Could you give me some concrete instructions as to how to "employ things from shoulder to wrist"? I tried it in my playing but I am not sure about the exact mechanisms.
The proper, artistically effective piano technique cannot be interpreted as something of purely mechanical quality. Such technique should better be named as a psycho-technical structure and, therefore, its improvement must synchronically be realized from the both sides: physical (mechanical) and – firstly – from this mental one. Let us start just from this side of the matter: its improvement could be started, for instance, from the very simple visualization. Let you try to "fulfill" your hand with your whole Will to realize totally singing still very well-articulated legato cantabile, which helps to change the whole hand into really good-working part of the entire working system (we know, legato cantabile has nothing to do with any kind of the "cheap sentiments"). Physically seen, such kind of an intense fulfilling can be named as a kind of the simple STRETCHING...
Such fulfilled hand becomes, commonly, more easily ready to better conduct the fingers, giving them possibility not only to intensely melodic intonation of the actually practicing phrase, guiding them via direction of this "virtual bow" to the side, its MUSICAL development is going on. So, not pushing, nor pressing on the keys, which habitually is completed via overused power of upper parts of the hands may be in charge here. This manner of playing we actually are speaking about, cannot even remember the legato of the kind, which commonly means: a chain of the clearly perceptible sounds. This kind of practicing I would like to propose you at this point, must conjoin as well the strictly precise articulation of the oncoming sounds, completed better in forte than in the piano, as it must be done on such an intensely singing virtual basis that without doubts would fully employ all the student's mental and emotional resources...
Results of such kind of practicing would become greatly satisfying in the very short times: the very material values of playing become truly easily tied together with the artistic, mental roots of the playing, which must make more firm the both sides of the entire process (let you compare this text to Answer 1, please! Thank you!).
All the things must be implement using the real leggiero (smoothly, easily, with a virtual wind in the virtual sail) in hands as well, as in the soul. The most fatal error would come to pass yet if one would like to interpret leggiero as a synonym of any kind of weakness,physical and/or mental as well. One has to remember that in the each one sound one might take up, one actually has to experience the motion of its musical energy/power.
Sound's development, sound's disappearing, passing motion of the sound – these are the real aspects of the sound's life. We have to experience these processes exactly as the singers, cellists, violinists or brass players perceive them. If such an active fulfilling the sounds with the artistic significance would not be executed, the piano playing will surely become dry, formal and difficult; I sincerely suggest reading the answers on questions 1, 2, 3 and 4 once more again.
Now, let us go to strictly mechanic part of the matter! This is the picture No 1:
Habitually, the pianists are interested mainly in theirs fingers' (at last - wrists') action: the Part C in our picture. The greater part of the hand does not know – WHAT exactly has to be done (A + B in the picture 1)?
And now, to the picture No 2:
The most DANGEROUS direction for the pianist's energy - is "straightly down". Such direction puts decisive impact on the whole energy circulation's quality in our mind & body entireness, focusing its hit somewhere in the keyboard's depths. Well, but THIS IS not the suitable place to any positive action of the fingers, fantasy or hearing. ONLY FINGERS and only the WEIGHT could be thrown just straightly down, according to the working power of gravitation. The "bows" must correct it and bring something MUSICAL to the matter. Still MUSIC possess the LINEAR character and the positive way of thinking should be depicted as a LINE that does not disappear somewhere in the non concrete depths...!
To secure fingers and the fantasy also, before such a terrible trap, is a main duty of hands! That is why the hands have to be "equipped" with a virtual "bow" that would "carry up" the fingers. Such bow, helping them to achieve the proper Zone of sound's quality, would not allow them to go too deep and as well would offer them enough energy for the future appropriate action.
I know, this is not easy to understand such things just reading about them. For the best – you could make a record (the DVD is the best, but it could be just magnetic tape or CD) and send it to me. You absolutely not must to show the record of concert quality! The whole thing should be realized in the similar sense as represents the common practicing. In some days I will make and send you back my musical response, giving possibly clear sounding instruction with concrete samples that could properly enlighten the situation.