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On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
#2174933 10/31/13 03:18 PM
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Howdy all,

So I'm 20 years old and have been taking lessons for just the last 7 months at my university. My teacher is a very elite pianist and is a graduate from Oberlin, and my "secondary" teacher is also highly elite (a Julliard PhD herself), so I trust their judgement. However, my background is engineering, so my approach to piano is quite analytical, which I believe is causing some troubles.

Just a couple of weeks ago she started me on Mozart K545. During our lesson today, I was reciting it at 120bpm for her, all nice and fine, but as soon as I hit measure 13, she stops me and insists I play this section with "more arm weight". She tried to show me what she meant, but I am unable to find the sensation she is talking about.

What's more, there is no such thing as "playing with arm weight". This is simply a perception, not a reality. Indeed, you MUST articulate the fingers so as to actuate the keys and produce a sound. The force of the key pushing upwards must be countered with some level of muscular resistance that levers the fingers appropriately. Those who believe otherwise simply do not understand the mechanics of the situation.

Is there some way for me to find this sensation through some mechanical tests? I have experimented to no end, but she is still "seeing" that I am playing "with my fingers" instead of "with my arm".

Any ideas?

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2174955 10/31/13 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys

What's more, there is no such thing as "playing with arm weight". This is simply a perception, not a reality. Indeed, you MUST articulate the fingers so as to actuate the keys and produce a sound. The force of the key pushing upwards must be countered with some level of muscular resistance that levers the fingers appropriately. Those who believe otherwise simply do not understand the mechanics of the situation.

Is there some way for me to find this sensation through some mechanical tests? I have experimented to no end, but she is still "seeing" that I am playing "with my fingers" instead of "with my arm".

Any ideas?
If by articulate the fingers you mean move them then I would disagree. Just imagine your arm from the elbow down was frozen solid, you could still play the keys by just moving that frozen piece at the elbow. But in almost anything involving technique a live demonstration followed by practice is probably better than a verbal description.

I'm guessing others will be able to explain this better than I can. it sounds like you have been playing mostly with just your fingers so far.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/31/13 04:00 PM.
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2174957 10/31/13 04:01 PM
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Atrys,

Mathematician here, so I'm at least somewhat aligned with your engineering perspective. My strong advice is: go very light on the reductionistic approach. You can analyze the human mechanics and conclude that the fingers are always doing the work, literally. You can analyze the piano mechanics and conclude that all that matters is the velocity with which you strike the key, and therefore terms like "warm tone" are meaningless. But this reductionistic approach won't get you far.

The reason is that the brain is very powerful, and it responds well to imagery. A lot of this response happens at a subconscious level. With the right image, like "play from the arms", I think your brain adjusts your body to play a certain way. Yes, some of these adjustments occur at the level of the fingers. But that doesn't mean that you should think of it in terms of the fingers. Don't try to understand it mechanically; just allow your brain to use the imagery to make the effects necessary to your body. Your unconscious brain is smarter than your conscious brain, especially when it comes to getting your body to do things.

So my advice is to work with your teacher, experiment with her there in the room, until you see what it feels like to play with what she calls "from the arms". Feel what the difference is; incorporate that into your playing. Bypass the reductionistic analysis as much as you can.

-Jason

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2174972 10/31/13 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys

What's more, there is no such thing as "playing with arm weight". This is simply a perception, not a reality. Indeed, you MUST articulate the fingers so as to actuate the keys and produce a sound. The force of the key pushing upwards must be countered with some level of muscular resistance that levers the fingers appropriately. Those who believe otherwise simply do not understand the mechanics of the situation.

Is there some way for me to find this sensation through some mechanical tests? I have experimented to no end, but she is still "seeing" that I am playing "with my fingers" instead of "with my arm".

Any ideas?


Don't take this the wrong way, but maybe if you had a more receptive attitude about learning about arm weight, you'd have an easier time understanding what your teachers are trying to show you.

It's a movement thing. In very basic terms, you can play the keys by moving your fingers and keeping your arms/shoulders in place. Or, you can play the notes by keeping your fingers (somewhat) rigid and moving your wrists, or your arms, etc.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2174973 10/31/13 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
[...]
So I'm 20 years old [...] there is no such thing as "playing with arm weight". This is simply a perception, not a reality.[...]


