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Originally Posted by Richrf
Too many typos in the last post, so I'm correcting. smile

In regards to playing "technique", I do not attempt to "copy" any specific technique, since everyone's spiritual energy is different. The energy "flows" differently for everyone. This is one of the major reasons I do not have a teacher who will most assuredly try to teach me to play in a certain manner. Relaxed flow is what I imagine and then I allow that flow or gesture to act on the keys.

In my current practice, which is focused on the first few pieces in Book 1b, I try to imagine the music flowing through me from my mind into the piano. This is by no means automatic. I practice a short piece hundreds of times and then hundreds more. I don't seek perfection but rather I seek spiritual flow, my spiritual flow. And this changes over time. At times I catch myself trying to copy technique and then I stop and relax back into my own flow. In this manner all music is equal for me. It is very interesting to explore the "depths of my soul", borrowing the words of Arrau. These two ideas I learned first from my Tai Chi practice: energetic flow and patience.



I have always felt that one needs to "become the music" to play ones best. Really sounds exactly as you posted.



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Originally Posted by NobleHouse



I have always felt that one needs to "become the music" to play ones best. Really sounds exactly as you posted.


Yes, music is spiritual in nature. It connects. Its source is the mind which extends music out through movement of the body. This can take the form of voice, dance, or through instruments. A simple drumming sound can create enormous connection as can more complex rhythms. The more relaxed one is the more unencumbered is the spirit and the more radiant the music. Any willful attempt to "copy" will lead to tension. The idea is to play from the creative mind (soul) not the will. Relax=Enjoy.

As I have mentioned in other threads, goals (desires) are willful in nature and most probably are the source of tension. My approach is to drop desires and enjoy the music I am creating. Enjoy the journey and not the goal.

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Originally Posted by Richrf
Originally Posted by NobleHouse



I have always felt that one needs to "become the music" to play ones best. Really sounds exactly as you posted.


Yes, music is spiritual in nature. It connects. Its source is the mind which extends music out through movement of the body. This can take the form of voice, dance, or through instruments. A simple drumming sound can create enormous connection as can more complex rhythms. The more relaxed one is the more unencumbered is the spirit and the more radiant the music. Any willful attempt to "copy" will lead to tension. The idea is to play from the creative mind (soul) not the will. Relax=Enjoy.

As I have mentioned in other threads, goals (desires) are willful in nature and most probably are the source of tension. My approach is to drop desires and enjoy the music I am creating. Enjoy the journey and not the goal.


If you have a goal, but are not enjoying the music. You are doing something wrong. A goal should never supersede enjoyment; it should never be ‘do or die or I fail if I don’t reach it’. If we can’t distinguish this premise, then we shouldn’t set goals. But if we recognize these principles, setting goals can be good. They should never create stress— and they do not need to.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Richrf
Originally Posted by NobleHouse



I have always felt that one needs to "become the music" to play ones best. Really sounds exactly as you posted.


Yes, music is spiritual in nature. It connects. Its source is the mind which extends music out through movement of the body. This can take the form of voice, dance, or through instruments. A simple drumming sound can create enormous connection as can more complex rhythms. The more relaxed one is the more unencumbered is the spirit and the more radiant the music. Any willful attempt to "copy" will lead to tension. The idea is to play from the creative mind (soul) not the will. Relax=Enjoy.

As I have mentioned in other threads, goals (desires) are willful in nature and most probably are the source of tension. My approach is to drop desires and enjoy the music I am creating. Enjoy the journey and not the goal.


If you have a goal, but are not enjoying the music. You are doing something wrong. A goal should never supersede enjoyment; it should never be ‘do or die or I fail if I don’t reach it’. If we can’t distinguish this premise, then we shouldn’t set goals. But if we recognize these principles, setting goals can be good. They should never create stress— and they do not need to.


One can enjoy goals because one's mind doesn't know anything else but you are still creating tension. One has to move from the willful mind to the creative mind to have a vision without tension and in so doing connects to the spirit. Such a circumstance is pretty much unknown in Western culture that has an education and cultural belief system that is foundationally built around willful actions. It permeates the thought and educational process.

Eastern traditional cultures have a completely different understanding of the mind and the spirit. When it is said to "let go of the ego" (a Western interpretation) one can understand this to mean let go of the Will. This was the inspiration for The Force in Lucas's Star War mythology. Goals are inspired by the Will. Visions come from the Creative Mind. Totally different.

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I cannot be mistaken for a Westerner (not even of any sort, not even in disguise), but I enjoy stressful endeavours. I go doing dangerous stuff for the sake of a specific goal (like summiting Everest, or setting a good time in a marathon.....or just surviving a fall from 15,000ft); I worked hard to gain my performance diploma on piano even while in the midst of university exams (having to burn the midnight oil to study for it, just so that I could practice the piano in the daytime after lectures)......completely of my own volition. Success begets success, as Socrates (or was it Lao Tze?) once said. And I enjoy the taste of success that comes from hard stressful work (involving blood, sweat & tears smirk ) and achieving a specific goal. In other words, it's all the sweeter for having endured the unendurable thumb. Tamino had to go through dangerous trials to get his beloved Pamina, in order that they may live happily ever after.

