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Topic: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?  (Read 1859 times)

Offline mick8431

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ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
on: February 19, 2006, 07:04:51 AM
Have you ever move your finger and imagine you play piano on a table or on your boyfriend/girlfriend chest, on pillow etc.? Unlike other musical instuments, we cannot carry piano around...

I saw many piano students do this.. From the movie "the pianist", the rememer that the main actor, pianist, practice moving his finger on non-keyboard surface during the war time.

I just wonder how useful is it for improving the finger strength and finger independence... or it is just the waste of time... I wish we have the folded keyboard so we can carry it anywhere just like labtop....

Offline jamie_liszt

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #1 on: February 19, 2006, 07:40:13 AM
I play hanon exercises on a hard table surface hands seperate when I am bored, I always wondered if it was doing any good or not

Offline gorbee natcase

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #2 on: February 19, 2006, 01:15:28 PM
I think it is more usefull to do it in your mind first, you can take a music book anywhere and work out fingering first but it does not replace the real thing :)
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Offline jas

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #3 on: February 19, 2006, 01:31:26 PM
I saw a programme on TV about this about a year ago. It was about a gymnast who was having trouble getting some gravity-defying, upside-down twisty-turny thing right. So she went through it in her head a few times and found it easier to actually do it when she tried later. Apparently even just thinking about doing something in that way builds pathways in your brain (don't know what the technical terms are) the same as practice does.

Jas

Offline stevie

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #4 on: February 19, 2006, 03:16:26 PM
on your boyfriend/girlfriend chest

hahahaha, or lower...perhaps

anyway, it helps with improving general finger coordination and dexterity (trills, etc), but its no substitute fo da real 88

Offline rc

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #5 on: February 19, 2006, 03:46:25 PM
I couldn't see any physical benefits of wiggling your fingers as if there were keys. But it can be good for the mental aspect; memorization, musical flow... I'm becoming more convinced of those old cliches about playing piano being mostly in your head. I really don't think there's much sense in worrying about 'finger strength', the body has no trouble keeping pace with the mental learning.

I can't quite practice piano in my head, motion-wise. But I like to play a lot of imaginary music in my head. Either improvising or just playing around with pieces I'm familiar with. I find it useful to imagine a piece I know, being played by an orchestra, or some other instruments.

Offline Bob

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #6 on: February 19, 2006, 08:45:55 PM
I think it can help.  My hands feel a lot better when I make up finger exercises when I can't get to a piano.  On a table top, in the air... whatever.  It just keeps them feeling "oiled" I guess.
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Offline jason2711

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #7 on: February 19, 2006, 10:40:07 PM
that reminds me of something in the winter olympics i saw... the luge.  When racing the luge having your head up slows you down so they memorise the muscular movements they must make to the second.  It showed on TV one of the guys going through these movements off the luge as a practice.

 I suppose it might work on 'air piano' as well, but the degree of touch required in the piano means you won't be able to really remember the correct way of pressing the keys to get the best sound i think.  I read somewhere that rachmanninov learnt his third piano concerto (well, it might not have been that one, but it was something like that) on the boat over to America, using a replica keyboard which didn't make any sound

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #8 on: February 19, 2006, 11:13:42 PM
I gotta say that it is better than doing nothing, but I wouldn't dedicate hours a day to this sort of practice. As a few posts have pointed out, mentally seeing the keyboard (the two and three black and whites around it also observing the two whites BC and EF) and the procedure that you will go through is important. If you can observe a system of a group of notes and play that fingers on a table WHILE visualising the keyboard in your minds eye this can be very helpful for your fingering.

I would only suggest this sort of practice to the more advanced musician who completely understands shape and movement at the keyboard and how their hands feel when on a keyboard. If you can imagine the feeling that would be produced at the fingers as well as visualise the board in your minds eye while playing a passage of notes, then this almost emulates playing on a real keyboard. Of course we do not have any sound produced but that in our own head and the annoying tapping that might distract people around you.

When I read music I can imagine how the fingers would probably feel just by looking at the notes on the page. I don't just listen to the notes in my head while reading but also try to understand the feeling that the system of notes encourages physically in my hands. If you can anticipate what you will come up against this can give a head start memorising a piece before you even sit down infront of your piano.

In the end we cannot keep away from our piano if we want to practice correctly. I do remember reading that Liszt also use to carry around with him a wooden keyboard with only a few octaves which didn't play a sound but allowed him to practice his fingering while travelling. I am sure if practicing on a table or another surface would suffice he would have done it but I guess he accepted you can never recreate the feeling of a real instrument that way.

