How to Achieve the Best Piano Posture

Help your technique and avoid aches and pains

Always spare a thought for your posture when sitting at the piano.

Your posture is vital when playing the piano, not just so you can avoid annoying aches and pains but also to maintain a solid technique. Fail to sit with a good posture while placing your hands and arms in a good position and you will find your playing suffers as well as your body.

A good piano seat is vital for sitting correctly at the piano. If you don’t have an adjustable piano seat already you should certainly invest in one, as it is unlikely that you can find a chair best piano posturethat is already at the exact height you need.

How do you discover the Perfect Height? 

Finding a good comfortable height is important; there is no definite set height you should sit at but there are guidelines you can follow to find the most ideal height for you. You should look at your forearms and ensure they are level with the floor when you have your hands on the keys. Your hands and fingers should arch slightly and not be completely flat. This is a good benchmark to work with although you should still adjust the height slightly until you are perfectly comfortable, which is the main reason you need a piano chair you can adjust.

How much space should be between you and the piano? 

The distance you sit from the piano is also important for maintaining proper posture and hand technique. You should use your upper arms as a guide here: place your upper arms flat against your sides then rest your hands on the piano keys. This is as close as you should get while playing. Play around a little with the distance until you are comfortable just as you did with the height. I find that sitting slightly further back – so that my elbows are closer to the piano than my shoulders – is a good distance that allows better reach around the piano.

Nice Posture 

Once you have your positioning to the piano sorted it is time to focus on your posture. The right posture for playing the piano is very much the same as correct posture in many other situations, you should make sure you are not slouching because doing so will damage your playing ability and the freedom of movement with your hands and fingers. Just imagine you are sitting at a very exclusive dining table surrounded by royalty, keep your back straight.

To play the piano well you need more than just agile fingers, the way you hold your body will determine how well you can move your fingers and hands in intricate motions, if your body is not stable then your playing will certainly suffer.

To perfect your posture you need to do a few simple things: Keep your back straight, lean slightly towards the piano, keep both feet planted on the ground and make sure you are a good height and distance from the piano. That is how you should sit at a piano.

While working on your posture don’t forget that comfort is very important, if you are as stiff as a board you will harm your technique perhaps even more so than if you were slouching. You need to find a good middle ground of a straight back but also relaxed enough that you can have a fluid movement across the keys. There is nothing wrong with moving around while playing but always remember to go back to a good posture.

Learning Piano: How Important Are Warm Up Exercises?

Is it necessary to play scales and do other piano exercises before you play?

Your piano teacher will probably tell you that you must practice playing every day; and the proper way to get your fingers limber enough to navigate difficult musical pieces is to begin with warm up exercises that are designed specifically for training your hands and fingers. Unfortunately, the majority of these finger exercises are so boring that piano teachers must coax and cajole their reluctant piano students into doing them at all!

Maybe your hands have started off a little stiff and uncoordinated when you first sit down at the piano on a cold winter day. But as your playing progresses, you find that your fingers piano warm up exerciseslimber up as you use them. Perhaps this has led you to wonder if doing all these scales and other exercises on a daily basis is really necessary.

If the piece you are performing is a fast and technically difficult piece of music, then doing some exercises to stretch and limber your fingers may be beneficial before you sit down and actually begin the music. But if that is not the case, then there are other things you could do that would help to get you into the proper frame of mind to tackle the challenging music.

Also Read : Piano for All review by Robin Hall

Alternatives to Playing Scales to Limber Up the Hands and Fingers

Exercises may be designed to warm you up before you work, but do your scales and other finger exercises target the muscles and movements that you will really need for a particular piece? In the same way you would not expect bicep curls to be of much benefit to the leg muscles of a runner, some finger exercises will not be supportive of certain musical compositions. If, for example, your music involves complex rhythms or chords that stretch the hands, then perhaps it would be better to prepare by doing exercises that incorporate these movements.

Playing a piece that is less technically complex but you enjoy is another good way to limber up before a performance. You will feel good about the music, and enjoy the activity instead of tuning out for another boring set of scales. You may even begin to look forward to your practice sessions if you get to start out right away with something you really like to do. Technical precision is only a part of an effective piano performance, you can also explore your musicality and lyrical playing.

