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.

Fingering obeys two main principles: melodic/structural and passage/ornamental:

Fingering for melodic expression, in which the most suited fingers are used to play an articulated melodic arc with absolute attention to dynamics, accentuation, articulation, and legato. If at all possible, tactile connection of the melodic line must be pursued, which often necessitates finger substitution on the key. Think of melodic fingering as expressive choreography.

Fingering Principles for melody:

Sing and articulate! Connect notes with a physical gesture; use finger substitution like an organist.

Fingering for speed in patterned passages, in which fewest thumb-under and -over crossings are pursued and the hand positions are perceived and executed as arpeggiated (i.e., compressed) clusters in which fingers submit to arm movements. The arm leads, the hand follows, the fingers fall into place. Think of passage fingering as "arming,” like the bowing of a stringed instrument.

See: 41 • Arm weight is always involved

Fancy name for part of a methodology specifically designed to train and improve musical performance memory; for the aspiring international concert pianist and recording artist as well as for the myrmidons of the musical world.

As we know from the study of memory, it is the development of a retrieval structure that enables access to a large amount of data. While motivated amateurs and young padawans can remember a shuffled deck of cards in under 2 minutes and the number π at no less than 2000, confirmed world records in memorizing a shuffled deck of (52) cards lies at 21.9 seconds for speed - statistically about 2.35 cards per second, a card every 0.42 seconds, and in memorizing the number π at 67,890 digits for volume - Mr. Chao took one year to memorize Pi and was going for 90,000 when he made one mistake at number 67,890, which conspicuously happens to be a straight.

The quintessential lesson from the perspective of e.g. piano pedagogy is the realization that the heroic feat is based on a learned and relentlessly trained ability: Mnemonics. Not talent (which doesn't hurt), nor genius, nor by genetic inheritance, nor inexplicable mystery, nor magic; not dipping in dragon blood or the river Styx, nor by a kiss of the gods, nor by the assistance of a Six~winged Seraphim replacing the heart of the prophet with illuminating fire. The special ability of wielding mnemonics is a spectacularly and progressively developed skill, a "technique", and mastering it takes 10 years, 10,000 hours. Just like mastering the special ability "to play the piano" really, really, really well.

Some of the most commonly used eurocentric mnemonic systems are the memory palace (method of loki), the major (formalized number/letter association), and the P.A.O. (Person-Action-Object, or dominic) systems. Champions and Savants in the field advance their own unique systems based on the same principles, often without formulated realization: essentially artificial, as in trained, Synesthesia cultivated by repetition with purpose, also known as deliberate practice (K.A. Ericsson). Ten thousand hours. These traditional mnemonic concepts form the basis of what is emerging as the "Chiron M. Method"©, a method of musical performance memory training.

Core Concepts of the CMM: