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is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? #2417821
05/06/15 05:24 PM
05/06/15 05:24 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 86
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carojm36 Offline OP
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carojm36  Offline OP
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It's been over a year since I bought my wonderful Kawai BL51 (1979) upright. One reason I liked it was because the heavy touch on the keys. My hands had gotten really wimpy playing a Roland digital, to where I couldn't even handle the keys on other pianos that I knew were soft. I had trouble with the keys on my teacher's Petrof grand which are light-touch compared to other grands I've played.

I've seen this model Kawai rated as "moderately heavy" to play. I thought after I'd been playing it awhile my fingers would get stronger. They have, I think, and I feel like I can play any piano now, like the Petrof which has light action compared to the Kawai.

But my ring and pinkie fingers still have trouble with the black keys on the Kawai. They slip off or just can't get the key down completely. I do exercises like Hanon and Czerny, but have to be careful because I messed up overdoing that stuff before.

So I read, play some songs, do Hanon 1, then do something else, then Hanon 2 etc. Only a few. I play maybe an hour every day and haven't missed but one or two days in a year.

What can I do to get control of my fingers? Or do I need a new piano?

Last edited by carojm36; 05/06/15 05:28 PM.
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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2417828
05/06/15 06:12 PM
05/06/15 06:12 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
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Brisbane, Australia
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Beth_Frances Offline
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Make sure those fingers (4th and 5th) are supported by your arm. The rest of your fingers and your wrist and arm need to be relaxed, and your fingers shouldn't be stretched out in a 5 finger position. Keep the rest of your hand small, have your elbow/arm lined up behind those fingers, and let your arm weight do the work.

Practice just playing one note over and over with your 4th finger, using your arm weight to drop into the key, and keeping the rest of your hand in a neutral position.

This is not an issue of strength, it's an issue of technique.

Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2417861
05/06/15 09:25 PM
05/06/15 09:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,524
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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I agree with Beth that it's an issue of technique. Ask your teacher about it and demonstrate to her what happens when you play at home. Or if possible, you can either have a lesson at home or a Skype lesson where she/he can observe what you're doing.

It may be that when you decide to upgrade in the future you will look for a piano with a lighter action. I have a heavy action on my Petrof, so pianos run the gamut with heaviness even within the same name.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2417880
05/06/15 11:06 PM
05/06/15 11:06 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,322
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Australia
I probably first noticed this problem (weak fourth and fifth fingers) after a couple of months of learning, now at 2.5 years it continues to be a problem although perhaps not as bad as it was. I did once read here on PW that the ring and pinkie no matter how strong they get will never feel the same at the other three (probably due to the mechanical and structural differences).

I found Hanon not very helpful and Nos 1 & 2 while good are not specific to the fourth and fifth fingers perhaps look at Nos 10, 11 & 12 although as I said they were not helping me. Scales have been of some use but discuss with your teacher the merits of various finger independence exercises and in particular Dohnanyi exercises which I know not everyone is in favour of.

The best result I have had is just to work those fingers in exercises I have made up so that they are getting direct sustained attention (without going overboard about it). That might mean repeating sections of a piece I have been learning or some five finger exercises or variations of them.

There has been a few posts here at PW regards this most common problem so a little research won't go wrong.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: Beth_Frances] #2417890
05/07/15 12:28 AM
05/07/15 12:28 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 7,308
Northern England.
peterws Offline
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Originally Posted by Beth_Frances
Make sure those fingers (4th and 5th) are supported by your arm. The rest of your fingers and your wrist and arm need to be relaxed, and your fingers shouldn't be stretched out in a 5 finger position. Keep the rest of your hand small, have your elbow/arm lined up behind those fingers, and let your arm weight do the work.

Practice just playing one note over and over with your 4th finger, using your arm weight to drop into the key, and keeping the rest of your hand in a neutral position.

This is not an issue of strength, it's an issue of technique.


That last statement sounds like you want to keep that piano and may not be willing to face unpleasant facts.

Like, if you continue down this path you might end up not playing at all. This is not uncommon in the concert pianist world.

