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On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, and Expression Paperback – 4 Mar 1982

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc (4 Mar 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028722809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028722801
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 1.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 810,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Preface. PART ONE: THE DETERMINING FACTORS IN PIANO TECHNIQUE. 1. Music, Motions and Emotions. 2. The Piano. 3. The Human Performing Mechanism. PART TWO: BASIC TECHNICAL PATTERNS. 4. Free Fall. 5. Five-Fingers, Scales, and Arpegglos. 6. Rotation. 7. Staccato. 8. Thrust. 9. Summary of the Basic Technical Patterns. PART THREE: TECHNIQUE BECOMES MUSIC. 10. Identification and Application of the Basic Technical Patterns. 11. Independence and Interdependence. 12. The Pedals. 13. Singing Tone. 14. Practicing. 15. Memorization. 16. Musical Diction. 17. Public Performance. 18. Mannerisms and Excess Energy. Index.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ronan M. Conroy on 27 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback
You have to care about the piano a lot to read and profit from this book, but if you do, you will. Sandor approaches piano playing as an art that is graceful, powerful, coherent, never forced or mechanical. The book gives you another ear to listen to your own playing, making you hear the gestures of your body as they are transformed into sound by the piano.
Sandor calmly untangles technical difficulties into their components, and solves them with an unfussy, lucid approach. This is a school of technique that lets the music shine through, and spares the listener the sensation of effort.
A book not just for advanced players but, more importantly, teachers. It is never too soon to learn to play right.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Anna Kuklosis on 19 April 2006
Format: Paperback
If you're a beginning amateur etc, perhaps without a teacher, looking for a book to help with your piano playing there might be a tendency to think that a book of this type, at this price, should be the reserve of the 'serious pianist', however I would say to any amateur piano/keyboard players with any intent on becoming a half decent player get hold of this book...forget that usual highstreet/shopping mall stuff they usually try to palm you of with. This book describes in detail going way beyond what you get in the type of book I've just mentioned, but also a in language which is pretty straightforward and comprehensible, what to actually do with your fingers, arms etc. to be able to play in a controlled accurate way. Before I got hold of this I could not even play a simple scale well.. I thought there was something stiff, tight about my hand etc. As soon a I followed the directions in this book the problem disappeared! I've also looked at some other books like Seymour Fink and Seymour Bernstein but IMO this is the one that has the best and best described, probably more or less universally applicable to different sizes of hand etc., method to develop as the foundation of your playing techique..even if some of the player's that the author considers great (see DVD 'The Art of Piano') seem to play in a completely different way!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
an absolute must-have for anyone serious about piano playing! westlondonpianoteacher.com
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Solid Common Sense 16 Feb 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I believe Mr. Sandor's (pronounced SHAHN-dor, BTW) book to be the best book on piano technique out there. It's a bit pricey, but worth it.
Mr. Sandor was a student of Bartok and is an award-winning concert pianist. I'm a physician with an engineering background, and I can tell you that Mr. Sandor also has an exceptional understanding of the piano mechanism and of the dynamics of the human body, *and* is a very clear writer. He explains not only the proper physical technique to get the sounds you want, but also explains from a musical standpoint what sound you should be striving for and why, as well as including many useful tidbits along the way, such as the proper timing of grace notes.
Mr. Sandor explains why many of the popular (and painful!) techniques and exercises are not only unnecessary, but harmful both physically and musically. Mr. Sandor himself is the best testimony to the validity of his methods. I had the privilege of hearing him play at age 89, and of hearing his remarkable sound unfettered by a long lifetime of wear and tear on his joints and muscles.
This book would be of most benefit to a budding professional classical pianist, serious young student, or professional piano pedagogue, but is also very helpful to a not-very-good amateur such as myself.
All in all, a very solid, sensible work.
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for healthy, efficient piano technique 5 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This remarkable book is perhaps the most outstanding written resource available to pianists pursuing efficient, effective, pain-free technique
on their instrument. In a little over 200 pages, Sandor provides an exceptionally thorough and readable analysis of piano technique with ample
diagrams, photographs, and musical samples. At every turn he displays a detailed understanding of human physiology and the means to use it
to produce musical effect without excess strain,
effort, or injury. Very impressive, very accessible, it's a "must-read".
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Exceptionally useful book on efficient technique 19 May 2004
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an exceptionally useful book on piano playing. Mr. Sandor is himself a virtuoso and has helped many gifted pianists develop virtuoso technique over the years. The writing in the book is simple and clear. The book is organized quite logically.
The book is in three parts. The first discusses the facts of the piano mechanism and what can and can't be done at the piano. Mr. Sandor also discusses the physiology of the parts of the human body that go into piano playing from the fingers through the back (and the feet for the pedals). What I like about his descriptions is his emphasis on coordinating the various elements without strain, pressure, or awkwardness.
The second part introduces Mr. Sandor's own notation for marking up scores in relation to technique (which I found surprisingly helpful in understanding his concepts). He also introduces the various means of playing. Some people like what he says here, some reject this or that. What I like most is his way of helping the pianist gain the maximum ability to play the piano by getting out of his own way. Mr. Sandor simplifies things so you don't waste time trying to do things from awkward positions or through impossibly contradictory methods. You will find this skill common to all great instructors trying to teach students. So much can be gained by just being coordinated and efficient. But what seems simple after the instruction was hopelessly obscure before the master showed you the simple way.
The third part of the book is about taking these techniques and applying them in making music. The author addresses how to recognize when to use the various patterns - how to combine them. He discusses pedals, practicing, memorization, and performance tips. He is always so supportive of the student. For example, in memorization, he discusses that this is a legacy of Liszt and that many wonderful pianists use the open score in performance and it is quite often used in making recordings. He also says that simply because you might have a memory slip does not indicate that you don't know the piece. It is a human frailty to get distracted and that you should simply get back to it and work a little more without becoming discouraged.
Really, I enjoyed this book quite a bit and found some things that are helping me and I think you will be able to find things that will help you.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Useful 18 Jun 2006
By Scott D. Scheule - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've implemented a few of the tips I read in here, and--to me at least--it sounds like my tone has already improved. I can't comment on the more advanced technique advice now, but it sounded rational enough.

