The pianist’s movement patterns

Although piano playing is conceived of as a fine motor skill, players require, in addition to differentiated finger agility, accurate body control and a clear perception of how the various parts of their hands interact. Furthermore, diverse movements need to be linked, whereby the player establishes various routes for navigating the keyboard. They gradually consolidate and are in this context referred to as movement patterns. Their function is to facilitate free finger mobility and hand movement, and to maintain the continuity of motion, monitor arm weight, control the use of energy and regulate speed.

Practising natural movement patterns promotes an approach to playing aligned to the child’s comprehensive body control. Natural movement patterns are produced by the continuity and fluency of hand movements, and require accurately timed muscle relaxation. A rigid arm usually does not facilitate hand and finger mobility.  Small muscles are agile, but weak (such as in the fingers), whereas big muscles are slow, but strong (in the back, the arm and the forearm). Fast runs are performed using the smallest possible muscles, i.e. the fingers. A controlled, light arm, forearm and wrist facilitate the action of the fingers. This also requires the ability to adjust the weight of the arm and to relax the muscles. Fast playing is impossible until the child learns to relax the hand with the fingers on the fully pressed keys. Gradually the fingers diversify and it becomes feasible to play firmly with one finger while the others remain relaxed.

In our experience, the functioning of the body and the auditory organs are indirectly interlinked. The more economical and fluent my playing, the better I seem to hear and to be able to listen to what I am playing. We find that only when you learn to relax on the keys, in other words to “let go” of the note, to trust the piano tone, can you rid yourself of unwanted tensions and let the tone resonate in your body. This “trusting” the instrument (or you could say the “tone” or the “music”) is a special characteristic of the piano and piano playing. Learning to trust the piano tone may take years, since it is so organically intertwined with body control. The experience of trust is of utmost importance in pianistic progress.

Does this subject interest you?

Read more (research results with source references). Junttu 2010 pp. 150-151

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