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Full text of "Piano playing : with Piano questions answered"

FACULTY Presented to the 

of M t J S T r~" Facult y of Music Library 

v ^* ^^^^^^^m y 




F. Gordon Stanley 



UNIVERSITY 
OF TORONTO 



J 



PIANO PLAYING 

WITH 

PIANO QUESTIONS 

ANSWERED 



m 



y 



| 1 



ij 



Josef Hofmann 



PIANO PLAYING 

WITH 

PIANO QUESTIONS 

ANSWERED 

BY 

JOSEF HOFMANN 




PHILADELPHIA 

THEODORE PRESSER CO. 
1920 



PIANO PLAYING 



A LITTLE BOOK OF SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS 



BY 
JOSEF HOFMANN 




ILLUSTRATED 



PHILADELPHIA 

THEODORE PRESSER CO. 
1920 



UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
FACULTY OF 
LIBRARY 



Copyright, 1907, by The Curtis Publishing Company 

Copyright, 1908, by Doubleday, Page & Co. 

Copyright, 1920, by Theo. Presser Co. 

PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. 




TO MY DEAR FRIEND 
CONSTANTIN VON STERNBERG 



CONTENTS 

PACK 

A FOEEWOED yj| 

THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYEB 3 

GENERAL RULES J9 

COEEECT TOUCH AND TECHNIO 34 

THE USE OF THE PEDAL 41 

PLAYING "!N STYLE" 49 

How RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT ME TO PLAY 57 

INDISPENSABLES IN PIANISTIC SUCCESS 70 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Josef Hofmcmn Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAQK 

The Position of the Hand 20 

Incorrect Way to Play an Octave 28 

Correct Way to Play an Octave 28 

Incorrect Position of the Little Finger 36 

Correct Position of the Little Finger 36 

Incorrect Position of Thumb 38 

Correct Position of Thumb 38 

Incorrect Position of the Feet 42 
Correct Position of the Feet, on the Pedal 42 

Anton Rubinstein 57 

How Rubinstein Taught Me to Play 60 



L 



A FOREWORD 

THIS little book purposes to present a 
general view of artistic piano-playing 
and to offer to young students the re- 
sults of such observations as I have made in 
the years of my own studies, as well as of the 
experiences which my public activity has 
brought me. 

It is, of course, only the concrete, the ma- 
terial side of piano-playing that can be dealt 
with here that part of it which aims to repro- 
duce in tones what is plainly stated in the 
printed lines of a composition. The other, very 
much subtler part of piano-playing, draws 
upon and, indeed, depends upon imagination, 
refinement of sensibility, and spiritual vision, 
and endeavours to convey to an audience what 
the composer has, consciously or unconsciously, 
hidden between the lines. That almost entirely 
psychic side of piano-playing eludes treatment 
in literary form and must, therefore, not be 

vii 



A FOREWORD 

looked for in this little volume. It may not be 
amiss, however, to dwell a moment upon these 
elusive matters of aesthetics and conception, 
though it be only to show how far apart they 
are from technic. 

When the material part, the technic, has 
been completely acquired by the piano student, 
he will see a limitless vista opening up before 
him, disclosing the vast field of artistic inter- 
pretation. In this field the work is largely of 
an analytical nature and requires that intelli- 
gence, spirit, and sentiment, supported by 
knowledge and aesthetic perception, form a 
felicitous union to produce results of value and 
dignity. It is in this field that the student must 
learn to perceive the invisible something which 
unifies the seemingly separate notes, groups, 
periods, sections, and parts into an organic 
whole. The spiritual eye for this invisible some- 
thing is what musicians have in mind when 
they speak of " reading between the lines " 
which is at once the most fascinating and most 
difficult task of the interpretative artist; for, 
it is just between the lines where, in literature 
as in music, the soul of a work of art lies hid- 

viii 



A FOREWORD 

den. To play its notes, even to play them cor- 
rectly, is still very far from doing justice to 
the life and soul of an artistic composition. 

I should like to reiterate at this point two 
words which I used in the second paragraph: 
the words " consciously or unconsciously." A 
brief comment upon this alternative may lead 
to observations which may throw a light 
upon the matter of reading between the lines, 
especially as I am rather strongly inclining 
toward the belief in the " unconscious " side of 
the alternative. 

I believe that every composer of talent (not 
to speak of genius) in his moments of creative 
fever has given birth to thoughts, ideas, de- 
signs that lay altogether beyond the reach of 
his conscious will and control. In speaking of 
the products of such periods we have hit upon 
exactly the right word when we say that the 
composer " has surpassed himself." For, in say- 
ing this we recognise that the act of surpassing 
one's self precludes the control of the self. A 
critical, sober overseeing of one's work during 
the period of creation is unthinkable, for it is 
the fancy and the imagination that carries one 

ix 



A FOREWORD 

on and on, will-lessly, driftingly, until the to- 
tality of the tonal apparition is completed and 
mentally as well as physically absorbed. 

Now, inasmuch as the composer's conscious 
will takes little or no part in the creating of the 
work, it seems to follow that he is not, neces- 
sarily, an absolute authority as to the " only 
correct way" of rendering it. Pedantic adher- 
ence to the composer's own conception is, to my 
mind, not an unassailable maxim. The com- 
poser's way of rendering his composition may 
not be free from certain predilections, biases, 
mannerisms, and his rendition may also suffer 
from a paucity of pianistic experience. It 
seems, therefore, that to do justice to the work 
itself is of far greater importance than a sla- 
vish adherence to the composer's conception. 

Now, to discover what it is, intellectually or 
emotionally, that hides itself between the lines ; 
how to conceive and how to interpret it that 
must ever rest with the reproductive artist, 
provided that he possesses not only the spir- 
itual vision which entitles him to an individual 
conception, but also the technical skill to ex- 
press what this individual conception (aided by 



A FOREWORD 

imagination and analysis) has whispered to 
him. Taking these two conditions for granted, 
his interpretations however punctiliously he 
adhere to the text will and must be a reflex 
of his breeding, education, temperament, dis- 
position ; in short, of all the faculties and quali- 
ties that go to make up his personality. And 
as these personal qualities differ between 
players, their interpretations must, necessarily, 
differ in the same measure. 

In some respects the performance of a piece 
of music resembles the reading of a book aloud 
to some one. If a book should be read to us by 
a person who does not understand it, would 
it impress us as true, convincing, or even cred- 
ible? Can a dull person, by reading them to us, 
convey bright thoughts intelligibly? Even if 
such a person were drilled to read with out- 
ward correctness that of which he cannot 
fathom the meaning, the reading could not 
seriously engage our attention, because the 
reader's want of understanding would be sure 
to effect a lack of interest in us. Whatever is 
said to an audience, be the speech literary or 
musical, must be a free and individual expres- 

xi 



A FOREWORD 

sion, governed only by general aesthetic laws 
or rules; it must be free to be artistic, and it 
must be individual to have vital force. Tradi- 
tional conceptions of works of art are " canned 
goods," unless the individual happens to con- 
cur with the traditional conception, which, at 
best, is very rarely the case and does not speak 
well for the mental calibre of the easily con- 
tented treader of the beaten path. 

We know how precious a thing is freedom. 
But in modern times it is not only precious, 
it is also costly; it is based upon certain posses- 
sions. This holds as good in life as in art. To 
move comfortably with freedom in life requires 
money; freedom in art requires a sovereign 
mastery of technic. The pianist's artistic bank- 
account upon which he can draw at any mo- 
ment is his technic. We do not gauge him by 
it as an artist, to be sure, but rather by the use 
he makes of it; just as we respect the wealthy 
according to the way in which they use their 
money. And as there are wealthy people that 
are vulgar, so there may be pianists who, de- 
spite the greatest technic, are not artists. Still, 
while money is to a gentleman perhaps no 

xii 



A FOREWORD 

more than a rather agreeable adjunct, technic 
is to the pianist's equipment an indispensable 
necessity. 

To assist young students in acquiring this 
necessity, the following articles were written 
for The Ladies 3 Home Journal, and for this 
form I have gone over them and corrected and 
amplified. I sincerely hope that they will 
help my young colleagues to become free as 
piano-playing musicians first, and that this, in 
its turn and with the help of good fortune in 
their career, will bring them the means to make 
them equally free in their daily life. 

JOSEF HOFMANN. 



xni 



PIANO PLAYING 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

THE first requisite for one who wishes 
to become a musicianly and artistic 
pianist is a precise knowledge of the 
possibilities and limitations of the piano as an 
instrument. Having properly recognised them 
both, having thus staked off a stretch of 
ground for his activity, he must explore it to 
discover all the resources for tonal expres- 
sion that are hidden within its pale. With 
these resources, however, he must be contented. 
He must, above all, never strive to rival the 
orchestra. For there is no necessity to attempt 
anything so foolish and so futile, since the 
gamut of expressions inherent to the piano is 
quite extensive enough to vouchsafe artistic re- 
sults of the very highest order, provided, of 
course, that this gamut is used in an artistic 
manner. 



8 



PIANO PLAYING 

THE PIANO AND THE ORCHESTRA 

From one point of view the piano can claim 
to be the equal of the orchestra ; namely, in so 
far as it is no less than the orchestra the 
exponent of a specific branch of music which, 
complete by itself, reposes upon a literature 
exclusively its own and of a type so distin- 
guished that only the orchestra can claim to 
possess its peer. The great superiority of the 
literature of the piano over that of any other 
single instrument has, to my knowledge, never 
been disputed. I think it is equally certain that 
the piano grants to its players a greater free- 
dom of expression than any other instrument; 
greater in certain respects than even the 
orchestra, and very much greater than the or- 
gan, which, after all, lacks the intimate, per- 
sonal element of " touch " and the immediate- 
ness of its variegated results. 

In dynamic and colouristic qualities, on the 

other hand, the piano cannot bear comparison 

with the orchestra; for in these qualities it is 

very limited indeed. The prudent player will 

)not go beyond these limits. The utmost that 

4 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

the pianist can achieve in the way of colour 
may be likened to what the painters call 
" monochrome." For in reality the piano, like 
any other instrument, has only one colour; but 
the artistic player can subdivide the colour into 
an infinite number and variety of shades. The 
virtue of a specific charm, too, attaches as much 
to the piano as to other instruments, though, 
perhaps, in a lesser degree of sensuousness than 
to some others. Is it because of this lesser sen- 
suous charm that the art of the piano is consid- 
ered the chastest of all instruments? I am 
rather inclined to think that it is, partly at 
least, due to this chastity that it " wears " best, 
that we can listen longer to a piano than to 
other instruments, and that this chastity may 
have had a reflex action upon the character of 
its unparagoned literature. 

For this literature, though, we have to thank 
the pianists themselves, or, speaking more pre- 
cisely, we are indebted to the circumstance that 
the piano is the only single instrument capable 
of conveying the complete entity of a composi- 
tion. That melody, bass, harmony, figuration, 
polyphony, and the most intricate contrapun- 

5 



PIANO PLAYING 

tal devices can by skilful hands be ren- 
dered simultaneously and (to all intents and 
purposes) completely on the piano has prob- 
ably been the inducement which persuaded the 
great masters of music to choose it as their fa- 
vourite instrument. 

It may be mentioned at this point that the 
piano did not have the effect of impairing the 
orchestration of the great composers as some 
musical wiseacres assert from time to time 
for they have written just as fine works for a 
variety of other instruments, not to speak of 
their symphonies. Thus has, for instance, the 
most substantial part of the violin literature 
been contributed by piano-players (Bach, Mo- 
zart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruch, 
Saint- Saens, Tschaikowski, and many others) . 
As to the literature of the orchestra, it came 
almost exclusively from those masters whose 
only, or chief est, medium of musical utterance 
was the piano. Highly organised natures, as 
they were, they liked to dress their thoughts, 
sometimes, in the colour splendour of the or- 
chestra. Looking at the depth of their piano 
works, however, at their sterling merit, at their 

6 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

poetry, I feel that even a refined musical na- 
ture may find lifelong contentment in the 
piano despite its limitations if, as I said be- 
fore, the artist keeps within its boundaries and 
commands its possibilities. For it is, after all, 
not so very little that the piano has to offer. 
It is both governed and manipulated by one 
and the same mind and person; its mechanism 
is so fine and yet so simple as to make its tone 
response quite as direct as that of any other 
stringed instrument; it admits of the thor- 
oughly personal element of touch; it requires 
no auxiliary instruments (for even in the Con- 
certo the orchestra is not a mere accompanist 
but an equal partner, as the name " Concerto " 
implies) ; its limitations are not as bad as those 
of some other instruments or of the voice; it 
outweighs these limitations very fairly by the 
vast wealth of its dynamic and touch varieties. 
Considering all these and many other points of 
merit, I think that a musician may be pretty 
well satisfied with being a pianist. His realm 
is in more than one respect smaller than that 
of the conductor, to be sure, but on the other 
hand the conductor loses many lovely moments 

7 



PIANO PLACING 

of sweet intimacy which are granted to the 
pianist when, world-oblivious and alone with 
his instrument he can commune with his in- 
nermost and best self. Consecrated moments, 
these, which he would exchange with no musi- 
cian of any other type and which wealth can 
neither buy nor power compel. 

THE PIANO AND THE PLAYER 

Music makers are, like the rest of mankind, 
not free from sin. On the whole, however, I 
think that the transgressions of pianists against 
the canons of art are less grave and less 
frequent than those of other music makers; 
perhaps, because they are usually better 
grounded as musicians than are singers and 
such players of other instruments as the public 
places on a par with the pianists I have in 
mind. But, while their sins may be less in num- 
ber and gravity let it be well understood that 
the pianists are no saints. Alas, no! It is rather 
strange, though, that their worst misdeeds are 
induced by that very virtue of the piano of re- 
quiring no auxiliary instruments, of being in- 
dependent. If it were not so; if the pianist 

8 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

were compelled always to play in company 
with other musicians, these other players might 
at times differ with him as to conception, 
tempo, etc., and their views and wishes should 
have to be reckoned with, for the sake of both 
equilibrium and sweet peace. 

Left entirely to himself, however, as the 
pianist usually is in his performances, he some- 
times yields to a tendency to move altogether 
too freely, to forget the deference due to the 
composition and its creator, and to allow his 
much-beloved " individuality " to glitter with 
a false and presumptuous brightness. Such a 
pianist does not only fail in his mission as an 
interpreter but he also misjudges the possibili- 
ties of the piano. He will, for instance, try to 
produce six forte-s when the piano has not 
more than three to give, all told, except at a 
sacrifice of its dignity and its specific charm. 

The extremest contrasts, the greatest forte 
and the finest piano, are given factors deter- 
mined by the individual piano, by the player's 
skill of touch, and by the acoustic properties of 
the hall. These given factors the pianist must 
bear in mind, as well as the limitations of the 

9 



PIANO PLAYING 

piano as to colour, if he means to keep clear 
of dilettanteism and charlatanry. A nice ap- 
preciation of the realm over which he rules, as 
to its boundaries and possibilities, must be the 
supreme endeavour of every sovereign hence 
also of every sovereign musician. 

Now, I hear it so often said of this and that 
pianist that " he plays with so much feeling " 
that I cannot help wondering if he does not, 
sometimes at least, play with ff so much feel- 
ing " where it is not in the least called for and 
where ff so much feeling " constitutes a decided 
trespass against the aesthetic boundaries of the 
composition. My apprehension is usually well 
founded, for the pianist that plays everything 
" with so much feeling " is an artist in name 
only, but in reality a sentimentalist, if not a 
vulgar sensationalist or a ranter upon the key- 
board. What sane pianist would, for instance, 
attempt to play a cantilena with the same ap- 
pealing sensuousness as the most mediocre 
'cellist can do with the greatest ease? Yet many 
pianists attempt it; but since they are fully 
aware that they can never attain such ends by 
legitimate, artistic means, they make either the 

10 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

accompaniment or the rhythm, if not the 
phrasing, bear the brunt of their palpable dilet- 
tanteism. Of such illusory endeavours I cannot 
warn too strongly, for they are bound to de- 
stroy the organic relation of the melody to its 
auxiliaries and to change the musical " physi- 
ognomy " of a piece into a " grimace." Thte 
fault reveals that the pianist's spirit of adven- 
ture is too willing, but the flesh of the fin- 
gers and their technic too weak. 

The artistic and the dilettantic manners of 
expression must be sharply differentiated. 
They differ, principally, as follows: the artist 
knows and feels how far the responsiveness of 
his instrument, at any particular part of his 
piece, will allow him to go without violating 
aesthetics, and without stepping outside of the 
nature of his instrument. He shapes his rendi- 
tion of the piece accordingly and practises wise 
economy in the use of force and in the display 
of feeling. As to feeling, per se f it is the ripe 
product of a multitude of aesthetic processes 
which the moment creates and develops; but 
the artist will keep this product from assert- 
ing itself until he has complied with every re- 

11 



PIANO PLAYING 

quirement of artistic workmanship ; until he 
has, so to speak, provided a cleanly covered 
and fully set table upon which these matters of 
" feeling " appear as finishing, decorative 
touches, say, as flowers. 

The dilettante, on the other hand, does not 
consume any time by thinking and planning; 
he simply " goes for " his piece and, without 
bothering about workmanship or squirming 
around it as best he may, he rambles off into 
" feeling," which in his case consists of 
naught but vague, formless, aimless, and purely 
sensuous sentimentality. His accompaniment 
drowns the melody, his rhythm goes on a sym- 
pathetic strike, dynamic and other artistic 
properties become hysterical; no matter, he 
" feels "! He builds a house in which the cellar 
is under the roof and the garret in the base- 
ment. 

Let it be said in extenuation of such a player 
that he is not always and seldom wholly to 
blame for his wrong-doing. Very of ten he strays 
from the path of musical rectitude because of 
his misplaced trust in the judgment of others, 
which causes him to accept and follow advice 

12 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

in good faith, instead of duly considering its 
source. For, under certain conditions, the ad- 
vice of even a connoisseur may be wrong. 
Many professional and well-equipped critics, 
for instance, fall into the bad habit of expect- 
ing that a pianist should tell all he knows in 
every piece he plays, whether the piano does of 
does not furnish the opportunities for display- 
ing all his qualities. They expect him to show 
strength, temperament, passion, poise, senti- 
ment, repose, depth, and so forth, in the first 
piece on his programme. He must tell his whole 
story, present himself at once as a " giant " or 
;< Titan " of the piano, though the piece may 
call for naught but tenderness. With this de- 
mand, or the alternative of a " roasting," pub- 
lic artists are confronted rather frequently. 
Nor is this, perhaps, as much the fault of the 
critic as of the conditions under which they 
must write. From my own experience and that 
of others I know that the critics in large cities 
are so overburdened with work during the sea- 
son that they have seldom time to listen to more 
than one piece out of a whole recital pro- 
gramme. After such a mere sample they form 

13 



PIANO PLAYING 

their opinions so momentous for the career 
of a young pianist and if this one piece hap- 
pened to offer no opportunities to the pianist 
to show himself as the " great " So-and-so, 
why, then he is simply put down as one of the 
"littlefellows." It is no wonder that such con- 
ditions tempt many young aspirants to public 
renown to resort to aesthetic violence in order 
to make sure of " good notices " ; to use power 
where it is not called for; to make " feeling " 
ooze from every pore; to double, treble the 
tempo or vacillate it out of all rhythm; to vio- 
late the boundaries of both the composition and 
the instrument and all this for no other pur- 
pose than to show as quickly as possible that 
the various qualities are " all there." These con- 
ditions produce what may be called the pianis- 
tic nouveau-riche or parvenu, who practises the 
vices of the dilettante without, however, the mit- 
igating excuse of ignorance or a lack of train- 
ing. 

THE PIANIST AND THE COMPOSITION 

As the piano, so has also every composition 
its limitations as to the range of its emotions 

14 



THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

and their artistic expression. The hints in this 
direction I threw out before may now be am- 
plified by discussing a very common error 
which underlies the matter of conception. It 
is the error of inferring the conception of a 
composition from the name of its composer; 
of thinking that Beethoven has to be played 
thus and Chopin thus. No error could be 
greater! 

True, every great composer has his own 
style, his habitual mode of thought develop- 
ment, his personality revealing lines. But it is 
equally true that the imagination of all great 
composers was strong enough to absorb them 
as completely in their own creation as the late 
Pygmalion was absorbed in his Galatea, and 
to lure them, for the time being, completely 
away from their habits of thought and expres- 
sion; they become the willing servants of the 
new creature of their own fancy. Thus we find 
some of Beethoven's works as romantic and 
fanciful as any of Schumann's or Chopin's 
could be, while some of the latter's works show 
at times a good deal of Beethovenish classicity. 
It is, therefore, utterly wrong to approach 

15 



PIANO PLAYING 

every work of Beethoven with the preconceived 
idea that it must be " deep " and " majestic," 
or, if the work be Chopin's, that it must run 
over with sensuousness and " feeling." How 
would such a style of rendition do, for instance, 
for the Polonaise op. 53, or even for the little 
one in A, op. 40, No. 1 ? On the other hand, how 
would the stereotype, academic manner of play- 
ing Beethoven suit his Concerto in G that 
poetic presage of Chopin? 

Every great master has written some works 
that are, and some that are not, typical of him- 
self. In the latter cases the master's identity 
reveals itself only to an eye that is experienced 
enough to detect it in the smaller, more minute 
traits of his style. Such delicate features, how- 
ever, must be left in their discreet nooks and 
niches; they must not be clumsily dragged into 
the foreground for the sake of a traditional 
rendition of the piece. That sort of "rever- 
ence " is bound to obliterate all the peculiarities 
of the particular, non-typical composition. It 
is not reverence, but f etichism. Justice to the 
composer means justice to his works; to every 
work in particular. And this justice we cannot 

16 






THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER 

learn from the reading of his biography, but 
by regarding every one of his works as a sepa- 
rate and complete entity; as a perfect, organic 
whole of which we must study the general char- 
acter, the special features, the form, the man- 
ner of design, the emotional course, and the 
trend of thought. Much more than by his biog- 
raphy we will be helped, in forming our con- 
ception, by comparing the work in hand with 
others of the same master, though the com- 
parison may disclose just as many differences 
of style as it may show similarities. 

The worship of names, the unquestioning 
acquiescence in traditional conceptions those 
are not the principles which will lead an artist to 
come into his own. It is rather a close examina- 
tion of every popular notion, a severe testing 
of every tradition by the touchstone of self- 
thinking that will help an artist to find him- 
self and to see, what he does see, with his own 
eyes. 

Thus we find that in a certain constructive 
meaning even the reverence for the composer 
is not without boundaries ; though these bound- 
ary lines are drawn here only to secure the 

17 



PIANO PLAYING 

widest possible freedom for their work. 
Goethe's great word expresses most tersely 
what I mean: 

Outwardly limited, 
Boundless to inward. 



18 



GENERAL RULES 



SUCCESSFUL piano-playing, if it can- 
not be entirely acquired by some very 
simple rules, can, at least, be very much 
helped by what will seem to some as contribut- 
ing causes so slight as to be hardly worth no- 
tice. Still, they are immensely valuable, and I 
will endeavour to set down a few. 

The Value of the Morning Hour above any 
other time is not generally appreciated. The 
mental freshness gained from sleep is a tremen- 
dous help. I go so far as to say play away for 
an hour, or a half hour even, before breakfast. 
But before you touch the piano let me suggest 
one very prosaic little hint : wash the keyboard 
as clean as you did your hands. Eating always 
tastes best from a clean table. Just so with the 
piano : you cannot do clean work on an unclean 
keyboard. 

Now, as to Practice: Let me suggest that 
you never practise more than an hour, or, at 

19 



PIANO PLAYING 

the most, two hours, at a stretch according to 
your condition and strength. Then go out and 
take a walk, and think no more of music. This 
method of mental unhitching, so to speak, is 
absolutely necessary in order that the newly 
acquired results of your work may uncon- 
sciously to yourself mature in your mind and 
get, as it were, into your flesh and blood. That 
which you have newly learned must become 
affixed to your entire organism, very much like 
the picture on a photographic plate is devel- 
oped and affixed by the silver bath. If you al- 
low Nature no time for this work the result of 
your previous efforts will vanish and you will 
have to begin all over again with your pho- 
tographing. Yes, photographing! For every 
acoustic or tone picture is, through the agency 
of the ear, photographed in the brain, and the 
whole occupation of the pianist consists in the 
reproduction of the previously received im- 
pressions through the fingers, which, with the 
help of the instrument, retranslate the pictures 
into audible tones. 

After every half hour make a pause until 
you feel rested. Five minutes will often be suf- 

20 




The Position of the Hand 



GENERAL RULES 

ficient. Follow the example of the painter, who 
closes his eyes for a few moments in order to 
obtain upon reopening them a fresh color im- 
pression. 

