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#2364223 - Yesterday at 12:20 PM Clarifying arm weight technique
pianolearnerstride Online   content
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Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 28
Just want to clarify this, in case I'm misunderstanding... with arm weight technique, the arm is complete relaxed, and supported up by the fingers pressing the keys?

So one finger needs to support the entire arm (prevent it from falling down), if you're playing only one note? Is the pinky even strong enough to support the weight of the arm?

Now what happens when you're not pressing anything... something else has to hold up the arm right?

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#2364239 - Yesterday at 01:08 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Loc: UK
Armweight also means releasing the arm's weight momentarily into single notes or chords then resuming the 'hold'.

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#2364240 - Yesterday at 01:10 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: chopin_r_us]
pianolearnerstride Online   content
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Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 28
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Armweight also means releasing the arm's weight momentarily into single notes or chords then resuming the 'hold'.


What is the hold? Do you mean holding the hand above the keys?


Edited by pianolearnerstride (Yesterday at 01:15 PM)

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#2364249 - Yesterday at 01:22 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Loc: UK
Holding the forearm up - but not with fingers in the air.

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#2364254 - Yesterday at 01:42 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: chopin_r_us]
pianolearnerstride Online   content
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Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 28
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Holding the forearm up - but not with fingers in the air.


Thanks.

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#2364316 - Yesterday at 05:18 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianolearnerstride
Just want to clarify this, in case I'm misunderstanding... with arm weight technique, the arm is complete relaxed, and supported up by the fingers pressing the keys?

So one finger needs to support the entire arm (prevent it from falling down), if you're playing only one note? Is the pinky even strong enough to support the weight of the arm?

Now what happens when you're not pressing anything... something else has to hold up the arm right?


It's really difficult to describe in text format, mainly because a lot depends on what you mean by this. In other words, knowing what you're doing makes it easier to respond and give you ideas on what you should be doing. If you can provide a video of your playing, we can give feedback.

It is very important not to continue pressing weight down on the key after first striking it beyond what is minimally required to sustain the note for it's duration. Meaning, if you continue to press after the initial sound as you did to get the key moving, you're probably adding tension instead.
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#2364388 - Yesterday at 11:24 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
hreichgott Offline
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Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1279
Loc: western MA, USA
Yes, one finger (any finger) can support the weight of the arm. This is more about coordination and finger independence than about strength. I watch 3- and 4-year-olds do this all the time naturally -- one of those little fingers can't press down a piano key very effectively by itself, but arm weight behind a little finger can.

Yes, arm weight technique is about having a completely relaxed arm while you are playing. However, the arm isn't always dead weight. It is often moving in order to support what's happening in the music.

Yes, there will be times when the fingers are not holding up the arm, like during a rest or in between staccato notes smile Arm weight (not muscular "pressing") controls the downward movements, and you lift your arm to control the upward movements.


Edited by hreichgott (Yesterday at 11:26 PM)
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#2364403 - Today at 01:52 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
pianolearnerstride Online   content
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Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 28
Thanks for the replies.

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#2364406 - Today at 02:06 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
Nahum Offline
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Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 321
Loc: Israel
Still impossible to play the piano with convenience, if not familiar with the mechanics of piano, mechanics of fingers (hand) and their interaction. Finger presses key, but also key presses on the finger. Pressure of key continuously, it helps to the fingers in their rise; finger (hand) pressure ( ends with fall of hammer; finger goes into holding the key to the not yet risen, and this requires a lot less effort.
Here on the shortening of the timing between the kick and the release of the fingers necessary to work. This should take a fraction of a second.

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#2364433 - Today at 05:13 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
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Registered: 12/06/14
Posts: 58
Loc: Hawaii
Many years ago, I had the privilege to study with Lubka Kolessa in Montreal at the Quebec Conservatoire. She had studied in the Ukraine and had had a concert career in Europe before the war and had learned a technique that her awed students said came from a student of Liszt. I have NO idea where that technique originated.

But I DO remember it. I walked into her class and was informed ... " You vil do zee exerzize for SIX months ... wiz NO other music ..." And she meant it. For six months, three to four hours a day ... I practiced a series of thirds .... c & e .... then up two octaves to c & e ... then up to adjacent to d& f and back down to octave to d & F and so on. When I completed an octave's worth of this pattern, I came down.

Well the first lesson, she lifted my arm a good 16 inches off the piano, told me to "RELAX" and when she felt my arm's weight, she let go. I hit the keys with a painful crash. And the torture began. I soon acquired a magnificent array of battle bruises as I lifted my arms and came down onto those keys. Never a single finger ... always the 2 and 4, which prevented broken fingers I guess. After I relaxed sufficiently with the key of c ... I graduated to all the other scales. Always in thirds. And always hands separately.

The trick was total relaxation allowing my full arm weight to hit the keys. The wrist, if relaxed properly, will drop leaving the hand literally hanging over the edge of the keyboard.