I think we can memorise the general idea of music without a keyboard but the intricate details of fingering and the subtle feeling of movement of the hand cannot be trained without a real instrument. We also of course do not even start to pick apart the work needed in our physical control of sound by practicing away from our instrument and that is where most of the work is waiting for us.
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Offline gruffalo

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #9 on: February 20, 2006, 10:35:42 AM
i dont know about it helping the physical aspect, but certainly it will help the mental build up of pieces. like the other guy said, memorization. you dont need a keyboard straight away to memorize. obviously the keyboard becomes the essential 'other half' of the memorization, but you can do most of it either in your head visualizing, or playing on your knee, or yes stevie on your girlfriend. Im not saying this is an acheivment (im sure most of you have done better than me, this is just an example), but i learned a page of chopin etude 25/1 during the scenes of a theatre show that i wasnt involved. i got home, and i was able to play it to a reasonable speed without mistakes.

so i think it is great for the mental aspect, but i really cant comment on the physical advantages or disadvantages.

Offline mick8431

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #10 on: February 20, 2006, 11:31:08 AM
For physical benefit, I think it is more helpful when you already play the piece on the real piano.. then you would know how your finger will need to move during imagination..

Without playing it on the piano first, I don't think it help me much when you see the piece for the first time.

I agree with most people here about mental aspect of playing by imagination.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #11 on: February 20, 2006, 03:39:26 PM
It helps with coordination and memorization. It really does wonders.

Offline montiverdirocks

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #12 on: February 21, 2006, 12:27:17 AM
More helpful than physical practice at the keyboard.  It's impossible to create bad habits formed in the motor memory if you only study the music in your head and then figure out physically how to execute it later.

Offline montiverdirocks

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #13 on: February 21, 2006, 01:20:09 AM
from my experience, the mental can usually take care of the physical if you REALLY know what is going on. If you think about a phrase before you play it and really know what you want, you will get it. I believe that most pianists spend way too much time on technical finger drills instead of making music. I have never done Hannon, Czerny, or any other nonsense finger drills and do not practice scales, yet I have never come across any techincal problem that I could not fix quickly- in fact, my facility is one of the strongest and most impressive aspects of my playing. When the music is thought out, the "technique" will come with it.

Offline montiverdirocks

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #14 on: February 21, 2006, 01:23:02 AM
to stay on topic: a good guideline for practicing is to spend long hours of time with the score, with an occasional sound. Conducting works, as well as singing.

Offline amojoam

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #15 on: February 21, 2006, 01:56:55 AM
When i'm in detention, you have to sit up straight on the edge of your seet, keeping your hands on the desk, staying perfectly silent, looking straight forward--and if you crack a knuckle... the "Dean" gives you another detention (no joke). The only thing that keeps me sane for those long 15 or 30 minutes is pretending there is a piano in front of me.

I do do finger independence excersizes on a table, moving certain fingers and keeping the rest of them down.

I've also played through whole pieces on a desk, (not like full out or anything, but just fingering through the notes). I think that somewhat tests how well you know the notes of the music. You can't hear any notes, so you can't really cheat certain parts by just knowing them by ear. It tests how well you know every single note. 8)

Offline rc

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #16 on: February 21, 2006, 08:02:21 AM


When i'm in detention, you have to sit up straight on the edge of your seet, keeping your hands on the desk, staying perfectly silent, looking straight forward--and if you crack a knuckle... the "Dean" gives you another detention (no joke). The only thing that keeps me sane for those long 15 or 30 minutes is pretending there is a piano in front of me.

hahah, I sometimes like to sit still and silent for a good half-hour... To untangle my thoughts, dream of things, and hatch plans.

Our detention used to be an hour long, we only had to keep quiet in our seats. It was a great opprotunity to catch up on some homework or read a book. Not much of a punishment.

Offline pizno

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #17 on: February 22, 2006, 03:59:13 AM
Yea, My whole life, going to the dentist, while getting my teeth drilled I would play a piece with my fingers digging into my thighs.

Offline musicsdarkangel

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #18 on: February 22, 2006, 05:15:21 PM
look at the first (who knows how many) pages of Liszt technical excersizes.

You have to keep certain fingers down, and lift others up at the same time, hitting them together like a chord, with variations on rhythms.  Do this and your dexterity will definitely improve.

I do it in class all the time.

Offline gruffalo

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #19 on: February 28, 2006, 06:35:05 PM
when i memorize a bar, i usually play the parts in my head. then play it on my lap, imagining the exact positions (also remembering the fingerings) and then i play it as slow as i need to on the keyboard. the first, 2nd and 3rd time you play it out is extremely important, because you will remember the mistakes most easily at that stage. (btw, i usually do this seperate hands). then i will play it 7 times, but literally meditating on it. the music must be the focus of all concentration. then i play it 3 times casually.

Offline cfortunato

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Re: ever play piano in imagination.. how helpful is it?
Reply #20 on: February 28, 2006, 08:05:55 PM
I don't think it does much good with technique, but it's great for memorizing.
 

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