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Topic: arm/shoulder weight - bad?  (Read 1562 times)

Offline jhon

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arm/shoulder weight - bad?
on: August 23, 2005, 10:18:11 PM
I just recently discovered w/ myself that while playing, weight coming from the arms, and shoulder is bad as it makes the touch harsh.  All weight must rest into the hands/fingers more specifically.  Is  there any ways to relax more the arms and shoulders?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #1 on: August 23, 2005, 11:37:40 PM
For me I have always visualised volume as parts of the body. The weight of the body increasing the strength of the fingers. pppp would be finger tips, each knuckle ppp, pp,p. Except the thumb of course, mf/mp is from within the hand, wrist is f, forearm is ff, shoulder fff and back ffff. So if you feel energy coming from the arms you will naturally play loudly.

Most people fall into the trap in letting the BLACK NOTES of the piano go above the palm. As soon as this happens control of the quieter sounds is reduced. Generally you should always ensure that if you where to slide your hand into the piano the black notes will comfortably touch your palm. Of course if you have big chords to stretch this idea is somewhat relaxed.

There is a lot of things which could contribute to someones TENSION while playing. Most of the times I have found it is inappropriate lifting and droping of the hand. If you look closely to HOW are you lifting your hand and should the next note be controlled with a controlled placed hand or a dropped hand with the weight coming from wherever you wish.
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Offline jhon

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #2 on: August 24, 2005, 02:22:43 AM
For me I have always visualised volume as parts of the body. The weight of the body increasing the strength of the fingers. pppp would be finger tips, each knuckle ppp, pp,p. Except the thumb of course, mf/mp is from within the hand, wrist is f, forearm is ff, shoulder fff and back ffff. So if you feel energy coming from the arms you will naturally play loudly.

Most people fall into the trap in letting the BLACK NOTES of the piano go above the palm. As soon as this happens control of the quieter sounds is reduced. Generally you should always ensure that if you where to slide your hand into the piano the black notes will comfortably touch your palm. Of course if you have big chords to stretch this idea is somewhat relaxed.

There is a lot of things which could contribute to someones TENSION while playing. Most of the times I have found it is inappropriate lifting and droping of the hand. If you look closely to HOW are you lifting your hand and should the next note be controlled with a controlled placed hand or a dropped hand with the weight coming from wherever you wish.

very helpful advice tnx a lot!

Offline xvimbi

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #3 on: August 24, 2005, 03:37:50 AM
For me I have always visualised volume as parts of the body. The weight of the body increasing the strength of the fingers. pppp would be finger tips, each knuckle ppp, pp,p. Except the thumb of course, mf/mp is from within the hand, wrist is f, forearm is ff, shoulder fff and back ffff. So if you feel energy coming from the arms you will naturally play loudly.

Interesting. Although, intuitively, throwing one's entire body into the keyboard is a good way to get fff, I in fact also use my entire body to get pp. I personally get more control this way compared to just using the hand and fingers, particularly for chords.

In general, using the entire body does not mean that the resulting sound must be loud and/or harsh. It is the way the force gets transmitted through the fingertips into the keys. If that happens in a jerky fashion, the result will be harsh. If it happens in a smooth fashion all the way down to the keybed, the result will be pleasant.

The bottom line is to play around with different ways and to discover for oneself what gets the desired result.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #4 on: August 24, 2005, 04:49:08 AM
I don't mean throw the body at the keyboard but visualise the flow of energy coming from there. I guess like water. Let it trickle out of your finger tips for pppp and let it gush over the body for ffff.
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #5 on: August 24, 2005, 08:32:19 AM
lostinidlewonder,  thanks for the apt description of 'how to.'  i'm recognizing my teacher's ability to use continuous touch on the keyboard and instead of always lifting hand and setting down, he uses a sort of paper cutter motion (from the top down) that keeps the hands very close to the keys.  it is very kung-fuish.  quick and to the point and eliminates the preparatory ten moves of karate.

