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TitleFundementals of Piano Practice
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Total Pages275
Table of Contents
                            Basic Practice Methods
	Practice Routines, the Intuitive Method
	Bench Height, Distance from Piano, Posture
	Starting a Piece
	Curled and Flat Finger Positions, Curl Paralysis
	Reading, Fingering
	Hands Separate (HS) Practice
	Difficult Sections First, Segmental Practice, Continuity Rule
	Parallel Sets (PSs), Conjunctions, Cycling
	Parallel Sets Catalogue
	Basic Key Stroke; Legato, Staccato
	Speed Walls
	Memorizing, Close Your Eyes and Play
	Mental Play (MP)
	Human Memory Function
	Absolute Pitch, Relative Pitch
	Play by Ear (PBE), Composing
	Breathing, Swallowing
	Endurance, Brain Stamina
	Forearm Rotation
	Slow Play
	Post Practice Improvement, Sleep, Fast/Slow Muscles
	Quiet Hands & Fingers
	Staccato Practice, Soft Practice
	Speed, Rhythm, Dynamics
	Fast Play Degradation, Eliminating Bad Habits
	Jumps, PP, FF, Feeling the Keys
	Scales:  Nomenclature and Fingerings
	Thumb Under, Thumb Over, Glissando Motion, Pivoting
	Thumb, Most Versatile Finger, Power Thumb
	Arpeggio, Cartwheel Motion, Finger Splits
	Fast Chromatic Scales
	Fast Octaves, Small/Big Hands
	Trills and Tremolos
	Hand Motions
	Hands Together
	Outlining, Beethoven's Sonata #1, Op. 2-1
	Damper (Sustain) Pedal, Physics of the piano sound
	Soft Pedal: Hammer Voicing
	Playing Cold, Warming Up, Conditioning
	Musicality, Touch, Tone, Color
	Problems with Hanon Exercises
		Für Elise
		Practice Routines: Bach Inventions, Sinfonia
		Bach Used Parallel Sets to Compose His Inventions
		Mozart's Rondo, in Sonata No. 11 in A major, K331 (300i)
		Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu, Op. 66, Polyrhythms
		Beethoven's Moonlight: First, Third, Movements
		Beethoven's Pathetique, Op. 13, First Movement
		Beethoven's Appassionata, Op. 57, First Movement
	Fake Books, Jazz, Improvisation
	Sight Reading, Sight Singing, Composing
	Stretching and Other Exercises
	Performance Preparation, Videotaping
	Origin and Control of Nervousness
	During, After the Performance
	Summary of Method (One Page)
Piano Topics
	Project Management
	Injury, Health
	Hearing Loss
	The Myth of Franz Listz's Teaching Methods
	Why the Greatest Pianists Could Not Teach
	Creating Geniuses
	Scientific Approach to Piano Practice
	Mozart's Formula, Beethoven and Group Theory
	Theory, Solfege
	Disadvantages of Learning Piano
	Grand, Electronic, Upright Pianos
	Purchasing & Piano Care
	Using the Subconscious Brain
	New Discoveries of this Book
	Topics for Future Research
Tuning Your Piano
	Introduction to Tuning
	Chromatic Scale
	Circle of Fifths, Temperaments
	Polishing Capstans, Hammer Voicing
	Tuning Tools and Skills
	Kirnberger II, Equal Temperaments
	Grand Piano Action Diagram
	Book Reviews: General Comments
	About the Author
Banowetz, Joseph
Beginner books
Bernard, Jonathan W.
Bertrand, Ott
Boissier, August, and Goodchild, Neil J.
Brandt, Anthony
Chapman, Brian
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly
Easy Bach
Exercises: Hanon, etc.
Fay, Amy
Fine, Larry
Fischer, J. C.
Gilmore, Don A.
Grand Piano Diagrams
Gutmann, Peter
Howell, W. D.
Jorgensen, Owen H.
Kang, etc., Brain Flush
Kotier, Steven
Levin, Robert
Listz's Teaching Bibliography
Moscheles, Ignace
Olson, Steve
Patel, Aniruddh D.
Piccolo, Stefano
Reblitz, Arthur
Rogers, Nancy; Ottman, Robert
Rossato-Bennett, Michael
Rubinstein, Anton; Carreño, Teresa
Sethares, William A.
Sheet Music
Solomon, Larry
Structural Energy Therapy
Tomita, Yo
Treffert, Donald A.
Trevor Rees-Jones
Tuning Tools, Parts
Young, Robert W.
Zach's Piano Supplies
Askenfelt, Anders, Ed.
Bree, Malwine
Bruser, Madeline
Cannel, Ward, and Marx, Fred
Cook, Charles
Cortot, Alfred
Eigeldinger, Jean-Jacques
Elson, Margaret
Fink, Seymour
Fraser, Alan
Gieseking, Walter, and Leimer, Karl
Green, Barry, and Gallwey, Timothy
Hinson, Maurice
Hofman, Josef
Humphries, Carl
Lhevine, Josef
Levitin, Daniel J.
Lister-Sink, Barbara (Video)
Lloyd, Norman
Macmillan, Jenny
Mark, Thomas
Mathieu, W. A.
Neely, Blake
Neuhaus, Heinrich
Onishi, Aiko
Prokop, Richard
Richard, Francois L.
Richman, Howard
Sabatella, Marc
Sacks, Oliver
Sándor, György
Scoggin, Nancy
Sherman, Russell
Slenczynska, Ruth
Stannard, Neil
Suzuki, Shinichi (et al)
Taylor, Harold
Taylor, Ronald
Walker, Alan
Weinreich, G.
Werner, Kenney
Whiteside, Abby
Document Text Contents
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applies whether you are sight reading or just reading, it is critical in sight reading. Try to
"get there ahead of time" for jumps; therefore, practice the jump maneuvers [Jumps, PP,

