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  1. What about Technique ?
  2. The method of Franz Liszt
  3. What a Good Technique achieves
  4. Outline of the Piano Technique Course
  5. For Absolute Beginners

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PT 1 - What about Technique ?

The very word technique (or 'method') suggests a cold, mechanical and rather unmusical activity. Some students regard technique as something that can only stifle their creativity, and use this as a convenient excuse to ignore this aspect completely.   The opposite is of course true. A poor instrumental technique will restrict your creative potential enormously.

Technique is just a label. Behind it hides one of the most intimate relationships a musician can ever have.

When a student comes face to face with his instrument for the first time the two meet as complete strangers.
The immediate objective is to get to know each other and to start building a winning team. But in order to come together change is required.

piano01.gif 1 - Each instrument has its unique soul and temperament (perhaps reflecting that of it's original maker ?). However an instrument does not have a mind or a living body, and therefore can not change its ways.

2 - It is therefore up to the student to change. This change is achieved through the practice and development of a good finger technique.

3 - As your technique practice progresses you gradually become a different person. Certain muscles will grow, new coordination skills and thought processes will develop and your attitude towards your instrument and towards music in general will change substantially.

4 - Steadily you move closer to the ideal point, where the piano and you become one united being through which you express yourself with a unique, personal musical voice.

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PT 2 - The method of Franz Liszt

piano/pianot02.gif Franz Liszt is widely regarded as the founder of play technique for the modern piano instrument.
Liszt himself studied with the legendary teacher Carl Czerny, who in turn was a student of Beethoven. They represent a musical 'bloodline' through which piano technique expertise was passed on in time.

Franz Liszt spent part of his earlier life in Paris where he had a great influence.   His piano technique method lives on in that city today through two of the world's leading piano teachers, Yvonne Loriod (widow of the composer Olivier Messiaen) and Germaine Mounier.

My own teacher, Dr. Graham Williams, was taught by both these ladies when he studied at the Paris Conservatoire and the Ecole Normale de Music in Paris.

The Jazclass Piano Technique Course is an extension of the modern Liszt method.
It incorporates :

  1. Graham Williams' instructions as published in our jointly written book Scales & Arpeggios for the Jazz Pianist, and my six years of piano study with him.

  2. A uniqe analysis of the anatomy of the hand as it applies to the finger motion on the piano.
    Its conclusion is easy to grasp and stunningly revealing as to how you should play the piano.
    (To my knowledge this is not explained in any other textbook or course available.)
    Insight into this vital aspect will boost your motivation to practise, and will be the guiding principle in developing a correct finger technique.

  3. A series of technique exercises written for this Course - and detailed instruction on how to play them - to develop a superior finger technique. They are similar to exercises by Liszt, Czerny, Poisot, Clementi, etc., but feature Jazz oriented harmonies. References for additional famous classical material are also included.

Be aware : the best exercises in the world are only effective if you play them correctly!
(I learned this myself the hard way many years ago when I wasted 2 years of valuable practice time.)

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PT 3 - What a Good Technique achieves

A good piano technique will :

  1. produce a crystal clear, focussed, resonant sound
    Most piano players push the keys down. This produces either a crude blunt sound or a rather weak and thin tone.
    Good pianists use the gravity force from the weight of their fingers, hand and arm. This produces (on the acoustic piano) an enormous difference in resonance and overall tone quality, often not realised by the novice student.

  2. enable cleanly articulated even flowing passages at any speed
    Nothing sounds laboured, muffled or irregular. All notes can be heard individually, but at the same time are fluently strung together in an apparently effortless manner.

  3. avoid repetitive strain injury (rsi)
    The tendons of the flexor digitorium muscles move through the carpal tunnel under the wrist.
    Poor technique relies heavily on these muscles and often causes inflammation of the carpal tunnel and other muscle damage.

Development of instrumental technique is a life-long process, but provided you are on the right track you will always continue to improve. This Course can place you firmly on that track.

  • A relative beginner will have developed a good technical foundation after about 3 years of practice.

  • A more experienced player will have confidently converted to this professional technique within about one year of practice.
Oscar Peterson is a good example of a famous Jazz pianist with an outstanding technique (learned in Paris). Other well known Jazz pianists who studied in Paris include John Lewis and of course Jacques Loussier.

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PT 4 - Course Outline

The Piano Technique Course is available as Dowlnoad or on CD, suitable for both PC and Macintosh computers.   Simply copy and paste the 'Piano Technique' folder from the CD onto your computer, open the access file in the folder with your web browser (without going online), and all lessons are at your fingertips.

The Piano Technique Course assumes that you have some basic music reading skills and are playing or studying the piano already (from 1 year up to perhaps a lifetime).

It is recommended that you practise on an acoustic piano, or (second best) an electric keyboard with weighted keys. This will enable proper development of essential playing muscles.

The first two lessons present an easy to understand clear concept of what a good piano technique i

The following lessons deal with all essential types of exercises to develop a good technique. They explain what to practise and how to practice and also include audio demos (midi files) for every exercise in the Course.

The Course contains a Practice Folder (to print out) with 75 pages of scales, chords, exercises and songs. Also included are a choice of daily practice schedules and a long term program to guide your progress in an organised manner.

The Lesson topics are :

  • Introduction

  • Lesson 1 - Concept

  • Lesson 2 - Anatomy

  • Lesson 3 - Warm up Exercise

  • Lesson 4 - Scale Practice 1

  • Lesson 5 - Scale Practice 2
  • Lesson 6 - Fixed Hand Position Exercises

  • Lesson 7 - Fluency Exercises

  • Lesson 8 - Arpeggios

  • Lesson 9 - Digital Patterns

  • Lesson 10 - Chords

  • Songs

There are Play-along midi file tracks for all songs, a Logbook to record your progress, and a Subject Index for quick reference. The Piano Technique package also includes complimentary copies of the Rhythm Class, In Focus and Learn to read Music   You can purchase the Piano Technique course HERE.

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PT 5 - For Absolute Beginners


This Course assumes that you have some basic music reading skills and are playing the piano already (from 1 year up to perhaps a lifetime).

If you are an absolute beginner I recommend you start the first six months with a basic beginners course such as John Brimhall's Young Adult Piano Course - Book 1 and Book 2 (Publ. Warner Bros.) or similar.

These combine the very first piano exercises, reading music and some simple chord playing.

You can include aspects of the Piano Technique Course, starting with the warm up exercise from the first day of your practice. Other elements of the course can be gradually introduced over the following 6 months.
If you require further help : just ask me.


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