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On Teaching Piano Technique

On Teaching Piano Technique

Pianists constantly face a problem: how can I instruct piano technique? We encounter various different ways of playing the piano, and recognize that even "experts" of piano technique, whether they are teachers or performers, very often disagree on what are the essential principles of healthy piano playing. Often, the paradox of the naturally gifted pianist reveals itself - there are instances of technically facile performers who are not aware of elements of piano technique, because they have never had to examine or question them. Often, the mantra from piano teachers is "Practice, Practice, Practice". Scales, arpeggios, and technical exercises are prescribed, without acknowledging that an improper technical or practice approach will not lead to natural facility, and may in fact, damage it.

Because of the level of stress on young piano students today, from family, school and peer groups, it should come as no surprise that piano teachers find them distracted - unable to focus. They simply cannot dedicate themselves to music making. Unfortunately, a common by-product of modern living is tension. Many talented young pianists struggle to overcome stress at the keyboard, and fail. They either learn to live with pain and insecurity, or, more often than not, they drop out. As a instructor, I find that I do a lot of fix-up work with my students, trying to retrain their physical instincts and gestures at the keyboard. Incomplete technical thinking, over-ambitious repertoire and little time for easeful practice leads to a high incidence of serious problems. Piano teachers have become more aware of piano playing casualties than ever before - carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and other repetitive motion related problems are now common terms for many teachers.

For additional information, go to Piano Technique.

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