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Whenever I watch a good piano player, I notice their arms and hands move a lot and it looks very smooth and emotional. Then when I record myself playing, I notice my hands often look stiff and they don't move very much at all. I know playing the piano is about music but when I have an audience, I would like for it to look pretty as well. The sound I produce does often sound very emotional and not "stiff" at all.

I know most movements should be done with the arm instead of the fingers. I often spin my hand to the sides with my forearm muscles to use my thumb and pinkyfinger for example. I try to lift up my forearm more and let it fall down to let gravity do the work, especially when a song gets loud and powerful. Yet my hands still seem so stiff... I make sure my fingering is correct so it's not due to wrong tension in my hands either.

I don't know what else to do, let my hands move even further up? This feels very unnatural...

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    Maybe your brain is still having to concentrate on playing the music right, and it's not second nature yet? So there's no think power left to consider the theatricals? – Tim Mar 16 at 13:53
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You need to get in touch with gravity. The gracefulness you see in other players is simply the feeling, control and adjustment to gravity.

Remember in HS physics that every motion has an equal and opposite motion? The grace you see is them harnessing the opposite motion in order to let the arm play down. In essence, they are playing up.

Slowly pet your dog and notice the arc, gentleness and gravity you allow onto the beast. You are not pressing down but, resting up as you pet. In order to play to the point of sound to get that pearly light tone on the piano, you need to control gravity so that you are not pushing down into the keybed. If you are pressing down into the key, you can't play up to harness the weight of your arm.

Like walking up stairs, you have to lift your foot higher than the target step then come straight down on it.

Have you ever watched a skier ski in parallel? They make it look effortless and graceful but it isn't graceful because they are skiing down, they are unweighing themselves and what you see is the up, which is indeed effortless. It is just like those zero gravity parabolic flights which defy gravity.

  • In essence, they are playing up. Heard this more than once from experienced players: "imagine you're pulling up the keys, as if you had suckers on your fingers". – Tobia Tesan Mar 17 at 9:48
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    Keep in mind that some improper movements can hinder effortless or graceful playing. If there is ulnar or radial deviation of the wrist, that locks up the whole forearm and the fingers. Abducting, crossing the thumb under, not leading with the elbow . . . – Malcolm Kogut Mar 18 at 12:05

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