Alan Fraser’s approach enriches your sound, increases your virtuosity, and eliminates the risk of injury before it ever arises. He builds on the strengths of earlier schools of piano technique, taking the best aspects from many disparate and sometimes contradictory approaches to synthesize a new, deeper understanding of the complex physical, mental and emotional processes of masterful piano playing.
The common thread linking it all is the innate structure and function of the human hand: returning to this potent source helps you replace tension or over-relaxation with effective hand activation – focusing not so much on the hand’s position as how it moves.
In teaching his eagle eye (and ear) zeroes in on the weak points of your technique, whether it be stiffness, or phlegmatism, or too much or too little involvement of your arm… and he shows you exactly where a new effort is needed to bring your body and hand into alignment, making your piano tone blossom with new richness and subtlety.
Concertizing, teaching, writing, ‘sketching’
Fraser plays recitals and runs workshops throughout Europe and North America putting into practice the themes from his several books on piano technique. He continues to gather new material for future publications, and doesn’t practice piano so much as ‘sketch’ versions of future performances.
Fraser has drawn on
- his early association with pioneer pianist and psychologist Phil Cohen, creator of the Leonardo Project
- deep 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
He first presented this approach in detail with his book and DVD, The Craft of Piano Playing. Initially designed to help top-flight pianists add a further dimension of virtuosity and expressivity to their technique, The Craft of Piano Playing 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 The Craft of Piano Playing was published by Scarecrow Press in 2011.
Honing the Pianistic Self-Image
In 2010 Fraser published a second volume, Honing the Pianistic Self-Image: Skeletal-Based Piano Technique, which leads the hand to a new, sophisticated state – unstable equilibrium – to gain an even finer control over the piano’s colours and emotions, and also shows how a similar state in the whole body offers crucial support to the empowered hand on the keyboard.
In 2012 his third volume appeared, dedicated almost entirely to that most quirky of digits, the thumb. All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique 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.
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. The Alan Fraser Institute has no assistants and offers every student direct contact with Professor Fraser.
This first event was so successful that a Western division was immediately created in Salt Lake City; the inaugural session taking place over Labor Day weekend 2011. The Institutes have expanded over the years to more locations both in North America and Europe – visit the site for more information.
Alan Fraser maintains an active concert and teaching schedule, finds time to write the occasional Blog entry and address questions raised on his Forum, and is currently writing 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; and a fourth volume on piano technique highlighting the latest developments in his work with Phil Cohen, called Phil’s World: The Mindful Hand at the Piano.
We hope you’ll take time to browse the site: poke around a little, take a look at Alan’s compositions, the family photo album, and read some sample lesson and lecture outlines…