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#1622442 - 02/17/11 08:43 PM "You must RELAX"
kellypiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 15
Loc: Florida
I went into my lesson yesterday very prepared, and the lesson was mostly about my being not relaxed at the piano. My teacher is amazing. She wants me to put in the work, but also feel the spirit of the music, and especially to relax my wrists and shoulders. Any suggestions?

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#1622450 - 02/17/11 08:58 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Yes , actually. Take every measure of music in your pieces and time your breathing to it. Innnnnnnnn , Ouuuuuuuuuuuuttttt , Innnnnnnnn , Ouuuuuuttttttt , etc.

Don't hold your breath. Do that religiously ... eventually you will control your breathing for shorter or longer phrases.

Wrists need to relax by studying verrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy slowwwwwwwwwlllllllly. Every 4 measures I would recommend taking your hands off the piano and shaking them out then drop them again on the piano as if it's dead weight. Practice dropping your wrists away from the piano as well. It should be dead ... limp , spaghetti, but your fingers should be very strong. If your wrist is locked and tight the rest of your body will be as well. Also, make sure you drop your shoulders - You don't want them hunched.

Hope that helps. Follow the advice.
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#1622534 - 02/17/11 11:02 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
You can program in a relaxation response with how you practice. Consciously breathe and relax shoulders/arm wrist at every bar line as you play slowly.

Because what we play is all memory based, how relaxed you play a piece is literally also practiced in and becomes part of the memory response of that piece..

Do this long enough and it will filter into all your playing.
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Music teacher and piano player.

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#1622587 - 02/18/11 12:55 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Get You must Relax by Edmund Jacobson.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1622680 - 02/18/11 06:04 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Percival Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/11
Posts: 66
Loc: United Kingdom
You need to relax in general. Chill out in real life and it will reflect in your playing.
_________________________
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught; but first he folwed it himselve.

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#1622793 - 02/18/11 10:01 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
First check you posture so you are balanced and there is minimal tension just sitting there.

Then play a couple of measures of something you know pretty well, preferably a lyrical piece.

Then repeat it a number of times, each time focus on where in your body you sense tension and try to eliminate it. In other words play it with less and less effort. It is ok to play it softer and/or more slowly, the speed and volume can be added back later. Eventually you will find what little effort is actually needed to play.
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#1622820 - 02/18/11 10:23 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: kellypiano
I went into my lesson yesterday very prepared, and the lesson was mostly about my being not relaxed at the piano. My teacher is amazing. She wants me to put in the work, but also feel the spirit of the music, and especially to relax my wrists and shoulders. Any suggestions?


weed.

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#1622825 - 02/18/11 10:33 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4667
Loc: Seattle area, WA
For your arms,wrists and shoulders: Become conscious of a relaxed wrist and arm by exaggerating their motion during practice.

For your ears: Occasionally practice for just a few minutes with wrist weights. This will simulate arm weight, improve your tone and make you aware of what relaxed arm weight sounds like.
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Best regards,

Deborah

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#1622854 - 02/18/11 11:04 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: gooddog]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3885
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: gooddog


For your ears: Occasionally practice for just a few minutes with wrist weights. This will simulate arm weight, improve your tone and make you aware of what relaxed arm weight sounds like.


Do you mean actual weights.. how many oz??

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#1622890 - 02/18/11 11:55 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA

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#1622994 - 02/18/11 02:45 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Quarkomatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
My teacher makes me play Dohnanyi exercises to learn relaxation. There is nothing relaxing about these exercises, because they require a lot of concentration. I guess the main point is that if you don't relax as much as you can while playing these, it will hurt and you will injure yourself. I'm not entirely sure yet if it is working for relaxation, but it's certainly improving my ability to use fingers separately and in groups.

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#1623006 - 02/18/11 02:55 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I disagree with this whole business about relaxation while playing the piano. In my opinion this is essentially a fraud designed to attract students: relaxation implies lack of effort, and an effortless method of playing the piano is appealing to many students.

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#1623009 - 02/18/11 03:01 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Aha, ahhhaaa, aaaahhhhhhhaaaaa! Yeah, right.

kellypiano:

Have you ever had videos made of your playing? Does your teacher have a recording device (zoom Q3, for instance) that can offer you the unblinking eye of the camera? You need to be able to visualize what you are doing when you are tense in order to have a prayer of relieving that tension.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

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#1623031 - 02/18/11 03:19 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Andromaque]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4667
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
Originally Posted By: gooddog

