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The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

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The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:29 pm

Some time ago I found this book about the topic of piano practice. It's free online (link: http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book) but you can also buy the book from amazon.com. Anyways, I've read through it and there are lots of interesting things in there such as mental play (which Andrew Furmanczyk briefly explains in one of his videos), post practice improvement, parallell sets etc. The problem is however that the author is a physicist (rather unknown one) but anyways I assume he's done lots of research on this topic (as he obviously could write a book about it). He also claims that you can learn piano 1000 times faster compared to other methods.
Anyways I find it hard to understand everything in the book especially as I'm not from an English speaking country and I find it even harder to remember the methods in the book and to apply them. Now to the main point of this thread: I wonder if any of you have heard about this book or read it and what do you think about it? If not, it would be great if you could check it out and possibly read it to give some opinion on this book, especially from Andrew (who ignored my PM I've sent him a few months ago about this topic). I'm waiting for responses and please don't ignore this thread.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by frank on Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:56 pm

I've just read some parts of the book and I don't like the his style of writing, that he knows the only way how to learn piano playing and 1000 times faster, and all other learning techniques are useless. But there are some interesting ideas, e.g. first analyze the piece to see if there are repetitions, so you just need to learn one repetition, and practice some 1 or 2 bars of a piece until your fingers can play it without thinking, then advance to the next bars, but at least my piano teacher teached me this way, too, so nothing special, you just need a good piano teacher Smile

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by VictorCS on Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:25 pm

Exactly what I wrote before my internet disconnected. It seems the book has alot of good advices, but he claims too much.
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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:08 pm

Thanks for the replies! Anyways, do you guys agree with the author that Hanon exercises are bad and useless?

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by frank on Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:07 pm

I think they can be useful, but maybe just some minutes per day for warming-up.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by VictorCS on Sat May 01, 2010 9:08 am

Rickard wrote:Thanks for the replies! Anyways, do you guys agree with the author that Hanon exercises are bad and useless?

It seems most think they're good and useful. I myself think they're useless.
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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Thu May 06, 2010 6:29 am

Thanks for the answers. I will be getting a teacher soon I think.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by lckay on Fri May 07, 2010 2:43 pm

I like this book v much. I found it about a year ago and read some of it. Remember the story Andrew told in one of his videos about the horse that wants to learn how to gallop by speeding up his walking motions? You can read about that in the book too.

Many great ideas there, a lot are also consistent with what Andrew says. For example, the book talks about how to practice to avoid "speed wall". Andrew also mentioned the similar strategy in his video on how to practice, which is play slow, then very fast, then slow. In Andrew's words, the reason to play very fast is to "introduce errors". Not exactly the same words, but both are talking about the same strategy to solve a same problem.

Yes the author is a scientist(or researcher?), and he wrote that in the spirit of writing an academic paper, which might not appeal to non-academic people. But I would recommend to at least read the introduction.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Fri May 07, 2010 5:04 pm

lckay wrote:I like this book v much. I found it about a year ago and read some of it. Remember the story Andrew told in one of his videos about the horse that wants to learn how to gallop by speeding up his walking motions? You can read about that in the book too.
Yep I remember that video. I didn't notice the similarities though.
lckay wrote:Many great ideas there, a lot are also consistent with what Andrew says. For example, the book talks about how to practice to avoid "speed wall". Andrew also mentioned the similar strategy in his video on how to practice, which is play slow, then very fast, then slow. In Andrew's words, the reason to play very fast is to "introduce errors". Not exactly the same words, but both are talking about the same strategy to solve a same problem.
Wow, once again I didn't think about the similarities. I should probably rewatch the how to practice video soon.
lckay wrote:Yes the author is a scientist(or researcher?), and he wrote that in the spirit of writing an academic paper, which might not appeal to non-academic people. But I would recommend to at least read the introduction.
Well I don't have much trouble with such kinds of texts in Swedish but as it's in English it's a little difficult for me. Besides it's lots of pages and takes alot of time to read through if you don't want to miss something. It would however be amazing if it would be put into video format and explained well, similar to Andrew's videos. Anyways I read the whole book once but I don't remember most of the importiant details.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by pianochris on Wed May 12, 2010 4:11 am

I've never read the book. For some, the ideas may work, for others it may not. It is important to note that quality of the practice is better than the quantity. There are many methods to use - in fact I often sit and read the music without playing it as it gets the brain aware of the piece, certain areas, etc, and you'll be surprised at how much it will help when you come to memorise a piece.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:50 pm

I've been reading parts of the book again (cause I almost forgot everything in the book lol). Anyways, I want to hear more opinions about this book.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Pianoted on Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:02 pm

I started reading this book and decided to dismiss it after the author stated it was completely wrong to practice scales. Another claim the author made was that the way to avoid a speed barrier you start by playing and then slow down. Not sure I understand what he means, how can you play a piece very fast if you can't even play it slowly?

