Musically Dynamic Playing

If you want to add colour to your playing then dynamics are a great way to start. It’s amazing the difference between a piece with no dynamics vs the same piece with dynamics.

When you start thinking about dynamics there only a few things to remember. The first is that there is only really 2 types. You get forte (f) which is strong and piano (p) which is quiet. From there you just get variations.

After that, just understand mezzo, which means quite. If you see it in front of piano (mezzo piano – mp), play quite quietly. If you see it in front of forte (mezzo forte – mf) then play quite loud.

Last thing. The more f’s (fff)you see in a row the louder you play and the more p’s (ppp) you see in a row the quieter you play.


The tricky part is getting the best dynamics out your piano. Everyone will tell you to play softer or play louder but to fully get it in to your muscle you need to think about the mechanism behind it.

When you press a key on the piano, the key goes down at your fingers, the end of the key goes up and pushes a hammer to hit the string or strings for that note.

What to remember is the faster you push the key down the faster the hammer will move and the louder the note will be. The slower you press the key the slower the hammer will move and the quieter the note will be. Remember that the piano is an incredible instrument and it’s very subtle changes in speed that make the different in dynamic.

When you’re figuring out dynamics for your music scan the score for the quietest and the loudest sections. Then experiment with playing the 2 extremes and focus on how it feels in your arm. Once you have that, great. Move on to other dynamics in the piece. Figure out how each one of them feel in the arm and add it to your arsenal.

Always remember that the musical sound coming from the piano is a physical movement. You need to use your body to translate how your heart and mind would like the music to sound in to the physical movement. Have this understanding and you’ll open new gates to brilliant music.

Experiment this week. Record a piece you’re playing with no dynamics then record it again with dynamics. Listen back and hear the difference.

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