The entire body rings like a bell.

September 13,2020

We are faced with a division in the body: the core of the body, which remains largely whole unto itself and moves as a coherent whole. and the body extremities, particularly the arms and the hands which are constantly making motions that are externally dictated by having to adapt and conform to the horizontal expanse of the keyboard which expands logarithmically from the center.

The most effective piano playing results when this division is done away with, by establishing motions in the torso that conform in spirit to the motions of the arms and hands, and actually serve to reinforce the latter. As the large bell in a Zen monastery is perfected so that its entire body contributes to the sound that therefore emerges from the entire bell.

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Twelve ways of simplifying a passage physically.

September 09,2020

These ways all involve altering, in some specific way, the sequence of notes played in the passage; as through omission, magnification, or distortion.  Once the distortion is brought back into focus we have a new understanding of what that part’s function is within the whole phrase.  There is always something special about witnessing something in the process of coming into focus, that is taken more for granted when it begins already being in focus.

1. Simplifying physically by purposefully changing the loudness of certain notes. 2. Simplifying physically by changing the rhythm of the notes. 3. Simplifying physically: by leaving notes out and compensating by for the lost duration by holding other notes longer 4. Simplifying physically by omitting certain notes and thus revealing new connections between less proximate notes. 5. Simplifying physically isolating certain notes of a phrase and giving those notes a new and different expressive contour, thus revealing musical potential in a phrase hitherto overlooked. 6. Simplifying physically by transposing the octave range of certain notes and thereby removing large skips and jumps between notes in a phrase and modelling the cohesiveness inherent in the phrase. 7. Simplifying physically by holding down one note of a phrase while continuing on to play several of the upcoming notes: in order to homogenize and create greater unity to the sound of the phrase. 8.  Simplifying physically by repeating some or all of the notes in the phrase so they sound twice or more in a row.  Like a sculptor bringing out a three dimensional curve.  Or doing the same to feel like one has more than an ephemeral moment to perfect how a note sounds. 9. Simplifying physically by placing a fermata on a certain note in order to suddenly increase appreciation of how that note functions in the phrase. 10. Simplifying physically by placing a fermat on the note that comes just before a note that is hard to reach or articulate. 11. Simplifying physically by eliminating the rhythm and playing each note with the same duration as every other note. 12.  Simplifying physcially by first making it even more difficult, and then experiencing the relative ease when returning to the original degree of difficulty

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The beginning is wherever we choose it to be.

September 08,2020

When a certain note in a passage gives you difficulty, start the passage with the problem note, as if there were no preceding notes eventuating into it*.  So often it is the sequence of events and their context which creates the apparent difficulty.  Taken out of context the problem note is seen as being just a note, like any other on the keyboard, played with one of the ten “usual” fingers.

* In computer program it is like putting in a “breakpoint”*.  (From Google Chrome).  In software development, a breakpoint is an intentional stopping or pausing place in a program, put in place for debugging purposes. It is also sometimes simply referred to as a pause. More generally, a breakpoint is a means of acquiring knowledge about a program during its execution.

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