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#376185 - 05/06/04 02:49 PM How important is body movement?
BJenkins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/03
Posts: 197
Loc: CA
I'm playing the first movement of Bach's Italian Concerto this saturday in a recital. I'm not worried at all, but my teacher keeps telling me something that I never heard her say before. I think it came from a comment the judges made at my last competition.

She keeps saying that I look like a statue, while I play the Bach. I don't go all over the place like some people do. I do do that a little bit with romantic music but not with Bach. I just play it, maybe it's because I've played it for so long?

BUT DOES IT REALLY MATTER?! I mean the music's the same. If I'm going to be moving around then I'm going to have to think about it, and I just don't think that's what the music is about. Should I start writing stuff in like move head up, move head down in the music? Her argument is that I just look bored when I play like that. I don't know... I know a lot of pianists do a lot of body movement, but I've seen a few that do very little. Is that taking away from the performance?

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#376186 - 05/06/04 04:12 PM Re: How important is body movement?
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
The first movement of the Italian Concerto is very rythmical. I suppose you can express this rythm plus the pleasure you feel from the beauty of the melody and counterpoint with your body.

But, of course you must express what you feel really. Just letting the flow of the music dance.

You can train before to dance with the music in a gentle way. If you feel it makes you play better, everybody should be happy.

#376187 - 05/06/04 04:27 PM Re: How important is body movement?
Freedom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 1192
Loc: Scotland
I think that the body is important to some people (In playing an intrument). It can help you express, if to nobody then at least to yourself.
But if when playing you have to think about making yourself sway or move then it will probably just distract you and you'll prob just end up looking awkward. As long as you are comfortable with your playing and expression of a piece then you should be happy.

Freedom \:\) \:\)
"A print of the score has everything you need to know about the music, except the essential."

#376188 - 05/06/04 05:23 PM Re: How important is body movement?
Goldberg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/03
Posts: 1235
Loc: U.S.
Yeah, I agree--I read this from a somewhat related post in another forum, and I was entirely confused with the guy who criticized a movie by exclaiming: "it was good playing, but you could move a lot more!". I mean, what is the point of that?? No offence to anyone, I think it's just fine if you move a bit while playing, but it is in no way an essential part of playing piano. As long as you're not tense and the music is...well, music, then why should you worry? Sometimes I think teachers get a little too controlling over students and try to over-manage their playing so they end up either playing like robots or in other words exactly like the teacher. It would be like the teacher telling the student to play the piece slowly while the teacher told the student "ok, now lean a little to the left, lean to the right...that's it...now make a face like you're concentrating REALLY hard! perfect!" or something.
Well, that's an exaggeration but I hope you see the point: movement should remain individual and free and should not be thought out ahead of time; instead it should occur naturally as the music flows. Judges shouldn't be there to criticize a pianist's appearance in any way (unless, of course the test is taken to the limit and the pianist is completely out of line and poorly dressed or something) but instead they should be able to appreciate the music regardless. I personally find the best way to view a concert is with shut eyes.

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#376189 - 05/06/04 05:40 PM Re: How important is body movement?
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
My view on movement while playing:

I had a masterclass with a teacher from Portland, OR, who is the one who sort of gets all the progidies. I played for her the Bartk Rumanian Folk-Dances. When I was finished, she said she really enjoyed my playing... but criticized me for moving. It was a masterclass for the teachers in the area to watch, and she said something to them like, "It must be a teenage thing; they think they need to express themselves by moving." And then she proceeded to put her finger on my lower back and had me sit straight up and move nothing but my arms and hands. She said she heard an improvement.

My opinion? First of all, I was offended that she used such a condescending tone about "teenagers expressing themselves". Secondly, I felt much more relaxed when I could move around as I pleased. Also, I later talked to a friend who said that if you really feel it, then why not move? So I think that, ultimately, if you feel the Music that way, which I do (and I'm not saying that some other way is wrong--everyone's brain is different and thus everyone interprets the emotions brought on by Music differently), then move. I'm no dancer, but I'm the sort of person who could just go crazy moving and dancing to a recording of "Pictures at an Exhibition". My emotional reaction to Music often expresses itself in a physical manner. Even at concerts, I often find myself doing something with my hands during a performance because I get so overwhelmed.