Chronologically, I guess you are to be considered past the teen age years in which "teenagers know everything."

I would, however, respectfully disagree with your categorical statement that "there is no such thing as 'playing with arm weight.'" Anyone - even yourself - can demonstrate this quite easily. Have another pianist - or do it yourself if you can conceive how it is done - play a scale on your arm. Ask the pianist to refrain from applying any arm weight while playing, to intentionally resist the gravitational downward pull on his/her arm, supporting the arm and using only the fingers to "play" the scale on your arm Now ask the pianist to play the scale again, once more without applying any downward pressure on your arm but with the arm as dead-weight and totally succumbing to gravity. You will feel a distinct difference that comes not from any intentionally applied pressure but from arm weight alone.

You can test this from the other side - if you can conceive of the basic concept. Imagine playing a scale on the arm of a partner. Imagine that you are unable to resist the downward pull of gravity, that your arm is completely relaxed and acting as a dead weight while, at the same time you are not applying any extra pressure on the arm, but using just the weight of your arm. Ask your partner, without warning you when, to suddenly drop the arm you are playing on. If your playing hand remains suspended at the level of the imagined keyboard, then you are not using arm weight, you are, in fact, supporting your arm and "playing with your fingers." If your playing hand immediately drops to your side as the dead weight it is supposed to be, then you have been playing with arm weight.

All arguments of physics aside, this "playing with arm weight" will yield a "better," "warmer" tone quality than when playing with no arm weight.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2174984 10/31/13 04:53 PM
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Teachers usually will make their students stand and play to demonstrate this principal (Or with a straight back and completely straight arms). Take note of how different the playing feels as opposed to the way you are used to.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
beet31425 #2175010 10/31/13 06:12 PM
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@beet31425
That does make sense, and believe me, I certainly do try and "shut off" my hyper-analysis when I'm looking for new sensations. However, even if I do end up finding the needle in the hay stack, my inner self will want to understand what's going on inside and out ha!

From reading the replies so far, I'm afraid that I may already be using my arm weight, and that my teacher somehow mistook my playing for "coming from the fingers". I can confirm that I have very stable contact with the keys (up to a given velocity of course), and that I do situate weight from my arm such that the primary force being used to play the keys is coming from the mass of my arm. The best way I can describe this is that each key press feels like a "jolt" that comes from my shoulder. This jolt is visible (there is a very quick/slight bobbing in the forearm). Does this sound about right?

This feeling is very vivid and very obvious to me, and my teacher can see that I am indeed using my arm weight properly in my playing except when bar 13 starts. However, even when this bar starts, I am applying the exact same sensations as I am in the rest of my playing. I can feel the jolts in the arm and playing these bars feels just fine. Could it be that she mistook this for "finger playing" since I am still very much a novice and there may have been some excess finger activity?

Last edited by Atrys; 10/31/13 06:13 PM.

"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175048 10/31/13 08:39 PM
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An experienced teacher will be able to tell from the sound, not just from watching fingers, whether you are using the arm correctly. So I'd trust the teacher and ask for more help.


1989 Baldwin R
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175094 10/31/13 10:47 PM
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This really sounds more like a tension issue, particularly given the comment, "...up to a certain velocity, of course." However, without actually seeing you play, this would be difficult to diagnose.

Still, if you are adamant that you are using arm weight, and your teacher is adamant that you are not, it is likely that there may be a muscular/coordination disconnect (read: "tension") that makes your playing look/sound differently than you think it feels.

PS - arm weight is a very real, and possible, phenomenon. I think this has been cleared up sufficiently, so I won't delve into it, but if you are having difficulty sensing this, I would spend some time with your teacher solving this issue first. Then move on to applying the solution to the piece.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175289 11/01/13 10:53 AM
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It's impossible to know what is meant by "play with more arm weight". If your teacher cannot explain what she means to you, my advice is to watch her play and try to figure out what she is doing differently. I would also agree with those who caution against being overly analytical. I have a science/math background as well, and this approach can help with understanding how playing works, but it will not really help you actually play. Ultimately, you need to discover sensations for yourself.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175311 11/01/13 11:20 AM
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Thanks for all the input so far!

Indeed she can hear it as well. When she said I was using my fingers too much, I immediately asked her "How can you tell?", to which she replied "Well I can hear it, but I can also see it!"

