We’re still in the piano series for beginners! Last week, we talked about the proper sitting position on the piano’s bench. However, we only dived deep on the positioning of our upper body then, then, how should we place our feet during a piano lesson?
Like what I wrote in the article, the correct sitting position is extremely crucial for every pianist - especially the beginners. Other than the learning materials itself, you need to get the fundamental elements accurately as well.
Getting your happy feet!
Everything from how you sit to how you position your fingers on the keyboard affects the sound of the piano. When you play the piano, you are moving energy from your entire body to your fingertips, and you want to do this in the most efficient way possible. In other words, your seating position and posture will have a significant impact on this energy transfer. If you get it perfect, you'll be able to play around with a proper expression and a wide dynamic notation range.
Place your feet flat on the ground below your knees, not underneath or to the sides of the bench. You will have to step on the pedals later on, which means you will need to be able to move your feet freely from this fixed position. The comfort and freedom of movement of your feet are crucial in this, because you need to step on the pedals longer in some songs.
Should your feet are not in the same level with the floor and your arms cannot be positioned correctly, utilize a mat or carpet to give height off the ground. Remember to wear something that's both comfy and firm. Ninety degrees is a healthy angle for your knees, but no, you do not need an arc to measure it accurately!
Now your upper and lower bodies are firm and arranged in the correct position, remember not to sway while playing. Maintain a firm stance and reach for the upper and lower keys. Amidst playing, should a piece focus on one part of the piano, shift your sitting position to avoid leaning to one side.
You probably will not get it correctly the first time, but with the correct teacher and private music lesson to help, trust me - it will be all worth it! Coming from a lifelong student of the piano here!
The role of each finger when playing the piano
First, ensure your wrists are not stiff, in other words, position them to be as flexible as possible. Allowing energy to flow from your forearms and wrists to your fingers is critical, and I cannot emphasize it enough. Stiff wrists and forearms take away control of the sound, limit musical expression, and are even capable of causing pain and perhaps injury should it become a habit. Relax your wrists and trust gravity - imagine how your hands and arms will fall without your fingers’ interactions with the keyboard.
After your wrists, of course, you need to move over to pay attention to your fingertips. Remember to keep your fingers rounded and firm. Based on my teaching experience in Ensiklomusika Music School, it is common for beginners to let their fingers bend back at the first joint - we know it as buckling or collapsing.
This position will unfortunately make you play slower and clumsier, and it can permanently damage the joint. Strengthen your fingers and push down the key using your fingertips - like tapping a computer keyboard. The strength will then flow through your fingers overtime, but you need to constantly practice. Otherwise, your teacher from Ensiklomusika Music School can constantly remind you when you book a private music lesson!
Assume that you are holding a tiny ball in each hand, which means you have to curl your fingers downwards and tap the keys with your fingertips. Your hands should dome around the imaginary balls, as they form rounded fingers too. If you are having trouble visualizing this, try cupping your hand over your knee and raising it onto the keyboard while maintaining the same posture.
Because your little finger (often known as your "pinky") is the tiniest and weakest, keeping it flat is a typical bad habit. This will cause your hand to collapse and prevent you from maintaining the required strength on your little finger. Curve it like the others instead. You will not be able to bend it as much because it's shorter, but that’s alright and completely normal. Find a comfortable posture so just the tip of the key is in contact with the key.
When it comes to your thumb, the rule is of course different, considering the shape and length of the thumb. Keep your thumb straight yet relaxed, which means the side and tip of the thumb will be the one pressing the key of the piano.
Next week, I will wrap up the crash piano course articles series. Let me know if you have any questions, the Ensiklomusika Music School and I will be happy to answer you!
Any comments about the article? Let me know in the comment section below!