In most of the exercises in this book, the hands play two octaves apart, thus enabling the forearms to assume a natural, comfortable position parallel with one another, at right angles to the keyboard. To maintain this angle, the torso tilts to the left, centre, or right, according to the geography of the passage played. When the hands play in front of the body, one should lean back a little to accommodate the elbows. Commonsense and circumstances will determine when, and to what degree, the angle and the bodily movements must be modified. Where needed, reminders should be written on the score to 'sit left', 'sit right', 'sit back', 'sit forward', etc.
Of course, one will often lean forward or back for other than technical reasons: for example, a forward attitude is generally conducive to playing of a contemplative or introspective nature, whereas to 'sit back' is often associated with a feeling of breadth and expansiveness. The student will understand that there must always be freedom of movement at the hip joints.
We remind the student to be aware of unconsciously raised shoulders and fifth fingers.
The thumbs have only two joints and are shorter than the other fingers, but, by way of compensation, they have a range of movement more than the other four fingers combined.
They have four main functions. With the palms facing you, they can move:
(a) directly towards you,
(b) away from the hand,
) right across the hand to the little fingers, and
(d) rotarily, which is a combination of the above three movements.
They have capabilities that the other fingers do not have and without their use, the fingers could not function properly because there would be an inadequate grasp.
The thumbs, as the dominating fingers of the hands, play a major role in the positioning of the hands on the keyboard. They also have a remarkable melodic capability. Students will appreciate some of the essential functions of the thumbs as they progress from the playing of single thumb notes, to double octaves, and chords through the position of the octave, and other chords in which the thumbs have a guiding influence.
Because of their fundamental importance,we begin our technical studies with the thumbs.
♦ Place the limp hands palms down on the lap, as shown in Figure 1. Note that the gap between the thumb and index finger is about the extent of a major or minor third – a natural position. Note that the thumb is turned slightly outwards.
More details and instructions are available from The Magic Touch by Wallace Tate, in association with Lionel Bowman