I have found a book that seems good and easy to read. You don't have to read through countless pages of testimonials and other hype. In the beginning of every chapter you're told what you'll be learning and what your goals should be. It's supposed to be used with DVDs which you have to buy, but I don't have them and find it helpful to use the book alone.

http://www.learnandmasterpiano.com/resources/L&M%20Piano.pdf
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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:15 am

Pianoted wrote:I started reading this book and decided to dismiss it after the author stated it was completely wrong to practice scales. Another claim the author made was that the way to avoid a speed barrier you start by playing and then slow down. Not sure I understand what he means, how can you play a piece very fast if you can't even play it slowly?

I have found a book that seems good and easy to read. You don't have to read through countless pages of testimonials and other hype. In the beginning of every chapter you're told what you'll be learning and what your goals should be. It's supposed to be used with DVDs which you have to buy, but I don't have them and find it helpful to use the book alone.

http://www.learnandmasterpiano.com/resources/L&M%20Piano.pdf
I know about that book. I actually did midis for all the pieces in the book, I could upload those here. But I haven't used right scales and right tempo for them I think. I could try to fix it now when I know lots more music theory than I did about 1 year ago.
As for the Fundamentals of Piano Practice, I think there are lots of interesting things if you start reading. What he means with "slowing down" is to play something as a chord or harmonic interval and then "slow down" by making it sound more and more like it's supposed to be (more like the melody). I've never really tried it so it could work or not. He talks about alot of different stuff like why you shouldn't play piano while your sick, how to make your hands used to playing even if your hands are cold, why everyone can get absolute pitch, and most importiantly about mental play, why a solid mental play is more importiant than any other kind of memory used for piano like hand memory or photographic memory, which type of piano to purchase (digital piano, upright or grand) and alot more topics.
Both Andrew and the author of the book share some of the same ideas. Andrew talks about practicing hands seperate and only small parts of the piece at the time, same in the book. Andrew talks about mind play and in the book it's called mental play and in the book it's alot more detailed. Remember how Andrew said that by mind play you can aquire perfect pitch, guess what? In the book it says the same. There are a few more examples I could mention.
The thing is that the methods written down in the book could very well be the best ways to learn piano but without a teacher that uses these methods I think it's very hard to learn it, alot of these methods seem, at least for me, too complicated to learn on my own.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by ZoologyGirl on Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:45 pm

I think it is a good tool to use in conjunction with other 'tools'. I wouldn't necessarily use it by itself.
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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by SnowmanAU on Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:59 am

I think the book is actually quite good, it explains efficient methods of playing practicing in a clear and concise way (maybe difficult to understand if english isn't your first/main language, also helps if you read from start to finish). The ideas to me seem very logical and sustained and quite useful.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by jytte on Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:45 pm

I don't think any one person can claim to have the full and only truth about anything, that goes for piano playing as well. But there are gold nuggets to be had in numerous places, and it's up to the eager mind to gather as much information as one can, and then as we progress, we can sort it for ourselves: what works for us and what not. We are all different, certainly in the way we approach music and in our goals for playing the piano. So, what is a great tool for me, might not be for someone else.
Important is though, that when we feel we have found something worth while, we share it here. Then everyone gets to benefit. It's also good to share the different opinions we have, there's always more than one way to skin a bear.