Obviously one would never actually PLAY the piano like this. But this extraordinary exercise eventually gave me an incredibly accurate "aim" ... and extraordinary power. I could launch my 110 pound body into the Tchaikovsky No.1 like a sumo in the ring. It also allowed a terrific confidence and the ability to "show off" in Lang Lang style.

I have taught this technique to several more advanced students and once the "fear" of falling ... and total relaxation is accomplished, it is possibly the best technical exercise for anyone interested in a "bravura" style. ( Harpsichordists need not try). The key is to relax. ( And of course be sure you use those two fingers. This is NOT for a single digit or you could injure it )
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#2364456 - Today at 07:19 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse]
Nahum Offline
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Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 321
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By: TheHappyPianoMuse
For six months, three to four hours a day ... I practiced a series of thirds .... c & e .... then up two octaves to c & e ... then up to adjacent to d& f and back down to octave to d & F and so on. When I completed an octave's worth of this pattern, I came down.

Well the first lesson, she lifted my arm a good 16 inches off the piano, told me to "RELAX" and when she felt my arm's weight, she let go. I hit the keys with a painful crash.

TheHappyPianoMuse,Question : movement comes from the shoulder, or only from the elbow?


PS My friend saw Arthur Rubinstein worked on the piano in the hotel in the morning, he raised his arms high above his head.


Edited by Nahum (Today at 07:35 AM)

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#2364482 - Today at 09:29 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1016
Loc: UK
Good one happypiano. I was taught in a similiar way. The biggest sound will come from the shoulder, but you don't always want that.

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#2364534 - Today at 11:35 AM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I disagree that you have to do this with two fingers. You start with the whole hand crashing down, but then you gradually can bring it in to one finger. The key is to let the wrist be your shock absorber.
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#2364558 - Today at 12:29 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse]
jazzwee Online   content
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7116
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: TheHappyPianoMuse
Many years ago, I had the privilege to study with Lubka Kolessa in Montreal at the Quebec Conservatoire. She had studied in the Ukraine and had had a concert career in Europe before the war and had learned a technique that her awed students said came from a student of Liszt. I have NO idea where that technique originated.

But I DO remember it. I walked into her class and was informed ... " You vil do zee exerzize for SIX months ... wiz NO other music ..." And she meant it. For six months, three to four hours a day ... I practiced a series of thirds .... c & e .... then up two octaves to c & e ... then up to adjacent to d& f and back down to octave to d & F and so on. When I completed an octave's worth of this pattern, I came down.

Well the first lesson, she lifted my arm a good 16 inches off the piano, told me to "RELAX" and when she felt my arm's weight, she let go. I hit the keys with a painful crash. And the torture began. I soon acquired a magnificent array of battle bruises as I lifted my arms and came down onto those keys. Never a single finger ... always the 2 and 4, which prevented broken fingers I guess. After I relaxed sufficiently with the key of c ... I graduated to all the other scales. Always in thirds. And always hands separately.

The trick was total relaxation allowing my full arm weight to hit the keys. The wrist, if relaxed properly, will drop leaving the hand literally hanging over the edge of the keyboard.

Obviously one would never actually PLAY the piano like this. But this extraordinary exercise eventually gave me an incredibly accurate "aim" ... and extraordinary power. I could launch my 110 pound body into the Tchaikovsky No.1 like a sumo in the ring. It also allowed a terrific confidence and the ability to "show off" in Lang Lang style.

I have taught this technique to several more advanced students and once the "fear" of falling ... and total relaxation is accomplished, it is possibly the best technical exercise for anyone interested in a "bravura" style. ( Harpsichordists need not try). The key is to relax. ( And of course be sure you use those two fingers. This is NOT for a single digit or you could injure it )


What a small world! My teacher (Classical) studied with Lubka Kolessa and I spent months doing that specific exercise and it changed how I played. So I vouch for it. It does take a teacher to watch how you do it.

If I recall correctly, Lubka directly descended from Liszt. Was her teacher Carl Tausig -- one of Liszt's main students? I think that's what I recall.
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#2364575 - Today at 01:04 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
Discussions verbally of these kinds of things can be dangerous if anyone tries to follow what is said. The same is true if reading instructions and trying to follow. In fact, if you plan to work with an instructor, take care that this person is competent, and that this person does not have some favorite pet theory that they want every student to follow regardless of where that student is at. Playing in a haphazard way is less harmful than deliberately shaping how you play through bad instruction. Those of us who experienced such things can attest to it. My experience was not with piano, but I have compared notes with pianists who went through similar things, and for a longer period of time.

Anything written in this thread so far can be misunderstood and misused: including the idea that a poor little finger should "hold up" the arms. All of it is yes but no but yes but no.