Offline gruffalo

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #6 on: August 24, 2005, 02:06:09 PM
I dont usually think of how i use my body, i just find myself doing things and my teacher either acknowledges it and says its ok or corrects it if it is wrong, but have big problems with relaxing my arms and back with faster pieces because i naturally tense up and im having big problems combatting this, it causes back pains sometimes after an hour and then comes back quicker after more breaks.

Offline mikey6

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #7 on: August 28, 2005, 11:01:53 PM
For me I have always visualised volume as parts of the body. The weight of the body increasing the strength of the fingers. pppp would be finger tips, each knuckle ppp, pp,p. Except the thumb of course, mf/mp is from within the hand, wrist is f, forearm is ff, shoulder fff and back ffff. So if you feel energy coming from the arms you will naturally play loudly.

So in that case, you would not be able to use arm weight on a soft cord? :-[
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #8 on: August 30, 2005, 03:34:51 AM
So in that case, you would not be able to use arm weight on a soft cord? :-[

You most definatly can use your arm weight to play soft chords however you must then suspend the weight of the arm (with the forearm i.e: wrist to elbow) so that the fingers do not press "harder" into the keys. You shouldn't use the shoulders to hold the weight of the arm because that usually closes up your body and increases overall tension.  You will damage soft sounding chords especially if the sustain pedal is held, so music from Debussy (who always loved to keep that sustain pedal stuck down) is great to work on discovering a soft touch for chords (for example: Images no1: Reflects dans leau if you haven't got a light tough in the RH with the opening chords they will sound way too harsh and messy with the sustain pedal failing to inspire the idea: "A little circle of water with little pebbles falling into it" as Debussy puts it).

Still you cannot hope to produce easily a nice soft chord with arms and the body flaying all over the place. But I have seem people raise their entire arm and when they come back to the keys to play the notes they stroke the keys instead of an up to down strike with the fingers. I mean if this is good for you then do it, but it is not efficient imo.

So perhaps you can play soft chords with the entire body however you will have to control the fact that you are drawing the energy from the entire body, this control could cause inefficiency in your overall playing and we always strive to play this with least effort on piano.
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Offline ramseytheii

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Re: arm/shoulder weight - bad?
Reply #9 on: May 24, 2006, 04:45:54 PM
I just recently discovered w/ myself that while playing, weight coming from the arms, and shoulder is bad as it makes the touch harsh.  All weight must rest into the hands/fingers more specifically.  Is  there any ways to relax more the arms and shoulders?

There is one way to practice relaxing the arms and shoulder, which let me first say is a fantastic way, as it will improve the quality of your sound, and also will eventually teach you how to properly use your body weight in conjunction with the rhythm and phrasing of whatever music you are playing.  The way is vibrato.  Please read on!

Nobody would be demented enough to say that making a vibrato on the piano keys produces a vibrato sound.   However without question the vibrato motion is the best way to learn how to apply weight, and then release it.  Playing without natural weight motions can lead to ugly sound, and playing with lots of weight and no release will also lead to ugly sound.

The vibrato motion is akin to a dog shaking himself free of water after a rain.  Imagine what a dog looks like shaking out, play a large chord with your right or left hand, at first alone, and then shake it out.  With your fingers on the keys, shake it out, shake out the tension, shake out the weight, pretend like your arm is covered in drops of water and you are a dog shaking it out.  Then try the left.  If you are right-handed, it is harder to use vibrato motion on the left, but you can learn, and it will help to coordinate your piano playing in general.  Try both at the same time.  This is also difficult, but will also help for hand independence.

How is this applicable to pieces?  Imagine a piece with a lot of heavy chords, like the opening of the Tchaikovsky cocnerto (first concerto).  To get the best quality sound, I mean come on, pianists just pound these chords out without any consideration of a deeper sense of sound quality - practice very slowly, and vibrato on each chord.  You will hear it in a new way, this I promise.  You will have a more beautiful, balanced sound, which you are then free to manipulate as far as voicing is concerned, and within the larger phrase.  Leon Fleischer, though not known for his intepretations of music in this sphere, was right when he said, "The chords have to be a planet away from each other."  Too often you hear these chords without any distinction, but actually they should sound far apart, a grand, raising motion, like the lifting and waving of a great flag.

Vibrato!

Walter Ramsey
 

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