Archive for the ‘Pedagogical Concerns’ Category

433 • Out of sight – out of mind

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Scientific research (Brenner & Zacks) observed that walking through doorways interferes with memory, facilitates forgetting. More specifically: the “doorway effect” is a theory based on the fact that retaining a memory is more difficult after literally walking through an actual doorway (to another room, the outside, the other lecture hall, in or out the church, a stage door). It appears that memory works better when remaining in the room in which it originally captured the information, and that one loses some of the information when walking out of the room - in real locations (like your practice room, the university, a museum, a shopping center, the green room) as well as in virtual reality simulations (like an Avatar program at DARPA; or Skyrim, the Sims, or Destiny on PSX). It’s called the “encoding specificity” principle and suggests that memory organizes information (amongst other things) ‘location based’ (exterior).

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432 • First practice, then freak out.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

From a pedagogical point of view: personality preventing productive piano practicing is preposterous - before the after - and utterly undesired.

Therefore I advise the following (as it is a “path dependent” process): first practice with focus and purpose, and only then give sway to the weakness of spirit and flesh.

See: 182 • Disciplina

429 • Martha Argerich on piano practicing discipline:

Monday, January 12th, 2015

"When the piano likes me, I touch it. When it doesn't, I don't."

427 • Stan Lee giving a piano lesson

Monday, August 25th, 2014

With great technique there must also come — great responsibility!

420 • Echolalia and Echopraxia

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The imitation and replication of the melodic contours, overtone colors, quality of rhythm, and physical movements of the great masters - without necessarily grasping the vision and intent of the original - is a fundamental and progressive method for the aspiring young artist.

Since man is genetically predisposed to extrapolate underlying patterns in all that he encounters and experiences, the aspiring young artist may arrive at grasping the intents behind the master’s interpretation and eventually formulate a vision of his own.

412 • Regression to the mean

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Since regression to the mean is inevitable, it suggests two conclusions:

1) one has to strife for performance mean rather than performance peak, and
2) the standards of that mean have to be set infinitely high!

That is what it means to grasp for the stars. Therein lies the infinity of human potential. Achievement is always an exception.

The correlation of peak and mean is not the causation of regress, only its drastic statistical relation.

411 • Hobbled Hands

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Some misinformed students try to play the piano while applying a self-inflicted tension-hobble on their shoulders, arms, and hands, thus substantially hindering the natural motion of the entire pianist mechanism and in result sabotaging their expressive range. Like trying to conduct an orchestra in a straight jacket.

410 • Faster listening

Friday, June 21st, 2013

How to practice faster playing? One way is to reduce the processing of available information to the necessary - listening to fewer details is faster listening, which enables faster playing.

For example: Rhythmically - fewer beats in bar or phrase; halves instead of quarters, whole bars instead of eight notes.
Harmonically - fewer details of cadence, only main harmonic events, taking the subtleties of transition in passing.
Melodically - straighter curves, exaggerated peaks and perhaps valleys, less attention to transitions and ornaments.

It is the art of 'prevedere'. Think of driving a car: the faster the driving speed, the fewer details are processed and the further one looks ahead; a kind of a narrowing tunnel vision retaining control of the information. Never give up control in faster playing. You never drive on autopilot on high speeds. Practicing, as always, is the key to that faster car.

408 • Bona Fides

Friday, June 21st, 2013

When, while practicing, you experiment with the evenness of a passage, the balance of a chord, or the gesture of a melody, you can accidentally get it wrong, but you cannot accidentally get it right.

Determining and setting up exactly what you want to hear, what to imagine, and what to expect before playing, is critical for good practicing of details - technical passages, melodic lines, sound balance, up to character studies ~ etudes. It's like lining up billiard balls and then giving it a shot again and again. Experimentation reveals which resolve produces results, i.e., which setup works best. One in ten shots will yield a better result than the rest - 10% success vs. 90% failure in execution. Hone in on the one better version and keep experimenting, repeating that setup and execution, eventually increasing the number of good versions. Practice until you play only bone fides versions - 100% success in execution; then increase the scope and complexity of your setup and restart. Practicing makes that which works reliable and consistent.

407 • The banality of evil piano practicing

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The harm that accumulates from trivial acts of evil, according to Hannah Arendt, is mostly not the result of a nefarious purpose but rather of a mindless lack of intent.


The harm that accumulates from trivial piano practicing is mostly not the result of a nefarious purpose but rather of a mindless lack of intent.

  • A weblog of thoughts, ideas, concepts, observations, suggestions, research, methodology, discoveries, rules, exceptions, aphorisms, and secrets from pianist to pianist.
Total number of posts: 436
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