A Valuable Little Hint Here, if you will 
allow me: Watch well that you actually hear 
every tone you mean to produce. Every miss- 
ing tone will mean a blotch upon your photo- 
graphic plate in the brain. Each note must 
be, not mentally but physically, heard, and to 
this imperative requirement your speed must 
ever subordinate itself. It is not at all neces- 
sary to practise loudly in order to foster the 
permanence of impressions. Rather let an in- 
ward tension take the place of external force. 
It will engage, sympathetically, your hearing 
just as well, 

As to the Theory great energy, great re- 
sults I prefer my amended version: great en- 
ergy, restrained power and moderate manifes- 
tation of it. Prepare the finger for great force, 
imagine the tone as being strong, and yet strike 
moderately. Continuous loud playing makes 
our playing coarse. On the other hand, contin- 
uous soft playing will blur the tone picture in 

21 



PIANO PLAYING 

our mind and cause us soon to play insecurely 
and wrongly. From time to time we should, of 
course, practise loudly so as to develop phys- 
ical endurance. But for the greater part of 
practice I recommend playing with restrained 
power. And, incidentally, your neighbours will 
thank you for it, too. 

Do Not Practise Systematically, or " me- 
thodically," as it is sometimes called. Systema- 
tism is the death of spontaneousness, and spon- 
taneousness is the very soul of art. If you play 
every day at the same time the same sequence 
of the same studies and the same pieces, you 
may acquire a certain degree of skill, perhaps, 
but the spontaneity of your rendition will 
surely be lost. Art belongs to the realm of emo- 
tional manifestations, and it stands to reason 
that a systematic exploiting of our emotional 
nature must blunt it. 

With Regard to Finger Exercises: Do not 
let them be too frequent or too long at the 
most a half hour a day. A half hour daily, kept 
up for a year, is enough for any one to learn 
to play one's exercises. And if one can play 
them why should one keep everlastingly on 

22 



GENERAL RULES 

playing them? Can anybody explain, without 
reflecting upon one's sanity, why one should 
persist in playing them? I suggest to use these 
exercises as " preliminary warmers " (as prac- 
tised in engines). As soon as the hands have 
become warm and elastic, or pliable " played 
in," as we pianists say drop the exercises and 
repeat them for the same purpose the next 
morning, if you will. They can be successfully 
substituted, however. As compositions they are 
but lukewarm water. If you will dip your 
hands, instead, for five minutes into hot water 
you will follow my own method and find it just 
as efficacious. 

A Rule for Memory Exercises: If you wish 
to strengthen the receptivity and retentiveness 
of your memory you will find the following 
plan practical: Start with a short piece. Ana- 
lyse the form and manner of its texture. Play 
the piece a number of times very exactly with 
the music before you. Then stop playing for 
several hours and try to trace the course of 
ideas mentally in the piece. Try to hear the 
piece inwardly. If you have retained some 
parts refill the missing places by repeated read- 

23 



PIANO PLAYING 

ing of the piece, away from the piano. When 
next you go to the piano after several hours, 
remember try to play the piece. Should you 
still get " stuck " at a certain place take the 
sheet music, but play only that place (several 
times, if necessary), and then begin the piece 
over again, as a test, if you have better luck 
this time with those elusive places. If you still 
fail resume your silent reading of the piece 
away from the piano. Under no circumstances 
skip the unsafe place for the time being, and 
proceed with the rest of the piece. By such 
forcing of the memory you lose the logical de- 
velopment of your piece, tangle up your mem- 
ory and injure its receptivity. Another obser- 
vation in connection with memorising may find 
a place here. When we study a piece we un- 
consciously associate in our mind a multitude 
of things with it which bear not the slightest 
relation upon it. By these " things " I mean 
not only the action of the piano, light or heavy, 
as it may be, but also the colour of its wood, the 
colour of the wall paper, discoloration of the 
ivory on some key of the piano, the pictures on 
the walls, the angle at which the piano stands 

24 



GENERAL RULES 

to the architectural lines of the room, in short, 
all sorts of things. And we remain utterly un- 
conscious of having associated them with the 
piece we are studying until we try to play the 
well-learned piece in a different place, in the 
house of a friend or, if we are inexperienced 
enough to commit such a blunder, in the con- 
cert hall. Then we find that our memory fails 
us most unexpectedly, and we blame our mem- 
ory for its unreliableness. But the fact is rather 
that our memory was only too good, too exact, 
for the absence of or difference from our accus- 
tomed surroundings disturbed our too precise 
memory. Hence, to make absolutely sure of 
our memory we should try our piece in a num- 
ber of different places before relying upon our 
memory; this will dissociate the wonted envi- 
ronment from the piece in our memory. 

With Regard to Technical Work: Play 
good compositions and construe out of them 
your own technical exercises. In nearly every 
piece you play you will find a place or two of 
which your conscience tells you that they are 
not up to your own wishes ; that they can be im- 
proved upon either from a rhythmical, dynam- 

25 



PIANO PLAYING 

ical or precisional point of view. Give these 
places the preference for a while, but do not 
fail to play from time to time again the whole 
piece in order to put the erstwhile defective and 
now repaired part into proper relation to its 
context. Remember that a difficult part may 
" go " pretty well when severed from its con- 
text and yet fail utterly when attempted in its 
proper place. You must follow the mechanic in 
this. If a part of a machine is perfected in the 
shop it must still go through the process of 
being " mounted " that is, being brought into 
proper relation to the machine itself and this 
often requires additional packing or filing, as 
the case may be. This " mounting " of a re- 
paired part is done best by playing it in con- 
junction with one preceding and one following 
measure; then put two measures on each side, 
three, four, etc., until you feel your ground 
safely under your fingers. Not until then have 
you achieved your purpose of technical prac- 
tice. The mere mastering of a difficulty per se 
is no guarantee of success whatever. Many stu- 
dents play certain compositions for years, and 
yet when they are asked to play them the evi- 

26 



GENERAL RULES 

dences of imperfection are so palpable that 
they cannot have finished the learning of them. 
The strong probability is that they never will 
finish the " study " of them, because they do 
not study right. 

As to the Number of Pieces: The larger 
the number of good compositions you are able 
to play in a finished manner, the better grow 
your opportunities to develop your versatility 
of style; for in almost every good composition 
you will find some traits peculiar to itself only 
which demand an equally special treatment. 
To keep as many pieces as possible in your 
memory and in good technical condition, play 
them a few times each week. Do not play them, 
however, in consecutive repetitions. Take one 
after the other. After the last piece is played 
the first one will appear fresh again to your 
mind. This process I have tested and found 
very helpful in maintaining a large repertory. 

Play Always with the Fingers that is, 
move your arms as little as possible and hold 
them and the shoulder muscles quite loosely. 
The hands should be nearly horizontal, with a 
slight inclination from the elbows toward the 

27 



PIANO PLAYING 

keys. Bend the fingers gently and endeavour 
to touch the keys in their centre and with the 
tips of the fingers. This will tend toward sure- 
ness and give eyes to your fingers, so to speak. 

The Practice of Finger Octaves: Play oc- 
taves first as if you were playing single notes 
with one finger of each hand. Lift the thumb 
and fifth finger rather high and let them fall 
upon the keys without using the wrist. Later 
let the wrist come to your aid, sometimes even 
the arm and shoulder muscles, though the latter 
should both be reserved for places requiring 
great power. 

Where powerful octaves occur in long con- 
tinuation it is best to distribute the work over 
the joints and muscles of the fingers, wrists, 
and shoulders. With a rational distribution 
each of the joints will avoid over-fatigue and 
the player will gain in endurance. This applies, 
of course, only to bravura passages. In places 
where musical characteristics predominate the 
player does best to choose whichever of these 
sources of touch seems most appropriate. 

About Using the Pedal: Beware of too fre- 
quent and above all of long-continued use 

28 



GENERAL RULES 

of the pedal. It is the mortal enemy of clarity. 
Judiciously, however, you should use it when 
you study a new work, for if you accustom 
yourself to play a work without the pedal the 
habit of non-pedalling will grow upon you, 
and you will be surprised to find later how your 
feet can be in the way of your fingers. Do not 
delay the use of the pedal as if it were the des- 
sert after a repast. 

Never Play with a Metronome: You may 
use a metronome for a little passage as a test 
of your ability to play the passage in strict 
time. When you see the result, positive or neg- 
ative, stop the machine at once. For according 
to the metronome a really musical rhythm is 
unrhythmical and, on the other hand, the 
keeping of absolutely strict time is thoroughly 
unmusical and deadlike. 

You should endeavour to reproduce the sum- 
total of the time which a musical thought occu- 
pies. Within its scope, however, you must vary 
your beats in accordance with their musical sig- 
nificance. This constitutes in musical interpre- 
tation what I call the individual pulse-beat 
which imparts life to the dead, black notes. 

29 



PIANO PLAYING 

Beware, however, of being too " individual " ! 
Avoid exaggeration, or else your patient will 
grow feverish and all aesthetic interpretation 
goes to the happy hunting grounds ! 

The Correct Posture at the Piano: Sit 
straight before the piano but not stiff. Have 
both feet upon the pedals, so as to be at any 
moment ready to use them. All other manners 
to keep the feet are bad manners. Let your 
hand fall with the arm upon the keyboard when 
you start a phrase, and observe a certain round- 
ness in all the motions of your arms and hands. 
Avoid angles and sharp bends, for they pro- 
duce strong frictions in the joints, which means 
a waste of force and is bound to cause prema- 
ture fatigue. 

Do Not Attend Poor Concerts. Do not be- 
lieve that you can learn correct vision from the 
blind, nor that you can really profit by hearing 
how a piece should not be played, and then try- 
ing the reverse. The danger of getting accus- 
tomed to poor playing is very great. What 
would you think of a parent who deliberately 
sent his child into bad company in order that 
such child should learn how not to behave? 

30 



GENERAL RULES 

Such experiments are dangerous. By attend- 
ing poor concerts you encourage the bungler 
to continue in his crimes against good taste and 
artistic decency, and you become his accom- 
plice. Besides, you help to lower the standard 
of appreciation in your community, which may 
sink so low that good concerts will cease to be 
patronised. If you desire that good concerts 
should be given in your city the least you can 
do is to withhold your patronage from bad 
ones. If you are doubtful as to the merits of a 
proposed concert ask your own or your chil- 
dren's music teacher. He will appreciate your 
confidence and be glad of the opportunity to 
serve you for once in a musical matter that lies 
on a higher plane than your own or your chil- 
dren's music lesson. 

To Those Who Play in Public I should like 
to say this: Before you have played a compo- 
sition in public two or three times you must 
not expect that every detail of it shall go ac- 
cording to your wishes. Do not be surprised 
at little unexpected occurrences. Consider that 
the acoustic properties of the various halls con- 
stitute a serious danger to the musician. Bad 

31 



PIANO PLAYING 

humor on your part, or a slight indisposition, 
even a clamlike audience, Puritanically austere 
or cool from diffidence all these things can be 
overcome; but the acoustic properties remain 
the same from the beginning of your pro- 
gramme to its end, and if they are not a kindly 
counsellor they turn into a fiendish demon who 
sneers to death your every effort to produce 
noble-toned pictures. Therefore, try to ascer- 
tain, as early as possible, what sort of an archi- 
tectural stomach your musical feast is to fill, 
and then well, do the best you can. Approach 
the picture you hold in your mind as nearly as 
circumstances permit. 

When I Find Bad Acoustics in a Hall. An 
important medium of rectifying the acoustic 
misbehaviour of a hall I have found in the 
pedal. In some halls my piano has sounded as 
if I had planted my feet on the pedal for good 
and ever ; in such cases I practised the greatest 
abstention from pedalling. It is a fact that we 
have to treat the pedal differently in almost 
every hall to insure the same results. I know 
that a number of books have been written on 
the use of the pedal, but they are theories which 

32 



GENERAL RULES 

tumble down before the first adverse experience 
on the legitimate concert stage. There you can 
lean on nothing but experience. 

About Reading Books on Music. And 
speaking of books on music, let me advise you 
to read them, but not to believe them unless 
they support every statement with an argu- 
ment, and unless this argument succeeds in 
convincing you. In art we deal far of tener with 
exceptions than with rules and laws. Every 
genius in art has demonstrated in his works the 
forefeeling of new laws, and every succeeding 
one has done by his precursors as his successors 
have in their turn done by him. Hence all the- 
orising in art must be problematic and preca- 
rious, while dogmatising in art amounts to ab- 
surdity. Music is a language the language of 
the musical, whatever and wherever be their 
country. Let each one, then, speak in his own 
way, as he thinks and feels, provided he is sin- 
cere. Tolstoi put the whole thing so well when 
he said: " There are only three things of real 
importance in the world. They are: Sincerity! 
Sincerity! Sincerity!" 



83 



CORRECT TOUCH AND TECHNIC 

GREAT finger technic may be defined 
as extreme precision and great speed 
in the action of the fingers. The lat- 
ter quality, however, can never be developed 
without the legato touch. I am convinced that 
the degree of perfection of finger technic is 
exactly proportionate to the development of 
the legato touch. The process of the non-legato 
touch, by showing contrary results, will bear 
me out. To play a rapid run non-legato will 
consume much more time than to play it legato 
because of the lifting of the fingers between 
the tones. In playing legato the fingers are not 
lifted off the keys, but hardly losing contact 
with the ivory glide sideways to the right or 
the left as the notes may call for it. This, natu- 
rally, saves both time and exertion, and thus 
allows an increase of speed. 

How is the true legato accomplished? By 
the gliding motion just mentioned, and by 

34 



CORRECT TOUCH 

touching the next following key before the fin- 
ger which played last has fully abandoned its 
key. To illustrate, let me say that in a run of 
single notes two fingers are simultaneously at 
work the " played " and the " playing " one; 
in runs of double notes (thirds, sixths, etc.) the 
number of simultaneously employed fingers is, 
analogously, four. Only in this manner is a true 
legato touch to be attained. While the fingers 
are in action the hand must not move lest it 
produce gaps between the succeeding tones, 
causing not only a breaking of the connection 
between them but also a lessening of speed. 
The transfer of the hand should take place only 
when the finger is already in touch with the 
key that is to follow not at the time of con- 
tact, still less before. 

The selection of a practical fingering is, of 
course, of paramount importance for a good 
legato touch. In attempting a run without a 
good fingering we will soon find ourselves " out 
of fingers." In that emergency we should have 
to resort to " piecing on," and this means a jerk 
at every instance equal to a non-legato. A 
correct fingering is one which permits the long- 

35 



PIANO PLAYING 

est natural sequel of fingers to be used with- 
out a break. By earnest thinking every player 
can contrive the fingering that will prove most 
convenient to him. But, admitting that the 
great diversity of hands prohibits a universal 
fingering, all the varieties of fingering ought 
to be based upon the principle of a natural se- 
quel. If a player be puzzled by certain configu- 
rations of notes and keys as to the best finger- 
ing for them, he ought to consult a teacher, 
who, if a good one, will gladly help him out. 

Precision, the other component part of fin- 
ger technic, is intimately related with the 
player's general sense of orderliness. As a mat- 
ter of fact, precision is orderliness in the tech- 
nical execution of a musical prescription. If the 
student will but look quite closely at the piece 
he is learning; if he has the patience to repeat 
a difficult place in it a hundred times if neces- 
sary and correctly, of course he will soon 
acquire the trait of precision and he will ex- 
perience the resultant increase in his technical 
ability. 

Mental technic presupposes the ability to 
form a clear inward conception of a run with- 

86 



CORRECT TOUCH 

out resorting to the fingers at all. Since every 
action of a finger has first to be determined 
upon by the mind, a run should be completely 
prepared mentally before it is tried on the 
piano. In other words, the student should strive 
to acquire the ability to form the tonal picture 
in his mind, rather than the note picture. 

The tonal picture dwells in our imagination. 
This acts upon the responsive portions of the 
brain, influences them according to its own in- 
tensity, and this influence is then transferred 
to the motoric nerve-centres which are con- 
cerned in music-making. As far as known this 
is the course by which the musician converts his 
musical concept into a tonal reality. Hence, 
when studying a new work, it is imperative that 
a tonal picture of perfect clarity should be pre- 
pared in the mind before the mechanical (or 
technical) practicing begins. In the earlier 
stages of cultivating this trait it will be best 
to ask the teacher to play the piece for us, and 
thus to help us in forming a correct tonal pic- 
ture in our mind. 

The blurring of the tonal picture produces 
a temporary (don't get frightened!) paral- 

37 



PIANO PLAYING 

ysis of the motoric centres which control the 
fingers. Every pianist knows unfortunately 
the sensation of having his fingers begin to 
" stick " as if the keys were covered with fly- 
paper, and he knows, also, that this sensation 
is but a warning that the fingers are going on 
a general and even " sympathetic " strike 
sympathetic, because even the momentarily un- 
concerned fingers participate in it. Now the 
cause of this sensation lies not in a defective 
action of the fingers themselves, but solely in 
the mind. It is there that some undesired 
change has taken place, a change which im- 
pairs the action of the fingers. The process is 
like this: by quick repetitions of complicated 
figures, slight errors, slips, flaws escape our 
notice ; the more quick repetitions we make the 
larger will be the number of these tiny blots, 
and this must needs lead finally to a com- 
pletely distorted tonal picture. This distortion, 
however, is not the worst feature. Inasmuch as 
we are very likely not to make the same little 
blunders at every repetition the tonal picture 
becomes confused, blurred. The nerve contacts 
which cause the fingers to act become unde- 

38 



CORRECT TOUCH 

cided first, then they begin to fail more and 
more, until they cease altogether and the fin- 
gers stick! At such a juncture the student 
should at once resort to slow practice. He 
should play the defective place clearly, orderly, 
and, above all, slowly, and persist in this course 
until the number of correct repetitions proves 
sufficient to crowd the confused tonal picture 
out of the mind. This is not to be regarded as 
mechanical practice, for it is intended for the 
rehabilitation of a disarranged or disturbed 
mental concept. I trust this will speak for the 
practice of what I called "mental technic." 
Make the mental tonal picture sharp; the fin- 
gers must and will obey it. 

We are sometimes affected by " thought- 
laziness " I translate this word literally from 
other languages, because it is a good com- 
pound for which I can find no better equivalent 
in English. Whenever we find the fingers go- 
ing astray in the piece we play we might as 
well admit to ourselves that the trouble is in 
the main office. The mysterious controlling of- 
ficer has been talking with a friend instead of 
attending to business. The mind was not keep- 

39 



PIANO PLAYING 

ing step with the fingers. We have relied on 
our automatism; we allowed the fingers to run 
on and the mind lagged behind, instead of be- 
ing, as it should be, ahead of the fingers, pre- 
paring their work. 

Quick musical thinking, the importance of 
which is thus apparent, cannot be developed by 
any direct course. It is one of the by-products 
of the general widening of one's musical hori- 
zon. It is ever proportionate to the growth of 
one's other musical faculties. It is the result of 
elasticity of the mind acquired or developed by 
constant, never-failing, unremitting employ- 
ment whenever we are at the piano. A proce- 
dure tending directly toward developing quick 
musical thinking is, therefore, not necessary. 

The musical will has its roots in the natural 
craving for musical utterance. It is the direc- 
tor-in-chief of all that is musical in us. Hence 
I recognise in the purely technical processes of 
piano-playing no less a manifestation of the 
musical will. But a technic without a musical 
will is a faculty without a purpose, and when 
it becomes a purpose in itself it can never serve 
art. 

40 > 



THE USE OF THE PEDAL 

TO speak in a concrete manner of the 
pedal is possible only on the basis of a 
complete understanding of the funda- 
mental principle underlying its use. The reader 
must agree to the governing theory that the 
organ which governs the employment of the 
pedal is the ear! As the eye guides the fingers 
when we read music, so must the ear be the 
guide and the " sole " guide of the foot 
upon the pedal. The foot is merely the servant, 
the executive agent, while the ear is the guide, 
the judge, and the final criterion. If there is 
any phase in piano-playing where we should 
remember particularly that music is for the 
ear it is in the treatment of the pedal. Hence, 
whatever is said here in the following lines 
with regard to the pedal must be understood 
as resting upon the basis of this principle. 

As a general rule I recommend pressing the 
lever or treadle down with a quick, definite, 
full motion and always immediately after 

41 



PIANO PLAYING 

mark me, after the striking of the keys, never 
simultaneously with the stroke of the fingers, 
as so many erroneously assume and do. To pre- 
vent a cacophonous mixture of tones we should 
consider that we must stop the old tone before 
we can give pedal to the new one, and that, in 
order to make the stopping of the past tone per- 
fect, we must allow the damper to press upon 
the vibrating strings long enough to do its 
work. If, however, we tread down exactly with 
the finger-stroke we simply inhibit this stop- 
ping, because the damper in question is lifted 
again before it has had time to fall down. (In 
speaking of the dampers as moving up and 
down I have in mind the action of the 
" grand " piano ; in the upright piano the word 
" off " must be substituted for " up," and "on" 
for " down.") This rule will work in a vast ma- 
jority of cases, but like every rule especially 
in art it will be found to admit of many ex- 
ceptions. 

Harmonic Clarity in Pedalling is the Basis, 
but it is only the basis; it is not all that con- 
stitutes an artistic treatment of the pedal. In 
spite of what I have just said above there are 

42 




Photograph by Byron 



Incorrect Position of the Feet 




Photograph by Byron 

Correct Position of the Feet on the Pedal 



THE USE OF THE PEDAL 

in many pieces moments where a blending of 
tones, seemingly foreign to one another, is a 
means of characterisation. This blending is es- 
pecially permissible when the passing (for- 
eign) tones are more than one octave removed 
from the lowest tone and from the harmony 
built upon it. In this connection it should be re- 
membered that the pedal is not merely a means 
of tone prolongation but also a means of col- 
ouring and pre-eminently that. What is gen- 
erally understood by the term piano-charm is 
to the greatest extent produced by an artistic 
use of the pedal. 

For instance, great accent effects can be 
produced by the gradual accumulating of tone- 
volume through the pedal and its sudden re- 
lease on the accented point. The effect is some- 
what like that which we hear in the orchestra 
when a crescendo is supported by a roll of the 
drum or tympani making the last tap on the 
accented point. And, as I am mentioning the 
orchestra, I may illustrate by the French horns 
another use of the pedal: where the horns do 
not carry the melody (which they do relatively 
seldom) they are employed to support sus- 

43 



PIANO PLAYING 

tained harmonies, and their effect is like a glaz- 
ing, a binding, a unifying of the various tone- 
colours of the other instruments. Just such a 
glazing is produced by the judicious use of the 
pedal, and when, in the orchestra, the horns 
cease and the strings proceed alone there en- 
sues a certain soberness of tone which we pro- 
duce in the piano by the release and non-use of 
the pedal. In the former instance, while the 
horns were active they furnished the harmonic 
background upon which the thematic develop- 
ment of the musical picture proceeded; in the 
latter case, when the horns cease the back- 
ground is taken away and the thematic con- 
figurations stand out so to speak against 
the sky. Hence, the pedal gives to the piano 
tone that unifying, glazing, that finish 
though this is not exactly the word here 
which the horns or softly played trombones 
give to the orchestra. 

But the Pedal Can Do More Than That. At 
times we can produce strange, glasslike effects 
by purposely mixing non-harmonic tones. I 
only need to hint at some of the fine, embroid- 
ery-like cadenzas in Chopin's works, like the 

44 



THE USE OF THE PEDAL 

one in his E-minor Concerto (Andante, meas- 
ures 101, 102, and 103). Such blendings are 
productive of a multitude of effects, especially 
when we add the agency of dynamic grada- 
tion: effects suggestive of winds from Zephyr 
to Boreas, of the splash and roar of waves, of 
fountain-play, of rustling leaves, etc. This 
mode of blending can be extended also to en- 
tire harmonies in many cases where one funda- 
mental chord is to predominate for some time 
while other chords may pass in quicker suc- 
cession while it lasts. In such cases it is by no 
means imperative to abandon the pedal; we 
need only to establish various dynamic levels 
and place the ruling harmony on a higher 
level than the passing ones. In other words, the 
predominating chord must receive so much 
force that it can outlast all those briefer ones 
which, though audible, must die of their own 
weakness, and while the strong, ruling chord 
was constantly disturbed by the weaker ones 
it also re-established its supremacy with the 
death of every weaker one which it outlasted. 
This use of the pedal has its limitations in the 
evanescent nature of the tone of the piano. 

45 



PIANO PLAYING 

That moment when the blending of non-hais 
monic tones imperils the tonal beauty of the 
piece in hand can be determined solely and ex- 
clusively by the player's own ear, and here we 
are once more at the point from which this ar- 
ticle started, namely: that the ear is governor, 
and that it alone can decide whether or not 
there is to be any pedal. 

