Fortissimo Fixation

If your ears are ringing as you read this, you may have a student with fortissimo fixation. Hammering into the keys can become a constant  and frustrating habit for some students.

Fortissimo Fixation: As Soft As…

Simply using different vocabulary can make all the difference when it comes to Fortissimo Fixation. Trying to play as soft as a rabbit in the snow is a lot more fun than playing pianissimo.


  • Ask your student to think of the quietest thing she can.
  • Tell as her to play something simple (a scale, pattern or exercise) as soft as…whatever she chose.
  • Encourage her to play more softly using the comparison.
  • Once she is playing softly enough, ask her to play her piece again, continuing with the same analogy.
  • Ask your student to draw a picture of different quiet things at the top of each of the pieces she needs to practice this week and assign practice as soft as…each of these examples.

Fortissimo Fixation: Freefall

The Freefall is not about playing more softly straight away, more about getting rid of the really harsh sound that students with Fortissimo Fixation are often producing.


  • Stand facing your student away from the piano.
  • Lift your arms and let them flop down by your sides and ask your student to copy you. The arms should be “freefalling”, not being pushed or swung down.
  • Go back to the piano and use the same falling motion to land on the keys. At first just let the hands land on a group of keys and then play a single key with one finger.
  • Ask your student to play one of her pieces in this way, lifting and Freefalling into each note.
  • Assign practice of at least one piece using the Freefall.
  • The following week begin to minimise this movement, encouraging your student to keep the same feeling of freedom in her playing, and never pushing into the keys.