The Importance of Piano Technique
Technique is the pen and paper of piano playing. To use writing as an example, one could have the most rich and beautiful thoughts and be fully ready to put these to paper but these thoughts lose meaning and clarity if the handwriting is unclean and if there are spelling/grammar mistakes everywhere. When it comes to piano playing, even if you have well developed ideas or good dynamic control, these will be covered up if your playing is replete with mistakes and poor clarity.
A strong technique enables a pianist to expand the range of sounds that they can make. You can know in your heart exactly how you want some sparkly Chopin passage to sound but if your fingers aren’t up to the task, then it all falls apart. The less you have to focus on execution of notes themselves, the more you can focus on the broader musical ideas.
Outside of enabling higher musical possibilities, a healthy piano technique is vital to avoiding injury and strain in practice and performance. There are countless stories of pianists making critical errors in their youth that manifest as repetitive strain injury or Carpal tunnel syndrome in their adulthood. Such conditions can destroy one’s career which makes it vital to practice good piano technique early on.
So it has been established that piano technique is important but how does one go about improving their piano technique? It starts with honing the fundamentals. Fundamentals being a consistently relaxed wrist, appropriate release of tension on every note, avoiding the collapse of knuckles, applying arm weight to play notes, and using wrist rotation to transfer that arm weight. From there one can start moving into playing scales and arpeggios and learning the proper fingerings used while maintaining a smooth motion when tucking thumb under or folding finger over. From there, the student can start tackling more advanced technical exercises and etudes.
It is important that one is continuously challenging their technique in some way. In the same way weight lifters are always pushing the limits of how much weight they can lift, pianists have to push their technique by tackling music that seems just out of reach technically but not so far that they are at risk of injury.
Written by Rajat Chowdhary