i was playing on a different piano the other day, a very nice steinway grand, and i tried to do a glissando but no sound came out! i had played on other grands before, but this was a first.  it wasn't difficult playing fast notes, but the glissando was tough.

i had a chance play on the piano later, and found that i had to use my thumbnail (which i have heard before is the proper technique), whereas before i had always gotten away with using the soft part of my fingers.

anyone else want to comment on this?
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steinways are well-known for haing a pretty stiff action. the thumbnail is the way to go (on a down gliss).

for an up gliss (obviously) it's the nails on 3rd & 4th fingers.
but if you want a big sound, use the meat on the backs of your fingers or thumb, and get the black notes as well as the white notes.  fun, sounds great, easy to scrape the skin off your fingers, though. eventually you build crazy callusses.
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why not use your palms?
steinways have a click in the action which makes them stiffer then other pianos. i got fed up with using my nails to do glisses on gigs, as it is so easy to catch the flesh by the cuticle - the next thing you know, there's blood all over the keyboard! i also find that using the nails gives a rather too tidy and precise effect.
lately i've been getting into using the flat of my hand, mainly on the white notes, and i find this more expressive (and safer), and it allows you to be more daring as there is no fear of injury. jazz organists do this all the time. the organ keyboard has a much softer action, but i think we can and should emulate them! try it with your left hand as well - it's a really dynamic effect if you start real low and gliss upwards to about an octave below middle c (with the sustain pedal down of course).
all grands have aftertouch, the resistance going half way down and then the final half gets easier after the hammer is thrown. a steinway should be no stiffer than other pianos, it's all in how it is regulated (set up). horrowitz had his steinway set at 45 grams downweight, if you practicaly breathed on it the keys would drop.
i drew blood using my fingers on ascending glisses (12 shows a day - same gliss) - i got edumacated real fast and started using my nails
i've actually known a few classical pianists that kept a handkercheif at one end of the piano and grabbed it for the glissando, so they could use the soft part of the fingers with some force and not tear them up.
not to mention serkin's octave glissandi trick on the waldstein -- pinky and thumb inserted into the nostrils, then sliding down the board.  at least that's how i remember it told to me.

i don't know why someone wouldn't use the 3 and 4 nails on the descending glissando as well as the ascending -- pieces which call for both black and white key chromatic glissandi are typically played with both hands, as i've seen it done live (in saint-saens, e.g.).  i can't do just the thumbnail on descent -- but in a looser context than a classical performance, some part of the meat of the hand works fine, i find.
you could just keep a little tool handy that you use when you do glissandos.  a screwdriver would probably work.
a cloth works just fine.
but i want to know what the heck about the nostrils?
i'm assuming that was rudolph and not peter.

i just heard a peter serkin recital last month.  it was really quite interesting.
you know how in the waldstein there are those octave glissandi (written as really fast octaves, but everyone plays them as glisses that i've heard)?  

instead of licking fingers 1 and 5 (especially 5) as some people do to get the fingers sliding, an alternative is to jam thumb and pinky up (presumably moist) nostrils.  same effect, i suppose.

i have no way of knowing for sure who should get the credit for this innovation.
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