Addressing poor technique
Found in: Musicality, Pedaling, Technique
Megan F., Nebraska
Coming from a traditional background, I still cringe when I see kids playing with flat fingers, stiff wrists, etc. I know we’re not supposed to focus on these issues because they tend to work themselves out with time. Please reassure me that this is true! I certainly don’t want to allow bad habits to develop. At what point do you address poor technique? Sometimes now I’ll briefly mention something about relaxing, but I haven’t made an issue of it, and it hasn’t seemed to help. If I’m being totally honest, I also think about how my students reflect upon me if someone were to hear/see them play. The way some of them play with flat fingers or other awkward-looking habits, I think I’d wonder if their teacher knew what she was doing!
Stephen R., California
The technique tends to develop itself through the variety of songs and styles in the playlist. That’s one of the big reasons to keep the playlist alive. I do suggest to students sometimes that it may be “easier” to play chords and such with more curved fingers, like holding a tennis ball. Neil addresses pedal technique in Level 4. That could be introduced when you feel students are ready for it.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I guess I have never had it become a prolonged issue. If a really awkward position persists, I will address it casually as you have. If they find it to be helpful, they will change the habit. I think this is yet another way in which shared lessons help – they see other students’ hands on the piano.
Maureen K., California
If you have experience in this area, there is nothing in SM that says you can’t enhance your teaching with it. Once my students have learned a piece, we talk about making it “more beautiful” by playing with emotion, dynamics, pedal (appropriate to their level), balance between the hands, playing with the whole body, not just the fingers, and so forth. I just spend a little time on it.
Leeanne I., Australia
The stiff fingers do relax after a while. Some take longer than others! Just remember – single thought processes! Once a student really knows what to play, it’s okay to address any other issues. I talked with a student yesterday about Alma Mater Blues (Level 1). He was playing the RH staccato. I mentioned that he played it great, but Blues music is really laid back and sounds kind of lazy. I demonstrated with my voice, then on the piano. He got it straight away.
Carrie L., Michigan
I typically find with chords they start to find their way with their fingers being more rounded. And I wouldn’t have an issue working with technique a little as well, especially if it is hindering their playing.
Cheri S., Utah
I’ve never had stiff, awkward fingers last long. At the beginning, I think students are just trying so hard to get their hands to learn new ways of being. I don’t concern myself too much about technique for its own sake. To me, the goal is to be comfortable and relaxed. I’ll sometimes gently lift a saggy wrist, without even saying anything. Or I’ll have kids drop their arms to their sides, notice how their hands and fingers naturally hand, and move up to the piano with the same relaxed posture. Or I’ll grab a really stiff hand, make a little joking comment about relaxing, shake their hand gently, and we’ll laugh together. These are all rare and very brief.
Amy L., California
Regarding rigidity, whether in the fingers, shoulders, or somewhere else, I usually ask the student to tense that area as hard as the can. Harder. Harder. Now relax. I also ask parent coaches to do this with their child at home.