I will not begin this paragraph with a boring academic quotation. I will not begin it with a sophisticated professional statement either. I will only say that true music is born from freedom and gives freedom to those who listen and understand it.
Did you ever watch a bird fly? Did you ever observe the way a tiger is jumping? Did you notice the subtle plastic grace of a sleeping cat? Did you see a river flow?
Before talking about piano technique, scales and arpeggios, before telling you the basics of a correct posture, I will tell you a few things about freedom.
I always tell my students to find their inspiration in nature. Why look for sophisticated ‘scientific’ solutions when we can simply observe and learn from the wisest teacher – the surrounding universe? I tell my students to be like water, not like rock. Even the solidest rock cannot compete with the free, calm, implacable flow of water. Water can take any form and avoid any obstacles, it can create and destroy, be gentle and be furious, give and take life. Water runs free; it is never stressed, tensed or afraid.
Playing piano should be a liberating experience that will bring joy to everyone: to you (the performer), to the public, to your friends and family. Only a holistic approach can help us achieve a true mastery of the necessary piano skills. It will allow us to play freely and to connect harmoniously our mind, our soul and our body.
Now you’re probably thinking: it’s nice to talk about freedom, but how exactly do we achieve it? How do we implement all these beautiful ideas in the specific way we play the piano?
Here I will try to give you two succinct answers to this question. The first one is the answer given by the great Russian pianist and piano professor Heinrich Neuhaus: freedom, confidence and hard-work are a never-ending circle and a dialectical sequence of quantity and quality: the more you practice, the more confidence and freedom you develop.
This is entirely true. However, this is not all. The second answer is the following: there are many other things, besides hard work and practice, which can help you to achieve the much wanted freedom of expression. Combined with your daily playing routine, these insights will considerably improve and accelerate your piano progress and, even more important – will help you really enjoy the whole process!
There are so many factors that influence the quality of our piano performance! Most performers aren’t even aware of their direct influence. Among others, I can name your inner balance, your physical and emotional strength, your courage, your diet and your attitude towards life.
My new perspective on piano playing is the result of more than 20 years of hard work. It’s a holistic system than incorporates psychological research, health and diet advices and physical exercise recommendations. It comes from my own experience in playing and teaching piano, as well as from the experience of my piano professors, who have skillfully combined the traditions of the classical Russian piano school with the latest achievements of the Western musical art.
Only a complex approach can help you build a fulfilled piano career that will bring you not only professional and financial accomplishments. By bringing you happiness, it will make your life truly fulfilled.