Sunday, December 03, 2006


Good practice tonight. Scales and arps are sounding good, even at the faster speeds. I worked on both the prelude and the fugue tonight. For the prelude, I drilled a few measures on page two, and for the fugue, I reviewed those last three measures, then went to work on a HT measure elsewhere in the piece.

For the Liszt, I did a bit of drilling here and there, and they played the piece through a few times, thinking about the architecture. I think this creative visualization thing is working. Each time I play through it, it feels "bigger" somehow.

What I really want to write about for this entry, though, is a tiny breakthrough that I've been observing lately. It's been a long time coming, and I really noticed it yesterday when I was playing at church. It has to do with hand positions, finger curve, gestures, etc.

Ever since I started taking lessons from Deborah three years ago, she has been after me to relax my hands, to use more than just my fingers and wrists when I play. My playing was VERY "fingery," and my hands got tired easily because I let them tense up so much. My thumbs and pinkies, when not striking the keys, stuck out at funny angles, just because they were so tense.

Part of that was, I'm sure, because I *was* tense--I started taking piano at a very stressful time of my life (new job, new marriage, new state, new house, etc.). Part of it was that I hadn't played piano on a regular basis in over ten years. I'm sure my current less-stressful lifestyle, along with a much-increased familiarity with the piano, has helped. Liszt and Bach deserve some of the credit, too.

What's the big breakthrough? It's this: I finally seem to have adopted the "relaxed hand" mode that Deborah's been trying to get me to understand for three years. I can tell that my arms are in the driver's seat--not my wrists and fingers. And I'm not having to consciously think about it. It feels natural.

I don't know when this change took place. I'm sure it's happened over time--and glacially so. But I noticed it at church tody because my brain tends to dissociate itself from my hands sometimes when I'm playing there, and I watched my hands almost like I was watching someone else's hands play. And I could see a real difference. My hands looked more like Deborah's hands. Like a professional's hands. Smooth and gliding. Not tortured and stiff.

So ... small breakthrough. Big breakthrough. Take your pick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big breakthrough indeed, Waterfall, on your hands! Is different for all of us. In your case, I think JSB might have been the Prime Mover. In mine, I know that it was Chopin 10.4, with a supporting cast of JSB. Is the only way to play!