It were absurd to assume that we can greatly 
please the ear of others by our playing so long 
as our own ear is not completely satisfied. We 
should, therefore, endeavour to train the sus- 
ceptibility of our ear, and we should ever make 
it more difficult to gain the assent of our own 
ear than to gain that of our auditors. They 
may, apparently, not notice defects in your 
playing, but at this juncture I wish to say a 
word of serious warning: Do not confound un- 
mindfulness with consent! To hear ourselves 
play that is, to listen to our own playing 
is the bed-rock basis of all music-making and 
also, of course, of the technic of the pedal. 
Therefore, listen carefully, attentively to the 
tones you produce. When you employ the 
pedal as a prolongation of the fingers (to sus- 

46 



THE USE OF THE PEDAL 

tain tones beyond the reach of the fingers) , see 
to it that you catch, and hold, the fundamental 
tone of your chord, for this tone must be al- 
ways your chief consideration. 

Whether You Use the Pedal as a Means of 
Mere Prolongation or as a medium of colour- 
ing, under no circumstances use it as a cloak 
for imperfection of execution. For, like charity, 
it is apt to be made to cover a multitude of 
sins; but, again like charity, who wants to 
make himself dependent upon it, when honest 
work can prevent it? 

Nor should the pedal be used to make up for 
a deficiency of force. To produce a forte is the 
business of the ringers (with or without the aid 
of the arm) but not of the pedal, and this holds 
true also mutatis mutandis of the left pedal, 
for which the Germans use a word ( Ferschie- 
bung) denoting something like " shifting." 
In a " grand " piano the treading of the left 
pedal shifts the hammers so far to one side that 
instead of striking three strings they will strike 
only two. (In the pianos of fifty and more 
years ago there were only two strings to each 
tone, and when the hammers were shifted by 

47 



PIANO PLAYING 

the treading of the left pedal they struck only 
one string. From those days we have retained 
the term " una corda " one string. ) In an up- 
right piano the lessening of tone-volume is pro- 
duced by a lessening of the momentum of the 
hammer stroke. 

Now, as the right pedal should not be used 
to cover a lack of force, so should the left pedal 
not be regarded as a licence to neglect the for- 
mation of a fine pianissimo touch. It should 
not cloak or screen a defective pianissimo, but 
should serve exclusively as a means of colour- 
ing where the softness of tone is coupled with 
what the jewellers call " dull finish." For the 
left pedal does not soften the tone without 
changing its character; it lessens the quantity 
of tone but at the same time it also markedly 
affects the quality. 

To Sum Up: Train your ear and then use 
both pedals honestly! Use them for what they 
were made. Remember that even screens are 
not used for hiding things behind them, but 
for decorative purposes or for protection. 
Those who do use them for hiding something 
must have something which they prefer to hide I 

48 



PLAYING 'IN STYLE" 

BY playing a piece of music " in style " is 
understood a rendition which does ab- 
solute justice to its contents in regard 
to the manner of expression. Now, the true 
manner of expression must be sought and 
found for each piece individually, even though 
a number of different pieces may be written by 
one and the same composer. Our first endeav- 
our should be to search out the peculiarity of 
the piece in hand rather than that of the com- 
poser in general. If you have succeeded in 
playing one work by Chopin in style, it does 
not follow, by any means, that you can play 
equally well any other work from his pen. 
Though on general lines his manner of writing 
may be the same in all his works, there will, 
nevertheless, be marked differences between 
the various pieces. 

Only by careful study of each work by itself 
can we find the key to its correct conception 

49 



PIANO PLAYING 

and rendition. We will never find it in books 
about the composer, nor in such as treat of his 
works, but only in the works themselves and 
in each one per se. People who study a lot of 
things about a work of art may possibly enrich 
their general knowledge, but they never can 
get that specific knowledge needful for the in- 
terpretation of the particular work in hand. 
Its own contents alone can furnish that knowl- 
edge. We know from frequent experience that 
book-learned musicians (or, as they are now 
called, musicologists) usually read everything 
in sight, and yet their playing rises hardly ever 
above mediocre dilettanteism. 

Why should we look for a correct conception 
of a piece anywhere but in the piece itself? 
Surely the composer has embodied in the piece 
all he knew and felt when he wrote it. Why, 
then, not listen to his specific language instead 
of losing our way in the terms of another art? 
Literature is literature, and music is music. 
They may combine, as in song, but one can 
never be substituted for the other. 

Many Students Never Learn to understand 
a composer's specific language because their 

50 



PLAYING "IN STYLE" 

sole concern is to make the piece " effective " in 
the sense of a clever stunt. This tendency is 
most deplorable; for there really does exist a 
specifically musical language. By purely mate- 
rial means: through notes, pauses, dynamic and 
other signs, through special annotations, etc., 
the composer encloses in his work the whole 
world of his imagination. The duty of the in- 
terpretative artist is to extract from these ma- 
terial things the spiritual essence and to trans- 
mit it to his hearers. To achieve this he must 
understand this musical language in general 
and of each composition in particular. 

But how is this language to he learned? 

By conning with careful attentiveness and, 
of course, absorbing the purely material mat- 
ter of a piece: the notes, pauses, time values, 
dynamic indications, etc. 

If a player be scrupulously exact in his mere 
reading of a piece it will, of itself, lead him to 
understand a goodly portion of the piece 's 
specific language. Nay, more ! Through a 
really correct conning the player is enabled to 
determine upon the points of repose as well 
as upon the matter of climax, and thus to cre- 

51 



PIANO PLAYING 

ate a basis for the operations of his own imag- 
ination. After that, nothing remains but to call 
forth into tonal life, through the fingers, what 
his musical intelligence has grasped which 
is a purely technical task. To transform the 
purely technical and material processes into a 
thing that lives, of course, rests with the natu- 
ral, emotional, temperamental endowments of 
the individual; it rests with those many and 
complex qualities which are usually summa- 
rised by the term " talent," but this must be 
presupposed with a player who aspires to ar- 
tistic work. 

On the other hand, talent alone cannot lift 
the veil that hides the spiritual content of a 
composition if its possessor neglects to examine 
the latter carefully as to its purely material in- 
gredients. He may flatter the ear, sensuously 
speaking, but he can never play the piece in 
style. 

Now How Can We Know whether we are 
or are not approaching the spiritual phase of 
a piece? By repetition under unremitting at- 
tention to the written values. If, then, you 
should find how much there is still teif for you 

52 



PLAYING "IN STYLE" 

to do, you have proved to yourself that you 
have understood the piece spiritually and are 
on the right track to master it. With every 
repetition you will discover some hitherto un- 
noticed defect in your interpretation. Obviate 
these defects, one by one, and in so doing you 
will come nearer and nearer to the spiritual es- 
sence of the work in hand. 

As to the remaining " purely technical task " 
(as I said before), it must not be underesti- 
mated! To transmit one's matured conception 
to one's auditors requires a considerable degree 
of mechanical skill, and this skill, in its turn, 
must be under absolute control of the will. Of 
course after the foregoing this does not 
mean that everybody who has a good and 
well-controlled technic can interpret a piece 
in style. Remember that to possess wealth 
is one thing, to put it to good use is quite 
another. 

It is sometimes said that the too objective 
study of a piece may impair the " individual- 
ity " of its rendition. Have no fear of that! If 
ten players study the same piece with the same 
high degree of exactness and objectivity de- 

53 



PIANO PLAYING 

pend upon it: each one will still play it quite 
differently from the nine others, though each 
one may think his rendition the only correct 
one. For each one will express what, according 
to his lights, he has mentally and temperamen- 
tally absorbed. Of the distinctive feature which 
constitutes the difference in the ten conceptions 
each one will have been unconscious while it 
formed itself, and perhaps also afterward. But 
it is just this unconsciously formed feature 
which constitutes legitimate individuality and 
which alone will admit of a real fusion of the 
composer's and the interpreter's thought. A 
purposed, blatant parading of the player's 
dear self through wilful additions of nuances, 
shadings, effects, and what not, is tantamount 
to a falsification; at best it is " playing to the 
galleries," charlatanism. The player should al- 
ways feel convinced that he plays only what is 
written. To the auditor, who with his own and 
different intelligence follows the player's per- 
formance, the piece will appear in the light of 
the player's individuality. The stronger this is 
the more it will colour the performance, when 
unconsciously admixed. 

54 



PLAYING "IN STYLE" 

Rubinstein Often Said to Me: " Just play 
first exactly what is written; if you have done 
full justice to it and then still feel like adding 
or changing anything, why, do so." Mind well: 
after you have done full justice to what is writ- 
ten! How few are those who fulfil this duty! 
I venture to prove to any one who will play for 
me if he be at all worth listening to that he 
does not play more than is written (as he may 
think), but, in fact, a good deal less than the 
printed page reveals. And this is one of the 
principal causes of misunderstanding the eso- 
teric portion, the inherent " style " of a piece 
a misunderstanding which is not always con- 
fined to amateurs inexact reading! 

The true interpretation of a piece of music 
results from a correct understanding of it, and 
this, in turn, depends solely upon scrupulously 
exact reading. 

Learn the Language of Music, then, I re- 
peat, through exact reading! You will then 
soon fathom the musical meaning of a compo- 
sition and transmit it intelligibly to your lis- 
teners. Would you satisfy your curiosity as to 
what manner of person the author is or was at 

55 



PIANO PLAYING 

the time of writing, you may do so. But as 
I said in the " Foreword " your chief interest 
should centre in the " composition," not in the 
" composer," for only by studying his work 
will you be enabled to play it in style. 




Anton Rubinstein 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 
ME TO PLAY 

OUTSIDE of the regular students of 
the Imperial Conservatory of Music at 
St. Petersburg, Rubinstein accepted 
but one pupil. The advantage and privilege to 
be that one pupil was mine. 

I came to Rubinstein when I was sixteen 
years old and left him at eighteen. Since that 
time I have studied only by myself; for to 
whom could I have gone after Rubinstein? His 
very manner of teaching was such that it would 
have made any other teacher appear to me like 
a schoolmaster. He chose the method of indi- 
rect instruction through suggestive compari- 
sons. He touched upon the strictly musical only 
upon rare occasions. In this way he wished to 
awaken within me the concretely musical as a 
parallel of his generalisations and thereby pre- 
serve my musical individuality. 

He never played for me. He only talked, 
57 



PIANO PLAYING 

and I, understanding him, translated his mean- 
ing into music and musical utterances. Some- 
times, for instance, when I played the same 
phrase twice in succession, and played it both 
times alike (say in a sequence), he would say: 
" In fine weather you may play it as you did, 
but when it rains play it differently." 

Rubinstein was much given to whims and 
moods, and he often grew enthusiastic about a 
certain conception only to prefer a different 
one the next day. Yet he was always logical in 
his art, and though he aimed at hitting the nail 
from various points of view he always hit it 
on the head. Thus he never permitted me to 
bring to him, as a lesson, any composition more 
than once. He explained this to me once by 
saying that he might forget in the next lesson 
what he told me in the previous one, and by 
drawing an entirely new picture only confuse 
my mind. Nor did he ever permit me to bring 
one <Jf his own works, though he never ex- 
plained to me his reason for this singular at- 
titude. 

Usually, when I came to him, arriving from 
Berlin, where I lived, I found him seated at 

58 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

his writing-desk, smoking Russian cigarettes. 
He lived at the Hotel de 1'Europe. After a 
kindly salute he would always ask me the same 
question: " Well, what is new in the world? " 

I remember replying to him: " I know noth- 
ing new; that's why I came to learn something 
new from you." 

Rubinstein, understanding at once the musi- 
cal meaning of my words, smiled, and the les- 
son thus promised to be a fine one. 

I noticed he was usually not alone when I 
came, but had as visitors several elderly ladies, 
sometimes very old ladies (mostly Russians), 
and some young girls seldom any men. With 
a wave of his hand he directed me to the piano 
in the corner, a Bechstein, which was most of 
the time shockingly out of tune; but to this 
condition of his piano he was always serenely 
indifferent. He would remain at his desk study- 
ing the notes of the work while I played. He 
always compelled me to bring the pieces along, 
insisting that I should play everything just as 
it was written 1 He would follow every note of 
my playing with his eyes riveted on the printed 
pages. A pedant he certainly was, a stickler for 

59 



PIANO PLAYING 

the letter incredibly so, especially when one 
considered the liberties he took when he played 
the same works! Once I called his attention 
modestly to this seeming paradox, and he an- 
swered: " When you are as old as I am now 
you may do as I do if you can." 

Once I played a Liszt Rhapsody pretty bad- 
ly. After a few moments he said: " The way 
you played this piece would be all right for 
auntie or mamma." Then rising and coming 
toward me he would say: " Now let us see how 
we play such things." Then I would begin all 
over again, but hardly had I played a few 
measures when he would interrupt and say: 
" Did you start? I thought I hadn't heard 
right" 

" Yes, master, I certainly did," I would 
reply. 

"Oh," he would say vaguely. "I didn't 
notice." 

" How do you mean? " I would ask. 

" I mean this," he would answer: " Before 
your fingers touch the keys you must begin the 
piece mentally that is, you must have settled 
in your mind the tempo, the manner of touch* 

CO 




RH 

O 







HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

and, above all, the attack of the first notes, be- 
fore your actual playing begins. And by-the- 
bye, what is the character of this piece? Is it 
dramatic, tragic, lyric, romantic, humourous, 
heroic, sublime, mystic what? Well, why 
don't you speak? " 

Generally I would mutter something after 
such a tirade, but usually I said something 
stupid because of the awe with which he in- 
spired me. Finally, after trying several of his 
suggested designations I would hit it right. 
Then he would say: "Well, there we are at 
last! Humourous, is it? Very well! And rhap- 
sodical, irregular hey? You understand the 
meaning? " I would answer, " Yes." 

"Very well, then," he would reply; "now 
prove it." And then I would begin all over 
again. 

He would stand at my side, and whenever 
he wanted a special stress laid upon a certain 
note his powerful fingers would press upon my 
left shoulder with such force that I would stab 
the keys till the piano fairly screamed for me. 
When this did not have the effect he was after 
he would simply press his whole hand upon 

61 



PIANO PLAYING 

mine, flattening it out and spreading it like 
butter all over the keys, black and white ones, 
creating a frightful cacophony. Then he would 
say, almost with anger, " But cleaner, cleaner, 
cleaner," as if the discord had been of my 
doing. 

Such occurrences did not lack a humourous 
side, but their turn into the tragical always 
hung by a hair, especially if I had tried to ex- 
plain or to make excuses. So I generally kept 
silent, and I found, after some experience, that 
was the only proper thing for me to do. For 
just as quickly as he would flare up he would 
also calm down again, and when the piece was 
ended I would hear his usual comment: " You 
are an excellent young man!" And how 
quickly was all pain then forgotten I 

I remember on one occasion that I played 
Schubert-Liszt's " Erl-K6nig." When I came 
to the place in the composition where the Erl- 
King says to the child, " Thou dear, sweet 
child, oh, come with me," and I had played 
several false notes besides very poor arpeggios, 
Rubinstein asked me: " Do you know the text 
at this place? " 

62 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

As a reply I quoted the words. 

" Very well, then," he said, " the Erl-King 
addresses the child; Erl-King is a spirit, a 
ghost so play this place in a spiritlike way, 
ghostly, if you will, but not ghastly with false 
notes!" 

I had to laugh at his word-play and Rubin- 
stein himself chimed in, and the piece was 
saved, or rather the player. For when I re- 
peated that particular part it went very well, 
and he allowed me to continue without further 
interruption. 

Once I asked him for the fingering of a 
rather complex passage. 

" Play it with your nose," he replied, " but 
make it sound well! " 

This remark puzzled me, and there I sat and 
wondered what he meant. 

As I understand it now he meant: Help 
yourself! The Lord helps those who help them- 
selves ! 

As I said before, Rubinstein never played 
for me the works I had to study. He explained, 
analysed, elucidated everything that he wanted 
me to know; but, this done, he left me to my 



PIANO PLAYING 

own judgment, for only then, he would ex- 
plain, would my achievement be my own and 
incontestable property. I learned from Rubin- 
stein in this way the valuable truth that the 
conception of tone-pictures obtained through 
the playing of another gives us only transient 
impressions; they come and go, while the self- 
created conception will last and remain our 
own. 

Now, when I look back upon my study-days 
with Rubinstein, I can see that he did not so 
much instruct me as that I learned from him* 
He was not a pedagogue in the usual meaning 
of that word. He indicated to me an altitude 
off ering a fine view, but how I was to get up 
there was my affair; he did not bother about 
it. "Play with your nose!" Yes but when 
I bumped it till it fairly bled where would I 
get the metaphorical handkerchief? In my im- 
agination! And he was right. 

To be sure, this method would not work with 
all pupils, but it is nevertheless well calculated 
to develop a student's original thought and 
bring out whatever acumen he may possess. 
If such a one succeeded by his own study and 

64 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

mental force to reach the desired point which 
the great magician's wizardry had made him 
see, he had gained the reliance in his own 
strength : he felt sure that he would always find 
that point again even though he should lose 
his way once or twice, as every one with an 
honest aspiration is liable to do. 

I recall that Rubinstein once said to me: 
" Do you know why piano-playing is so diffi- 
cult? Because it is prone to be either affected 
or else afflicted with mannerisms; and when 
these two pitfalls are luckily avoided then it is 
liable to be dry! The truth lies between those 
three mischiefs!" 

When it was settled that I should make my 
Hamburg debut under his baton with his own 
D -minor Concerto, I thought the time had 
come at last to study with him one of his own 
works. So I proposed it, but Rubinstein dis- 
posed of it ! I still see him, as if it were but yes- 
terday, seated in the greenroom of the Berlin 
Philharmonic during an intermission in his 
concert (it was on a Saturday) and telling me: 
;< We shall appear together in Hamburg on 
Monday." The time was short, but I knew the 

65 



PIANO PLAYING 

Concerto and hoped to go through it with him 
some time in the remaining two days. I asked 
his permission to play the Concerto for him, 
but he declined my urgent request, saying: " It 
is not necessary; we understand each other!" 
And even in this critical moment he left me to 
my own resources. After the last (and only) 
rehearsal the great master embraced me before 
the whole orchestra, and I well, I was not in 
the seventh, but in the "eighth" heaven! 
Everything was all right, I said to myself, for 
Rubinstein, Rubinstein was satisfied! The pub- 
lic simply had to be! The concert went off 
splendidly. 

After that memorable debut in Hamburg, 
which was on March 14, 1894, I went directly 
to see Rubinstein, little dreaming that my eyes 
would then see him for the last time. I brought 
with me a large photograph of himself, and, 
though fully aware of his unconquerable aver- 
sion to autographing, my desire for the pos- 
session of his signature overruled my reluc- 
tance and I made my request. 

He raised both fists and thundered, half- 
angry and half -laughing: ef Et tu, Brute? " 

60 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

But my wish was granted, and I reproduce 
the portrait in this article. 

Then I asked him when I should play for 
him again, and to my consternation he an- 
swered: " Never! " 

In my despair I asked him: "Why not?" 

He, generous soul that he was, then said to 
me: " My dear boy, I have told you all I know 
about legitimate piano-playing and music- 
making " and then changing his tone some- 
what he added: " And if you don't know it yet, 
why, go to the devil! " 

I saw only too well that while he smiled as 
he said it he meant it seriously, and I left him. 

I never saw Rubinstein again. Soon after 
that he returned to his villa in Peterhof, near 
St. Petersburg, and there he died on Novem- 
ber 19, 1894. 

The effect that his death had upon me I shall 
never forget. The world appeared suddenly 
entirely empty to me, devoid of any interest. 
My grief made me realise how my heart had 
worshipped not only the artist in him but also 
the man; how I loved him as if he were my 
father. I learned of his death through the Eng- 

67 



PIANO PLAYING 

lish papers while I was en route from London 
to Cheltenham, where I was booked for a re- 
cital on the twentieth. The B-flat minor Sonata 
by Chopin happened to be on the programme, 
and as I struck the first notes of the Funeral 
March the whole audience rose from their seats 
as if by command and remained standing with 
bowed heads during the whole piece in hon- 
our of the great departed. 

A singular coincidence occurred at my con- 
cert on the preceding day the day of Rubin- 
stein's death. 

On this day I played for the first time in 
public after my seven years' retirement (ex- 
cepting my Hamburg debut). It was in Lon- 
don. In this concert I played, as a novelty, a 
Polonaise in E-flat minor which Rubinstein 
had but recently written in Dresden and dedi- 
cated to me. He had included it in the set 
called " Souvenirs de Dresde." This piece has 
throughout the character of a Funeral March 
in all but the time-division. Little did I dream 
while I was playing it that day that I was sing- 
ing him into his eternal rest, for it was but a 
few hours later that, in the far East of Europe, 

68 



HOW RUBINSTEIN TAUGHT 

my great master passed away, suddenly, of 
heart failure. 

Two years later I played this same Polonaise 
for the second and last time. It was on the an- 
niversary of his death, in St. Petersburg, where 
in honour of his memory I gave a recital, the 
proceeds of which I devoted to the Rubinstein 
Fund. Since then I have played this piece only 
once, at home and to myself, excluding it en- 
tirely from my public repertoire. For, though 
it was dedicated to me, the time and circum- 
stances of its initial performance always made 
me feel as if it still belonged to my master, 
or, at best, as if it were something persona] 
and private between us two. 



Indispensables in Pianistic 
Success 



"THE Indispensables in Pianistic Success? 
Are not the indispensables in all success very 
much the same? Nothing can take the place 
of real worth. This is especially true of Amer- 
ica, in which country I have lived longer than 
in any other, and which I am glad to call my 
home. Americans are probably the most 
traveled people of the world, and it is futile to 
offer them anything but the best. Some 
years ago a conductor brought to this country 
an orchestra of second-class character, with 
the idea that the people would accept it just 
because it bore the name of a famous European 
city which possessed one of the great orchestras 
of the world. It was a good orchestra, but 
there were better orchestras in American 
cities, and it took American audiences just two 
concerts to find this out, resulting in a disas- 
trous failure, which the conductor was man 
enough to face and personally defray. The 

70 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

American people know the best, and will have 
nothing but the best. Therefore, if you would 
make a list of the indispensables of pianistic 
success in this country at this time you must 
put at the head of your list, REAL WORTH. 

"Naturally, one of the first indispensables 
would include what many term 'the musical 
gift. 5 However, this is often greatly misunder- 
stood. We are, happily, past the time when 
music was regarded as a special kind of divine 
dispensation, which, by its very possession, 
robbed the musician of any claim to possible 
excellence in other lines. In other words, 
music was so special a gift that it was even 
thought by some misguided people to isolate 
the musician from the world to make him a 
thing apart and different from other men and 
women of high aspirations and attainments. 

"It is true that there have been famous 
prodigies in mathematics, and in games such 
as chess, who have given evidence of astonish- 
ing prowess in their chosen work, but who, at 
the same time, seem to have been lamentably 
under-developed in many other ways. This 
is not the case in music at this day at least, 
for, although a special love for music and a 
special quickness in mastering musical prob- 

71 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

lems are indispensable, yet the musicians are 
usually men and women of broad cultural 
development if they desire it and are willing to 
work for it. 

"Nor can I concede that a very finely de- 
veloped sense of hearing is in all cases essential. 
The possession of what is known as absolute 
pitch, which so many seem to think is a sure 
indication of musical genius, is often a nuis- 
ance. Schumann did not possess it, and (un- 
less I am incorrectly informed) Wagner did 
not have absolute pitch. I have it, and can, 
I believe, distinguish differences of an eighth 
of a tone. I find it more disturbing than 
beneficial. My father had absolute pitch in 
remarkable fashion. He seemed to have ex- 
tremely acute ears. Indeed, it was often im- 
possible for him to identify a well-known com- 
position if he heard it played in a different 
key it sounded so different to him. Mozart 
had absolute pitch, but music, in his day, was 
far less complicated. We now live in an age 
of melodic and contrapuntal intricacy, and I 
do not believe that the so-called acute sense of 
hearing, or highly developed sense of absolute 
pitch, has very much to do with one's real 
musical ability. The physical hearing is 

72 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

nothing; the spiritual hearing if one may say 
so is what really counts. If, in transposing, 
for instance, one has associated the contents of 
a piece so closely with its corresponding to- 
nality that it is hard to play in any other tonal- 
ity, this constitutes a difficulty not an advan- 
tage. 

