When I first witnessed international piano guru, Peter Feuchtwanger, demonstrate his exercises in a class I was so shocked by them that I had to leave the room for a short while. They struck me as diametrically opposed to everything I had come to understand about playing the piano, but as I later came to realise, this was exactly the point. The traditional exercises pianists practise aim to solve specific technical issues using muscular or athletic approaches, whereas Peter’s exercises are effectively anti-exercises. Putting the playing into neutral, they rely on flat fingers, hanging hand positions and a completely loose, passive arm that generates most of the motions involved in putting the keys down.
It took a leap of faith to embrace these exercises and, while I did not need to throw out the technical approach I had received from my main teachers, I found I was able to incorporate Peter’s ideas into my playing and into my teaching. They certainly made a significant difference. Having spent some time working on the exercises under Peter’s supervision, I began to feel a significant difference in the amount of effort I needed to use at the piano. Often, I just needed to do much less to get the same, or a better result.
Because I find these exercises very useful in my own playing and my teaching, I decided to include a feature giving my take on them in the Online Academy. To get the best out of the exercises, you would really need to study them with someone who has received them from the source, but I offer them here as a tribute to my work with Peter and to satisfy the curiosity of the many pianists who ask me about them.
Thank you, dear Peter, for your unique contribution to the world of piano playing. You are much missed!
The Exercises of Peter Feuchtwanger is available is available for once-off purchase here or with an Online Academy subscription. Please click here to find out more about subscription options, or click here to view it if you are already a subscriber.
Further links & resources
- Foundations of Good Technique – Video lecture series on how to teach good pianistic habits and ease of movements from the start, and tackle problems in piano playing caused by lack of flexibility. Click here to view.
- Developing A Balanced Technique – In this video lecture series, Ilga Pitkevica shares insights into approaches and strategies for achieving “pianistic fitness” based on her experience of the traditions of the Russian School of piano playing. Click here to view.
- Elementary Technique (Introduction and Basics) – The first module in the Online Academy’s technique library exploring the basics of piano technique, covering seating position, posture, whole-arm and legato touches. Click here to view or click here for more information on other modules.
- Fundamentals of Scales & Arpeggios – The next module in in the Online Academy’s technique library which follows on from the introduction and basics. Click here to view.
- A Practical Guide to Forearm Rotation – A step-by-step approach to incorporating forearm rotation in your playing to feel strong, coordinated and tension-free. Click here to view.
- Mastering Piano Technique – Part 2 of Graham Fitch’s Practising the Piano eBook series provides an overview of different schools and traditions through to an extensive listing of technical exercises. Click here for more information.
There are many further resources on piano technique in the Online Academy’s growing technique library. Click here to view an index of available resources or click here to find out more about the Online Academy.