Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#1212652 - 06/06/09 09:01 AM "...play to the sound, not to the key."
Farmer Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Union County, IA
By way of a little introduction, I am not a teacher. I "lurk and learn a lot." I've experienced a resurgence in my desire for my music after "in and out" for forty-some odd years. The longest period of continuous instruction for me was from 1953-1966 when I graduated from highschool. I've played on uprights and consoles until last November when I acquired an Estonia L190. I have a wonderful teacher--we just said good-bye--with a few tears--til next school year--and am discovering a new musical world with my grand.

I have never before had the instrumental capability for a seemingly infinite range of dynamic and tonal variation. As I become more acquainted with my lovely "Essy," I'm learning that she sounds so totally different the way I manipulate the keys. This is the reason for the post.

In this thread Kreisler said:
Quote:
What works for my students is to play to the sound, not to the key.
...
However, many students get into the habit of playing the key instead of the escapement. In other words, they focus on the surface of the key (where no sound is produced.)

I always urge my students to play to the escapement - to the bottom of the key. You have to follow through the sound.
...
(And you'll get more tactile feedback to help articulation and control.)

I hope that makes sense. I'm not very good at explaining these things (demonstration and coaching someone live is SO much easier!)

Since in this venue it's difficult to "deomonstrate and coach," I'd like to "pick some brains."
I'm pretty sure I understand what Kreisler said, I want to hone my understanding.

First of all, is the term "escapement" synonomous with "let off." This latter is what my tech uses to describe the "bump" Kreisler describes in his remarks. This is the point at which my piano speaks. If my understanding is correct--and this is the experience I have on the upright that I own--the upright piano does not speak until the key travels to the bottom. I get dynamic movement from the upright only by hitting the keys harder. However, on the grand, whether trying to play loudly or softly, the tonal quality changes from light and gentle--at the let off--to heavy and brash--at the complete travel of the key. This, as I intimated, is true regardless of the loudness or softness.

What I'm saying is that I think I'm learning what Kreisler teaches his students. When I do my Hanon, I practice "constant tone" at the let off and variation towards and away from it. However, if I play "...to the bottom of the key," it appears to limit the range of sound quality that I get. I'm hoping that someone here can elaborate a little more on what Kreisler said so that I can be more clear in my understanding and keyboard approach.

I apologize for any lack of precision in my question. Hopefully through responses I can amplify more if need be. I think I could have also put this in the "Painist Corner" but the original remarks were here.

Thank you.
_________________________
...I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...
Estonias choose their owners (L190-6822)
Dan

Top
(ad) My Music Staff
Check out the new way to manage your music studio
#1212666 - 06/06/09 09:36 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I'm glad you asked this follow-up, Farmer Dan, as I'm curious about your questions, too.

I even have one of my own. Could someone explain the distinctions between (or the relationship among) the terms escapement, let-off and aftertouch?

I specifically thought of aftertouch because Kreisler was addressing what happens "after" the key is played (comparable to the follow-through after a basketball leaves the hands, or the golf club strikes the ball, etc.), and I wonder about its relevance to the discussion.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

Top
#1212693 - 06/06/09 10:20 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: sotto voce]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Steven,

I think I can answer your question about aftertouch. Aftertouch is a term from the digital world. It involves a response to the amount of pressure you are using to hold down a key, primarily to control the loudness or of other component of the sound while you are holding the key. As such, I don't think it applies to piano - the piano doesn't have aftertouch. It is very useful if you are using a keyboard to control samples for a string or wind instrument.

Rich
_________________________

Top
#1212702 - 06/06/09 10:38 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: sotto voce]
Farmer Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Union County, IA
After reading your reply I did a little research--googling--and found this article and this one. From the first:
Quote:
If a piano hammer were attached directly to the back end of a key, when the key was depressed, the hammer would hit the string and stay there, damping out all vibration and sound. For this reason, all piano actions have some kind of escapement mechanism for each key, allowing the hammer to be released from the key just before hitting the string. When the key is released, the action returns to its original position and resets itself for another cycle.
And now the second:
Quote:
Let off (set off): When the hammer is almost at the string, the let off (set off) catches the heel of the jack and, as the wippen keeps moving upwards, the jack pivots and slips off the hammer butt. The hammer continues the rest of the way on its own inertia.
The first one has a cute little action picture and their are diagrams to see the different parts.

So I think I understand the remarks, but I'm really interested in "to the bottom of the key."

