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Practice Procedures: Part 15: Minimum Effort: The Principle of the Least Difference

April 2, 2017

A Starting Point:

While in a relaxed state of stillness in the body, regardless of what position or attitude the body is in, say to yourself “This is all that I have to do to play this passage”.   “I am in fact playing the passage right now just by holding still.”  “All I have to do is perpetuate this state.”

Another Starting Point:

While in the relaxed state of stillness, consider every joint, every part of the playing mechanism, one by one, and ask “is this joint capable of moving in response to slightest vagrant breeze, the slightest intention of moving.  If yes, then say: “This is all I have to do to play the passage”.  “I am in fact playing the passage right now just by feeling internally these minimal, nascent virtual gestures that are invisible from the outside.

A Third Starting Point:

I hold out my hands in front of me, turning the palms towards my eyes.  I look at my fingers, which should not be moving in any way – nor should be tense in any way to prevent them from moving.  Then I say to my fingers, as they remain in a quiet state: look, guys, all you have to do is … and then I say or sing the local passage … or simply speak its rhythm.   Then taking a leap of faith I do it a second time with no conscious difference from the first, but allowing the notes to sound at the keyboard as written.

The implication is that any effort, or put in a better way, any conscious addition of effort, is already too much effort.  That the proper measure of the activity does not feel quantitatively different than when I felt no activity in the hand.  That the difference is so slight (principle of least difference) that any conscious difference is already too much.

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