DONATION STATUS
Needed before 2016-12-31
$ 2,500
So far donated
$ 750

Facial gestures/moving around

Discussion in 'Technique' started by pianolady, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    I stumbled upon this video the other day and it made me think about a discussion a few us were having in a different thread about moving around or making facial gestures while playing piano. Here is the link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3utXAWf5 ... grec_index

    It's Earl Wild giving a master class, and I found it very interesting what he says first about keeping the left foot on the left pedal ALL the time (I don't do that, but I know I should and I'm trying to get better with that). And then what he talks about at 1:42 and then at 2:00 is exactly what I wish ALL players would pay attention to :!:

    Feel free to add comments or add any other links to videos that get into things like this.
     
  2. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    programmer
    Location:
    toronto
    LOCATION:
    toronto
    Hahah! that's kind of funny. Yeah I have heard people say this type thing before, at least with the gestures.

    The thing I heard was the excessive gestures, lead to excessive out of taste sounds during playing. I heard this from jazz musicians in the context of overplaying during improvisations.

    I think sometimes slight gestures can actually help you keep a steady beat (just my opinion though.) I am probably the worst at keeping a steady/even beat though :)

    Interesting thing about the soft pedal. I didn't know that. I really dislike using the soft pedal unless I am playing some specific type of repertoire the requires it. Funny since I know many of my favorite pianists use the soft pedal extensively. Probably something I still need to learn...


     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    I didn't hear that part - I'll watch the video again. But that is interesting - so are you saying that sometimes jazz musicians who make wild, silly gestures are the ones who overplay during improvisations? That makes sense to me, because most times I do not like listening to improvisations that are just so crazy, wild, long-winded, and all that, so I'm sure I would not like to 'see' the player either. Yuck - I'd have to numb myself with a few cocktails first...


    I've been going to a lot of concerts and have noticed how the pros do use the soft pedal A LOT, so that's why I'm trying to incorporate it more in my playing. It really puts another aspect into playing - like there is so much more to think about regarding how much tone/color you want to change and things like that. Then of course the damper pedal too - sheesh, trying to get ten fingers to go to the right keys, and both feet doing totally things on the pedals...no wonder playing piano (well) is so hard!
     
  4. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    programmer
    Location:
    toronto
    LOCATION:
    toronto
    Yes usually when I hear people say you need to minimize your gestures, it usually goes hand in hand with minimizing the emotional output. I don't know if thats what Earl Wild was saying. Maybee thats what he meant to say in the nicest way possible :)

    Funny though since many of my favourite pianists do really strange gestures when playing :) Though I find as a rule its best not to imitate them as they also can do things no one else can.

     
  5. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Chief Operating Officer, retired
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    Last Name:
    April
    First Name:
    David
    LOCATION:
    U.S.A.
    Hi Monica,

    I've listened to several master classes on YouTube but had never noticed this one. Apart from eschewing superfluous and wasted motions (I myself always play with economy of motion) and always keeping the left foot positioned on the left pedal (which I don't, but should), Wild touched on a couple of other great points. That is, first, playing close to the keys. Over the past few years I've incorporated that approach into my playing and have found it to be very helpful in terms of accuracy, evenness and tone. It's really more of a pressing motion than a striking motion. The other thing was his reminder to keep the shoulders down. When I was a kid playing piano at lessons, sometimes tension would build and my shoulders would become too high. They have a way of stealthily creeping up imperceptibly and unnoticed by the pianist. Two or three times, my first teacher would place her hands on my shoulders and gently depress them back to normal position which brought instant release of the tension. To play with relaxation of the playing mechanism, relaxed shoulders are absolutely essential. As time went on, I would subconsciously be aware of my shoulders, and if they started to tense up, I'd remind myself to relax them. It worked! As a result of that self-monitoring and self-feedback, a bad habit was gradually replaced by a beneficial one. The only time I encounter that now is when I'm doing my first couple of readings of a new piece, and as I struggle, my shoulders will tense--but self-feedback kicks right in to rectify it. Earl Wild passed away this year. In addition to his many recordings and videos, it's good that we have this master class video as well. It's a good find! By the way, Wild was a Baldwin Artist nearly his whole life.

