Feldenkrais Method: developing the piano playing technique.

The final condition...



Some people wish above all to conform to the rules, I wish only to render what I can hear. There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.


- Debussy




Shortly said: the ARCH-idea is very old and neither not POOR nor GOOD as well. They, who would not like to use theirs own hands in completing the MUSICALLY reasonable tasks, they must suffer from all kinds of the physically dreadful discomfort, but not because they were able or unable to practically implement the ARCH-idea. Nothing of that kind could ever take place because this idea is simply NONRELATED to the piano technique at all. Let you be so kind and start to seriously examine all the piano techniques presented by so many piano masters, from Glenn Gould up to Thelenious Monk, whose video-clips could be found on the www.youtube.com! No one kind of "arch" or of any other architectonically firm structure could be found in theirs playing hands' images. Such idea should be seen as factually ridiculous, and irrational one, too. Why so? That is so due to the physical impossibility of keeping any not only ARCH-LIKE but just any STABLE FORM inside of the actually WORKING pianist's hands persistently. Not in octaves, not in sixths, not in the more complicated polyphonic arrangements and not in larger passages, which sometimes require extreme stretching of the hands (Chopin, op. 10 No 1, No 2; Liszt, Feux follets; Schumann, Toccata and many, many more). STABLE FORMS could factually NEVER be used by the pianists, apart from the artificially generated MOTIONLESS forms of the hand. The secret of the firm is just hidden in the different, much deeper structures, which truly DO NOT represent any purely PHYSICAL, nor even BIOMECHANICAL nature indeed!


Especially the so called Taubman approach and especially, the so-called Dr. Chuan Chang's METHOD, are generating a feeling of the full possibility, TO ALL THE PIANO USERS, to obtain the equally good piano technical skills, if they only would like to PRACTICE the piano wisely, ergo, using the "tricks" proposed by these, so called scientifically oriented systems. I would like to ask at this point, if YOU, the Feldenkrais believers, maybe represent the same, so joyful point of view? Do you actually believe that they all, who would like to build their piano technique using YOUR TRICKS, would be able to go over all the imaginable piano instrumental problems and pleasingly arrive to the real Piano Paradise in the very short terms...?



Very well, but do you actually believe that all these, who would like to build their piano technique using even very sophisticated MANUAL TRICKS, would be able to go over all the imaginable piano instrumental problems and pleasingly achieve the real Piano Paradise, additionally in the very short terms...?


This is the very simple explanation, why such TRICKS cannot work well:


- The fingers and hands DO NOT possess particular brains belonging to themselves; this is the first and the most significant point of the matter.


The next one looks as follows:


- The pianist's fingers and hands were created to help the pianists to transform into sounds the MENTALLY created, MUCH SPEAKING and EMOTIONALLY INTERESTING MUSICAL structures [the artistic IMAGES of musical FORMS], through which the pianists factually are EXPRESSING their own personal reactions on artistically important ARTICTIC WORLD hidden under surface of the NOTES.


These both SIMPLE FACTS should be as easy to comprehend, as we recognize the difference between day and night! Therefore, if ONE has NOTHING interesting to "say" via the piano (violin, drums, clarinet, trumpet, voice, etc.), he should rather look for any other kind of expression for his own THOUGHTS and EMOTIONS, than to practice HIS HANDS on the piano, factually having rather incompletely clear IDEA, what for he/she, basically, is using the instrument...


.This is to me the most crucial point of the actually discussed. .matter, as I see it after more than 15 years long studies on... .the Chopin's & Neuhaus' Idea!!


All the empty hand-related speeches are good for them only, who are interpreting the piano technique as the highly complicated set of the hands & fingers' related circus-like tricks, which could help even the musically ungifted human beings in achieving the Horowitz-like piano skills. How a desperately sorrowful dream...!




"Almost all vocal coaches agree anyone can learn to sing."


(Found in the Internet)


(How dangerous, still economically how a truly prospective faith...!)



At the last end I would ask if you, The Piano-Feldenkraisers, factually see any need to inform the piano world about the tasks, which must be execute by the pianists' internal hearing and musical fantasy in time of practicing the piano? Do you truly believe that the hearing is related to the "interpretation" only...?


Here you are some additional questions: how the pianists should build the interdependence between theirs [simplifying the issue] EARS and HANDS if in practicing the instrument they should primarily (means: mainly if not ONLY...!) watch their hands? How about possibility of pedagogic involvement herein?


Finalizing this text, I would like to articulate some words about the "physical" and the "musically factual", really singing legato in the piano playing.


