1.Position at the piano: Your body is the center of gravity around which all other movements should revolve. Internal relaxation requires both physical and mental efforts.
2.Think of the Art. Do not worry about strength or velocity alone, but also about grace and expression given without any effort, and you will attain artistic freedom of feeling.
3.Strive for sonority and flexibility, during the entire piece as well as for fragments of the piece.
4.As you play, listen with your eyes closed. Your fingers will obey you better.
5.Power to control the material can be acquired only when you have the power to control yourself.
6.Learn to listen carefully as you play.
7.Think of the substantive content, visualize both the vertical harmony and the horizontal melody.
8.The more difficult the passage. the more relaxed should be the physical condition of the performer. Never let emotion or tension interfere with the music.
9.Let the eyelids and shoulders drop. as though you are about to fall asleep.
10.Practice the most difficult and complicated passages with each hand separately.
11.Always be an alert
listener, in order to obtain the desired sonorities.
12.Play a few pieces daily, as though for a performance. However, do not go to the point of perspiration!
13.Take chords and all extensions with flexible, elastic hands.
14.Regard rests as moments of silence. Rest your ears by changing your touches, sonorities and tempi.
15.When practicing, concentrate on what you are doing and how you want to do it. Never work mechanically. On the other hand, when performing, stop thinking, and listen so that your performance will be spontaneous.
16.Never lose your taste for good sonorities. Everything must sound beautiful at all times.
17.Occasionally practice without using the pedal.
18.Train yourself during practice to acquire perfect evenness of sonority, without the slightest accent, thinking only about the flexible movement of the hands
19.Before starting to
practice, concentrate on what you want to accomplish and how you
want to work. Never play mechanically, even when practicing exercises
1.In order to perform artistically, think about the themes and melodies, harmonies, rhythms and tempi.
2.Practice each passage with contrasting tempi and touches: staccato, legato, forte, piano, fast and slow, energetically and softly, etc.
3.Do not pay attention to little errors, or be upset by them. Smile! Play with taste and great pleasure.
4.When playing, the arm must always feel physical pleasure and comfort. The ears should be conscious of the same feeling.
5.Never play without
pleasure. If you are filled with emotions of anger or hostility,
either do not attempt to play at all, or try to play without any
emotion, quietly and evenly.
If you listen carefully to control the intensity of each note, in time, your fingers will learn to obey you. Always be aware of the rests and sighs, even the smallest ones; without them, music can become chaotic noise. Don't exaggerate speed and bravura. Never force the tone of the instrument. Give in to the instrument! Contact should be caressing. Be rid of all harsh movements, sonorities and jerks. Practice with flexibility. Work on difficult passages at times with greater speed than you intend to perform them. Always practice with expression, and listen for important nuances. Play what you already know in many different ways: at first slowly, at an even tempo; then forte with strict control over each note. Finally, play at an even, flexible tempo, with pedal, bringing out the principal elements and without exaggerating details. Always maintain a flexible arm.
Shake out your speeds and strengths as though from your sleeves! Take time to practice your very finest touches: pianissimo, dolcissimo. Work on the smoothness of your rhythmical lines. Don't attempt to sharpen what is already sharp. Keep things in perspective with broad waves and strokes. Always be conscious of your position at the piano and freedom of the body. In order to achieve controlled tranquillity, think of the musical expression, not the performance per se. Listen to the main ideas in broad strokes.
Tempi and Rhythm: Work on separate elements of musical performance.
1.Throw out your metronome "thermometer"! Mechanical instruments are not competent to regulate artistic motion. Begin by determining for yourself the composer's intent for the exact tempo of the piece as well as the character of its motion. The composer's indication (allegro or andante) is only an impression of motion. Its character may be either rigorous or flexible, full or empty. It is not an exact indication. For example, an allegro tarantella with the shortest note value of eighths will sound faster than an allegro rondo with sixteenths or thirty-seconds.
