Canadian pianist Alan Fraser is best known for his writings on piano technique: The Craft of Piano Playing (also in DVD), Honing the Pianistic Self-Image, and All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique all shed new light on the relationship between body organization and musicianship at the keyboard. Fraser is active as a teacher on both sides of the Atlantic, with branches of the Alan Fraser Piano Institute in Canada, the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Fraser’s teaching enriches your sound and increases your virtuosity while eliminating the risk of injury before it ever arises. Building on the strengths of earlier schools, he has synthesized threads from many disparate and sometimes contradictory approaches to deepen his understanding of the complex physical, mental and emotional processes of artful piano playing.
Fraser’s analysis of the the innate structure and function of the human hand unlocks its power, replacing tension or over-relaxation with effective hand activation – it’s not so much about the hand’s shape or position as how it moves.
You may feel too stiff or too weak, your arm may feel too involved in your playing or not enough – whatever seems lacking in your technique, Fraser can see exactly where a new effort can bring your body and hand into better alignment, making your piano tone blossom with new richness and subtlety, and increasing your sense of power and agility.
Fraser has drawn on
- his early association with pioneer pianist and psychologist Phil Cohen, creator of the Leonardo Project
- extensive inquiries into both Tai Chi and Feldenkrais Method
- a 25-year collaboration with the Croatian virtuoso Kemal Gekic
to develop his transformative approach now known as Craft of Piano Method.
The Craft of Piano Playing
Initially designed to help top-flight pianists add a further dimension of virtuosity and expressivity to their technique, his first book, The Craft of Piano Playing (also in DVD) has proved popular with pianists of all ages and abilities – its principles hearken back to movement patterns common to us all. Read more. A Revised 2nd Edition of Craft was published by Scarecrow Press in 2011.
Honing the Pianistic Self-Image
Fraser’s second volume, Honing the Pianistic Self-Image: Skeletal-Based Piano Technique (2010) leads the hand to a new, sophisticated state – unstable equilibrium – to gain an even finer control over the piano’s colours and emotions, and shows how the whole body in unstable equilibrium offers crucial support to the hand on the keyboard.
His third volume is dedicated almost entirely to that most quirky of digits, the thumb. All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique (2012) offers 52 new Awareness Through Movement lessons for the hand and body, the better to integrate all the disparate parts into a harmonious, well-functioning whole. It also features a special in-depth study of arm weight technique.
The Alan Fraser Piano Institute
2011 saw the inauguration of the Alan Fraser Piano Institute at Smith College, Northampton Massachusetts. 11 active participants plus numerous observers gathered for a week of intensive lessons, lectures and group Feldenkrais Method sessions all led by Alan Fraser. This first event was so successful that a Western division was created the same summer in Salt Lake City, followed by Institutes many other locations both in North America and Europe in subsequent years – visit the site for more information.
The Alan Fraser Institute has always maintained the formula of its initial success: there are no assistant teachers; every participant has direct contact with Professor Fraser himself.
Concertizing, writing, studying
Fraser also maintains an active concert and writing schedule, and finds time for the occasional Blog entry and answers to questions raised on his Forum. He is currently preparing several new publications:
- Kiddie Craft, a series of exercises for young pianists based on The Craft of Piano Playing
- Community Craft, a collection of pertinent posts and replies from his Forum
- Transforming the Pianistic Self-Image: Biotensegrity at the Keyboard, documenting the latest developments in his work with Phil Cohen & Kemal Gekic
- The 24 Chopin Etudes: A New Look, with detailed exercises for each etude and musical analyses showing why each particular exercise is suggested, and
- Skeletal Wisdom: Body & Mind Reunited in the Feldenkrais Method - The Inner Workings of Human Learning - a book about the Feldenkrais Method.
Online Store: Maple Grove Music Productions
For All Your Piano Technique Needs: Piano Technique.net
The Official Site of Craft of Piano Method: Craft of Piano.com
Complete Library of Alan Fraser Lesson Videos: Piano Technique.org