A book recommendation.

Posted by: Ragdoll

A book recommendation. - 12/26/12 10:07 AM

I seldom recommend music related books except maybe a method book or book of scores but I am compelled to share the Book "The Art Of Practicing" by Madeline Bruser. This is not a book of exercises to play with but is a real nuts and bolts book of advice about how to deal with issues that affect your practice routine and performance.

It has been a fascinating read and immeasurable help to me in overcoming barriers of my own, both psychological and physical. Ms. Bruser is an accomplished pianist and author. I can highly recommend this book to beginners of all Levels, Grades, or whatever. Problems and issues in practice or performance aren't exclusive to beginners only, as this book make apparent. It's mostly about piano but encompasses other instument with common problems such as tension, poor posture, anxiety. I especially like chapters 2 and 8. Here for your listening pleasure, a beautiful performance by Madeline herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxrY2DBsTLo
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: A book recommendation. - 12/28/12 04:35 AM

I have this book and would sell it to anyone wishing to buy it. Although, there are some good points to ponder in the book, its a little too buddistic for my comfort.
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: A book recommendation. - 12/28/12 07:31 AM

Yah, there is that, I kinda skipped over the parts where it got too abstract and philosophical frown ... and some of those references in the appendix were hard to take seriously. It did help me with a lot of my performance angst, frustration with progress, and poor posture that led to sore muscles.

However, if I got too caught up in constantly being concious of my posture it seemed that I couldn't relax, that in itself caused tension. ha In that video, despite playing beautifully she looked all tight-***** to me.

Thanks for your comments.
Posted by: Forstergirl

Re: A book recommendation. - 12/28/12 12:57 PM

Ms. Bruser was a student of Chogyam Trungpa's, a Tibetan lama who established a university in the U.S., and Shambhala publications. He did much to explain Buddhism to the West, but became controversial because of some of his actions. However, I can recommend his book Spiritual Materialism - it contributes to creating the peace inside we need in our fragile world.

I watched the video - what is striking is how still Ms. Bruser's torso is - as if she is just sitting there watching her hands play.
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: A book recommendation. - 12/28/12 01:15 PM

Yah, that is true, almost as unnerving as those performers who are so animated they seem overly ecstatic to the point of seeming phoney. Only my humble opin though.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: A book recommendation. - 12/28/12 02:40 PM

I watched the video and was amazed at her hands. They seem to be one with the keyboard. I have watched a few other pianists play who seem to have a connection with the piano that others, myself included, cannot replicate.

Although, the stiffness in her body and unhappy countenance detract from her music, her hand movements on the keyboard enhance the performance.

I wonder if its possible to have that kind of connection to the piano without transcendental meditation.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: A book recommendation. - 01/19/13 05:54 PM

Unlike Tech 5, I don't see stiffness in her body and an unhappy countenance. I see stillness, calm and a great transfer of energy through to her hands/fingertips. Absolutely beautiful hand movements. (I believe the idea that her expression is unhappy comes from the down-turned corners of her mouth, but some people's faces are just like that, and it can be exacerbated when one is concentrating.)

Thanks for the book recommendation, Ragdoll. I'll be checking it out.

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Edited to add this very interesting video of her working with a student to get that same stillness and let the movement go through the arms, not by leaning into the motion. Bruser has several more videos from lessons and masterclasses, but this I think is a good one to start with because it's easy to see the difference in how the students moves and doesn't move her body as she "gets" the new arm/hand movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn1RDcy-_LQ
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: A book recommendation. - 01/21/13 08:34 AM

Quote:
Thanks for the book recommendation, Ragdoll. I'll be checking it out.
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<snip>
think is a good one to start with because it's easy to see the difference in how the students moves and doesn't move her body as she "gets" the new arm/hand movement.


You're welcome. I found this video link you sent to be very interesting but was unable to understand all the dialog. I turned the volume up to hear the student/teacher exchange and when Ms Bruser laughed it nearly broke my eardrums. Poor mic placement I guess. I'll watch some of her others too. Thanks Deb
Posted by: rnaple

Re: A book recommendation. - 01/21/13 08:58 AM

I'd like to thank you for bringing this up. I just ordered it.

I don't have experience with eastern religions themselves. I do have experience with some of the things they teach. It is really observing nature and applying intelligence. Much is common sense. Which we often ignore. We are so wrapped up in our autonomic mind, nervous system. It often runs us. Not us running it. I always look for wisdom to overcome this base state of myself. There is nothing mysterious (mysticism) about it...it's common horse sense. The autonomic, body, nervous system, brain stem, is to be disciplined. Then most of our brain, our heart and mind can soar.
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: A book recommendation. - 01/21/13 08:47 PM

Quote:
I'd like to thank you for bringing this up. I just ordered it.


Oh you're welcome. I hope you find it useful and interesting.