Thursday, July 5, 2007


Somewhere in the last couple of weeks I passed my fourth anniversary of re-starting piano lessons. It's been fantastic (well, maybe not for the neighbors), and I now approach the piano in a way I couldn't have imagined even existing. (That's not to say I play better than I can imagine.)

By now I've heard the same aphorisms many times. (My teacher is very patient.) And they're not only worth hearing again from time to time, but worth writing down lest I forget. If they seem like Zen Koans to you, then you've got a good idea of what this trip has been like.

Thou shalt Not Reach.

I don't go the notes. The notes come to me.

The faster I play, the slower I move.

Speed is only a state of mind.

The preparation is in the opposite direction of the intent: to go right, first go left.

The shortest distance between two points is a curve.

Any muscle that's not helping is hurting.

If you spend 15 minutes in the gym, you've spent 15 minutes practicing the piano.

One doesn't play the piano with the fingers. They may touch the keys, but the playing comes from all of you.

People confuse mechanics and technique. Mechanics is how to play the written notes; technique is the ability to achieve your intent.

Music is comprised of Breath, Tone and Pulse. If any of those are missing, it's dead.

There is Structural Analysis, Harmonic Analysis and then there is Emotional Analysis.

The great pianists aren't making it look easy; it IS easy. (For them, of course.)

"Genius" is mostly wrongly applied to music. Playing the piano is learning a craft, and that can be taught.

It's as if our bodies are built perfectly for playing: every joint, muscle and tendon is used in beautiful playing.

Understanding is not the same thing as accomplishing.

OK, so the last one is mine. At best, I think I now have an understanding. The accomplishing may take the better part of a decade, but I'm looking forward to it.