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Foundational Piano Exercises

Foundational Piano Exercises

Foundational Piano Exercises

by | Jun 25, 2018 | Piano Exercises | 0 comments


“We begin with table work. Some pianists use about ten different exercises which embody, as it were, in a nutshell, the principles of piano playing. The hand is first formed in an arched position, with curved fingers, and solidified. The thumb has to be taught to move properly, for many people have never learned to control it at all.

“With the hand in firm, solid position, and the arm hanging freely from the shoulder,  I begin to use combined arm and wrist movements, aiming to get the weight of the arm as well as its energy at the complete disposal of the finger tip. Each finger in turn is held firmly in a curved position and played with a rotary movement of arm and wrist. When this can be done we next learn hand action at the wrist from which results the staccato touch. In this form of hand staccato there is an element of
percussion, as you see, but this element gives directness and precision to the staccato touch, which in my opinion are necessary. After this we come to finger action itself.

This principle is taken up thoroughly, first with one finger, then with two, three, four, and five—in all possible combinations. In this way we come down from the large free-arm movements to the smaller finger movements; from the ‘general to the particular,’ instead of working from the smaller to the larger.

It is mostly recommended to establish relaxation first, then strengthen and build up the hand, before finger action to any extent is used. When these foundational points have been acquired, the trill, scales, arpeggios, chords, octaves and double notes follow in due course. At the same time the rhythmic sense is developed, all varieties of touch and dynamics introduced, and harmonic and structural analysis dwelt upon.


“In regard to practise, it may not be wise for the aspiring pianist to spend such a great amount of time at the piano. Four hours of concentrated work daily seems to me sufficient. Of course it is the quality of practise that counts. The old saying,
‘Practise makes perfect,’ does not mean constant repetition merely, but constant thinking and listening. I advise students to stop after playing a passage several times, and think over what the notes mean. This pause will rest ears and hands; in a
few moments work can be resumed with fresh vigor.

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