    David
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    Hi David,
    I know what you mean about the shoulder thing. My last teacher often touched my shoulder to remind me when I was tense and it sure did help. Currently, I find that I can remind myself about this, but I also have to remind myself to breath when I'm playing something difficult. It's easier to play when there is oxygen flowing through your veins than when there is not.... :lol:

    I didn't know that Wild was a Baldwin artist. Interesting - you two are (were) kindred spirits!
     
  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Chief Operating Officer, retired
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    Last Name:
    April
    First Name:
    David
    LOCATION:
    U.S.A.
    Hi Monica,

    Amen to your comment on breathing. It actually is especially useful in several situations: 1) The first, as you mention, to make the brain keener when figuring our or executing complexities in the music; and 2) when playing cantilena, breathing needs to emulate that of a singer, which helps in the phrasing; 3) when a piece seems too tight and confined, proper breathing allows the piece to open up a bit and "breathe" as well.

    Yes, Earl Wild always played the Baldwin SD10 concert grand. The exceptions occurred if he played in a hall that only had a Steinway or was in a city with no Baldwin concert grand program, then again he'd go with Steinway. During his last year (he was in his 90s), he suddenly took an interest in the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand and seemed to be trying it out for awhile. Had he lived longer, I don't know what would have come of it. My guess is that he would have probably stayed with Baldwin. Other Baldwin Artists that come quickly to mind were Walter Gieseking, Ruth Laredo (oh, and we shouldn't forget Liberace! :lol:). Ivan Davis and Ruth Slenczynska also play Baldwin. Years ago I recall being at the Tanglewood Music Festival where the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays its summer programs. Gary Graffman was to play a Rachmaninoff concerto. Just before he came on stage, the stage hands appeared, rolled the Steinway off into a wing, and brought in the Baldwin. Graffman had always played Steinway, so I was baffled then as I remain to this day, as to what that was all about. Yet for some reason that evening he wanted to play the Baldwin instead. I could probably write and ask him :lol: , but he's probably long forgotten it.

    David
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,418
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    Gulfport, MS, USA
    WLM:
    terez2727@hotmail.com
    AOL:
    terez2727
    LOCATION:
    Gulfport, MS, USA
    I also don't use the soft pedal much, though I figure I probably should. My legs are fat so it's beyond annoying to have to keep both feet on the pedals at all times. I have always wondered exactly what Chopin meant when he criticized Sigismund Thalberg for achieving p with the pedal, rather than with the hands. I think he meant that in normal circumstances you shouldn't need the soft pedal for dynamics, and you should only use it when you really want a different sound.
     
  9. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,250
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Physician
    Location:
    Springfield, Missouri, USA
    LOCATION:
    Springfield, Missouri, USA
    If Chopin tried to get his pianos and pianissimos out of the robust modern grands, he'd be all over the shift pedal to try and get it softer,IMO. Even so, on a modern grand shifting the action is better for changing the quality of the sound rather than the volume, unless your action shifts far enough to not strike the left string of the triple-strung notes, but then there is still the double-strung and single-strung notes that will change in quality because of the strike on different part of the hammer, etc.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    I wish I had three legs. I'm working on a piece now in which I'm using all three pedals and there are a few times I'd like to use the sostenuto pedal and the una corda pedal at the same time but I'm not skilled enough to do that. A third leg, or least a third foot would be very helpful. Or maybe somebody could sit next to me and I'll just borrow their foot when I need it - like tell them when to press their foot down...? :idea:
     
  11. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Pianist
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Home Page:
    WEBSITE:
    http://hanysz.net
    LOCATION:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Yes, I've heard people say that they can do the left and middle pedal simultanously using the left foot for both. I've tried it, but it just seems to risky--it's easy to slip off--not something I'd dare do in a concert.

