Piano – Does the Ends Ever Justify the Means? (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on April 5, 2014

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Piano 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 piano 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.

Is it ever worth it to sit down at the piano and do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get a piece to where you want it technically, musically, and interpretively? This is what many wonderful pianists do, so is it a valid thing to do? It may not be a loving thing, but is it a valid or good thing? The better question may be, is doing the unloving thing ever a loving thing?

There are three reasons that I believe that it isn’t worth it for the ends to override the means. The means is simply how conscious you are in the present as you play the piano. From the Alexander Technique perspective, it is simply how good your posture is and how good your technique is, determined by an expansive balanced posture at the piano and a technique of minimal movement and decompressed joints. And all of this comes together in a way you can play all of the great piano literature without pain, strain, and injury, and with great ease.

Here are the three reasons that ends playing isn’t worth it. First: If you are physically doing damage with your technique and posture, then you will potentially end your ability to play the piano your whole life. If your posture and technique at the piano are extraordinarily Alexandrian, and you carry this over into the rest of your life’s activities, you will play your whole life without physical damage and limitation and still play the piano wonderfully.

Second: If you focus 100% on what you want to come out of the piano, then you will leave no room for a sound or interpretation that surprises you. This means that if you totally focus on controlling what you play, rather than finding a way to make your technique easier and easier by doing less and less work, then you are potentially getting in the way of your technique evolving into a more and more effortless technique, that lets your interpretation evolve in an extraordinary way you may not have thought possible.

All truly extraordinary performers are continuously evolving their concepts of how to interpret their pieces. In fact, if you were to listen to different recordings of the same performer of the same piece 20 years apart, and there were minimal differences in the performances, you would say the pianist has gotten stuck.

Third: I experienced the third effect today in my writing these posts on my blog. I was determined to get a certain amount of new posts done today, and I did not allow myself to take a rest between getting them all done (except this one). The effect on me was very unloving. I was so focused on getting the posts done, that I totally ignored the ache in my back, needing to go to the bathroom, and my mood was getting more and more irritable (angry!).

This is how I use to practice the classical guitar. I played a certain amount of hours no matter how sad or angry I got. I believe this third reason is the most important of the three reasons that the ends never justifies the means. It is the one that pollutes the other two reasons, and makes being an ends playing pianist not worth it.

Let me explain. You can use the principles of the Alexander Technique to create a piano technique that doesn’t sacrifice your body. You can create an interpretation a piece that opens your heart. But if you don’t pay attention to a mind that is screaming for a break or wanting to go outside and play, then you are sacrificing yourself for mastery (and your heart won’t be able to stay open). Mastery is a very poor substitute for self-loving behavior, since mastery and listening to your heart and head aren’t mutually exclusive.

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