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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by goodell on Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:55 pm

Rickard wrote:The problem is however that the author is a physicist (rather unknown one) but anyways I assume he's done lots of research on this topic (as he obviously could write a book about it). He also claims that you can learn piano 1000 times faster compared to other methods.

first off, it's interesting a physicist would make such a blatantly ridiculous claim (unless it was sarcastic).

also, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. this sounds WAY too good to be true.

that being said, it's probably got some pretty helpful information (as do most teaching resources, in one way or another). i do find it hard to believe anyone discovered some sort of huge piano practicing secret, since the instrument has been around for such a long time (unless it's technology based, which could bring something new to the table, but a book??).

it sounds like you're more geared toward video style learning. hop around the web looking for instructional websites or videos based on what you want to learn. there's tons of sites for any specific style/genre of playing out there. i've been looking into jazz/blues improv lately, and it's just a matter of looking for it. you may have to dig through some boring stuff, but occasionally you'll strike gold! Very Happy
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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:06 pm

goodell wrote:
Rickard wrote:The problem is however that the author is a physicist (rather unknown one) but anyways I assume he's done lots of research on this topic (as he obviously could write a book about it). He also claims that you can learn piano 1000 times faster compared to other methods.

first off, it's interesting a physicist would make such a blatantly ridiculous claim (unless it was sarcastic).

also, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. this sounds WAY too good to be true.

that being said, it's probably got some pretty helpful information (as do most teaching resources, in one way or another). i do find it hard to believe anyone discovered some sort of huge piano practicing secret, since the instrument has been around for such a long time (unless it's technology based, which could bring something new to the table, but a book??).

it sounds like you're more geared toward video style learning. hop around the web looking for instructional websites or videos based on what you want to learn. there's tons of sites for any specific style/genre of playing out there. i've been looking into jazz/blues improv lately, and it's just a matter of looking for it. you may have to dig through some boring stuff, but occasionally you'll strike gold! Very Happy
Don't judge the book by its' cover as some say. I suggest you actually read the book and find out about all the great methods and how he found them and how he calculated the 1000 times thing, ofc it's the best methods compared with the most inutive ones. Many of the methods in the book had been invented and re-invented several times. The problem is that they were not written down.
How come you think it sounds like I'm more geared toward video style learning? Yes I enjoy Andrew's videos but don't we all? Well tbh I'm more interested in learning classical music rather than jazz, blues, rock etc. Anyways, I'm actually thinking about buying a DVD course about rhythm from Yoke Wong, dunno if it will help me with my rhythm but I will give it a try. Other than that I'm looking forward to some new music theory lessons by Andrew.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Matthieu Stepec on Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:32 am

I read some sections of this book and it seems to contain a few major mistakes.
First: the difference between technique and mechanic (as taught by Chopin): scales, arpeggios, fast finger movements are mechanic, not technique. Technique is the palette of different keystrokes allowing different tone colors, combined with mechanic.
Second: the book neglects technique and finger muscles, giving too much independency to the "MP" (audiation, a concept already defined by Gordon in 1975: nothing new) About that: yes, audiation is very important, indeed, and without it you have no chance of being a good musician. But if your fingers can't do the job, they just can't. The nerve signals that come from the brain to the fingers will not get faster just by mental practice, it is not enough. Piano is also a physical activity! And it's one of the things that make it so pleasant.
Third: "play musically". It's probably right, yes, but nowhere does the author define musicality... He just seems to assume that everyone knows what it means. Now for myself I have no clear definition of it; or rather an ever-expanding definition. To shortcut this concept seems to be out of place for me.

Then again, audiation (or MP) is important and should be developed, that is perfectly right. But it's not enough to make you a virtuoso.

I do believe that Hanon, scales, arpeggio practice, are totally useless unless done in a very special way (which is quite hard to explain but possible as long as you are here to control what the pupil is doing) but finger muscles should be improved.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:23 am

Matthieu Stepec wrote:I read some sections of this book and it seems to contain a few major mistakes.
First: the difference between technique and mechanic (as taught by Chopin): scales, arpeggios, fast finger movements are mechanic, not technique. Technique is the palette of different keystrokes allowing different tone colors, combined with mechanic.
Second: the book neglects technique and finger muscles, giving too much independency to the "MP" (audiation, a concept already defined by Gordon in 1975: nothing new) About that: yes, audiation is very important, indeed, and without it you have no chance of being a good musician. But if your fingers can't do the job, they just can't. The nerve signals that come from the brain to the fingers will not get faster just by mental practice, it is not enough. Piano is also a physical activity! And it's one of the things that make it so pleasant.
Third: "play musically". It's probably right, yes, but nowhere does the author define musicality... He just seems to assume that everyone knows what it means. Now for myself I have no clear definition of it; or rather an ever-expanding definition. To shortcut this concept seems to be out of place for me.

