The Complete Pianist:
from healthy technique to natural artistry
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Why I wrote this book
“The Complete Pianist grew out of my own experiences as a pianist and piano teacher. In it I describe my approach to piano playing, which is based not only on forty years’ experience of professional playing and teaching, but also on many years of research into anatomy, yoga and other techniques.
As a young pianist, I had a natural talent and passion for playing and performing. My first teacher was a former Matthay student who gave me a strong foundation in healthy playing. However, when I became a full-time music student, I developed back ache, forearm tension and severe thumb pain (De Quervain’s tenosynovitis) after practising Liszt’s second piano concerto with a faulty octave technique. The tension I experienced also adversely affected my sound and restricted my natural ease of expression. I sought advice from teachers, and read most of the available books, but couldn’t find the practical step-by-step guidance I needed to resolve my particular problems. I had to stop playing for several months and, for some years afterwards, had to choose repertoire carefully.
My injury, however, triggered a life-long mission to uncover a healthier approach to playing the piano, which balances and coordinates the body to achieve the fullest musical expression with the minimum of effort.
I knew from my own experience that it wasn’t enough just to tell students to practise more: I needed to be able to explain to them precisely how to play each passage and also why. I devised exercises for my students and, if an exercise proved useful for a number of them, I continued to refine it until I felt it demonstrated the point clearly and effectively.
To develop my understanding further, I studied the anatomy of the hand and arm and worked closely with medical professionals from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, who frequently refer injured pianists to me. Much of my research and much of the material in this book, is completely new and, I hope, ground-breaking.
I have been writing this book for over fifteen years, in it, I share the results of a lifetime of original research in the hope that my knowledge and experience will benefit and inspire others and help them to realise their full potential at the piano.”