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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915174 11/22/19 07:21 PM
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LarryK
Next time you want to wave your hands over the keys, tell your teacher it is a secret, magical evocation of the piano gods.

Last edited by dogperson; 11/22/19 07:23 PM.

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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Copake #2915197 11/22/19 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Copake
Interesting you should mention Yo-Yo Ma. I see him at least once a year at Tanglewood and I always avert my eyes when he plays. I can't bear to see what appears to be so much anguish in his face. Another performer whom I can't bear to watch is Andre Watts. I don't think it is necessary for a musician to make a performance appear to be hard work or a task infused with pain and suffering. Horowitz, on the other hand, makes everything look easy.

Just a personal thing, I suppose.


There was another famous concert led by the violin teacher Roberta Guaspari who started the East Harlem violin program in NYC and taught in 3 public schools. There was a benefit fundraising concert at Carnegie Hall in 1993 for the violin program later included in a documentary "Small Wonders". The students were playing Bach's Concerto in D minor for 2 violins with a number of professional violinists including: Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Mark O'Connor, Midori, John Blake, Ida Kavafian, Anni Kavafian, Roberta Guaspari, Diane Monroe, Karen Briggs, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree... The performance video is online. The piece is not easy to put together. The camera went around the stage showing the different performers and you see the students with happy, smiling faces, not the typical solemn look Yo-Yo Ma would show.

Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Copake #2915209 11/22/19 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Copake
Interesting you should mention Yo-Yo Ma. I see him at least once a year at Tanglewood and I always avert my eyes when he plays. I can't bear to see what appears to be so much anguish in his face. Another performer whom I can't bear to watch is Andre Watts. I don't think it is necessary for a musician to make a performance appear to be hard work or a task infused with pain and suffering.
I love Yoyo's expressions and emoting. I never thought of anguish when I watch him...just love of music. But I agree with you about Watts. For me, his expressions are among the very most annoying of any pianist I can think of, and I usually don't mind facial expressions(even on Uchida, who quite a few find annoying).

Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915219 11/22/19 09:49 PM
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I've never heard of Andre Watts so I found a random Youtube video and watched with the audio muted. When I came across this passage I actually laughed out loud.
https://youtu.be/BGfreVK9Q4g?t=253


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
pianoloverus #2915226 11/22/19 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Copake
Interesting you should mention Yo-Yo Ma. I see him at least once a year at Tanglewood and I always avert my eyes when he plays. I can't bear to see what appears to be so much anguish in his face. Another performer whom I can't bear to watch is Andre Watts. I don't think it is necessary for a musician to make a performance appear to be hard work or a task infused with pain and suffering.
I love Yoyo's expressions and emoting. I never thought of anguish when I watch him...just love of music. But I agree with you about Watts. For me, his expressions are among the very most annoying of any pianist I can think of, and I usually don't mind facial expressions(even on Uchida, who quite a few find annoying).



I agree on both points made here.



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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
AndrewJCW #2915241 11/22/19 11:23 PM
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Andrew, thank you for your response. Very well thought out and stated.

Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
dogperson #2915243 11/22/19 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
LarryK
Next time you want to wave your hands over the keys, tell your teacher it is a secret, magical evocation of the piano gods.


Oh, my teacher saw right through my hand waving and recognized it for what it was, namely, that I was lost, and didn’t know where I was going, and that I was making the problem worse by disconnecting myself from the keyboard.


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
LarryK #2915250 11/23/19 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by dogperson
LarryK
Next time you want to wave your hands over the keys, tell your teacher it is a secret, magical evocation of the piano gods.


Oh, my teacher saw right through my hand waving and recognized it for what it was, namely, that I was lost, and didn’t know where I was going, and that I was making the problem worse by disconnecting myself from the keyboard.

So when you are lost, your teacher just wants you to stay in the last known position until you can remember where you are?


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Tyrone Slothrop #2915254 11/23/19 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by dogperson
LarryK
Next time you want to wave your hands over the keys, tell your teacher it is a secret, magical evocation of the piano gods.


