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Fluid Playing

August 21, 2012

Legato playing must have its physical corollary: fluid movement. In fluid movement one is always coming from somewhere and on the way somewhere else. The left hand arrives in a position as it comes from another place and after arriving it must start motion towards the next destination. We are never still and our arm and shoulders move anticipating the hands at every turn, initiating the gesture and maintaining balance.

In any complex movement, however, there is a point of stability around which all other activity takes place. We must be conscious of this anchor, this point of stability, so our movement becomes more effective and precise. Thus in an ascending scale run, the first finger anchors the left hand allowing the other fingers to move with greater precision and less effort. In complex chord changes if one finger can be stable the others are freer to move.

It almost seems contradictory that movement requires stability, but it is a very useful tenet to absorb.

Decreasing the amount of energy one uses is a constant way to grow. When learning a new work, the initial challenges of the musical and physical elements must first be met. Afterwards, we can become more sensitive to the essential muscle groups required. Ultra soft playing requires greater physical skill, because the movements require finely tuned muscle control. Much of this muscle control is invisible but it is important to shed unnecessary movements before burning the neural pathways into the body and mind.

At that time Nasreddin was at schoolboy. Once, as his teacher was imparting knowledge, he was pleasantly interrupted by a relative who brought him a wonderful tray of sweets. Just before the break, when he could enjoy his sweets in peace, the qadi called the teacher for an important affair. As he was leaving, the master told the children:

“Be careful in my absence! Don’t touch the sweets; they are poisoned by my enemies. Whoever ate them would drop dead.”

As soon as he left, the children attacked the plate so well that they didn’t leave even a morsel of the goodies. Adding to this they even broke the beautiful pen of the teacher.

After a short while the teacher came back only to see the extent of the damage.

“Who did this?” asked he angrily.

“I” answered Nasreddin. “Forgive me master” said Nasreddin, “I wanted to write with your pen and broke it. In despair, I decided to die and ate all the sweets to kill myself – so I wait for the angel of death to come and take me.”

From → Growing

One Comment
  1. What, no Nasredin?

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