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FAQ: online music lessons for piano and violin

Why is playing relaxed so important?


Well, try this for an experiment: tighten your hand. Now try to wiggle your fingers while your hand is tight. How easy and how fast can you move the fingers? I would guess that you could barely move them. Now relax your hand and wiggle the fingers. Do you see and feel the difference?

Relaxation does not end with just the hands. The wrist needs to be flexible and relaxed too. This because you’ll need to lift the hands off the keys to move them to other keys that may be far apart up or down the keyboard. If your arm and wrist are stiff, you don’t stand much of a chance on landing on the correct key. This is because the arm transports the hand and it is the arm that learns the distance between the keys!

It is also a matter of appearance. You don’t want to look like you make a lot of effort and play with sticks! Believe it or not, the sound you’ll make is also different when you are relaxed. This is why the great masters produce such a great sound.

In the warm up exercise lessons and in the Warm up exercises article, I described some routines for fingers, arm and wrist, so you learn from the beginning how to play relaxed.

Another important point is learning how to lift the fingers before they come down on the keys. This is very important because the power of the sound comes from the fingers lifting and dropping on the keys. You cannot play by pushing in, since no matter how hard you push, the key only goes down so far. Having your fingers act like little hammers gives you agility, evenness between notes and ability to play fast later on. This is called “articulation”.

The exercises explained in the warm ups and books like Finger Power series will develop your technique. Fingers will lift more easily as you’ll develop the muscles on the top of the hand. Usually we develop the muscles in our palms because we grab things.

Remember the correct fingers position, playing with the fingers round, without collapsing the first joint:


 
Keep arm and wrist soft as you lift from the keys:


 
Five or more minutes a day of practicing these techniques will go a long way and you’ll advance and play much easier.
 
Relaxation is also important for the rest of the body. Try to be aware of your back, neck, arms and keep breathing to stay relaxed.

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