Oh, my teacher saw right through my hand waving and recognized it for what it was, namely, that I was lost, and didn’t know where I was going, and that I was making the problem worse by disconnecting myself from the keyboard.

So when you are lost, your teacher just wants you to stay in the last known position until you can remember where you are?


No, she wants me to figure out a relatively straight line to get where I need to go without hovering over the keyboard like a drone. smile She pointed out that I was playing the piano with a box-like motion. off, up, over, down, when I needed a motion that more closely emulated an ellipse. I was playing the piano like West Point plebes who are forced to eat a square meal by moving their hand up from the plate, then into their mouths, and then out, and back down, instead of going directly to their mouths.


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
LarryK #2915256 11/23/19 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by dogperson
LarryK
Next time you want to wave your hands over the keys, tell your teacher it is a secret, magical evocation of the piano gods.
Oh, my teacher saw right through my hand waving and recognized it for what it was, namely, that I was lost, and didn’t know where I was going, and that I was making the problem worse by disconnecting myself from the keyboard.
So when you are lost, your teacher just wants you to stay in the last known position until you can remember where you are?
No, she wants me to figure out a relatively straight line to get where I need to go without hovering over the keyboard like a drone. smile She pointed out that I was playing the piano with a box-like motion. off, up, over, down, when I needed a motion that more closely emulated an ellipse. I was playing the piano like West Point plebes who are forced to eat a square meal by moving their hand up from the plate, then into their mouths, and then out, and back down, instead of going directly to their mouths.

Well, that's not really lost then if you know where you are going. You know where you are going, you just don't know how to get there in a straight line (or better, in a nice arc). If you were really lost, you wouldn't even know where the destination should be. That occurs too sometimes, but it seems she isn't talking about the cases when you might be really lost, only when you aren't efficiently pathfinding.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915261 11/23/19 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by AndrewJCW
Firstly I would say, I think it's completely normal to have expressive body language when you play any instrument, including piano. For many people, or at least many styles - of music, emotional connection is a key part of playing and listening to music. You expect the performer to be experiencing an emotional connection to the music and to see that in their body language. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a 'professional pianist' that plays without that, in virtually any style. One particular youtube pianist 'scholar' does come to mind that plays like that and the effect is very dry - to me at least.
This really depends on what you mean by "expressive body language", and it's also a question of degree. Many/most of the pianists considered among the greatest played with very little excess motions of their arms or bodies. If you look at their faces you can see an emotional connection to the music but they also generally did not make extreme faces.

Among those who played with little extraneous body movements or extreme facial expressions I'd put Horowitz, Rubinstein, Rachmaninov, Hofmann, Richter, Gilels, Lupu, Kempff, Cliburn, Ashkenazy, Argerich, Arrau. Bolet, Hamelin, Hough, Sokolov, Barenboim, Gieseking, Cziffra, Lipatti, Kapell, Schiff,etc, Do you think any of those played with exaggerated motions or facial expressions?

It's only mostly in the last 20-30 or so years that some of the great performing pianists have shown lots of body or arm movements or extreme facial expressions. I can only think of a tiny number great pianists before that period that showed extreme body/arm movements(Gould) or facial expressions(Uchida, Serkin).

I'm not denying that the basically sedate stage presence of the pianists I listed might be in part due to their training. But, as far as classical pianists go, I can't agree with your comment that "I think you'd be hard pressed to find a 'professional pianist' that plays without that, in virtually any style."

Regarding the pianist you mention who plays with no body or facial expression, I think his quality of play is because he is far from a professional level pianist and not because of his restrained manner.

Originally Posted by AndrewJCW
The pianists that play with these exaggerated flamboyant expressions do tend to get comments yes, but even they aren't really rare. If you watch someone play a beautiful romantic piece you fully expect them to be look like they're telling a poem to Juliet up a balcony, and if they're playing a blues or funk groove you expect them to be grimacing along with the beat like they're battling a toothache. That's just what we accept as normal.
I think pianists who play with exaggerated movements or facial expressions are more common today but still quite rare. I can only think of a few that fit that category that are considered at the highest level although, again, it's a question of degree. One person's idea of exaggerated movement could be another person's idea of reasonable restrained. If one sees just a typical conservatory student one may see more exaggerated movement that among the greatest of today's pianists.

