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Piano "Wall" (Fallboard)

piano technique

Question: Hello Albert,

First of all, thank you so much for this website I appreciate the work you put into all this just to help us!

Here is my question: I play piano on a keyboard at home. But I’ve noticed that when I play on a real piano somewhere else (for example at school) it is kind of hard to play jumps and octaves, because of the “wall” that is right in front of the keys. I haven’t got that on my regular keyboard so I really got used to the freedom I have. How can I fix this? I know that playing on a real piano would help but I’m unable to afford one, and I’ve only got the chance to play about 30 minutes a week on a real one (at school).

It may help you to know a few things to help me. I play piano for a year now, and I totally teach myself. I would say Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3 is the most difficult piece I play. It’s not perfect but very decent, as long as I play it on my own keyboard…

By the way: I started playing when I was 16, so you’re kind of an inspiration for me :-).

Have a nice weekend.

– Alex

Albert’s reply: Thanks very much for your kind words, Alex. The “wall” at the back of the keyboard (the lid that closes and covers the keyboard) – where the manufacturer’s logo appears – is called the fallboard.

You should never play so far back on the keys that you’re hitting the piano fallboard. It can happen accidentally in a few extremely athletic passages, though it shouldn’t happen at all.

One of the important rules of piano playing is that the piano keys are levers. I think of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes’s famous quote in this context:

“Give me a lever long enough… and I shall move the world.” Archimedes

The greatest leverage – and hence control – comes from the far end of the lever, not the middle. In general, you should aim for the ends of the keys in order to have the most possible control over the sound.

The exception is passages that require very fast movement that switches between the white and black keys, in which there’s no time for in-and-out movement. An example is fast octaves. Otherwise, you’ll need to aim for the ends of the keys in order to have the greatest possible control over dynamics and articulation.

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