not list them?

  1. Relaxation, relaxation, relaxation. Always be aware of using your hands and arms in such a way as to make it easy to maintain suppleness. Experiment with this. Healthy, relaxed play is the single most important thing to keep in mind. This is the top of your focus.
  2. Keeping the long bones of the hand and the long bones of the forearm lined up.* Bend your wrists as little as possible. When your hands and your forearms are not lined up, you are playing with what Dorothy Taubman and generations of pianists call a “broken arm.” Do not do this.
  3. Make the hands “float.” The arm, as I speculated to my teacher, is like a selfie stick for the hand, moving it back and forth; her term for it is a crane which is superior since it denotes articulation. The hands, attached to the arm, should float in space.
  4. Keep a clear, vibrant 3-D image of your instrument in your head (of the strings/pedals/etc.) as you work. You almost need to have a proprioception sense about your instrument. Always maintain a 3-D picture of your instrument in your head as you play, and strive to remain aware of where you and your hands/feet are in relation to it.

Beyond that, in terms of results, what you want is evenness and beauty of sound. But those are Step 1. The stuff above is Step 0. If you don’t have those four things lined up, you aren’t going to have evenness and beauty of sound, or you won’t have it for long before you hurt yourself and have to stop playing.

* To be picky, these are the metacarpals and the radius and ulna. They should be fairly well lined up as much as you can manage; of course they can’t be perfectly lined up, but you should always aim for a straight, supple wrist. The tendons that control your fingers run over that joint, and you don’t want them having to slalom around on a wildly gyrating or kinked-over wrist to do so.