The "trick" [the so called overholding], Mr. Fraser proposes the pianists as primary and apparently most important kind of articulation of the piano sound, had been as well proposed by Malwine Bree in her book [firstly published in 1902] presenting the so-called Leschetizky's Method of the piano. Being legendary or not, if even it had come from Beethoven, this trick has nothing to do with the real melody-making way that could for sample be found in the so deeply touching interpretations of Vladimir Horowitz. This question does not concern just V. Horowitz in any special way; at this place one could call very many very Great Names, too as Rubinstein, Cortot, Gieseking, Benedetti, Gilels and many, many more. In their art of playing the piano, the very delicate remembrance of the formerly taken sounds is NOT THE RULING kind of articulation, but actually the very tender and very infrequently used "ornament" that likely crowns the most romantic phrases. The overholding manner proposed by Malwine Bree and repeated by Mr. Fraser really could come from Beethoven, who being in any case to me one of the most impressive figures in the entire history of music, as the teacher of the piano still rather cannot be seen as the real authority; his domain was COMPOSITION yet...




Just for fun...



The very interesting postscript related to the "overkept" legato suddenly came from Mr. Fraser personally. I must say, I was not exceptionally surprised, once I sincerely appreciate the Alan's honest passion for the piano, for teaching and generally for making the Life better. One of my strongly beloved sentences looks as follows alike, Only dead man does not change his mind [the historians must do it for him...]. I truly share many of the Alan's feelings, but...


Let us now go to read a text of the next Alan's email:


It [the overholding; overkept legato S.K.] is mainly a didactic exercise and rarely used in actual playing. The danger in overusing overholding is that it begins to PREVENT the very thing it was designed to improve: the movement of the fingers! Overholding empowers the fingers in the degree to which it shows them how to stand up well - in the degree to which gives them an experience of possessing and availing themselves of a stable structure. However, that is a didactic experience which will be used only occasionally in actual playing for special effect, but most often needs to be laid aside. If you use it indiscriminately in actual playing, your fingers will begin to rely on overholding to provide them with their support - but that support must ultimately derive from their internal activity, not from a stable base. Beware, over-overholding leads to lazy fingers!


Hmmm...! Juxtaposing this text with the general image of legato presented in the texts describing the Craft of Piano method, introduced on DVD and confirmed many times on the Alan's Web Site, one could come to the belief that the content of this postscript is heralding, perhaps, even revolutionary transformations in the Author's understanding of the entire piano art? I wish, they will really happen very soon indeed! In any case such overkept legato has the certain, particularly revolting feature its nature is completely inconsistent with the very nature of singing and at the same time incompatible with nature of musicality, which basically loves cleanness and precision of and in the articulated sounds.



Well, thinking about the Feldenkrais Method and its applying in the pianism generally, in my opinion the most important is here the following humble point:


- Instead of many biomechanical and SKELETAL aspects of the piano playing technique, in the last end such factually ART RELATED element as is the Artistic Image of the Musical Form, including all the side phenomena accompanying this notion, should immediately be recognized as the central point of the entire Piano Craft, too. Certainly, if the entire Piano Craft would not become comprehend as a one more, more or less matured version of the piano gymnastics method; as I hope, you still remember this charming advertisement of the buttocks' training, quoted in the first Part of this text [The unique Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons will give you specific skills for improving stability, balance, alignment and stamina.]



This is not Cliburn, but the celebrations of ending of the Idea-Image-Technique piano master Course in Olsztyn/Poland...


At the last end, I would like to inform about the very interesting event: The Van Cliburn Piano Competition for amateurs. Under this link you will get a rare opportunity to become acquainted with several Participants of this Competition. Let you try to analyze their piano art and ask yourself, what if any deficiency of it is the most important one to you: hands, fingers, bones, wrists, posture, choreography, or maybe the artistic discourage, lack of musically interesting ideas and thoughts, emptiness of Form, particular kind of sound, etc, etc. Perhaps, watching these videos you would be able to figure out a lot of interesting conclusions concerning your own piano playing habits, too.


Thinking about the above quoted Alan's postscript, speaking about the overkept legato, I would like to say as follows:


Dear Friend! And where from comes everything do you know? Where from you know that the over-overholding legato leads to laziness of fingers? From own experience, really? Or, maybe here we only are the next "variations without theme"...?


STOP! I am waiting for the more nourishing content put in the less coquettish language, indeed.


Now I feel, I have to say: THANKS A LOT FOR YOUR PATIENCE, Dear Reader!

Waiting on your opinions I am pleased to send you my Very Best Greetings and Wishes!


Stefan K.


Back to the Part I.





Actualized: 2007-08-06