It is difficult for me to fully believe that experienced pianists (even those as elite as my teachers) can simply "hear" when fingers are being used to sound a tone vs arm weight. In fact, I did a blind test with her some months ago and she could *not* tell the difference when she was not looking. As beet mentioned, the sound of a tone is a function of the velocity of the key strike and nothing more, so it follows that if one attacks a key with an isolated finger at the same velocity of an attack with the arm, the resulting tone is identical.

@Derulux
I think this may be true to some degree! When I watch practice tapes of myself, I am sometimes surprised by my movements, as they do not appear as I imagined them while playing! But I think that tension may not be the issue: both during play and in watching the tape, there is minimal (if any) tension. Of course, my perception of this may be off kilter. Today I will record a short clip of myself playing and post it here...maybe some second opinions can diagnose whether or not my fingers are being over-utilized.

On a possibly related note: I have noticed that I can play the grand pianos in my university's practice rooms just fine: with comfort, ease, and can play at my highest velocity. On these grands, I peak my scales at around 130bpm with 4 notes to the beat (not very fast, but I'm only 7 months in!). However, when I go to practice on the available upright pianos, I feel that their action slows me down. The action on some of the uprights not only feels very stiff, but also very "mushy", and it makes it difficult to practice. In fact, the sensation is so unpleasant that I after just a few minutes, I want to stop and switch back to a grand. My scales cannot even approach 110bpm (vs 130bpm on the grands) and I find that I cannot productively practice K545 on these uprights. Is this normal/expected? Has anyone else experienced this before? I have heard a couple of the very advanced students playing some very technical Mozart works and Chopin etudes on these uprights, so it *must* be possible. I'm wondering if this means anything.

Last edited by Atrys; 11/01/13 11:21 AM.

"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175356 11/01/13 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
Indeed she can hear it as well. When she said I was using my fingers too much, I immediately asked her "How can you tell?", to which she replied "Well I can hear it, but I can also see it!"
You should ask her what she's hearing and what she's seeing. Also you could ask her to demonstrate playing the passages in question both ways.

I think most of your comments at this point are way too overly analytic. Most of the suggestions are IMO just speculation since no one has seen or heard you play the passages in question and people's use of terminology(tension, for example) is inconsistent.

Your teacher should be teaching you how to play and not just saying that what you're doing is wrong. Alternatively, if you're having difficulty with the passage starting at measure 11 (which is the equivalent of a slow trill), I'd ask the teacher for help. Ask her how to practice the passage to achieve whatever she's asking you to do.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175378 11/01/13 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
.... the sound of a tone is a function of the velocity of the key strike and nothing more, so it follows that if one attacks a key with an isolated finger at the same velocity of an attack with the arm, the resulting tone is identical.

My scales cannot even approach 110bpm (vs 130bpm on the grands) and I find that I cannot productively practice K545 on these uprights. Is this normal/expected? Has anyone else experienced this before? I have heard a couple of the very advanced students playing some very technical Mozart works and Chopin etudes on these uprights, so it *must* be possible. I'm wondering if this means anything.

Gosh, do you play with the metronome on always?

I haven't seen any other poster who keeps saying how many bpm they are playing for everything. I think you just need to loosen up and avoid thinking that music is just maths, only different grin. (BTW, I do know something about maths....).

It sounds to me like you just need more experience of playing the piano, and maybe try playing the whole piece forte without lifting your fingers up from the keys, and see how you instinctively firm up your wrists to apply more finger pressure using your forearm and upper arm muscles, rather than raising your fingers higher to strike down from higher up.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175413 11/01/13 02:17 PM
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Hi

physicist here!

1) I firmly believe that the laws of physics apply, and can be used to describe what's going on. However, mechanical insight and musicality don't always mix so well, so good musicians who try to explain something in objective terms often totally misuse scientific language. A good example is Tobias Matthay who is certainly worth reading (although a little boring). He talks a lot about the different ways to apply energy to the keys achieve a warm tone. But you have to realize that they use these words to try to describe what they feel, and if you can get past that, there's valuable info there.

2) As to the matter of arm weight: If your shoulder stays at the same height, and your fingers keep touching the key at all times, and the key goes down, then either your finger, the hand itself, underarm or a combination of those has to move down also, right? So you can move your finger down while keeping your hand still, by by making the angle of your finger more vertical (in fact you rotate your finger around a horizontal axis through your knuckle). Or you can move your hand down by rotating it around a horizontal axis through your wrist. Or your underarm rotating around your elbow. Or any combination.