Two complaints: one, some of the diagrams at the beginning of the book are confusing. Two, I'm not sure how accurate Sandor's explanation of the learning mechanism is--he goes through the roles of the subconcious, conscious, and unconscious mind, or some such. I was suspicious, but it may be right for all I know. At any rate, it's a minor part of the book, and it erroneous, the falsity may well still be useful.

Sandor thinks that relaxation isn't the key nor is tension, but rather--which sounds quite rational--a mix of the two. He believes many exercises and pianists are misguided in their preaching strengthening the fingers: Sandor argues that there's no need for this, when the upper arms have near limitless energy that simply needs to be tapped.

Coordination is the key. Sandor provides various exercises to improve this, technique by technique: rotation, scales and arpeggios, free fall, thrust, and later chapters touch on various topics.

Myriad musical examples (Sandor believes in using the literature to improve, not various etudes, which teach destructive repetitive mechanics) are provided, mostly Romantics, some Bach. A lot of Chopin, and the Waldstein Sonata again and again.

It's concise, it's approachable, and certainly seems useful. Sandor is clear in his favored technique, and makes it known quite well how to pick it up yourself. His opinions are honest and forthright, his examples usually meticulously remarked upon, and the goals vividly described.

At a brief 200 pages, few pianists have an excuse not to read this book.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Excellent guide to piano technique 28 Sep 2002
By Robert Badger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an organist. Nevertheless, I found this book profoundly helpful in developing a good keyboard technique. While it won't help the organist with pedalling (you would have to consult Gleason on that one!), it will help you develop a solid and flawless keyboard technique. The organist must base his or her organ technique on a good piano technique. Even though the fingering is slightly different from the piano to the organ, much can be gained from Sandor. I would highly reccommend this book to any organist or pianist. It is a good, common sense guide to piano technique. Gone are Hanon and Czerny!
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