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How to Play the Piano With Feelings

How to play the piano with feelings
By Azael Montejo

Concepts of finger pressure

Playing the piano is like writing on a piece of paper with a sharp pencil. If you press lightly on the paper, the writing will come out light. If you press hard on the paper, the writing will come out bold. Pressing the pencil on the paper in between light and hard will create a medium look. Playing the piano uses the same concept as this. By pressing each key, note or chord in different pressure will result in a different feel.
What can you tell by pencil mark on a piece of paper

Have you ever seen anothers writing and noticed that the writing is smooth and graceful. Have you noticed that this same person writes so neatly and beautifully that the writing almost looks like the person was drawing the letters? Have you ever looked at a persons writing that is bold, dark and with smudges due to the pencils extra led coming out? The way you see how the person wrote can give you an idea of how the person may have been feeling when that person was writing. The smooth graceful look can make you think that the person was feeling happy at the time while the bold smudgy look can seem heavy and dark. Light writing can make you think that the person was hiding something. Understanding that by simply looking at the writings pressure you can visualize how the person was feeling.
Applying pressure in each note
Now lets use the example above of the pencil and paper into your fingers and notes. Tap the key lightly and you will hear very small amount of sound compared to pressing the key hard and causing a loud sound. Notice the difference in how you press your fingers and the sound it produces. Many beginner students that I have taught begin playing the notes either to soft or to hard. Its okay for the beginner to play this way because the student is learning the concepts of notes and keys but as the student progresses, the harmony can be a bit plain. Why is that?
As the student becomes used to the piano and the songs performed, the student begins to have an understanding of how each note should be played and at what tempo. Many intermediate students now understand how the notes should be played and what the song should sound. This is a very good level to begin the understanding of how the song should be played with feelings.
Understanding your emotions
After you have mastered a song and are now ready to perform in front of an audience. The only way to truly capture the audience is to tell them a story. This story is performed by you by the song that you play. Music has the ability to touch many areas in the mind and open imagination in the listeners. Knowing this, you may begin to guide them into your unique, melodic world.
Before actually performing in front of an audience, you must first practice the skill of incorporating your feelings into the music. Doing this will create a different story that is played by the sounds. Your mind should first see what you are playing, feel what the vision you see tells about the song. Your mind controls all of this and results in your whole body being consumed by these emotions. When you understand what each part of the song is saying, make that sound come out using your feelings.Now remember the pressure difference mentioned above, this is the time that you will use these pressure systems. You must practice the ability to create these different sounds at a subconscious level so that you no longer think about playing in that way but rather it is as natural as your emotions.
Let us begin an exercise to better understand how these feelings are put into the song that you are about to play. Imagine that you are sitting on the piano bench with your hands on your lap. Stare at the piano keys as you being to visualize the story you are going to tell. Gently and gracefully, raise your hands onto the piano keys and feel the piano. The piano is your tool, your companion in this vivid world you are about to take. As you begin to play you are no longer in a room with other people. You are no longer being looked at or being watched and nothing is around you except for your piano and your vision. Use the piano and your feelings to create a more vivid picture. This picture transforms itself into a movie that is only seen by you. This movie is a creation from every note and chord that you play. If you want the movie to become suspenseful, being that feeling and play it with the piano. If you feel that gooey shy feeling, go with it, feel how the song you are playing is moving the images. Continue to create the movie by using your feelings and represent them by applying the pressure system with the keys. Use the piano, use the keys, press them hard to enable that intense, suspenseful feeling and gently come back to a graceful meadow with bucks and deers staring deeply into your eyes. These beautiful animals are all here because they are at peace with the world you have put them in. They are there and you do not want to disturb them so you begin to tap the keys lightly as you to tip toe through them so that you do not interrupt them. As you pass the animals you are now in a clearing that you can just enjoy yourself. You can play and jump and laugh at the world you are in. The sun stares at you and the sky is a perfect blue. The beautifulness in this world you are in is made by you and is expressed in each key that you press. Continue this and continue this until you have finished the song. Where ultimately you begin to come back to the world you are physically in and you have just played the piano using your own feelings.
The exercise I presented above is merely an example of how feelings can be incorporated into the piano. You can use this very method with any song that you play so that you may now play with feelings. I urge you to create your own vision and use your feelings and emotions to make that vision play as how you want the movie to be seen, how you want to be heard.

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