NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1000256
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-0004-9484
The Art of Pianism Meets Science, Sustainable Performance: Use of Arm Weight
James, Barbara
Australian Journal of Music Education, n2 p92-101 2012
Playing the piano can result in intense muscular activity with the potential to cause injury to the hand and fingers. It was reasoned some time ago that technique had to be made sustainable. This resulted in the exploration of ways to make muscular use more economic in playing because even small energy savings are worthwhile in making technique physiologically efficient. The substantial changes in the musical environment including keyboards led musical theorists of more than a century ago to respond with technical concepts applying mechanical and physiological principles to technique based on efficient muscle use. One solution was to use arm weight with the assistance of gravity, an ever-present force affecting our body movements, particularly downward vertical movements. Recent neuroscience research examined the effect on muscle activity by a process of lifting the hand and dropping it onto the keys and comparing with a downstroke generated at key level. Results showed that gravity could be used successfully, with enhanced efficiency of muscular use and a reduction in the finger-key force generated. Playing expressively with increased tempo or sound level intensified finger force, but increasing both simultaneously had a very more detrimental effect on force levels, particularly through increasing the sound level. It was also deleterious to movement organisation in these circumstances and could result in reduced performance time without fatigue. The outcomes of the studies are explained in terms of mechanical and functional principles. The implications of the findings include the need to apply the findings to teaching strategies for application to performance itself. Piano practice also needs careful consideration and the need for education in injury prevention so individuals know how to protect themselves. Pedagogy aimed at teaching children is another urgent area of attention. (Contains 2 figures and 3 footnotes.)
Australian Society for Music Education. P.O. Box 5, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. Tel: +61-3-9925-7807; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A