Saturday, May 18, 2013

PPIF Book 1 & 2 - Hand Shape

PpiF Books One and Two
Pointer section (hand-shape)

I have discussed on 'the piano stool' which inevitably would have effect on sitting posture leading onto hand-shape too.

The gentle reminder to students is always to hold a good hand-shape in order to produce a better quality tone. It can be tremendously helpful to remind the student - of holding a tennis ball with ease (relax the fingers - enough to hold onto the ball), release the ball and there you are, you have a 'cupped' (relaxed) hand. The tennis ball illustration-example can be difficult for small hands. Avoid squeezing the tennis ball hard! If they do so, the 'cupped' hand becomes stiff. Show them the two joints on each finger (some students have only one joint, so do be sensitive and observant before you give such instruction). We want the joints (of the metacarpals) to make a little natural 'bend' inwards. We have to avoid insisting very curved fingers - they tend to become very stiff and must be checked from the beginning. Stiff fingers produced woody and stiff tone. Ask the students to press the thumb nail at the tip of each finger - play the piano with where the 'dent' is. It does take some time for the students to grasp the hand-shape that you are trying hard to share with your students. I often use this phrase - 'We need a path to take our little puppy for a walk in the park' (if they have a dog, call it by its name - this interaction makes the learning session relaxed and you can stay more 'connected' with them). Hopefully, the student can understand your explanation better and bend their fingers away from the black keys leaving a fairly good space for playing the white keys. For the beginners this visualisation can be very helpful. We know for sure that if the students have short finger nails, that is ideal for playing the keys. You might need to negotiate with teenager girls that long nails are excused only for the short summer holiday. Certainly many wish to paint their nails for summer beauty!

Here I quote the FIVE ps - ppppp - 'Poor posture prevents poetic performance'. Like a ballet lesson, the ballet teacher always insists on a good posture - voila, follow suit...

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