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.

In social interactions the sharing of personal memories serves as an coalescent agent, it makes people come closer. Conversations about the weather, games, and celebrity adultery may be entertaining but as no personal information is divulged besides the admission of ludicrous and superficial interest in meteorology, spectator sports, and Hollywood, no deeper bond is formed. A deeper bond is usually established by exchanging personal memories and there is a direct correlation between the volume of personal information shared and the level of sympathy, trust, and intimacy built.

The same is be true for the piano recital. The more personal the artist speaks to the audience, the more memorable the experience becomes. The relentless development of technique is paramount; valuable content is as pivotal as an appropriate container; 65 • Talent doesn’t hurt, since the desire for sharing of personal memories can, in the case of a concert pianist, only be channeled through a competent performance.

In the last 30 years of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach was reading and studying the so called Calov Bible, a slab of Martin Luther's German translation of the gospel with popular explanations and interpretations by the great Lutheran theologian and scholar Abraham Calovius.

Bach wrote little commentaries with his own pen in the page margins when a passage particularly captivated or intrigued him. The following note seems to me especially revealing of Bach's relation to music and to the biblical god:

Bey einer andächtig Musiq ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden gegenwart.

My translation: Upon reverent music, God with his Grace is ever-present.

The two images below show
1) my hand in white glove on the particular page with
2) the notable quote:

Mnemonics, the art and science of memory, develops the ability to formulate images, scenarios, or systems [known or invented], and learn (and exercise, as in improve speed and precision through deliberate practice) to link them to random information or ideas.

Imagination is a related phenomenon but with a different purpose: not to remember the past but to experience the present. To formulate images, scenarios, or systems [known or invented], and link them from memory to ideas or information through the filter and magnifying glass of personality, with ideally innovative and exquisite results.

Creativity is a similar ability but serves yet another purpose: to create for the imminent future. To formulate images, scenarios, or systems, link them with imagination (based on memory) to felicitous ideas or information through the filter and microscope of personality and character, and materialize and project the results, give to and share with the world.

Have your repertoire memorized:
• 1 to 7 days before your lesson,
• 7 to 14 days before a public performance,
• 14 to 21 before a local competition or an exam,
• 3 to 6 weeks before a really important event,
• 1 1/2 to 6 months before a really important competition,
• 1/2 to 1 year before a solo CD recording,
• 1 to 10 years before a CD recording with Leonard Bernstein

Continue to work on the piece after your performance, ideally on the same night after the performance.