Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Art of Piano - Great pianists of the 20th century

I discovered this documentary by accident whilst Googling Neuhaus's book The Art of Piano. Amazingly, the complete video is available on YouTube, surprisingly so as it does not appear to be out of print. Maybe the distributors figure that people are going to want a better quality version of it and buy their own copy.
Oh you want to know what I think of it? Well, sensational and hugely inspiring to be frank and fantastic to see Glenn Gould included with this illustrious group of humans.
I cannot imagine the number of rigorous hours of effort they must all have subjected themselves to and marvel at the individual differences in wonderful tone between them all.
Well worth checking out for a bit of inspiration.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Egad - I have cut off my fingernails!

One of the things about playing the classical
guitar that has completed pissed me off at times over the last 30 years or so is the need for a well cared for set of fingernails on the right hand. I have developed great skills in repairing my fingernails using super glue and crescents of ping pong ball and so often because I damaged a nail just before I needed to perform! So.............,

as they are a hindrance when playing the piano, I have an excellent excuse and the other day I clipped them all off. I can tell you that was harder to do than you might think having invested so much effort over the years to maintain them.
It must be a new dawn!

The Craft of Piano Playing

As I am not in a position to engage a teacher at this time and acknowledging the importance of a sound technique, I ordered this wonderful treatise by Alan Fraser.
Having read some considerable part of the book, interestingly, it seems my years spent developing a sound technique for playing the classical guitar, has equipped me well to intuitively understand some of what is required of the relationship of the fingers, hands and arms for piano playing.
So I think I am on track and am looking forward to applying more of the information that is so clearly explained through the use of the most wonderful drawings. I am also keen to get my hands on Heinrich Neuhaus's The Art of Piano Playing.
I am now into the second grade book of the John Thompson Modern piano course (a quantum leap form the first, I may say)and have started the process of learning and playing the scales and arpeggios in all keys now that I have a better understanding of the techniques required to play them. I plan to regularly go back to the first grade John Thompson book to reinforce what I have learnt.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The beginning!

As is my usual way, and how I came to purchase a Casio CDP-100, I scoured the the internet using Google for a piano tutor and settled for the not so modern, been around for ever, method depicted to the left. Having played the classical guitar for more than 30 years, I am acutely aware of the importance of a sound technique and so have opted for this traditional method rather than the myriad of new ones that are available. I have found it to be excellent for my purposes and have already purchased and commenced the second grade book.

I do need to find a teacher though but as I am about to move 50 kilometres to the the
west when Michelle and I get the house we are building in Denmark to the stage where we can move in, it is a little difficult.

Resisted for years...........

but have now decided that the piano has a place in my musical life and that I need to learn to play it properly. So I used some of my KRudd money to buy a Casio CDP-100 88 note fully-weighted digital piano and I am incredibly impressed with it. There are just 5 sampled sounds - 2 grand piano, harpsichord, electric piano and strings and it has midi so as I can connect it to my computer.
The touch and feel of the keys is so piano like and is also graduated relative to the different weight of the strings from bass to treble.
So I have purchased Book 1 of John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano and have started the process of teaching myself. As I already read the treble clef fluently it is mostly a matter of becoming more familiar with the bass clef and to develop a sound technique for the instrument. I will go and get lessons to ensure I am staying on the right track technique wise and I am really keen to particularly develop good sight reading skills as I have for the guitar. I have high expectations as I usually do with everything I start and look forward to playing Beethoven piano sonatas some time in the future. Laboriously worked my way through the opening of the Pathetique yesterday, the music sublime, the playing? Umm, well, more practise required!