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#2272554 - 05/07/14 08:12 PM Playing with "the whole body"  
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 48
Dennis in Canada Offline
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Dennis in Canada  Offline
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Duclos, Quebec, Canada
Hi everyone,

I am just thrilled about my new accomplishment that I just have to share.

For years my teacher has been reinforcing that I must play with the arms and shoulders to achieve a nice sound. We have had many conversations on the subject, and I have read several articles, books and studied serious YouTube videos. Finally, I sense I am "feeling" the ease of playing with much more than just my fingers. My sound is very different and it is so much easier to control the dynamics. It is still a challenge to consistently play in this manner, but I have to remind myself to be patient. Rome wasn't built in one day.

It is difficult (for me) to focus on feeling my wrists, arms, shoulders, etc. and to concentrate on so many other things all at once when I am practicing a piece. Perhaps I should work on much smaller segments so I can incorporate several objectives that I strive to achieve.

I am curious to know how other pianists manage to focus on several objectives or goals when they practice. Is there a mindset that has to be achieved, or is there a magic phrase that enhances the ability to focus? If anyone wants to share something, I am very open to new ideas.


Dennis

Yamaha G2 5'8" grand piano, Walnut finish.
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#2272596 - 05/07/14 10:54 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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Derulux Offline
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Derulux  Offline
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When overcoming what, in this case, could be considered a previous bad habit, I have found that one of the most productive approaches is to internalize one thing at a time. We don't have the capability to cognitively process more than one thing at a time. We can switch back and forth rapidly, so it seems like we're doing/thinking of two things at once, but really, we're not.

Break the process down into individual components, and then prioritize them. Take one component, and practice it until you can do it in your sleep. Then, take another and do the same thing. Eventually, the entire process will be internalized.

One word of caution: when you play old pieces, the bad habits will still exist because you learned the pieces that way. You'll have to go painstakingly slow in order to overcome this. Basically, retraining your brain to perform that piece of music differently. If you go down this road, it's usually a good idea to revisit something you learned after the retraining in order to reorient yourself and make sure you haven't slipped into any of those bad habits.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#2272615 - 05/08/14 01:16 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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peterws Offline
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Northern England.
You`ll see many people playing like this in concerts, and digital piano demonstrations complete with facial expressions et al. The ladies particularly look well sent, like into outer space even when playing a DGX . . You end up thinking "Come on, lass. the song isn`t THAT good . . . ." even if it is. Now, I`m not sure if I don`t do this myself at times (probably when I`ve had a couple of glasses) and your hands do funny flowery unmasculine things after playing the notes . . . your shoulders do weird things too. But you do feel the music more when you`re doin` it. The audience might not, however . . .and I`m sure I look bloody stupid.

Drummers look very impressive when the shoulders arms and hands are brought into play. Muscle and precision rolled into one; looks very professional. I played with one once, and he lifted the whole band to new heights!

He didn`t stay . . . .


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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#2272625 - 05/08/14 02:22 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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noobpianist90 Offline
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India
I happened to find this website, Doctor Keys

He has a few tutorials on how to play with the body, utilize arm-weight, gravity drop, etc. It was quite useful.

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#2273010 - 05/08/14 08:50 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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Dennis in Canada Offline
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Dennis in Canada  Offline
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Duclos, Quebec, Canada
This is great, everyone.

Derulux: I like your idea of breaking down in individual components and then prioritizing them, and do them until I can do them in my sleep. This is excellent advice. I will use this approach. It boils down to good old common sense, doesn't it? Thank you for this.

Peterws: You seem to have a wicked sense of humour. Now I am curious about one thing. Why didn't the drummer stay?

Noodpianist90: Thank you for your suggestion. I have seen Bruce Siegel before, but I have not focused on his videos. Now that you have suggested this site, I will take time to look at his tutorials. Have you registered for his online course?

For all of your input, I am grateful and really appreciate you taking the time to share with me.

Next time I am facing a challenge, I will post. This Forum is great.

Cheers to all.


Dennis

Yamaha G2 5'8" grand piano, Walnut finish.
#2273026 - 05/08/14 09:31 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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noobpianist90 Offline
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India
Originally Posted by Dennis in Canada
Have you registered for his online course?
His course seems to be oriented more towards pop/rock etc. I am more interested in classical, so I didn't register for it. An online contact of mine had registered for this course and she had stopped playing and there was still a month of subscription left, so she was kind enough to lend me her user and password. I found a few useful videos like smooth chord changes and the whole body approach.

