When I started work on Part 2 of Practising the Piano, I had only a rough outline of the content I wanted to cover. I soon found that the project was expanding in all sorts of directions. It has been an exciting journey putting it all into writing, and one that I am happy to share with you.

While writing articles on technique for Pianist Magazine over the years, I learnt how to put my ideas into words succinctly, but there is still the strong possibility that someone might misconstrue the written word. Fortunately, the technology behind the eBooks enables me to include video demonstration of anything I have just described in words. Because the reader can watch the video over and over, there is a greater chance they will understand what I mean. This is why I included over 100 videos in Part 2, the camera perched as close as possible to the keyboard – warts and all!

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A colleague once said to me that he did not teach technique; each student must work it out for themselves in their practice room. I couldn’t agree with him less. There are so many detours and dead ends a piano student can take when left to their own devices in this way. They can get seriously side-tracked, the worst-case scenario being debilitating injury. Why have them reinvent the wheel? Why not pass down methodology that is proven to work? Piano playing is a highly sophisticated activity and, while some people do seem born to it, for most of us success is achieved through sheer hard work – blood, sweat and tears.

It is true that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to technique – everyone does need to develop their own way of playing to suit their individual needs – but I do believe there are certain precepts that are common to us all and which together form the core of an efficient technique. As I have mentioned before, I was a very late starter at the piano and absorbed everything on a very conscious level. I was always asking my teachers how and why, and because I was lucky enough to have been taught by the cream of the crop, they were able to share their secrets with me.

One of the things I wanted to cover was how to keep free of tension and injury, and I emphasise this throughout the publication. We need to use our body in the most natural way possible at the piano – this is an absolute priority. Playing should be free, loose, enjoyable and actually exhilarating! I had an injury myself, which I managed to heal completely thanks to Peter Feuchtwanger’s exercises and some remarkable lessons with a direct student of Dorothy Taubman. Over the years I have had several students come to me for advice with injuries, and almost always I have seen that their technique is based on the fingers. Playing this way is extremely costly and – for the majority of pianists – inefficient. Throughout Practising the Piano I stress the need for a coordinated blend of activity between finger, hand, wrist, forearm, upper arm and shoulders, and indeed the rest of our body.  I hope this information will be useful to you and will help you to overcome many of the technical challenges that pianists encounter.

Please click here for more information, free previews or to purchase Practicing the Piano Part 2.

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