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PRACTICE TIPS #42: In the Dark . . .  Brent Hugh
 Nov 07, 2000 22:02 PST 
PRACTICE TIPS is an occasional email newsletter with practical
piano practice tips and ideas, by Brent Hugh

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PRACTICE TIPS #42: In the Dark . . .

Last issue we were talking about ways to develop awareness of your tactile
sensations while playing. Here is one random idea for developing your
"tactile side":

* A friend of mine, Paul Pisano, used to recommend practicing in the dark
because he found that it developed his feel for the keyboard better than
anything else. Of course, you can only do this with pieces you have
memorized, but for those pieces it really is very effective. You might
find that you need just a hint of light to help with large "jumps", but
make sure the light is low enough that you cannot make out individual keys

Paul used to swear that "When I get to run my own piano program I'm going
wire all the practice room lights to a master switch that *I* will
control." Naturally he was planning to use this nefariously powerful
master switch only for the good of his students. He planned to turn the
practice room lights off a few hours every day, forcing his students to
practice in the dark and develop the tactile sense.

I'm not sure if Paul has ever put his nefarious plan into action, but there
is evidence that it *could* be good real-world preparation for pianists
planning a performing career.

The Greek pianist Gina Bachauer was in the middle of a performance of the
Grieg Piano Concerto when all the lights in the auditorium went dark due to
a power outage. She continued playing with perfect confidence, because she
was used to practicing the entire concerto from start to finish with her
eyes closed. She said her only worry was the orchestra, as orchestra
members don't usually have their parts memorized. But the orchestra
members rose to the challenge. The lights blinked on and off a few times,
finally coming back on for good before the end of the concerto. Through
all this, Bachauer played without a hitch, relying totally on her tactile
sense. Naturally, this feat was greeted with a thunderous ovation. The
audience was amazed, although Bachauer in retelling the incident seems to
give the impression that anyone could have done it, if only they had
practiced properly . . .

It's worth thinking about, anyway!


PRACTICE TIPS is by pianist, teacher, composer, and internet nerd
Brent Hugh. Brent knows about practicing mostly because he *does*
it, and in fact is toddling off to do some of it just about now . . .

Please remember that this tip is but a small spot near the end of the
elephant's left rear leg--it's not even close to the whole elephant that is
"how everyone in the whole world should practice the piano".

Practice Tips Archives (updated about once a month):


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++++++++++++ Brent Hugh / bhu-@griffon.mwsc.edu ++++++++++++++
+ Missouri Western St College Dept of Music, St. Joseph, MO +
+         Piano Home Page: http://www.mwsc.edu/~bhugh         +
+ Internet Piano Concert: http://www.mwsc.edu/~bhugh/recit   +
++++ Classical Piano MP3s: http://www.mp3.com/brent_d_hugh ++++
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