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It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
Originally posted by GreenRain: There is nothing wrong with looking down on hands while playing. Hard advanced pieces, like la campanella, alkan's etudes etc. are impossible to play without looking on hands except if you are professional pianist.
All professional pianists look at their *sometimes* during a performance.
I don't know what you're talking about. It's very common for professionals to have their eyes glued to the keys (not hands btw), especially for intense or fast pieces/passages.
Re: Vladimir Horowitz's Technique
#2093174 06/01/1301:13 AM06/01/1301:13 AM
I always find that I play way too heavily when I screw the bench down low. I'm around 6'2, and so sitting really low makes me feel like a Hobbit. I can see where there would be technical advantages to sitting down low, but I just don't like it. I like sitting as high as I can, because it makes it easier to play lightly and quickly.
Somehow, being the huge Bunin fan I am, I never knew this. Both Bunin's grandad and dad (Stanislav Neuhaus) look very much like him in my opinion. Stanislav Bunin's hands also look exactly like his dad's.
Personally I don't much care either way, though many of the contributors have long been inactive. And I didn't really need to be reminded of my post.
Didn't know such unspoken rule exists in forums. No problem. Typing in full isn't a big deal for me.
Just to add on to this thread, I read from somewhere, which I have forgotten the provenance, that VH himself claimed that keeping your wrists low while one played made you more aware of the tone colours. This is totally unproven so take it with a pinch of salt.
I have been retraining with the flat finger technique after many years of using the curled fingers tech. I think that the technique I have been using has caused a friction in my tendons that has become inflammatory. Do I notice Horowitz frequent use of 2 3 4 fingering , often avoiding 5 ? I think he can sit low because he plays on light down-weight actions , with a slightly heavier up-weight.
How has flat fingers worked for me? It seems to put less constrict my tendons than my curled finger tech, thus less tendon soreness. I can wiggle flat fingers faster than curled fingers... But I am not used to playing scale runs flat, I have more finesse with curled fingers because that's the way I grew up.
First off, Horowitz was an amazing pianist, he's my favourite artist and he had a technique in a class of its own. However, when Horowitz taught people and they tried to copy him, he got annoyed because he believed that the most efficient technique was the one that was right for the individual.
Horowitz does use some very traditional methods in his technique - the only two things that are not traditional really are the flat hand and the very low posture. However, he still uses arm weight to control the volume (you can see that if you look closely), he still uses forearm rotation BUT he uses hand extensions in conjunction with it, and his fingers always play on a very slight upwards wrist stroke. He comes off the keyboard a lot rather than stays glued to it - this is common amongst all concert pianists (yet not taught in many conservatoires for some reason).
Horowitz did seem to have what many others would deem as over-active fingers - but it's more on the release of the note that he lifts them, and he always seems to start the note in touch with the key - which again is common and aids a wonderful legato.
He did play on pianos with a very light touch but actually there are videos of him playing on pianos other than his own - there's one of him in Paris in a rehearsal room on a Hamburg Steinway and the same again in Milan, and I'm sure that these green room pianos won't have been Franz Mohrd!
Personally I wouldn't copy Horowitz's technique - I do what is comfortable for me. The flat finger technique in my case doesn't gain me anything although I don't play with fully curved fingers either. In general my position uses slightly extended fingers that might curl in for passage work (actually as Horowitz's did - although I ain't no Horowitz!), and extends fully to almost flat for long sustained cantilena.
I think actually that the great pianists have thought an awful lot about their technique in their younger days. I tell you who did - Artur Rubinstein! He gave himself an overhaul because he didn't want to remain a mediocre pianist, and in doing so he became a great.
I have been worrying about my wrist pain for over 20 years And I am a pro.
Every pro I know has some kind of repetitive strain. Some are better than others at managing it, or hiding it.
Playing piano - classical, jazz, and even rock, for long periods is such a demanding thing and such an un-natural thing in some ways. Thank you for mentioning your wrist pain, I think it's about time we all came out of the closet on this one. I get all sorts of things - sometimes I don't realise I'm carrying tension in my back and then my sciatic nerve gets trapped. I had a trapped nerve in my left shoulder recently that caused me pain for months. I was OK for about 5 years before that though, but before that I've had various incarnations of tendonitis. You'd be hard pushed to find a pianist with a trouble-free technique, and hard pushed to find a pianist who will talk openly about it.
Many teachers, for instance Edna Golandsky, and this guy Alan Fraser who I don't know much about, have attempted to answer the questions of technique and develop a system that works, but sometimes I feel they are just moving things around, putting tension into a different place, etc. I find Alan Fraser actually plays very slowly and has a limited tonal palette, which is perhaps because he's so focused on technique. When a pianist is in mid-flight, the last thing on the mind is hand position, etc. That all has to be worked out before hand, but sometimes the music takes you to a place where you are un-controlled. If you have a period of time when you are performing lots of concerts in a short time span, you can run in to all sorts of terrible issues.
I have found that less time at the keyboard helps, and doing far more score reading and mental practice, which gives time to actually work out problems from a distance - it's like teaching a student, except the student is me.
Yes, white notes scale runs still require semi curved fingers, but not black note scales like B major. When not running, such as melodic weaving in close positions, then the curled finger postures can be released to flat. Today I am going to look at YouTubes of Gould in slow motion to see his finger shapes.
Oh my... some of the most expressive Bach playing I have heard. He seems to use flat or arched fingers when it's practical. Fast work is fairly curled... You really need to watch in the half speed slow motion setting to see it...He really demonstrates the use of accelerated upstrokes of his arm/wrist for dynamics.