I'm still concerned that some will say this is the wrong forum for this topic. Already it contains technique and piano actions. But teachers explain this stuff don't they? help wow
_________________________
...I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...
Estonias choose their owners (L190-6822)
Dan

Top
#1212744 - 06/06/09 12:16 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
That's an interesting point - and I posted my original thoughts in the teacher's forum on purpose. As a teacher, I am less interested in the technical details of the action as I am in the pedagogy of helping students handle it.

This is why it's fairly easy to find fault with my descriptions of some of the mechanical details - both of the action and of the playing mechanism.

For example - I'm an advocate of following through with one's motions, making sure that the finger and hand comes off the key with as much care as it approaches the key. Of course, what you do after the escapement has absolutely no effect on the sound whatever, as those familiar with the mechanics of the action will be quick to point out, but pedagogically speaking, I find that following through with one's motions has an effect on how they execute the entire motion from beginning to end and how well the following motions are prepared. So while nothing you do after the escapement affects the sound mechanically speaking, there's a great deal of utility in it from a pedagogical perspective.

I'm going to be quiet now and resist the temptation to talk too much. I'm fascinated to hear what others can add to (or subtract from) what I've said!
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

Top
#1212766 - 06/06/09 01:07 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
Farmer Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Union County, IA
But, Kreisler, I want you to "talk too much" (=develop your thoughts?). That's why I posted, hoping that you would.

Then, let's dismiss the technical terms. Although how things work intrigue me, I, hopefully, am an artist and can just express myself. yawn This is the point at which observation and coaching would really help, but let's give it the old U of I try. wink

What I think you're saying is this: Play to the speaking point and in a controlled (?) way get ready for the next note. I focused in on "...play to the escapement - to the bottom of the key. You have to follow through the sound." Just for the sake of painting pictures with words, could someone change this to "play to the sound and through it." I was thinking literally of the total travel of the key. And it's this idea I wanted you to discuss a little.

I think that no follow through would sound like what I do when I play stacatto. I stroke or punch the key--depending on the quality of the tone I want--and immediately "rearm" my finger. With follow through, the sounds have a richer, more consistent quality. With no follow through the music would sound choppy and disconnected. Am I getting close to what you're saying? Is the choppy result "playing to the surface of the key." (That phrase also intrigued me.)

My tech taught me about escapement and let-off. He told me that the "bump" was the communication between the pianist and the piano. After learning that, I asked, "How the heck do I get proficient at telling my piano what I want?" I've learned since then that there's no excercise or book from which I can learn this. I have to listen and feel for it. I also can't do this very well yet while I'm reading the music. I can practice it with my Hanon excercises--the ones in my head--but not depending on notes in a book.

I have become quite interested in this recently and that's why your remarks are so timely for me. I have fallen in love with Mozart's K310 and am working it up. The first movement is especially demanding, from an expressive standpoint, for me. There is typical light, melodic Mozart there and also some gut wrenching, almost Beethoven-like themes. The former I try to play with the "light airy" touch, while the later receives my finger all the way to the key bed touch. In fact I had just finished playing what I have memorized when I discovered your response. So the "tone" is still fresh in my grey cells.

I'm really interested in all that you feel like saying about this. Thanks for responding.
_________________________
...I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...
Estonias choose their owners (L190-6822)
Dan

Top
#1212903 - 06/06/09 04:58 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I grew up with classical lessons and acoustic pianos only,
but since 1989 I've been playing only digital pianos, which
have no escapement. When I tried a digital piano for
the very first time in 1989, I of course realized that
the touch was not exactly the same as an acoustic,
but I also realized that for all practical purposes
this was the equivalent of an acoustic piano.

Digitals pianos have enabled me to become the pianist
I could never be on an acoustic piano. They've enabled
me to tackle advanced repertoire that I never would have dared
try on an acoustic. I consider them the greatest thing
that has ever happened to pianists. They have literally been
my salvation as a pianist.

I've had an expensive acoustic upright in storage
for many yrs. now. A similar model today would be
in the ~$20,000 price range, but I don't even think
about taking it out of storage, because digitals serve
more than adequately.

So I personally don't consider your original question
meaningful. Ultimately, in piano, you've got to hit all the
right notes in the right time at speed, and you
can practice doing that on anything with keys, in
my view.

Top
#1213388 - 06/07/09 03:46 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
That's an interesting point - and I posted my original thoughts in the teacher's forum on purpose. As a teacher, I am less interested in the technical details of the action as I am in the pedagogy of helping students handle it.

