So you’ve been playing the piano for some time now. You’ve put in the training hours, learned a few choice pieces, and maybe even performed in a concert or two. But when you listen to yourself playing, whether live or from a recording, it just sounds unremarkable. Meanwhile, when you listen to the greats like Horowitz or Rubinstein, it seems like they have a certain something that makes their music sound so magical.
Getting piano lessons is undoubtedly helpful if you want to brush up on your basics. But even if you perform the same piece on the same piano, it won’t be the same. Playing the piano is more than just memorizing the piece and hitting the right keys. You also need to imbue your performance with technique.
If you want to take your performances to the next level, you need to play with the right technique.
1. Sit properly and comfortably
Where you sit doesn’t matter as long as it’s stable, comfortable, and set at the correct height. If possible, invest in a proper adjustable stool for piano players. Once you have a place to sit, the next thing you should learn is how to position yourself properly.
The stool should be positioned in the center of the piano. Adjust the distance based on your arm length: You should be able to reach all the keys without exerting yourself. If you have a grand bench, sit on the upper half for easier pedal access.
2. Relax your feet
Once you’ve settled into a comfortable position, your feet should be placed flat on the ground. It should be parallel to your knees, not placed to the sides or under the stool. The goal is to allow your feet to react quickly and freely from this position when using the pedals. Some pieces require intricate pedal work, so consider that when adjusting your position.
3. Transfer energy from the body to the keys
The piano is all about control and precious. The hardness or the softness of the sound shouldn’t come from the fingers, but your body. Here’s a quick guide to properly positioning your body to allow for energy transfer.
For starters, your back should be straight. It helps to imagine a straight line that starts from the base of your back to your head. It will be uncomfortable at first. However, with practice, your core will begin to adjust, and this position will soon feel normal.
Release the tension from your shoulders. Avoid curving or hunching your back. This orients the weight of your head forwards and places more strain on the back and shoulders. Don’t forget to form a few exercises to loosen the back muscles if you feel some strain.
4. Cup your fingers
The position of your fingers is another factor you need to consider. Don’t straighten your fingers. Instead, imagine you’re cupping a round object in each hand. The hand is positioned in a dome, and the fingers are curled. If you flip your hands, your fingertips should lightly touch the keys.
These are just some things you can do to improve your technique. Don’t forget to practice with the proper hand, feet, and back posture. Use your body to dictate the energy, instead of tapping with your fingers.