Friday, August 20, 2010

Keyboard Diary

I've been working up some keyboard pieces here lately and decided to try the Glenn Gould approach to sitting at the keyboard again. I've tried this in the past and not "gotten" what he was up to, but this time I'm getting a glimmer.

He sat very low, 14" above the floor in a chair his father made for him. From Wikipedia:

This famous chair was designed so that Gould could sit very low at the keyboard, with the object of pulling down on the keys rather than striking them from above — a central technical idea of his teacher, Alberto Guerrero.

For me the difference is felt mostly as my fingers and hands being flexed slightly down from the wrist, as opposed to flexed up a bit at that joint to accommodate sitting at the normal height. My fingers have greater ease of motion over their full length, and there's the feeling of that motion being connected all the way back up to the shoulders. Previously the back flexed hands had the effect of breaking up that flow. I think playing the horn levers has somehow prepped me for feeling how my fingers prefer this posture.

The problem is that such a drastic change in playing posture is a lot like changing embouchure on the horn. I can feel that it's a better way of doing things, but sometimes the old brain wiring doesn't work with the new physical approach and retraining is needed. 

I'd love to know how many people have taken up this new approach and how many are doing it the way it's always been done.

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