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Topic: Piano = more physical or mental?  (Read 2318 times)

Shagdac

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Piano = more physical or mental?
on: July 15, 2004, 10:06:20 PM
I was thinking about how much activity playing the piano takes...both mental and physical. And how draining it CAN be on both, one's mind and body. Which do you feel plays the biggest role, mind or body, and why? Or are they equal?


S :)

Offline thierry13

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #1 on: July 15, 2004, 10:26:43 PM
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I was thinking about how much activity playing the piano takes...both mental and physical.


They depend on the style of your playing. If you don't play big technically demanding pieces, both with a LOT of interpretation and emotion, it will drain a lot more of your mind than your body. But, if you play a lot of big demanding pieces, but with low emotion, I don't think it will be a lot more demanding for your body than your mind. And if you play big demanding pieces, but that are loaded of emotion and musicality, then it will be equal.

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And how draining it CAN be on both, one's mind and body


It can be very draining. Some people are having big pains (wirst, fingers, etc.) with too demanding pieces. In the other hand, some people can be very affected and on the shock after playing things like Rach 3.

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #2 on: July 15, 2004, 10:30:57 PM
I think piano is 80% a mental activity, maybe even more. I also beleive that certain music can be more physically demanding than other music, but it is still mainly a mental activity: you are constructing the music in your head as you play it, you are sending messages from your brain for your fingers to move in a certain way, and at the same time you are listening and feeling emotions. I think the reason you feel so exhausted after playing a challenging piece is mostly due to mental exhaustion, and partly physical exhaustion.
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f0bul0us

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #3 on: July 15, 2004, 11:00:48 PM
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I think piano is 80% a mental activity, maybe even more. I also beleive that certain music can be more physically demanding than other music, but it is still mainly a mental activity: you are constructing the music in your head as you play it, you are sending messages from your brain for your fingers to move in a certain way, and at the same time you are listening and feeling emotions. I think the reason you feel so exhausted after playing a challenging piece is mostly due to mental exhaustion, and partly physical exhaustion.

80%'s isn't nearly a round (get it??? round???cause of all the hoops?? Lol! I crack myself up. Sorry) enough number for the mental concentration required to play. 95% is about right for the mental aspect, while the other 5% goes to someone who decides to take on a Lang Lang-like performance.

Great thread, btw!!! ;D

Offline willcowskitz

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #4 on: July 15, 2004, 11:28:21 PM
What physical is there in piano playing? The physical quality (in all measures) of your hands and therefore their possible limitations. Even the speed of your fingers is, according to research that I heard of, dependant on your intelligence - it is mental activity to be able to tap your finger up and down fast, it is evident when you realize you're not thinking "Move down" when it moves down, and "Move up" when your finger comes up, but rather seeing ahead of these steps and let your mind drag your physical finger along. The mind goes explore the area and your body follows.

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #5 on: July 15, 2004, 11:40:46 PM
True, it is dominantly a mental task, but there is a phsicality to it as well. Independance of the fingers and upper body strength require physical exertion to strengthen, as playing the piano requires the use of the shoulders, wrists, and many upper body muscles....well, unless you're playing Bach or maybe Mozart.
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Offline ted

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The Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #6 on: July 16, 2004, 12:10:18 AM

For me the act of playing the piano is a yoga of mind and body. This is especially true of improvisation, where there is a constant interplay between the two. I think that composition for the piano ends up better if the body is involved, in other words if things are "tried out" through improvisation.

It is certainly possible to create music, for example away from the instrument, which is solely a product of the mind. However, I have found when I do this that the results are inclined to be "unpianistic".

It's a very good question, and I have to admit that the physical pleasure, the unity of mind and body, is an important source of fulfilment for me. In that sense a creative instrumentalist , an improviser, unlike a composer for orchestra, seems to me very lucky in having the best of both worlds. Physical and mental elements, playing and listening, are fused into a unified yoga of creation, which act is a very special and liberating experience.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #7 on: July 16, 2004, 01:39:18 AM
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It is certainly possible to create music, for example away from the instrument, which is solely a product of the mind. However, I have found when I do this that the results are inclined to be "unpianistic".


