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Producing good tone - how to practice? #1611404
02/02/11 07:49 PM
02/02/11 07:49 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,173
Washington metro
Piano Again Offline OP
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Piano Again  Offline OP
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I know this is an area where I am severely lacking. I think I am pretty relaxed when I play, but I simply do not know how to get that springy approach to the keys that you need. Sometimes I approximate it, but it's not something I ever learned how to do.

I just started lessons (finally! not my first time for piano lessons, but the first time in a long time), and this is something the teacher zeroed in on immediately, so I'm sure we'll work on it, but I was wondering if anyone here has any tips or advice about how to develop this aspect of technique.


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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611416
02/02/11 08:18 PM
02/02/11 08:18 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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It's really very hard to give a worthwhile tip- as it depends on the entire mechanism. Anything taken out of the whole context tends to be pretty meaningless.

However, I would say that you need to know how to "pull" the keys from the finger, while keeping a loose wrist (so the arm's mass absorbs the spare energy, without a big crashing stop). Cherkassky's tone is clearly dependent on that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHlz43QCliQ&feature=related

While he sometimes drops, the sheer intensity with which his fingers grip into contact with the keys is unmistakable. Most pianists get too caught up in dropping with a relaxed arm. While a master can make a good sound with the dropping approach, most amateurs make a really very ugly sound indeed with it. My own sound has improved immeasurably since I started using the fingers to make it- rather than simply dropping or pushing the whole arm.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611418
02/02/11 08:25 PM
02/02/11 08:25 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,393
Beautiful San Diego, CA
eweiss Offline
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How about listening for the tone you want and playing accordingly. Easy breezy. smile


Play New Age Piano
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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611424
02/02/11 08:35 PM
02/02/11 08:35 PM
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Yeah- or how about dismissing anyone who doesn't produce good tone as having poor listening skills (as that effectively translates to). That's simply an approach used by geniuses and teachers who don't know how to teach tone production. Listening tells you what you do NOT want- not how to produce what you DO want. You might as well tell someone who can't juggle to think of throwing things in the air and then catching them- and suggest that they should pay more attention about whether they are dropping things or not.

The ability to identify a negative does not create a positive.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: eweiss] #1611429
02/02/11 08:41 PM
02/02/11 08:41 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
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Bay Area, CA
beet31425 Offline
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Originally Posted by eweiss
How about listening for the tone you want and playing accordingly. Easy breezy. smile

I don't fully agree with Nyiregyhazi's criticism-- I think listening can be just as important in helping you with what you do want as with what you don't.

I just think you've pushed all the hard work into "playing accordingly". That's the trick, isn't it, but how to do it?....

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: beet31425] #1611435
02/02/11 08:45 PM
02/02/11 08:45 PM
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by eweiss
How about listening for the tone you want and playing accordingly. Easy breezy. smile

I don't fully agree with Nyiregyhazi's criticism-- I think listening can be just as important in helping you with what you do want as with what you don't.


Of course its important. But why would anyone assume that it had never occurred to somebody who is already actively thinking about tone quality that they might want to try listening? I find such suggestions really quite offensively patronising. It's like asking a chef who's looking for that something extra whether he has ever tried tasting any of his recipes- ie. ridiculously obvious to the extent where it becomes pointless to even mention it. Anyone who asks the question in the first place is searching for the HOW- not the means of identifying failures when they occur.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi] #1611437
02/02/11 08:47 PM
02/02/11 08:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
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Bay Area, CA
beet31425 Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Of course its important. But would anyone assume that it had never occurred to somebody who is actively thinking about tone quality that they might want to listen?

I've never really thought about it, and I've never really done it. Not actively. It's a good idea.

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi] #1611439
02/02/11 08:48 PM
02/02/11 08:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
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Beautiful San Diego, CA
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Of course its important. But why would anyone assume that it had never occurred to somebody who is already actively thinking about tone quality that they might want to try listening?

Yes. It may not occur to someone. Actually, I imagine most piano students wait for the holy words from their teacher's mouth to pour out before actually figuring it out on their own.


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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611443
02/02/11 08:51 PM
02/02/11 08:51 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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For some (badly taught) students it needs to be mentioned. However, as soon as somebody has decided to ask questions about how to produce good tone, I think it's pretty safe to assume that the notion of listening to themself just might have crossed their mind.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi] #1611444
02/02/11 08:54 PM
02/02/11 08:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,393
Beautiful San Diego, CA
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
For some (badly taught) students it needs to be mentioned. However, as soon as somebody has decided to ask questions about how to produce good tone, I think it's pretty safe to assume that the notion of listening to themself just might have crossed their mind.