Ideas for a meaningful piano warm up

  1. Make your warm up relevant to what you are going to practice.

  2. Play something easy and beautiful – something that will make you feel inspired.

  3. View your warm up as a mental preparation as well as a physical one.

This does not mean that you should never play scales again!

Playing scales and other finger exercises has a definite place in learning to play the piano! They cannot be ignored altogether, but should be integrated into a successful regimen that includes broken chords, scales, fingering progressions and pieces that you enjoy doing in order to make a difference in your playing!

Which are your Best Piano Warm-Ups?

What gets you in the right mood for practicing the piano? Please give us and your fellow readers some more tips about how you can avoid boredom and enter straight into the poetics of the instrument. Don’t forget to “share” this post if you enjoyed reading it.

 

 

Piano Pedalling: A Quick Guide

Decoding the Mystery of the Pedals

For the beginning pianist, foot pedals are often one of the most misunderstood aspects of playing the piano. It may be difficult for the beginner to understand the necessity of the pedals or what effects they create on the notes. It is hard to decipher to connection between the pedal and keys even by watching an experienced piano player. To help you better understand the role of the piano pedal, the following includes a straightforward description of their functions, along with a few pointers for effective use of the pedals during play.

The Elusive Nature of the Piano Pedal

The use of foot pedals is almost always the hardest concept to grasp for those first learning how to play piano. Whereas everyone knows that pressure on a piano key elicits a specific piano pedalssound, the effect of the pedal on the sound is not as apparent to the casual observer. Of course, knowing how to hit the right key for the right note or assembling the right combination of notes at the correct speed is not easy, but the concept and its effect on the music is easily understood by most. The integration of pedals with piano play, however, typically remains elusive to the novice pianist.

Even those that are able to carefully watch the movement of a pianist’s foot during play are rarely able to see the distinct effect of the pedals on the notes-which is the primary reason why the pedals are so elusive to the beginner. The motion happens so rapidly, it is hard to understand the correlation between sound and foot movement. To help further your understanding of the piano pedal and the way they should be used, take the following information into account the next time you play.

Basic Use of the Three Pedals

The distinct role of the right pedal is to raise the dampers off of the piano strings. This affects the sound of the notes in two separate ways. While holding down on the right pedal, any chord or note that is struck will continue to play until the pedal is lifted or the vibration of the string eventually stops on its own. In addition, the other piano strings will begin to vibrate, beyond the one that was actually played. This provides a much fuller sound than the individual string can produce by itself.

The left pedal operates in a different method depending on the type of piano. On a grand piano, the hammers are shifted to the left, while on an upright piano, the hammers are raised towards the strings. The effect on the play of the grand piano is more distinct, as the leftward shift of the hammers alter the strings hit for each note played. In addition, the contact point is altered, which produces a softer and subdued quality to the sound. On an upright piano, the sound is only affected by a softer resonance.

The middle pedal is the least used pedal. In fact, some pianos do not even have one. The ones that do can have a variety of functions that vary from piano to piano. The middle pedal on concert grand pianos allows the pianist to prolong the sound of some notes, but not others. All in all, the middle pedal is not an essential part of play for the average pianist.

The left pedal is the least complex of the two most important pedals. For upright pianos, this pedal is used only to provide a softer, muted tone. Those who play on a grand piano have to use the left pedal with a bit more care, as the effect is more dramatic and elicits a completely different timbre to the notes.

Why “The Soul of the Piano” is Created by the Right Pedal

The function of the right pedal is almost too much to discuss here. An entire book could easily be dedicated to the range of functions and effects that the right pedal provides. Of the three pedals, it is the one most vital for effective and exquisite piano play. However, there are a few key points to make about the right pedal to learn how to effectively use it for beginning piano play.