I happened on this lecture and am half way through. He seems to have explored this very thoroughly. However, I have seen this man fanatically quoted in another forum, and his ideas, in turn, being misinterpreted. Up to now I didn't know what that was about. I am no expert on "arm weight" - I am still in the beginning ends of sorting out my own physical playing, which originally was entirely self taught in childhood, and then left for over 30 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MADApO_JvP8

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#2364587 - Today at 01:31 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: keystring]
Nahum Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 321
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By: keystring
Discussions verbally of these kinds of things can be dangerous if anyone tries to follow what is said. The same is true if reading instructions and trying to follow.
The same applies to the video clip , because right and wrong movement can look very similar. .

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#2364594 - Today at 01:47 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: Nahum]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11858
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Nahum
Originally Posted By: keystring
Discussions verbally of these kinds of things can be dangerous if anyone tries to follow what is said. The same is true if reading instructions and trying to follow.
The same applies to the video clip , because right and wrong movement can look very similar. .

Did you follow all 44 minutes of my link, and listen to what was being said? he does not demonstrate any kind of a model. I do agree with what you said.

I would never recommend following a link or an on-line course. But in comparison to anything being tried from here, a full discussion to start a full consideration seems preferable. Not for trying, but for exploring.


Edited by keystring (Today at 02:18 PM)
Edit Reason: clarifying sentence, 1st par.

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#2364622 - Today at 03:16 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
JohnSprung Offline
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Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1660
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: pianolearnerstride
So one finger needs to support the entire arm (prevent it from falling down), if you're playing only one note?


Take a structural engineering look at it:

Sit at the piano with your hands on the keyboard, completely relaxed. The upper arm, shoulder to elbow, is 100% supported from above by being attached to the shoulder. The lower arm, elbow to hand, is half supported by suspension from the upper arm -- from the elbow to its center of mass -- and the other half only is supported by the hand resting on the keyboard. The result is that there's more than enough weight at the hand end to hold five or more keys down, but not so much that a single finger can't lift it.
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#2364691 - Today at 06:48 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: JohnSprung]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
deleted


Edited by keystring (32 minutes 2 seconds ago)

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#2364729 - Today at 08:50 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: Morodiene]
TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
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Registered: 12/06/14
Posts: 58
Loc: Hawaii
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I disagree that you have to do this with two fingers. You start with the whole hand crashing down, but then you gradually can bring it in to one finger. The key is to let the wrist be your shock absorber.


Good catch. You are quite correct. I did indeed start with the whole hand. But quite quickly graduated to the two finger pattern in all scales. I never did a single finger as part of the exercise, possibly because one rarely descends on one note as part of a power lunge. I never thought to try it until five minutes ago. It works nicely but is a lot of force for only one finger. I'd rarely use that in performance.
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#2364732 - Today at 08:54 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: TheHappyPianoMuse
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I disagree that you have to do this with two fingers. You start with the whole hand crashing down, but then you gradually can bring it in to one finger. The key is to let the wrist be your shock absorber.


Good catch. You are quite correct. I did indeed start with the whole hand. But quite quickly graduated to the two finger pattern in all scales. I never did a single finger as part of the exercise, possibly because one rarely descends on one note as part of a power lunge. I never thought to try it until five minutes ago. It works nicely but is a lot of force for only one finger. I'd rarely use that in performance.
Nor should you - it is the beginning of a process on learning how you do in fact use arm weight all on one finger. You just don't come crashing down from your arms above your head: you start from a point at the keys.

I agree very much with keystring here, however. Sometimes these discussions can cause more harm and confusion than help. smirk


Edited by Morodiene (Today at 08:54 PM)
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#2364734 - Today at 08:58 PM Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: Nahum]
TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/14
Posts: 58
Loc: Hawaii
Originally Posted By: Nahum
Originally Posted By: TheHappyPianoMuse
For six months, three to four hours a day ... I practiced a series of thirds .... c & e .... then up two octaves to c & e ... then up to adjacent to d& f and back down to octave to d & F and so on. When I completed an octave's worth of this pattern, I came down.

Well the first lesson, she lifted my arm a good 16 inches off the piano, told me to "RELAX" and when she felt my arm's weight, she let go. I hit the keys with a painful crash.

TheHappyPianoMuse,Question : movement comes from the shoulder, or only from the elbow?


PS My friend saw Arthur Rubinstein worked on the piano in the hotel in the morning, he raised his arms high above his head.


Movement is from the shoulder. You need the weight of the entire arm. When I began I sat on a stool rather than a bench and let my arm swing freely for a few second before raising it very high ( like Rubenstein) and dropping onto the keys. The Kolessa students were clearly identified by this dramatic and very high drop. We reveled in it, gleefully attacking all the pianos at the Conservatoire. laugh
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#2364751 - 30 minutes 52 seconds ago Re: Clarifying arm weight technique [Re: pianolearnerstride]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11858
Loc: Canada
For those of you participating in this thread who are teachers, what are your thoughts about anyone here trying to do this by reading about it here or elsewhere? I have a reason for my question, which might be apparent in what I wrote before.

Edit: Morodiene, I see you answered that a few posts up.


Edited by keystring (8 minutes 0 seconds ago)

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