For your ears: Occasionally practice for just a few minutes with wrist weights. This will simulate arm weight, improve your tone and make you aware of what relaxed arm weight sounds like.
Do you mean actual weights.. how many oz??
I have 1/2 pound and 1 pound weights that I have used. They are elastic and slip over your hand. I got the idea from Seymour Bernstein's book "With Your Own Two Hands." The first time I did it, I was astounded at the difference in my tone. It is important to remember to use this only as a temporary practice tool just to become familiar with the feel and sound of arm weight.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1623042 - 02/18/11 03:37 PM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: gooddog]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
Originally Posted By: gooddog

For your ears: Occasionally practice for just a few minutes with wrist weights. This will simulate arm weight, improve your tone and make you aware of what relaxed arm weight sounds like.
Do you mean actual weights.. how many oz??
I have 1/2 pound and 1 pound weights that I have used. They are elastic and slip over your hand. I got the idea from Seymour Bernstein's book "With Your Own Two Hands." The first time I did it, I was astounded at the difference in my tone. It is important to remember to use this only as a temporary practice tool just to become familiar with the feel and sound of arm weight.


I don't think I'd describe this mostly in terms of arm-weight. It works the fingers a bit harder and gives them a different counterforce to balance, if they are to stabilise the arm. If it were about arm-weight, it would follow that it would be harder to play upon removing them- not easier. I actually find it stops me from burdening the fingers with excessive weight/downward pressure- strange as that might seem on the surface. By giving you a different balance to find between arm and finger, it wakes up the senses which allows normal balance to improve, I believe. The sheer feel of lightness upon removing them is quite incredible. Personally I use a kg, but wouldn't recommend going straight into that.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1623504 - 02/19/11 09:08 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Gyro]
weldon29 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 83
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I disagree with this whole business about relaxation while playing the piano. In my opinion this is essentially a fraud designed to attract students: relaxation implies lack of effort, and an effortless method of playing the piano is appealing to many students.
Wait.. what?

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#1623508 - 02/19/11 09:12 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: gooddog]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: gooddog
For your arms,wrists and shoulders: Become conscious of a relaxed wrist and arm by exaggerating their motion during practice.

For your ears: Occasionally practice for just a few minutes with wrist weights. This will simulate arm weight, improve your tone and make you aware of what relaxed arm weight sounds like.


You don't need wrist weights. Just play hands separate and place the non playing hand on top of the forearm of the playing hand and put various pressure on it...
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1623509 - 02/19/11 09:14 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Akira]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Akira
Don't forget to breath.


that's a good tip, I saw actually once pianist who suffocated himself to death during long piece on stage.

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#1623510 - 02/19/11 09:14 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Gyro]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I disagree with this whole business about relaxation while playing the piano. In my opinion this is essentially a fraud designed to attract students: relaxation implies lack of effort, and an effortless method of playing the piano is appealing to many students.


Gyro I tried giving you the benefit of the doubt but you are just a troll. That or you have absolutely no concept of what pianistic technique is really about. Your quoted passage above is really just shocking..
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An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1623511 - 02/19/11 09:17 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Gyro]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I disagree with this whole business about relaxation while playing the piano. In my opinion this is essentially a fraud designed to attract students: relaxation implies lack of effort, and an effortless method of playing the piano is appealing to many students.


I agree, you have to relax from time to time to allow your muscles to rest e.g. during boogie woogie Chopin octave movements but when you actually play you cannot be relaxed - this is not possible physically.

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#1623515 - 02/19/11 09:23 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
I think the point is that SOME muscles have to work and SOME are better off being relaxed. "Relax" or "don't relax" are both pretty much worthless ways of looking at it. What matters is how efficiently you set about doing it and whether your efforts actually serve a purpose or not
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1623520 - 02/19/11 09:27 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: motif]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I disagree with this whole business about relaxation while playing the piano. In my opinion this is essentially a fraud designed to attract students: relaxation implies lack of effort, and an effortless method of playing the piano is appealing to many students.


I agree, you have to relax from time to time to allow your muscles to rest e.g. during boogie woogie Chopin octave movements but when you actually play you cannot be relaxed - this is not possible physically.


Goodness , please get a concept of what technique is!

It is painful to read some of the posts in these forums. What you typed is just absurd on its face. If you personally don't know how to play relaxed please do not imply that incorrect technique onto everybody.
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#1623521 - 02/19/11 09:31 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: kellypiano]
Quarkomatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
There's a continuum from completely relaxed to completely tense. I don't think anyone is suggesting that it is possible to play piano if you let everything hang like spaghetti, avoid using any muscles whatsoever, and move around the keyboard like a sloth. On the other hand, if you are completely rigid with all your muscles straining, your playing is not going to sound musical, you're going to be using far more energy than is required, and you will risk injury by perhaps forcing your hands and fingers into some contortion to which they are not accustomed.

So I think there is a natural tendency for people to be nervous and overly tense, and when we say that relaxation is important, we mean finding a spot somewhere in the middle of the continuum.