There are two primary uses of the right pedal. When the pianist needs to prolong the sound of a note or chord, but cannot do so with fingers, the right pedal can be depressed to sustain the sound. In addition, when the piece calls for a legato melody or the chords are in need of a deeper tone, the right pedal performs those functions. The right pedal is so critical to the execution of some musical pieces, that knowing when not to press the pedal is more important. Known as a “pedal change”, this momentary release of the pedal purifies the sound by stopping the sustained notes. In a lot of Romantic music, like many of the Chopin Nocturnes for instance, these short pedal releases are the only time that the right pedal is not depressed during play.

It takes many years to effectively learn how to use the right pedal. If you are just starting out, or even if you consider yourself a mid-level pianist, do not get discouraged while learning how to harness the power afforded by the right pedal. In the beginning, piano players tend to blur the notes when using the right pedal. This is a result of employing the pedal at the wrong time, not using pedal changes effectively, or by using the pedal too often. The best way to learn to use the pedal is to select pieces that incorporate pedaling and follow the guidance given by your piano teacher. Always learn a piece without the pedal and use it only as a finishing detail to polish the piece once you have sufficiently mastered it. Make sure you practice the pedaling separately from the rest of your practice. As your confidence in pedaling grows and your time at the keys increases, you will noticeably become more familiar with the concept of pedaling, along with how and where to apply it. In time, you will effortlessly learn to play a piece with use of the pedal from the very beginning.

Take Notice of your Surroundings and Explore the Effects 

The type of space where you play also has an effect on the amount of pedaling needed. For instance, a large concert hall can provide a resonance similar to that supplied by the right pedal, which means the amount of pedaling needed will be less. In small and confined spaces, however, you will likely need to use the pedal more frequently.

Every piano is different as well. Any time that you are playing on a different piano, it might take a moment to acclimate to its unique pedaling effects. Just listen to the sound and adjust your pedaling technique for the desired effect. The right pedal is truly one of the most elusive aspects of the piano. To truly master its power, it may take years of dedicated study. However, do not be overly apprehensive about learning how to use it. With dedicated practice and careful attention to sound, learning how to pedal effectively is easily attainable.

Can You Improve Your Piano Playing by Practicing Scales?

Or are they just silly, time-consuming exercises?

If you have been playing piano for any amount of time, you are aware that a skilled pianist has to go through those exercises in order to reach their level of expertise. At the same time, though, people tend to hate this aspect of their training, and look down on it, as they are really boring and associated with teachers who aren’t any fun.

Worst of all, people can often be spurred to quit the piano completely because they are sick of all the scales. Arpeggios and scales aren’t what get people into piano playing – making and playing beautiful music is; and that is what people are eager to get to when they start this process.

Therefore, do you really have to do those silly exercises that suck all the fun out of piano playing? Might you be able to learn the piano in a way that’s fun and enjoyable?

piano scales

Rethinking the Use of Scales

If you were to ask me, I would claim that there is a way to incorporate those exercises in a fun way that makes you think you are still doing something creative and enjoyable, instead of slapping them at the end for no apparent reason.

Essentially, you want to find a way to match the scales and arpeggios with the piano sheet music you wish to play, in order to make it more enjoyable. Since chords and scales make up most of our music, we do want to learn how to play them independently, so you have the language and the skills necessary to play that music once you get to it. If you do this right, you can still practice and not feel like it is a mechanical, rote exercise you can hate.

This duty is up to the piano teachers; finding a method of training that involves their love of music and gets them playing while still teaching them the essentials that they need in which to survive in the piano world.

Piano for All by Robin Hall is the course I recommend to learn Piano Online.

Try this…

This strategy can be a good way to use scales in an interesting way: Check out a piece that you really want to get good at playing, the harder the better. You might even already know how to play it, but want to get better at performing it for people. Peruse the score in order to find broken chords and scales that already exist within it, as well as their keys. Then, start practicing those particular ones only; this way, you have a specific goal in mind as you work, and you are not needing to feel like you are doing it for no reason. This can make it quite a bit easier to get into playing the scale, as you are on your way to a particular piece you like.

Put as much pep and verve into your playing as you can, even with the exercise. This can have the effect of making it seem much more fun to do, so you are not feeling forced to go through the motions.