"The difference between humans and other apes is that humans can set long-term goals and eschew short-term comfort in order to achieve those goals." - Wittgenstein (not one-handed Paul)

"No worthwhile achievement in humankind was ever attained without a lot of stress and hard work." - Descartes

"The superior man makes difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later." - Confucius


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I cannot be mistaken for a Westerner (not even of any sort, not even in disguise), but I enjoy stressful endeavours. I go doing dangerous stuff for the sake of a specific goal (like summiting Everest, or setting a good time in a marathon.....or just surviving a fall from 15,000ft); I worked hard to gain my performance diploma on piano even while in the midst of university exams (having to burn the midnight oil to study for it, just so that I could practice the piano in the daytime after lectures)......completely of my own volition. Success begets success, as Socrates (or was it Lao Tze?) once said. And I enjoy the taste of success that comes from hard stressful work (involving blood, sweat & tears smirk ) and achieving a specific goal. In other words, it's all the sweeter for having endured the unendurable thumb. Tamino had to go through dangerous trials to get his beloved Pamina, in order that they may live happily ever after.

"The difference between humans and other apes is that humans can set long-term goals and eschew short-term comfort in order to achieve those goals." - Wittgenstein (not one-handed Paul)

"No worthwhile achievement in humankind was ever attained without a lot of stress and hard work." - Descartes

"The superior man makes difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later." - Confucius


Confucius was simply a marketing tool for Emperors and the the Royal class. His "sayings" survive and prosper because they serve their purpose. That you enjoy stressful endeavors is quite evident and that you enjoy creating stress for others is equally evident. The result this as I described.

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Originally Posted by Richrf

That you enjoy stressful endeavors is quite evident and that you enjoy creating stress success for others is equally evident.

I've corrected your mistake yippie


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Today I had another online Skype lesson. I may invest in a better microphone in the future but right now it can wait. Mostly we discuss musicality. We also briefly discussed the nature of relaxation and spiritual connection as well as some thoughts about Assau and other musicians. The lessons are very reasonably priced and combined with the PCA course keeps me very involved with my play.

My practice continues to be centered on quality than quantity. I practice a piece until I feel the musicality of the piece is all coming naturally and effortlessly from the creative mind. This takes an enormous number of repetitions of rather simple pieces before it starts happening. Music extends in all so many directions that I will be only able to touch the surface in this lifetime but what I touch I will always thoroughly enjoy.

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I finished reading the Sachiko Piano Method. It was a very interesting read and for the most part dovetails the ideas taught in the PCA course. At the end she summarizes her main ideas and outlines her method. I have a few small comments on her ideas.


Relax your mind and body, and visualize what you want before taking action.

This is fundamental to her method and PCA. Relaxation and imagining the sound in the creative mind before the music is played. As a side note, the author at times refers to the brain as opposed to the mind in her book. I will refrain from waxing philosophical on this subject but suffice to say that it is the mind that rules and it permeates the body as the spirit.

Be objective.

Unfortunately this is not possible. Everyone's judgment is subjective and dependent upon one's experiences (memory) and perspectives.

Figure out (sometimes creatively) ways to achieve your goals.

I would substitute creative vision for goals. Visions are ac direction but it is inconsequential whether they are achieved. Goals, on the otherhand, tend to create tension and stress, and impede learning and spiritual flow.

Keep your mind and body moving fluidly at all times.

Yes, this is the spiritual energy flowing within is and created by the mind.

Trust yourself and your capacity.

Absolutely. This skill is more useful in life than playing piano or any other recreational activity.

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With this video in mind, I thought I might make a brief comment.

https://youtu.be/xMG247zUzB0

When I play or when I teach (currently table tennis and Tai Chi) first and above all is always relaxation. In particular, as I observe other people learn, they tend to try to copy the gestures of the teacher. In piano, it might be exaggerated motions. Copying is a willful action that will create tension. One cannot copy relaxation. One must be relaxed. And as Arrau says, total relaxation is absolutely fundamental. More than anything else, one should practice relaxation and then everything else will follow.

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As an addendum to my post above:

You become what you practice.

If you practice with tension, you become tense.

There is nothing explicit or implicit in playing music that you have to do or need to do. Have to and need to is a choice and this choice creates tension because they are willful and not creative in nature.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

I believe learning this tune well helps build a very beautiful life practice.

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Recently I have been experimenting and focusing on playing with my "whole body". Actually, this is a misnomer. What I am doing is practicing with playing "from the spirit". The manifestation of such practice is a sense (feeling) of a wave that originates from within and flows through the body as a whole. The source of inspiration feels very soft and only can be sensed when my whole body is relaxed since any tension will inhibit the flow.

