Touchweight, speed of depressing piano and dynamics

Do you find that some pianos seem easier to play and use less force to depress the keys? I find a article discuss about this phenomenon. The writer says it is all about touchweight and piano action.   He gives a very detailed explanation about this topic. Please have a look:

http://www.pianofinders.com/educational/touchweight.htm

And this is further study of touchweight. We usually have the myth that we use different degree of force on pressing the piano keys to give dynamic change. However, from Thomas Mak’s Alexander Technique book What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body, he says  “The very important thing that the pianist needs to know is that it is not the pressure applied to the keys that determines the volume of the sound, but the speed with which they are depressed. This may be surprising to some pianists, but it is the truth.”

This idea is odd and abstract. So at first I would ask my students just use their hands knocking  at the piano cover or any wooden surface. Knock slowly and accelerate the speed gradually. Let them listen to the change of volume of knocking sound with the change of knocking speed. Only after they can manage it we move to piano playing. This time we play only on one piano key, also starting from very slow finger action and accelerate.

 

Reference

Mark, Thomas C, Roberta Gary, Thom Miles, and Barbara Conable. What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body: A Manual for Players of Keyboard Instruments : Piano, Organ, Digital Keyboard, Harpsichord, Clavichord. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2003.

 

Copyright © 2016 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved

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Problem of holding breath in piano playing

breathing source: https://pixabay.com/zh/%E5%A5%B3%E5%AD%90-%E5%B9%B8%E7%A6%8F-%E6%97%A5%E5%87%BA-%E4%BE%A7%E5%BD%B1-%E8%BF%9E%E8%A1%A3%E8%A3%99-%E6%B5%B7%E6%BB%A9-%E8%87%AA%E7%94%B1-%E5%91%BC%E5%90%B8-%E6%AC%A2%E4%B9%90-570883/

Usually I get extremely tired after piano practice,  even though I just practise within a short period of time. Moreover, I face difficulty in memorizing piano pieces. I am good at memorizing many things such as  data, concepts, events and other daily stuff but except involving piano playing. I feel annoyed with my situation but so far I haven’t come across with people with similar case.

Traditionally piano pedagogists claim that fatique in piano playing is deal to improper posture and body movement during piano playing. And the pedagogists recommend the use of visual, aural, kinetic memory,  with the assistance  of thorough music analysis, to improve music memory. I’ve tried the above remedies but there is very little improvement for me.

In this year  I come across the sleeping disorder from my psychology self-study. Sleep apnea is a kind of sleeping disorder about stopping breath occasionally during the sleep.   The interruption of breathing during the sleep affect the sleeping quality greatly. So patients with sleep apnea feels very tired in daytime even they sleep quite a duration of time at night. I have heard some piano teachers about importance of breathing in piano playing but they often relate breathing to musical phrasing and expression. I start to think breathing in physiological way and wonder if my breathing during piano playing is related to my fatique.

Then I find two interesting webpages about breath holding. The first one says we may grow up with bad breathing habits and hold our breathing during daily life unconsciously.

http://www.breathing.com/articles/breath-holding.htm

 

I also get some hints from mindfulness meditation. The writer from the following link thinks breathing should be done unconsciously. He suggests we just focus on our nostrils to see if we hold the breath.

http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness/one/breath-control

 

Afterwards I try to check my breathing while I play. I focus on my nostrils and find that I really hold my breath in some difficult passages such as quick passages of scale and arpeggios, and when I play in memory. I also find that I can play in memory better when I ensure I am breathing by focus on my nostrils.

These are just my tentative findings. Hope this can solve my problems. Please let me know if it works to you also.

Copyright © 2015 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved

Photo credit :

https://pixabay.com/zh/%E5%A5%B3%E5%AD%90-%E5%B9%B8%E7%A6%8F-%E6%97%A5%E5%87%BA-%E4%BE%A7%E5%BD%B1-%E8%BF%9E%E8%A1%A3%E8%A3%99-%E6%B5%B7%E6%BB%A9-%E8%87%AA%E7%94%B1-%E5%91%BC%E5%90%B8-%E6%AC%A2%E4%B9%90-570883/

Collapsing fingers and double joint

This lengthy article shows the most useful information about collapsing fingers, or we call double-joint. The writer also suggests remedy to cope with this annoying problem.

http://pianoscience.blogspot.hk/2013/06/collapsing-fingers-simple-illustration.html?m=1

Copyright © 2015 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved