This is a condition of virtuoso teaching. Many virtuosos move properly and never fully learned the biomechanics of playing because playing well came naturally to them so when they teach, they tell the student what they feel and not what they are doing to get that feeling. The student then tries to force that feeling into their playing but they can make many mistakes while trying to obtain it. Virtuosos are often the worse teachers because they sometimes don’t know how they do what they do.
Consequently students who try to force caressing into their technique begin pressing into the keys, playing with flat fingers and doing all sorts of things which will strain the tendons and then crippling pain will ensue over time because the damage is cumulative. The pianist will ignore the warning signs until one day something just breaks.
Ergonomic playing requires in/out motions, up/down, forward/backward and left/right. When you combine all these movements the player begins to play up and allows gravity to play down. The symptom of the congealment of all these motions is the feeling of caressing the keys. The pianist should not be caressing them but should feel like they are caressing them. When done properly the pianist won’t even feel their fingers because the skeleton will be playing from the arm muscles while the tendons in the hands predominately relax.
Much like petting a dog. Your arm lifts up, you move it toward the head, then down, then you pet down the dog’s back. There are four movements there and without them, there would be no petting. The petting is the result of the four movements where the hand appears do be doing the petting, using the arm.
Better yet, lay your arm on a table and lift your elbow off the table, allow your wrist to flex but keep all your fingertips on the table top. Now pull your arm off the table. Feel that your fingers are caressing the table but the fingers are NOT doing the caressing, it is the result of the arm pulling away. THAT is the carrezando technique.
But every motion MUST have an equal and opposite motion. Like petting that dog, before you can pet down the dog’s back you must first lift up and forward before you can drop down and backward. If you focus on caressing, you will lose the equal and opposite motions required to play properly. Your fingers have no muscles, all the muscles which move your fingers are in your arm. The finger bones move by a pulley system of tendons. All these equal and opposite motions are what gives a pianist a graceful look but some players force that look into their playing. Now, some schools of technique, such as the Russian, will teach you to do this hoping that carrezando will magically appear but shortcuts often come at a cost. If not pain, ignorance of the mechanics.
It is erroneously thought that the carrezando technique will give you great speed and a very light pearly touch. Again, that is the end result feeling of a proper technique. Don’t ever seek it, it will find you if your technique is proper.
First, you have to find a good teacher. If you want to find a good teacher, don’t listen to them play, listen to their students. If 90% of them play the way you want to play, you found the right teacher. Hopefully that teacher provides student recital opportunities for you to go hear several at a time. Otherwise, go to any of those ubiquitous Chopin competitions and ask the good students whom they take lessons from. CAREFUL the student isn’t a virtuoso whom the teacher is just guiding. *I* have a virtuoso student but it is nothing I did. The kid just plays correctly naturally and i keep out of his way. Answer requested for Malcolm Kogut