Pianist to Pianist

A collection of pianistic, pedagogical, methodical, musical, artistic, and cultural contemplations, concepts, observations, and concerns, from pianist to pianist, pedagogue to pedagogue, musician to musician and from a curious and critical observer.

There are significant similarities between western music practice and Zen. The purpose of musical koan is not enlightenment but music itself; it needs constant practice (dhyāna). Music, like a Zen Koan and unlike a problem or a task, has no solution ~ only a calling....

Unreleased tension ~ caused by expressive desire without guidance, manifesting itself through e.g. raised shoulders, locked elbows, clawing hands, and/or popping veins, and ~ Unnecessary movements ~ generated by motivations that are extraneous to the expressive content of music, e.g. show biz moves, staring longingly into the ceiling,...

Technical difficulty is an illusion insofar as the difficulty arises from subjectively set parameters. For example: the notion that a passage or a jump need to be at a particular speed is a subjectively set parameter.

There is no jump: there is only this note and that note and the time you need to get there.
There is no speed: there is only musical narrative and your current ability to express it.
There is no difficult passage: only clusters that lie comfortably under the cultivated hand, waiting to be compressed.

The insensitive pianist rendered "very tender" and "very soft" as a colorless whisper and inexpressive prose. The overachieving pianist rendered "introverted" and "other worldly" as a bland murmur and a soundless challenge to hearing aides. He also managed to render "morendo" with the flat line of...

When you feel bored or uninspired while practicing the piano, use the secret superpowers of artists:OCD and ADHD. There is always something in the score and at the instrument to obsess about when distracted and to be inspired by when lacking motivation....

The piano-art audiences cherish these days is in essence romantic. Baroque, classical, and to a large degree modern music, is approached and understood by the harmonic universe that culminated in the 19th and early 20th century and performed also essentially as romantic music. As the Romantic Era passed with the advent of Modernism, and the vision shattered by the tragedy of the 20th century, what remains today in the 21st century is a grotesque and ignorant mimicry of the romantic idea. We play on a 150 year old instrument and a majority of repertoire that is even older. Is that not a reason for concern?

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink describes a phenomenon known to audiences of piano performance and art in general: one instantly knows whether one likes it and/or whether it is good ~ which doesn't have to be the same. The extremely relevant issue from the perspective of piano pedagogy...