Tag Archives: brain development

In the fingers

My young friend in Canada, Alexander Lang, writes to me that he is starting to work on Bach's Italian Concerto. His repertoire up to now, "but not warmed up" (sounds like eggs for breakfast; in my terminology, it's "in the fingers"), is mostly Chopin; Scherzos 2 and 3; Ballade 1 and 4; Etudes 2, 5, op 10; 12, op 12; Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise; Nocturne op 48 #1. Also Liszt's Wilde Jagd, Hungarian Rhapsody 2--"can barely manage it" (me too); a few Beethoven sonatas; some Debussy.

He has been reading my book on piano technique (Mastering the Chopin Etudes) and "trying your relaxed-hand technique and it makes a huge difference to especially my octave passages--they hardly take effort anymore. I also really like the single-note approach to technical passages, not going for sequences but individual notes and chords. I bet I could straighten out the Rhapsody with a little work."

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How does the brain work?

It's not a mystery, as is often said, but it's very complicated. And it's physical as well as mental. The two are totally intertwined and can't be separated.

Just saw "Big Mind." Truly weird video. I don't think you can expect this to happen in more than one in 100 million cases. But it does bring out several relevant points: this guy memorizes and calculates the same way we memorize and make calculations about a piece of music: via signposts--tangible, kinesthetic signposts. I'm not comparing myself to this guy in any way (what he does is totally miraculous), but I can say that my brain works the same way when dealing with music. Keys have definite colors for me.

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