II 

"Too much cannot be said about the ad- 
vantage of an early drill. The impressions 
made during youth seem to be the most last- 
ing. I am certain that the pieces that I 
learned before I was ten years of age remain 
more persistently in my memory than the com- 
positions I studied after I was thirty. The 
child who is destined for a musical career 
should receive as much musical instruction in 
early life as is compatible with the child's 
health and receptivity. To postpone the 
work too long is just as dangerous to the child's 
career as it is dangerous to overload the pupil 
with more work than his mind and body can 
absorb. Children learn far more rapidly than 
adults not merely because of the fact that 
the work becomes more and more complicated 
as the student advances, but also because the 

73 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

child mind is so vastly more receptive. The 
child's power of absorption in music study be- 
tween the ages of eight and twelve is simply 
enormous; it is less between twelve and 
twenty; still less between twenty and thirty, 
and often lamentably small between thirty and 
forty. It might be represented by some such 
diagram as: 

43O *4O .years of&* Limited Receptivity JUmitid Restate" 



5fcUt Less Accomplishment 



Less Accomplishment 










"Of course, these lines are only comparative, 
and there are exceptional cases of astonishing 
development late in life, due to enormous 
ambition and industry. Yet the period of 
highest achievement is usually early in life. 
This is especially true in the arts where digital 
skill is concerned. 

"All teachers are aware of the need for the 
best possible drill early in life. The idea one 
so often hears expressed in America: 'Since 

74 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

my daughter is only beginning her studies 
any teacher will do/ has been the source of 
great laxity in American musical education. 
If the father who has such an idea would only 
transpose the same thought to the building of 
a house he would be surprised to find himself 
saying: 'Since I am only laying a foundation, 
any kind of trashy material will do. I will use 
inferior cement, plaster, stone, bricks, decayed 
wood and cheap hardware, and employ the 
cheapest labor I can procure. But when I get 
to the roof I shall engage the finest roofmakers 
in the world!' 

"The beginning is of such tremendous im- 
portance that only the best is good enough. 
By this I do not mean the most expensive 
teacher obtainable, but someone who is thor- 
ough, painstaking, conscientious, alert and 
experienced. The foundation is the part of 
the house in which the greatest strength and 
thoroughness is required. Everything must 
be solid, substantial, firm and secure, to stand 
the stress of use and the test of time. Of 
course, there is such a thing as employing a 
teacher with a big reputation and exceptional 
skill, who would make an excellent teacher for 
an advanced student, but who might be in- 

75 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

capable of laying a good foundation for the 
beginner. One wants strength at the founda- 
tion not gold ornaments and marble trim- 
mings and beautiful decorations, fretwork, 
carving. Just as in great cities one finds 
firms which make a specialty of laying founda- 
tions for immense buildings, so it is often wise 
to employ a teacher who specializes in instruct- 
ing beginners. In European music schools 
this has almost always been the case. It is 
not virtuosity that is needed in the makeup of 
the teacher of beginners, but rather sound 
musicianship, as well as the comprehension of 
the child psychology. Drill, drill, and more 
drill, is the secret of the early training of the 
mind and hand. This is indicated quite as 
much in games such as tennis, billiards and 
golf. Think of the remarkable records of 
some very young players in these games, and 
you will see what may be accomplished in the 
early years of the young player. 

"In all arts and sciences, as one advances, 
complications and obstacles seem to multiply 
in complexity until the point of mastery is 
reached; then the tendency seems to reverse 
itself, until a kind of circle carries one round 
again to the point of simplicity. I have often 
liked to picture this to myself in this way: 

76 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 
powt of lat 




Greatest 



"It is encouraging for the student to know 
that he must expect to be confronted with ever- 
increasing difficulties, until he reaches the 
point where all the intense and intricate prob- 
lems seem to solve themselves, dissolving 
gradually into the light of a clear understand- 
ing day. This is to me a general principle 
underlying almost all lines of human achieve- 
ment, and it appears to me that the student 
should learn its application, not only to his 
own but to other occupations and attain- 
ments. This universal line of life, starting 
with birth, mounting to its climax in middle 
life, and then passing on to greater and greater 
simplicity of means, until at death the circle is 
almost completed, is a kind of human program 
which all successful men would appear to 
follow. Perhaps we can make this clearer by 
studying the evolution of the steam engine. 

"The steam engine started with the most 
primitive kind of apparatus. At the very first 
' 77 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

it was of the turbine type. Hero of Alexander 
(Heron, in Greek) made the first steam engine, 
which was little more than a toy. According 
to some historians, Heron lived in the second 
century before Christ, and according to others 
his work was done in the latter half of the first 
century. He was an ingenious mathematician 
who often startled the people of this time with 
his mechanical contrivances. It is difficult to 
show the principle of his engine in an exact 
drawing; but the following indicates in a crude 
way the application of steam force something 
after the manner in which Heron first applied it. 




"A is a retort containing water, which is 
heated to steam, which issues from the tube at 
B and is caught in the wheel in such a manner 
that the wheel revolves. The principle is 
simplicity itself; and the noteworthy fact is 

78 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

that primitive as it is it has the characteris- 
tic principle involved in the turbine engine of 
to-day. After Heron many others attempted 
to use controlled steam to produce force, until, 
in 1764, James Watt made discoveries which 
paved the way for the modern steam engine, 
constituting him virtually the inventor of the 
type. Thereafter, the machinery became more 
and more complicated and enormous in size. 
Double, triple and quadruple expansion types 
were introduced until, at the Centennial Ex- 
position at Philadelphia, in 1876, a giant en- 
gine was exhibited by Corliss a marvelous 
engine, with many elaborate details. Then, 
having reached the maximum curve of com- 
plexity, engine construction became more and 
more simple, and now we have turbine engines, 
such as the Parsons engines, which are all far 
smaller and simpler than their grandfathers of 
the seventies, but at the same time vastly more 
powerful and efficient. 

Ill 

"In the art of piano playing we have much 
the same line of curve. At first there was 
childlike simplicity. Then, with the further 
development of the art, we find the tendency 

79 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

toward enormous technical accomplishment 
and very great complexity. Fifty years ago 
technic was everything. The art of piano 
playing was the art of the musical speedom- 
eter the art of playing the greatest number 
of notes in the shortest possible time. Of 
course, there were a few outstanding giants, 
Rubinsteins, Liszts and Chopins, who made 
then* technic subordinate to their message; but 
the public was dazzled with technic one 
might better say pyrotechnics. Now we find 
the circle drawing toward the point of simpli- 
city again. Great beauty, combined with 
adequate technic, is demanded rather than 
enormous technic divorced from beauty. 

"Technic represents the material side of art, 
as money represents the material side of life. 
By all means achieve a fine technic, but do not 
dream that you will be artistically happy with 
this alone. Thousands millions of people 
believe that money is the basis of great happi- 
ness, only to find, when they have accumulated 
vast fortunes, that money is only one of the ex- 
traneous details which may or may not con- 
tribute to real content in life. 

"Technic is a chest of tools from which the 
skilled artisan draws what he needs at the right 

80 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

time for the right purpose. The mere posses- 
sion of the tools means nothing; it is the in- 
stinct the artistic intuition as to when and 
how to use the tools that counts. It is like 
opening the drawer and finding what one needs 
at the moment. 

"There is a technic which liberates and a 
technic which represses the artistic self. All 
technic ought to be a means of expression. It is 
perfectly possible to accumulate a technic that 
is next to useless. I recall the case of a musi- 
cian in Paris who studied counterpoint, har- 
mony and fugue for eight years, and at the end of 
that time he was incapable of using any of his 
knowledge in practical musical composition. 
Why? Because he had spent all of his time on 
the mere dry technic of composition, and none 
in actual composition. He told me that he 
had been years trying to link his technic to the 
artistic side of things to write compositions 
that embodied real music, and not merely the 
reflex of uninspired technical exercises. I am 
a firm believer in having technic go hand in 
hand with veritable musical development from 
the start. Neither can be studied alone; one 
must balance the other. The teacher who 
gives a pupil a long course in strict technic 

81 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

unbroken by the intelligent study of real music, 
is producing a musical mechanic an artisan, 
not an artist. 

"Please do not quote me as making a dia- 
tribe against technic. I believe in technic to 
the fullest extent in its proper place. Rosen- 
thai, who was unquestionably one of the great- 
est technicians, once said to me: 'I have found 
that the people who claim that technic is not an 
important thing in piano playing simply do not 
possess it/ For instance, one hears now and 
then that scales are unnecessary in piano prac- 
tice. A well-played scale is a truly beautiful 
thing, but few people play them well because 
they do not practice them enough. Scales are 
among the most difficult things in piano play- 
ing; and how the student who aspires to rise 
above mediocrity can hope to succeed without 
a thorough and far-reaching drill in all kinds of 
scales, I do not know. I do know, however, 
that I was drilled unrelentingly in them, and 
that I have been grateful for this all my life. 
Do not despise scales, but rather seek to make 
them beautiful. 

"The clever teacher will always find some 
piece that will illustrate the use and result 
of the technical means employed. There are 

82 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

thousands of such pieces that indicate the use 
of scales, chords, arpeggios, thirds, etc., and the 
pupil is encouraged to find that what he has 
been working so hard to acquire may be made 
the source of beautiful expression in a real 
piece of music. This, to my mind, should be 
part of the regular program of the student from 
the very start; and it is what I mean when I 
say that the work of the pupil in technic and in 
musical appreciation should go hand in hand 
from the beginning. 

IV 

"The use of the pedal is an art in itself. Un- 
fortunately, with many it is an expedient to 
shield deficiency a cloak to cover up inac- 
curacy and poor touch. It is employed as the 
veils that fading dowagers adopt to obscure 
wrinkles. The pedal is even more than a me- 
dium of coloring. It provides the background 
so indispensable in artistic playing. Imagine 
a picture painted without any background and 
you may have an inkling of what the effect of 
the properly used pedal is in piano playing. It 
has always seemed to me that it does in piano 
playing what the wind instruments do in the 
tonal mass of the orchestra. The wind instru- 

83 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

ments usually make a sort of background for 
the music of the other instruments. One who 
has attended the rehearsal of a great orchestra 
and has heard the violins rehearsed alone, and 
then together with the wind instruments, will 
understand exactly what I mean. 

"How and when to introduce the pedal to 
provide certain effects is almost the study of a 
lifetime. From the very start, where the 
student is taught the bad effect of holding 
down the 'loud' pedal while two unrelated 
chords are played, to the time when he is 
taught to use the pedal for the accomplish- 
ment of atmospheric effects that are like paint- 
ing in the most subtle and delicate shades, the 
study of the pedal is continuously a source of 
the most interesting experiment and revelation. 

"There should be no hard-and-fast rules 
governing the use of the pedal. It is the 
branch of pianoforte playing in which there 
must always be the greatest latitude. For 
instance, in the playing of Bach's works on the 
modern pianoforte there seems to have been a 
very great deal of confusion as to the propriety 
of the use of the pedal. The Bach music, 
which is played now on the keyboard of the 
modern piano, was, for the most part, originally 

84 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

written for either the clavier or for the organ. 
The clavichord had a very short sound, re- 
sembling in a way the staccato touch on the 
present-day piano, whereas the organ was and 
is capable of a great volume of sound of sus- 
tained quality. Due to the contradictory 
nature of these two instruments and the fact 
that many people do not know whether a com- 
position at hand was written for the clavichord 
or for the organ, some of them try to imitate 
the organ sound by holding the pedal all the 
time or most of the time, while others try to 
imitate the clavichord and refrain from the use 
of the pedal altogether. The extreme theo- 
ries, as in the case of all extreme theories, are 
undoubtedly wrong. 

"One may have the clavichord in mind in 
playing one piece and the organ in mind in 
playing another. There can be nothing wrong 
about that, but to transform the modern piano- 
forte, which has distinctly specific tonal attri- 
butes, into a clavichord or into an organ must 
result in a tonal abuse. 

"The pedal is just as much a part of the 
pianoforte as are the stops and the couplers 
a part of the organ or the brass tangents a part 
of the clavichord. It is artistically impossible 

85 



PIANISTlC SUCCESS 

to so camouflage the tone of the pianoforte as 
to make it sound like either the organ or the 
clavichord. Even were this possible, the clavi- 
chord is an instrument which is out of date, 
though the music of Bach is still a part and 
parcel of the musical literature of to-day. The 
oldest known specimen of the clavichord 
(dated 1537) is in the Metropolitan Museum 
of Art, in New York City. Should you hap- 
pen to view this instrument you would realize 
l at once that its action is entirely different from 
that of the piano, just as its tone was different. 
You cannot possibly make a piano sound like 
a clavichord through any medium of touch or 
pedals. Therefore, why not play the piano as 
a piano? Why try to do the impossible thing 
in endeavoring to make the piano sound like 
another instrument of a different mechanism? 
Why not make a piano sound like a piano? 
Must we always endure listening to Wagner's 
music in a variety show and to Strauss' waltzes 
in Carnegie Hall? 

V 

"If one were to ask me what is the indispen- 
sable thing in the education of a pianist, I 
would say: 'First of all, a good guide.' By 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

this I do not mean merely a good teacher, but 
rather a mentor, a pilot who can and who will 
oversee the early steps of the career of a young 
person. In my own case, I was fortunate in 
having a father, a professional musician, who 
realized my musical possibilities, and from the 
very beginning was intensely interested in my 
career, not merely as a father, but as an artist 
guiding and piloting every day of my early 
life. Fate is such a peculiar mystery, and the 
student, in his young life, can have but a slight 
idea of what is before him in the future. There- 
fore, the need of a mentor is essential. I am 
sure that my father was the author of a great 
deal of the success that I have enjoyed. It 
was he who took me to Moszkowski and 
Rubinstein. The critical advice especially 
that of Rubinstein was invaluable to me. 
The student should have unrelenting criticism 
from a master mind. Even when it is caustic, 
as was von Billow's, it may be very beneficial. 
I remember once in the home of Moszkowski 
that I played for von Billow. The taciturn, 
cynical conductor-pianist simply crushed me 
with his criticism of my playing. But, young 
though I was, I was not so conceited as to fail 
to realize that he was right. I shook hands 

87 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

with him and thanked him for his advice and 
criticism. Von Billow laughed and said, 'Why 
do you thank me ? It is like the chicken thank- 
ing the one who had eaten it, for doing so/ 
Von Billow, on that same day played in such a 
jumbled manner with his old, stiffened fingers, 
that I asked Moszkowski how in the world it 
might be possible for von Billow to keep a con- 
cert engagement which I knew him to have a 
few days later in Berlin. Moszkowski replied : 
'Let von Billow alone for that. You don't 
know him. If he sets out to do something, he 
is going to do it.' 

"Von Billow's playing, however, was almost 
always pedantic, although unquestionably 
scholarly. There was none of the leonine 
spontaneity of Rubinstein. Rubinstein was a 
very exacting schoolmaster at the piano when 
he first undertook to train me; but he often 
said to me, 'The main object is to make the 
music sound right, even though you have to 
play with your nose!' With Rubinstein there 
was no ignus fatuus of mere method. Any 
method that would lead to fine artistic re- 
sults to beautiful and effective performance- 
was justifiable in his eyes. 

" Finally, to the student let me say: 'Always 
88 



PIANISTIC SUCCESS 

work hard and strive to do your best. Secure 
a reliable mentor if you can possibly do so, and 
depend upon his advice as to your career. 
Even with the best advice there is always the 
element of fate the introduction of the un- 
known the strangeness of coincidence which 
would almost make one believe in astrology 
and its dictum that our terrestrial course may 
be guided by the stars. In 1887, when I 
played in Washington as a child of eleven, I 
was introduced to a young lady, who was the 
daughter of Senator James B. Eustis. Little 
did I dream that this young woman, of all the 
hundreds and hundreds of girls introduced to 
me during my tours, would some day be my 
wife. Fate plays its r61e but do not be 
tempted into the fallacious belief that success 
and everything else depend upon fate, for the 
biggest factor is, after all, hard work and intel- 
ligent guidance.' " 



PIANO QUESTIONS 

ANSWERED BY 

JOSEF HOFMANN 

AUTHOR OF "PIANO PLAYING' 



A LITTLE BOOK OF DIRECT ANSWERS 

TO TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY QUESTIONS 

ASKED BY PIANO STUDENTS 




PHILADELPHIA 

THEODORE PRESSER CO. 
1920 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OP TRANSLATION 
INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN 



COPYRIGHT, IQOQ, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
PUBLISHED, OCTOBER, 1909 



CONTENTS 

TECHNIQUE 

1. General . . 3 

2. Position of the Body 4 

3. Position of the Hand . . .6 

4. Position of the Fingers . . 6 

5. Action of the Wrist . . . 9 

6. Action of the Arm . . . 11 

7. Stretching 12 

8. The Thumb . Y . v 14 

9. The Other Fingers ... 16 

10. Weak Fingers, etc 18 

11. Staccato 21 

12. Legato . . . . .22 

13. Precision 25 

14. Piano Touch vs Organ Touch . 26 

15. Fingering ..... 27 

16. The Glissando .... 29 

17. Octaves . . . . . 29 

18. Repetition Technique 34 

19. Double Notes .... 35 

THE INSTRUMENT 35 

THE PEDALS 39 

PRACTICE .45 

MARKS AND NOMENCLATURE 57 
V 



vi CONTENTS 

FAAZ 

ABOUT CERTAIN PIECES AND COMPOSERS . 75 

1. Bach 80 

2. Beethoven 83 

3. Mendelssohn 85 

4. Chopin 86 

EXERCISES AND STUDIES .... 93 

POLYRYTHMS 96 

PHRASING 98 

RUBATO 100 

CONCEPTION 102 

FORCE OP EXAMPLE 104 

THEORY 104 

THE MEMORY 112 

SIGHT-READING 117 

ACCOMPANYING 117 

TRANSPOSING 119 

PLAYING FOR PEOPLE .... 120 

ABOUT THE PIANO PER SE . . . . 127 

BAD MUSIC 133 

ETHICAL 135 

PITCH AND KINDRED MATTERS . . .136 

THE STUDENT'S AGE 138 

TEACHERS, LESSONS AND METHODS . . 140 
MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS . .150 



A FOREWORD 

THIS little book is compiled from the 
questions and my answers to them, as 
they have appeared during the past two 
years in the Ladies 9 Home Journal. Since 
the questions came mostly from young 
piano students and cover a large number 
of matters important to the study of the 
piano, it was thought that this republica- 
tion might be of interest to piano students 
in general, and that, gathered into a little 
volume, they might form a new and 
perhaps not unwelcome sort of reference 
book. 

To serve as such and to facilitate the 
reader's search for any particular subject, 
I have grouped the questions, together 
with their answers, under special headings. 

It is only natural, however, that a book 
of this character cannot contain more 
than mere suggestions to stimulate the 
reader's individual thinking. Positive 
facts, which can be found in books on 
musical history and in kindred works, 



Vll 



viii PIANO QUESTIONS 

are, therefore, stated only where they are 
needful as a basis for the replies. Any 
rule or advice given to some particular 
person cannot fit every other person unless 
it is passed through the sieve of one's own 
individual intelligence and is, by this pro- 
cess, so modified as to fit one's own particu- 
lar case. 

There are, in addition to the questions 
presented and answered, one or two points 
about piano-playing that would naturally 
not occur to the average student. The 
opportunity to discuss those here is too 
favourable to be allowed to pass, and as 
they hardly admit of precise classification, 
I venture to offer them here as a brief 
foreword. 

To the hundreds of students who at 
various times have asked me: What is 
the quickest way to become a great piano- 
player? I will say that such a thing as 
a royal road, a secret trick, or a patent 
method to quickly become a great artist, 
does not exist. As the world consists of 
atoms; as it is the infinitely small things 
that have forced the microscope into the 
scientist's hand, so does art contain num- 
berless small, seemingly insignificant things 



A FOREWORD ix 

which, if neglected entirely, visit dire ven- 
geance upon the student. Instead of 
prematurely concerning himself with his 
inspiration, spirituality, genius, fancy, etc., 
and neglecting on their account the material 
side of piano study, the student should be 
willing to progress from atom to atom, 
slowly, deliberately, but with absolute 
certainty that each problem has been 
completely solved, each difficulty fully over- 
come, before he faces the next one. Leaps, 
there are none! 

Unquestionably it does sometimes hap- 
pen that an artist suddenly acquires a 
wide renown. In such a case his leap 
was not into greatness, but merely into the 
public's recognition of it; the greatness 
must have been in him for some time 
before the public became aware of it. If 
there was any leaping, it was not the 
artist, but the public that did it. 

Let us not close our eyes to the fact 
that there have been and probably 
always will be artists that gain a wide 
renown without being great; puffery, aided 
by some personal eccentricity, is quite 
able to mislead the public, but these will, 
at best, do it only for a short time, and 



x PIANO QUESTIONS 

the collapse of such a reputation, as collapse 
there must be, is always sure, and sad to 
behold. 

The buoyancy of mind, its ability to 
soar, so necessary for both creative and 
interpretative art, these are never impaired 
by close attention to detail. If they should 
be destroyed by attention to detail, it 
would not matter, for they cannot have 
been genuine; they can have been but 
sentimental imaginings. Details are the 
very steps which, one by one, lead to the 
summit of art; we should be careful not 
to lift one foot before the other one rests 
quite securely upon its step. One should 
to illustrate not be satisfied with the 
ability of "getting through" some difficult 
passage "by the skin of the teeth" or 
"without breaking down," but should strive 
to be able to play with it, to toy with it, 
in order to have it at one's beck and call 
in any variation of mood, so as to play 
it as it pleases the mind and not only the 
fingers. One should acquire sovereignty 
over it. 

This sovereignty is technique. But 
technique is not art. It is only a means 
to achieve art, a paver of the path toward 



A FOREWORD xi 

it. The danger of confounding technique 
with art itself is not inconsiderable, since 
it takes a long time to develop a trustworthy 
technique; and this prolonged association 
with one subject is apt to give it supremacy 
over all others in one's mind. To guard 
against this serious danger the student 
should, above all, never lose sight of the 
fact that music, as does any other art, springs 
from our innate craving for individual 
expression. As word-thought is trans- 
mitted from man to man by verbal language 
so are feelings, emotions, moods crystal- 
lized into tone-thought conveyed by 
music. The effects of music may, therefore, 
be ennobling and refining; but they can 
as easily be degrading and demoralizing. 
For the saints and sinners among music- 
makers are probably in the same proportion 
as among the followers of other professions. 
The ethical value of music depends, there- 
fore, not upon the musician's technique, 
but solely upon his moral tendencies. 
The student should never strive to dazzle 
his auditor's ear with mere technical bril- 
liancy, but should endeavour to gladden 
his heart, to refine his feelings and sensi- 
bilities, by transmitting noble musical 



xfi PIANO QUESTIONS 

thoughts to his mind. He should scorn 
all unnecessary, charlatanish externalities 
and strive ever for the inwardness of the 
composition he interprets; for, in being 
honest to the composition he will also be 
honest to himself and thus, consciously 
or not, express his own best self. If all 
musicians were sincere in this endeavour 
there could be neither envy nor jealousy 
among them; advancing hand in hand 
toward their common ideal they could 
not help being of mutual assistance to each 
other. 

Art, not unlike religion, needs an altar 
around which its devotees may congregate. 
Liszt, in his day, had erected such an 
altar in Weimar, and as its high priest he 
stood, himself, before it a luminous ex- 
ample of devotion to art. Rubinstein did 
the same in St. Petersburg. Out of these 
atmospheres, thanks to the inspiring in- 
fluences of Liszt's and Rubinstein's won- 
derful personalities, there have emerged 
a large number of highly meritorious and 
some eminent artists. That many of them 
have lacked the power in their later life 
to withstand the temptations of quick 
material gain by descending to a lower 



A FOREWORD xiii 

plane is to be regretted, but such is life- 
Many are called, but few are chosen. 
Since those days several of these "many" 
have attempted to create similar centres 
in Europe. They failed, because they were 
not serving art, but rather made art serve 
their own worldly purposes. 

The artists of talent no longer group 
themselves around the man of genius. 
Perhaps he is not to be found just now. 
Each little celebrity among the pianists 
keeps nowadays a shop of his own and all 
to himself. Many of these shops are 
"mints," and some of them produce 
counterfeits. As a matter or course, this 
separative system precludes all unification 
of artistic principles and is, therefore, 
very harmful to the present generation of 
students. The honest student who will 
discriminate between these, sometimes 
cleverly masked, counterfeit mints, and a 
real art altar must be of a character in 
which high principles are natively ingrained. 
It might help him somewhat to remember 
that when there is no good to choose 
we can always reject the bad. 