2.The tempo also depends
upon the richness of the performer's touch, the sonority of the
piano and pedalling, as well as the acoustics of the place of
3.Rubato consists of a gradual accelerando or a ritardando in scarcely noticeable proportions, without breaking the relationship of the lengths of neighboring notes. Such a rubato retains the general pulse of the tempo.
4.Start your daily work with pieces that you can perform in correct tempo. Practice mostly at the required tempo so that you can see what difficulties are to be overcome.
5.One must be able to
combine the artistic and technical approaches to each piece because
these aspects reinforce each other. Remember that playing a piece
that is already known, pianissimo, does not weaken the fingers
but gives them a needed rest, keeping them firm but not stiff.
Don't forget that a person hears best with closed eyes. Listen!
Do most of your practice evenly, at medium tempo, with absolute calm, then, with eyes closed, play at the real tempo, as you would at the concert. Watch for elasticity of movement and sonority. Economise the pedal! Work on artistic waves, rather than separate notes or fragments.
When tired, the ears begin to lose control. When the ears are irritated, the whole performance becomes irritated, uneven and inexact. So when you feel tired, take up some slow, singing or light pieces, for which you usually don't have time.
For successful, artistic work, it is essential to have a feeling of pleasure. In order to maintain this feeling, rest your ears occasionally by changing sonorities. You should also rest your arms, by changing motions, technical problems and approaches. Do not permit yourself to stagnate.
If you still feel tired despite every effort to change approaches, such as practicing without pedal or varying tempi, stop playing. Never force yourself to work when you are tired, because tension can become a habit.
Remember legato! Contemporary performers often forget legato, which is the basis for good sonority. This sonority can he acquired by patient work. Pieces with energetic touches, accents, staccato, etc. can tire the fingers, especially the tips of the fingers. That is why this kind of work should be practiced legato, with a deliberately even and caressing touch. Thanks to this touch, the fingers and arms become rested. This whole approach may subsequently be varied, playing lightly piano at the indicated tempo, or perhaps faster to attain lightness and velocity. However, be careful to come back to exactness.
Keep in mind the action and the result. Action means the movement of arms, the stroke of each finger, the position of the body. Each aspect should feel comfortable. For results, try to acquire the most artistic beauty of sound. Keys like to be caressed! When caressed, the keys will answer with a beautiful tone.
Start your work with energy. Choose from a large variety of pieces and passages of larger works. The greater the variety and the amount of work the better will be the overall results obtained. Always economize your strength!
Every piece and every fragment has its own spectrum of colors. In order to discover this, change your playing from moderate tempo and even sonority to double tempo. Never practice for a long time with the same touch or the same tempo.
Although most contemporary pianos demand more strength in the right hand, it should never be forgotten that the bass supports the melody. By switching concentration from one hand to the other, better control will eventually be achieved.
Technique requires energy, but exaggerated energy makes technique heavy and awkward. Strive to play with expression and exact tempo without temperamental excitement and onslaughts upon your instrument. Keep your energy under control, moderating temperament and accents, and eliminating harsh movements and jerks. Try not to be impatient: molto tranquillo. Practice difficult parts quietly. Forgotten pieces should be practiced piano, dolce and without pedal. It should be reiterated at this point that practice without pedal is very useful. Give your fingers an opportunity to discover particular expressions, movements, positions, and at the same time rest the ears. When you do use the pedal, do so with discrimination: one-fourth, one-eighth or one-half pedal.
The evening before the concert, don't torture your hands with difficult gymnastics or excessive use of strength which tires both arms and ears. Practice with comfortable lightness and flexibility of the arms; most importantly, strive for a lovely sonority. Keep the fingers as close as possible to the keys, the shoulders down and breathing freely. Never force anything. Give only what you can give easily.
l.Position at the piano: Sit as comfortably as possible. The body should be firmly at its center of gravity rather than on edge from nervous tension. It should follow the movement of the arm, right and left, but it should otherwise move as little as possible to and from the piano. The head should not bob up and down, but concentrate only on thinking and listening.
