Glenn Gould's Finger Tapping Exercise for Piano Technique

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Many of you are struggling with playing cleanly and smoothly. This simple technique can help you to relax your fingers to pay more fluidly. Developed by Glenn Gould's mentor and longtime teacher Chilean pianist Alberto Guerrero, it aims to retain a relaxed muscle memory.

You can learn more about this in the wonderful documentary Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould.

 

 

 

This is an exercise that is called finger tapping.

This technique was developed by Alberto Guerrero.

He's a very famous Chilean pianist and instructor whose most famous student was Glenn Gould. Guerrero actually developed this technique while watching the Chinese circus – the acrobats wondering how they taught these young children to do these amazing maneuvers so quickly and so cleanly with so much precision.

And after talking to the instructor backstage, the trainer, he thought about it and applied it to piano technique.

There is a tendency to tense up when you go fast. And (what's needed) is exactly the opposite. You have to be as relaxed as possible when you're playing.

  1. Take your one hand.  Say your left hand rested, very relaxed, so that they're just fingers are curved and they're all touching one key per finger. 
  2. Then use your other hand and tap on the fingernail of each note. So that with each finger you're starting to feel how relaxed your fingers can be to produce the sound.
  3. Try to do it slowly with a lot of space in between each note and your fingers should feel like they're hugging the keys and like pulling like your fingers are doing this pulling motion.

    It's NOT so much of a hammering, but pulling. 

    And after you start to really feel that relaxed feeling in your fingers, you can try to do it with your own fingers, one at a time, very slowly trying to match the same level of relaxed fingers you had before.

    And this will let you start to get faster and faster.

Here's a video clip of Glenn Gould performing a Bach concerto with Leonard Bernstein conducting.  Look at how relaxed and smooth his fingers are.  

 

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