Saturday, March 10, 2018

180310 piano fitness hypothesis update

Piano fitness  IS !

2/22/18 began the clearer mapping of the 2nd fingers.  Awareness  with inclusion of  neutral wrists along with helper orientation of the forearm, outward rotation of the upper arm, heart centered alignment of neutral (or extended?) shoulders, with braced neutral spine and balanced hips brought ease and mobility to number 2s...

With a few weeks of rehearsal and this updated piano fitness mindset, the intentions of the musical mind are ever more clearly heard.  Conscious correction  of the right shoulder’s alignment from rounding forward to wider clavicle with neutral and extension releases from the inner upper  arm through the elbow and neutral wrist allows clarity in the mind and freedom in the body for the 2nd finger to release tension and move with ease.  The leader and middle fingers release in response and the square hand corners soften.  The transfer of balanced arm weight through the fingertips is smoother especially L-2-M in both directions.

I am certain piano fitness hypothesis- developing mind/body harmony with consciously correct muscle rehearsal for sound technique  - is improving the ability to intend the sound and play with more ease.

Since 2/22, when rehearsal resulted in muscular fatigue,  I rested and stretched/strengthened until awareness was pain free.  The sensations from the 2nd fingersthrough the hand, forearm, upper arm, shoulder, chest and back continue to develop- feelings never felt before!

I’m still learning to listen when the right shoulder starts to “speak” due to forward rounded misalignment.  Over the few weeks of mindfulness, this happens less as neutral shoulders become the norm.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

170629 piano fitness f=m x a

Piano Fitness is sound communication.

Sound from the piano is created when the performer's mind/body mapped* fingers rest on the key surface, and there is mindful application of:   Force = Mass X Acceleration

 Force equals the performer's intended acceleration times the combined mass of both:
1) the mechanical action of the keys (this mass is "fixed" in every piano)         and                                2) the performer's intended body mass. (the performer varies this mass)

1)  Every acoustic piano, with its inward mechanism, is basically the same machine, some actions certainly preferred over others.  The mass of this mechanism is fixed for each piano, with obvious distinctions felt, when comparing the lowest keys, with biggest hammers, to the highest keys, with the smallest hammers, including the middle keys with their hammers.

2) With intentional listening activated, I trust we all can hear how each person creates a somewhat unique sound from the piano (which may be more pronounced on acoustic instruments).  It is the way we intend to accelerate our intended mass that creates our softest to loudest sounds or our unique dynamic range of sound.

The performers body mass, I believe, includes from lightest through heaviest body parts -fingers, through hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, upper chest/back.  Movements for all of these parts physically originate from the Sterno-Clavicular joints, at the heart center of the body.* From here, the whole shoulder girdle freely moves up/down and forward/backward when 20% of our core power stabilizes the braced torso.  When these shoulder movements are combined, forward/backward circles of the whole shoulder girdle become possible. The shoulder girdle factors into determining the amount of mass the performer can intentionally release into fingers resting on the key surface.  With awareness of how light or heavy the fingers are resting on the key surface included in the mind's eye,  the performer accelerates the key with the intended speed and mass, through of the point of connection with the mechanical action of the key (i.e. the little "bump" felt about half way between the key surface and key bed),  forcing the hammer to strike the string and creating the intended sound.

Piano Fitness Postural Fundamentals
Exploration Exercise 1:

Sit as you normally sit on the piano bench.  Place all 10 finger on any 10 keys,  where both arms are most confortable. Close your eyes, let the mind's eye watch the breath for several cycles.*  Begin to be aware of your feet on the floor, hips on the bench, fingertips on the keys. Take several more full breaths.  Allow the fingertips to feel heavier on the key surface and then lighter on the key surface.  Explore the extremes of your heavy and light feelings while observing several more full breaths.  Observe where changes in the body are occurring when exploring your lightest and heaviest sensations. How much, if any, is originating from the sterno-clavicular joints?

Next, allow the 10 fingers to rest on the keybed in the same comfortable arm position, while taking more breaths and repeating the light/heavy sensations.  Increasing awareness of your heavy/light extremes at both key surface, before the sound is created, and on the key bed, after the sound is created will enhance sound production, and must be included for every note/key/finger played.  Lastly, let lightly resting fingers feel heavier on the key surface until the keys, under the fingers, depress and the 10 fingers are resting on bumpy points of mechanical connection above the keybed but below th.e key surface.  If able, allow the heaviness to release through the connection bump to rest the 10 fingers on the key bed ligher to heaviest.  There may or may not be sound produced from this final release.

Including awareness of how this "sweet spot" bump is accelerated with intended varied mass
is best controlled with the developed sense of touch from the fingertips resting at the key surface.    Including the sense of touch increases brain activity and can enhances memory.

