10

I'm currently trying to build up my finger strength, and have found that the exercises I do are more effective if I am practising on a piano with a heavier touch, as the keys require more force to push down.

Is it possible to buy pianos with the keys artificially weighted for the purposes of practice so that the touch is far heavier than anything you would get on a piano built for performance? I am not interested in electronic keyboards, only acoustic pianos.

8

While it's impossible to say definitively (someone could go make a keyboard out of lead tomorrow), I have never heard of anything like this and would say it's both impractical and not really useful for the reasons stated below:

  • Keyboard mechanisms are designed within very specific tolerances. In order for escapement to work properly and be useful, the key has to be balanced so that it returns very quickly from any pressure exerted. These mechanisms will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer (so you may find one make of piano has a slightly more weighty action), but the concept of weighting a key unnecessarily is throwing everything out of balance; the added inertia will prevent the key from returning quickly after a press.

  • You're essentially talking about strength training for your fingers. While this is fine in a general sense, practicing piano technique on a keyboard with drastically different feel from the standard practice is going to put your own perception completely out of whack. You'd likely be very good at playing everything loudly, but you'd have to retrain yourself on a standard keyboard to learn to play soft. Given how subtle piano expression can be, that's not something I'd want to put myself through.

Like filzilla said, you'll get much more over the long term out of specific finger-strength-building exercises played on a standard piano. I too have weakness problems, particularly with my ring and pinky finger, and have found Hanon Part 1 #s 4, 7, 9 to be particularly relevant.

4

Whether these exist or not, this is a bad idea to practice on a piano with unusual action.

Any classical piano teacher will tell you that you should practice on the best action available to you so your fingers become accustom to a standard touch. If your goal is to improve your proficiency then likely one of the best sources would be to practice the Hanon exercises.

The Virtuoso Pianist (Le Piano virtuose) by Charles-Louis Hanon (1873).

2

My Mason & Hamlin BB has the heaviest action I've ever encountered on any acoustic piano. If I neglect playing it and focus on my weighted-key Motif 8 for any amount of time, I find that when I return to it, I've lost a considerable amount of finger strength. The opposite is also true: if I practice more on my M & H, I'm a monster on my Motif!

1

Many years ago my teacher told me of a device he had aquired which was essentially a one-octave keyboard with weights attached to the keys by string (instead of the usual piano hammers). You could adjust the weights in increments like kitchen scales to make the 'action' heavier or lighter.

Never heard of such a thing before or since, mind you!

Not sure if it was commercially available but sounds a fun project to make from a broken piano.

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