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The Craft of Piano Playing: A New Approach to Piano Technique, 2nd Edition Paperback – 29 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (29 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810877139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810877139
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.9 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 894,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

Fraser supplements this second edition of his book (1st ed., CH, Dec'03, 41-2081) with a companion DVD (which must be purchased separately, from Maple Grove Music Productions). Not simply a minor expansion, this work shows Fraser's continued progress in perfecting and illustrating the physical skills necessary to play the piano with ease and comfort. The basic layout of the volume is the same: 3 large parts, 15 sections, 72 chapters, plus various appendixes--all to be used as a whole or in part. The author expands the book by including more illustrations, by providing the musical examples that are demonstrated on the DVD, and by adding some additional subchapters. It is obvious that Fraser is continually exploring the mysteries of piano performance, applying the new realizations to his own playing and teaching, and sharing these refinements with his readers. The DVD (produced in 2006) is made up of small illustrative chapters of each idea, with Fraser demonstrating and talking to the viewer as if he or she is in a lesson with him. The DVD is necessary to understand the written instructions and must be viewed as the reader progresses through each part. Inclusive music collections supporting study of the piano will want this book. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. CHOICE

About the Author

After studying piano with Phil Cohen and Tom Plaunt in Montreal, Canadian pianist Alan Fraser completed his professional training in the Feldenkrais Method before moving to Yugoslavia in 1990 to collaborate with Kemal Gekic in the development of a new approach to piano technique. Author of several books and a DVD on the subject, Fraser maintains an active Feldenkrais practice and piano teaching position in Novi Sad, Serbia, as well as continuing to concertize and lead workshops worldwide.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alaksiej Nieścieraŭ on 1 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Fraser likes to talk, but that's just about that. His book is very thick, but through out the book I only see some eclectic facts from "fashionable" non-piano related spheres. Yet, it doesn't create a strict methology by following which you get a guaranteed result.

If you're a beginner like myself, don't waste your time and (significant) money on this book. Buy Leschetizky method and use its bibliography to move further. Trust me, that book is only 80 pages, but you see a comprehensive methology to follow, strictly described exercices by doing which you can see a result within a week (like I do).

The language of Mr. Fraser is vague and non-technical (which by reading the foreword seems is evident to the author himself, yet he proceeds with publishing the book?). It took me a lot of effort to get through the first 50 pages (despite my high motivation and all my spare time dedicated to the piano), just because I hate talks not about the subject itself, but what the author has heard somewhere. For example, once he suggests "to feel the ground like a Buddhist monk when walking on rice paper". What does this ever has to do with playing the piano? To feel the ground like a monk I should first become a Buddhist monk, and I'm not sure Mr. Fraser really understands what he is talking about here himself.

And this book is like this in every aspect. Poor eclectic retranslation, not direct knowledge! And it has even bitten the author himself. He is plain about that: "In the first edition I encourage the cultivation of ulnar deviation; now I don't dismiss it completely but do discuss its inherent structural weakness and the advantages of reducing ulnar deviation to empower the hand.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Finally a theoretically and practically sound approach 13 Aug 2005
By Alvin Chan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a piano player from Hong Kong who was attracted to world of classical music, yet start learning piano at an old age. (15, which is normally considered too old for a good technique) Having drawn to different schools and still having no improvement for 4 years, I somehow gave up playing piano. At that time, I can hardly technically manage to play Mozart's sonata, not to say my favourite Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov, etc. I have to say my hands are commented by many as suitable for playing piano, stretching a 11th. But they just don't work for me. From my various failed attempts, I somehow learnt to recognize what is useless for me. I read many books on techniques written by some of the greatest masters, as well as conversations with great pianists like Horowitz, but still find these completely useless, at least completely useless for improving technique which they are supposed to discuss. There is a book which discuss application of Alexander technique on piano technique which I find quite insightful, but again throughout the whole book of hundreds pages, I find very few practical advice: most of the materials is theory which sound very well but I cannot implement on my hands.

Until I saw the homepage of Alan Fraser then I know I can resume playing piano. I just keep improving after I got the book. Obstacles and problems for many years are solved one after one. I am not qualified to describe his method, just go to the homepage of the author for the philosophy behind

[...]