#2273146 - 05/09/14 06:40 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: peterws]  
Joined: Jan 2007
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Rerun Offline
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Rerun  Offline
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Louisiana

I think the 2 glasses finally hit this guy around the 2 minute mark when the choreography gene kicked in ... he seemed to sail along pretty good until then:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8dv4f0XeLI


... or maybe I need to sell the chainsaw and get off the meat and potato diet and lighten up. grin



Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD


[Linked Image]



#2273161 - 05/09/14 07:49 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Derulux]  
Joined: Dec 2007
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keystring Offline
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Canada
Originally Posted by Derulux
When overcoming what, in this case, could be considered a previous bad habit, I have found that one of the most productive approaches is to internalize one thing at a time. We don't have the capability to cognitively process more than one thing at a time. We can switch back and forth rapidly, so it seems like we're doing/thinking of two things at once, but really, we're not.

Break the process down into individual components, and then prioritize them. Take one component, and practice it until you can do it in your sleep. Then, take another and do the same thing. Eventually, the entire process will be internalized.

This is part of what I do because what I did originally was so mucked up, but I also shuttle more than that. These components interrelate, they work together, the affect each other, or can interfere with each other. So for me, I'm almost shuttling between two conflicting things - having the body work as a unit, and working with an isolated component of the body. I need both.

For example, if your fingers are held rigid (say in a "round shape") then your wrist and your upper arm might become stiff from that. Otoh, if you are stiff in your arm or wrist, it might make the fingers stiff. Conversely, if you loosen one, it might make the other(s) loosen, and suddenly they do work as a unit. It's not just the arms. If our weight goes into our feet in a way that we're supported, then we don't grip with our torso, and then the muscles are freed in the arms. If you can lean to the left or the right for distant keys, and you have an easy weight transfer, then this also loosens your arms, and you might also get momentum for playing itself.

I think there may be quite a few of us undergoing some "reeducation" in how we move. (It would have been nice to start the right way in the first place.)

#2273163 - 05/09/14 07:53 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: noobpianist90]  
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keystring Offline
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Canada
Originally Posted by noobpianist90
Originally Posted by Dennis in Canada
Have you registered for his online course?
His course seems to be oriented more towards pop/rock etc. I am more interested in classical, so I didn't register for it.

I explored this a while back and even had some correspondence going with "Dr. Keys". He may be advertising it this way in order to reach students since many would be looking for this kind of thing, but what he actually teaches is serious and effective. It would work just as well for classical. If I didn't already have a teacher, I might go in his direction.

#2273426 - 05/09/14 06:47 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
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Whizbang Offline
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Originally Posted by Dennis in Canada
Is there a mindset that has to be achieved, or is there a magic phrase that enhances the ability to focus?


I think it may come down to your learning type. I kinda clicked a few months ago in realizing that I'm a very kinesthetic learner (even if not very kinesthetically gifted)... and academic, but that doesn't help me at piano.

Anyway, thinking that I'm 'dancing' at the piano has been very helpful. And that's in the sense that I see things on the page and then I have to spend time to work them out so they sound right and then really CONCENTRATE on the feeling of my body. How is my hand and arm positioned? What feedback am I feeling? Do I rotate the wrist here. For lack of a better word, playing pieces at the piano feels like painstaking choreography.

"How does it feel when?" seems to be how I go.


Whizbang [Linked Image]
amateur ragtime pianist
https://www.youtube.com/user/Aeschala
#2273476 - 05/09/14 08:47 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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jotur Offline
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jotur  Offline
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Santa Fe, NM
Rerun - that was a lovely Solace. Fun to watch an amateur get into it smile

Cathy


Cathy
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Practice what you suck at - anonymous
#2273498 - 05/09/14 10:23 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,604
Dave B Offline
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Dave B  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,604
Philadelphia area
http://www.taubmanseminar.com/

Also,there are youtube videos of Dorothy Taubman conducting seminars. I know a few pianist who say her approach has been a great help over the years.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
#2273532 - 05/10/14 01:40 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dave B]  
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noobpianist90 Offline
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India
Originally Posted by Dave B
Also,there are youtube videos of Dorothy Taubman conducting seminars. I know a few pianist who say her approach has been a great help over the years.
Are these videos excerpts from the "Virtuosity in a Box" DVD series?

#2273554 - 05/10/14 05:41 AM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: jotur]  
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Rerun Offline
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Rerun  Offline
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Posts: 1,171
Louisiana
Quote
Rerun - that was a lovely Solace. Fun to watch an amateur get into it smile

Cathy


I agree, I have it footnoted and am learning from it... he's really doing pretty good on that not so easy Spanish tinge rhythm, his other 8 recordings aren't too shabby either.

Being a bit of a joke puller myself, I've wondered if his flair in there is he's playing around with his family, etc. who most probably were notified about the recording being posted. Could be a few Marx brothers genes in this guy. grin

Last edited by Rerun; 05/10/14 06:16 AM.

Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD


[Linked Image]



#2273773 - 05/10/14 07:20 PM Re: Playing with "the whole body" [Re: Dennis in Canada]  
Joined: Aug 2011
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Dave B Offline
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Dave B  Offline
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Philadelphia area
Noob, I'm not sure. There are a dozen or so posted from different times and places.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams

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