Overcome Tension in The Wrist – Elbow technique (tutorial+book)

Overcome Tension in The Wrist – Elbow technique (tutorial+book)

I just want to say that I have prepared
a small book in the description below that has all the position change marks,
all the position notes in all the position change, all the position notes
marks for the elbow, and with the rules that you’re gonna learn in this video
you can go back to that book and you can understand better why I chose exactly
those notes for position changes okay. And probably at the end of the video I
will spend some time and I will simply play slowly through all the examples
from my book so you have an idea of how it looks like when you play
your position changes, when you make your elbow movements.
Okay, now I think we can start our lesson, let’s go. Elbow movements help the wrists stay flexible and free, improving your technique and tone. Now in
playing we always have different positions and sometimes they’re quite
visible like for example here, we have 3 positions, but sometimes they are hidden
and we will simply stretch our hand to reach the notes and that stretch will
gradually start accumulating tension in hands. For example here, yeah not really
nice because this creates tension in my palm. So what we could do instead is we can find position changes in this pattern and move our elbow, and it would look this
way. And as you can see my wrist, my palm, my hand stay in a natural, close position. That’s the trick. And lastly, if
we’re not engaging our elbows in the right way it will also bring stiffness to our
hands affecting accuracy with leaps, bringing more tension to body, to hands. okay so let me give you again some examples. Very common, so if we have no idea what elbow is doing we’re probably gonna end up playing something like this – having so
much tension, caring so much stiffness here. Especially if you know we have to
also control the tone so nothing would sound too loud or too soft.
It just locks up everything. Now how we can fix it is by moving elbow first preparing
the next position and then let elbow lead the rest of the hand. So when we
play… just playing with elbows…I’m not making it anyhow musical so far… So when we go faster – it’s kinda elbow is already there, so
that’s why it’s so easy. And then faster…so it’s very flexible, instead of this… Always remember move
your elbow with a big amplitude no matter how small the interval is, so when we
come back again to this revolutionary etude, and we need to move our elbow over here, for this position. Even though it’s just a third, it’s not a really big shift, but instead of moving
your elbow just a bit make a full movement, don’t be afraid. Now next, when you move your elbow make sure you don’t turn it back, so you don’t make this chicken dance. It’s only one
stroke as you can see. So when you play faster it looks like this, like one movement, it’s the
same in scales – you don’t play scales you move and then you come
back, so you don’t play scales this way…instead you move and you stay there. Let’s talk about how to actually move. So
when you make a move – make it with a smooth, light and quick motion. So don’t
make it slow, don’t make it fast with a force you know. But when your
hand is of course free and relaxed it’s gonna happen naturally, just quick but very flexible, beautiful, smooth. Actually I can’t hear anything when I’m
playing, because there’s no sound from me, so I hope I’m playing it like nicely still. Alright, the last tip – get it crystal
clear for you what are you doing in your sensations. You know focus your
attention on the point of your elbow and always move it first. So sometimes I have to ask my students to hold it and just push it or pull it, gently without any force. So you know exactly, you feel this point, you feel this point very clear in your sensations.
I guess that’s about it. Now arrange fingering to reduce position changes to
minimum, and if you see written in the score fingering that would change
your hands position where you could easily play for example everything in
one position then you should correct them and use more efficient fingering. For example here, so look at this – it’s obviously one position. But for some reason it’s written 4-1, 5-2-1…
so instead of one position now we have 2 positions, which is not very nice. Maybe those fingerings are written for some
musical purposes, but again it could be easily done using phrasing or
articulations, intonation, the musical means of expression, but not the
technical things. So instead of playing this play just this. And on the second line again you
can see this is definitely one
position, but it’s written…maybe for the reason to play more evenly
I don’t know, but again you can achieve this through better intonation of the 2nd and 3rd, but still keep your hand in one position. So instead of playing this you play this. Now to make this stage very clear for you
to understand in this video I will mark with coloured blocks each position in the
score just like this. So now I’m just gonna go ahead and give you a few rules
to guide you in finding positions. So the general rule is – move your elbow on the last note of the current position. So like this. Now there also could be
variants of moving the elbow on the second to last note of a current position, or on the first or second note of the next position.
And it happens when you start choosing position change notes to minimize
possible clumsiness you feel while making elbow motion. For instance,
choosing the note for position change with similar wrist and elbow motion
will definitely ease your playing. So for example, you have again this etude,
have this position, so you could move on the last note here, but you see this note is
going to the right with the wrist movement, so if you’re gonna play this small note with the wrist to the right and elbow to the left that ain’t gonna feel comfortable. So you
