La Lettre du Musicien (France) Jan. 2007

The Craft of Piano Playing, a DVD by Alan Fraser

In 8 chapters, a piano technique DVD that teaches how to place the hand,
how to work the fingers, the arm… all in the most natural way.

Of Canadian origin, Alan Fraser completed his musical studies in Montreal, where he worked notably with Phil Cohen, a student of Yvonne Hubert, herself a student of Alfred Cortot. “I’m the pianistic great-grandson of Cortot,” he loves to say. Based on the book of the same name still not translated into French (Scarecrow Press, Maryland), this DVD is a graphic representation of the technical approach Fraser espouses.

A synthesis of the best approaches in piano pedagogy – a real basis for one’s “school”

As he warns us at the start, a beginner should not attempt on his own the very natural gestures recommended here, but first try them under the guidance of a teacher. However, amateurs and teachers alike will find here a highly interesting and useful tool that could well become the basis of their ‘school.’ The proposed method is in effect a synthesis of the best pedagogical techniques concerning hand position (of which he teaches us its structure and function), the fingers, the arm…

The very complete DVD is structured in 8 chapters with ‘’The Arches of the Hand’ and ‘Maximal Finger Action’ sandwiching sections on ‘Legato,’ ‘The Thumb,’ ‘Octaves & Chords,’ ‘Rotation,’ etc. These chapters are themselves divided in very short, concise sequences to which one may easily refer.

Alan Fraser explains the gestures to be practiced and gives examples at the piano, showing what one should and should not do. All this is illustrated with archival extracts of the great pianists in concert where you can see, among others, the arch structure of Arthur Rubinstein’s hand, the octave work of Gyorgy Cziffra, Claudio Arrau’s use of arm weight…

A piano technique DVD useful to all – based on fundamental principles of movement

As it is, the DVD is useful not only to pianists but to all instrumentalists searching for a better understanding of the hand and arm. And it must be said that it can even help non-musicians who use their hands in their professional activities – for example computer operators who suffer from tendonitis – because at the heart of this DVD (issued in several languages including French) lie the fundamental principles of movement of the hand and arm.