To any new player beginning the process of learning the piano, all 88 keys staring back at you can look quite intimidating! Thankfully, with great technique and practice habits from the onset, you can overcome that boundary quickly. That piano suddenly becomes a beautiful instrument just waiting to be played!
Let’s start with a very basic fundamental that is often extremely overlooked. Not only will poor posture hurt your ability to sit correctly in the long run, but it will also influence your ability to play with the expression that the music demands. When you approach the bench of the piano, make sure there is enough space between it and the keys for you to be able to sit up tall, and also sit on the front half of the bench. Make sure you practice keeping both feet comfortably on the floor, near the pedals. When your wrists and hands come up to handle the keys, ensure that the bench is the correct height to allow your elbows to be as close to a 90-degree angle as possible.
Even though it is difficult to reckon with during the beginning stages, playing the piano is actually a highly physical activity. Some of the muscles used to perform the actions required to play (like any other musical instrument) often go unused during normal day-to-day life. Ensuring that we are always playing with excellent technique is the only way to ensure that these muscles will be exercised without being strained. Here are a few to try:
Exercise for Arm Weight
Support your middle finger with your thumb and play a melody with only this set of fingers. This solid weight on the piano in the form of your arm should not be able to be wiggled at all (if someone came up and tried).
Exercise for Wrist Movement
While setting up your five fingers above five keys, press all five at the same time, trying to make all five sounds as equal as possible. The other significant challenge of this exercise is attempting to play all five notes at exactly the same time. Be picky about this. In all, your wrist should ALWAYS be moving, even if it’s a tiny amount! Never let it be stagnant.
Exercise for Finger Independence
This exercise makes your fingers a bit more susceptible to strain, so proceed with caution. While holding down one note with one finger (try first or second finger), alternate between notes under your third, fourth, and fifth fingers. The weakest fingers certainly need equal treatment, and will benefit you during fast and light passages!
While performing all of these exercises, ensure that your technique remains as intact as possible, beginning with the ever-important posture. In addition, if you come up with any piano exercise ideas, we’d love to hear about them. Our pursuit of music teaching excellence certainly includes collaboration and open-mindedness from all fellow musicians. Join us today!
- Tyler Long, Administrative Assistant/Music Instructor at Vibe Music Academy.