What is true of teachers is just as true 
of compositions. The student should not 



xiv PIANO QUESTIONS 

listen to should not, at least, repeat 
the hearing of bad compositions, though 
they may be called symphonies or operas. 
And he can, in a considerable measure, 
rely upon his own instincts in this matter. 
He may not and probably will not fully 
fathom the depths of a new symphony at 
its first hearing, but he must have received 
general impressions of sufficient power 
and clearness to make him wish for another 
hearing. When this wish is absent he 
should not hear the work again from a 
mere sense of duty; it were far wiser to 
avoid another hearing, for habit is a strong 
factor, and if we accustom our ear to hear 
cacophonous music we are apt to lose our 
aversion to it, which is tantamount to a 
loss of good, natural taste. It is with 
much of modern music as it is with opium, 
morphine, and other deadly drugs. We 
should shun their very touch. These 
musical opiates are sometimes manufac- 
tured by persons of considerable renown; 
of such quickly gained renown as may be 
acquired nowadays by the employment of 
commercialistic methods; a possibility for 
which the venal portion of the public press 
must bear part of the blame. The student 



A FOREWORD xv 

should not be deceived by names of which 
the general familiarity is of too recent a 
date. I repeat that he should rather con- 
sult his own feelings and by fpllowing them 
contribute his modest share toward sending 
some of the present "moderns" back into 
their deserved obscurity and insignificance. 
, I use the term "moderns" advisedly, 
for the true masters some of whom 
died but recently have never stooped to 
those methods of self-aggrandisement at 
which I hinted. Their places of honour 
were accorded to them by the world 
because they were theirs, by right of their 
artistic power, their genius and the purity 
of their art. My advice to the students 
and to all lovers of music is: Hold on with 
all your might to the school of sincerity 
and chastity in music! It is saner and, 
morally and aesthetically, safer than the 
entire pack of our present nerve-tickling, 
aye, and nerve-racking "modernists." 
Music should always elevate; it should 
always call forth what, according to the 
demands of time and place, is best in us. 
When, instead of serving this divine mission, 
it speculates upon, and arouses, our lowest 
instincts for no better purpose than to fill 



xvi PIANO QUESTIONS 

the pockets of its perpetrator, it should 
receive neither the help nor the encouraging 
attention of any noble -thinking and clean- 
minded man or woman. Passive resistance 
can do a good deal on these premises. 

The matter of abstention from a certain 
type of music recalls to my mind another 
evil from which Americans should abstain; 
it is the curious and out-of-date supersti- 
tion that music can be studied abroad 
better than here. While their number 
is not very large, I personally can name 
five American teachers who have struggled 
here for many a year without gaining that 
high recognition which they deserve. And 
now ? Now they are in the various capitals 
of Europe, receiving the highest fees that 
were ever paid for instruction, and they 
receive these high fees from American 
students that throng their studios. That 
the indifference of their compatriots drove 
these men practically out of their country 
proved to be of advantage to them; but 
how ought those to be regarded who failed 
to keep them here? The wrong is irre- 
parable in so far as these men do not think 
of returning to America except as visitors. 
The duty of American students and lovers 



A FOREWORD xvii 

of good music is to see to it that such 
capable teachers as are still here should 
remain here. The mass of emigration to 
Europe of our music students should cease! 
If a student has what is understood by 
"finished" his studies here and his teacher 
sets him free, he may make a reconnoitring 
tour in Europe. The change of views 
and customs will, no doubt, broaden his 
mind in certain directions. But musically 
speaking, he will be sure to find that most 
of the enchantment of Europe was due to 
its distance. Excepting the excellent or- 
chestras of Europe and speaking of the 
general music-making there, it is at present 
not quite as good as it is here: neither is 
the average music teacher in Europe a 
whit better than the man of equal standing 
here. 

Americans should take cognizance of 
the fact that their country has not stood 
still in music any more than in any other 
direction. Each year has recorded an 
advancing step in its development. We 
must cease to compare the Europe of 
to-day with the America of fifty years ago. 
At present there is an astonishingly large 
number of clever and capable musicians 



xviii PIANO QUESTIONS 

in America, and, as with good physicians 
and lawyers, their ability usually stands in 
inverse proportion to the amount of their 
advertising. It is these worthy teachers 
for whose sake the superstition of "studying 
abroad" should be foresworn. What Uncle 
Sam has, in the field of music, not directly 
produced he has acquired by the natural 
law of attraction; now that so many tal- 
ented and learned instructors, both native 
and foreign, are here they should be given a 
fair opportunity to finish a pupil's develop- 
ment as far as a teacher can do it, instead 
of seeing him, half-done, rush off "to 
Europe." If I were not convinced that 
a change on this score is possible, I should 
not have devoted so many words to it. 
It is merely a question of making a start. 
Let me hope that each reader of this little 
book may start this change, or, that, if 
already started, he will foster and help it. 
If his efforts should be disparaged by 
some, he need not feel disheartened, but 
remember that he belongs to the "land of 
limitless possibilities." 

JOSEF HOFMANN. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 

TECHNIQUE 

1. GENERAL 

What are the different techniques, and What Doe* 
which one is most generally used? What 
is the difference between them ? 

Technique is a generic term, com- 
prising scales, arpeggios, chords, double 
notes, octaves, legato, and the various 
staccato touches as well as the dynamic 
shadings. They are all necessary to 
make up a complete technique. 

Why do pianists who have more tech- The More 
nique than many others practise more ^ C ^? M 

.* . ., * r the More 

than these others? Practice 

Why have the Rothschilds more secre- 
taries than I have ? Because the admin- 
istration of a large fortune entails more 
work than that of a small one. A pianist's 
technique is the material portion of his 
artistic possessions; it is his capital. To 
keep a great technique in fine working 



4 PIANO QUESTIONS 

trim is in itself a considerable and time- 
absorbing task. And, besides, you know 
that the more we have the more we want. 
This trait is not only human; it is also 
pianistic. 

Howtolm- Should I endeavour to improve my 
techni q ue b 7 tying difficult pieces ? 

You should not confine yourself to 
pieces that come easy to you, for that 
would prevent all further technical prog- 
ress. But beware of pieces that are so 
difficult that you could not play them 
in a slower tempo with absolute cor- 
rectness. For this would lead to the ruin 
of your technique and kill the joy in your 
studies. Play pieces that are always a trifle 
harder than those you have completely 
mastered. Do not emulate those who say: 
"I play already this or that," without 
asking themselves "how" they play. 
Artistry depends ever upon the "how." 

2. POSITION OF THE BODY 

Do Not. Are the best results at the piano at- 
Raise the ta ; ne d by sitting high or low? 

Piano-Stool i i i j j 

Too High As a general rule, I do not recommend 
a high seat at the piano, because this in- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 5 

duces the employment of the arm and 
shoulders rather than of the fingers, and 
is, of course, very harmful to the tech- 
nique. As to the exact height of the 
seat, you will have to experiment for 
yourself and find out at which height 
you can play longest with the least 
fatigue. 

Is my seat at the piano to be at the The Height 

same height when I practise as when I f the n 

& Piano Seat 

play for people ? 

Yes! Height and distance (from the 
keyboard) of your chair which should 
never have arms you should decide 
for yourself and once for all time; for 
only then can you acquire a normal 
hand position, which, in its turn, is a 
condition sine qua non for the develop- 
ment of your technique. See also to it 
that both feet are in touch with their 
respective pedals so as to be in place 
when their action is required. If they 
stray away and you must grope for the 
pedals when you need them it will lead 
to a break in your concentration, and 
this will cause you to play less well than 
you really can. To let the feet stray 



6 PIANO QUESTIONS 

from the pedals easily affects your entire 
position. It is a bad habit. Alas, that 
bad habits are so much easier acquired 
than good ones! 

8. POSITION OP THE HAND 

The Tilt of Should my hand in playing scales be 

in'pfa"^ tilted toward tne thumb or toward the 
Scales Httle finger? I find that in the scales 
with black keys it is much easier to play 
the latter way. 

I quite share your opinion, and extend 
it also to the scales without black keys. 
I think the natural tendency of the hands 
is to lean toward the little finger, and as 
soon as you have passed the stage of 
preliminary training, as soon as you feel 
fairly certain that your fingers act evenly, 
you may yield to their natural tendency, 
especially when you strive more for 
speed than force; for speed does not 
suffer tension, while force craves it. 

4. POSITION OF THE FINGERS 

The Re- Does it make any difference if my 
suit* Count, fi n g ers are ne id very much curved or 
Method* n ty a little? I was told that Ruben- 
stein used his fingers almost flat. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 7 

Since you mention Rubinstein I may 
quote his saying: "Play with your nose, 
if you will, but produce euphony (Wohl- 
klang) and I will recognize you as a 
master of your instrument." It is ever 
a question of the result, whether you play 
this way or that way. If you should 
play with very much curved fingers and 
the result should sound uneven and 
pieced, change the curving little by little 
until you find out what degree of curva- 
ture suits your hand best. Experiment 
for yourself. Generally speaking, I rec- 
ommend a free and easy position of hand 
and fingers, for it is only in a position of 
greatest freedom that their elasticity can 
be preserved, and elasticity is the chief 
point. By a free and easy position I 
mean that natural position of hand and 
fingers into which they fall when you 
drop your hand somewhat leisurely upon 
the keyboard. 

Should a cantabile passage be played CantaUle 
with a high finger-stroke or by using Passa 9 es 
the weight of the arm? 

Certain characteristic moments in 
some pieces require the high finger- 



8 PIANO QUESTIONS 

stroke. It may be used also in working 
up a climax, in which case the raising 
of the fingers should increase propor- 
tionately to the rise of the climax. Where, 
however, the strength of the fingers is 
sufficient to obtain the climacteric re- 
sult by pressure, instead of the stroke, 
it is always preferable to use pres- 
sure. As a general principle, I believe 
in the free-hanging, limp arm and re- 
,,; commend using its weight in cantabile 
playing. 

Anlncor- Pray how can I correct the fault of 
red Posi- bending out the first joints of the fingers 
Fingers when their cushions are pressed down 
upon the keys? 

Your trouble comes under the head of 
faulty touch, which nothing will correct 
but the constant supervision by a good 
teacher, assisted by a strong exertion of 
your own will power and strictest atten- 
tion whenever you play. This bending 
out of the first joint is one of the hardest 
pianistic ailments to cure, but it is curable. 
Do not be discouraged if the cure is slow. 
The habit of years cannot be thrown off 
in a day. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 9 

5. ACTION OF THE WRIST 

Should the hands be kept perfectly Don't Shy- 
still in playing scales and arpeggios ? Or, (f n */K 

, r % ? . r & ? , . //ancfc tn 

to lessen fatigue, is an occasional rise playing 
and fall of the wrist permissible in a long Scales 
passage of scale or arpeggio? 

The hands should, indeed, be kept 
still, but not stiff. Protracted passages 
of scales or arpeggios easily induce a 
stiffening of the wrist. Hence, an occa- 
sional motion of the wrist, upward and 
downward, will do much to counteract 
this tendency. It will, besides, be a 
good test of the looseness of the wrist. 

Is it not impossible to preserve a The Loose 
complete looseness of the wrist in Wrist 
piano-playing because of the muscles 
that connect the forearm with the 
hand? 

By no means. You should only see 
to it that you do not stiffen the wrist 
unconsciously, as most players do. The 
arm should be held so that the wrist is 
on a line with it, not bent, and by 
concentrated thinking you should en- 
deavour to transfer the display of force 
to the finger-tips instead of holding the 



10 PIANO QUESTIONS 

tension in your arm. For this produces 
fatigue, while the way I suggest will lead 
you to develop considerable force through 
the hand and fingers alone and leave the 
arm practically limp and loose. It takes 
months of study under closest attention, 
however, to acquire this looseness of 
the arm. 

The Pom- Do you favour a low or high position of 
tion of the fae wrist for average type of work? 

For average work, I recommend an 

average position; neither high nor low. 

Changes, upward or downward, must be 

made to meet the requirements of special 

occasions. 

Do Not If one's wrist is stiff is there any set 
Allow o f exercises especially adapted to acquir- 

the Wrist . ^ _ JL . . , 

(o Qet Stiff ln g a * reer movement? Or is there any 
special method of exercise? 

It depends on whether your wrist is 
stiff from non-use or from wrong use. 
Assuming the latter, I should recommend 
studies in wrist octaves, but you must 
watch your wrist while playing and 
rest at the slightest indication of its 
stiffening. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 11 

6. ACTION OF THE ARM 

I cannot play tremolo in the left hand When 
for any length of time without great 
fatigue. I have tried changing the posi- duly 
tion of the hand from high to low, the 
sidewise motion, and the quiet hand. 
What is the correct method, and may the 
difficulty be overcome by slow practice? 

The tremolo cannot be practised 
slowly, nor with a stiff or quiet hand. 
The action must be distributed over the 
hand, wrist, underarm and, if necessary, 
the elbow. The shoulder forms the pivot 
whence a vibratory motion must proceed 
and engage all the points on the road to 
the fingers. The division of labour can- 
not be done consciously, but should 
better proceed from a feeling as if the 
whole arm was subjected to an electric 
current while engaged in playing a 
tremolo. 

Should octave chords be played with Play 
rigid arms, the wrists and fingers thereby ^r 
increasing the tone volume, or should the i 003e 
arms be loose? My teachers differ in 
their methods; so I turn to you for 
advice. 



12 PIANO QUESTIONS 

With few exceptions, dictated by cer- 
tain characterizations, chords should al- 
ways be played with a loose arm. Let 
the arm pull the hand above the keys 
and then let both fall heavily upon them, 
preparing the fingers for their appropriate 
notes while still in the air and not, as 
many do, after falling down. This mode 
of touch produces greater tone-volume, 
is least fatiguing, and will have no bad 
after-effects. 

7. STRETCHING 

Fatiguing I stretch beween my fingers taking 

the Hand tne seconc i an( j third, for instance, and 

Stretching trying to see how many keys I can get 

between them. It has helped me, but 

shall I be doing wrong to continue? 

If, as you say, you feel benefited by 
your stretching exercises you may con- 
tinue them. But in your place I 
should beware of fatigue, for while the 
hand may show an improvement in 
its stretch while you are practising 
these exercises, if it is fatigued it will 
afterward contract so that its stretch is 
liable to become narrower than it was 
before. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 13 

Is there any way to increase the stretch Do Not 



of my very small hand ? u . the 

i i Hand by 

Any modern teacher, acquainted with stretching 
your hand, can devise certain exercises I* 
that will be applicable to your particular 
hand. As the lack of stretch, however, 
may be due to a number of different 
causes I should advise you to desist from 
any stretch exercise that might be rec- 
ommended to you without a close ex- 
amination of your hand, since the wrong 
kind of exercise is not only apt, but 
bound, to injure it, perhaps permanently. 

Is there any exercise, on the piano or A Safe 
otherwise, that would tend to stretch Wa y f. 
my hand so as to enable me to play oc- tk Small 
taves ? My fingers are short and stubby. Hand 
My teacher has not given me anything 
definite on this score. 

The attempts to widen the natural 
stretch of the hand by artificial means 
lead easily to disastrous results. It was 
by just such attempts that Schumann 
rendered his hand useless for piano- 
playing. The best I can recommend is 
that before playing you soak your hands 
in rather hot water for several minutes 



14 PIANO QUESTIONS 

and then while still in the water 
stretch the fingers of one hand with the 
other. By doing this daily you will 
gain in stretch, provided you refrain 
from forcing matters, and provided also 
that you are still young, and your hands 
are flexible. 

8. THE THUMB 

"What is What is the matter with my scales? 

^ifhlT * cannot P' av t ^ lem wtthout a perceptible 
Scales?" jerk when I use my thumb. How can 
I overcome the unevenness ? 

In answering this question I am in 
the position of a physician who is ex- 
pected to prescribe a treatment for a 
patient whom he has neither examined 
nor even seen. I can therefore advise 
only in a very general way as I have 
done with many questions to avoid the 
eventuality of being confronted by an 
exceptional case. The cause of the 
hand's unrest in the passing of the 
thumb lies usually in transferring the 
thumb too late. The thumb waits usually 
until the very moment when it is needed 
and then quickly jumps upon the proper 
key, instead of moving toward it as soon 



PIANO QUESTIONS 15 

as the last key it touched can be released. 
This belatedness causes a jerky motion 
of the arm and imparts it to the hand. 
Another cause lies in a fault no less 
grave than the first. Since the hand 
has only five fingers while the scale 
numbers many notes (according to its 
length), the player must replenish his 
fingers by passing the thumb under the 
hand so as to form a conjunction 
between the notes played and those to 
be played. This passing of the thumb 
conditions a change or shifting of the 
hand toward the keys to follow, but the 
shifting of the hand must not coincide 
with the passing of the thumb or the 
result will be a jerk. The position of 
the hand in relation to the keyboard 
must not change. It must remain the 
same until the thumb has struck its 
new key. Not until then must the 
shifting of the hand take place. In 
this way the jumpiness or jerkiness of 
the scale can be avoided, provided one 
can follow this precept punctiliously 
which is not an easy matter, espe- 
cially in great speed. Alas, why are 
those pesky scales so difficult, in fact, 



16 PIANO QUESTIONS 

the most difficult thing to do on the 
piano ? 



How to What is the correct position for the 

H Thumb thumb ? Should {i be CUrved wel1 under 

the hand while playing? 

In scale-playing the thumb should be 
slightly curved and kept near the index 
finger in order to be ready when needed. 
In pieces this position of the thumb 
cannot, of course, always be observed. 

Which Should one pay special attention to 
^ e ' the training of the thumb ? 

mand Most t i 

Attention? It may be said that the thumb and the 
middle finger are the two arch-conspi- 
rators against a precise finger technique. 
They crave your greatest attention. 
Above all, you must see to it that, in 
touching the keys with these fingers, you 
do not move the whole hand, still less 
the arm. 

9. THE OTHER FINGERS 

The What exercise would you recommend 

andFiftk for the trainin g of the fourth and the 
Finger* fifth fingers ? 

Any collection of Etudes is sure to 



PIANO QUESTIONS 17 

contain some that are devoted to the 
training of those two fingers. In the 
Cramer Etudes (Bulow's selection) you 
will find Nos. 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 20 
adapted to your case, but do not pin 
your faith to the print! In all matters 
of art the "how" is of far more conse- 
quence than the "what." Play what 
you will, but bear your weak points in 
mind while you play. This is the real 
remedy. Keep hand and arm as loose 
as you can while training the fourth 
and fifth fingers. 

In making wide skips in which the The Action 
little finger strikes a single note, as, for O f^ e 
instance, in left-hand waltz accompani- Finger 
ments, should one strike on the end of 
the little finger or on its side; and should 
the finger be curved or held more or less 
flat? 

The little finger should never strike 
with its side. It should always be held 
in its normally curved condition, and 
straighten at the stroke only on such 
occasions when its own force proves 
insufficient and requires the assistance 
of the wrist and arm muscles. 



18 PIANO QUESTIONS 

10. WEAK FINGERS, ETC. 

To How can I strengthen the little finger 

of mv ri s nt hand ? l avoid u in P Iavin g' 

Finger using the next finger instead. 

Use It B V employing your little finger as 
much as possible and at once quitting 
the habit of substituting another finger 
for it. 

The Weak What exercise would you recommend 

Fin9 theLelt fOF the trainin S f the fourtn and fiftn 

Hand fingers of the left hand ? 

Slow trill with various touches, with 
highly lifted fingers producing strength 
through their fall and with a lesser lift 
of the fingers combined with pressure 
touch, watching closely that the little 
finger strikes with the tip and not with 
the side. Rhythmic evenness should also 
be punctiliously observed. 

When the What kind of technical work would 

F Seem ^ ou adv * se me to ta ^ e to ma ke mv fingers 
Weak strong in the shortest time consistent 
with good work ? 

If your fingers are unusually weak it 
may be assumed that your muscular 
constitution in general is not strong. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 19 

The training of the fingers alone will, 
in that case, lead to no decisive results. 
You will have to strive for a general 
strengthening of your muscular fibre. 
At this point, however, begins the 
province of your physician and mine 
ends. If you consider your constitu- 
tion normal, four or five hours' daily 
work at the piano will develop the 
necessary digital force, if that time 
is judiciously used. 

Is it always necessary to watch the No Ne- 
fingers with the eye ? cessit y to 

i L *1 4 IM J Watch the 

In places where the nngers slide, and Fingers 
do not jump from one note to another 
at a distance, there is no need of keeping 
the eye on them. 

Is biting the finger-nails injurious to Biting the 
the piano touch? %"?"- 

r Nails 

Certainly; biting the nails or any Spoils the 
other injury to the finger-tips and hand Touch 
will spoil your touch. Extreme clean- 
liness and care in cutting the nails 
the proper length are necessary to keep 
your hands in condition for playing 
the piano. 



20 PIANO QUESTIONS 

To Prevent How can I prevent my finger-tips, 
Sore after prolonged playing, from feeling 

Tips After sore tne next day ? 

Playing Experience teaches that in such cases, 
as in many others, cleanliness is the best 
remedy. After playing wash your fingers 
at once in warm water, with soap and 
brush, and then rub them well with 
either cold cream or some similar fatty 
substance. In the development of speed 
on the piano, the rigidity of the skin on 
the fingers is a great hindrance; it makes 
us feel as if we played with gloves on 
the fingers. 

Broad- Are broad-tipped fingers considered a 
Tipped detriment to a man student of piano; for 

Fingers * 

Not a Dis- instance, if the finger grazes the black 
advantage keys on each side when playing between 
them ? 

Unless broad-tipped fingers are of an 
unusual thickness I do not consider them 
an obstacle in the way of good piano- 
playing; the less so, as the white keys 
whatever shape the fingers may have 
should never be struck between the black 
1 ones, but only in the midst of the open 
space. Altogether, I hold that the shape 



PIANO QUESTIONS 21 

of the hand is of far greater importance 
to the pianist than the shape of his fingers; 
for it furnishes the fingers with a base of 
operations and with a source of strength, 
besides holding the entire control over 
them. Studying the hands and fingers 
of celebrated pianists you will find a 
great variety of finger shapes, while their 
hands are usually broad and muscular. 

When playing a piece in which a rest What to do 
of a measure and a half or two measures lth the 



occurs should I drop my hand in my lap pi oye d 
or keep it on the keyboard ? Hand 

If the temporarily unemployed hand 
is tired it will rest better in the lap, 
because this position favours the blood 
circulation, which, in its turn, tends to 
renew the strength. I should, however, 
not put it away from the keyboard too 
often, for this might easily be taken for 
a mannerism. 

11. STACCATO 

What can I do to enable me to play Wrist Stue- 
wrist staccato very fast without fatiguing cato at a 

thearm? Tempo 

Change your wrist staccato for a 



22 PIANO QUESTIONS 

little while to a finger or arm staccato, 
thus giving the wrist muscles a chance 
to rest and regain their strength. 

The Differ- What does "finger staccato" mean? 
ence j s not staccato always done with the 

between * 

"Finger fingers? 

Staccato" By no means! There is a well-de- 
ana Other ,* i . . , 
Kinds fr ne d arm staccato, a wrist staccato, and 

a finger staccato. The latter is produced 
by a touch similar to the rapid repetition 
touch that is, by not allowing the 
fingers to fall perpendicularly upon the 
keys, but rather let them make a motion 
as if you were wiping a spot off the keys 
with the finger-tips, without the use of 
the arm, and rapidly pulling them toward 
the inner hand. The arm should take 
no part in it whatever. 

12. LEGATO 

The Ad- Is it better for me to practise more 
vanta ll l to staccato or more legato ? 

Over Give the preference to legato, for it 

Staccato produces the genuine piano tone, and it 

develops the technique of the fingers; 

while the staccato touch always tends to 

draw the arm into action. If you play 



PIANO QUESTIONS 23 

from the arm you cannot expect any 
benefit for the fingers. For the acquisi- 
tion of a legitimate legato Chopin's 
works cannot be highly enough recom- 
mended, even in the transcriptions by 
Godowsky, which become impossible 
when tried with any touch other than 
legato. He wrote them, so to speak, out 
of his own hand, and his legato is so 
perfect that it may well be taken as a 
model by anybody. 

Should you advise me to make use of To Pro- 
a high finger-stroke ? My teacher makes d ^ e ce a f Q ood 
me use it exclusively, but I notice that 
my playing is neither legato nor quiet. 
It is almost humpy. 

Your manner of putting the question 
expressed your own and correct 
judgment in the matter. This playing 
"in the air" is lost energy, and will not 
lead to a good legato. The most beautiful 
tone in legato style is ever produced by 
a "clinging and singing" gliding of the 
fingers over the keys. Of course, you 
have to watch your touch in order that 
your "clinging" does not deteriorate into 
"blurring," and that your "gliding" may 



24 PIANO QUESTIONS 

not turn into "smearing." If you ap- 
prehend any such calamity you must 
for a while increase the raising of your 
fingers and use more force in their falling 
upon the keys. Under constant self- 
observation and keen listening you may, 
after a while, return to the gliding 
manner. This much in general; of 
course, there are places and passages 
where just the opposite of my advice 
could be said, but still I think that the 
high finger-stroke should rather be em- 
ployed for some special characteristic 
effects than as a general principle. 

The Firm I am confused by the terms "firm 

Legato le S at touch " and " Cris P le g at touch." 

Touch Wherein lies the difference? 

