The Importance of Practicing With Raised Fingers

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Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about the importance of practicing with raised fingers. Playing the piano with raised fingers is a completely different scenario from practicing the piano with raised fingers. I want to qualify this right out of the gate so you don’t get scared that I’m telling you to do something that could lead to injury. This is a technique used judiciously to help you solidify your technique, but certainly not something you do in performance. You may wonder why you would do something in practice that you would never do in your performance? Well, there are very good reasons for this which I will explain now.

The physiology of the hands is such that it’s much easier to push fingers down than to lift them up.

If you want to prove this to yourself, just put your hands on a flat surface anywhere, and then just try to lift only your fourth finger. It’s hard to do because the tendons and the nerves are shared among those fingers. So it makes it tough to gain independence.

Why is it a good idea to practice with raised fingers?

Well, there are actually two reasons for this. One is that it helps to strengthen the independence of your fingers so you can practice the release of notes. If you’ve ever heard somebody play sloppy scales, one aspect is the evenness of the attack. But the other aspect is the evenness of the durations of notes, the space between notes. If I played a scale with all the notes hitting evenly, but don’t release some of the notes the same length as others, it would sound sloppy because some notes overlap and some don’t. It’s haphazard. And as I mentioned, lifting fingers up is so much more difficult than pushing them down. Also, it teaches your hands and your head which fingers are down and which fingers are up. So in slow scale practice, by raising fingers, you identify which notes are down and which fingers are up. So when you go faster you have the control of releases, not just attacks of notes.

The stretch you get is akin to the warm up of an athlete.

Stretching is so important! This is a great way you can stretch your fingers while at the same time teach yourself the release of the notes in slow practice. Naturally, when you play up to tempo, you abandon this because it’s not possible or recommended to raise fingers when trying to play up to tempo. It’s not only impossible, but it would not be good for your hands to do such a thing. But it’s a tremendous technique, not just for practicing scales. You can use this technique anytime you want to identify which notes are down and which notes are up so you can achieve a clean sound. With this kind of practice everything is exaggerated. So whatever sloppiness you have is eradicated because you really get to dig into the keys and feel every key that’s down and keep other fingers up and out of the way. And this is why slow practicing with raised fingers can be incredibly valuable for you!

Always be aware of how you feel and never do anything that causes you pain!

This applies not just for raised finger practice, but everything you do on the piano. How you sit at the piano, the relaxed nature of your shoulders. You must be aware of all these things because you want your hands to last your whole life because it is the lifeblood for playing the piano!

I hope you find this practice technique to be helpful for you. Try it out and see how it works for you! And when practicing with raised fingers, you don’t want to use a lot of arm weight. You want to just use the fingers. Teach your fingers which notes are down and which notes are up and you will have a cleaner technique to show for it! Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

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