Harpsichord – The Importance of Every Note (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on April 12, 2014

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Harpsichord Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate harpsichord technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)

If you listen really closely to a harpsichord performance, you may discover something you were never aware of. THE HARPSICHORDIST IS NOT PLAYING EVERY NOTE WITH EQUAL IMPORTANCE OR AT ALL! And your response to this statement is of course. Some notes are held longer and are more harmonically significant than others, so they should be played with more important emphasis.

We need a definition here. EQUAL IMPORTANCE IS NOT THE SAME AS MORE HARMONICALLY SIGNIFICANT AND/OR LONGER. What do I mean? EQUAL IMPORTANCE IS AN AWARENESS REALIZED OUT LOUD THAT EVERY NOTE PLAYED SHOULD BE TREATED AS INDISPENSABLE. What does this mean?

IT MEANS YOU SHOULD PLAY EVERY NOTE WITH THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE LISTENER IS NOT FILLING OUT THE PIECE FOR YOU IN HIS OR HER HEAD. What does this mean?

Ex: I had a pianist work with me recently. He was classically trained, but he mostly played improvisationally, in all styles from pop, to jazz, to classical. As he played some jazz for me, it began to dawn on me that when he played certain very quick repeated licks, that they were blurs that sounded good but felt wrong to me.

I had him play the piece for me again, and I began to realize he wasn’t really playing every note I was hearing, so I had I had him play considerably slower, and to make sure he played every note he intended to play. He had a major problem doing this, because in truth he hadn’t been playing every note he thought he was playing. We stayed with this by having him place his awareness on playing every note in the lick with clarity, cleanness, and with the expression he wanted in his head.

It was amazing for me to hear. Why?

INSTEAD OF ME CLEANING UP HIS PLAYING IN MY HEAD, I WAS REALLY HEARING WHAT THE PIANIST WANTED ME TO HEAR. As the classically trained guitarist I am, it was incredible to hear ALL of the notes articulated and none of them thrown away.

Now, here is the negative side of making sure every note is truly played with equal importance. This may be done with negative reinforcement. What do I mean?

MANY HARPSICHORDISTS DEMAND PERFECTION IN PERFORMANCE FROM THEIR HANDS USING NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT. What is negative reinforcement? Simply, it is attacking yourself, or threatening to attack yourself, if you don’t play exactly what you want.

It isn’t so obvious this is going on for many harpsichord players, especially if the harpsichordist is a very fine player. Why?

BECAUSE IF THE HARPSICHORDIST IS A VERY FINE PLAYER WITH GREAT TECHNIQUE, THEN THE HARPSICHORD PLAYER MAY STAY ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE THREAT. What do I mean?

If you are a good enough harpsichordist to play with at least moderate precision, and as you learn the piece, you get better and better, then the threat of attacking yourself in your thoughts is kept in the background. It never quite becomes conscious to you that you are poised to get mad at yourself, if you were to keep messing up a section of the piece.

IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE A WONDERFUL HARPSICHORDIST IN ALL MUSICAL STYLES WITHOUT NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT, AND NOT PRACTICE AND PERFORM FROM THE EXTREMES OF LAID-BACK LEAVING OUT NOTES, TO THE PERFECTIONIST WHO HAD BETTER PLAY EVERY NOTE WITH ABSOLUTE CLARITY. How?

As an Alexander Technique teacher, it is my job to help the harpsichordist remove everything that the harpsichord player does posturally and technically at the harpsichord that interferes with the harpsichordist’s ability to play anything and everything with as much ease as possible. If the harpsichord player agrees with me, and is willing to practice what I teach with consistent daily discipline and kindness, then the sooner he or she gets the physical limitations out the way at the harpsichord, the sooner the harpsichordist can create the performance he or she wants out loud.

There is truly something amazing when you hear a harpsichordist play ALL of the notes with clarity and EASE being GENTLE to him or herself.

IF THE HARPSICHORDIST PLAYS WITH KINDNESS AND A TECHNIQUE CREATED BY LETTING GO OF WHAT DOESN’T WORK, REPLACED BY WHAT DOES WORK, IT MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR THE PERFORMER AND LISTENERS TO SIT WITH THEIR BACKS BACK AND FEEL THEIR ENERGY SOAR.

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