Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Glenn Saves Me from Pischna

Pischna (peesh nuh) n. A set of sadistic finger exercises designed to destroy an amateur pianist's self-esteem.

I am addressing my fingers. Trying to be reasonable with them. Giving them a good shaking to rid them of tension and hostility. Cracking the knuckles to re-align them. They are ignoring me. In fact, they are doing whatever the hell they want because I am imposing Pischna on them.
Pischna purports to train your fingers to be independent so that you have reasonable hope of playing Bach in a reasonable way.

However, my fingers take a different view. They are stubbornly, furiously insistent on working in tandem. If the ring finger moves, the baby finger wants to come along, like a tag-along younger sibling. I play the two required bars in a slow and tortuous tempo (say, M.M. = 20). I start to fester about the next key change. How many sharps and flats in the next one? Or, to my peabrain, is the next note black or white?

After ten minutes of chromatically crawling my way through a dozen key signatures, my fingers look like claws. They give a new dimension to rigidity and stab at the keys. Help, help, what to do?

I conjure up Dr. Gould on You-Tube. Viewing any of the myriad, close-up footage of Glenn Gould's playing reveals the long, liquidy digits fairly dancing over the keys, much like the fancy footwork of professional figure skaters and ballerinas. He is positively frolicking. I am watching someone at play.

Then I remember. I am taking piano lessons again for recreation. Am I having fun yet?
Okay, then, I shall re-create.

In my hands, Pischna has never sounded quite so different. I like to think that Glenn might approve, if not in practice, then certainly in theory.


1 comment:

  1. Very charming, Notemaker...VERY charming!! I always love your postings.