Updated: Mar 7, 2021
Recently, I invited several pianists to try out all of the Piano-Yoga® exercises. Although I was delighted that they were happy doing this, I noticed one big problem: the majority of them were doing the exercises wrongly! It reminded me a story, when a reviewer contacted me and said that the book did not work for her. I suggested that I should come to her house to see what was going on, and observe how she practiced. It turned out that, being a professional pianist, she had started her Piano-Yoga® journey from the advanced stage, doing the exercises wrongly and, of course, getting tired and exhausted.
Since the publication of the book in 2009, I have seen hundreds of pianists trying to practice Piano-Yoga® inefficiently. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, if you do Piano-Yoga® exercises incorrectly, it is better not to do them at all! There are other exercises which, with a more traditional classical piano approach, can help your technique.
'It really does work!' Piano Professional Magazine
Here are the first 7 common mistakes pianists make:
1. Playing Piano-Yoga® exercises too fast. If you do that, the efficiency of your practice will be diminished by at least one third. The whole point of these exercises is that they are done slowly, to let the muscles build up their strength gradually. Think about working-out in a gym with weights – this can be a similar exercise. If you follow the metronome markings which I have indicated in the music, you will do the exercises at the correct speed.
2. Not lengthening your fingers far enough. Of course, Piano-Yoga® is not supposed to be a torture, but you do need to try to lengthen your fingers as much as you can! The more elongated your fingers are, the more efficient the exercises will be for you. Think about sun rays coming out of your fingertips inside the piano.
3. Not engaging the bridge of the hand. When creating these exercises, I anticipated this myself, so in the description of each exercise I wrote: “When playing all the exercises in this book with flat-finger technique, please make sure that your knuckles are engaged.” However, it never ceases to surprise me how many students are still playing the exercises without thinking about the bridge of the hand. This is totally wrong, as it disables your control of your fingers (just think about your bridge as a control panel of the computer).
4. Not engaging the proximal phalanx of the hand. These exercises can be 50% more efficient, if pianists engage their proximal phalanx when doing these exercises. In the Preliminary Stage you can learn about the phalanx engagement (Digit Exercise), and try to maintain it gradually, during the course of the exercises. This will enable your fingers to strengthen rapidly.
"Having tested out Piano-Yoga with students aged seven to 70, I can't help but be impressed by it. My students have developed a greater finger control and the wrist exercises have really improved their phrasing". Music Teacher Magazine
5. Ignoring Piano-Yoga® sitting position. This position was introduced at the very beginning in the Preliminary Stage. I found that, when my students were doing this exercise prior to playing, their playing was transformed. It happened due to a re-alignment of their body. Often during my masterclasses, I asked participants to play as they would normally, and then to play a second time, after they incorporated the Piano-Yoga® Sitting Position (from the Preliminary Stage of the book). The difference was radical. Those who incorporated the Piano-Yoga® Sitting Position were much more in control of their fingers and hands and, therefore, their sound was dramatically different.
6. Skipping through the Preliminary Stage. Many advanced pianists think that the Preliminary Stage is not important, but this is where they are so wrong! This stage was created after I created stages 1 and 2, as I realised that certain aspects which were obvious to me, were not obvious to other pianists, even to the most advanced ones. The main goal of this stage is to teach you the main principles of the method, so you can apply them in further stages. By skipping this stage, it is the much more likely that you will do the subsequent exercises wrongly.
7. Not practising regularly. I get it! Sometimes, we just don’t feel like practising, and it happens to many of us. Sometimes we don’t feel like cleaning our teeth either, but we know what is going to happen if we don’t do it! The same applies here: if you don’t practice Piano-Yoga® regularly, you will slow down your progress or reduce it to zero. If you are afraid of disturbing people you live with, or your neighbours, you can do Piano-Yoga® on a keyboard with headphones. This is not ideal, but it is better than not doing it at all. Just set a timer, and even 10 minutes of practising Piano-Yoga® will help you to build your technique. Over time, after you have conquered the method, you can even practice Piano-Yoga® whilst watching or listening to something else. As long as your fingers are doing the right job, and your alignment is correct, you will get the benefit from it. The heavier your keyboard is, the better it is for you!
'This is a book for a lifetime of healthy piano playing!' Piano Journal
If you are in doubt how to do any of the above, you can join me on my ‘Piano-Yoga® Transform Your Hands’ Video Course – where you can watch me doing and explaining each exercise in detail, so you can do them correctly and, even together with me!
The course is available on Vimeo platforms which is accessible from any device (computer, phone tablet and can be done online as well as in off-line mode).
And if you are not sure, what are the benefits of doing Piano-Yoga® exercises, please see the full list of them HERE. Amongst them are:
Considerably improves the quality of piano playing in just 10 weeks
Increase flexibility of the hands and fingers to their ultimate potential
A comprehensive course which quickly builds up the strength in the muscles which work the fingers and hands
Provides an excellent warm up routine for beginners and professionals
Piano-Yoga® also focuses on a player's well-being. The method is tailored to each individual body and mind
'Piano-Yoga® makes best use of your specific anatomy, strength and flexibility to help your playing.’ Pianist Magazine
Any questions? You are welcome to leave your comments underneath this blog and I will endeavour to address them in my future posts of in the reply.