Awareness of finger/key connection,  physically initiates intended sound. With this connected awareness, the mind, intending both mass and acceleration, forces the hammer to hit the strings and the intended sound is created and communicated to the listener(s).

* email request for "Mapping the Mind/Body Connection" PDF, for more information.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

170615 Piano Fitness Introduction

Piano Fitness is conscious muscle rehearsal.

Piano Fitness Postural Fundamentals promote pure awareness, raising consciousness to include:

   balanced hips - sitting stably and securely
   releasing creative power - through the braced spine
   heart-intended sound - mapped from the mind through the fingertips.

Playing the piano represents the ultimate balance between :

                                                   Man             Machine
                                                   Mind            Body
                                                   Sound          Feeling

(PLEASE, correct me if the following statement is untrue) :

               The piano is the most sophisticated man powered machine in the world.

 The mind intends the sound and the body feels the sound.  Mechanically, the body's levers, from heart to hands through the fingertips connect to the piano's levers at the key surface.  The piano's levers are manipulated by the player to create the intended sound with an intended mass times an intended acceleration forcing the hammer to strike the strings.  (Force = Mass x Acceleration).  The player consciously chooses BOTH the amount of mass and  key acceleration speed to create the  intended sounds, from the very softest to the very loudest, with conscious muscle rehearsal.

170501- braced spine !

piano fitness runs in the background.

Every practice is conscious or unconscious muscle rehearsal.  Pure awareness raises consciousness to includes balanced hips - sitting stably- releasing creative power - through the braced spine - for the heart-intended sound - mapped from the mind through the fingertips.

On 170430, I learned about bracing the spine while reading "Becoming A Supple Leopard".
By including awareness of 20% core spine bracing, immediately the map to finger 2 was improved.  The hints of this mapping began in 0ctober 2015 after alternate nostril breath practice, when i began "seeing" my thumbs and 2nd fingers more clearly with the mind's eye. Slowly but steadily, this mind/body mapping to the fingers has since been under custruction.  With the braced spine awareness included in rehearsal, freedom from the heart through shoulders and arms to the fingertips is still being observed and changing the mind/body daily.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

160626. Piano Fitness Hypotheses II Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, S.244/2 (Liszt, Franz)

Piano fitness is fresh.    See what's fresh from the inside out.  Balancing hips, heart and head will maintain freshness.  The mind's pure awareness is never identical.  This is the beauty of playing live music - it is never repeated exactly the same.

"The universal does not allow perfection."- Steven Hawking

It's been over 2 years since Chopin op. 60 barcarolle began the 1st hypotheses.  While significant insights for understanding piano technic from last March continue to be developing,  this 2nd piece will start fresh from where piano training is today.

June 2 is when I began the first page
June 9 the 2nd page

Thursday, June 23, 2016

160623 !! Recommitted !!

piano fitness is sometimes boring.   Boredom is included in life, hopefully occasionally, problematic if too frequent.  The balance between feeling ready to enjoy rehearsal and remembering long term goal when boredom occurs.  Learning to listen is ongoing.  Rehearsals have been minimal, but awareness of connection still improves and, as always, finger 2 is the linch pin.

Minimal postings due to boredom because it is 4 years of changing the 2nd knuckle.   Tangentially effected are the leader and the middle, but the whole body is responding to the changes.

With inclusion of the upper arm roll and quicker wrists, "watching" the fingers move is (too slowly) becoming habit.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Piano fitness is infinite.

 4 years ago, June 2012, I began including concepts from Tom Mark's book- "What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body" into my piano rehearsing.  The development of Piano Fitness Postural Fundamentals  results in consciously changing: how I sit, support the arm movement in 3 planes, indentify elements that need improvement, rehearse mindful movements, releasing all joints and learning to watch the fingers move!  Along the way, others have contributed further insights into learning to listen with a mind/body connection.  Information from the Facebook  Piano Technic discussion group  has been extremely useful in correcting decades of improper form :

A forgotten link video tip:  "the faster I move my wrist, the faster my fingers move."

If my former instructor, Alex Hanway, is correct, taking 5 years to develop the musculatur for playing piano, I feel the 5th year's most significant improvements will be training prestissimo fingers.

With the last post was almost a year ago, redundancy lead to fewer new posts.  The primary hinderence was and still is releasing the locked the bridge knuckle of the 2nd fingers.  For 4 years, the consistent observation of releasing this joint has been at the forefront.   Undoing decades of unconsciously incorrect rehearsal has been slowly and steadily changing while pure awareness of everything has grown.  The challenge always being:  to allow a new way to be seen with a renewed mind and rehearsing the elements until they settle back into  unconscious habit.  It has been an exciting, frustrating, but extremely worthwhile adventure that appears to have no end.    

Piano fitness is infinite.