Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Develop More Stamina on the Piano

Learn how to play longer without wearing out

In this video, Robert gives you tips to develop more stamina and avoid wearing out for playing too much.

Released on March 8, 2023

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

By playing through music, you get used to playing longer periods of time. Not only that, you have the tremendous benefit of solidifying the performance.

Have you ever wanted to develop more stamina on the piano? That's what this show is about today. I'm Robert Estrin, and you're watching, where we have thousands of videos and articles for you. So, so many of my students and people who contact me wonder how to develop more stamina to be able to play longer periods of time without wearing out.

Some people find they're playing along, and if they play through a longer piece, by the time they get to the end of it, their hands are giving out, and they wonder, is there anything they can do about that? I'm going to give you two tips today to watch to the end so you can learn how you can develop more stamina in your playing.

Well, the first one is pretty obvious, but I'm going to give you some tips as to how to accomplish it, which is simply play more. Now, you may find that if you play a certain amount of time, your hands get tired, and you start to fall off in what you're able to do with the instrument, so you don't want to keep playing at that point.

Well, here's a tip for you. Vary your practice between things that are technical and physically oriented and things that are more mental. Memorization comes to mind. Naturally, if you're learning solo music, memorizing takes a great deal of time. Even if you're playing music that you're reading, you need to practice that music and figure things out and intellectually understand the score so you can give yourself a break. So for example, you're working on a really tough passage, spending a good deal of time with it. Take a break, move on to other things, perhaps absorbing new material or reading through some of your new pieces, which might be very slow going, which wouldn't be nearly as physically demanding.

But at the same time, you're practicing for longer periods of time, just like in exercising, having higher stress and lower stress, the varied amount of work you do is very beneficial to your muscles and your general wellbeing. It's the same thing with your piano playing. So vary your practice, spend good deals of time. Now, another thing that is incredibly valuable is just simply playing through your pieces. So let's say you're working on a new piece, but you have several older pieces that you still kind of have in shape to some degree, play through them each day. By playing through music, you get used to playing longer periods of time. Not only that, you have the tremendous benefit of solidifying the performance. Because if you're used to running through your pieces again and again and again, if an opportunity comes to play for people, it'll be second nature for you. Now, what's the other technique? The other technique has to do with how you approach the keyboard. You can actually play lighter on the piano. Now there are times that this is incredibly valuable. Now in your practice, of course, you're going to play slowly with firm fingers to make sure every note is secure, working with the metronome, taking your foot off the pedal, looking at the scores I described so many times. But also when you're performing, you kind of flip that. Then you just play lightly, close to the keys with rounded fingers. Now why rounded fingers? There are two fundamental reasons. Number one is the fact that if you only play with flat fingers, you're using one joint, just the knuckle joint. Once you play with rounded fingers, you're using all these joints. So the load of working to push the keys down is spread among more joints and more muscles.

The other thing is that actually, if you put your hands and just let them rest on the keys, they're naturally going to go into a rounded position. It takes effort to keep them this way to keep the fingers flat. So just let your hands go into the natural round position and you'll get the benefit of all the joints.

Stay close to the keys because it takes much more effort to raise your fingers. In practice, using raised fingers helps to delineate what keys are down, what keys are up, and it really helps your hand to feel the notes and all the reaches. And that's a great way to practice. But when you're performing, you want to lighten it all up, stay close to the keys. Even in wrist work with staccatos and such, sure, you want to use the wrist in order to achieve a nice staccato and speed.

But by staying closer to the keys, you'll play lighter. It takes much more effort to go than staying closer to the keys.

And you can go faster to boot. So it has many benefits for you. So to recap, developing more endurance involves practicing intelligently. Try to play through a lot of music on a regular basis. Take breaks if you get tired, but come back to it again and again. And you could just take breaks from intensive practice that uses a lot of physiology and do more mental work and kind of intersperse the physical with the mental practice. And the other thing is when you perform, lighten up, stay close to the keys with rounded fingers, and don't use excessive wrist motion for octaves, chords, and staccato technique. This should help you develop more endurance. Let me know how this works for you. Any other tips, you can post them here on and on YouTube. If you want to help the channel grow, you can put the thumbs up. And if you haven't already subscribed, check it out. You'll be the first to know about new videos coming your way. Again, I'm Robert Estrin. This is, your online piano resource.
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