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Relaxing (Read 4379 times)

Offline amee

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Relaxing
« on: March 27, 2003, 10:21:52 AM »
I seem to have a problem with relaxing - after I've been playing for an hour or so my hands start to hurt quite a bit.  I think it's because I'm too tense.  Do you have any advice on how to relax?
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frederic Chopin

Offline jeff

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #1 on: March 28, 2003, 03:24:06 PM »
i've had that sort of problem now and then. i think i sometimes just get bored playing in a relaxed way :P
Just realise that you don't NEED to use much effort to press the keys. you don't need to try hard to make the right sounds. be aware of this.
I just came back from a concert given by a classically trained (i think) pianist who plays a lot of jazz. his way of playing was very free, fluid and relaxed. it really appeared as though he didn't really need to think about what he was doing with his hands, and i think this way of playing the piano is typical among jazz pianists (although i'm not really too sure about that, because i haven't seen that many jazz pianists perform).

try to let go and relax emotionally/psychologically, be content with the sensation of relaxing. think less about HOW to make the sound, and be more aware of the sound itself (without mentally linking it to physical effort).

one other thing which could help, maybe - doing other forms of exercise away from the piano (strength, stretching, and relaxation  exercises), to help work out any physical stress you might be feeling, and also to clear your mind a bit.

i don't know if any of that will help you.. that's just how i approach this problem

Offline tosca1

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #2 on: March 28, 2003, 07:19:22 PM »
Jeff has mentioned some excellent points in discussing an approach to relaxation at the keyboard.  Freedom and fluidity at the piano keyboard are inseparable from good technique and in a sense are co-dependent. Beautiful sound quality is the reward of the successful blending of these aspects.  
Complete relaxation at the keyboard is a fallacy as in every note we depress there is muscular action involved and of course in difficult music there are physical responses which require enormous speed and control.
The physical nirvana of playing the piano is the state of muscular harmony.  It is excessive muscular tension which inhibits technical freedom.  A good example is the problem so many of us have with stiffness in the wrist.  Try to play Chopin op 10 no.2 with tightness in the RH wrist and it feels that we are grappling an elephant. If that excessive tension can be released the ethereal fluidity of the chromatic semi-quavers comes like magic.
Relaxation as I see it is a means to an end.  Relaxation per se is not the acquisition of piano technique and indeed many problems of excessive tension, both physical and psychological, result from trying to play difficult pieces with inadequate technical facility or a faulty technical approach.
Excessive tension can strait-jacket us when trying to play the piano as the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers can be inhibited in their ease and freedom of action.  It is of critical importance that we are aware of the experience of playing with relaxed ease.  The muscles should never feel hard and tight especially in the forearm,neck and shoulders and playing should feel relatively free and effortless. The sound we produce will say it all and our ear should be our most unrelenting critic and mentor in our journey
towards a beautiful, warm, liquid tone.
Robert.

Offline Molson

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #3 on: March 28, 2003, 11:07:18 PM »
Relaxing is the most important thing you can do.  It controls your sound quality, which is extremely important, and your control over the piano.  Deep breathing from the stomach, and TENSING YOUR LEGS can help.  Just pretending your arms are noodles can help also.  You will find your own way, but do!

Offline amee

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #4 on: March 29, 2003, 09:22:37 AM »
Thank you so much for all the valuable advice!  It has helped me a lot and I'm starting to relax now.  Thanks! ;D
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frederic Chopin

Offline ted

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all the time Re: Relaxing
«Reply #5 on: March 31, 2003, 01:23:16 AM »

"A change is as good as a holiday" Playing things in the same way all the time is an excellent way of building tension. Use a variety of techniques and touches, even within the same piece. It doesn't have to be a question of "either/or" - there isn't necessarily a "right" or "wrong" way of playing something. Different touches will produce different sounds, not right or wrong - just different.  Flat fingers will produce  different sounds and control sensations from bent fingers; detached finger strokes sound different to weight transfer. Constant repetition is a splendid way to develop problems - just look at typists and RSI.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline chico

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #6 on: March 31, 2003, 01:47:45 AM »
and again i have to mention the following website:
http://www.peter-feuchtwanger.de/english/startenglish.html

i can highly recommend the video with book that is sold on this site.

;)

patrick

Offline b3rel

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Relaxing
«Reply #7 on: April 07, 2003, 11:59:43 PM »
I have a performance at the end of this month or beginning of next, in front of a college jury and this is my first time playing in front of peolpe. I am very nervous. How do you shake the nerves?
God bless all the musician!
Arielle

Offline amee

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #8 on: April 08, 2003, 03:51:51 AM »
Hi b3rel,

I know what you mean about nerves; I always seem to get nervous before a recital or something and end up getting a migraine.  One thing that works for me is just pretend there's nobody there and you're playing to yourself.  Just forget about everything and concentrate on the music.  Alternatively, you could try those beta-blocker things that were posted elsewhere in this forum.  I don't know much about them but I heard they keep your pulse rate normal so you don't get too excited.
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frederic Chopin

Offline Celeste

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Re: Relaxing
«Reply #9 on: April 12, 2003, 07:43:30 PM »
Play lots of scales and arpeggios and whatnot before you actually begin playing your songs. Someone once told me that you should spend 1/3 of your practicing time warming up. Of course, I don't really follow this (I absolutely hate scales), but it might help you relax.

Also, move with your music. If you get into it, you can forget your tension, and feel the music.