Just recently, I’ve realized that when I play piano, I hold a “knot” of tension in my back, in the space between my shoulder blades. Upon this realization, I have begun making a conscious effort to release this tension while I am practicing – which I have to do constantly. It’s obviously a bad habit that I’ve been unaware for a long time!
Interestingly enough, it seems to be related to another issue which I’ve been aware of since my freshman year of college: I tend to raise my right shoulder when I play, especially in anticipation of difficult passages in a piece. Raising my shoulder, however, actually hinders my arms/fingers in those difficult passages rather than helping. I have to remind myself not to “freak out” in anticipation of those upcoming passages so that I keep my shoulder comfortably in place.
Now that I am focusing on releasing the newly-discovered tension in my back, however, I have found that the shoulder problem is occurring less. It seems that I may have found the root of the issue! My back feels better, which means my shoulders are feeling better, which in turn means my arms and wrists are feeling better. And difficult passages are going much better than ever before, which is amazing to me!
Do you deal with tension when you play? Have you been able to identify the root of the problem? I am very interested in hearing more about how to prevent/deal with tension!