Listening to our bodies: How pianists can create unnecessary difficulties through excessively rule-bound approaches to legato and fingering
MetadataShow full item record
It is the point of this essay to re-examine some of what seem to occasionally be misconceptions of piano playing. Two topics that I believe are sometimes misunderstood by pianists as well as piano teachers are legato and fingering. Legato is often taught to a student as a technique symbolized by a curved line which means to play the notes in a smooth and connected manner. However, because the piano is a percussive instrument, legato at the keyboard is an aural effect that can be achieved through more than just physically overlapping consecutive notes which sometimes causes awkward hand positions. Fingering, while seemingly unrelated to legato in some ways, should also be based on the constant that one should choose a fingering based on what feels comfortable and allows the pianist to keep the natural shape of the hand. Once the shape of the hand is lost, tone production will be sacrificed. Playing the piano is a physical and mental act which requires keen problem solving skills that should be based on feedback from the body. I have found in my research and playing experience that some pedagogical methods’ approaches and editorial fingerings of concert repertoire are not always based on this principle.