For example - I'm an advocate of following through with one's motions, making sure that the finger and hand comes off the key with as much care as it approaches the key. Of course, what you do after the escapement has absolutely no effect on the sound whatever, as those familiar with the mechanics of the action will be quick to point out, but pedagogically speaking, I find that following through with one's motions has an effect on how they execute the entire motion from beginning to end and how well the following motions are prepared. So while nothing you do after the escapement affects the sound mechanically speaking, there's a great deal of utility in it from a pedagogical perspective.



This made me think of a sports analogy: follow-through on a swing (baseball or golf). One of the golf stars of yesteryear once made a comment that his swing-speed on follow-through was measured to be higher than at point of impact. A naive understanding would be that the increased speed would be pointless. A more introspective understanding would include ideas of increasing speed (acceleration) and perhaps body positionig that would result in a more effective strike.

In various endeavors, I've found that thought-models, and visioning the process in helpful ways can result in a superior outcome. So I'd suggest that Kreisler's idea be evaluated in terms of student results (which I'm sure Kreisler can assure us is meaningfully postitive).

Hop
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

Top
#1213468 - 06/07/09 05:33 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Hop]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
I think, especially online, it's important to make a distinction between advice that is "conceptual" in nature rather than literal. I took Kreisler's advice to be more of a conceptual nature than literal...was that right?

For example, I have always had issues with shoulder tension (all the time, not just at the piano wink ). Focusing on the tension, of course, did nothing to make it go away. Telling me to "stop tensing my shoulders" or "relax" made me even more aware of it but didn't give me the tools to do anything about it. What helped was the advice of another teacher, who said, "Play from your shoulders". Now, it's patently obvious that this was not meant to be literal pedagogical advice. It works because how I tried to follow the advice and 'play from my shoulders' changed how I physically moved at the piano. If that makes sense. And once I understood how that felt, I could work toward keeping or regaining that physical sensation.

Kind of like how Eloise Ristad (sp?) described in her book "A Soprano on Her Head"...telling students to "sense the back of their knees" or "sense the soles of their feet" because their former teachers had never told them how the back of their knees or the soles of their feet "should" feel.

I took this part of the advice:
Quote:
many students get into the habit of playing the key instead of the escapement. In other words, they focus on the surface of the key (where no sound is produced.)
to be literal but the
Quote:
playing to the bottom of the key
to be more conceptual. Unless your particular piano 'speaks' only at the very bottom of the key. I have played pianos that did that...or that different keys spoke at different levels. That was a challenge.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

Top
#1213489 - 06/07/09 06:01 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 941
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
.

For example - I'm an advocate of following through with one's motions, making sure that the finger and hand comes off the key with as much care as it approaches the key. Of course, what you do after the escapement has absolutely no effect on the sound whatever, as those familiar with the mechanics of the action will be quick to point out, but pedagogically speaking, I find that following through with one's motions has an effect on how they execute the entire motion from beginning to end and how well the following motions are prepared. So while nothing you do after the escapement affects the sound mechanically speaking, there's a great deal of utility in it from a pedagogical perspective.

But doesn't the speed at which the key ascends affect the way the damper settles on the string, thus physically affecting the tone quality?

Top
#1213746 - 06/08/09 01:53 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Hop]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Hop

This made me think of a sports analogy: follow-through on a swing (baseball or golf). One of the golf stars of yesteryear once made a comment that his swing-speed on follow-through was measured to be higher than at point of impact. A naive understanding would be that the increased speed would be pointless. A more introspective understanding would include ideas of increasing speed (acceleration) and perhaps body positionig that would result in a more effective strike.

I would immediately assume that the increased velocity you mentioned is a natural consequence of swinging right, and I know nothing about golf.

But a similar principle would be at work in any sport that demands a follow through. Throwing a ball, hitting a serve (tennis), etc…

I don't know if great players continue to accelerate their arms, or rackets, or baseball bats, after a ball has been struck or released, but I'd wager an analysis of what happens AFTER the ball is on it's own will tell a heck of a lot about why people who have power and control are so successful.

I don't recall ever noticing escapement when playing, only when checking a piano out for problems. For instance, techs check everything like this when regulating, and I checked for lost motion to get an idea of how recently a piano was worked on. It's also shocking to find out how much lost motion is introduced when the "soft pedal" on an upright is pressed. Usually you not only get considerable "play" or "looseness", but it's not nearly as even as when the soft pedal is not depressed. This is one of the reason I hate uprights. The una corda is very important to me.


