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Topic: Technique v. Literature (again, refined) [Bob project]  (Read 4538 times)

Offline Bob

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Technique v. Literature (again, refined) [Bob project]
on: January 07, 2005, 05:32:07 AM
How do you develop technique, but at the same time maintain your level of performance.  When I really push my technique and can see results in a reasonable amount of time, my ability to control the small things suffers.  My muscles are stronger, but I have less fine-tuned control.  Is there a way to develop technique and play with controlled nuances during the same time period?  I'm thinking no.  I imagine you can develop technique playing a piece of music that is beyond your capabalities (and playing it poorly, just notes and rhythms, but you grow more muscle...) and then you don't actually perform that piece.  I'm not really talking about that though.  It would be more like playing a challenging "monster" piece and then finding you can't play a soft delicate piece you playing because you hands and muscles are strained from the monster piece and don't have the same level of minute control.  Any thoughts?  Is there a way to push yourself and still have the same level of minute control?

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Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #1 on: January 07, 2005, 07:18:32 AM
Err... that's not what I consider the development of technique.  Straining your muscles is not what I consider proper technique, either.

Offline ted

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #2 on: January 07, 2005, 07:38:04 AM
I know what you mean, and I find I can avoid it by using a very large variety of touches and playing formations. In particular I dodge playing a particular figure the same way while practising technique. These days the only technical practice I do is on my practice clavier anyway, and only for twenty minutes a day if that.

As I am 95% improviser, and variety is one of the essentials in this area, I haven't actually had the problem for a long time. I did when I was younger, but I was silly then, and played things like Mazeppa the same way day in and day out thinking I was getting better when I was really doing little except narrowing my physical capability into one channel.

It might simply be because my goals are unambitious but for the last few years I haven't found it necessary to think about technique per se. Now and then I encounter a passage which bothers me but more and more I try to work from the mind to find the best approach. To this end I have found for myself that the internal sensations involved in playing something are just that - internal - not visible at the keyboard or even obvious in the sound produced. These "internal" perceptions of movements, how they "feel", are often practically impossible to describe in words - any more than a fifteen stone man can explain to a nine stone girl what "being him" feels like.

So I have come to the conclusion that to base my technical work on such things as externally observable movements and sounds is, beyond generally agreed broad principles, not going to get me very far and might indeed result in the problem you describe.

I'm trying to think of an example ... Winter Wind - that little stretchy sequence in the right hand towards the end - just leading to the half-diminished ascent. I found that very awkward to get right. I practised it on the clavier and on the piano till I was blue in the face but even though my fingers got better the feeling got worse. It wasn't until I started thinking about my internal sensations and exploring different "feelings" while playing it that I found a complete answer. I shan't go into detail because it would take several paragraphs and may not apply to anybody else.

Suffice it to say that I have finally learned that playing the piano is not just a matter of applying brute force technical grind to every problem using a one dimensional approach while the mind goes to sleep. I've also come to the conclusion that most literature, because only externally communicable and describable movements and sounds can be written about, is largely a waste of time.

Of course, I'm a very different sort of player, so take what I say with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless it's true for me - that's for certain.
"Everything in music should be fun, a celebration of life....  - Cecil Taylor

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #3 on: January 07, 2005, 03:19:22 PM
  Is there a way to develop technique and play with controlled nuances

That's what technique is: control.

Your problem is you are separating technique from music. You shouldn't separate the two. They go hand in hand. Also, you seem to have erroneous ideas about the benefits of "straining" yourself, and "pushing" yourself.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #4 on: January 07, 2005, 03:27:41 PM
How do you develop technique, but at the same time maintain your level of performance.  When I really push my technique and can see results in a reasonable amount of time, my ability to control the small things suffers.  My muscles are stronger, but I have less fine-tuned control.  Is there a way to develop technique and play with controlled nuances during the same time period?  I'm thinking no. 

With all due respect Bob, you have no understanding of what technique is.  Technique is the sum total of skills needed to realise the musical intent of the composer or performer.  Thus, fine motor control is technique.  The ability to create the softest pianissimos is technique.  The ability to perform a delicate trill is technique.  The ability to voice a chord properly, to create resounding crescendos, thundering fortissimos, and heartstopping diminuendos...all that is technique.  Technique is not about stronger muscles.  If you understand this, then you will see that the question you posed makes no sense.  It is impossible to "push my technique" (meaning, improve your technique) while at the same time decreasing your ability to control the finer things.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #5 on: January 07, 2005, 03:29:33 PM
Ah, Hmoll, you posted while I was writing my reply so I missed it! I am in total agreement.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #6 on: January 07, 2005, 03:31:11 PM
...oops, sorry, double post.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline anda

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again)
Reply #7 on: January 07, 2005, 06:05:41 PM

Offline pianonut

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Re: Technique v. Literature (again, refined) [Bob project]
Reply #8 on: January 16, 2005, 02:34:52 PM
Dear Bob,  I agree with whoever said "from the mind."

I find, after about an hour of practice, I am not so concerned with simply playing the notes and dynamics now as asking myself am i still relaxed.  My teacher, tho not saying it, really watches the relaxation of his students because i think that the quick nerve connections are related to posture.  This sounds like a crazy answer, but try sitting up straight.  Sometimes, after a bit of practice, our shoulders slump, our neck becomes tense, and we put too much effort into something easy (like you said, very soft passages).  If you simply put your shoulders back, all of a sudden you say "aha, this is what ultimate relaxation is."  It's not slumping down in a pile, it's maintaining your spines ability to help your connections. 
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.
 

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