That's a good point. smile


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http://www.quiescencemusic.com
Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611466
02/02/11 09:24 PM
02/02/11 09:24 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,325
Canada
Frozenicicles Offline
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Producing a good tone is a pretty vague description. First of all, which part of your tone is not good? Trust your teacher to correct things like this at your lesson because it is quite hard to form a judgment on it based on your text.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611482
02/02/11 09:43 PM
02/02/11 09:43 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 798
United Kingdom
J
JustAnotherPianist Offline
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J

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Frozenicicles makes a good point indeed here.

However, Nyir's first post is quite spot on, I have to say.

Eweiss' post is also spot on, though, although, IMO what he says and what Nyir said are NOT mutually exclusive.


Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611485
02/02/11 09:45 PM
02/02/11 09:45 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 798
United Kingdom
J
JustAnotherPianist Offline
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J

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 798
United Kingdom
Regarding how to practice, I would have to say.....




practice SLOWLY, and listen CAREFULLY. However, make sure that when you practice slowly, you are always preparing the next note quickly.... that is to say, practice in a slow tempo, but move from place to place very quickly indeed.

That's some of the best advice I can give over the internet without being able to teach you in person.

Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611487
02/02/11 09:47 PM
02/02/11 09:47 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,833
Ann Arbor, MI
jazzyprof Offline
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Indeed much of it is in using your ears and in playing just to the point of sound, going slowly into the keys, and pressing instead of striking the keys.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Frozenicicles] #1611490
02/02/11 09:50 PM
02/02/11 09:50 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
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Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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Originally Posted by Frozenicicles
Producing a good tone is a pretty vague description.


+1

Being specific is important. In your expectations, your listening, and your physical approach.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611783
02/03/11 11:42 AM
02/03/11 11:42 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,464
Chapel Hill, NC
Stanza Offline
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Stanza  Offline
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I think producing good tone is predicated upon 3 factors.

1)Not playing too lightly so the piano doesn't resonate and there is little sustain.

2)Not pounding, that can result in harshness.

3)The quality of the instrument. A high quality piano will not only sound good, but have a wider dynamic range, so it will sound good nearer to the extremes.

I think one needs to evaluate the instrument and the environment, then decide on what might be the best dynamic range in which to play. Grannie's old spinet will require a different touch than the church's 7 ft grand.

Last edited by Stanza; 02/03/11 11:43 AM.

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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611792
02/03/11 11:54 AM
02/03/11 11:54 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,450
Vught, The Netherlands
Dave Horne Offline
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Do you pass the fly-away-wrist test? Do you have pain\tension\discomfort\whatever in your top forearm muscles?

Fly-away-wrist test ... while playing, can someone walk up to you and in one quick movement flip your hand\wrist\arm, up and away from the keyboard, or is it locked in place?

These threads can become tedious.



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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611795
02/03/11 11:55 AM
02/03/11 11:55 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,173
Washington metro
Piano Again Offline OP
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Piano Again  Offline OP
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Washington metro
No need for rudeness or sarcasm, people. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything, right?

Stanza's reply shows that he/she, at least, understood what I was asking.

I think I do understand the general principles involved, but my question was more how to practice them so they become ingrained.

I found this book useful, up to a point:

Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing


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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Dave Horne] #1611801
02/03/11 12:03 PM
02/03/11 12:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,173
Washington metro
Piano Again Offline OP
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Piano Again  Offline OP
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Washington metro
Originally Posted by Dave Horne
Do you pass the fly-away-wrist test? Do you have pain\tension\discomfort\whatever in your top forearm muscles?

Fly-away-wrist test ... while playing, can someone walk up to you and in one quick movement flip your hand\wrist\arm, up and away from the keyboard, or is it locked in place?

These threads can become tedious.



Are you saying that it should or should not be locked in place? (I'm guessing should not . . .)


(Is this any more tedious than someone asking how long it should take them to learn a "song" or why they always get nervous at recitals?)


Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.
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Re: Producing good tone - how to practice? [Re: Piano Again] #1611851
02/03/11 01:14 PM
02/03/11 01:14 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,450
Vught, The Netherlands
Dave Horne Offline
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No need for rudeness or sarcasm, people. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything, right?

My these threads can become tedious remark was not directed to the OP. I think most folks know what I talking about.

Are you saying that it should or should not be locked in place? (I'm guessing should not . . .)

If your hands are locked in place when trying that test, you're playing just from hands and are using much more effort than is necessary.

I can explain this concretely and succinctly in a several minute video. It becomes more difficult using just words. Skype me if you wish.


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