Edited by Gary D. (06/08/09 01:54 AM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1214588 - 06/09/09 11:15 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Ferdinand]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7355
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
[quote=Kreisler]But doesn't the speed at which the key ascends affect the way the damper settles on the string, thus physically affecting the tone quality?


Exactly. The pianist directly controls the dampers, either through the key release by the finger or the damper pedal. Both must be learned and practiced to get the best possible tone control.

The point I believe many are making concerning follow through is quite important. What we anticipate doing very directly affects how we actually do it. A smooth follow through means that we will not be anticipating a jerking motion, whether key, bat, or club. Key motion below the half-way point, where the jack is released from the butt of the key, has no effect on the hammer, but how we move our fingers in anticipation of arriving at the bottom does.

Plus, when we're not slamming our fingers down, and thus the keys into the keybed, we get a nicer sound out of the piano. Even thought the sound of the strings vibrating masks the striking sound of the key, if you ever have a chance to play a keyboard installed in a piano without strings, you'll be amazed at the mechanical noise generated during the playing process. All this noise is being added to the overall sound, and we do here it . . as pounding sounds. Most unpleasant.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

Top
#1214881 - 06/09/09 07:05 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: John v.d.Brook]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
What we anticipate doing very directly affects how we actually do it. A smooth follow through means that we will not be anticipating a jerking motion, whether key, bat, or club. Key motion below the half-way point, where the jack is released from the butt of the key, has no effect on the hammer, but how we move our fingers in anticipation of arriving at the bottom does.

Just wanted to quote this because I thought it was worth repeating! thumb
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

Top
#1214893 - 06/09/09 07:17 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
All this noise is being added to the overall sound, and we do here it . . as pounding sounds. Most unpleasant.

John, I'm unclear how we would get a great deal of "pounding sound" unless the pounding is also coming from playing very loud. In other words, the pounding sound comes from depressing the keys very fast, but that also causes the hammers to strike very fast.

The only problem I see is that some people overplay to the point that the strings are already vibrating to the full extent possible and more hammer velocity no longer adds anything except distortion and then hammers and strings that snap.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1214931 - 06/09/09 08:15 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Gary D.]
Farmer Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Union County, IA
John and Gary, if I may be so bold as to call you both familiar, the discussion you are having is precisely that for which I was hoping when I originally posted. The sports analogy for follow through and the anticipation of the result(s) of the action is precisely what I'm investigating in my own playing. In all probability many here would agree in theory to what many of us are saying. The difficulty comes in making the theory practical.

Maybe, once again, I am over engineering. The learning process at which many hint here may be totally one of trial and error. "I like that tone. What did I do to create it?" or (a teacher) "That's exactly how that should sound. Let's try it again."

In sports there is a definite point, with an associated feeling, at which the person knows that the action is complete, but that follow through is necessary for successful results. Golf: club head contacts ball. Baseball: bat contacts ball. Football (European or American grin ) foot contacts ball. The athlete can feel all of these and they have a definite sound when they are successful. I can feel the "bump" of which Kreisler spoke in my piano keys. Depending on the acceleration (this is the point at which it gets fuzzy for me) of the key, I can feel it higher or lower in key position. If I very slowly, agonizingly so, depress the key, I can feel the "bump" close to the bottom of the travel. Faster and I feel it closer to 1/4 of the way down. From a technical (or semantic) standpoint the terms acceleration and speed may interfere with concept. I don't know. But my interest in the remarks that evoked my post was to explore how similar my experience was with many others and how teachers may evoke this technique for varying tone and it's quality.

Gary, when I said, in one of my posts here referring to Mozart's K310
Quote:
There is typical light, melodic Mozart there and also some gut wrenching, almost Beethoven-like themes. The former I try to play with the "light airy" touch, while the later receives my finger all the way to the key bed touch.
I may be referring to yours and John's points about "loud" and "pounding."

I don't know if a piano makes a difference, but I have an almost new Estonia L190. Depending on where I execute the "bump" the tone of the sound can go from "light and music-boxy" through "milk chocolate" to "strident and almost unpleasant." The first I achieve with the lightest touch, highest "bump," and the last by "clobbering" the keys.

It is my goal to employ this "range of richness" to express what I feel at any given time when I play a piece. I'm really interested in if other people notice the same thing and, if they do how they acheive consistency. If the whole process is trial and error, so be it. I know that my knowledge of how I'm doing what I'm doing and how to acheive the consistency I have to this point, if I have any laugh , is pre-conscious. I can't explain it. I can only relate how I got here.

