Do speed and volume alone constitute great piano playing?
Where do you stand on the athletic/artistic spectrum? Piano Somatics, the art of conscious movement at the piano, helps you improve both.
Piano Somatics: for more fluency, more speed at the piano . . . a bigger, more varied sound
Piano Somatics: to better execute your musical ideas. . . to play with more feeling
Piano Somatics: to resolve stage fright, injury, and awkwardness in playing
Based on new discoveries in neurophysiology, Piano Somatics addresses all these issues, weeding out hidden contradictions in the way piano has been taught down through the ages, resolving them easily, practically and intelligently.
The piano is amazingly sensitive to your internal state. It feels you, feels how you move. How it responds in sound is a precise reflection of your inner world. When you map the musical structure onto the movements of piano playing – when your physical gesture is a direct reflection of your musical intention – you have entered the realm of Embodied Piano Performance.
• Increase your agility, power, ease and sensitivity
• Play with more colour, more emotion and more character
• Eliminate performance anxiety: play with more confidence
• Eliminate injury: be free from RSI, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, dystonia etc.
• Improve instrumental and vocal performance as well as piano
But how does Piano Somatics address theses problems of modern-day technique?
We all possess weight – but how many of us are conscious of using it in daily actions? Nobody "feels the leg weight" to take a step – it makes no sense. At the piano, "sensing the arm weight" can similarly complicate things if we don't get it just right. Straightforward movements can become ponderous and awkward.
If you find yourself caught between tension and relaxation, feeling the weight may not be enough to resolve the impasse. Moving the fingers, hands and arms at the piano is first and foremost an action. When the finger joins to the key, moving it instead of just dropping into it, the hand, arm and body all help the finger establish relationship to the key. Nothing perturbs that relationship when there is no drop, no fall, no dead weight – there is no disconnect between you and your instrument.
• The legs' standing action establishes the body's antigravity relationship to the ground.
• The fingers' playing action establishes the arm's antigravity relationship to the key.
By all means, sense your arm's weight, but use that sensitivity to move as we humans move in space – in relationship with gravity, not in its thrall. Avail yourself of all your wonderful capacity for movement. Use gravity to your purpose; don't become its victim.
All pianists, no matter what their level or background, can gain by improving this fundamental relationship to their instrument. Do these ideas resonate with you? Then welcome to Piano Somatics!
For the past 40 years, Alan Fraser has been clarifying these ideas that grow out of the Feldenkrais Method and the teachings of his two master mentors, Phil Cohen and Kemal Gekic. New insights into the hand's innate structure and function, new brain research into the role of movement in learning, and Fraser's extensive concert and teaching experience have all helped him develop Piano Somatics, an approach both sophisticated and eminently practical, both effective and easy to apply.
Moshe Feldenrais said, "If you know what you're doing, you can do what you want." Many of us have the ideal phrase clearly in our imagination, our musical conception clearly mapped out in our minds... but what if we could address the nagging question of how, if we could resolve the hidden physical disconnect hindering the full expression of our musicality?
This is the crux of Piano Somatics – attention to the physical improves the musical. Every refinement in physical organization leads to greater command over one's music-making at the piano.
• Purchasing one of Alan's seminal books on piano technique
• Scheduling a lesson with Alan
• Attending an institute — pick a venue from the menu above.
• Browsing his sample teaching videos
• Reading more about the institute
Here's what some of Fraser's students have to say about the teaching:
“Alan Fraser is a wonderful, unique and truly dedicated teacher. His understanding of the functioning of the whole body in piano playing is exceptional and has helped me a lot. In fact I believe any pianist could benefit from working with him.”
Rafael Lipstein, Zurich
“Alan worked with me for several years in my student days. Under his guidance I developed pianistically and artistically; without him I would not be where I am today.”
Misha Dacic, Madrid
“I learned much from Alan Fraser, an artist, musician and pianist of the first rank.”
Kemal Gekić, Miami
“Alan Fraser transformed my sound, my technique, and my musicianship. He raised my playing to competition level.”
Élodie Chech, Paris
“Alan made my hand more capable, allowing me to shape musical structures more individually and expressively. He gave me a fully orchestral palette of sounds, and brought depth of character and emotion to my playing.”
Lili Bogdanova, Berlin
“I am just an amateur, but Alan still gave me the full scope of his attention, and brought my playing to a level I hadn't thought possible. I feel confident and for the first time can play in front of other people.”
Bill Hutchison, Pennsylvania
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The Institute's mission statement.
Become a Certified Embodied Piano Practitioner.
Extensive data base of Alan Fraser teaching videos