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#3181560 01/01/22 06:55 AM
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What is the biggest problem begginers have with dynamics?
People have told me that my way of depressing the keys are smooth. I have heard non-pianist, ie people who did take lessons but quit, play and they play louder than me. Sometimes I wonder if the way I play is with less force than how others play.
Do beginners often use too much force and play too loud?
I try to use gravity when playing. I don't have to use that much force, I think.
What are your experiences?


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Hi Dan,

For DP players, usually the issue is playing at too lower volume to begin with. It maybe that we make too many mistakes etc. but the result is hammering the keys way too hard which results in no range of dynamics. This habit continues until something breaks or no progress.

My two pennies worth is make sure even as a real beginner, one plays at the correct volume and learn to control the fingers and movement properly. All will be good and mistakes should be heard.

I do hope this helps all

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The biggest issue with dynamics is that of control.

A piano key takes around 2 ounces of force to depress. It needs a certain minimum speed to make the hammer reach the string for the softest sound and there's a maximum speed the hammer will reach in practise where any noticeable increase in volume will need an exponential increase in velocity and where there will be great difficulty in softening the bedding of the key after that, leaving a harsh sound.

A young child can develop enough velocity to reach a good forte. We don't need strength. What we need to do is control the velocity between the softest piano and the loudest forte - and velocity is all we have. Depending on the muscular control developed before taking up piano it may take a few years to pick and choose the velocity generated at each finger (using the whole anatomy).

With a good ear and careful listening we can learn to control the dynamics better and have better phrasing.

At high volumes the difference in dynamics is barely audible but at low volumes small differences in velocity are more easily heard. Playing louder makes it is easier for beginners to to sound even. To continue to sound good when playing softly we need much finer control. We need to listen more critically to develop that control. It takes time.

Killomiter makes a good point. Students who predominantly use an acoustic piano will have a much greater dynamic range to make use of and the higher sound level will encourage softer playing. Digital users often resort to using the volume control but that usually works against them. Digitals should be set to as loud a volume as possible without distortion, I know of no digitals that surpass the dynamic levels of a small upright, and the pianist needs to learn to control that range using technique.

If your digital has the facility it is worth setting the dynamic touch every now and then to make playing softer much harder and use the other extreme to develop bravura playing. The lighter touch setting is automatic for acoustic users who just have to raise the dampers. Digital players need to use the dynamic settings more often and get experience of acoustic pianos as often as possible.


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I have notoced that pianissimo is the most difficult dymanic to play.
A good forte ain't easy but most people can play it.


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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
What is the biggest problem begginers have with dynamics?
The first problem beginners have is producing an even tone throughout a phrase so that no note sticks out and there are no ghost notes.

The second problem is bringing out the melody and playing the accompaniment softer.

The third problem (which even advanced pianists have) is not hearing what you want to sound like in your head and not listening to yourself while playing.

Master these three and you'll be on your way to becoming an good pianist.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I have notoced that pianissimo is the most difficult dymanic to play.
A good forte ain't easy but most people can play it.
For single notes yes, but very often forte passages are not single notes but chords with many notes and what's difficult about that is playing the melody note (usually the top) more forte than the other notes.

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Two major challenges for beginners, one is to play full resonance, ff, with arm weight; the other one is to play quietly, pp.
There are practicing strategies, however, best learned through a piano teacher on a good piano.

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I don't know what the biggest challengers are for beginners (or non beginners) in terms of dynamics but like everything else in piano it's a question of aiming for gradual improvement. By far the best way to learn the technique for dynamic control is with the help of a good teacher. Many PW threads have shown that mastering pp or ppp dynamics is a problem even for quite advanced pianists.

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While I have always been a proponent of a good teacher (for me), having a teacher is not practical for everyone. There are some excellent tutorials on playing loud and soft if you don’t have a teacher. A few ideas are linked here.


Graham Fitch

be

Josh Wright on playing softly



Paul Barton on playing quietly



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Robert Estrin


Last edited by dogperson; 01/01/22 02:21 PM.

"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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And even a slight change in a piano's regulation can make it much easier to play softly. I can't even remember what my piano guy did a long time ago, but although my piano was within spec, he may a slight and quick adjustment that made it much easier to play softly.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
what my piano guy did

Closer letoff.

The more attuned a piano owner is to the nuances of the piano they play everyday, especially when attempting maximum softness, the more noticeable even tiny sudden improvements to letoff become.

One of the most "bang for the buck" things in any techs arsenal.

Last edited by An Old Square; 01/01/22 04:02 PM.
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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I try to use gravity when playing.
I think you are on the right track. I was taught that the most important thing for a beginner is to learn to produce sound which is at the same time full and soft. This is exactly what utilizing gravity (arm weight) is good for, it allows us to play at the same time loudly and softly. It happens when you immerse your arm into the keyboard while your wrists is working as a shock absorber softening the key attack. Just don't forget that you need to feel the bottom of the keybed after each keystroke and feel your arm standing on the finger. Not reaching the bottom of the keybed will produce sound at the same time soft and quiet, which is considered detrimental for beginner's technique.


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