2.Position of the arms: The most normal position of the arms is with the elbows hanging freely away from the body. The elbows reflect the larger lines of movement. and the wrist reflects the smaller lines. Both lines should affect the fingers in groups of notes rather than single notes. Since the fingers are the smallest members of the pianistic apparatus, their movement should be the smallest. It is important to develop the coordination of the muscles of the whole arm, not just those in the fingers. Regard your fingers as conductors of electricity rather than generators. The more varied the problem to which you adapt your hands, the quicker they will acquire the ability to change position and have more flexibility.
Rachmaninoff's techniquehis energy, his strength, speed and clarityis based on shaking-out movements from the inside. His fingers are never bored or mechanical, but always alive.
Any awkwardness, mistake or confusion of the fingers is usually the result of nervousness or some psychological reason. Mistakes and confusion of the fingers can also be caused by lack of knowledge of the technical problems of certain passages or segments of them; or by lack of concentration of the principal content of the passage. When a passage has been perfected, it is not necessary to continue dwelling on small details. Play it in an artistic wave.
In order to achieve clarity in difficult passages:
1.For legatissimo, keep the fingers slightly flatter against the keys.
2.Do not allow sharp, jerky movements.
3.Maintain the same even sonority for a longer period of time (pp - p - f - ff) so as to train your fingers to obtain gradual crescendo or diminuendo along broader lines.
4.Never give sharp accents
along the broader lines of crescendo or diminuendo because it
would break their impact.
5.Keep the fingers as close as possible to the keys.
Remember! Each stroke of the finger should be intense but effortless. Flexibility of' movement should be somewhere between the extremes of excessive stiffness and looseness.
In establishing a foundation for piano technique, try to discover the axis or center of gravity around which your other movements should revolve. Combine more notes within one movement with the same position. Practice occasionally without raising the fingers in both slow and fast tempi.
Generally speaking, do not tire the fingers with exaggerated energy. When the fingers are tired permit them some inertia without paying attention to the resulting unevenness. After such a refreshing intermission, they will play much more accurately than before.
Difficult passages are not ready for performance until they can be played with assurance and without any tension evenly, calmly, and with elasticity.
Practice the speed of the finger stroke until it is effortless. If you pretend that the tips of the fingers have eyes, they should look toward the keys. Likewise, your energy should be absorbed by the keys, rather than rebound from them.
Various positions of the arms will give various sonorities. Before practicing, clearly establish in your mind which particular problems you want to solve. When you begin to practice, train yourself to perform the pieces lightly and in tempo. At all times during practice, be comfortable and maintain good sonority, even on exercises.
Select your particular difficulties and "iron" them out by giving equal time to problems of (a) sonority (b) movement and flexibility of the arms and fingers (c) tempo. Keep everything in "orbit;" don't let yourself get bogged down with any one difficulty.
Remember to "oil"
your movements, especially during jumps and in difficult positions
such as jumping legato. Keep this metaphor in mind during slow,
melodic pieces as well as during fast, brilliant ones. Train yourself
by practicing at double tempo: at first slowly, then twice as
fast. Return to the piece later at medium tempo: tranquillo, even,
legato, keeping the fingers close to the keys, with absolutely
no jerks or accents. Try not to force or exaggerate either your
forte or piano in either slow or fast tempo.
It should be noted at
this point that many passages are controlled by the wrist, not
the fingers. Think of the initiative as emanating from
the wrist rather than the fingers. The wrist has a function as
a conductor of the motions of the hand. For chords, the wrist
transmits the weight of the arm to the keys with a downward motion.
For octaves. keep the weight on the first finger. Again, the body should be at the center of gravity and should be the springboard for the octaves. Otherwise, you risk being thrown off balance. Concentrate on relaxing your shoulders from the inside, thereby giving freedom to your arms. The overall feeling of the body should be one of firm quietness, not a tense rigidity.
After executing any one movement, whether of single notes, chords or octaves, and especially after extensions, the hand should return to its normal position. This is the leading principle of the "elastic hand."
Jerky trills are usually the result of an exaggerated. nervous tension. Relax your fingers by performing a variety of movements, as outlined before.