Arm Weight Technique: Pros and Cons

A 45 minute lecture by Alan Fraser on the Arm Weight school of piano technique as exemplified by the teachings of Tobias Matthay.

Alan Fraser
Alan Fraser

Notes

"A wonderful technique which can be used in the wrong way!

It was developed because harpsichords and organists used finger movement (arm weight made no difference to the sound). Later with piano, Tobias Matthay and others realised that arm weight needed to be involved to avoid injury.

It is a subjective perception, but a useful one.

Arm weight can lead to un-musical or musical results.

It can difficult for an advanced player make minute adjustments to their technique.

Alan had some lessons with Carol Grindea, who was a protege of Dame Myra Hess, who had studied with Tobias Matthay. She advocates a controlled descent with a precise timing of the sound. The muscular activation required in the hand is minute, with incredibly subtle control of the finger.

This can create a blooming, blossoming, warm tone.

Next she showed tone generation with the arm ascending. The fingers can move with less effort when the arm is in motion.

His conclusions

  • It has nothing to do with the weight of the arm being transmitted via the finger to the key
  • All the great proponents of arm weight had a wonderfully developed arch structure in the hand

Watch the video to learn more from this great teacher!