Legato means "bound together," for 
which we substitute the word " connected." 
Two tones are either connected or they 
are not connected. The idea of various 
kinds of legato is purely a sophism, a 
product of non-musical hyper-analysis. 
By "legato" I understand the connecting 
of tones with each other through the 
agency of the fingers (on the piano). 
The finger that evoked a tone should not 



PIANO QUESTIONS 25 

leave its key until the tone generated 
by the next finger has been perceived 
by the ear. This rule governs the playing 
of melodies and slow passages. In rapid 
passages, where the control through the 
ear is lessened, the legato is produced 
by more strictly mechanical means, but 
there should, nevertheless, always be 
two fingers simultaneously occupied. Do 
not take the over-smart differentiations 
of legato seriously. There is no plural 
to the word "legato." 

13. PRECISION 

My teachers have always scolded me Not Play- 
for playing my left hand a little before ^J^ 16 
my right. It is probably a very bad Hands at 
habit, but I do not hear it when I do it. Once 
How can I cure it? 

This "limping," as it is called, is the 
worst habit you can have in piano playing, 
and you are fortunate in having a teacher 
who persists in his efforts to combat it. 
There is only one way to rid yourself of 
this habit, namely, by constant attention 
and closest, keenest listening to your 
own playing. You are probably mis- 
stating it when you say that you do not 



26 PIANO QUESTIONS 

"hear" it when you "limp"; it seems 
more likely to me that you do not listen. 
Hearing is a purely physical function 
which you cannot prevent while awake, 
while listening is an act of your will- 
power it means to give direction to 
your hearing. 

14. PIANO TOUCH VS. ORGAN TOUCH 

How Is alternate organ and piano playing 
r 9 a . n - detrimental to the "pianistic touch"? 

Playing A . 

Affects the Inasmuch as the force 01 touch and its 
Pianist various gradations are entirely irrelevant 
on the organ, the pianist who plays much 
on the organ is more than liable to lose 
the delicacy of feeling for tone-production 
through the fingers, and this must, nat- 
urally, lessen his power of expression. 

Organ- j s ft true that a child beginning music 
kc lessons on an organ gets much better 
Piano tone than one beginning on a piano, and 
Touch ( j oeg tne g j ( j e s t u( iy O f pipe-organ, after 

two years of extensive piano work, impair 
the piano touch ? 

It is only natural that a child can get 
better tone out of an organ than on a 
piano, because it is not the child but the 



PIANO QUESTIONS 27 

organ that produces the tone. If the 
child's purpose, however, is to learn 
piano-playing it would not be wise to let 
him begin on an organ, because this 
would leave the essential element the 
art of touch entirely undeveloped. 
And if his piano touch has been formed 
it can easily be undone again by letting 
him play on the organ. 

15. FINGERING 

In what respect does American finger- The Uni- 
ing differ from foreign fingering, and v * r * al 

. i System of 

which oners the greater advantages ? Marking 
There is no "American" fingering. Fingering 
Many years ago the "English" fingering 
(which counts only four fingers and a 
thumb, and indicates the latter by a plus 
mark: +) was adopted by a few of the 
less prominent publishers in America; but 
it was soon abandoned. If you have a 
piece of sheet music with English fingering 
you may be certain that it is not of a 
recent edition, and I would advise you to 
obtain a more modern one. The advan- 
tage of the universal fingering lies in its 
greater simplicity, and in the circum- 
stance that it is universally adopted. 



28 PIANO QUESTIONS 

The Do you advise the use of the C-scale 
Fingering fi n g erin g f r all the scales ? Is it prac- 
for All ticable ? 

Scales? The C-scale fingering is not applicable 
to scales reposing on black keys because 
it creates unnecessary difficulties, the 
mastering of which would be a matter 
rather of mere sport than of art. 

Fingering Which fingering of the chromatic scale 
the is most conducive to speed and accuracy ? 

Chromatic ^1 i . .1 i i -n * 

Sca l e Ine right thumb always upon E and 
B, the left one upon F and C. Between 
times use three or four consecutive fingers 
as often as convenient. At the beginning 
of a long chromatic scale select such 
fingers as will most naturally bring you 
to one of the stations just mentioned. 

The When executing the mordent, is not 
Fingers ^ e use o f three fingers preferable to two ? 

Needed to r 



.-., . _ 

Play a ^ ne selection or the nngers for the 
Mordent execution of a mordent depends always 
upon the preceding notes or keys which 
lead up to it. Since we cannot lift the 
hand just before a mordent for the pur- 
pose of changing fingers (for this would 
mean a rude interruption) we have to 
use whatever fingers happen to be "on 



PIANO QUESTIONS 29 

hand." An exchange of fingers in a 
mordent is seldom of any advantage, 
for it hampers precision and evenness, 
since, after all, each finger has its own 
tone-characteristics . 

16. THE GLISSANDO 

Will you describe the best method of To Play a 
holding the hand when playing glissando ? 
Which is preferable to use, the thumb or 
the forefinger? 

In playing glissando in the right hand 
use the index finger when going upward, 
the thumb when going downward. In 
the left hand where it hardly ever 
occurs use the middle finger in either 
direction, or, if you should find it easier, 
the index finger downward. The pro- 
duction of so great a volume of tone, as 
is possible on our modern piano, has 
necessitated a deeper fall of the keys than 
former pianos possessed, and this deeper 
dip has banished the glissando almost 
entirely from modern piano literature. 

17. OCTAVES 

Should I play octaves using the How Best 
' hinge" stroke from the wrist or by l he Play 
using the arm? I find I can get more Octaves 



30 PIANO QUESTIONS 

tone by using the arm stroke, but cannot 
play so rapidly. 

The character of the octaves must 
govern the selection of means to produce 
them. For light octaves use the wrist, 
for heavier ones draw more upon the 
arm. Rapidity requires that you avoid 
fatigue. If you feel fatigue approaching 
from too constant use of one joint, 
change to the other, and in doing this 
change also the position of the hand 
from high to low, and vice versa. For 
. wrist octaves I recommend the low posi- 
tion of the hand, for arm octaves the 
high one. 

Rapid Please suggest some method of playing 
Octave* oc t a ves rapidly to one who finds this 
the most difficult part of piano-playing. 
Would be grateful also for naming 
some octave etudes that could be used 
in the repertoire. 

If rapid octaves seem to be "the most 
difficult part of piano-playing" to you, 
take it as an indication that they do not 
suit your nature. A "method" will 
never change your nature. This need 
not discourage you, however; it is only 



PIANO QUESTIONS 31 

to prevent you from trying to make a 
specialty of something for which you are 
not especially qualified and to save you 
a needless disappointment. Hold arms 
and hands in but a slight tension, and 
at the slightest fatigue change the posi- 
tion of the hand from high to low and 
vice versa. Your seat at the piano 
should not be too low. Study the first 
book of Kullak's Octave School, and, 
later on, the second book. 

When should I use the arm to play When 
octaves as I have seen some concert 
players do? As I was watching them 
there did not seem to be the slightest 
motion from the wrist. 

Most concert players play their octaves 
more from the arm than from the wrist, 
but their wrist is nevertheless not so 
inactive as it seems to have appeared to 
you. They have probably distributed 
the work over the wrist, the elbow, and 
the shoulder in such a way that each had 
to do only a part of it. Light octaves 
can come only from the wrist, while 
heavier ones put the elbow and shoulder 
into action. To make this distribution 



32 PIANO QUESTIONS 

consciously is hardly possible. A striving 
for economy of force and the least possible 
fatigue will produce this "division of 
labour " unconsciously. 

Wrist When playing extended octave pas- 
r Long sa g es sucn as tne Liszt arrangement of 
Octave "The Erlking," should the endeavour 

Passages fa to j a a U f rom 



stroke; or is it well to relieve the strain 
by an occasional impulse (a sort of 
vibration) from the forearm ? Is there 
any advantage in varying the height of 
the wrist? 

In extended octave playing it is well 
to vary the position of the wrist, now 
high and then low. The low position 
brings the forearm into action, while 
the whole arm cooperates when the 
wrist is held high. From the wrist alone 
such pieces as "The Erlking" cannot 
be played, because the wrist alone gives 
us neither the power nor the speed that 
such pieces require. Besides, the oc- 
taves, when all played from the wrist, 
would sound "cottony." The wrist 
alone is to be used only in light, graceful 
places. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 33 

In playing octaves or other double stiff Wrists 
notes my wrist seems to stiffen. How in P la v in 9 

T j XT.- a Octaves 

can I remedy this ? 

Stiffness in the wrist results from an 
unmindful use of it. When practising 
octaves or double notes think always of 
holding the arm and its joints in a loose, 
limber condition, and when you feel fa- 
tigued do not fail to stop until the muscu- 
lar contraction is relieved. In a little 
while you will see your conscientious 
practising rewarded by acquiring an 
elasticity commensurate with your general 
physical status. 

Why does it tire my arms when I play Prematur* 
octaves and a continuation of little runs ? F atl 9 u * 
How can I avoid it, so that they will feel 
free and easy ? 

Premature fatigue is usually caused by 
undue muscular contraction. Keep your 
arms and wrists loose and you will find 
that the fatigue disappears. For your 
sensation of fatigue may be due, not to 
exhaustion of muscular power, but to 
a stoppage of circulation caused by an 
unconscious stiffening of the wrist. 
Change the position of the wrist from 



34 PIANO QUESTIONS 

high to low and vice versa whenever you 
feel the "fatigue" coming on. 

Is Kullak's "Method of Octaves" 

Octaves 99 st ^" One ^ ^ e ^ est * n ^ ^ ne ? or can 

Still you recommend something better ? 

Oood " Since the days when Kullak's "School 
of Octaves" was printed, experience has 
taught us some things which might be 
added to it, but nothing that would 
contradict it. Nor, so far as I know, 
has anything better appeared in print 
than the first volume of that work 
especially. 

18. REPETITION TECHNIQUE 

The Diffi- Please help me about my repetition 

culty of notes. When I wish to play them rapidly 

Repetition ^ seems that the key does not always 

Notes produce a sound? Is it because of my 

touch ? 

First, examine the action of your piano. 
It occurs not infrequently that the fingers 
do their work well, but fail in the results 
because of an inert or lazy piano action. 
If, however, the fault does not lie in 
the instrument, it must lie in a certain 
stiffness of the fingers. To eliminate 



PIANO QUESTIONS 35 

this you need, first of all, a loose wrist. 
Furthermore, you should not, in repetition 
technique, let the fingers fall perpen- 
dicularly upon the keys, but with a 
motion as if you were wiping the keys 
with the finger-tips and then pull them 
quickly toward the palm of the hand, 
bending every joint of them rapidly. 

19. DOUBLE NOTES 

Please tell me something about the The 



general practice of thirds, both diatonic 

. , ' , . , of Double 

and chromatic; also, about those in the Thirds 

first movement of the Grieg Concerto. 

As the playing of passages in single 
notes requires a close single legato, to do 
double thirds requires an equally close 
double legato. As to the exact details 
of legato playing I may refer you to my 
book, "Piano Playing," where you will 
find the matter discussed at length in 
the chapter on "Touch and Technic." 

THE INSTRUMENT 

Is it irrelevant whether I practise upon The Kind 

a good or a bad piano ? f piano 

Vi A . iij Upon 

I 1 or practice you should never use any which to 

but the very best available instrument. Practise ^ 



36 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Far, rather, may the piano be bad when 
you play for people. This will not 
hurt you nearly so much as will the con- 
stant and habitual use of a piano with 
a mechanism in which every key demands 
a different kind of touch, and which is 
possibly out of tune. Such conditions 
impair the development of your musical 
ear as well as of your fingers. It cannot 
be otherwise. As I said once before, 
learning means the acquiring of habits: 
habits of thinking and of doing. With a 
bad instrument you cannot develop any 
good qualities, even if you should possess 
them by nature; much less can you 
acquire them. Hence, I recommend a 
good piano, clean keyboard for your 
aesthetic perceptions should be de- 
veloped all around a correct seat and 
concentration of mind. But these rec- 
ommendations presuppose on the part 
of the student some talent and a good 
teacher. 

Do Not Use Is it not better for a student in the 

Extreme a dvanced stage of study, who is pre- 

in paring for concert work, to practise on 

"Action" a pi ano w ith a heavy action in order to 



PIANO QUESTIONS 37 

develop the finger and hand muscles, 
and to use an instrument with a light 
action for obtaining an artistic finish to 
the lighter passages occurring so often, 
for instance, in Chopin's music ? 

All extremes are harmful in their 
effects upon study and practice. A too 
heavy action stiffens and overtires the 
fingers, while too light an action tends 
to impair your control. Try to obtain 
for your practice a piano the action of 
which approximates as nearly as possible 
that of the piano on which you have to 
play in the concert, in order to avoid 
unpleasant surprises, such as premature 
fatigue or a running away of the fingers. 

Should I keep the action of my piano HOW 
tight? Tight to 

Keep it tight enough to preserve the $%* 
"feeling" of the keys under the fingers, Action 
but to make it more so would endanger 
your finger action and it may injure 
your hand. 

Do you think it wise for a beginner to The Action 
practise on a piano that has a heavy Beginner't 
action ? Piano 



38 PIANO QUESTIONS 

That depends upon the age and 
ical development of the beginnei 
"Heavy" and "light" action are not 
absolute but relative terms, which com- 
prise in their meaning the power of 
resistance in the player's hand. The 
action should be so adjusted that the 
player can even in the softest touch 
always feel the key under his finger. 
A too heavy action leads necessarily to 
an employment of the shoulder muscles 
(which should be reserved for brief, 
special uses) and may permanently in- 
jure the hand. 

Playing On Are mechanical appliances, such as a 

a Dumb dumb keyboard, of advantage to the 

student of the piano? Should its use 

be restricted to a particular stage in the 

course of study ? 

Music is a language. Schumann 
said: "From the dumb we cannot 
learn to talk!" The totally dumb 
or mute piano should, therefore, not 
be used, or very little, if we aim at a 
" musical" technique that is, a live, 
multicoloured technique qualified to ex- 
press musical thought and feeling. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 39 

Personally I have never used a dumb 
piano. 

THE PEDALS 

Should I use the pedal with each A General 
melody note ? Should like a general rule. R le A 

111111 About 

The treading upon the pedal should the Pedal 
always follow immediately after the strik- 
ing of the note for which it is intended, 
or else there will be discords arising 
from the mingling of that note with the 
one preceding it. This is the general 
rule. Exceptions there are, of course, 
but they occur only in certain moments 
when a mingling of tones is purposed 
for some special effect. 

What is the use of the damper pedal ? The Use of 
Primarily it serves to prolong such the Pedal 
tones as we cannot hold with the Colouring 
fingers. But it is also one of the greatest 
means for colouring. The employment of 
it should always be governed by the ear. 

Please tell me how to use the pedal. HOW to 
I find that in some pieces there is no Use f he 

. Pedal 

mark under the measures to show me 
when it should be used. Is there any 
rule which you can give me ? 



40 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Assuming that you have in mind the 
artistic use of the pedal, I regret to say 
that there is no more a rule for this than 
for the mixing of colours upon the palette 
of a painter who strives for some particu- 
lar shade or tint. He knows that blue and 
yellow make green, that red and blue 
make purple; but those are ground 
colours which he can rarely use. For 
the finer shades he has to experiment, 
to consult his eye and his judgment. 
The relation between the pedal and the 
player's ear is exactly similar to that of 
the palette and the painter's eye. Gener- 
ally speaking (from sad experience) it is 
far more important to know when not to 
use the pedal than when to use it. We 
must refrain from its use whenever there 
is the slightest danger of unintentional 
mingling of tones. This is best avoided 
by taking the pedal after striking the 
tone upon which it is to act, and to 
release it promptly and simultaneously 
with the striking of the next tone. It 
may be at once taken again, and this 
alternation must be kept up where there 
is either a change of harmony or a suc- 
cession of "passing notes." This is the 



PIANO QUESTIONS 41 

only positive rule I can give, but even 
this is often violated. Let your ear be 
the guardian of your right foot. Accus- 
tom your ear to harmonic and melodic 
clarity, and listen closely. To teach 
the use of the pedal independent of the 
action of your own ear is impossible. 

In Weber's "Storm" should the pedal Let Your 
be held down throughout the entire piece, f^. Guide 
as directed ? It produces quite a discord. Pedalling 

Without knowing this piece, even by 
name, I may say that the pianos of 
Weber's time had a tone of such short 
duration and volume that the discords 
resulting from a continuous use of the 
pedal were not so noticeable, as they 
are now upon the modern piano with its 
magnificent volume and duration of tone. 
Hence, the pedal must now be used with 
Ihe utmost caution. Generally speaking, 
I say again that the ear is the "sole" 
guide of the foot upon the pedal. 

Is Bach's music ever played with the Use Pedal 
pedal ? With 

There is no piano-music that forbids in 
the use of the pedal. Even where the Bach 



42 PIANO QUESTIONS 

texture of a piece does not require the 
pedal which happens very rarely 
the player might employ it as an aid 
where the reach of his hand proves in- 
sufficient to hold all the parts of a har- 
mony together. With Bach the pedal 
is often very important; for, by judicious 
use as, for instance, in the cases of 
organ-point it accumulates harmonic 
tones, holds the fundamental tone and 
thus produces effects not dissimilar to 
the organ. Qualitatively speaking, the 
pedal is as necessary in Bach's music as 
in any other; quantitatively, I recommend 
the utmost caution in its use, so as not 
to blur the fine texture of his polyphony. 

The I always want to use the pedal as soon 
Student as j ta ^ e a new pj ece b u t m y teacher 

with a . i T i i i i 

Fondness insists that I should get a good singing 
for the tone first. Is she right ? 

You "want" to use the pedal ? In the 
face of your teacher's advice to the 
contrary? Then why did you apply for 
a teacher? People who consider their 
own pleasure while engaged in any 
kind of study need no teacher. They 
need discipline. Learn obedience! If 



PIANO QUESTIONS 43 

by following your teacher's advice you 
should fail to progress, even then you 
have no right to do anything else than 
go to another teacher. But he will in 
all probability not be very different 
from the first one in his precepts. Hence, 
I say again: You should learn obedience! 

May the damper pedal and the soft Using the 
pedal be used simultaneously, or would at W Q nc l s 
this be detrimental to the piano? 

Since the mechanisms of the two pedals 
are entirely separate and independent of 
each other you may use them simul- 
taneously, provided that the character of . 
a particular place in your piece justifies it. 

Should the expresson "p" be executed To Pro 
by the aid of the soft pedal or through d <^ e te " 
the fingers ? Tone 

The soft pedal serves to change the 
quality of tone, not the quantity. It 
should therefore never be used to hide 
a faulty piano (or soft) touch. Mere 
softness of tone should always be pro- 
duced by a decrease of finger-force and a 
lessening of the raising of the fingers. 
The soft pedal should be employed only 



44 PIANO QUESTIONS 

when the softness of tone is coupled 
with a change of colouring, such as lies 
within its range of action. 

Do Not Should the Gavotte in A, of Gluck- 
f e t Brahms, be played without the soft pedal ? 
Pedal Does a liberal use of the soft pedal tend 
to make the student lazy in using a light 
touch ? 

Your first question is too general, as 
there is no piece of music that should be 
played entirely with or without the soft 
pedal; it is used only when a certain 
change of colouring is proposed. A too 
frequent use of the soft pedal does tend 
to a neglect of the pianissimo touch, 
and it should, therefore, be discouraged. 

Once More My piano has a rather loud tone to 

^ ft Q n ff * 

Pedal w hich mv people object, and urge me to 
play with the soft pedal. I use it most 
of the time, but am afraid now to play 
without it. What would you advise? 

If a soft touch and sound are liked, 
have the mechanism of your piano 
changed at the factory. I found myself 
in the bad condition at one time that I 
could not play certain passages inde- 
pendently of the position of my foot on 



PIANO QUESTIONS 45 

the soft pedal. Such is the strength of 
association that very soon a constant use 
of the soft pedal produces physical in- 
ability to play unless the foot is pressing 
the pedal. 

PRACTICE 

In resuming my studies in the morning The 
what should I play first? 

Begin with your technical work. Scales Q H 
in all tonalities, each at least twice well 
rendered. First slowly, one after an- 
other, then somewhat quicker, but never 
very quickly as long as you are not 
absolutely sure that both hands are 
perfectly even, and that neither false 
notes nor wrong fingerings occur. To 
play the scales wrong is just as much a 
matter of habit as to play them right 
only easier. You can get very firmly 
settled in the habit of striking a certain 
note wrong every time it occurs unless 
you take the trouble of counteracting 
the formation of such a habit. After 
these scales play them in octaves from 
the wrist, slowly and without tiring it 
by lifting the hand to a needless height. 
After this play either Czerny or Cramer, 



46 PIANO QUESTIONS 

then Bach, and finally Mozart, Beethoven, 
Chopin, and so on. If you have the time 
to do it, play one hour in the morning 
on technical studies and use one hour 
for the difficult places in the works you 
are studying. In the afternoon play 
another hour, and this hour you devote 
to interpretation. I mean by this that 
you should now apply aesthetically what 
you have technically gained in the morn- 
ing by uniting your mechanical advan- 
tages with the ideal conception which 
you have formed in your mind of the 
work you are studying. 

Morning How much time should I spend on 
18 t} Time e fo c ' ear ' v technical study ? I am practising 
Practise three hours a day; how long should I 
practise at a time ? 

Purely technical work that is, work 
of the fingers without the participation 
of mind and heart you should do 
little or none, for it kills your musical 
spirit. If, as you say, you practise three 
hours a day I should recommend two 
hours in succession in the morning and 
one hour in the afternoon. The morning 
is always the best time for work. Make 



PIANO QUESTIONS 47 

no long pauses in your work, for they 
would break your contact with the piano 
and ti would take considerable time to 
reestablish it. In the afternoon, after 
the major portion of your daily task is 
done, you may move with greater free- 
dom, though even this freedom should 
be kept within proper bounds. 

Should I practise studies in general f{ me to 
for my progress or should I confine Devote to 
myself strictly to my technical exercises ? 

Your strictly technical exercises should 
occupy one-quarter of the entire time 
you can give to your work. Two quarters 
you should use for the technical prepara- 
tion of the difficult passages you encounter 
in the pieces you are studying, and during 
the last quarter these passages which 
have been thus prepared should be ranged 
into their proper places in the pieces, in 
order that you may not lose your view 
of the totality of the pieces while studying 
or practising details. 

In purely technical, i. e. 9 mechanical, The Only 
practice may I have a book or a maga- Kind ?t 
zine on the music-stand and read ? Worth 

This question will appear grotesque to While 



48 PIANO QUESTIONS 

any one who has not thought of it, yet 
it is legitimate; for I know positively 
that this crime upon themselves has 
been committed by many. I cannot 
warn students too strongly against this 
pernicious habit. It is far better to 
practise only half as long, but with 
concentrated attention. Even purely me- 
chanical matter must be transmitted to 
the motor-centres of the brain through 
the agencies of the ear and eye in order 
to bring beneficial technical results. If 
the brain is otherwise occupied it be- 
comes insensible to the impression of 
the work in hand, and practise thus 
done is a complete waste of time. Not 
only should we not read, but also not 
think of anything else but the work 
before us, if we expect results. Concen- 
tration is the first letter in the alphabet 
of success. 

Practising Will I advance quicker by practising 

j? gh f eight hours instead of four, as I do now ? 

Instead Playing too much in one day has often 

6f Four a deteriorating effect upon one's studies, 

because work is profitable, after all, 

only if done with full mental concentra- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 49 

tion, which can be sustained only for a 
certain length of time. Some exhaust 
their power of concentration quicker 
than others; but, however long it may 
have lasted, once it is exhausted all 
further work is like unrolling a scroll 
which we have laboriously rolled up. 
Practise self-examination, and if you 
notice that your interest is waning 
stop. Remember that in studying the 
matter of quantity is of moment only 
when coupled with quality. Attention, 
concentration, devotion, will make un- 
necessary any inquiries as to how much 
you ought to practise. 

Shall I, when my hands are cold and Playing 
stiff, play at once difficult and fatiguing Wiih Cold 
things in order to limber them up ? 

In forcing things with cold hands you 
always run the danger of overstraining, 
while with a gradual limbering you may 
safely try the same tasks with impunity. 
Handle the piano lightly while the hands 
are cold, and increase both force and 
speed only when the hands have gained 
their normal temperature and elasticity. 
This may take half or even three- 



50 PIANO QUESTIONS 

quarters of an hour. It may be accel- 
erated by putting the hands in hot water 
before playing, but this should not be 
done too often, because it is apt to weaken 
the nerves of the hands. 

Counting Is counting aloud injurious to a pupil's 
Out Loud pi a yj n g th a t is, does not the sound of 
the voice confuse the pupil in getting the 
correct tone of the note struck? 