(2) Learn all the common musical constructs: Alberti bass, major and minor scales
and their fingerings as well as the arpeggios, common chords and chord transitions,
common trills, ornaments, etc. When sight reading, you should recognize the constructs
or phrases and not read the individual notes. Memorize the locations of those very high
and very low notes as they appear on the score so that you can find them instantly. For
those notes high above (or below) the staves, start by memorizing all the octave C's, then
fill in the others, beginning with notes closest to the C's.

(3) Look ahead of where you are playing, about one bar, or even more, as you
develop the skill at reading the music structure. Get to the point where you can read one
structure ahead so that you can anticipate fingering problems and can avoid getting
yourself into impossible situations. Although fingering suggestions on the music are
generally helpful, they are often useless for sight reading because, although they may be
the best fingerings, you may not be able to use them without some practice, and may not
have time to figure them out. Therefore, develop your own set of fingerings for sight

(4) Play through mistakes and make them as inaudible as possible. The best way to
do this is to make it sound as if you had modified the music -- then the audience does not
know whether you made a mistake or changed it, especially because you will often have
to simplify things that are too complex to sight read. This is why students with basic
music theory training will have an advantage in sight reading. Three ways to make
mistakes less audible are (i) keep the rhythm intact, (ii) maintain a continuous melody (if
you can't read everything, carry the melody and omit the accompaniment), and (iii)
practice simplifying those parts that are too complicated to sight read. For advanced sight
readers, the most powerful tool is the ability to simplify the music: eliminate
ornamentals, fish out the melody from fast runs, etc.

(5) "Practice, practice, practice". Although sight reading is relatively easy to learn, it
must be practiced every day in order to improve. It will take most students from one to
two years of diligent practice to become good. Because sight reading depends so heavily
on recognition of structures, it is closely related to memory. You can lose the sight
reading ability if you stop practicing; however, just as with memory, if you become a
good sight reader when young, you will be good all your life.

Keep adding to the "tricks of the trade" as you improve. Practice the art of scanning
through a composition before sight reading it, in order to get some feel for how difficult it
is. Then you can figure out ahead of time how to get around the "impossible" sections.
You can even practice it quickly, using a condensed version of the learning tricks (HS,
shorten difficult segments, use parallel sets, etc.), just enough to make it sound passable. I
have met sight readers who would talk to me about some sections of a new piece for a

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while, then play through an entire piece with no trouble. I later realized that they were
practicing those sections in the few seconds they had while they were distracting me with
their "discussions".

Gather several books with easy pieces. Because it is initially easier to practice "sight
reading" with familiar pieces, you can use the same compositions to practice sight
reading several times, a week or more apart. This will familiarize you with common
constructs and phrases. "Sonatina" books, Mozart's easier sonatas, and books of easy
popular songs, are good books for practicing. For the easiest pieces, you might use the
beginner books, or the easiest Bach pieces. Although you can develop a lot of sight
reading skills with familiar pieces, you must eventually practice with pieces that you had
never seen before in order to develop true sight reading skills. The most useful skill for
help with true sight reading is sight singing, or solfege. Learning absolute pitch is one of
the best ways to develop sight singing.