Now i understand this idea of weight as follows: Because your underarm has a significant weight you have to pull it up with your biceps just to keep it horizontal.Now if you move your arm up you have to apply a little more force, and if you want to move it down you apply a little less. So whether you move it up or down, you do it by controlling the same muscle, the biceps and this has advantages like avoiding hysteresis. And apparently the biceps are strong but sensitive and suitable to give a good control over your arm.

Also because your arm is relatively heavy as compared to the key, you will have to compensate relatively little recoil from the key (action is -reaction, right?) So this also gives a good control, but because of the mass it is only suitable for slow speeds. Of course you have to apply some force to your hand and finger to transmit the force to the key and prevent your hand from collapsing.

When you move your finger down and keep your hand and arm still, you can move quicker, but because of the recoil, your finger will tend to push your hand and arm upwards. To prevent that you have to relax your biceps a little to compensate for that. Especially with chords where more fingers are pushing up.

So each of the approaches has advantages and disadvantages, and maybe it is also a matter of personal preference. But anyway, this is what's going on. (BTW I'm not talking about the famous forearm rotation here, but that is similar.)

3) As far as i am concerned the tone is determined by the velocity with which the hammer hits the string and nothing else. So in itself playing with arm weight or fingers does not make the sound warmer. But it is possible that a certain approach gives you better control, and that may make it sound better, sure. Also i don't believe that hitting the key (=accelerating abruptly) or gently pushing it makes a difference if the resulting hammer velocity is the same, only in the second case it is certainly easier to obtain the hammer velocity that you want. The only argument i have heard until now that might be plausible is a hypothesis that hitting the key causes vibrations in the hammer that objectively influence the sound. A little farfetched for my taste, but it could be true.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175421 11/01/13 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys


It is difficult for me to fully believe that experienced pianists (even those as elite as my teachers) can simply "hear" when fingers are being used to sound a tone vs arm weight. In fact, I did a blind test with her some months ago and she could *not* tell the difference when she was not looking. As beet mentioned, the sound of a tone is a function of the velocity of the key strike and nothing more, so it follows that if one attacks a key with an isolated finger at the same velocity of an attack with the arm, the resulting tone is identical.



Hi Atrys,

First off, Otto Ortman demonstrates some of the physiological changes that take place when a proficient pianist changes the locus of action in the upper extremity. He explored some of the issues you are trying to understand through laboratory experiments. His book, The Physiological Mechanics of Piano Playing, is long out of print. But your university library probably has a copy. Ortmann was an orthopedist and, since you are not a medical expert, you may not understand all the approach or terms. But it will certainly answer a number of your questions. More recent sEMG studies have corroborated some of Ortmann's observations, if you want to dig in the journals.

Looking at m.13, that particular texture is one that is more efficiently played with more emphasis on a rotational movement of the forearm and less finger action. Too much finger action in that passage will make it inaccurate in speed, and hard to control in evenness, volume or color. Perhaps that is what your teacher was trying to correct?

Your assertion that tone production is strictly a function of speed is something many people will argue with, myself included. Frankly, you haven't studied the instrument or the literature enough to form an educated opinion yet on this and other aspects of technique. Can you give it a little time to learn more before you decide something like this on obviously insufficient information? For example, you don't accept that a skilled musician can hear things you can't. Yet they most certainly can, which is one of the many reasons you have to pay money to go hear them sing or play. That you can't hear this difference means, most obviously, that you are still ignorant and don't know yet what you are listening to.

You seem to be awfully skeptical and quite challenging for someone who is just starting out at the instrument. I have to ask- Do you make your other, non-music teachers do the equivalent of blind listening tests so you can disprove their points? Frankly, I'd lay off that approach as most people will not take it very kindly. You do yourself a disservice by dismissing what your teacher says before you even know enough, or are skilled enough, to even try it out successfully.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
laguna_greg #2175472 11/01/13 04:02 PM
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@pianoloverus
Our lessons are very involved and she is a great teacher! This is simply something we are working on.

@bennevis
I just used those tempo markings as benchmarks to reflect the drastic change in my ability when moving from a grand to a stiff upright.

