[piano] flat fingers and curved fingers and everything in between

School has started up again, and how you can tell is mostly because I am sort of MIA on the innocent lam, sadly. Another way you can tell is stop by my college’s practice rooms at midnight, and hear someone practicing and sighing and throwing a tantrum. The room I usually practice in has a glass wall which faces a walkway– you can actually see me jumping up and down and throwing a tantrum. Awkward.

Piano lessons have started up again. I am playing a Rachmaninov prelude, and my instructor summarily dismissed my badly-played interpretation and told me flat-out that I did not have the thick, sonorous tone that Rachmaninov so requires. To do so, she said I needed flat fingers. Very flat fingers– the tone I was producing sounded like Chopin. To have completely curved fingers, I would sound like Mozart, she said.

I came from a teacher who drew little curved fingers on my music continually, reminding me to curve my fingers. So when my latest instructor mentioned this, I was a little surprised, for I had never consciously controlled the curvature of my fingers to produce sound. They retained their lazy-curving qualities and I rambled through most of my repertoire like that. Yet, when I pay attention, I notice my unconscious flatness as I grind through thunderingly large chords in my Lutoslawski, the extremely soft sections of my prelude. Not only do flat fingers produce a thicker, fuller sound, they also allow for finer control during extremely soft sections, soft enough to use flat fingers but not quite enough to use the una corda pedal.

Yet, the only trouble is making every note sing as clearly even though the tone is thick. Just because the tone is supposed to be sonorous, it does not mean notes cannot be differentiated from each other and melodic lines can sink into harmony. Oh no, I can feel my tortured artist tantrum rising.


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