As a musician, you always try to improve your practice routines and become more efficient. In fact, we are actually lazy to a point that we constantly try to find ways to practice less and do more. When I was teaching I used to say to my students they have to picture pianists as the laziest people in the world: we try to spend as less time as possible practicing and one of our basic goal is to reduce our energy consumption while playing and do as less gestures as possible. I have to say that I’ve been very creative in this laziness for many years!
How do you practice? How much time do you spend at the piano daily? These are questions I’m used to. But I never really answered to that. So, I took a few weeks to analyze my own practice sessions. Thanks to this introspection, I was able to highlight the main points governing my daily work. Want to know what are the 5 most valuable practicing tips according to me?
Soaking or not soaking, that is the question. Some pianists use to soak their arms into hot water before playing. Does it have any tangible benefit? Is it just a whim? I tried for you and here is my report. Obviously I found the technique very interesting and the experience positive. Let’s see why.
People usually don’t believe me when I say I spend much more time finding a suitable sitting than a piano before a performance. However, this is perfectly true. But that said, I’m not the only pianist claiming the bench is more important than the piano. When I was 14, I heard Samson François saying “I’d rather sit well at a bad piano, than sit poorly at a good one.” Of course he said this in a documentary film, I’m not old enough to have known him. I share his point of view now, but at this time, I just said to myself “What is this crazy guy talking about?”. Well, 16 years later, I deeply apologize to Samson Francois : he was not crazy, just much more experienced than me. What a surprise, isn’t it? But we all know how teenagers are, and I was not an exception!
We had a general view on atonal music in a previous post. This week let’s get to the heart of the matter by focusing on the twelve-tone technique. Unavoidable revolution of the twentieth century, the technique known as twelve-tone was imaginated by Schoenberg. Yes, him again, and it makes sense as we learnt he tried to get as far away as possible from tonality. And what is the most basic characteristic of a key? The hierarchy of sounds, I mean that certain notes of the scale are more important than others, they have what is called a “function”, and these fonction are polarizing our ears.
The link between body and music is complex and inseparable. The perception and interpretation of musical works are carried out by the body. Any pianist can tell you: playing the piano involves the entire body and we often push it to the limits. We overuse our body, but what do we give in return?
A few days ago, I was slowly recovering from the worst nightmare of my youth: Chopin’s 24 studies. My god, they tortured me so much! However, with hindsight, there was really no reason to flip out… It was certainly more a psychological than pianistic blockage. I even find it very funny to work today!
Some of you asked me following my article on memory and piano performance what are my tips for improving memory at the piano. This is what I am going to share with you today. How to optimize memorization of works? How do I do learn by heart scores I play?
So today I’d like to talk about memory and piano performance. A problem, which scares all of us, amateurs as professionals. Since Liszt, “the inventor” of modern recital, it has become compulsory to do without score on stage. Did Liszt had in mind that he was going to torment generations of pianists? I don’t hope so, but the result is here: we must play by heart.
The keyboard: we find it enjoyable or we hate it because too heavy, we blame it for all evil or we praise it because it has let us play well. Each mechanics is different and gives the pianist a different feeling when playing. I received several questions about this topic from a reader, which I will try to answer.