Sight singing and composing: To be able to write down a music or your
composition, it is necessary to study dictation. Practice dictation by practicing sight
singing. Take any music and read a few bars and sing it or play it using MP. Then check it
out on the piano. If you do this with enough music that you had never heard before, you
will learn sight singing and develop the dictation skills.

For practicing to play "by ear", practice sight reading. Once you become fairly good
at sight reading (this may take over 6 months), start playing out your own melodies on
the piano. The idea behind learning sight reading is to familiarize yourself with common
runs, chords, accompaniments, etc., so that you can find them quickly on the piano.
Another way is to start playing from fake books and practicing improvisation.

When composing, don't worry if at first you find it difficult to start a piece or end it
– they have simple solutions you can learn quickly later. Start by building a collection of
ideas that you can later assemble into a composition. Don't worry that you have never had
any lessons in composition; it is best to develop your own style first, then study
composition to help you to nurture that style and to solve problems such as making your
music longer or finding an ending. Music never comes "on demand", which can be
frustrating; therefore, when ideas come, you must work on them immediately.

Composing at a good concert grand can be inspirational. Although digital pianos are
adequate for composing popular music and practicing jazz improvisations, a quality
grand can be very helpful when composing high level classical music.

Once you have composed for several years, start taking composition lessons. Don't
try to learn all the composition rules at once, but learn them as you need them. Mental
play skills are necessary for composing. Not having absolute pitch will be a major

(54) Stretching and Other Exercises
The hand has two sets of muscles that spread the fingers/palm to reach wide chords.

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(cassette tapes in those days) because she knew that few teachers taught them. I absorbed
and started using some of Combe's methods because our girls were using them every day
and upon Combe's death, realized that if I didn't document them, they would be lost. The
first draft of this book was written in 1994 when I had six months of free time between
jobs. In writing the book I naturally confronted questions such as "why is this method
valid and why is that one not?" etc., because that is what scientists do. I also had to look
for obvious missing parts, etc., so that everything in the book was there because it was
needed and demonstrably valid. In science, you can't just write down something because
someone taught that way, as has traditionally been done in piano; it has to have some
validity; also, anyone must be able to reproduce the results. Even Combe had some
incorrect ideas. One day, she squeezed my hand and said, "See, my hands are strong
because I am a pianist." I have a handshake well over twice her grip strength but she
plays the piano much better.

After finishing that first edition, I could finally try out the methods of the book for
the first time. Their effectiveness amazed me and naturally led to the question, "why
didn't anyone write such a book when there were thousands of accomplished pianists
since Bach and hundreds of piano books, some of them written by the most famous
pianists?" If I had this book when I started piano, I would have been way ahead in just a
few years, like our daughters. After 50 years of dedication to piano, I finally found out
why I never succeeded — I was never taught!

It took me over ten years after writing the first edition to understand that, in order to
undertake such a ginormous task of writing a piano learning manual, you needed a
pianist, researcher, teacher, analyst and writer, who could devote a significant chunk of a
lifetime to the effort, and who was lucky enough to learn from one of the best piano
teachers the world has ever known — a forbidding seven requirements! The probability
of such an event is statistically almost zero and explains why it never happened. Most
pianists do not have the training to research or teach, see the section (64) Why the
Greatest Pianists Could Not Teach.

My career was in analytical research for 31 years. I worked in fundamental research
(surface science on the atomic scale), materials science (physics, chemistry, biology,
mechanical engineering, electronics, optics, acoustics, metals, semiconductors,
insulators), and industrial problem solving (failure mechanisms, reliability,
manufacturing), using mainly electron spectroscopy.

All scientists must learn practically every day just to stay current. So, who teaches
them? Other scientists! That is, scientists must teach each other all the time and, by
necessity, become good teachers by publishing reports, attending conferences, and
interacting daily with other scientists in the company, in frequent meetings and during
lunch in the company cafeteria — opportunities piano teachers seldom experience, even
at conservatories. I have published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in most of the major
scientific journals and written about 1,000 internal company reports. This qualifies me for

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