Loud counting can hardly ever be 
injurious especially not while the pupil 
is dealing with time and rhythm. This 
part mastered or fully understood, the 
audible counting may be lessened and 
finally abandoned. During practice 
loud counting is of inestimable value, 
for it develops and strengthens rhymthic 
feeling better than anything else will, 
and, besides, it is an infallible guide to 
find the points of stress in a phrase. 

The Study Must all study of the piano absolutely 
of Scales b e crm with the study of scales ? 

Is very 

Important Scales should not be attempted until 
a good finger-touch has been formed and 
the very important action of the thumb 
in the scale has been fully prepared. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 51 

After that, however, I consider the prac- 
tising of scales important, not only for 
the fingers, but also for the discipline of 
the ear with regard to the feeling of 
tonality (key) , understanding of intervals, 
and the comprehension of the total 
compass of the piano. 

Do you approve of the study of all the The Study 
fifteen major scales by piano students, f *** 
or is the practice of the enharmonic ones 
unnecessary ? 

One should learn everything in that 
line in order to select from one's store 
of learning that which the occasion calls 
for. Study or practise all scales as they 
are written, and later also in thirds, 
sixths, and octaves. 

When studying a new composition, When 
which is preferable: to practise first with ^ eadm 9 
separate hands or together ? 2VW Piece 

When first looking over a new compo- 
sition both hands -should be employed, 
if possible, for this is necessary to obtain, 
approximately, at least, a mental picture 
of it. If the player's technique is too 
insufficient for this the deciphering 



52 PIANO QUESTIONS 

must, of course, be done for each hand 
separately. 

Practising When I am learning a new piece 
Parts s ^ ou ^ the h an ds practise their parts 

Separately separately? 

Provided you have formed a general 
idea of the piece, it is well to practise 
the hands separately, because you can, 
in this way, concentrate your attention 
upon the work of each hand. As soon, 
however, as each hand knows its work 
the hands should play together in order 
now to pursue the musical purpose for 
which the separate practice was only a 
technical preparation. 

Four Ways Should a composition be studied away 
to Study a from the p{ ano p 

Piano ___ A . , 

Piece There are four ways to study a com- 
position : 

1. On the piano with the music. 

2. Away from the piano with the music. 

3. On the piano without the music. 

4. Away from the piano without the 
music. 

2 and 4 are mentally the most taxing 
and fatiguing ways, no doubt; but they 



PIANO QUESTIONS 53 

also serve best to develop the memory 
and what we mean by "scope," which 
is a faculty of great importance. 

How fast or slow should Schubert- The Con- 
Liszt's "Auf dem Wasser zu singen" be ^f^ 
played? What modern parlour pieces Dictate 
would you recommend after Bendel's 
"Zephyr"? 

Even if I did believe in metronomes, 
as I do not, I could not indicate speed 
for you or for anybody, because it will 
always depend upon the state of your 
technique and the quality of your tone. 
For modern parlour pieces I suggest the 
two volumes of Russian piano music 
published by G. Schirmer, New York. 
You will find pieces of various degrees 
of difficulty there from which you may 
select what suits you best. 

Which is the best way to work up a To Work 
fast tempo ? Fa * 

The best help is to hear the piece or 
part which you have in mind played 
quickly by another person, for this aids 
you in forming the mental concept of 
it, which is the principal condition to 



54 PIANO QUESTIONS 

which all ability is subject. There are, 
however, other ways which each one of 
us must find for himself: either by a 
gradual increase of speed until you reach 
your individual maximum or by starting 
at once at full tilt, even though some 
notes should drop under the piano and 
then be picked up in subsequent repe- 
titions. Which of these two or any 
other ways is best for you no one can 
tell; your musical instinct will guide you 
if you follow it cautiously. 

The Best Is it ever a waste of time to practise 
, w . y to a piece over and over again for months 

Work Up a * . 

Quick as slowly as a beginner and with utmost 
Tempo concentration? After having done so 
and gradually working up a tempo, I 
then find I cannot play so fast as I want 
to. Is it not wise to begin all over again 
as slowly as possible? I prefer to work 
this way, but have been told that one 
gets "stale," studying the same music 
for a long time. 

Do you advise practising with or with- 
out the pedal ? 

Slow practice is undoubtedly the basis 
for quick playing; but quick playing is 



PIANO QUESTIONS 55 

not an immediate result of slow practice. 
Quick playing must be tried from time 
to time, with increasing frequency and 
heightened speed, even at a temporary 
loss of clearness. This loss is easily 
regained by subsequent returns to slow 
practice. After all, we must first learn 
to think quickly through the course of 
a piece before we can play it quickly, 
and this mental endeavour, too, will be 
greatly aided by occasional trials in a 
quicker tempo. As for getting "stale," 
a variety of pieces is necessary to pre- 
serve the freshness of each one. 

Regarding the pedal, I suggest tha' 
you use it judiciously from the very 
beginning of the study of a new piece; 
though never in finger exercises. 

What is the purpose of associating Watch 
breathing with piano playing, and to ^ our th > 
what extent should it be practised? 

Breathing is as important in piano 
playing as in all physical exertion, and 
more so when we speak of pieces that 
entail the use of great muscular force; 
for this causes a quickening in the action 
of the heart; respiration naturally keeps 



56 PIANO QUESTIONS 

step with it, and the result is often a 
forcible breathing through the mouth. 
Players resort to open-mouth breathing 
in such cases because they cannot help 
themselves. If, at the last spurt of a 
bicycle race, we should call to the wheel- 
men, "Breathe through the nose!" we 
could not wonder if our advice remains 
unheeded. This open-mouth breathing, 
however, need not be learned; it is the 
self-help of nature. I recommend breath- 
ing through the nose as long as possible. 
It is more wholesome than mouth-breath- 
ing, and it refreshes the head more. 
When physical exertion becomes too 
great then you will neither need nor 
heed my advice or anybody's ; your 
nature will find its own line of least 
resistance. 

Take a Must I keep up my practice during 
Month's mv Christmas holidays of a month ? 

Rest Every %._ _ _ J . . 

Year If you have worked well on your de- 
velopment during the spring, summer, 
and autumn it will be to your advantage 
to stop your practising entirely for a 
month. Such a pause renews your forces 
as well as the love for your work, and 



PIANO QUESTIONS 57 

you will, upon resuming it, not only catch " 
up quickly with what you may think 
to have missed, but you will also make 
a quick leap forward because the quality 
of your work will be better than it could 
be if you had persisted in it with a 
fatigued mind. In a tired condition of 
mind and body we are very apt not to 
notice the formation of bad habits, and 
since "to learn means to form correct 
habits of thinking and doing" we must 
beware of anything that might impair 
our watchfulness as to bad habits. The 
greatest persistence cannot turn a bad 
habit into a virtue. 

MARKS AND NOMENCLATURE 

What is the meaning of M. M. = 72 The Metro- 
printed over a piece of music ? 

The M stands for "metronome," the 
other for the name of its inventor, Maelzl. 
The figures indicate the number of beats 
a minute and the note shows what each 
beat represents in this case a quarter 
note. The whole annotation says that 
the average speed of the piece should 
admit of seventy-two quarter notes being 
played in a minute. I advise you, how- 



58 PIANO QUESTIONS 

ever, rather to consult the state of your 
technique and your own feeling for what 
is musically right in deciding upon the 
speed of the piece. 

The Per- I n Chopin's Prelude No. 15 is the 
S ment and movement * n C-sharp minor to be played 
the in the same tempo as the opening move- 
Metronome mentS) O r much faster? How should 
the 6-8 and 9-8 movements of Liszt's 
Dance of the Gnomes be metronomized ? 
The C-sharp minor movement should 
not increase in speed, or only very little, 
because it rises to a considerable height 
dynamically, and this seems to counter- 
act an increase of speed. As to the 
metronoming, I would not bother about 
it. The possibilities of your technique 
must ever regulate the speed question 
in a large degree. Tempo is so inti- 
mately related with touch and dynamics 
that it is in a large measure an individual 
matter. This does not mean that one 
may play andante where an allegro is 
prescribed, but that one person's allegro 
differs slightly from that of another 
person. Touch, tone, and conception 
influence the tempo. The metronome 



PIANO QUESTIONS 59 

indications are to be accepted only with 
the utmost caution. 

How fast, by metronome, should the Metronome 
minuetto of Beethoven's Sonatina, opus Markings 
49, Number 2, be played ? Better Be 

If you possess an edition of Beethoven Ignored 
that has no metronome marks you have 
been singularly fortunate, and I would 
not for the world interfere with such 
rare good luck. Consult your technique, 
your feelings, and have confidence in 
your good sense. 

How should one use the metronome There are 
for practising? I have been warned Dan 9 ers 

.... , . in Using 

against it, as my teacher tells me one is a Metro- 
liable to become very stiff and mechanical nome 
by the persistent use of it. 

Your teacher is eminently right. You 
should not play with the metronome for 
any length of time, for it lames the 
musical pulse and kills the vital expres- 
sion in your playing. The metronome 
may well be used as a controlling device 
first, to find the approximate average 
speed of a piece, and, second, to con- 
vince yourself that, after playing for a 



60 PIANO QUESTIONS 

while without it, your feelings have not 
caused you to drift too far away from 
the average tempo. 

The Real What is the meaning of the words 
j e Jd Adagio, Andante, and Allegro? Are 
Terms they just indications of speed ? 

They serve as such; though our mu- 
sical ancestors probably selected these 
terms because of their indefiniteness, 
which leaves a certain margin to our 
individuality. Literally, Adagio (ad 
agio) means "at leisure." Andante 
means "going" in contradistinction to 
"running," going apace, also walking. 
Allegro (a contraction of al leg-gie-ro) 
means with "lightness, cheerful." Pri- 
marily these terms are, as you see, in- 
dications of mood; but they have come 
to be regarded as speed annotations. 

A Rule For As the words "largo," "allegro," etc., 

the S in ^d are su PP ose d to indicate a certain rate 
of speed, can you give a rule so that a 
student who cannot have the aid of a 
teacher will be able to understand in 
what time he should play a composition ? 
If the metronome is not indicated you 



PIANO QUESTIONS 



61 



have to consult your own good taste. 
Take the most rapid notes of your piece, 
play them rapidly as the general trend 
of the piece will aesthetically permit, 
and adjust the general tempo accordingly. 

How are the grace notes played in How 

these measures from Chopin's Valse, ^" 8 

opus 42, and when are grace notes not Are 

struck simultaneously with the base ? Played 



Grace notes and their chiefs that is, 
those notes to which the grace notes are 
attached should ever be played with 
one and the same muscular impulse. 
The time occupied by the grace notes 
should be so minimal that it should not 
be discernible whether they appear sim- 
ultaneously with the base note or slightly 
before it. In modern music it is usually 
meant to precede the bass note, though 
the good taste of the player may occa- 
sionally prefer it otherwise. 



62 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Rests What is the meaning of a rest above 

or below the notes of the treble clef ? 
Over The rests you speak of can occur only 

Notes when more than one voice (or part) is 
written in the same staff, and they indi- 
cate how long the entrance of the other 
voice is to be delayed. 

What a What does it mean when a note is 

Dot double-dotted, like ^** I thought first 
Means ^ wag a j^g^^ ]^ u ^ ft se ems to 



occur too frequently for that. 

As the first dot prolongs the note by 
one-half of its own value, so does the 
second dot add one-half of the value of 
the first dot. A half -note with one dot 
lasts three-quarters, with two dots it lasts 
seven-eighths. 

Should I accent the first note under a 



slur thus 5* or should I lift my hand 

at the end of the slur thus x ^ 9 

The Play- Slurs and accents have nothing to do 

mg of w ft n each other, because accents relate 

Notes t rhythm, while slurs concern the touch. 

The last note under a slur will usually 

be slightly curtailed in order to create 



PIANO QUESTIONS 63 

that small pause which separates one 
phrase from another. Generally speak- 
ing, the slur in piano music represents 
the breathing periods of the vocalist. 

What difference is there between a slur How a Tie 
and a tie ? 

None in appearance, but much in 
effect. A tie continues the sound of the 
note struck at its beginning as long as 
the note-value at its end indicates. It 
can be placed only upon two notes of 
similar name in the same octave which 
follow each other. As soon as another 
note intervenes the tie becomes a slur 
and indicates a legato touch. 

How should the beginning of slurs be Slurs and 
accented ? i? cen * s 

_. Not Re- 

blurs and accents have nothing to do i a ted 
with each other. Slurs indicate either 
a legato touch or the grouping of the 
notes. Which one of the notes thus 
grouped is to be accented depends upon 
its rhythmical position in the measure. 
The strong and weak beat (or positive 
and negative beat) govern the accent 
always, unless there is an annotation to 



64 PIANO QUESTIONS 

the contrary, and such an annotation 
must be carried out with great judicious- 
ness, seldom literally. 

How Long Where there is an accidental on the 
on / c f". last beat of a measure does not that 

denial . . 

Aflects a note resume its signature beyond the 

Note bar unless tied? The case I speak of 

was in a key of two flats, common time. 

The fourth beat^ E, was naturalized and 

the first note of the next measure was E 

with the flat sign. I maintain that the 

flat sign is superfluous, and I should 

like to know if this is right ? 

You are quite right, theoretically. 
Nevertheless, the proper tonality signa- 
ture of a note that was changed is very 
frequently restated when the same note 
recurs beyond the bar. Though this 
special marking is not necessary theoreti- 
cally, practical experience has shown 
that it is not an unwise precaution. 

"E-Sharp What is the meaning of the sharps on 

B-Sharp^ the E and B line ' and of a double-flat ? 
and the Are they merely theoretical ? 
Double They are not theoretical, but ortho- 
graphical. You confound the note C 



PIANO QUESTIONS 65 

with the key on the keyboard by that 
name. B-sharp is played upon the key 
called C, but its musical bearing is very 
remote from the note C. The same 
applies to double-flats (and double- 
sharps) , for D with a double-flat is played 
upon the key called C, but it has no re- 
lation to the note C. This corresponds 
precisely with the homonym in language: 
"sow" _ " S ew" "so" sound 
alike, but are spelled in various ways 
according to the meaning they are to 
convey. 

How is an octave, written thus, g^ The Effect 
to be played ? yjT of Double 

As the single-flat lowers a note by I ats 
a half-tone, so a double-flat lowers it by 
two half-tones or a full tone. 

In playing an operetta recently I Double 
found the double-sharp sign ( x ) used s ^? r P. 

i 11 n 11 T i Misprinted 

for double-flats as well. Is this correct ? for Double 

The sign may be a misprint. But if Flat 
it should occur repeatedly I advise you 
to make quite sure, before taking the 
misprint for granted, that the sign is not, 
after all, meant for a double-sharp. 



66 PIANO QUESTIONS 

When an Please tell me how a chord or an inter- 
Actidental V al marked thus t .is executed. What 
Parentheses does an acci- M/n dental in paren- 
theses mean? \*\* 

Chords marked as above are slightly 
rolled in the same manner as if marked 
by a serpentine line, unless the sign 
denotes a linking with the other hand. 
Which of the two meanings is intended 
you will easily infer from the context. 
Accidentals in parentheses are mere 
warnings given by some composers wher- 
ever there is a possibility of doubt as to 
the correct reading caused by a momen- 
tary harmonic ambiguity. I have found 
these accidentals in parentheses so far 
only in the works of French composers. 

The Staffs Does an accidental in the right hand 

pendent 1} influence the left? 

Each Inasmuch as piano music is written 
Oiher in score form, the two staffs are as inde- 
pendent of each other as are the staffs 
in an orchestral score. We may, in 
cases of suspected misprints, draw cer- 
tain inferences from one staff to the other, 
provided that they are justified by the 
prevailing harmony. As a rule, the two 



PIANO QUESTIONS 67 

staffs are independent of each other in 
regard to accidental chromatic signs. 

I am often asked why there must be Why Two 
fifteen keys in music instead of twelve Names 
that is, why not always write inB instead "Same" 
of C-flat, in F-sharp instead of G-flat, in Key? 
D-flat instead of C-sharp, or vice versa? 
I can only say that the circle of fifths 
would not be complete without the 
seven scales in sharps and the seven in 
flats: but Bach does not use all the 
fifteen keys in his Forty-eight Preludes 
and Fugues, omitting entirely, in the 
major keys, G-flat, D-flat, and C-flat, 
and, in the minor keys, A-sharp and 
A-flat. Are compositions in sharps con- 
sidered more brilliant than those in 
flats? Do composers consider modu- 
lation in selecting their key? 

The answer to your question hinges 
upon whether you recognize in music 
mere tone-play or whether you concede 
a mental and psychic side to it. In the 
former case the mode of spelling a tone 
C-sharp or D-flat would be, indeed, 
irrelevant. But in the latter case you 
must admit the necessity of a musical 



68 PIANO QUESTIONS 

orthography qualified to convey distinct 
tonal meanings and musical thoughts 
to the reader and to the player. Though 
there is in the tempered scale no differ- 
ence between C-sharp and D-flat, the 
musical reader will conceive them as 
different from one another, partly because 
of their connection with other related 
harmonies. These determine usually the 
composer's selection in cases of enhar- 
monic identities. In the script of human 
language you will find an analogy than 
which none could be more perfect. In 
English there are, for instance, "to," 
"too," and "two"; words in which the 
spelling alone, and not the sound of 
pronunciation, conveys the different 
meanings of the words. 

The Mean- What is the meaning of a "motif"? 
ing and wk a t ^ oes a d asn me an over a note ? 

What is the best book of instruction for 
a beginner, a child of ten ? 

A motif is the germ of a theme. A 
theme may be composed of reiterations 
of a motif, or by grouping several motifs 
together; it may also combine both 
modes of procedure. The most glorious 



PIANO QUESTIONS 69 

exemplification of construction by re- 
iteration of a motif you will find in the 
opening theme of Beethoven's Fifth Sym- 
phony. A dash over a note enjoins the 
player to hold that note with the finger 
until it has received its full value. The 
best "instruction book" for a child is a 
good teacher who uses no instruction 
book, but imparts his knowledge to the 
child from out of his own inner con- 
sciousness. 



In playing notes written thus s*?*> Tied Stao* 
is it permissible to slide the f ff *>***" 
fingers from the keys or should there be 
only a clinging touch ? 

Notes marked as above are to be 
played in such a manner that each note 
is slightly separated from the next. The 
best touch for this is from the arm, so 
that the fingers are not lifted from their 
joints, nor from the wrist, but that the 
arm pulls the finger upward from the key. 

What do short lines below or above a The 
note or chord mean in contradistinction "Tcnvto" 
to a staccato or an accent? And does audits 
it affect the whole chord ? Effect 



70 PIANO QUESTIONS 

The dash under or above a note is a 
substitute for the word "tenuto" (usually 
abbreviated into "ten."), which means 
"held," or, in other words, be particular 
about giving this note its full sound- 
duration. This substitute is usually em- 
ployed when the holding concerns a 
single note or a single chord. 

A Rolled How should I execute a chord that is 
Chord wr itten with a spread and also marked 

AlClTKcd , t ,, _ . f*-. . i , CCA* i 

"Secco" secco ? as in Cnammade s Air de 
Ballet, No. 1." 

Roll the chord as evenly as possible 
in all its parts; but use no pedal and do 
not hold it, but play it briskly and short. 

Small What is the meaning of small notes 

Notes printed under large ones ? 

Largl Usually the small notes are an indi- 
Ones cation that they may be omitted by 
players who have not the stretch of 
hand necessary to play them. 

Accenting How should one play and accent the 

a Mordent mO rdent occurring in the forty-seventh 

Sonata measure of the first movement allegro 

di molto of Beethoven's Sonata Pa- 

thetique, Opus 13 ? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 71 

The accent ought to lie upon the first 
note of the mordent, but you should not 
make a triplet of it by occupying the 
whole quarter with its execution. The 
mordent must be played fast enough to 
preserve the rhythmic integrity of the 
melody-note. 

The turn c> stands sometimes directly The Posi- 



over the note and sometimes farther to L ^ rr ^ J 
the right of it. Does this difference in- Over a 
dicate different executions and, if so, Note 
how would the two turns have to be 
played ? 

The turn always begins with its 
uppermost note. When it stands directly 
over a note it takes the place of this 
note; when more to the right the 
note is struck first and the turn, 
judiciously distributed at the time of 
its disposal, follows. 

How are syncopated notes to be How Are 
played ? S V- 

XT pated 

Notes occurring an entire beat of the Notes to be 
prescribed time are, when syncopated, 
to be played between the beats. If the 
syncopated notes occupy only a fraction 



72 PIANO QUESTIONS 

of the beats they are played between 
the fractional beats. 

A Trill In modern compositions should all 
Begins t r j]j s begin upon the note which is written, 

on the . . . 

Melodic presuming there is no appoggiatura before 
Note the note? Is the alternation of the 
thumb and the second finger desirable 
in the playing of a trill ? 

Where not expressly otherwise stated 
(by appoggiatura) trills usually begin 
upon the melodic tone (the note which 
is written). Change fingers when those 
employed get tired. For extended trills 
the use of three fingers is advantageous, 
while in shorter trills two fingers will 
preserve more clarity. 

Position of In the accompanying example of the 
Auxiliary tr in should the auxiliary note be a tone 

Note in II- . 

a Trill or a nalf-tone above the principal note ? 
If the half-tone, what would be the name 
of the auxiliary note? 




PIANO QUESTIONS 73 

The episode you quote moves evidently 
in the tonality of G minor. The trill 
stands on B-flat. As the auxiliary note 
of a trill is ever the diatonic sequel of a 
stated note it must, in this case, be a 
whole tone above B-flat, namely C. 
Since the piece is written in D major 
there should have been a "natural" 
marked under the sign of the trill. 

Will you kindly suggest a good method of Speed 
gaining speed and smoothness in trilling ? a d 

While there are no "methods" for ness i n 
trilling there are certain means by which Trilling 
sluggish muscles may be assisted. Yet, 
even these means cannot be suggested 
without knowing the seat and cause of 
your trouble. The causes differ with 
the individual, but they are, in the 
majority of cases, purely mental, not 
manual. To trill quickly we must think 
quickly; for if we trill only with the 
fingers they will soon stick, lose their 
rhythmic succession, and finish in a 
cramped condition. Hence, there is no 
direct way to learn trilling; it will develop 
with your general mental-musical ad- 
vancement. The main thing is, of course, 



74 PIANO QUESTIONS 

always to listen to your own playing, 
actually and physically, to perceive every 
tone you play; for only then can you 
form an estimate as to how quickly you 
can "hear." And, of course, you do 
not expect to play anything more quickly 
than your own ear can follow. 

Difference What is the difference in the manner 

U ^Trills of P la y in S the tri11 in measure 25, and 
those in measures 37 and 38, of the 
Chopin Polonaise, Opus 53? 

The significance of the trill in measure 
25 is melodic, while that of the trills in 
measures 37 and 38 is purely rhythmic, 
somewhat in the nature of a snare-drum 
effect. The first trill requires greater 
stress on the melodic note, while in 
the other two you may throw your 
hand, so to speak, on both notes and 
roll the trill until it lands upon the 
next eighth-note. 

The What is meant by "spelling" in music ? 

Meaning Unless it means the variety of ways 

feggio in which most chords can be written it 

refers to an oral reciting of notes, properly 

called solfeggio. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 75 

ABOUT CERTAIN PIECES AND COMPOSERS 

Please tell me some pieces of the Some 
classics which are not too difficult for ^g**^ 
my daughter of fourteen to play. She Fourteen 
has a great deal of talent but not much 
technique. The Kuhlau Sonatinas she 
can play very well. 

If your daughter is fourteen years old 
and has as you say much talent 
but little technique, it is high time to 
think of developing her technique, for a 
pianist without technique is like a pleasure 
traveller without money. At any rate, 
I should prefer the easier sonatas by 
Haydn and Mozart to those of Kuhlau, 
because of their greater intrinsic merit. 
Any good teacher will assist you in 
selecting them to fit your daughter's case. 

In playing sonatas my teacher tells In Playing 
me it is a great fault if I neglect to ob- a Sonata 
serve the repeat marks. I have heard 
it said by others that the repetition is 
not necessary, though it may be desirable. 
Will you please give me your opinion ? 

In a sonata it is of serious importance 
to repeat the first part (exposition) of 
the first movement in order that the 



76 PIANO QUESTIONS 

two principal themes, as well as their 
tributaries, may well impress themselves 
upon the mind and memory of your 
auditor. For, unless this is accom- 
plished, he cannot possibly understand 
and follow their development in the 
next part. That the exposition part is 
not the only one to be repeated you will 
find frequently indicated; for instance, 
in the last movement of the "Appas- 
sionata," where the repetition is needful, 
not for the reason stated before, but for 
the sake of formal balance or proportion. 
Generally speaking, I am in favour of 
following the composer's indications 
punctiliously, hence, also, his repeat 
marks, which serve aesthetic purposes 
that you will perhaps not understand 
until later, when the sonata has, in 
your hands, outgrown the stage of 
being learned. 

