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#1253517 - 08/21/09 04:19 PM Thinking ahead while playing
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
When sight reading, I think it is required that you look ahead. Of course, the amount one looks ahead will vary.

How about when playing a piece(without music) one has learned well? I think in this situation I'm usually "thinking ahead" although I'm not really sure. I don't know if this is true for most pianists or not. I don't know if it's good, bad or neither. If one should be thinking ahead, exactly what should one be thinking about?

I'm reminded of a story about some great pianist(maybe Friedman?)who looked towards the ceiling a lot during a performance of some piece. An observer asked what he was thinking about and Friedman said something like "paying the laundry bill".

Most great pianists certainly seem to be concentrating to a very high degree while playing, but I'm not sure what's going through their mind.

Opinions?


Edited by pianoloverus (08/21/09 08:29 PM)

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#1253518 - 08/21/09 04:19 PM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Online   content
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double trouble


Edited by pianoloverus (08/21/09 04:20 PM)

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#1253569 - 08/21/09 05:25 PM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: pianoloverus]
ChopinLives81 Offline
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Registered: 10/10/04
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Loc: New York City
I've taken the chance of going into auto-pilot during a live performance, and let my mind drift off thinking about what I'm gonna eat after the recital. Sure enough, I was able to play just fine and flawlessly during that time ( about 40 seconds or so ).

Other times I fully devoted to what my fingers are doing or are about to do. I think that a professional pianist can afford to think about anything except what they're playing. I can see how it would shift into second nature for moments and free themselves to think about other things.

Basically, If I can do it, I'm sure someone with much more experience can do it too.
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#1253676 - 08/21/09 08:35 PM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: ChopinLives81]
William Clark Offline
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Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 93
Frankly, I cannot. Performing is one of those instances where I'm "all in" and space/time seems to distort. I am doing nothing but processing and receiving feedback from what has been played while getting wrapped up in the emotion of the particular piece.
_________________________
A concert should be a profound and magical experience for both
the performer and audience. It is in performance that
you experience the true essence of a composer.

~W. Clark

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#1253763 - 08/21/09 10:37 PM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: William Clark]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5017
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I read somewhere, (it might have been Neuhaus' Art of Piano Playing) that one way to avoid memory slips during a performance is to always focus a little ahead, anticipating the upcoming measure or phrase. This way your mind is engaged in the music and has too much to concentrate on to wander. Autopilot by itself is dangerous because when you come back into focus, it can really throw you off. You start thinking "Oh where was I?" I found looking ahead to be very useful in maintaining my focus and accuracy during a performance.
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#1253868 - 08/22/09 05:50 AM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I only know a piece if I can see myself playing it in my mind's eye just a tiny bit ahead.
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#1254869 - 08/23/09 11:59 PM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Für_Elise Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/09
Posts: 38
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I definitely think it's different for everyone.

I, personally, have to be in some weird mental state when I play. I know that I am playing but I am not really focusing super hard on what comes next.

When I do, I start thinking "I know the next part! I won't mess it up!" And then as soon as I get to that measure, I mess up.

I guess I jinx myself when I do that.

BUT, if my mind starts wandering and thinking things like "I wonder what's for dinner?" then I will forget what I'm doing and mess up.

I have to find some happy medium where I'm not too oblivious but not concentrating too hard either. Frustrating sometimes, but I can usually get there!
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#1254941 - 08/24/09 06:35 AM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: Für_Elise]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Für_Elise
I definitely think it's different for everyone.

I, personally, have to be in some weird mental state when I play. I know that I am playing but I am not really focusing super hard on what comes next.

When I do, I start thinking "I know the next part! I won't mess it up!" And then as soon as I get to that measure, I mess up.

I guess I jinx myself when I do that.

BUT, if my mind starts wandering and thinking things like "I wonder what's for dinner?" then I will forget what I'm doing and mess up.

I have to find some happy medium where I'm not too oblivious but not concentrating too hard either. Frustrating sometimes, but I can usually get there!
Something tells me you're using muscle memory. I mostly use harmony/theory memory to bring up the visual cues. It's pretty much full proof though difficult at speed.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1255062 - 08/24/09 11:21 AM Re: Thinkoing ahead while playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5017
Loc: Seattle area, WA
KBK, I had the same thought.

Fur Elise, muscle memory alone is not reliable. I'm only now learning theory with the goal of analyzing the score so I can memorize more effectively. I'm told this is the best way to be secure during a performance. In the meantime, I picture the score in my mind as I play.
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Best regards,

Deborah

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