This post is an exclusive excerpt from the new monthly online newsletter from the UK branch of EPTA, The European Piano Teachers’s Association.
In order to reach a wider audience, Chair of EPTA Murray McLachlan has kindly agreed to Pianodao exclusively hosting the newsletter for non-members, as well as picking a short piece each month to feature as a guest post here.
This month, I’ve picked this short but very helpful and thought-proving piece written by Murray himself… and below you can download the full newsletter for additional free articles!
Curved Fingers or Flat Fingers?
A big subject, but in essence I would say a lot depends on the style of the music…
If I want to play rapid semiquavers in pre-Beethoven repertoire then I naturally curve my fingers for more articulation.
If I wish to have more legato and sonority in the romantic repertoire, then they tend to flatten instinctively.
Of course, we should all try to find power, focus and physical control from the knuckles. It is fundamentally bad practice to collapse the first and second joints of the fingers.
However, pupils with hypermobility may well find it difficult not to collapse their finger joints inwards as they play. Perseverance, patience and awareness of what they are doing can help.
Stress, tension and stiffness should be avoided at all costs. It can certainly help to focus on the knuckles and visualize internally a mental picture of finger movement from the ‘bridge’ of the hand (knuckles).
But in terms of how curved fingers should be in terms of a default position, try experimenting:
To find a pianist’s natural finger curve, get them to pick up a pencil without thinking about it. Just say have the thumb on one side, and the fingers on the other. After this is done, look at the curvature of the fingers.
What is there is what is comfortable – the correct curvature for that pianist at that time in most normal contexts.
EPTA Piano Teacher Talk No.1 (September 2018)
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Special Thanks to Karen Marshall, Murray McLachlan and Liz Dewhurst.