In the age of YouTube, there are often extreme close ups of a performer's face with a view as if one was located directly in front of them and only a few feet away. From that close up a fairly high number of pianists can seem to have fairly extreme expressions, but I don't put that group if the "extreme' category because virtually no one in the audience would see what that close up camera view catches.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/23/19 01:25 AM.
Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915310 11/23/19 07:08 AM
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Very subtle facial expression.. close the eyes when I feel the music I'm playing...

But aside that, the only emote I do is whenever I play Chopin's 4th ballade.. I always tend to inhale and exhale deeply, whenever I play certain passages in that piece, and hold my breaths at certain moments.

This is also the trouble I have with Chopin... sometimes, I find it difficult to breathe the way I want to when playing his pieces. I'm not even sure if anyone else has the same issues as I do. xD

Last edited by WildeJagd; 11/23/19 07:09 AM.
Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Tyrone Slothrop #2915314 11/23/19 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Well, that's not really lost then if you know where you are going. You know where you are going, you just don't know how to get there in a straight line (or better, in a nice arc). If you were really lost, you wouldn't even know where the destination should be. That occurs too sometimes, but it seems she isn't talking about the cases when you might be really lost, only when you aren't efficiently pathfinding.


No, I was lost and I did not know where I was going. I forgot to mention that I was playing too fast to figure out where I needed to go in time so I was hovering. I think I’ve pretty much broken myself of this bad habit now. I’m much better now at slowing down until I can execute the moves in time.

Yes, an arc, that was the diagram, and it’s what I meant by an ellipse vs a box, in terms of motion.

Playing fluidly is all about economy of motion and planning ahead. The same ideas appear in classical guitar playing, and probably with all instruments. With the classical guitar, you often have to play a single note in the beginning of a measure and form the shape of the chord above the fretboard, so as.to be ready to play the other notes.

The negative space above the fretboard is more important than the positive space on the fretboard, the notes you’re currently playing. I’m not sure if this applies to piano. On the piano, we have the advantage of being able to lay our fingers on the keys without making a sound. I can’t lay my fingers on strings like that, generally speaking, my fingers need to be in the air for the notes I’m not playing.

My guitar teacher used to tell his most advanced students that they should be able play a piece in their heads, without the instrument, and know at every note in the piece exactly where their left hand was supposed to be, and what shape it had to form. I wonder if pianists can do the same thing with both hands.

Last edited by LarryK; 11/23/19 07:26 AM.

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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915365 11/23/19 10:09 AM
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Some people's facial expressions strike me as very silly while others' don't.

Trifonov is always pulling faces, but I always think he looks like a young child playing with toy soldiers. It's like he's orchestrating a battle with his teddy bears. I don't know him, but I always feel it is unintentional, and just a reflection of his thoughts.

Mitsuko Uchida seems very genuine to me as well. It's like she has her "music face", which is the same regardless of what she's playing. It's like she's in ecstasy. I never feel like she actually cares. She's the same when she's listening to the orchestra and not playing.

I love Wilhelm Kempff's "ecstatic visions" face, like he's gazing into a realm known only unto him.

Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
LarryK #2915375 11/23/19 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Well, that's not really lost then if you know where you are going. You know where you are going, you just don't know how to get there in a straight line (or better, in a nice arc). If you were really lost, you wouldn't even know where the destination should be. That occurs too sometimes, but it seems she isn't talking about the cases when you might be really lost, only when you aren't efficiently pathfinding.
No, I was lost and I did not know where I was going. I forgot to mention that I was playing too fast to figure out where I needed to go in time so I was hovering. I think I’ve pretty much broken myself of this bad habit now. I’m much better now at slowing down until I can execute the moves in time.