5 Piano Sight Reading Tips

What if you could read music as easily as you read the English language?

Are you growing frustrated by the significant length of time and grueling work it takes for you to master a new piece of music? Has your irritation with the process made you think about abandoning the piano altogether? If so, I urge you to put the following suggestions to work so that you can get a handle on sight reading. Consider the possibility of being able to read music as well as you can read the English language.

  1. Continue to Sight Read!

While this may seem obvious and unoriginal, it is the inescapable truth. If you made a habit of reading only items you are committing to memory and plan to recite to others, it is likely piano sight reading tipsthat your reading ability would atrophy, since you concern yourself primarily with articulation and pronunciation. The same is true with music. It is important that you work not only on compositions you plan to perform or play for your instructor. You must sight read other pieces of music for their own sake. Following just this one piece of advice will have a great impact.

  1. Decrease your Expectations!

Even though you should read a greater volume of music, you should be less concerned about achieving perfection. The point is to work on sight reading, and there is nothing wrong with inadvertently skipping over a dynamic, a tie, a slur or a pedal notation every now and then. Do not worry about going back and fixing the errors, as that type of work should be reserved for true practice sessions. Simply continue to gain a general overview or focus on a particular part of the composition, depending on your reasons for reviewing it. (Follow guidelines 3-5 below)

  1. Work on Rhythms!

In order to grasp rhythms rapidly, it is possible that you will need to pay particular heed to that aspect of the composition. Should you encounter a composition or a portion therein in which you must focus intently in order to ascertain the rhythm, stop yourself and think about why it is so perplexing to you. Maybe you can develop a technique for handling such a situation if it occurs again. Be certain that you understand fundamental note values and routine rhythmic figures. An additional tip for enhancing your rhythmic capabilities is the sight read compositions with identical time signatures for a period of time: Begin with works done in 4/4 time, then focus on those in 3/4, 6/8 and onward.

  1. Work on a Single Clef at a Given Time!

Should notes, not rhythms, be your difficulty, perhaps you should work only on one clef per session. Keep in mind that if you are working specifically on sight reading skills, it is unnecessary to play every note you see. Keep your right hand idle if you tend to have the most trouble with the bass clef. Try to single out your problem areas by allowing the left hand to work alone, shutting out the rest of the piece, even if you must also ignore the rhythm itself.

  1. Work on One Key at a Given Time!

Such a technique represents an additional way of singling out a problem area: the flats and sharps in different key signatures. Staying within a given key signature for a certain time can help you gain increased familiarity with that particular key. With time, it is likely that you will achieve a natural ability to select the correct sharps and flats without having to think very hard. Doing this in conjunction with other types of scale work will only hasten your progress.

Piano for All is the course that I recommend on this website. It is the best course that helps to learn to play piano online.

Play Piano Better: Use Good Fingering

Why it’s easy to ignore fingerings

When reading a new score, there are many elements to take into consideration. Not only do you have the notes and rhythms to learn, but many times there are also fingering suggestions that are included by the score’s editor. Many students find all this information overwhelming and are tempted to ignore the fingering suggestions. It’s tempting to use an alternative finger if it feels easier at the time.

Are fingerings all that important?

When practicing a new piece, you will learn it faster and play it better if you are using the right fingerings from the first moment you begin playing.

New musical pieces can seem overwhelming when you are trying to learn the notes and the rhythms. Adding in taking the time to learn exact fingerings as suggested by the score’s editor piano fingering can make the process seem even more frustrating and annoying.

As a piano teacher, I watch many students struggle with all this information. Many students feel like the fingering suggestions are put there solely to confuse and frustrate them.

I can assure you that the fingering suggestions are not placed there just to create more things to remember. It is common for people to feel like their hard work learning notes and rhythms is not enough. As they are faced with also having to use exact fingers, they almost always find themselves wondering the same thing:

Does it matter which finger I use if the end result sounds the same?

The simple answer to that basic question is: Of course not. You can absolutely use a different fingering if the sound is the same and the alternative works better for you.

