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Playing Piano for Pleasure

Playing Piano for Pleasure [Kindle Edition]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Skyhorse Publishing is proud to revive Playing Piano for Pleasure. With the wonderful writing one would expect from a longtime New Yorker reporter, Piano aficionado Charles Cooke, offers concrete routines for improving your piano performance. A pleasant and constant cheerleader, Cooke asks readers to practice every day, suggesting that they work through just that section time and again until it is perfect. In addition to his own thoughts, Cooke includes material from his interviews with master pianists, artists, and writers. The result is a book that should be cherished for years to come.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4748 KB
  • Print Length: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (1 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006TE7WN4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,940 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very practical 12 Jun 2013
By Tom Nor
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a practical guide to improving classical playing for amateurs which is interesting despite its age (written in the 1940s). For me the most useful things were the very good ideas on practicing scales (much more than just the boring straight scales that you will get with ABRSM and Trinity even at Grade 8), the chapter on playing cross-rhythms (e.g. 3 against 2), and the detailed advice on how to improve difficult passages, and memorise whole works. There is a good repertoire guide as well. I have read a number of books on improving piano technique and this is among the more helpful. I made a mistake and got the e-book on my Kindle which is not very well transcribed with quite a few typos, the hard copy is probably a better bet.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Aspiring Pianist 27 July 2011
By Dinucci
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have always admired people who can play the piano and had decided that when I retired I would make the effort to try to learn. Not really having any idea how to go about this I started looking around for help. The best help came serendipitously in a book Simple Pleasures: Little Things That Make Life Worth Living. John Julius Norwich mentioned the book in his essay, The Aspiring Pianist, and described how it had rekindled his own enthusiasm. Having read the book I can say that if its author, Charles Cooke, had written about his love of climbing Everest I would have rushed out and bought some crampons in preparation. The book is witty and entertaining and sets out in a believable fashion the steps needed for even the rankest beginner to make progress, and take pleasure in, playing the piano for pleasure. Now, where have I put my daughter's keyboard?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Encourages me to try harder. 21 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite an absorbing book. Hard to imagine how a book can address how an amateur might improve his or her technique and yet I think this one might. I liked the treatment of fractures where for a few bars might screw up the whole piece and discourage the faint hearted like me. I also found his section on polyrythmic bars encouraging. Well worth the effort
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful 21 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by Alan Rusbridger in his book "Play it Again, An Amateur Against The Impossible". It is very down to earth and full of advice on the discipline and method of practising which can be somewhat onerous.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars most practical piano book I know, and most fun 2 July 2011
By Anne Mahoney - Published on
Cooke tells you how to practice, what to practice, and why. The book is aimed at the serious amateur, perhaps an adult returning to the piano after some years' absence. Cooke's suggestions have led me to the best reference on scale fingerings (by James Cooke, no relation to this author), Brahms's wonderful exercises (not for beginners), and various bits of repertory to play with. I've structured my practice sessions on Cooke's model for years. If you want to be a professional pianist this is still worth reading, but it's not really for you; find a teacher you trust and stick with that. If on the other hand you've got a day job and are playing the piano as a hobby, with perhaps occasional performances or whatever, this book actually is all you need, with or without taking formal lessons. Highly, highly recommended.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute gem of a book! 19 Jun 2011
By M. Cosenza - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by a professional writer (The New Yorker) who interviewed many of the great pianists in his day and an avid amateur pianist himself, the late Mr. Cooke's book speaks in volumes to the amateur pianist. During his interviews with some of the great pianists he learned and shares many wonderful concepts to use in our daily practice sessions. This book was out of print from an original printing in the 1940's. It should be a classic for every player, especially those who get frustrated with their playing and need hope of becoming a wonderful player themselves. I found this book to be an inspirational page turner, enjoy this gem, it's great!