It is possible to play the piano using Will in lieu of spirit. This is the manner that Graham Fitch teaches as in this video:

https://youtu.be/4bmY4FlNJJ4

But I do not enjoy this style. It feels lifeless and mechanical. To achieve a more spiritual flow, I believe that slow practice is necessary until it is practiced in such a way a thousand times and then natural begins playing expressively and at desires tempo. Attempting to play at tempo immediately requires Will land Will will inhibit flow.

In the PCA course, Illinca does talk about holistic play but the emphasis is on relaxed arms and fingers and from time to time it is pointed out the door whole body needs to be relaxed. When one observe Illinca play it is easy to see her whole body participating as a (spiritual) wave. Merely attempting to make a wave in the arms is insufficient as other whole body wave is required with inspiration coming from the spirit (imagination). This is how I am practicing.

One quick note: you'll never find this approach being taught in academia or those who learned music in academia. "Science" had purged all spiritual arts from its curriculum as it seems to promulgate its mechanistic notion of life the purpose being to planning science as the arbiters of all things in life. It is unfortunate that spiritual practice is no longer found in education since I believe it is absolutely fundamental to understanding and living life, however outside of academia there are many, many ways to explore and evolve ones spiritual practices, piano being just one such activity.

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One other point I should make in regards to the above post, and that is concerning the nature of breath. Breath is an exposition of Spirit. It is Life. Being what it is, it is normally the focus of many spiritual practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, etc. Equally so, it is the focus of singing when performed in a more spiritual manner (which is how it is often discussed in cultures if the world where science doesn't dominate the thought process). As with all sorts arts, breath is also essentially to playing music on the piano. Music will sound stilted until the breath is in conformance with the sound being created.

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Originally Posted by Richrf
One other point I should make in regards to the above post, and that is concerning the nature of breath. Breath is an exposition of Spirit. It is Life. Being what it is, it is normally the focus of many spiritual practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, etc. Equally so, it is the focus of singing when performed in a more spiritual manner (which is how it is often discussed in cultures if the world where science doesn't dominate the thought process). As with all sorts arts, breath is also essentially to playing music on the piano.


I have started doing a couple of things related to breathing when playing:
First, deep inhale and exhale a couple of times with the first note played on an exhale. Secondly, I realized my breathing while playing is quite shallow so I build in and practice places to deep breathe—— particularly before a difficult measure or section.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Richrf
One other point I should make in regards to the above post, and that is concerning the nature of breath. Breath is an exposition of Spirit. It is Life. Being what it is, it is normally the focus of many spiritual practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, etc. Equally so, it is the focus of singing when performed in a more spiritual manner (which is how it is often discussed in cultures if the world where science doesn't dominate the thought process). As with all sorts arts, breath is also essentially to playing music on the piano.


I have started doing a couple of things related to breathing when playing:
First, deep inhale and exhale a couple of times with the first note played on an exhale. Secondly, I realized my breathing while playing is quite shallow so I build in and practice places to deep breathe—— particularly before a difficult measure or section.

Yes! The the inhalation and then exhalation is the inspiration of the Spirit! It begins the process. Then therr is the breath/phrase. Something that is fundamental to the nature of singing. The pianist also sings the phrase though the breath. It is all the same. smile

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I would describe the sound created by the breath as being very sweet and delicious. :-)

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I met with my Skype teacher today for a short conversation the early teaching methods that she experienced growing up in the Ukraine and how it differs from the teaching methods she experienced in universities in the U.S.

Time goes by very quickly as we exchange experiences and ideas. She told me she enjoys listening to my experiences and ideas as much as I enjoy listening to hers.

One big takeaway from the discussion was that she initially learned music and musicality from instruction in singing and dancing. I was not surprised since dancing is a very expressive and fundamental way that the spirit manifests through the body. We agreed that is is a bit befuddling how dance teachers in the U.S. teach "steps" without music. It's very, very strange since the music drives the dance. She encouraged me to sing simple melodies as I practice then which dovetails the recommendations of the Sachiko Piano Method. It seems that this is an excellent recommendation and I will explore it. She had perfect pitch but it is certainly very worthwhile for me to build skills in this area.

The big topic was the use of breath and she confirmed that my understanding was as she was taught in n Russia. I discussed how in Eastern Arts (including such arts and Tai Chi and calligraphy) the Yi (creative/imaginative mind) leads the breath and the breath creates the gestures for expression, whether it be musical instruments, singing, painting, calligraphy, etc. This was a very full and enjoyable discussion.

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One other point that my teacher made was that when she studied in Russia expressiveness was considered more important than technique or correctness.

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This is how I imagine myself playing:

https://youtu.be/DNMBRFccGaI

The inspiration and expiration of breath that leads the music from my spirit (imagination) outwards through my body into the piano.

Flowing relaxed movements that allows the unrestricted movement of the music through my body.

No predefined course of movements. Movements are the gestures that reflect the music I am playing at that moment.

Compete connection between my spirit and the piano and the music it creates that flows back to me and encourages me to play the next musical sound.

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I love the way the young woman, with no experience, plays with her whole body. Lots of uninhibited soul. That's the way to do it! Brendan have her all the instruction she need. smile


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