Part 8 – Five Concepts for the Development of a Young Pianist’s Technique

What I wrote above covers a lot, but I am confident that I left out quite a few points on technique. I expressed some ideas on pure technique — meaning, actual exercises extrapolated from the literature and made it more straightforward to understand a given problem. The activities also foresee other problems naturally and try to stretch the motions in all directions. Italian pedagogue Attilio Brugnoli, as mentioned above, investigated that profoundly (1926, Dinamica pianistica – unfortunately not in English), so check out the link I showed above. His stationary exercises deal with a free vs. controlled fall on the keys, first with single notes, then on bichords (follow the plan and the letters). Later, there are also exercises on two tones, then three, four, and finally five. One must learn and feel the prehensile “grabbing” of the fingertip that latches onto the key for each note, ensuring that the wrist remains flexible when executing them. Too much weight isn’t good, though so keep the flexibility in mind and be mindful of this too. 

However, I believe that exercises alone aren’t solely responsible for the development of one’s technique. In my experience, the following can help:

1.            Exercises

2.            Etudes

3.            Excerpts from the repertoire (select especially those passages you are not familiar with or know you cannot play well)

4.            Flute and violin passages for the right hand (very helpful for their awkwardness too and recommended even by Kalkbrenner!)

5.            Selected passages for the left hand found in cello literature (this is the same as No. 4, except it is for the opposite hand)

About points 4 and 5 above, I was surprised to read that Kalkbrenner (in Chopin’s words, the best living pianist in Paris during his time) recommended them in his method book. I grew up thinking that cello literature (such as the Suites of Bach) would be of great help for the pianist’s left hand but I must admit that Point. 4 makes sense too. The right hand usually learns to be at ease sooner than the left. This is because most composers and pianists who wrote for the piano were right-handed, so they naturally prescribed more challenging figures for that hand. There are also acoustic concerns to explain the complexity found in the right-hand writing (such as the Chopin Etudes).

Piano Technique: Reflections, Videos, Exercises, and Scores. 

Reflections on Technique