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Self Taught Piano Technique

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By Eulsun Kim 3 months ago 840 Views No comments

Self taught piano technique is both possible and needed. Teachers cannot make your fingers play evenly. You are the one who makes your fingers play evenly. When you cannot control your fingers why do you need piano lessons? What can you possibly learn? You will keep making the same mistakes over and over. Your teacher will work hard to fix your problems but unless you develop your fundamental piano technique it will seem like the teacher and the student are pretending that teaching and learning are going on. If you agree you can read more.

For a long time I was teaching many university students and other varieties of students. I strongly believe teachers cannot help students to develop their technique. Students have to do the work to develop their own technique. However If a teacher understands and has experience with developing technique the student can get useful information but they still have to work hard.

When I was a student I practiced the Debussy Feux d'artifice (“Fireworks”) in a San Francisco Conservatory practice room over and over all day long for a few days. Some days I could play it really well, and some days I went backwards and it got worse. One day my teacher even came into the room and complimented me on my even sound. After he left I played it again and the sound was gone. At that time I didn't know anything. All I had was my passion.

I tried the Brahms and Pischna exercises which my teacher recommended to me. That obviously did not help me to control my fingers so that I could play evenly and consistently. I was one of those students who worked really hard and spent many hours practicing. I was doing everything I could think of to develop my own technique. Sometimes I asked my teacher how to solve a particular passage. I never got a helpful answer and my difficulties remained.

Ten years later I got a piano technique book that was the perfect solution for me, my students, and the world. The exercises helped me to focus on touch and relaxation with each finger and trained my muscles to become stronger.

When you are practicing exercises to develop your technique they should be simple so that you can concentrate on finding out specifically what each finger needs to be trained. Then while you are practicing if something is wrong don't ignore this feeling. You need to fix it. Those exercises that I practiced and taught my students start with two-note patterns and two fingers at a time. You will discover what your weaknesses are, such as touch, tone color, and relaxation.


Please take a look below at the exercises I am talking about. When you are trying out these exercises with two-note patterns depressing one note at a time, such as C, you should fully concentrate on how much effort you are using and then go on to D. It takes very little effort to depress the key only one centimeter to the bottom of the key bed. If you are using more effort than is necessary it will interrupt the quick release of your muscles. Releasing your muscles quickly is the most important training you have to be aware of, all the time. This is very important. This is the only way you will eventually be able to play evenly and fast.

To produce a beautiful tone you have to go all the way to the bottom of the key bed with a relaxed arm. If you have tension in your arm then you cannot deliver arm weight into the bottom of the key bed. Why does tension cause this to happen? When you are self taught you always have to ask yourself why. This will lead you to discover the answer.

Tension means that your muscles are contracting, not releasing. Your muscles are holding you back and interrupting your motion of delivering into the keys.

Also see here.