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise for the "Cookbook" 26 Mar 2012
By Wayne D. Johnson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read "Playing the Piano for Pleasure" more than 45 years ago when I was a college piano major. It was recommended by my professor who affectionately referred to it as the "Cookbook." I have held onto my tattered paperback copy for all these years since it has evidently been out of print for a very long time. Needless to say, I was delighted to find that it is now available again, and for my Kindle as well! This book is a treasure for anyone who has been drawn into the joys of music-making at the piano. It was written for serious amateurs who love classical piano music, but it contains such practical and sage advice that now I recommend it to my own college students. The author's tips on how to practice effectively and efficiently make it worth the price alone since so many would-be pianists end up wasting a great deal of time and effort on pointless practice procedures and are never able to truly conquor a difficult piece. Every page of Mr. Cooke's book offers suggestions worth taking--except for his advice to occasionally take a break and smoke a cigarette! (Of course, one has to remember that this book first came out in 1960...) If one studies and follows the advice in this book along with help from a good teacher and practices piano regularly for only one hour each day, it is truly amazing what an enviable repertoire can be learned over the course of several years. Countless people all over the world have discovered that playing the piano is a rewarding, life-long pleasure and definitely one worth pursuing. I highly recommend this book for students, teachers, and performers for those who are serious about learning to play.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure Trove for the Amateur Pianist 2 Jun 2012
By R. Tobias - Published on
Probably the best thing that I can say about this book is that it revolutionized my piano playing. There are many valuable tips in this book, but for me the heart of the book is his emphasis on building up a repertoire of pieces and keeping them under your fingers by methodically replaying them. To paraphrase a statement from the book, "the saddest statement is that I USED to play that piece." With Cook's insightful and logical approach you can both learn new pieces AND keep them in your active repertoire. Of the myriad of practical tips, to me the one that defines the book is his emphasis on picking pieces that are challenging, but doable for the serious amateur. The central idea, I think, is his emphasis on carefully identifying the most challenging sections of the piece you are working on and marking them off as "fractures" to be given special attention. By practicing over and over again at a slow tempo the fractures in your piece, you can 'own' pieces that are far more difficult technically than if you simply practice by playing whole pieces over and over. And his view is that by practicing only 1 hr/day EVERY day, you can make remarkable progress over time. The overall tone of the book is very warm, personal, humorous and enthusiastic. The author was a journalist by trade and an amateur pianist, so his tips have the ring of authenticity and practicality. Over the course of his career he interviewed many famous pianists of the mid-twentieth century and the myriad of tips he gleaned from them have all found their way into this book. His approach is quite flexible and adaptable on points such as how much emphasis (if any) to put on technical studies. The stories he tells, which revolve around his passionate quest to find a practice piano no matter where his job took him, are heartwarming. I own many excellent books on various aspects of piano playing, but this by far has been the most valuable to me. A real treasure trove of priceless pearls for amateur pianists!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some wonderful tips for practise 5 Nov 2012
By deepest - Published on
This book is geared to amateur serious piano players with pretty good theory knowledge, who are playing for a while, although some tips will be useful even for beginners. One of these tips is hard passage(or how author calls it- fracture)practise. First play the whole piece, and mark the hard places with a few notes before and after to put it in the context. If the whole piece feels like hard places, then this piece is too hard for your level, and should be put away for later. Then author goes into the detail about how to practise fractures-he himself played them 25 times a day. Overall, he assumes, amateur will practise about 1 hour each day, and recommends to spend about 40 minutes playing pieces, 10 - improving technique, and 10 sight reading. 10 minutes might seem very little, but as author points out-it becomes 60 hours a year!
The book also gives suggestions for classical pieces to play(and you will see, that he loves Chopin...:))in groups of increasing difficulty.
There is a chapter about memorizing the piece, with suggestions for memory aids.Author recommends to mark all the aids on the score, so if you come to piece later, you can quickly remember them.
One chapter is devoted to technique -lots of examples and recommendations as to what exercises and books to use - some of them can still be bought. He doesn't recommend Czerny, because "we are looking for ways to warm, not chill, our music making."
There is a short chapter on sight reading -basically analyze the piece before playing it, and then just play anything you can find, while keeping the beat, even if notes are suffering a bit as a result.
Then he takes several classical pieces and study them in depth.
The last chapter is about polyrhythm - as when one hand plays 2 notes while other plays 3 and other harder combinations. Author gives several methods to try.
So the book is definetely a gem, and worth reading. I wish it would have had more basic topics as to how to practise one hand staccato with other playing legato, pedaling, etc. But it seems like his book is not meant for beginners, so he leaves out these basic things.
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