Just a word of warning for some potential readers: this book, while highly practical, is not an easy reading. And it is not an ABC piano playing book. The author aims to tackle technical problems on classical pieces like Lizst, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, which you will heard in a piano concert. It is for those who want to improve their technique in the long run, not for those who want to start playing piano. While the author explains everything fully, there is always a danger of underestimating the depth or do not understand at all of what the author wrote, particularly for those who are quite new to piano. But if you really understand what he means and follow completely and carefully (the exercise require your full attention and self-awareness)his exercisesm you can CERTAINLY expect a breakthrough in your technique!! (unlike other book on piano playing which ultimate rely on luck and the so-called "talent"--just as if you didn't read them)
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Insightful view into the mechanics of finger activation 24 Jun 2004
By Stephen Gamboa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Alan Fraser's book, which reveals the relation of good, legato-based, piano playing to Tai'Chi walking, offers an excellent insight into the art of "activating" the fingers. This technique, in which the fingers are strengthened and trained to function properly, relieves the arm of undue tension, and allows the pianist to produce a greater variety of tone and dynamics.
After purchasing this book and trying some of the exercises, which, by the way, are a little on the uncomfortable side if one's hand is not trained properly, I did notice a change in the way I played. My tone was meatier, and I had more control over articulation, dynamics, and color. Some of the exercises may have brought a little discomfort, but after practicing them for a period of time, the soreness disappeared and I could feel my hand and fingers participating correctly in my playing mechanism.
This book offers many valuable insights into playing piano and the real use of the hand and fingers. If you think you need it: buy it! If you don't: buy it! It will tell you if what you are doing is right or not. Also, the book gets an A+ in terms of understandability---Fraser will not leave you in the dark! Everything is explained fully, and the concepts overlap often. Altogether an excellent and incredibly informative book!
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Unique and valuable 11 Nov 2005
By Jim Curry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many people just love music, and I do, too. While I have practiced pretty diligently since childhood, I've always been a very poor pianist. Last year, it was so bad that two guests at my house asked me very strenuously to play (seeing the pianos in the room). My playing was so abominable that they had to ask me to stop only a few measures in (I warned them). So, loving music isn't enough. My hands and arms have not been habituated to movement in the sensitive and economical way that is capable of producing acceptable tone. Although I have usually lived in a remote site, I have had a couple of good teachers (for short periods of time). They helped me only a little. I have had some extremely nasty and impatient teachers (very harsh people). They didn't help. This book gives clear and accessible instructions of how to use the hands and arms appropriately to produce tones at the piano that I had not known it could produce. It gives good clues of how an actual legato can be obtained on the piano. For those of us who are totally out of the game of music, this represents real hope that we might eventually enjoy making real music, too, and not simply torturing ourselves and our listeners with endless incompetent and ugly "practice." I know of no other book anywhere that gives sufficiently clear and anatomically oriented instructions that an anti-musician like myself might benefit, too. If the author had the goal of allowing those of us in the cheapest seats to enjoy making music, too, it's the best effort I've seen. Thanks so much. Well done. I needed it, and so did the poor unfortunates who ask me to play once too often!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Piano technique perfectly and patiently explained by Alan Fraser 25 Dec 2007
By Zuhair Bakdoud - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read several books on piano technique written by extremely well-known authors in the field. However, compared with the book by Alan Fraser, these mentioned books are practically of no value. They tell you what you should do, but they do not explain (1) the mechanisms of these actions and (2) how you apply these mechanisms.

Our body consists of fingers, hands, arms, torso, etc., but one has to know how to apply these components of our body, in order play the piano. And that is what Alan Fraser accomplishes in his book: He gives you scientifically correct physical excercises to enable you to do what needs to be done. And these excercises work!!!

I am infinitely grateful to Mr. Fraser for taking the trouble to write this magnificent book. His incredibly keen, analytical, mind breaks down piano playing into its physical components.

However, I would love to see added to the book clear, simple, line drawings of the LUMBRICAL muscles, the INTEROSSEUS muscles, the thenar and hypothenar muscles, in order to enable the non-anatomically trained reader to understand how the fingers are moved.

Zuhair Bakdoud, M.D.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Best on the market 29 Nov 2008
By Jeremy W. Boggess - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having scoured the internet for piano books of all types, this is far and away the best technique book on the market. It is NOT for beginners or even lower intermediate, it is for those who know how to play well, but need to tune up their technique. Even though I have been playing for 20 years, I found within a month I was able to improve my playing by about 15% and up to 30% in some specific areas. If you get this, get both the book and video as they complement each other well, but if you need to pick just one, the book goes into much more detail.
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