When I was young, I heard a recording of Clair de Lune by Debussy and it ignited a tremendous passion in me: I simply had to learn this magical piece of music. I worked very hard, learnt all the notes and I could pretty much play the piece but it was inconsistent and sounded very different from the recording.
I was disappointed and frustrated; the famous opening thirds were not smooth and singing, rapid left hand semiquavers lacked fluidity. Chords lacked voicing and melodic lines struggled to project above accompanying textures. There was a gulf between the music in my mind and what I heard. I couldn’t understand why but I now know it’s because of how my body was working with the piano. The technique I used was in need of adjustment.
The technical development that was not yet complete in my playing needs to be started in lesson one, embedded and cemented in the first few years of learning. Developing a good hand shape is the start of this foundation and for most people it does not come naturally. Most tutor books describe the hand shape to look like a bridge or as if you’re holding a ball.