If others don't feel it physically, then they shouldn't force themselves to move--it would be unnatural. But if your feel it physically, then go for it!
Benjamin Francis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

#376190 - 05/06/04 06:35 PM Re: How important is body movement?
anor Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 1232
Loc: Santiago, Chile
I think, body movement is important in order to not give an impression of something that you don't want to express. Example:
if im playing the 2 mvnt of the Waldstein sonata, the last bars... i made some A minor chords with both hands on the bass, then i just CAN't throw my hand suddenly to play a soprano voice, that just break all the atmosphere. It doesn't matter if you sounded marvelous, you must be aware of not distracting the "expression"...
ss ao lr ue dt on si .u dq ar no on ra qd u. is no td eu rl oa ss

#376191 - 05/06/04 11:37 PM Re: How important is body movement?
iamcanadian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1893
Loc: Canada
I'm going to have to say that body movement doesn't matter one bit. If you do it, fine... if you don't, no problem. As long as you are expressing yourself in your music, your movement shouldn't matter. And faking body movement just to impress some judges, who are so superficial that they need visual proof that you are indeed expressing yourself, is just sad. Heifetz, Horowitz, Szigeti, Weissenberg, Arrau, Ohlsson - none of these guys moved a whole lot, and their playing doesn't suffer.

Towards the end of his career, Richter would play concerts in total darkness with only a small lamp on his music. He said that nobody should need to see the work that goes into the music, they should only hear the music itself. And I agree completely.

#376192 - 05/07/04 12:10 AM Re: How important is body movement?
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
I'm all for economy and effeciency of movement.

Have you ever watched Rubinstein play? He is poised; he doesn't move much, but when he does it is free.

The most important movement for a pianist is the movement(s) that create beautiful music. If a movement doesn't contribute to that, it is superfluous. As long as it doesn't become a distraction I'm not against it, per se, but I do feel that the extraneous movement can break the music. I've been to concerts where I had to avoid watching the pianist because the movements were so excessive and distracting.

The danger of excessive and unnecessary movement is drawing attention to one's self instead of the music.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#376193 - 05/07/04 12:14 AM Re: How important is body movement?
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
Originally posted by Bernard:
I'm all for economy and effeciency of movement.
Me too. Excessive movement is a waste of musical energy.

#376194 - 05/07/04 12:42 AM Re: How important is body movement?
iamcanadian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1893
Loc: Canada
Originally posted by Brendan:
[QUOTE] Excessive movement is a waste of musical energy. [/b]
Too bad Lang Lang doesn't feel that way.


#376195 - 05/07/04 12:56 AM Re: How important is body movement?
Tony C Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/02
Posts: 95
Originally posted by iamcanadian:
Originally posted by Brendan:
[QUOTE] Excessive movement is a waste of musical energy. [/b]
Too bad Lang Lang doesn't feel that way.

[img]http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/showimg.htms?ID=2da68f2403b16f3c9ebfff7ee464220b[/img] [/b]
OMG what's he doing

#376196 - 05/07/04 01:27 AM Re: How important is body movement?
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Stomach cramps...

#376197 - 05/08/04 02:39 PM Re: How important is body movement?
Deus ex Pianoforte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 346
Loc: California
If body movement was an important part of performance, the composer would've written in notes and guidelines about how to move during the piece. It certaintly doesn't improve the music, or else nobody would want to listen to recordings! Body movement may make a live concert more enjoyable to watch, but hey, would you rather listen to music or watch it being played?

#376198 - 05/08/04 03:02 PM Re: How important is body movement?
Hepcat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 254
What about facial expression while playing?


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