The following notes lay no claim to completeness; they simply present, in general, the rudiments of my system. A complete insight into my mode of treatment of pianoforte playing could be gained, after all, only through my personal instruction. My method has brought about a style of execution which differs greatly from the usual piano playing. This method is based upon careful observation and is, I think, perfectly natural; but the way in which I have made use of these principles, and have arranged them into a system, is, according to my experience, the shortest, if not the only way, to develop completely the musical talents of a pupil and to enable him to use the greatest power of expression in his renderings. Doubtless it is only the intelligent and talented pupil who will be able fully to realize and to make complete use of the illimitable possibilities of developing technique and interpretative ability.
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The following notes lay no claim to completeness; they simply present, in general, the rudiments of my system. A complete insight into my mode of treatment of pianoforte playing could be gained, after all, only through my personal instruction. My method has brought about a style of execution which differs greatly from the usual piano playing. This method is based upon careful observation and is, I think, perfectly natural; but the way in which I have made use of these principles, and have arranged them into a system, is, according to my experience, the shortest, if not the only way, to develop completely the musical talents of a pupil and to enable him to use the greatest power of expression in his renderings.
Doubtless it is only the intelligent and talented pupil who will be able fully to realize and to make complete use of the illimitable possibilities of developing technique and interpretative ability. But my method, with small individual variations, can be generally used; and if rightly understood, it will bring the greatest benefit to every pupil, if he understands how to go to work.
Talented pupils obtain results which they would not have thought possible. If I call my manner of instruction a method, I am perfectly aware that I lay myself open to attack, of which, however, I take no notice! My discussions shall not have a polemic character but shall bring forth to general knowledge only what I have recognized, in my long years of practical experience, to be right.
The following instructions are not intended for beginners, only for pianists who already have had experience as concert pianists or music teachers, or far-developed, serious-working dilettantes.
The chief point in which my method of teaching differs from that of others, and one of the most important bases upon which it is built, is the training of the ear. Most pianists have not the faculty of hearing themselves correctly. They are accustomed to notice the character of the scales and eventually to recognize wrongly touched tones.
But this is not at all sufficient, if one wishes to play perfectly according to our modern ideas. For the pianist the noticing of the exact tone pitch is, so to say, only secondary when compared with the noticing of the exact tone quality, tone duration and tone strength.
Through the minute observation of these tonal properties, the whole performance acquires an entirely different clearness and more definite character.
In all its separate phases the variable performance will move through a sphere of subtle expression which permits the following of each change and the renouncing of the employment of overly strong dynamic or rhythmical changes. Nor must one hope to gain this faculty in a day.
By seemingly pedantically "polishing up" certain parts of a composition, to which but small attention has been given by former masters, a surprising perfection in the rendering of this work can be attained, and thus the pupil will be helped to recognize the true character of the piece of music in question. He will quickly discover the many possibilities of improving himself; his long studies will not become irksome to him; nor will he lose interest in his work.
An indispensable necessity, when training the ear, is an accurate knowledge of the piece of music to be studied. It is essential, therefore, before beginning with the practice of the piece, to visualize the same, whereupon, if this has been done thoroughly, we shall be able to play it correctly from memory. To be capable of doing this in a short time, the memory must be specially trained by means of reflection systematic logical thinking.
It is curious that the method of visualization is not fully and universally utilized. To all my pupils, many of them highly intelligent and talented, and taught by well-known musical instructors, this method has been an absolute novelty. The correct manner of training the memory by means of visualization will be discussed later, but now let us give our attention to Gieseking, who, among all pianists, probably has the largest repertoire and in this many of the most complicated modern compositions.
He, however, does not impress these upon his memory which is looked upon by all musicians as phenomenal by playing them over on the piano, but by visualizing them through silent reading.
By further development of this idea, one acquires the ability even to prepare the technical execution through visualization, so that, without studying at the instrument itself, the piece can be perfectly performed and this in a most astonishingly short time. By many this is thought to be impossible, but in fact it has been done not only by Gieseking but also by other pupils of this method.
To avoid misunderstanding it might be mentioned that, with the exception of pieces to be publicly performed, specially instructive exercises, and Bach compositions, I do not consider it necessary for the pupil to commit to memory every piece he studies. Musical instructors, who must themselves have an extensive knowledge of musical literature, should not advise always playing from memory.
The brain, however, should be uninterruptedly trained to memorize short phrases. The teacher should insist upon beginners, and even children, learning to play from memory at least one or two measures in every lesson. Such training will bear good fruit! Good results can be, of course, often obtained without doing so; but they cannot be compared to those arrived at by mental study as described above.
In order to attain a natural manner of playing the piano, that is to say, with the least possible strain and exertion, it is of the utmost importance to learn to exert the muscles consciously, and, what is of still greater importance, to relax them consciously. My manner of accomplishing this differs from that of many other pedagogues. I contrive to raise a feeling of relaxation from within, as it were.
This is generally attempted by the aid of visible movements. All superfluous movements are injurious. The aim should be the very least possible strain of the muscles when playing the piano. I then draw away my hand, and the arm must drop down as if dead.
In this manner a feeling for relaxing the muscles can be obtained. The hand has, when one is walking, normally a slight bend; that is, the fingers are slightly curved inwards, which never tires the muscles; whereas the outstretching or continuous greater bending of the fingers somewhat exerts, strains and tires the muscles, The natural position of the hand with relaxed muscles, as is the case when we walk, should be the principal one when playing the piano.
When playing, the fingers should be, for the most part, slightly curved, and a pressing through breaking down of the knuckle joints should be avoided as far as possible. The player should sit well forward on the chair, without a support for the back. The upper part of the body should incline slightly forward; the upper arm, bent forward, should hang loosely from the shoulder joint: The seat should be high enough to allow the lifted lower arm to be on a level with the keyboard.
Another important point, in which my playing differs from that usually seen, consists in the elimination of all unnecessary movements. Repose and the avoiding of all unnecessary movements are absolutely necessary, when one intends to play in a decided manner. Any uneasiness endangers not only the tone which is just struck, but also the following ones.
See the next page. The first thing we have to do is to visualize the note-picture, so that the exercise can be written from memory. Measure seven is like measure three with the third included. In the first measure a quarter note C is followed by a quarter rest; and in the second, third and fourth measures the quarter notes on E, G and C are followed by corresponding quarter rests.
Measures five to eight are the same for the left hand as the first four measures. With the help of visualization, these eight measures can therefore be played easily, without music; that is, after careful reading without notes.
Walter Gieseking/Karl Leimer : Piano Technique
Career[ edit ] Born in Lyon , France, the son of a German doctor and lepidopterist , Gieseking first started playing the piano at the age of four, but without formal instruction. His family travelled frequently and he was privately educated. From to early , he studied at the Hanover Conservatory. There his mentor was the director Karl Leimer , with whom he later co-authored a piano method. He made his first appearance as a concert pianist in , but was conscripted in and spent the remainder of World War I as a regimental bandsman.
Following are instructions on natural interpretation, with consideration of touch, relaxation, and proper emphasis in the practice. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. Last one Free shipping. Gieseking, Walter ; Leimer, Karl. Share your thoughts with other customers. From Mozart to the Present. The Harriette Brower Interviews.