OMG! I totally agree, I have been composing for a while now, and I have always had a nack for improvisation, and that's how I compose almost completely. (Some etudes and deliberately detailed sections I will work out on paper many times because it is so complex it is very helpful to have a plan in front of you) I am very pleased with the results I get from this, and music that some of my friends have written completely away from their instrument sounds....well not too musical and not too well thought out. I think it's the trial and error, along with the experimental nature of improvisation that allows a composer to...well, experiment with their emotions.
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Offline amanfang

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #8 on: July 16, 2004, 04:53:55 AM
I love all these percentages people seem to pull out. "Playing the piano is 95% mental."   Where do these numbers come from??  
When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #9 on: July 16, 2004, 07:39:21 AM
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I love all these percentages people seem to pull out. "Playing the piano is 95% mental."   Where do these numbers come from??  


I take it you've never had first contact with the Great Piano God then.....(chortles)
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Offline Motrax

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #10 on: July 16, 2004, 06:31:04 PM
Indeed, the piano god is pretty good with statistics.  :P

I would agree more with the 80/20% figure, though. The third movement of the Moonlight, for example, really does tire me out. I don't take it at full tempo because my hands just get tired and sluggish by the end, irregardless of my concentration. But I would say that the more you play, the more physically able you'll become, so I'm guessing concert pianists have it closer to 95% mental.
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Offline thierry13

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #11 on: July 16, 2004, 10:02:45 PM
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OMG! I totally agree, I have been composing for a while now, and I have always had a nack for improvisation, and that's how I compose almost completely. (Some etudes and deliberately detailed sections I will work out on paper many times because it is so complex it is very helpful to have a plan in front of you) I am very pleased with the results I get from this, and music that some of my friends have written completely away from their instrument sounds....well not too musical and not too well thought out. I think it's the trial and error, along with the experimental nature of improvisation that allows a composer to...well, experiment with their emotions.


Could you show us some of your compositions? ( midi files, pdf, images,mp3, anything)

Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #12 on: July 17, 2004, 12:22:37 AM
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Could you show us some of your compositions? ( midi files, pdf, images,mp3, anything)


Well I have found the hardest part of composing for me is actually writing the stuff down on paper, and I have the bad habit of storing it to memory instead(I've tried some computer programs but every one i've tried annoys the heck out of me as it can't do some of the note combinations I want, so i've gone back to pen and paper). It's a very big goal of mine to get some of my etudes, and more interestingly to me, piano concertos written out on paper by the end of the summer, or at least the piano parts. I have some recordings of improvisations I've done that have worked their way into an etude or short dance, march, ballade, etc, but most those files are .wav or mp3 files so they are too big to email the entire thing. If you are interested I actually have a recording from 2 years ago of me playing with themes I wanted to put into my second concerto, or one of a piano ballade, and i could cut a clip out and send it. Otherwise like I said I'm going to work on writing these puppies down and at that point can scan clippits of the scores, again if you're interested. I compose in a neo-romantic, early 20th cent. style.
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Offline m1469

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #13 on: July 17, 2004, 01:13:24 AM
Well, one might ask themselves what they would do without each one.  If I had no mind, I suppose my hands would do nothing (unless of course, you have the hands from the mermaid story on another thread).  However, should I lose my hands (arms, body, etc)  you bet your butt I would still play the piano.

It is all mental in my book.  We must form descriptive and perfect thoughts, and then send these commands to our body.  Then we have movement.  Without the proper command, we cannot even walk.  We are just so accustomed to the "walking" command that we don't "hear" it anymore.  This I think, is the inner ear we must train when we are striving to play the piano (another subject I suppose).

Just some thoughts.

m1469
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Offline ahmedito

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Re: Piano = more physical or mental?
Reply #14 on: July 17, 2004, 01:44:48 AM
I wonder, if the physical preparation aspect to playing an instrument is so important, then how do you get people like Yehudi Menuhin playing the violin incredibly fast at age three or four?
I believe the physical aspect of playing the piano is not of force or strength or speed. I think speed comes from coordination and MENTAL speed, not physical. Coordination is almost purely mental. The physical aspect of pushing down a piano key is nothing, you need about 30 grams of weight to push down a piano key. Physical exahustion comes from unnecesary tension (even if it IS a tiny amount). So, if you hcave the strength of mind to able to play witth absolutely no tension, and the mental speed and coordination, theoretically, you should be able to play the piano, even if you didnt spend 15 years developing your technique. Hense, you have people like Saint Saens (being able to play the 32 Beethoven sonatas at age 7), Mozart, Menuhin, Kissin, Hoffman, or countless others.
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