Then again, audiation (or MP) is important and should be developed, that is perfectly right. But it's not enough to make you a virtuoso.

I do believe that Hanon, scales, arpeggio practice, are totally useless unless done in a very special way (which is quite hard to explain but possible as long as you are here to control what the pupil is doing) but finger muscles should be improved.
He doesn't say everything in one place. It's not enough just to read a few sections of the book.
The book neglects technique huh? Really? Yet he writes about relaxation, parallell sets, post practice improvement (improving your playing after a practice session), building endurance, importance of correct breathing, tone, rhythm, legato, staccato, hand motions, advantages and disadvantages with curled finger positions and flat finger positions, advantages and disadvantages with thumb under and thumb over, how to practice jumps, importance of building fast muscles rather than slow ones etc.
He does define what playing musically means but I don't remember in which part it was.
And yes, fast muscles in the finger should be improved.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by lckay on Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:14 pm

"Second: the book neglects technique and finger muscles, giving too much independency to the "MP" (audiation, a concept already defined by Gordon in 1975: nothing new) About that: yes, audiation is very important, indeed, and without it you have no chance of being a good musician. But if your fingers can't do the job, they just can't. The nerve signals that come from the brain to the fingers will not get faster just by mental practice, it is not enough. Piano is also a physical activity! And it's one of the things that make it so pleasant."

The name of the book is "Fundamentals of Piano Practice". It is a book about piano practicing, not specific techniques. In the footnotes, the author refers you to places where techniques are discussed, such as the Taubman approach etc.

"Another claim the author made was that the way to avoid a speed barrier you start by playing and then slow down. Not sure I understand what he means, how can you play a piece very fast if you can't even play it slowly?"

Yes you can't play fast without being taught specific techniques, unless u r a genius, or after hours and hours of practicing u stumble across a solution on your own. But what the author says actually made sense to me. It goes back to the metaphor of the horse learning how to gallop, mentioned in the book, as well as in one of Andrew's video.

"I have found a book that seems good and easy to read. You don't have to read through countless pages of testimonials and other hype. In the beginning of every chapter you're told what you'll be learning and what your goals should be. It's supposed to be used with DVDs which you have to buy, but I don't have them and find it helpful to use the book alone.

http://www.learnandmasterpiano.com/resources/L&M%20Piano.pdf"
Seems like a nice resource which addresses the theoretical and intellectual part of piano playing. Ya, there are many aspects in playing the piano - musicality, techniques, performing, theory etc. It's quite hard to cover everything in a book. The book confines the scope to just the art of practicing the piano, as suggested in the title. It compliments the other areas.

"that being said, it's probably got some pretty helpful information (as do most teaching resources, in one way or another). i do find it hard to believe anyone discovered some sort of huge piano practicing secret, since the instrument has been around for such a long time (unless it's technology based, which could bring something new to the table, but a book??). "

Agree. But the author didn't discover those principles. You may want to check the introduction part to see his story.

"1000 times" this number may put many people off. But the author is after all a scientist, or a researcher.. maybe numbers like this make sense to him. For others, we can still omit that part and look at the principles of practicing that he is talking about.

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by Rickard on Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:18 am

My piano teacher read 50 pages of the book so far and he thinks it's really good. He said that it contains alot of good things that he didn't think about before and that the author explains it in a very good way.

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hanon and the fundamentals of piano practice

Post by jazzylady on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:04 pm

i have just downloaded the fundamentals , I haven't read it right through .
the author is not a teacher .. i will go through the book and decide if what he says is of any use , or maybe some parts of it ..... I have bought the hanon book -- 60 exercises .
this book is desiged to get the fingers working ...there is another teacher on u tube-- mron58 , he has been teaching piano for many years himself playing piano from a very early age .. These piano teachers have gone on to university . most of them here in melbourne have gone on to the conservatorium of music ...If you asked the author of fundamentals about the different scales , you can bet your boots he couldn't answer any questions about scales or anything else -- So you doubters about hanon -- ask questions , chase all the information -- I have learnt heaps of theory , on utube -- I also have pen and paper ,take notes I chase any info that will benefit me ---- Laughing

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

Post by ionas on Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:41 am


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hanon download

Post by jazzylady on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:59 am

many thanks ionis . I didn't know the hanon exercises were on line . It will be a great help to me , and i'm sure a lot of other people too
sunny

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Re: The Fundamentals of Piano Practice

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