@kuifje
I'd have to agree with every one of your points! I think that piano pedagogy ought to be more open to modern advancements in science instead of relying on ancient, out-dated methods (such that the creativity and "aura" of the instrument is not compromised).

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

Looking at m.13, that particular texture is one that is more efficiently played with more emphasis on a rotational movement of the forearm and less finger action. Too much finger action in that passage will make it inaccurate in speed, and hard to control in evenness, volume or color. Perhaps that is what your teacher was trying to correct?

Perhaps! I will give this a shot, as I have found that playing many patterns when using rotation comes with much more ease.

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

Your assertion that tone production is strictly a function of speed is something many people will argue with, myself included. Frankly, you haven't studied the instrument or the literature enough to form an educated opinion yet on this and other aspects of technique. Can you give it a little time to learn more before you decide something like this on obviously insufficient information?

Sorry, but you cannot argue against my claim. It is a fact of science and of the physical world that is not up for debate. It simply cannot be denied or even speculated upon.

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

You seem to be awfully skeptical and quite challenging for someone who is just starting out at the instrument. I have to ask- Do you make your other, non-music teachers do the equivalent of blind listening tests so you can disprove their points? Frankly, I'd lay off that approach as most people will not take it very kindly. You do yourself a disservice by dismissing what your teacher says before you even know enough, or are skilled enough, to even try it out successfully.

I am teaching her about the mechanics of the entire situation at the piano. Many teachers only know about their subjective perception, not about the *actual* laws and things that govern our world. I learn from her everyday, and so too does she learn from me. She is a fine teacher and I would not change much about her approach, but there are misconceptions that cannot be ignored: finger articulation having a "less warm" sound than using the arm (as I said already, this is entirely false since tone production is strictly a function of velocity), and things like this.

Short clip of my playing to come soon, hopefully can get some input on that!

Last edited by Atrys; 11/01/13 04:03 PM.

"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175487 11/01/13 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
I am teaching her about the mechanics of the entire situation at the piano... I learn from her everyday, and so too does she learn from me. She is a fine teacher and I would not change much about her approach, but there are misconceptions that cannot be ignored...

You seem like a nice person Artys, but this is just not... how I'd ever consider or describe my relationship with my piano teacher. Something about it rubs me the wrong way. Though if it's working for you, good!


-J

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175517 11/01/13 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
It is difficult for me to fully believe that experienced pianists (even those as elite as my teachers) can simply "hear" when fingers are being used to sound a tone vs arm weight. In fact, I did a blind test with her some months ago and she could *not* tell the difference when she was not looking.

I struggle with this (and other scientific) concepts as well. Such as, "Play louder, but with less force!" Impossible. I've gotten better at understanding what people mean when they say things that fly in the face of all scientific knowledge that we currently understand, but man was it a struggle at first. (And I still want to bang my head against a wall when it happens, even though I now often know what they mean.)

It is difficult, because it's not a question of being overly analytical, but of being unable to make sense of what someone is saying. It left me in a place where I had, quite literally, no idea what the person was asking of me. And that fault really lies with the teacher. If you are going to teach something physical, dammit take a Physics 101 class, or read even just the Reader's Digest version of F=ma and then simply understand that volume is a product of the force hitting the string. That little bit of understanding alone would eliminate so much "crap" in the language of supposed experts. But I digress...

EDIT: I felt only saying one side was insufficient. I think a lot of this language creeped in because people did not have such a scientific background, so teachers used incorrect phrases because those phrases encouraged better habits than using exacting language would have. It does, however, cause a major problem for someone who has the additional scientific background, because you first have to decipher what the heck the person is actually asking you to do, and that usually involves a choice between one of two opposite extremes. So, there was, at one point, a purpose for this kind of language, but I think it has become more useless than useful as people become more educated in a variety of disciplines over time.


Similarly, it is impossible to hear exactly what issue caused a particular sound. There are "typical combinations", but nothing definite. It is, however, possible to hear "an" issue, so it is likely that your teacher used auditory clues to find an issue, and then visual clues to zero in on the cause of that issue. Both must be used in diagnosis of technique problems, and actually, visual is more important than auditory (we process 90% of what we see, and much less of what we hear).

I look forward to your video. I wish we could sit down at the keys to discuss further, but a video will suffice to start. smile

Last edited by Derulux; 11/01/13 05:26 PM.

