Energy Flow

We have touched here on the fundamental issue in playing the piano. I shall put it in capitals to imprint it firmly on your mind.


It goes without saying that nothing exists without energy, no pianos, no books of music, no composers and sadly no Pianists, not to mention piano-stools or candelabra! But here we are, my dear friend, happily in a world that is all energy, all about fluxes and fields, flows and forgetting.
I put the last word not because I love alliteration, but because it is one of the great truths in life. We have forgotten, or we do forget.
When we remember, however, hey presto, as if by magic, all manner of wonders are revealed, a secret world is opened up before us.
Energy is our true nature after all.
Let's learn to go with it, let's use that understanding to our mutual advantage.
I love "hey presto" and certainly as much magic as I can experience.

We can watch it happen for us in our piano playing.
With our sights set firmly on the Holy Grail of Perfection, we might as well settle down and enjoy the journey, The Way of the Pianist.

Very soon you will meet the most amazing friend, always a joy, consistent in His comforting ways.
She wishes to take the journey with you.
Can you wait to meet Him?
Just one more paragraph.

A paragraph about posture.
The keywords here, my dear student, are GRAVITY and BALANCE.
These are the two arenas in which we will display our ENERGY FLOW.

Sit comfortably on the stool, which should be selected carefully for it's height.
If anything, err on the side of too high, rather than too low. This way, you will have gravity working with you, not against you.
Sit with an absolutely erect spine. This is by far the most comfortable position eventually, and will not lead to any stresses or strains in your spinal column.
Don't let gravity pull you east, west, north or south, point your head to the sky.
Sit always with your nose in line with middle "C," and place the music with the spine of the book, or the centre of the page in line with this point as well.
You will be surprised at how consistency in these things will lead to greater security in spatial movement.
Place the feet suitably near for using the pedals.

At this point feel your balance.
Allow your breath to come and go, of its own accord, gradually increase the depth of breathing and start to feel centred. This is probably one of the most beautiful moments. Go on for as long as you like, your own timetable permitting!
Become aware of any tension in your upper back and shoulders. Allow all the tension to escape with your breath.
Send all the tension out of the room.
Instruct it very firmly to never come back!
Imagine a secret key hole between your shoulder blades, insert the secret key and unlock, unwind, unlock, unwind. Continue for as long as you like, until you feel normalised and ready to start.

Become aware of the fact that your arms have weight.
How heavy are your arms? Feel the pull of gravity. Feel the point of balance in the centre that is you.
Imagine albatross, imagine eagle. Become aware that it is the tension of the muscles that controls this weight, denies the weight from falling.

Relaxed arm weight is the most important item in your tool kit. Lift with the slightest tensioning of the muscles and lower by relaxing.
Get to know this experience well.
It needs to remain with you all the time.

Turn your relaxed hands so that the fingers point upwards.
Do you notice that the tips of your thumbs are almost on the same plane as the tips of the fingers? I do hope so.
This is a very useful observation.
Keeping your hands in this shape, as near as possible, let your fingers dangle just above the piano keys with both thumbs around middle C.
Imagine a drop of water on each shoulder rolling down the top surface of each arm. These drops shouldn't be allowed anywhere to rest until they drip off of the ends of your fingers.
That would be an ideal model for positioning your arms.

Please remember, dear friend, that you are a Human Being, not a mannequin or robot.
This is simply a position for starters, feel the pleasant relaxed mobility that you have around and about this position. Breathe life into your arms, feel the hinges at the wrists, side to side, up and down, and at all times be aware of the weight of the arms.
Feel this weight connect, through a variable "centre of gravity" (the fingers) in each hand, with the surface of the piano keys.

This is the mystical interface between you and the instrument.
The touch zone, the space where feeling is transmuted into sound.
You will learn how to bring forth bells, or trumpets, thunder or birdsong by the very touch of your fingertips.

Remember, gravity, relax, balance, relax and be aware.

These are all very real and tangible essences. Please do not merely read these words.

Try, the food is yours to taste, experience, find your way around this world of sensation. The piano is very "sensational" only, however, if YOU ARE THERE BEING THE SENSER.
Take these ideas with you to the piano and have a play around with them.

Please take the time to relax sufficiently before you start, and at any time you begin to feel any tension whilst playing. You are aiming for a state through which the rhythmic energy can flow unhindered, and your arms are flexible tubes down which this energy gushes on its journey to the tone.
Any hard or violent movement should be avoided.
Caress the keys, squeeze out the sound, harmonise your motion, create exquisite vibrations with everything you do. Enjoy!

You will, no doubt, be hiring the services of a professional teacher to keep up your inspiration for playing and to guide you through your years of study ahead.
Obviously, your external teacher cannot be with you the majority of the time. This includes the time that is so critical in your development, the time you spend alone practicing.
It is imperative that you find honesty of evaluation, sincerity of effort and a constant source of inspiration in those hours of solitary practice.

You must find the teacher within yourself.

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