    Just out of interest, which piece are you playing that makes such demands?
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    It's an Albeniz piece. There are three places that are only about four-measures long each, and it's possible that the average listener would not even realize if I'm using the sostenuto pedal or not. But I'm doing it anyway. The problem is that I can't then also use the una corda pedal in those spots. I just got an idea though: I'll invent a 'piano shoe'. :idea: It's a shoe just for the left foot that has a sort of lever, rod, bar, something sticking out sideways from the right-side of the toe area. When you push down on the soft pedal, then you can use that lever sticking out to the side and sort of tilt your ankle down so you can push the sos. pedal as well. Maybe.... :?: :lol:
     
  13. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Pianist
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Home Page:
    WEBSITE:
    http://hanysz.net
    LOCATION:
    Adelaide, Australia
    You know, I don't think I've played a single Albeniz piece for piano solo! (I did do the famous tango in a violin and piano arrangement.) So I can't advise you about this particular piece. But in general, if you're wanting to use the middle pedal in a soft passage, it may be possible to "fake" the effect with some half pedalling.

    I like your "piano shoe" idea! Organists wear special shoes to play, so why not pianists? Let us know how this works out. If you come up with something good, then we want to see photographs ;-)
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    Thanks for idea about half-pedaling. I'll try that. I've only played four or five of Albeniz' easier pieces. The piece I'm working up is "El Puerto", which is my first venture into Iberia (and mostly likely the only one I can play). I have all the notes down and also memorized, but I still make too many mistakes so I'm still practicing it. Getting close though....

    Ohhh, it doesn't take much to encourage me to try something wacky. I'll promise some photos too. :lol:
     
  15. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Pianist
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Home Page:
    WEBSITE:
    http://hanysz.net
    LOCATION:
    Adelaide, Australia
    OK, I think I've found the passage you mean. Referring to the score IMSLP 01256 downloadable from http://imslp.org/wiki/Iberia_(Albéniz,_Isaac) , I guess you mean the bottom of page 10, where you have the Db bass for four bars, then a little later the F# pedal. So you'd like to be able to sustain the bass note yet change the pedal so that the tenor voice is clear.

    I agree that the middle pedal would be useful there--if you can get that special shoe working, then you'll have complete control of what you're doing. (But be careful that you don't make it too clear--it still needs to be misty and atmospheric!) But I'm sure that it's possible to get a reasonable result without. Probably you can experiment and find a good solution on your own, but let us know if it's something worth discussing in detail, it could make for an interesting conversation.
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    Yes, those are exactly the places where I use the sos. pedal. I had planned on making a recording (video) of this piece today, but now it is not going to happen. Not a good piano day, maybe because I'm having a bad hair day! haha
    I'll try again tomorrow. Guess I should hurry up with that shoe....

    Seriously, thanks for the input. :) I will be sure to tell if I make any sort of solution for those 'all three pedals' places.
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,930
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    LOCATION:
    Netherlands
    I'm not sure that they do. Though obviously there's certain shoes you can't wear when playing the pedals, like shoes with rubber or heavily profiled soles. I have one or two pairs that are a bit narrower than the others which I always use. From what I've seen most organists wear normal shoes. Allegedly Marie-Claire Alain liked performing in stilettos :lol: And if you watch Cameron Carpenter on YouTube he wears Cuban high-heels, which I guess come in handy playing the repertoire he does.
     
  18. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Pianist
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Home Page:
    WEBSITE:
    http://hanysz.net
    LOCATION:
    Adelaide, Australia
    OK, I met one organist who has a pair of shoes that he calls his "organ shoes" and uses for playing the organ and nothing else. He told me that his teacher said organists need special shoes. But I haven't met a lot of organists so, as you correctly point out, I should resist the temptation to generalise ;-)
     

Share This Page