From my POV, I'm getting older and am just happy to play. My thumbs and some fingers are arthtriticky, but playing a light digital action is beneficial.

Don't get hung up on this piano, or that piano, you'll surely find one with a good light action, be it acoustic or digital.

You can still play music and have fun. Best wishes to ya!


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2417900
05/07/15 01:41 AM
05/07/15 01:41 AM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 394
London, UK
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Medden Offline
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I heard that a very well known concert pianist used to spray his piano keys with hairspray before a performance. It stopped him slipping off any black keys, and made the keys stick to his fingers for perfect control. I'm not sure I'd recommend this, but making sure your hands and keys are clean, and free of grease might help avoid slipping.
Using arm weight should be enough to fully depress any key to its keybed, if not, something is amiss. Lift your arm a fraction above the key, and let gravity do the hard work for you.
It's using this gravity in combination with wrist rotation, finger extension/contraction that works best for me on my weaker fingers.

Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: Medden] #2417940
05/07/15 06:17 AM
05/07/15 06:17 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,322
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Originally Posted by Medden
I heard that a very well known concert pianist used to spray his piano keys with hairspray before a performance. It stopped him slipping off any black keys, and made the keys stick to his fingers for perfect control.


I use rubbing alcohol, a little tip I found in the archives of this forum.

Last edited by earlofmar; 05/07/15 06:17 AM.

Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: Medden] #2417942
05/07/15 06:19 AM
05/07/15 06:19 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
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Greener Offline

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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
Originally Posted by Medden
I heard that a very well known concert pianist used to spray his piano keys with hairspray before a performance.

They can tend to be a little eccentric. Perhaps this provided him some assurance that he would never have a key out of place.

Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2417965
05/07/15 07:50 AM
05/07/15 07:50 AM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 301
Austin, Texas
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ajames Offline

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Austin, Texas
Ask your piano tech to check it out. They can measure the key-weight -there is a range of acceptable weights, and it varies from bass (heavier) to treble(lighter). If it's outside of the range, they can lighten it for you.

I did the same thing with my Kawai- I liked that it was really heavy. But after a few months, it got to be a drag- there were other issues as well. I brought in my teachers piano technician and he showed my how the key-weights were way outside the acceptable range. It took him a few weeks (and $$$) but he really worked a miracle on the old girl and when he was done it was a completely different piano. Still firm action, but much more playable.


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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: ajames] #2417988
05/07/15 09:19 AM
05/07/15 09:19 AM
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Posts: 86
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carojm36 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by ajames
Ask your piano tech to check it out. They can measure the key-weight -there is a range of acceptable weights, and it varies from bass (heavier) to treble(lighter). If it's outside of the range, they can lighten it for you.



Oh heck, he was just here a couple weeks ago, and I forgot to ask him whether he though the touch was kinda heavy. I guess I figured a guy with stronger hands than mine would say no it's fine!

Maybe next time...anyway, I will take it up with my teacher next week. I do need more of a stable practice routine for technique.

Last edited by carojm36; 05/07/15 09:20 AM.
Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: carojm36] #2418009
05/07/15 11:07 AM
05/07/15 11:07 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,005
Midwest USA
Stubbie Offline
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Midwest USA
As stated by Beth Frances and Morodiene, it's technique that you're after, rather than finger strength.

Don't leave having your tech check it out too long. Everyone has a different "taste" for how heavy an action they prefer, but action weight should be within a range. Too light and you have no control, too heavy and you risk injury. The fingers themselves have no muscles to strengthen--the muscles are further back in the hand and arm. There are tendons in your fingers and those can take a long time to heal (if they heal) once injured.

Your tech should be able to make the action comfortable for you. On the other hand, it's a great excuse for a new piano!


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Re: is the touch on my Kawai upright too heavy for me? [Re: Stubbie] #2418114
05/07/15 06:29 PM
05/07/15 06:29 PM
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carojm36 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
As stated by Beth Frances and Morodiene, it's technique that you're after, rather than finger strength.


Your tech should be able to make the action comfortable for you. On the other hand, it's a great excuse for a new piano!
..

That was my take. laugh

Last edited by carojm36; 05/07/15 06:29 PM.

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