Alan Fraser Teaching Videos

This first series of lessons features Novi Sad pianist Maya Repich, who served as the ‘guinea pig’ in several chapters of The Craft of Piano Playing DVD.

Maya #1: Structural function related to piano sound #1

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Maya Repich: Hand Structure & Function in the Debussy Preludes

Fraser and Maya take up the theme they first touched upon when she appeared in The Craft of Piano Playing, expanding on the idea of taking a relatively stable, firm hand structure and increasing its moveability to make it more useful. Differentiation of exactly where in the system it’s most effective to feel an effort that activates rather than binds.

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In this next video watch how Fraser, by simply placing his hands on Maya’s back, evokes a change in her whole body organization… and the resulting effect on her sound…

Maya #2: Structural function related to piano sound #2

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Maya Repich: Mozart Sonata in C major K. 330 – 15 xi 2008

Fraser writes, “I noticed that at certain moments, to be ‘expressive’ Maya would very slightly overarch her back. Instead of telling her this verbally, I decided to ‘speak to her with my hands’ by simply placing them at specific points on her back so she could begin to sense what she was doing. (see from 2:00-9:05) She quickly resolves the tensions in her torso; you can see her whole demeanour change. She becomes more seriously involved with what she’s doing, more present… and magically the sound changes too, warming up and gaining in poetic eloquence – the soul of the Landowska Steinway starts to find its full expression…” The lesson following the playthrough begins at 10:45…

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In this third clip of Maya, at 1:30 notice how she still puts her hand on key exactly as she did in the film. Old reflexes die hard! The camera is in close-up for the entire lesson, giving an exceptionally precise look at the physical techniques involved.

Maya #3: A detailed exploration of skeletal piano technique

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Maya Repich plays Mozart K.330 3rd mvt, Debussy Feux d’artifices

In this return to the Mozart several months later, Fraser applies some Functional Integration techniques to intensify Maya’s sense of her own skeleton and how the muscles can let go to move it with a new quality. Lesson given in Novi Sad on April 13 2009. Debussy segment begins at 24:25

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Now we shift to Novi Sad composer/pianist Julia Bal, a former student of Kemal Gekic and later on of Jokuth Mihailovich who had been Gekic’s teacher.

Julia #1: Pedalling, orchestration, rhythmic security, and maintaining hand arch function in extension

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Composer/Pianist Julia Bal: A Lesson on Her Own Transcriptions

Julia had this lesson in Novi Sad, 29 x 2008, in preparation for the 2009 IBLA Grand Prize Competition where she won first prize. Fraser has fun telling telling Julia things like “the composer wrote staccato here, why don’t you do it?” but actually makes an important point: often composers hear it in their head so well that they fail to actualize the articulations and colours in reality!
0:00 – Granados/Bal: Asturianas Getting more skeletal to achieve real clarity…
24:30 – Shchedrin/Bal: The Bumblebee Curing the thumb of co-dependence to gain control of the melodic line, orchestrating slower moving melodies to sound stronger than the fast notes…
43:05 – Tansman: Sonatina This was an especially rich investigation of how really great orchestration brings a composition to life – and how the hand needs to be organized to achieve it.

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Julia #2: Piano sound/pedalling & structural function

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A Lesson with Julia Bal on the Alexander Tansman Sonatina

Fraser catches Julia’s hand in an old pattern right at the beginning, and investigates how the sound and feel of the Landowska Steinway can stimulate the hand to new inner activity, a sense of air and physical fullness that makes stifling the instrument a thing of the past.

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Julia #3: Differentiating the functions of arm, wrist, hand and finger

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Julia Bal Plays Villa-Lobos/Bal 12 Etudes for Guitar

Julia’s ‘pianistic self-image is of a flattened hand. The flat hand is entirely normal for her, so developing a set of physical differentiations evoked a profound evolution in her piano sound and musical articulation. The lesson cultivates a potent, “air-inflated’ hand arch and shows just what you gain when you really differentiate the functions of arm, wrist, hand and finger.

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Finger-hand rolling to skeletalize’ the hand

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Reiko Miyazaki finger rolling skeletal therapy variation

This is an excerpt from a lesson Fraser gave to a harpsichordist who suffered from severe tendonitis. She could literally not play one note without pain. This exercise gives her neuromotor system the experience of finger flexion with none of the associated effort or pain. It was a crucial starting point for her subsequent rapid improvement.

For many more Alan Fraser teaching videos visit www.pianotechnique.net

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