Thank the both of you and all who have posted for your remarks.
_________________________
...I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...
Estonias choose their owners (L190-6822)
Dan

Top
#1215038 - 06/10/09 12:14 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 941
Loc: California
Farmer Dan, you may be interested in a book called The Art of Playing the Piano by Mortimer Markoff. He has a lot to say about depth of keystroke as it relates to the music of different composers.
You can find it at Amazon.
The Art of Playing the Piano: Conversations with Mortimer Markoff

Top
#1215062 - 06/10/09 01:34 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Ferdinand]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Loosen up, and leave most of it to the pre-conscious (and the technicians).
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


Top
#1215074 - 06/10/09 02:02 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Loosen up, and leave most of it to the pre-consious (and the technicians).

I agree. wink
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1215308 - 06/10/09 02:15 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Gary D.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Loosen up, and leave most of it to the pre-consious (and the technicians).

I agree. wink


OK I'm only a lowly adult student but I'm not so sure that if a student is seeing the need to seek more detailed info that this is the response that will help him/her reach a higher level.

It may just be my particular experience, but I know I am not the only one. We have had discussions in the past (I remember one thread on the teacher "telling you what to do without telling you how") where a few people spoke up to say their early instruction had been lacking, they had not received basic instruction in proper technique, and later teachers had not realized how much, and had not remediated.

Trial and error and 'pre-conscious' instinct can get a person so far, but the guidance of a good teacher can flip on the light switch in a dark room, making practice and progress infinitely more productive and satisfying. Otherwise the student is left to flounder and become discouraged with their apparent inborn lack of ability.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

Top
#1215330 - 06/10/09 02:59 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: ProdigalPianist]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
On the other hand, I don't think trying to 'flick' the jack out from under the hammer is going to 'flip on the light switch' for anyone either.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


Top
#1215339 - 06/10/09 03:18 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: keyboardklutz]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I don't consider myself an expert [ there's always too much to learn]but to me aftertouch is what makes all the difference. As far as I'm concerned digital pianos are a toy not an instrument. I don't mean to discourage anyone who loves digitals but there is absolutely NO comparison to a decent quality piano for me. I've been asked if the vibrations and/or resonance from the sounding board travel through my hands/arms to my body...if there is such a feeling happening it is sub-conscious.

I personally don't think you can develop a 'tone' on a digital piano.I think the price and mobility of digitals is convenient but that's about it.

please keep playing regardless of how I feel...
rada

Top
#1215356 - 06/10/09 03:51 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
On the other hand, I don't think trying to 'flick' the jack out from under the hammer is going to 'flip on the light switch' for anyone either.

Again, I agree. smile
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1215446 - 06/10/09 07:15 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19280
Loc: New York City
I'm not sure about what Kreisler means and asked him in the thread you quote in your OP. But I think I can anwser or comment on some of your questions.

Originally Posted By: Farmer Dan

First of all, is the term "escapement" synonomous with "let off." This latter is what my tech uses to describe the "bump" Kreisler describes in his remarks. This is the point at which my piano speaks.
Yes they're synonyms. Your piano would "speak"(hammer hits the string) a fraction of a second after let off but I don't think anyone could hear that.


Originally Posted By: Farmer Dan
What I'm saying is that I think I'm learning what Kreisler teaches his students. When I do my Hanon, I practice "constant tone" at the let off and variation towards and away from it.

I don't know what you mean here. If you're saying you always push the keys with the same force to the point of letoff and then adjust the speed to change the tone, I don't think that makes sense or is even possible. If one depresses a key at anything but the slowest speed one does not even feel that bump at letoff.

Top
#1215504 - 06/10/09 09:05 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13780
Loc: Iowa City, IA
A quick thought:

Something that I often look for in practice and performance is the tactile feedback from the piano.

Our fingers get a lot of very helpful information from the keyboard. We feel the weight of the key, how it begins and ends its descent and ascent, and the distance it travels.

It can be interesting and helpful (sometimes) to delve into the details as we have here, but it can often be just as helpful (if not more) to simply be aware of what the keyboard is telling our fingers, hands, and arms.

Much of technique is about feedback - feeling the keyboard and, of course, really listening to the sound.

People often see technique as something that's applied to the keyboard; as a branding iron is applied to a cow. But technique is more about the physical and aural relationship you have with the instrument, and probably the best way to improve one's technique is to deepen and be more aware of that relationship.

(To give credit where credit is due - much of what I just said comes from Tobias Matthay. Two of my teachers were students of his assistant, Frank Mannheimer, so I owe a debt to his ideas.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

Top
#1215593 - 06/11/09 02:41 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Kreisler

People often see technique as something that's applied to the keyboard; as a branding iron is applied to a cow. But technique is more about the physical and aural relationship you have with the instrument, and probably the best way to improve one's technique is to deepen and be more aware of that relationship.