I think it's very similar to a concept in another hobby of mine which is Lindy Hop swing dancing -- which is usually improvised with one person leading and the other person following. In this dance, we refer to something called "frame" which is basically how you hold your arms. If the lead or follow's arms are too relaxed, there will not be effective communication through the dancers' connection. The lead won't be able to indicate what the follow should be doing, and the follow won't be receptive to what the lead is trying to indicate. On the other hand, if the dancers keep their arms rigid, the dancing becomes too abrupt and lacks the leverage and compression that normally give this dance a lovely elastic, smooth, somewhat bouncy feel.


Edited by Quarkomatic (02/19/11 09:32 AM)

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#1623533 - 02/19/11 09:48 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Quarkomatic]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
I would argue nowhere near the middle but more on the far side of the 'relaxed' spectrum.

If you think just sitting around is being relaxed I can assure you that 95% of the posters in this forum are more tense when they are late for work in a Traffic Jam then when I sight reading through a mid difficult piece for the first time.

It has to do with breathing , total body relaxation and mental awareness of everything your body is doing.

You can still be relaxed and in control of your muscles. You obviously have to breathe right ? Nobody will argue the inhaling of air makes your body 'tense' because your lungs are working? At least I hope not...
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#1623537 - 02/19/11 09:52 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Dustin Sanders]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
I would argue nowhere near the middle but more on the far side of the 'relaxed' spectrum.


I'd sort of agree. However, relaxing in the wrong places causes greater effort in others. Personally, I was tremendously hampered for many years by excessive intent at global relaxation. If you focus on relaxation without also focussing on all of the necessary positives, it simply means you have no control over where the tensions will manifest themselves. Understanding the lowest possible effort means of balancing yourself is far more useful than positive thinking.
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#1623548 - 02/19/11 10:08 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Dustin Sanders]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
Nobody will argue the inhaling of air makes your body 'tense' because your lungs are working? At least I hope not...


actually you're wrong. Wrong breathing can cause significant problems to you chest muscles and be source of many strange symptoms making your whole body tense. Read about so called trigger points so you'll understand. BTW It's amazing how many people don't know how to breath properly.

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#1623582 - 02/19/11 11:12 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: motif]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
Nobody will argue the inhaling of air makes your body 'tense' because your lungs are working? At least I hope not...


actually you're wrong. Wrong breathing can cause significant problems to you chest muscles and be source of many strange symptoms making your whole body tense. Read about so called trigger points so you'll understand. BTW It's amazing how many people don't know how to breath properly.


Ok I'm wrong.

It's been settled everyone. Hold your breath and tighten your muscles at every point of your piano performances because it is futile to try otherwise. Anything you do will cause the same amount of tension.
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1623583 - 02/19/11 11:15 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
I would argue nowhere near the middle but more on the far side of the 'relaxed' spectrum.


I'd sort of agree. However, relaxing in the wrong places causes greater effort in others. Personally, I was tremendously hampered for many years by excessive intent at global relaxation. If you focus on relaxation without also focussing on all of the necessary positives, it simply means you have no control over where the tensions will manifest themselves. Understanding the lowest possible effort means of balancing yourself is far more useful than positive thinking.


Are you speaking more about efficiency in relaxation or something else? I would argue that just because you tighten a muscle does not mean you are tense in your body if you are consciously aware you are doing it.
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1623584 - 02/19/11 11:16 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Dustin Sanders]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
Nobody will argue the inhaling of air makes your body 'tense' because your lungs are working? At least I hope not...


actually you're wrong. Wrong breathing can cause significant problems to you chest muscles and be source of many strange symptoms making your whole body tense. Read about so called trigger points so you'll understand. BTW It's amazing how many people don't know how to breath properly.


Ok I'm wrong.

It's been settled everyone. Hold your breath and tighten your muscles at every point of your piano performances because it is futile to try otherwise. Anything you do will cause the same amount of tension.





I'm not sure what you're being sarcastic about- as that was the last thing implied by the post you are responding to.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1623588 - 02/19/11 11:19 AM Re: "You must RELAX" [Re: Dustin Sanders]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders

Are you speaking more about efficiency in relaxation or something else? I would argue that just because you tighten a muscle does not mean you are tense in your body if you are consciously aware you are doing it.


Efficiency in terms of what requires fewer muscular actions to balance, rather than very many. Without good balance at the hand, the arm has no choice but to work harder to stop it falling to your side.

This all depends what you mean by "tense". However, that which feels fine at first can cause accumulative effort, if not given the chance to release again. Awareness is certainly important, but I think it's more important still to be aware what you can do to remove the physical necessity of efforts. Basically, just because you've noticed an effort does not necessarily mean it's okay and it doesn't mean you'll necessary be able to make it go away when you want to.
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