Adults can use television to build finger strength by increasing the time spent practicing piano. Use a television? Most people will say you’re crazy.
In the nineteenth century, the golden age of piano, the great piano teacher Franz Liszt suggested that students practice finger exercises while reading a book.
The reason for this is that finger exercises are a BORE, repetitious by nature.
In fact, it is the repetition that makes them effective.
But Liszt was suggesting that finger exercises could be made more palatable by taking the mind off them, since only the fingers are really needed.
I applied this idea to the modern age, and for years have had a television mounted on a piano so that I can amuse myself while my fingers exercise.
This method works better than any strength regime I have used, primarily because it is enjoyable and endurable.
I use foreign films and sitcoms. Remember that it will be hard to hear the audio track over the racket of the piano.
Foreign films are useful because they have subtitles so that I can follow the plot. I hate subtitles normally because they distract me from the picture, but for finger exercises they are perfect.
Sitcoms are useful because they run 22 minutes, without commercials, and I have found that is about the maximum time I can stand playing this game.
But the result? Rock hard finger strength that lasts and lasts.
Here is my regime:
A session is about 15-22 minutes long. I play one hand at a time, using a Hanon exercise. Hanon devised a set of finger exercises whose success equals the boredom they produce, but using this method there is no boredom.
While one hand plays the Hanon exercise, I put the opposite hand into a stretch position, using the exercise developed by the world’s greatest pianist, Vladimir Horowitz.
Click here to read the article TECHNICAL PIANO EXERCISES OF VLADIMIR HOROWITZ: STRETCHING
The stretching strengthens the ability of the fingers to move “sideways” and the Hanon strengthens vertical movement of the fingers.
The procedure is to alternate the hands: while the left stretches, the right plays Hanon. While the right stretches, the left plays Hanon. There is no wasted time.
Try this in 15-22 minute sets, and you will see immediate results. And the result is cumulative very quickly. Even a single set a day will produce results. Try three or four sets throughout the day, and you will see spectacular results.
Never forget that concert pianists are like gymnasts, with a finely tuned physical technique that must be forever maintained, like a ballet dancer.
Using this method is the first step to being a real pianist and being able to enjoy playing much more.
You will find that difficult passages are suddenly easier, even without specifically practicing them, for your entire mechanism is strong, making difficulty easier to bear.
And if you devote a few minutes a day to this, you will quickly find your piano technique taking a great leap forward.
Who would have thought that LEAVE IT TO BEAVER would have a use for pianists?
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press
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