Excellent…

I could not have come up with those words, but they most definitely resonate with what I feel when I play—and how I teach.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1215668 - 06/11/09 08:47 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
very interesting reading in this thread.. thanks Kreisler
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

Top
#1215980 - 06/11/09 07:00 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Kreisler]
Farmer Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Union County, IA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
...tactile feedback from the piano
...
Much of technique is about feedback - feeling the keyboard and, of course, really listening to the sound.
These and what GaryD quoted are the keys to that for which I am searching. I began this journey when I discovered a web site, Musical Fossils--Freeing the adult student, which is maintained by Matthew Harre. His major point, I believe, is that we adults cause our own problems by thinking too much. Many of us "fossils" have lost the ability to look at the universe with "wide eyed wonder." Because we "know" we don't rely on, so much any more, the sensory learning that children must use to "mature." This website, with his articles and references to other writings, lays this out very well. I picked up on "don't worry about playing the right note, but rather feel how the tones combine and what comes next." (This, of course, is a paraphase.)

I started trying this--to feel "the tactile feedback of my piano." About the same time, my tech taught me about let-off and said, "This is the point at which the piano and the performer communicate." I focused on this. My playing changed. When I spoke to my teacher, she said, "You are right. I cannot teach you this. You are learning to speak the language of music. I can only tell you whether you are using the right words and grammar." (She, BTW is a middle-European woman and teaches me in what I call the European style. There is no set curriculum. She knows my goals, my strengths and my weaknesses. She delves as deeply or shallowly as I want to go, based on what I tell her and what I practice. AND we like each other.)

When it comes to teaching the unteachable or discussing, like we do here, the non-technical, it is difficult to communicate because to understand we want precise, and maybe technical terminology. Terms like "pre-conscious" and "tactile feedback" have many literal meanings and an infinity of interpretations. BUT, "How do I learn to speak the language of music?" This is why I posted in the first place. I wanted to hear the words others used to describe the same process, and, more precisely, what teachers may say and do to transmit this concept to their students. The website I referenced says (in paraphrase), "We just know what we know. We don't know how we know it." Boy, is this telling! I don't know how I give myself goosebumps sometimes when I play. I know only that sometimes I give myself goosebumps. And that's not necessarily from playing well... cursing grin

Thank you, Kreisler and GaryD very much. I am grateful you have provided your thoughts.

Dan
_________________________
...I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...
Estonias choose their owners (L190-6822)
Dan

Top
#1216030 - 06/11/09 08:44 PM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: Farmer Dan]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Farmer Dan
[ His major point, I believe, is that we adults cause our own problems by thinking too much.


Sometimes this is definitely the case. But sometimes...maybe even often...adult students (and young transfer students) are dealing with challenges and problems brought about due to poor or even outright damaging advice from past teachers (see the current thread on tension in the Pianists Corner).

When we begin to suspect that there is better information out there, I would think it's a sign of a dedicated student to try to learn all they can about best practices and current pedagogy. The first place to start is a good in-person teacher. But knowing how to tell the good teachers from the mediocre from the crackpots is the only way to find a good in-person teacher.

That's why I ask detailed questions here, anyway!
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

Top
#1216136 - 06/12/09 01:45 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: ProdigalPianist]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
But knowing how to tell the good teachers from the mediocre from the crackpots is the only way to find a good in-person teacher.
On a bad day I find the number of crackpots and the simply mediocre out there all very depressing. Music goes so deep, and the many are so shallow...
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


Top
#1216151 - 06/12/09 02:44 AM Re: "...play to the sound, not to the key." [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
On a bad day I find the number of crackpots and the simply mediocre out there all very depressing. Music goes so deep, and the many are so shallow...

On a good day I find it depressing. On a bad day? No words…
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
77 registered (AndrewJCW, bennevis, 36251, 22 invisible), 1111 Guests and 21 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76042 Members
42 Forums
157231 Topics
2309271 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Which classical (piano) music may I like?
by Stefo
19 minutes 47 seconds ago
When to compose?
by noobpianist90
Today at 04:16 AM
First Recordings on the New Steinway!
by Markarian
Today at 04:11 AM
"railroad track" symbol in Debussy
by Eric NYC
Today at 02:52 AM
P155 or FA-08
by Yussnan84
Today at 01:59 AM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission