All Thumbs

All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique

Turning that awkward thumb from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan

There's a reason, when someone is clumsy and awkward, they say they are "all thumbs." This singularly unusual digit opposes itself to the fingers, and its unusual construction poses all sorts of problems for the pianist - until we learn to use its unique qualities to our advantage.

That's what this book is all about: devoted mainly to the thumb, because it is through an improved understanding of the thumb's unique function that we can transform our piano technique. Many approaches to piano try to equalize the thumb, making it work the same way the fingers do; but in this they are doomed to failure.

The thumb is not equal to the fingers

When the pianist sees the thumb as equal to the fingers, 20% of the hand's digital power, they force the thumb to be the ugly duckling. Lifting it up to hover next to the fingers tenses it, and robs it of its tremendous power. In this position, the hypothenar muscle group - the hand's primary power pack - is pretty much out of commission.

But what if the thumb opposes itself to the fingers, as it does in grasping? In this scenario the hand takes on a bipartite structure where the thumb possesses a full 50% of the hand's power. The grasping action would seem impossible to apply to piano playing, but when you realize that the beginning of the thumb's opposition movement is a large arc moving downward, then you have the basis for effective thumb action at the piano.

When the thumb moves down through this arc into the key, it stands the hand up by pushing the hand up above it while it remains underneath: straight, powerful, supporting the full weight of the hand and arm. This is the thumb's potency.

Take a moment to play a scale, and try to sense: does your thumb stand up well like this as it passes under the hand? Does it stand well as the hand passes over? Most of us trip, or limp, at least to some degree, as we move from thumb to finger or finger to thumb. This book offers a host of exercises, Awareness Through Piano Movement lessons, to improve the thumb's function, its relationship to the fingers and hand, through improved sensation of self.

Stand the hand up into its arch: 50% of that power comes from the thumb

Another way to access the thumb's amazing power is simply lay the hand down on a table, do a straight-fingered grasping action, and watch the middle of your hand rise up to become the keystone of a glorious arch structure. When this action powers your hand in octaves and chords, you create a rich, resonant, powerful sound with none of the sense of effortful banging normally associated with playng forte.

All Thumbs explores this and other key concepts designed to empower your piano playing and bring it to the next level - but it's not just about physical organization. Every single strategy presented has a musical dimension, a particular effect on your capacity to shape a phrase, play with improved rhythm, throw contrapuntal melodic strands into bolder relief, and create a more richly orchestrated sound.

Take a peek inside the book

To get an even better idea of the scope and substance of this seminal work on piano technique, including a look at the complete Table of Contents, browse these

Book Excerpts

Bezanson Hall

Product details
Language : English
Paperback : 316 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ 8683535975
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-8683535972