A good rule of thumb, however, is to consult with your music teacher before altering any fingerings. This can help you avoid technical problems from the very beginning of your practice sessions.

The best advice you can follow is to pay heed to the suggested fingerings and only alter them after consulting with someone whose experience you trust and whose opinion you value. The fingerings are designed to help your hands glide across the keys without fumbling. They are typically written by highly experienced people and if you take time to study them more closely you will most likely end up learning more about piano technique.

There are some basic facts about fingerings that can help you understand the printed suggestions better, and can also help you create more effective ones that work for you.

Basic Fingering Tips

1) Look at the upcoming few measures, and place your hand so that your five fingers are able to reach all of the notes that are coming along. If your right hand will be playing a melody that is moving up the scale, you will want to begin that with your thumb. As a beginner, it’s common to play tunes that require one finger for each note, and so are limited to only five notes. As you become more advanced, your hand will have to glide over more keys more quickly; but it’s still wise to stick to the one note one finger rule whenever possible.

2) Your fingers are not all equal. They are different lengths and sizes, and this can work to your advantage. The thumb makes an excellent pivot, and practicing scales will help you master that. The longer fingers are perfect for reaching the black keys, while you let your little finger focus on the easier to reach white keys.

3) Take advantage of all ten fingers! I am sure that there are many pianists who never use their ring fingers. However, this doesn’t mean it is the best way to play the piano. Playing piano can be a challenge even when using all ten of your fingers, and completely ignoring any of those fingers can greatly handicap you. While the ring finger may be a weak link, it is still a valuable tool and should be developed as such.

The next time you sit down to practice your piano look at it in another way. The printed fingerings are there to help you learn principles of good piano technique. They are there to save you time and frustration. While you can replace them if something else works better for you, taking the time to try them will help you become a better pianist.

Your Comments!

What do you think is a healthy approach to piano fingering? Do you often get annoyed at printed fingerings or are you thankful that someone has provided you with these hints? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your fingerings, changing them back and forth several times, or do you just ignore them completely and find that you can play quite well anyway?? Please enrich our lens with your thoughts on the subject.

 

Want to Become a Better Pianist with as Little Effort as Possible?

Sit down for a moment and think about how you practice. Whether your goal is to play piano music by the great classical composers, or to compose and play your own songs, I’m sure you playing pianorealize some practice needs to be done. But, how should you approach it? Here are some useful tips that will help you improve at a faster rate. It all starts with knowing how to practice more effectively.

Four Practice Tips

  1. Practice daily if possible – You’re better off practicing for a short period each day than for a long, extended session just once a week. Daily practice gets your fingers and your mind into the piano playing mindset. Set aside a specific time if you have to so that you can work on your skills on a daily basis. You’ll see much more impressive results this way than if you only practice sporadically.
  2. Practice right after your lesson – If you attend piano lessons, the best time to practice is actually right when you get home from your lesson. Why? Because everything is still fresh in your mind. You remember what the teacher showed you more clearly than if you wait a day or two to work on your lessons. This ensures you maintain proper technique, and it helps you get your money’s worth from your piano lessons.
  3. Find your weaknesses and work on them – Every pianist has weaknesses… especially students who are still early on in the learning process. Don’t ignore your problems because they’ll soon become habits, causing your playing to suffer. Work on them instead. It might help to record yourself playing so you can hear what you’re doing wrong and see where your technique is suffering. Be honest with yourself, and never stop trying to become better.
  4. Love your piano – As soon as you start seeing practice as something you have to do rather than something you want to do, everything starts going downhill. Practice should never be a chore. Playing piano music shouldn’t be torture. You need to like it. If you don’t, you won’t be able to commit fully to practicing, and you should consider taking a break. It’s better to not play than to allow playing to become a negative experience.

Now, get that robin hall piano for all course and start practicing! Remember also that you’re going to need some patience. Becoming a great pianist takes a lot of time. Stay committed, and don’t give up when you’re struggling to build new skills. Stick with it, have fun, and you will get better.

A BreathTaking Piano Piece (one of my favorites)

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