The foundation of a correct piano playing habit is the whole arm action principle – playing from the entire relaxed weight of our arms – and not by taking the needed force only from our fingers.
Besides protecting us from tension and pain, this technique enables us to create a deep, beautiful piano tone – as compared to the shallow, percussive sound that comes out of the instrument when we strike the keys only from the fingers.
When we press a piano key in a gradual manner, we are actually softening the hammer action, making the contact between the hammer and the string lose its harshness. This technique, along with playing from our entire arms, takes us one step closer to a beautiful legato.
Keep your wrist loose and relaxed. A flexible wrist has double benefits: it protects us from wrist injuries, which happen when we play in a tensed manner, with immobile joins – and it also softens the key attack some more, making the sound more vibrant and noble.
The walking arm technique helps us to connect several notes on a single movement, transferring the weight of our arm smoothly from one finger to the next one. This sensation is similar to walking and transferring the weight of your body from one leg to another – that’s why it’s called ‘the walking arm’. It instantly smoothes out the transitions between notes and minimizes the gaps – reinforcing the illusion of legato.
What happens if we play two notes on the same intensity level? Because the first one has already faded, we get the illusion that the second one sounds louder, because its intensity level creates a contrast with the previous fading note. Listen for the decay of the first note and match the next note to the same volume level. This way both notes will sound equal – and your hearing will perceive a smooth, perfect legato. After some time this technique will become an inseparable part of your pianistic skills, being as natural as breathing.