... a series of books chronicling the approach to piano technique that Alan Fraser first titled Craft of Piano Method and now calls Piano Kinematics - the science and art of movement at the piano.
The Craft of Piano Playing: A New Approach to Piano Technique is the fruit of over 25 years' research by Alan Fraser, combining his training in the Feldenkrais Method with his long time studies under Phil Cohen (the Moshe Feldenkrais of the piano world) and Kemal Gekic, one of the top virtuosi on the world stage.
Fraser examines the structure and function of the human hand to unlock its innate potency. Analysing how we do what we do at the keyboard, he clarifies enigmas that have challenged pianists for generations, showing how many common keyboard movements are counterproductive. When these 'movement anomalies' are resolved, astonishing sonorities can be produced - and when this physical approach is linked to musical and performance issues, there's a flowering of new artistry.
Use this book to improve your playing, and also to add a new dimension to your teaching.
Editions in English,
Honing the Pianistic Self-Image: Skeletal-Based Piano Technique moves the hand from the foundational security of its innate structure and function to a new, sophisticated state – unstable equilibrium – to gain even finer control over the colours and emotions produced at the piano.
The hand's unstable equilibrium is also related to a similar state in the body, establishing an harmonious relationship to the field of gravity that offers a crucial support to the empowered hand on the keyboard.
Honing is about musicianship as well – 'physical' chapters are balanced out by those dealing with specifically musical issues, where Fraser links the idea of skeletality to rhythm, phrasing, harmonic colour and orchestration. Although Honing was written as a sequel to The Craft of Piano Playing, it stands well on its own and can be used effectively without prior exposure to Fraser's earlier work.
Editions in English and French
All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique explores the hand's most fascinating and misunderstood digit. Never before has the thumb, one of the most neglected parts of the pianist's hand, received such a complete makeover. Its role is fleshed out, and a brilliant series of exercises is provided to bring its full potential to bear on ones technique.
Fraser shows how empowering the thumb leads to a similar empowerment of the fingers, hand, arm and shoulder. The sensorial re-education offered the thumb allows it to work more completely - its metacarpal bone learns to take part in all its actions.
Arm weight technique is also addressed in more detail than ever before, with a discriminating evaluation of its potential pitfalls as well as a paean to the glories of its best incarnations. As always, the physical is linked to the musical, with applications to both easy and more complex excerpts from the repertoire.
Written as a sequel to Honing, this book does stand well on its own.
Play the Piano with Your Whole Self: Differentiation and Integration in Piano Technique takes the hand
back to its 'infancy.' All humans crept and crawled for a year before standing and walking, but a pianist's hand is made to walk from day one. Returning the hand to pre-standing, pre-walking, pre-running and pre-leaping allows for new motor skills to be developed through a new series of pianistic sensory education exercises.
A return to the more delicate, more incisive touch of harpsichord technique helps the finger 'get inside' the key instead of impinging upon it - leading to a power more subtle and sophisticated than the usual muscular piano power. Moving from inside the key improves the kinematic chain, the linkage of one bone to another through the entire skeletal frame that keeps the system continuously vital.
Biotensegrity is another key concept lacing Whole Self. More than suppleness, elasticity is a potent state possessing immense power waiting to be unleashed.
This most far-reaching and transformative of Fraser's works on piano technique to date follows All Thumbs, but like the others in this series, stands well on its own.
English Edition soon to be published by Oxford University Press
Transforming the Pianistic Self-Image: Piano Kinematics in Theory & Practice continues the integrative slant of Whole Self, re-evaluating the Taubman rotation approach, the arm weight approach, the Russian pressure approach, and other standard approaches in piano technique.
Rhythm takes pride of place, and new ways of integrating a skeletal physical approach with rhythm - music's skeleton - are explored.
Fraser aims to create a new esthetic in piano performance based on freeing the self from the constraints of arm weight technique. Key to this is disciplining the wrist, which, though free, must minimize its movement to maximize the efficient transmission of forces through the kinematic chain. These adjustments are often minute, but can lead to an astonishing sonic and artistic transformation.
Fraser's work, as always, grows out of his experiences with Kemal Gekic, Phil Cohen, his Tai Chi teacher Sam Slutsky and the Feldenkrais Method of neuromotor re-education. This book forms an organic unity with its companion volumes, and can be taken as well on its own terms.
English Edition to be published by Oxford University Press in 2018
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