have to choose the one that aligns with your wrist – the wrist is to the left here and the elbow is to the left here – perfect. This way, you see. Now choosing the downbeat note even if
it’s wrist/elbow contrary motion is also very good. So I got many examples for
this. Alright, so let’s take a look at the musical moment. So the first here…I’ve written it on the second note because I think you still can do this
because it’s such a big leap here but of course you can also move here, but
let’s just ignore it, I’ll talk about this later. So again you
can simply go with the last note in this position, why not, it goes to the left with the wrist, it goes to the left with the elbow, perfect. But this note is so so
upbeat that when you’re gonna play in the fast tempo you know… when we’re
playing in fast tempos we always have some impulse kinda, we always feel some
impulse on downbeats. And you know the relative down here, i would say…So
you want to connect your elbow movement to that impulse, because otherwise it
will be very very hard to control it in the fast tempo. So if you go in a fast tempo you need to move it very quickly on this note its either gonna be you know like “roar”, be loud, too loud. And it also creates more tension you
know, better don’t do anything with your elbow than this. …you can’t even catch it… Now when you connect to the downbeat, even though the wrist goes to the right you
move your elbow to the left here and it will be very comfortable, it will feel you
know more stable. I think it’s all about this – so you would feel more stable. And if you go faster you simply know – G-C-B. So it’s kinda easy. Now let’s just come back here for a
second. Again coming back to downbeats, of course I could move here, because it’s
downbeat it was more stable, more secure, I could move my wrist left and move my
elbow to the right. And you probably could do this too, but I was a little bit
concerned that if I move here then can I stretch it then here? because for me maybe this is better, because my hand is not really wide. I can you know sacrifice and just
move it on upbeat, and it will feel maybe little bit easier. yeah but it’s relative, you can move it here. but I don’t know, it doesn’t feel good. You can always check even if you have some variants you just play
in different tempos, usually in fast tempos, and you just feel what feels
more natural in a way and more fluently. Okay, let’s just continue with
examples. So this you know couple of bars – on every relative downbeat move elbow, we are not moving here or here because it’s just the last note of a position, because if
you play faster it’s really hard to catch, but if you move here – it’s very easy. So let’s just go and check similar motion, similar motion… They even match with similar motion,
sometimes you will have this perfect situation where not
only you choose downbeat, but downbeat is not even contrary motion, downbeat is
also similar motion – wrist/elbow similar motion. It’s just smooth. The next one – so again the relative downbeat is gonna be here – here – here – here, basically every 3 notes. So here we have contrary motion though. But again wrist to the right/elbow to
the left – wrist to the left/elbow gently to the right. And when we play faster
look what’s going to happen. Just speed up, and eventually I get kinda
some roll/loop over here, but it’s not exactly what you do in a slow tempo. You’re not playing like this in a slow tempo to get this, you’re playing this way in a slow tempo to get this. What else. Okay let’s just continue. It’s
kinda the same pattern here from this prelude by Rachmaninoff – again every
relative downbeat gonna be here not every 2 notes but every 3 notes, based on
our melody here. And in this case again – wrist to the right/elbow to the left;
wrist to the left/elbow to the right. So when you are gonna play faster – it feels so good. Again if you don’t move elbow…just let me show you here… I’m just playing in a static position – I feel
right away here so much tension, I can’t even move my fingers honestly. We have a couple of more examples – so, octaves. Octaves are kinda different story, you know technically every octave is a new position, so you would need to move elbow on every note here. But
again, considering the fact that we’re gonna play octaves fast you can’t do
this, it just locks up your hands more than without playing without
any elbow. So what we’re gonna do is we gonna kinda compromise, and we are
gonna choose again every relative downbeat in this bar and move elbow. We are gonna move here and pretend that the rest is one position which kinda possible. And again when I’m gonna play faster all
this you know awkwardness will just become smaller hopefully. So elbow
will again guide you all the time. And the last example from the
Arabesque. You see we’re gonna have here again downbeat here, relative down
there. This is what we are gonna do – move and move, even though it’s contrary motion. So when we are gonna speed up…how fast it goes… like this, then all you have to feel is this impulse on your downbeats where you move your elbow upwards and inwards. Now listen, so
if we’re gonna play for example in slow tempo that really doesn’t matter where
you move your elbow, either it’s contrary motion or it’s upbeat, because I mean who cares you have so much time you know, you can do whatever you want. So even you can move on upbeat that will not lock up your muscles. So it’s fine. But if you start
doing this in fast tempo it’s gonna look a bit, I don’t want to say jerky, but it’s
a bit like…what’s the word… you know what I mean, not comfortable. At all. Instead of this. So nice to play this way. Okay next choosing the first note that goes in opposite direction to the previous note even if this note is on the upbeat.
So again couple of examples. For example, we have here one position and here we have another position, so somehow it feels simply good when you move your wrist and elbow on the first
