Advanced Piano Coaching Online

Introduction: explanations and clarifications

Who has never been up against technical or computer science instructions where the authors have used different terms to describe the same functions or elements? We find the same occurrence in the theory of piano technique even though in this case it has nothing to do with negligence, but rather a lack of knowledge concerning the works of other authors.

Abbreviations and terminology

1. Here are a few abbreviations used on this site:

  • MA - Motor Apparatus (from fingers to shoulder)*
  • RH - right-hand
  • LH - left-hand
  • HS - hands separately
  • HT - hands together

Neuhaus’ bridge and crane

I sometimes tried […] to help a pupil to understand what freedom is and to feel it. I compared the arm from shoulder to fingertip with a hanging bridge, one end of which is fixed to the shoulder joint and the other to the fingers on the keyboard. The bridge is flexible and resilient, whereas its supports are strong and firm (as soon as the hand and fingers are raised above the keyboard the image of the bridge is no longer accurate and it is better to think of a crane.)
Heinrich Neuhaus - “The Art of Piano Playing”, p. 100, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973

The front line and the rear guard

[...] to the tips of the fingers which should always be at the ready, like soldiers at the front (after all, the decisive factor for tone quality is the contact of the fingertips on the keys, the rest: hand, wrist, arm, shoulders, back - are ‘behind the line’ and should be well organized.)
Heinrich Neuhaus - “The Art of Piano Playing”, p. 69, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973

Hovering and sticking

[...] after a successful concert [...] a woman artist paid me a very nice compliment: ‘Your hands hover over the piano like birds’. I immediately remembered something Liszt used to say: ‘The hands must hover over the keyboard rather than stick to it’ .
Heinrich Neuhaus - “The Art of Piano Playing”, p. 133, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973

Locking and attaching

1. Locking the joint
This is about a temporary immobilization a member’s joint (example: the forearm and the arm or the finger’s neighboring phalanges) that is connected in a precise position. This locking of the joints can be muscular or ligamental.

Shaking the arm

Also called vertical vibrations or motor impulses*. This term corresponds to an alternating between placing and removing the motor apparatus on the keyboard - see Neuhaus’ bridge and crane. The frequency of this movement is very rapid, but the vertical vibrations of the arm are extremely small.

*Czesław Sielużycki - “The pianist’s hand” p. 261 and 305-306, Polish Music Edition, Cracow, 1982



Heinrich Neuhaus

Heinrich Neuhaus (1888-1964)
● “The Art of Piano Playing”, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973
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