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Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175525 11/01/13 05:49 PM
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,841
Originally Posted by Atrys
@pianoloverus
Our lessons are very involved and she is a great teacher! This is simply something we are working on.

@bennevis
I just used those tempo markings as benchmarks to reflect the drastic change in my ability when moving from a grand to a stiff upright.

@kuifje
I'd have to agree with every one of your points! I think that piano pedagogy ought to be more open to modern advancements in science instead of relying on ancient, out-dated methods (such that the creativity and "aura" of the instrument is not compromised).

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

Looking at m.13, that particular texture is one that is more efficiently played with more emphasis on a rotational movement of the forearm and less finger action. Too much finger action in that passage will make it inaccurate in speed, and hard to control in evenness, volume or color. Perhaps that is what your teacher was trying to correct?

Perhaps! I will give this a shot, as I have found that playing many patterns when using rotation comes with much more ease.

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

Your assertion that tone production is strictly a function of speed is something many people will argue with, myself included. Frankly, you haven't studied the instrument or the literature enough to form an educated opinion yet on this and other aspects of technique. Can you give it a little time to learn more before you decide something like this on obviously insufficient information?

Sorry, but you cannot argue against my claim. It is a fact of science and of the physical world that is not up for debate. It simply cannot be denied or even speculated upon.

Originally Posted by laguna_greg

You seem to be awfully skeptical and quite challenging for someone who is just starting out at the instrument. I have to ask- Do you make your other, non-music teachers do the equivalent of blind listening tests so you can disprove their points? Frankly, I'd lay off that approach as most people will not take it very kindly. You do yourself a disservice by dismissing what your teacher says before you even know enough, or are skilled enough, to even try it out successfully.

I am teaching her about the mechanics of the entire situation at the piano. Many teachers only know about their subjective perception, not about the *actual* laws and things that govern our world. I learn from her everyday, and so too does she learn from me. She is a fine teacher and I would not change much about her approach, but there are misconceptions that cannot be ignored: finger articulation having a "less warm" sound than using the arm (as I said already, this is entirely false since tone production is strictly a function of velocity), and things like this.

Short clip of my playing to come soon, hopefully can get some input on that!
I'm afraid that for me this is sounding more and more pretentious and silly. Just a few points:

1. Your blind test of the teacher's ability to determine whether you played with fingers or arm weight could be invalid because of your inability to do either well. You have played for 7 months.

2. Although I happen to agree with you about the only thing affecting the sound of single note(assuming no pedal, same articulation, same duration, etc. all of which you left out) is the velocity of the keystroke, this is far from an obvious topic and has had very long threads at PW and complicated physics experiments to try and decide about this. Many highly respected teachers, professional pianists, and advanced PW members don't agree with you.

My own view on this is similar to what one poster expressed earlier in the thread. It may be true that for a single note only the key velocity matters, but it is probably true that how one plays makes it easier to control the key to get the sound one wants.

3. I think the description of your relationship with your teacher is not one that many teachers or even students would like or think appropriate. Very few musicians even at the highest level are as concerned with as rigorous a scientific approach as you seem to want as a beginner.

Re: On Mozart K545 and "weight" playing
Atrys #2175539 11/01/13 06:48 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,906
1000 Post Club Member
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1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,906
Originally Posted by Atrys


Sorry, but you cannot argue against my claim. It is a fact of science and of the physical world that is not up for debate. It simply cannot be denied or even speculated upon...

...I am teaching her about the mechanics of the entire situation at the piano....


Sure I can! You've made it far too easy. I'm with PLU on quite a bit of this.

-You assume incorrectly that you know everything there is to know about the mechanics of the piano action, and its interaction with the upper extremity, and the acoustical abilities of the piano. You obviously don't.

- You assume at this early date that you can even control your physical movements well enough to produce a desired artistic effect very well. You are not a prodigious talent so, at 7 months, that's not possible.

- You also assume you know all about the scientific inquiry that has gone on in piano pedagogy over the last 50 years. On this point you are completely ignorant, because you already assume that nothing has gone on. That's not so. Go sit in a library for a while, and become enlightened.

-You also insist that just because you think you can't hear it, it doesn't exist. Those have been the famous last words of so many very famous people that I'm surprised you'd bother to argue the point. Apparently, you need to be right about that too.

Hope it works out for you!

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