note that goes to the right after this to the left. C to the left, D to the right so the first note with opposite direction and I
move my wrist and elbow, and of course in this case this movement is going to be
always with similar motion. It’s just a very nice feeling. And another example is this first etude by Chopin. Later I will give you actually another example that kinda variant of this descending
movement, descending passage arpeggio. So here nevertheless one position, and I’m moving my elbow on the first note that
goes you know like to the left, so somehow this you know gives a very nice and steady impulse for moving elbow. left, left, left… So even if you playing in fast tempo you can still feel it, because it goes in the contrary motion. And the last is – choosing similar
pattern in both hands. So if you have similar motion like here…it’s very nice
to match elbow movements. So if you choose for example for the right hand second note in this position then do the same with the left hand. Then when you want to
play in a fast tempo it’s very easy to trace you know, it’s very easy to focus
on the movement. So it’s like some kind of rhythmic
enjoyment here 🙂 you see, so they go together. And the same would do with “Revolutionary” etude, even though okay you can see here the positions are not really the same, because this is one position for
the right hand and unfortunately this is not the one position for the left
hand, so the left hand works a little bit one step forward. But based on what
my left hand is doing I’m making the same pattern with my right hand.
Even though it’s the middle of the position but you
know I’m following the higher rule of similar pattern in both hands so I’m
just engaging my right hand into whatever my left hand is doing.
And then when you go faster you just again feel impulse – left left left left left. And
it all looks like one stroke. And again the same way it’s gonna work in this etude. My wrists are inwards, my elbows are outwards; my wrists are outwards, my elbows are inwards. And again when I’m gonna play faster I
simply feel this impulse here and here, my pinky and my thumb. and when I need to speed up I simply speed up with this sensation. Especially pay attention when you need to make a bigger leap, then you kinda need to
force yourself to make a bigger and faster movement with your elbow. That’s just additional little tip. So now I am gonna give you a step by step guide to finding positions in the score. So first thing, let’s talk about fingering,
so find the best fingering to change positions as least as possible, and for
a study purpose you can mark each position with a bracket. Again, let me just tell you, you don’t have to analyze this way every single piece you play, you know our hands are very smart so as soon as you get the right
sensation, as soon as your hands you know get the right sensation they will
guide you the next time you are opening a new piece. So you’ve already kinda
intuitively known when. You know when I’m sight reading I’m not of course calculating everything while playing, it’s mostly in my hands, my hands
already know what to do, it’s kinda like a dog, it can smell pre-feel
everything that is coming, adjusting all the movements. Okay, so after you kinda
took care of fingering and you know the positions now choose the last note of a
current position, but check other options as you can find other options more comfortable and effortless to play. So choose similar wrist/elbow
movement notes, choose the downbeat note even if it’s contrary wrist/elbow
movement, choose the first note with another direction even if it’s on upbeat
when goes to opposite direction, and with similar both hand pattern choose similar
position change notes. That’s basically it. And the rest you can just practice and
practice and practice, get it just under your skin. So guys what I’m gonna
play – I’m not gonna play with any dynamics or articulations, just movements of wrist and elbow. Sorry, here it should be on the last note. Second variant Now over here I just want to say – in these 4 bars I’m taking the top note with my right hand when I play. That’s why elbow movements are little bit different. So if I play faster let me just show you. It looks very flexible, okay I should
engage intonation and weight not to miss the notes. And you can move your torso of course to
have some room. I’m not going here too much, because now
I have there’s almost octave here. Elbow first here, otherwise you will always miss. Probably I make also here. Alright, that’s about it.

3 Replies to “Overcome Tension in The Wrist – Elbow technique (tutorial+book)”

  1. Thank you so much The Art Of Piano Technique for posting this tutorial! I'm only just now at age 59 teaching myself to play piano. I'm a guitarist so I've dabbled only a few times in the past with exploring how to play chords on the keyboard. I was very interested in finding a video that concentrated on the elbows & your's seemed to be the only one. I do suffer pain in my hands/wrists/arms so I'm trying to minimise inflaming this by educating myself here on YouTube. I thoroughly enjoyed not only your tips on wrist/elbow position but your cheery disposition & amazing dexterity really blew me away. I found myself totally mesmerised by watching your supple fingers which I can see are totally relaxed, flit from one key to the next & I learned so much from the visual aspect of this tutorial even if I cannot read music or will ever likely even play anything really fast. Thank you again this is clearly the best tutorial I have watched there is just so much on offer & I can only hope that I can integrate some of your techniques into my practise sessions. You are clearly a lovely person who gives so much & is so easy to relate to. Kind Regards.

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