15 March 2017
Concert pianist and teacher Murray McLachlan offers up his top tips on how to embark on playing with a natural ease
My 5 Top Tips!
By concert pianist and teacher Murray McLachlan
1 Sit comfortably! It is vital to get the stool at the correct height. Too high and your back will arch, too low and your shoulders will rise.
2 Grip strongly with your fingertips and feet but keep everything else loose and relaxed. Most technical issues can be solved when you have mastered this apparent contradiction. Spend time each day working on it-both at the piano and away from it.
3 Keep your wrists and forearms in alignment when strength is required. Perhaps nothing encourages tendonitis more than trying to play with either dropping or raised wrists when in ‘full throttle’ mode! Use a mirror to check how your wrists look as you play.
4 Expand and relax your body! Give yourself room and space to feel comfortable. If you constrict your body and push the piano stool close to the instrument, you are immediately making things much harder for yourself.
5 Economise your finger and hand movements. Do all you can via excellent piano lessons and exercises to separate each finger from the rest. It is extremely difficult to play with even basic co-ordination if you cannot move fingers independently.
Murray has written some great Masterclasses for Pianist, some of which are still available as back issues. He also runs Chetham's International Summer School for Pianists, which takes place during August. Tune in to the next issue of Pianist, where we feature our 11-page 2017 Summer Courses & Festivals Guide - including a focus article on Chetham's Summer School!
In the meantime, watch these three 30-second warm-up exercises from Russian concert pianist GéNIA, the creator of Piano-Yoga.
1. How to 'ground' yourself before you play:
2. Align yourself to the piano before you play:
3. Understanding your hand muscles:
Pianist issue No 85 features an interview with Genia where she talks all about Piano-Yoga. You can still get a copy of the magazine!
Tune in later in the week to read more from Murray about playing with ease.