In several threads I often read references to playing with a relaxed state. I would like to add a physiological view to this subject. The opposite of tension is not relaxation but flaccidity. There can be no physical exertion with relaxation. To cause a physical movement, especially against a resisting force, requires tension. The mistaken notion about playing the piano with a "relaxed" aparatus is simplisitic and needs further description so as to not seem impossible and couter-intuitive. The business about relaxing in piano performance is about limiting tension in space and time. To be more precise, it is mostly about limiting the tension to the fingers and not involving the wrist or the arms and especailly not the shoulders (space). It is as impossible to transmit force through relaxed fingers as it is to push a meatball with a cooked spaghetti noodle; it's simply a mind-game that people foist upon themselves or their pupils. What should be taught rather, is that just because the 5th finger is transmitting the force does not mean that the thumb or other fingers should be tensed. This in fact is the subject of finger Independence that is absolutely critical to advanced playing and artistry. (For the purpose of expanding on the issue of Mind-Games I will here venture to criticise even my grand-teacher Joseph Lhevinne, who wrote that tone production had everything to do with playing with the softer "pads" of the fingers to produce a desirable tone, failing to acknowledge that the sum of all that a pianist does on the keys is ultimately translated to the "final common pathway" of nothing more than adjusting the velocity of a propelled hammer against a string. The density of that hammer of course is fixed (except for some una corda pedaling)). Then there is the notion of learning and training to limit tension in time. It takes training to learn to turn-off the muscles. This is not a natural impulse. Yes, once one has been on the chord or octave one will eventually relax, but to be able to relax as immediately as possible after executing the effort, is another matter and takes directed training to accomplish. For example. one can begin with triads or octaves going up a scale diatonically. It takes effort and tension to form the hand and strike the keyboard, and effort from the wrist extensors and flexors to move the hand and deliver the blow. But as instantly as the chord or octave is played, one should "shut-down" all the muscular tension so as to maximize the relaxed (low-tension) state. This interval is progressively shortened only with knowledgable and directed/puposeful training. The end result of this kind of training is to extend one's stamina and results in Efficiency of technique. A very simple demonstration of this subject is this: we all have that crazy uncle in the family who will interlock his fingers, placing them on his head and then "bounce" his biceps muscles to some music or rhythm. This is something that is difficult for anyone to do who has not gone through the process of learning to "turn-off" the muscular tension phase quickly, but can be learned by anyone. In summary, I find it an impediment to learning to use broad brush strokes about playing in a "relaxed" state because of the physiologic contradiction, and prefer to teach that relaxation is properly about limiting tension in space and time, thus resulting in the pianistic attributes of Independence and Efficiency.