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Week 7 Report

Western-Li Summerton
MUS 481 Chan

This week the first reading focused on the mechanics of the piano. The reading touches on:

● How the sound is produced: avoiding ‘key-bedding’

● Control of dynamics: examining the role of speed into a key and its effects on the sound
● Sustained notes: striking, holding, and releasing a note.
● Use of damper pedal

The second reading focuses on the history, evolution, and application of biomechanics(how to
use the body to play well)/physiology (how the body functions).

● Deppe and Breithaupt the beginnings of awareness of the arm in relation with the fingers
● Ortmann and Whiteside: Calls out contradictions between previous views. Offers
empirical evidence based on physiology on how to play, strived for scientific truth, helped
us to understand ‘reduced muscle contraction vs complete relaxation’. Whiteside
followed up on Ortmann, looked at unnecessary movements, and pedagogical
approaches to teaching good technique
● Schultz: Looked at developing velocity by examining relaxation and contraction of
● Matthay: Looking at the biomechanics of playing to support musical expression
● Gat:Use of technology, such as the oscilloscope to identify overtones, or fast shutter
cameras to delineate hand and finger motion. Focused on the whole body as active in
this experience.
● Music Medicine and Wellness: Looking at diet, injury, body type, and exercise in context
with piano.
● Piano Crosstraining: pre-practice stretching and warmups, varying intensity levels in

This chapter is important because it isolates a part of our piano playing that is objective: how
our body’s motion affect the sound that we make, and how our constant playing may affect our
body depending on how we play. Through the presentation with Alexander technique, not only
can we reflect on our movement through playing, but also how we position and hold our body in
our daily lives. My personal experience with exercise has surprised me in its relationship with
my awareness of my body at the piano; seeing how resistance training provides a mind muscle
connection and awareness that I can bring in to piano. An example maybe being aware of the
relationship of my back, where my arm is connected around the shoulder blade, and its role in
providing support for smaller joints and fingers. I think this reading is good for older students as
well as teachers who may have a better grasp of this science, but can be fruitful when
introduced to students at an early age in simpler terms.