Piano Professional (EPTA UK) Jan 2004


The Craft of Piano Playing, Alan Fraser

The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4591-1, £26.95

‘All serious piano students should acquire this book.”

There are almost as many books on piano technique as there are pianists and each claims to have all the answers to problems encountered by other pianists. Always fascinated by the magical and emotionally stirring performances of  Horowitz, with his economy of movement and seemingly flat fingers, Alan Fraser has spent many years on his quest to  discover the how and the why of producing these sounds at the keyboard. The Craft of Piano Playing takes us through a comprehensive range of highly original exercises covering many aspects of technique including thumb push-ups, tremolando octaves, forefinger arc swings, feather stroke, double notes, internal finger activity – to name a few of the graphic and illustrated examples that really do work.

Highly original exercises covering every aspect of piano technique

Finger legato is likened to T’ai Chi walking as a direct result of his study of this discipline and his extensive training as a Feldenkrais practitioner brings deep insight into the minimal but effective use of body movement that is needed to accomplish these exercises. The recurring leitmotif of the book is that ‘strengthening the fingers and their bridge (i.e. the knuckles) by improving their alignment, will open up a new world of pianistic sound and brilliance’, for Fraser firmly believes that harshness of sound does not come from playing too loud but from poor finger/hand organization. Organize your hand properly and you can make a piano do virtually anything. Orchestrating the sound is another topic that is discussed at length, alongside detailed lessons on specific passages from  advanced repertoire, which, apart from being most helpful, are accompanied by highly entertaining personal anecdotes.

A well-devised, carefully structured book on piano technique

All teachers and advanced piano students should acquire this book, which is well-devised, carefully structured, laced with humour and, although lengthy in style, resonates throughout with Fraser’s thinking: we need more exuberance, colour and life in our playing.

Nadia Lasserson


Piano Professional Magazine Book Review of The Craft of Piano Playing, January 2004 (.pdf)

The Craft of Piano Playing

Alan Fraser

The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4591-1, £26.95

There are almost as many books on piano technique as there are pianists and each claims to have all the answers to problems encountered by other pianists. Always fascinated by the magical and emotionally stirring performances of Horowitz, with his economy of movement and seemingly flat fingers, Alan Fraser has spent many years on his quest to discover the how and the why of producing these sounds at the keyboard. The Craft of Piano Playing takes us through a comprehensive range of highly original exercises covering many aspects of technique including thumb push-ups, tremolando octaves, forefinger arc swings, feather stroke, double notes, internal finger activity – to name a few of the graphic and illustrated examples that really do work.

Finger legato is likened to T’ai Chi walking as a direct result of his study of this discipline and his extensive training as a Feldenkrais practitioner brings deep insight into the minimal but effective use of body movement that is needed to accomplish these exercises. The recurring leitmotif of the book is that ‘strengthening the fingers and their bridge (i.e. the knuckles) by improving their alignment, will open up a new world of pianistic sound and brilliance’, for Fraser firmly believes that harshness of sound does not come from playing too loud but from poor finger/hand organization. Organize your hand properly and you can make a piano do virtually anything. Orchestrating the sound is another topic that is discussed at length, alongside detailed lessons on specific passages from advanced repertoire, which, apart from being most helpful, are accompanied by highly entertaining personal anecdotes.

All teachers and advanced piano students should acquire this book, which is well-devised, carefully structured, laced with humour and, although lengthy in style, resonates throughout with Fraser’s thinking: we need more exuberance, colour and life in our playing.

Nadia Lasserson