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#1504989 - 08/28/10 07:13 PM "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Hi, Someone recently recommended this book "With Your Own Two Hands". ( I think John recommended it.) I just finished it today and here are some ideas I came across. I hope you find some of it interesting and/or useful. smile

Productive practicing is a process that promotes self-integration. It is the kind of practice that puts you in touch with an all-pervasive order.

Look upon your talent as something uniquely yours and develop it.

One thing is certain: your progress will be proportionate to the quality and quantity of the effort expended.

The essential ingredient in a teacher-pupil relationship, as in all relationships, is the sincere concern of one person for another.

Make a full, resonant sound without banging.

Rhythmic values and dynamic indications are symbols that represent feelings.

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#1504992 - 08/28/10 07:24 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Overexposed]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Make a full, resonant sound without banging.

I agree with this statement in principle; however, I've discovered tone production is greatly affected by the quality of the instrument. There are some pianos that will tolerate "banging" and still produce a beautiful sound. There are some pianos that are so sensitive, if you breathe on it you'll make a harsh sound.

I think it's more important to teach students to always listen to the sound they're making. Adjust to the instrument and the room's acoustics. I was at a master class that took place inside a hotel ballroom (horrible acoustics), and the master teacher told the student to play with full force, because the room's carpet acts as "a giant soft pedal."
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1505282 - 08/29/10 10:44 AM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: AZNpiano]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 763
Loc: South Carolina
I remember when that book first came out - jeez, was it really about 30 years ago? - a couple of my teachers dismissed it as being too 'touchy - feely.'

And I thought less of them for that. I think that maybe the book was a little ahead of it's time.

Does anyone from the New York area, or do any former students know if Mr. Bernstein is still teaching?
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#1505322 - 08/29/10 11:48 AM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Gerard12]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Yes, the copyright is 1981. And there are examples in which the reader is instructed to hold an album (record) in one hand...then add a certain number of albums etc. Interesting how dated the example is...kind of like seeing a movie dated by having the characters use large bulky phones.

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#1505438 - 08/29/10 04:09 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Overexposed]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Gerard12,
You may want to get more info at www.seymourbernstein.com
It looks like he has a private studio in New York, and teaches as an adjunct Associate Professor at NYU.

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#1505459 - 08/29/10 04:46 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Overexposed]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 763
Loc: South Carolina
Thank you kindly, Ann

(doh! why didn't i think of that?)
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#1505527 - 08/29/10 07:53 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Gerard12]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
I happened to find an extensive interview of Bernstein. Interview of Seymour Bernstein

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#1505548 - 08/29/10 08:40 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: Gerard12]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7409
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Gerard12
I remember when that book first came out - jeez, was it really about 30 years ago? - a couple of my teachers dismissed it as being too 'touchy - feely.'

And I thought less of them for that. I think that maybe the book was a little ahead of it's time.

Does anyone from the New York area, or do any former students know if Mr. Bernstein is still teaching?

I had a lesson with him a while back. I think he's like most piano teachers - we'll teach until they cart us off to the old folks home, and we'll continue their as long as they'll let us!
_________________________
"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

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#1505569 - 08/29/10 09:01 PM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7409
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I wanted to make a general comment about tone production on the piano. This desire to build or create a beautiful tone dates all the way back to John Field! Chopin, of course, was way deep into tone from the instrument. Theodore Leschetizky, the Russian great, really influenced generations of pianists with tone production, and you'll note how many of the greats have Leschetizky in their lineage. And Schnabel, of course.

The pianist has two opportunities to affect the tone - on the initial stroke and the let off. Addressing the let off or let up, first, as it's not controversial, the pianist controls the coming down of the damper onto the string. This is direct. The damper is directly connected to the key, so a fast let up will result in a clipped sound, and a gentle or slow let up will achieve a more pleasing sound tail. The artist is sensitive to this and carefully controls the up motion of the fingers to get the effect he or she wants.

Concerning the down stroke. The piano is amazingly noisy. If you ever get a chance to "play" a grand after the strings have been removed, you'll learn just how noisy. Even though there is felt between the key bottom and the key bed, the key makes an amazingly loud thunk when it hits bottom. The key bed is glued to the piano frame and to the sound board, so acoustically, the sounds of the keys striking the key bed are just transmitted directly to the sound board and out into the air. Fortunately for us, the sound of the vibrating string is louder, so the untrained ear doesn't hear the thunk, but it's still there, and it muddies the overall sound. It's what gives the "banging" sound that so many people complain of.

What the great artists do to minimize this as much as possible is a combination finger stroke, both down but also with a horizontal component, so they can decelerate the vertical action before hitting the key bed with full force.

Their fingers work more like cams than hammers. This is the controversial part. Not everyone agrees with this. I am merely reporting what I've learned from a number of really advanced teachers and artists. You can take it or leave it, but they believe it works, and their playing certainly attests to it.
_________________________
"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

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#1505825 - 08/30/10 08:06 AM Re: "With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook


The pianist has two opportunities to affect the tone - on the initial stroke and the let off. Addressing the let off or let up, first, as it's not controversial, the pianist controls the coming down of the damper onto the string. This is direct. The damper is directly connected to the key, so a fast let up will result in a clipped sound, and a gentle or slow let up will achieve a more pleasing sound tail. The artist is sensitive to this and carefully controls the up motion of the fingers to get the effect he or she wants.





Thanks John for this explanation especially of the let up of a key. I have a 2nd grader whose recital piece ends with a dotted half note. He ends abruptly and I've instructed him to hold the note for its full value.

But now I see it's more than that. Yes, he must be sure he holds the full value, but also not end with such a sudden let up. (The way he plays the last note, it gives the impression that he's greatly relieved to have finished the piece!)

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