Joe’s Blog

Welcome to my blog!

A reminder that these blog entries are not ‘timely.’  They do not address issues that relate to the present news of the world.  They address perennial issues faced by most pianists when striving to excel in their playing.  I encourage you to search through the posts to find the ones that will yield the greatest benefit to you.

You can also use this list of all blog posts in order of keyword, which you can also sort by title.

You are also welcome to contact me to suggest a topic that you would like to see appear on the site, or ask questions or comment below each entry. Enjoy!

Micro-managing the motions of the fingers by micro-managing time

September 17, 2018

When playing we are lulled into a sense that we make one physical motion for every note we play.  That, however, leaves out many subtle motions we make before we play a note and while we hold a note (even if the note is brief).

I wanted to call Irving’s attention to motions that take place so rapidly that we are unaware of them, but at the same time are motions that are critical to the successful execution of the connection from the current note to the next note.

Read More

Speed – evenness – relaxation: “tapping” and  “clicking”

September 17, 2018

A basic procedure that fosters rapidity in playing is to keep the physical involvement of the body to an absolute minimum.  The more tension there is in the muscles, and the further in space the fingers must move, the more inhibited is the onward flow of the notes through time.  Speed requires relaxation.  So does evenness.

We are looking for the least amount of weight and force that will cause to make the notes audible, and put that together with the least distance of motion by the fingers.  The necessary amount of motion and muscular contraction to create a sound is so little that many of us cannot make the distinction between that amount and no amount at all.  That even if we try intentionally to do the least effort possible, it will prove to be too much.

Read More

“The three faces of Irving? (sic)”

September 17, 2018

Three pronouns that refer to the same pianist: I, you and s’he”

The reference is to the movie “The three faces of Eve” in which a woman with multiple personalities gradually learns how to integrate the first personalities with a newly arisen third personality.

Read More

Three mordants

September 11, 2018

In the first movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto, there are two places where one plays in series three identical mordants.*

Ideally, we want to play each of the three mordants with freshness and brio (liveliness or spirit).  To do this it is useful that each one of the three has a certain difference or freedom from the others.  When doing the second or third, there should be no memory either in the hand or in the ear of the exact nature of the one or two preceding it.  In an important way, each of the three should be created as the first one.   This principle can be generalized: every note is the first note of the piece.  The piece is being created by us on the keyboard on the spot: ex nihlio (out of nothingness).

Read More

Chords; plus a tip about legato

September 11, 2018

Irving is playing the prelude in C Major from Book One of the Well Tempered.

Do the notes of a chord need to sound simultaneously or need at least to have sounded in sequence, for the chord to be there in our aural consciousness?

Read More