\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Thoughts on Van Cliburn's statement about not liking to practice? (Read 1453 times)

Offline jenniferj

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Van Cliburn was quoted as saying that he never liked to practice. Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this statement? Thank you.

Offline daniloperusina

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 476
Re: Thoughts on Van Cliburn's statement about not liking to practice?
«Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 08:39:48 PM »
Well, what did he mean with practicing?
Throughout history there has always been differing views on that.
Claudio Arrau loved to practice, ie doing purely technical exercises, just as much as he loved to just work on the music at hand.
Wilhelm Kempff thought mechanical exercises was "beneath" him. ;D
Daniel Barenboim claims to have never done scales or technical exercises in his life.
Glenn Gould probably lied when he said he barely practices. Same with Richter.
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli probably thought he made a good joke when he answered the question "how much do you recommend pianists to practice every day?" with: "until it hurts."
In his memoirs, Artur Rubinstein claims to have discovered the joy of actually practicing "an hour or two" on a piece only when he was well over forty years old.
Horowitz, in at least one of his major withdrawals from the stage, claimed to have not touched a piano for at least a year.
I wonder if one can doubt that someone like Boris Berezovski works a lot on the technical aspects of playing the piano.
Similarly, it certainly rings true what Arcadi Volodos says; that he never ever works on the mechanics, only on realizing his musical ideas.
So, Van Cliburn is in some good company... ::)

Offline daniloperusina

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 476
Re: Thoughts on Van Cliburn's statement about not liking to practice?
«Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 09:33:15 PM »
In this same vain, I'd like to say that there are talented people that we who are more "normal" can somtimes have a hard time to grasp.
Take Artur Rubinstein. Child prodigy from the age of four or so. A short time after sent to Berlin to audition. Made such an impression that scholarship was arranged for his full time musical studies for years to come, at the Hochschule of Music with the legendary Joseph Joachim as his mentor and piano professor Heinrich Barth as his teacher.
Sounds absolutely beleivable to me.
And this being the 1890's, lessons meant daily lessons.

Later in his life, Rubinstein claimed to have a photographic memory of such kind that he could read through an unfamiliar score (say, while on a train) and perfectly memorize each page in such a manner that he could "sight-read" the score from memory at first rehearsal (for example, a new piano concerto).
That also sounds beleivable to me, since he claims that he had to write his memoirs purely from memory as all records and whatever were distroyed during World War II. Why this sounds beleivable is that the memoirs (book one) were written by him in the 1970's, and deal with the years 1887-1914. And the pages are loaded with daily details dating 60-80 years back.

What I'm trying to say with all this is that, concerning the art of musical and pianistic achievments: there have been, and are, geniuses out there.
Say no more than Mozart. Piano concerto in d-minor. A few days were all he needed to work the composition out in his head. Then followed a hectic few hours of the possibly fastest ever note writing capability in history. Writing mistakes? Hardly any ever. Unfathomable for most of us. Then give the score to Rubinstein. Needs not to sit at a piano, needs only to read it through. Then it's memorized and can be "sight-read" at first rehearsal with orchestra. Equally not so easy to comprehend. But there you are... ::)

Offline jenniferj

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Thoughts on Van Cliburn's statement about not liking to practice?
«Reply #3 on: October 16, 2015, 10:50:01 PM »
Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. Your answer was great and helpful! Like you, I wondered what exactly he meant with "practice." Another thought I had was about the fact that probably all work is unpleasant to some degree, although the results are definitely enjoyable!

Offline dcstudio

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2423
Re: Thoughts on Van Cliburn's statement about not liking to practice?
«Reply #4 on: October 17, 2015, 05:45:05 PM »
I wondered what exactly he meant with "practice." Another thought I had was about the fact that probably all work is unpleasant to some degree, although the results are definitely enjoyable!

I used to hate to practice...  I actually worked as an accompanist and didn't have a piano in my home.  I tried to do just enough to get by...I figured time spent working on the pieces I would get paid for... meant I was going to make less per hour,  I did this for like 5 years.  As terrible and lazy and heretical as that sounds it forced me to learn music very efficiently.  Realize that I had played for about 30 years at this point when I stopped practicing.  The thing is... no one seemed to notice...

after that period I went on an obsessive practice schedule... sometimes 12 hours a day.  I couldn't get enough of it and I loved every second.  I would wake up excited and anxious to get to the piano every day.  I never thought of it like "practicing"... that word just triggers too much pressure...  I told myself I was just "playing."   I was past 40 when this happened... it's more common than you would think...  they call it "the middle aged crazies."   Many people take up an instrument at this point...  and most fail..  however, for those of us who have played our whole lives.. it's kind of amazing.. :)  I get Rubinstein finding the joy after 40..it happens a lot.