I'm lost myself, now. ☺️ How can you be lost and not lost? That is, how can you be lost and not know where you're going, but also be able "figure out a relatively straight line to get where [you] need to go" (which is someplace you don't know) since there are going to be at least dozens of arcs leading to anywhere you could possibly need to go? Hovering or not hovering will not help you remember where you need to go, at least it's not a memory trick I've ever heard of. ...

I take that back. It may be the contrary is true. When my daughter tries to remember something she's forgotten, she sometimes waves her hands around and thinks that helps her remember! 🤣 So perhaps your teacher is wrong and hovering is a better strategy for remember where you have to go when lost - at least it would be for my daughter! 🤣


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
rach3master #2915391 11/23/19 11:15 AM
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I’m still trying to get out of the bad habit of quietly moving my jaw to the side for a technically challenging piece. It looks silly so I want to break that habit. If I start daydreaming during practice of a longer more difficult piece, I get lost and have to backtrack several measures to find my place again but I try to stay focused if I’m playing with others around. I want to be heard and remembered for my playing not some weird facial expression or exotic hand or body movements when finishing a piece. Truthfully I’d rather play behind a curtain if I could.


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
LarryK #2915398 11/23/19 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK

My guitar teacher used to tell his most advanced students that they should be able play a piece in their heads, without the instrument, and know at every note in the piece exactly where their left hand was supposed to be, and what shape it had to form. I wonder if pianists can do the same thing with both hands.


I think that's just one of those things that happens eventually. For me, it was one of the benefits of slow deliberate practice.

Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Tyrone Slothrop #2915400 11/23/19 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Well, that's not really lost then if you know where you are going. You know where you are going, you just don't know how to get there in a straight line (or better, in a nice arc). If you were really lost, you wouldn't even know where the destination should be. That occurs too sometimes, but it seems she isn't talking about the cases when you might be really lost, only when you aren't efficiently pathfinding.
No, I was lost and I did not know where I was going. I forgot to mention that I was playing too fast to figure out where I needed to go in time so I was hovering. I think I’ve pretty much broken myself of this bad habit now. I’m much better now at slowing down until I can execute the moves in time.

I'm lost myself, now. ☺️ How can you be lost and not lost? That is, how can you be lost and not know where you're going, but also be able "figure out a relatively straight line to get where [you] need to go" (which is someplace you don't know) since there are going to be at least dozens of arcs leading to anywhere you could possibly need to go? Hovering or not hovering will not help you remember where you need to go, at least it's not a memory trick I've ever heard of. ...

I take that back. It may be the contrary is true. When my daughter tries to remember something she's forgotten, she sometimes waves her hands around and thinks that helps her remember! 🤣 So perhaps your teacher is wrong and hovering is a better strategy for remember where you have to go when lost - at least it would be for my daughter! 🤣


I said: “ she wants me to figure out a relatively straight line to get where I need to go without hovering over the keyboard like a drone.” I didn’t say I could do it. Yes, I think my hand waving was like your daughter’s attempts at remembering something. It doesn’t work for me and I lose precious time flapping around like a bird.


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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
LarryK #2915426 11/23/19 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Yes, I think my hand waving was like your daughter’s attempts at remembering something. It doesn’t work for me and I lose precious time flapping around like a bird.

Yes! My daughter flaps like a flightless bird! And sometimes it helps her to remember... or at least this is what she believes! 🤣


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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Re: How much do you "emote" when you play?
Tyrone Slothrop #2915446 11/23/19 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
Yes, I think my hand waving was like your daughter’s attempts at remembering something. It doesn’t work for me and I lose precious time flapping around like a bird.

Yes! My daughter flaps like a flightless bird! And sometimes it helps her to remember... or at least this is what she believes! 🤣


Well, it’s clear that I’m not going to get away with being Flappy Bird during my lessons. It’s not helping my playing, that’s for sure, so no loss.

My teacher said something interesting with regards to my movements and how I held myself at the piano. She said that I wasn’t used to having a public persona, and that’s true. I’ve always been content to be the ghost in the machine, avoiding the stage at all costs. Playing the piano forces one onto the stage, at least in front of one’s teacher, family and friends.


Last edited by LarryK; 11/23/19 01:37 PM.

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