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!

Practice Procedures – part 1: Introduction

March 30, 2017

Intro:

I have developed many practice procedures over the years.  In fact, at least a hundred of them.  The test of the usefulness of any practice procedure is that it brings about a rapid and noticeable improvement in the sound of the passage to which it is applied.   It eschews procedures that require the student to “go home” and practice something over and over in order to achieve the promised improvement.

Read More

Practice Procedures – part 2: Absolute Left and Absolute Right (Versus Relative Left and Right)

March 30, 2017

There are the left and right ends of the keyboard which are the fixed boundaries of the keyboard as whole.  But there are also equally important boundaries marking out the ‘space’ between the lowest note being currently played on the keyboard and the highest.  Unlike the first boundaries, which are forever fixed and immutable, the second set of boundaries may vary from moment to moment in terms of where they are on the keyboard.  But they are always felt as constant in our body’s and our mind’s sense of holding between the two hands a fixed range of pitches. Psychologically and physically these temporary,  yet ‘absolute’, boundaries are as important, or more important where the ends of the physical keyboard are located.   At all moments as time passes in our performance of a piece, we should not loose the sense that we are holding in our hands a ‘block’ of pitches.  Whatever is the lowest pitch at a given moment in the piece has an ‘absolute value’.  The same for the highest current pitch.

To emphasize the difference between the two types of boundaries, let us say that we are playing a single chord, made up of: c3-g3-e4-c5*.  If we follow this with the chord b2-g3-g5-d5, in one sense it may be correct to say that the “lowest note has moved” from C to B, but it is just as important to feel that absolute lower boundary of the pitches, and all that that implies, retains its identity though now it is B, and that.  That C has lost its distinction as the lowest pitch.

Read More

Practice Procedures – part 3:  Bouncing Ball Technique

March 30, 2017

A bouncing ball is a perfect example of one initial motion producing an ongoing series of actions.  We play a first note  (or chord) and then expend less and less energy to create a series of ensuing sounds.

Echo Effect:

Read More

Practice Procedures – part 4:  Blobbing’ Down

March 30, 2017

I use the term ‘blob down’ to mean that the body causes the palms of the hand to lower onto the keyboard and spread out like a liquid to cover as much area on the keyboard as possible.  I borrow the term ‘blob’ from the cult science fiction movie of the same name (“The Blob”).

As in the movie the blob, the motion of spreading over the surface of the keys is indiscriminate: there is attempt for any one part of the hand to on or near any particular note.  The hand simply spreads, from region to region on the keyboard, and “engulfs” whatever it encounters.

Read More

Practice Procedures – part 5:  ‘Blob’ And Deflect                   

March 30, 2017

A strong force initially applied in one direction can be deflected into another direction.   For instance the downward force which benefits from the force of gravity can be deflected, without loosing momentum to a force to the right.  To initiate a rightwards force from an initial location on the keyboard will inherently be weaker and less productive than a rightwards motion that comes as a prolongation of a stronger downward force.

In the case just given, a strong motion downwards takes place towards the keyboard by the arms.  When the hand is about to make contact with the keys, or when the hand has just barely made contact with the keys, the motion can be deflected to the right.  This way the original momentum and impetus of the force is not broken or diminished in any way and continues unabated into the lateral motion.

Read More