Tone production in relation to body position : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

This is in piano. What are some of the factors to consider in order to produce a good sound? Has body position something to do with this? Fingers? weight of the body? Please give me some thought.

Thanks. Roy Hernando

-- Roy Hernando (, September 30, 2001


I think that the most important thing is to have a good sound in your ear (in your imagination) before you try to make a sound on your instrument. This inner hearing often gets overlooked when people start to talk about various ways of playing (relaxation, weight, bones, active fingers, dropping into the keys, playing on the escapement, etc.) Play a lot by ear, imitate your own voice on the piano, or imitate the voices of your favorite singers and instrumentalists. Yes it is almost impossible to make the piano sound like the human voice, but trying to do it will improve the listening and musicality of the playing. Just try it.

Of course you want to develop a physical way to play that makes things better rather than worse, so you want to avoid unnecessary tension and other bad habits. But one reason that teachers suggest certain ways of playing is to help students get a decent sound when they don't seem to produce a good sound naturally. For example, with a student whose playing is punchy or who tends to pound (overplaying the instrument), suggesting a relaxed drop into the keys will often get a better sound because it reduces the excess volume and softens the hitting of the keybed.

I personally believe that playing with your bones gives you an excellent way of producing the sound you have in your ears and does it with the least effort.

But most of all I think the best way to get a good sound is to use the ear. It gives you the information you need to get the best results from any instrument.

-- Alan (, October 02, 2001.

I agree that listening and having a good sound in mind is the most important thing. The physical aspect of producing sound can be complex, depending on the technical complexities of the piece being played. Essentially, the hammers only hit the strings in one way, but at different speeds. The use of the damper pedal influences the sound, as does the number of strings left vibrating in chord playing. You also must factor in the voicing (relative volume of each tone) in chords, the timing of the release of various notes, etc. The piano is capable of producing a wide variety of sounds depending on these variables. That is why the ear is so important - it is very efficient when it comes to discerning and adjusting for subtle distinctions in sound. Some really basic things to remember physically: 1. Posture: the torso serves as a central "control" base - it needs to remain balanced so that it can support the arms as they move. You can experiment with this - try playing a key by moving only from the finger joint at the hand, then only from the wrist joint, then only from the elbow, then only from the shoulder, and then only from the waist. You will find that moving from the waist to produce a sound is terribly inefficient, difficult, and puts your whole upper torso off balance. 2. Play the keys with a "prepared touch" - i.e., touch the key before playing it, rather than hitting from above. A leveraged kind of action to depress the key, with some help from the entire wrist and arm, is much more efficient and gives you more control over the speed of the hammer as it moves toward the string. Lifting and dropping the fingers causes more tension, less precise control of the speed of attack, and a kind of psychological moment of "insecurity."

-- Jon (, October 13, 2001.

The main issues about good tone and good sound production in the piano have surely been highlited in the above replies... there's not much to add; I'd like to say that if, in a elementary level of play, the student is not able to produce good sound INSTINCTIVELY, then something must be corrected. If the student is really listening to what he plays (and that is often the problem) then the sound must be good. Sometimes, when trying to tell the student to loosen the arm and wrist, balance the torso, etc. etc. we may be giving too much information at once. Example: your student is playing fairly relaxed, and his left hand (performing a repetitive accompaniment) is MUCH louder than his right hand (performing the melody). You COULD say "Turn the volume down on the left hand" or (less efficient) "Turn up the right hand", but why not just try to say: "LISTEN to what your right hand is playing". It sure makes a difference 90% of the cases for me! When playing in concert or recital I often keep this guideline: YOUR AUDIENCE WILL LISTEN TO WHATEVER YOU'RE LISTENING TO WHILE PLAYING. No use in playing more forte ou more piano if you're not truly LISTENING. But of course, wrist relaxation plays a great role in all this. It's really a combination of factors. I hope you make any sense out of this Nuno

-- Nuno (, October 13, 2001.

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