A Point Should not the notes of the triplet 

inPlayi the fi g ure in Beethoven's "Moonlight Son- 

" Moon- ata" be so blended into each other that 

light So- y OU jo no t h ear them in separate notes, 

but as a background, so to speak, for 

the notes in the melody? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 77 

The truth lies midway between two 
extremes. While the accompaniment 
should be sufficiently subdued to form, 
as you say, a harmonic background, it 
ought, nevertheless, not to be blended 
to such a degree as to obliterate entirely 
the undercurrent of a triplet motion. 
The accumulation of each chord should 
be produced through the pedal, not 
through an excessive legato touch. 

Should Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" Playing 
be played in slow or fast time ? 

It is marked "Allegretto grazioso. 
The latter term (graceful, in English) too Fast 
precludes a too-quick movement. 

This is the seventh measure of Chopin's What a 
Polonaise, Opus 26, No. 1. What is 
the meaning of the dot placed after the 
D in the bass ? Whenever this measure 
is repeated the dot occurs, or I should 
have thought it a misprint. 




78 



PIANO QUESTIONS 



The left-hand notes follow each other 
as eighth-notes. Their respective dura- 
tion, however, is indicated by the up- 
ward stems and the dot. It is intended 
here that a complete chord should be 
built up by accumulation, as in illustra- 
tion a: 




and I would also hold the fifth eighth as 
in illustration b. 

Where the In playing Chopin's Impromptu in 
Accent A-flat, Opus 29, should the first or the 

Should be , . r ,, , ., 

Placed l ast note ' tne mordent receive the 

accent ? I have heard the mordent sound 

like a triplet ? Is this the correct accent ? 

The last note of the mordent should be 

accented in this case. 



Chopin's Nocturne in F-sharp, 
Doqqio Movement, when re- 

** 



A Dis~ In 

puted a ter 

Chopin . T j j.- ^ 

Reading turning to Tempo I, and counting five 
measures, should the right hand in the 
fifth measure play this melody? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 79 

The various editions differ from one 
another in this measure. Peters's edi- 
tion, generally considered the best edition 
of Chopin's works, has the second version, 
which commends itself by its greater 
naturalness. 

In Rubinstein's "Melody in F" should Playing 
the melody be played in the left hand or 
be divided between the two hands ? in F 

Where there is no valid reason for 
doing otherwise it is always best to 
follow the composer's prescription; for, 
in most cases and with great composers 
in all cases the author knows what he 
meant to say. In the aforesaid piece, 
too, I advise you to adhere to this 
principle, since it is written with a 
view to teach the division of the 
melody between the right and left hand. 
Any other execution would ruin this 
purposed design. 

In Schumann's " Blumenstiick," third When Two 

number, the uppermost notes of the left #^7fo 

hand are identical with the lowest of the Same 

right hand. Should the thumbs of both Notc 
hands strike the same keys at the same 



80 PIANO QUESTIONS 

time all the way through or should the 
left hand omit them? 

The left hand should omit them, but 
be careful to omit only those that are 
really duplicates. There are a few places 
toward the end of each section where the 
left-hand notes differ from those in the 
right. In those cases you must be careful 
to play all the notes that are written. 

BACH 

The Be- Can you give me a few helpful sugges- 
9 mne r tions in a preliminary study of Bach ? 
Music A totality consists of many parts. If 
you cannot master the totality of a work 
by Bach try each part by itself. Take 
one part of the right hand, one part of 
the left, add a third part, and so on until 
you have all the parts together. But be 
sure to follow out the line of each sep- 
arate part (or "voice," as the Continentals 
say). Do not lose patience. Remember 
that Rome was not built in a day. 

Back's Do you think the study of Bach is 
Music necessary to the development of one's 

Necessary , 111 i . i 

to Good technique, or should one let ms music 
Technique alone until a later day when one's tech- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 81 

nique is in good condition ? Some of 
his music seems so dry. 

Bach's music is not the only music 
that develops the technique. There is, 
for instance, the music of Czerny and 
Clementi to be considered. But Bach's 
music is particularly qualified to develop 
the fingers in conjunction with musical 
expression and thematic characteriza- 
tion. You may start with Czerny and 
Clementi, but you ought soon to turn to 
Bach. That some of his music seems 
dry to you may be due to your mental 
attitude by which you possibly expect 
from ecclesiastical music what only the 
opera can give you. Think yourself into 
his style and you will find a mine of 
never-dreamed-of enjoyment. 

Do you think that the playing of Always 
Bach's works will keep one's hands T e ^ c ^ 
in good technical condition ? And with 
which is the best edition of Bach's Bach 
piano works ? 

Bach is good for the soul as well 
as for the body, and I recommend that 
you never lose touch with him. Which 
is the best edition would be hard to 



82 PIANO QUESTIONS 

say, but I have found the Peters edition 
to be very good. 

What is the plan of a "Fugue," how 

d eS ^ differ fr m an " Invention " 

Fugues and "Prelude," and what is the pur- 
pose of studying the pieces so named 
by Bach? 

The explanation of the plan of a Fugue 
would exceed by far the limits of the 
space at my disposal. It would require 
a text-book, of which there are many to 
be found in every good music store. The 
Fugue is the most legitimate representa- 
tion of true polyphony. Its difference 
from an Invention is expressed in the 
two names. A Fugue (fuga, flight) is 
the flight of one musical thought through 
many voices or parts, subject to strict 
rules, while an Invention is an accumu- 
lation of thoughts moving with absolute 
freedom. The definition of Prelude, as 
something which intentionally precedes 
and fittingly introduces a main action, 
fits the musical Prelude perfectly; 
especially in the case of Bach. The 
purpose of all these forms is that of 
all good music-making, namely, the 



PIANO QUESTIONS 83 

purification and development of good 
taste in music. 

Of the Bach fugues do you consider As to the 
the C sharp major difficult to memorize, ^ ach 
or do you advise the use of the D flat 
arrangement instead ? 

Such little differences have never both- 
ered me, and I can therefore hardly 
answer your question definitely. It has 
been frequently observed though never 
explained that to many people it comes 
easier to read music in ,D flat than in 
C sharp. Hence, if you prefer the D flat 
edition it will reduce the difficulty for 
you. Possibly this more accessible ver- 
sion may aid you optically or visually in 
your work of memorizing. 

BEETHOVEN 

I am just beginning to reach an intel- Order of 
ligent interpretation of Beethoven's music. Stud y in 9 
Now, in what order should the Sonatas ven > s 
be studied ? Sonatas 

If you should really have the laudable 
intention to study all the Sonatas of 
Beethoven for your repertory I should 
think that you may safely take them up 



84 PIANO QUESTIONS 

very much in the order in which they 
are printed, with the exception of Opus 
53 and the Appassionata, which spirit- 
ually as well as technically rank with 
the last five. The Steingraber edition, 
however, furnishes a very fair order of 
difficulty in the index to the Sonatas. 

The My teacher calls the Sonata opus 28, 
by Beethoven, the "Pastoral" Sonata. 
w ith a I have not found anything "pastoral" 
Pastoral ' m any of the movements. Is it because 
I do not understand it, or is the name a 
mere amateurish invention ? 

The name "Pastoral Sonata" could, 
no doubt, be traced to an arbitrary in- 
vention, perhaps of some over-smart pub- 
lisher endeavouring to heighten the 
attractiveness of the Sonata to the general 
public by the addition of a suggestive 
title. Yet it seems to fit the Sonata 
pretty well, because, really, its main 
characteristic is a rural sort of peaceful 
repose. Especially the first movement 
is of a tranquillity which, surely, does 
not suggest the life of a metropolis. Bui 
in the other movements, too, there are 
many episodes which by their nai'vetc 



PIANO QUESTIONS 85 

and good-natured boisterousness indicate 
the life of the village. 

Must I play all the Sonatas of Beetho- A Few, 

TJ7 77 

yen's in order to become a good player, p^ d 
or is a certain number of them sufficient, Are 
and, if so, how many would you advise? Enough 

Since the playing of all the Sonatas 
does not necessarily prove that they were 
all well played, I think it is better to 
play one Sonata well than to play many 
of them badly. Nor should Beethoven's 
Sonatas be regarded as a musical drilling- 
ground, but rather as musical revela- 
tions. As they are not all on precisely 
the same high plane of thought, it is 
not necessary to play them all. To 
familiarize yourself with Beethoven's 
style and grandeur of thought it is 
sufficient to have mastered six or eight 
of his Sonatas; though that number, 
at least, should be mastered. 

MENDELSSOHN 



In a complete course for a piano The Study 
udent should the sti 
5 included ? Which 
are the most useful ? 



JL A 

student should the study of Mendelssohn / Men ~ 
be included ? Which of his compositions 



86 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Mendelssohn is surely a composer who 
is not to be omitted. His melody alone, 
besides other virtues, entitles him to be 
included, for melody seems to grow 
scarce nowadays. To develop a fine 
cantilena his "Songs Without Words" 
of slower motion, for instance, are just 
the thing. 

CHOPIN 

Which are the best compositions of 
of Chopin? Chopin to study by one who really desires 
to know him ? 

All the Etudes, all the Preludes, the 
Ballades in A flat, G minor and F minor, 
the Berceuse and the Barcarolle. The 
Mazurkas, Nocturnes, Waltzes, and Polo- 
naises you are probably familiar with; 
hence, I mention the aforesaid other 
works. Generally speaking, of Chopin 
a pianist should know everything. 

The What kind of touch did Chopin have ? 
Charm Since a description of his touch would 

f Chopin s 

Touch require too much space I refer you to 
the book from which I gathered the most 
explicit information on this point. It is 
"The Life of Chopin," by Frederick 



PIANO QUESTIONS 87 

Niecks (London and New York, No- 
vello, Ewer & Co.), and in the second 
volume, from page 94 to about 104, you 
will find what you wish to know, as far 
as it is possible to convey the charm of 
one art through the medium of another. 
Since you seem interested in Chopin 
I would recommend that you closely 
study both volumes of this masterly 
biographical work. 

What is the tempo (by metronome) Mood 



of Chopin's Impromptu in A-flat, and 
what idea did the composer embody in it ? the A-Flat 
The editions vary in their metronome Impromptu 
markings and I believe none of them. 
Your tempo will largely depend upon 
the state of your technique. To the 
second question my reply is that Chopin 
has composed "music" which as you 
know represents thoughts only in a 
musical sense, otherwise it deals with 
purely psychic processes, moods, etc. 
The humour of this Impromptu is mainly 
an amiable, ingratiating one, here and 
there slightly tinged with a sweet melan- 
choly. It should not be played too fast, 
for it easily loses this latter attribute 



88 PIANO QUESTIONS 

and then sounds like a Czerny exercise. 
A moderate tempo will also tend to bring 
out the many charming harmonic turns 
which, in too quick a tempo, are likely 
to be lost. 

Chopin's In Chopin's Barcarolle there is a 
Barcarolle numDer o f trills preceded by grace notes. 
Are they to be executed according to 
Philipp Emmanuel Bach's rule, so that 
the grace notes take their time from the 
note that follows them ? 

Philipp Emmanuel Bach's rule is a 
safe one to follow, but do not confound 
a rule with a law. If you have reached 
that plane on which an attempt at the 
Barcarolle by Chopin is rational, you 
must feel that your individual taste will 
not lead you too far astray even if it 
should prompt you occasionally to depart 
from the rule. 

Chopin's What works of Chopin would you 

Works SU gg es t for a popular concert programme ? 

Popular Nocturne, Opus 27, No. 2; Fantasy 

Concert Impromptu, Opus 66; Scherzo, Opus 31; 

Berceuse, Opus 57; Valse, Opus 64, No. 

2; Polonaise, Opus 26, No. 1; Chants 

Polonais (in Liszt's transcription). 



PIANO QUESTIONS 89 

In playing Chopin may one take Taking 

liberties with the tempo and play different Ll ^ les 
. i **** th 

parts or the same mazurka or nocturne Tempo 

in various degrees of tempo ? 

Undoubtedly. But the extent of such 
liberties depends upon your aesthetic 
training. In principle your question ad- 
mits of an affirmative reply, but a specific 
answer is impossible without an acquain- 
tance with your musical status. I recom- 
mend that you be very cautious about 
"taking liberties"; without, however, 
ceasing altogether to follow the prompt- 
ings of your good taste here and there. 
There is such a thing as "artistic con- 
science"; consult it always before taking 
a liberty with the tempo. 



In the beginn 
minor by Chopii 
play this chord 
of times. I can 
any three of the 
but not all four. 


ing of th( 
a the left 


3 Waltz in E 
hand has to 
a number 


Omitting 
One Note in 
a Chord 


2T 5^* J? A Z 


istretch 


9 * 3 c 2* 




-^^ " < ^ 




i e 




H 


Can one 



of them be omitted, and which one ? 

You may omit the upper E, the second 
note from the top, but you may do so 
only so long as it is physically impossible 



90 PIANO QUESTIONS 

for you to strike all the four notes. For, 
by omitting this note you do alter the 
tone colour of the chord as well as its 
sonority. As soon as you have acquired 
the requisite stretch and anybody who 
does possess it I would advise that the 
note^be not unnecessarily omitted. Chopin 
evidently meant to have that note played. 

Matters Will you give me your views as to the 
Cannot be orc j er m w hich the masters of piano 

Studied 

in Order composition snould be studied r 

To classify composers, without speci- 
fying their works, is never advisable. 
Beethoven's first and last sonatas differ 
so fundamentally from each other in 
every particular that one may play the 
first one very well and yet be for many 
years (perhaps forever) unable to play 
the last one. And still, it is the same 
Beethoven that wrote both works. We 
can, therefore, hardly speak of an "order 
of composers." So long as we are dealing 
with masters the question should not be: 
Which master ? but, Which compo- 
sition does your stage of mental and 
technical development call for? If you 
will defer the study of any other com- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 91 

poser until you have fully mastered the 
works of Beethoven only the principal 
ones, at that you will need a life of 
more length than the Bible allots to the 
average man. 

Is it true that nearly all the great The 
composers have been pianists ? Oreatest 

T* * . . Composers 

It by pianists you mean musicians as pianist* 
whose sole medium of audible musical 
utterance was the piano, your question 
admits of no other than an affirmative 
reply. The only exception I can think 
of just now was Berlioz; there were, 
no doubt, others, but none who belongs 
to the truly great ones. The reason for 
this is, perhaps, the circumstance that 
the pianist throughout his education is 
brought into touch with greater poly- 
phony than the players of other instru- 
ments, and that polyphony is a basic 
principle in music. 

Is the study of Thalberg's operatic The Study 
transcriptions of any value to the piano f O? 6 *"* 

j <\ Trantcrip- 

student? tion9 

Operatic transcriptions begin with Liszt. 
What was written before him in that line 



92 PIANO QUESTIONS 

(and in some degree contemporary with 
him, hence it includes Thalberg) is 
hardly of any significance. If you feel 
a special inclination toward the tran- 
scriptions of Thalberg you may play 
them; they will not harm you so very 
much. But if you ask me whether they 
are of any musical value I must frankly 
say, no. 

Modem Are such pieces as "Beautiful Star of 
Heaven" or "Falling Waters" in good 
taste ? What contemporary composers 
write good piano music ? 

Pieces with pretentious names are 
usually devoid of such contents as their 
names imply, so that the names are 
merely a screen to hide the paucity of 
thoughts and ideas. Speaking very gen- 
erally, there seems to be not very much 
good music written for the piano just at 
present. By far the best comes from 
Russia. Most of these compositions are 
rather difficult to play, but there are some 
easy ones to be found among them, 
such as the "Music Box," by Liadow, 
"Fantastic Fairy Tales," No. 12, 
by Pachulski, and others. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 93 

EXERCISES AND STUDIES 

Is there any special book of practice Exercises 
exercises that you think best for a beginner f r . the 

Beginner 

and that you would care to recommend ? to Prac- 

Any reliable music publisher will tell tise 
you which book of exercises is most in 
demand. The effect of the exercises 
depends, of course, upon the way you 
play them. Indications as to touch, etc., 
are usually given in such books. What 
kind of exercises your case demands 
cannot be determined without a personal 
examination by an expert. 

What would you say are the best Good 
studies for plain finger work? Finger 

rni_ e << TV i- 99 x i Exercises 

The exercises ot Pischna are to be 
recommended. They have appeared in 
two editions, or which one is abridged. 
They are known as the "large" and the 
"small Pischna." You may obtain them 
through any large music house, I think, 
in the Steingraber Edition. 



Are Heller's studies practical for a The Value 
mng student lacking in rhythm and / Heller ' s 

* Studies 

pression? 

Yes, they are very good, provided the 



94 PIANO QUESTIONS 

teacher insists that the pupil plays ex- 
actly what is indicated and does not 
merely "come near it." 

Good Living in the country, where there is 

ll ^ T " no teacher available, I would thank you 

Books of for telling me what Etudes I ought to 

Etudes study. I have finished those by Cramer 

and Moscheles, and can play them well, 

but find those by Chopin too difficult. 

Are there no intermediate works ? 

You seem to be fond of playing Etudes. 
Well, then, I suggest: 

"Twelve Etudes for Technique and 
Expression," by Edmund Neupert. 

"Concert Etudes," by Hans Seeling 
(Peters Edition). 

"Etudes," by Carl Baermann (two 
books), published in Germany. 

"Etudes," by Ruthardt (Peters Edi- 
tion). 

But why not select an easy Etude by 
Chopin and make a start? The best 
preparation if not the Etudes them- 
selves is Heller's Opus 154. 

Etudes For What regular technical work would 
Advanced vou prescribe for a fairly advanced 

Piayers to ** . . , , HI 

Work at pianist one who plays pretty well such 



PIANO QUESTIONS 95 

things as the Chopin Etudes in C minor, 
Opus 10, No. 12, and in D flat, Opus 25, 
No. 8, and the B flat minor prelude ? 

My advice to advanced players is 
always that they should construct their 
technical exercises out of such material 
as the different places in the pieces at 
hand furnish. If you should feel the 
need of Etudes for increasing your en- 
durance and control of protracted diffi- 
cult passages I suggest that you take up 
the Etudes by Baermann and those by 
Kessler. The former are a little easier 
than the latter. 

My first teacher laid great store by The Value 
dementi's "Gradus ad Parnassum," and of ?f" 

i i . . mcnti s 

insisted upon taking every study in it, "Gradus" 
while my new teacher, with whom I 
recently started lessons, says that it is 
"outlived, superannuated." Was my old 
or my new teacher right ? 

They were both right; one as a peda- 
gogue, the other as a musician. As you 
do not mention the reason of your first 
teacher's insistence, I must assume that 
he employed the "Gradus" as exercises, 
pure and simple. It serves this purpose 



96 PIANO QUESTIONS 

quite well, though even as studies for the 
applying of technical disciplines they are, 
on account of their dryness, "outlived," 
as your new teacher correctly says. Mod- 
ern writers have produced studies which 
combine with their technical usefulness 
greater musical value and attractiveness. 

POLYRHYTHMS 

Playing How must I execute triplets played 
Duple against two-eighths ? In dementi's Son- 

Apimi atina P US 37 > No - 3 > first P a e > y u 
Triple will find such bars. 

In a slow tempo it may serve you to 
think of the second eighth-note of the 
triplet as being subdivided into two 
sixteenths. After both hands have played 
the first note of their respective groups 
simultaneously, the place of the aforesaid 
second sixteenth is to be filled by the 
second note of the couplet. In faster 
motion it is far better to practise at first 
each hand alone and with somewhat 
exaggerated accents of each group until 
the two relative speeds are well estab- 
lished in the mind. Then try to play 
the two hands together in a sort of semi- 
automatic way. Frequent correct repe- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 97 

tition of the same figure will soon change 
your semi-automatic state into a con- 
scious one, and thus train your ear to 
listen to and control two different rhythms 
or groupings at the same time. 

How should, in Chopin's Fantasy Im- The Two 
promptu, the four notes of the right be 
played to the three of the left? Is an 
exact division possible? Rhythms 

An exact division would lead to such 
fractions as the musician has no means 
of measuring and no terms for expressing. 
There is but one way to play unequal 
rhythms simultaneously in both hands; 
study each hand separately until you can 
depend upon it, and put them together 
without thinking of either rhythm. Think 
of the points where the two hands have 
to meet, the "dead points" of the two 
motions, and rely on your automatism 
until, by frequent hearing, you have 
learned to listen to two rhythms at once. 




98 PIANO QUESTIONS 

The Old How should the above-quoted notes 

of ZHH be brou g llt in with the lower tri P lets ? 

Ti me It would be futile to attempt a precise 
Against and conscious division in such cases. 
npe The best, in fact, the only, way to do 
is to practise the hands separately with 
an exaggerated accent on each beat until 
the points where the hands meet are well 
conceived and the relative speed ratios 
are well understood. Then try to play 
the hands together, and do not be 
discouraged if the first attempts fail. 
Repeat the trial often and you will 
finally succeed if the separate practice 
has been sufficient to produce a semi- 
automatic action of the hands. 

PHRASING 

The Value Can you give an amateur a concise 

and 



an definition o f phrasing and a few helpful 
Practice suggestions as to clear phrasing ? 

,/ Phrasing is a rational division and 
mgr subdivision of musical sentences, and 
serves to make them intelligible. It 
corresponds closely with punctuation in 
literature and its recitation. Find out 
the start, the end, and the culminating 
point of your phrase. The last-named 



PIANO QUESTIONS 99 

is usually to be found upon the highest 
note of the phrase, while the former are 
usually indicated by phrasing slurs. Gen- 
erally speaking, the rising of the melody 
is combined with an increase of strength 
up to the point of culmination, where, 
in keeping with the note design, the 
decrease of strength sets in. For artistic 
phrasing it is of the utmost importance 
properly to recognize the principal mood 
of the piece, for this must, naturally, 
influence the rendition of every detail 
in it. A phrase occurring in an agitated 
movement, for instance, will have to be 
rendered very differently from a similar- 
looking phrase in a slow, dreamy move- 
ment. 

In observing a rest should the hand be Do Not 

raised from the wrist? 5?* . 

. i 111 
Never! Such a motion should be Marking a 

made only in rapid wrist octaves or other Rett 
double notes when a staccato is prescribed. 
The regular way to conclude a phrase, or 
observe a pause, as you say, is to lift the 
arm from the keyboard and keep the 
wrist perfectly limp, so that the arm 
carries the loosely hanging hand upward. 



100 PIANO QUESTIONS 

RUBATO 

As to Will you please tell me what is the 

P Rubato best method of P la 7 in g ru kato ? 

The artistic principles ruling rubato 
playing are good taste and keeping 
within artistic bounds. The physical 
principle is balance. What you shorten of 
the time in one phrase or part of a phrase 
you must add at the first opportunity to 
another in order that the time "stolen" 
(rubato) in one place may be restituted 
in another. The aesthetic law demands 
that the total time-value of a music 
piece shall not be affected by any rubato, 
hence, the rubato can only have sway 
within the limits of such time as would 
be consumed if the piece were played 
in the strictest time. 

How to I find an explanation of tempo rubato 
V which says that the hand which plays the 

Passages J 14 

Marked melody may move with all possible free- 

"Rvbato" dom, while the accompanying hand must 

keep strict time. How can this be done ? 

The explanation you found, while not 

absolutely wrong, is very misleading, 

for it can find application only in a very 

few isolated cases; only inside of one 



PIANO QUESTIONS 101 

short phrase and then hardly satisfac- 
torily. Besides, the words you quote 
are not an explanation, but a mere asser- 
tion or, rather, allegation. Tempo ru- 
bato means a wavering, a vacillating of 
time values, and the question whether 
this is to extend over both hands or over 
only one must be decided by the player's 
good taste; it also depends upon whether 
the occupation of the two hands can be 
thought of as separate and musically 
independent. I assume that you are 
able to play each hand alone with perfect 
freedom, and I doubt not that you can, 
with some practice, retain this freedom 
of each hand when you unite them, but 
I can see only very few cases to which 
you could apply such skill, and still less 
do I see the advantage thereof. 

In playing rubato do you follow a Perfect 
preconceived notion or the impulse of Ruba tthe 

. Result of 

the moment? Momentary 

Perfect expression is possible only under Impulse " 
perfect freedom. Hence, the perfect ru- 
bato must be the result of momentary 
impulse. It is, however, only a few very 
eminent players that have such command 



102 PIANO QUESTIONS 

over this means of expression as to feel 
safe in trusting their momentary im- 
pulses altogether. The average player 
will do well carefully to consider the 
shifting of time values and to prepare 
their execution to a certain degree. This 
should not, however, be carried too far, as 
it would impair the naturalness of expres- 
sion and lead to a stereotyped mannerism. 

The Is there any difference between con- 
Difference ce ption and rubato? 

Between >>,... i 

Conception Conception is a generic term and 
and Rubato comprises the service of each and all 
means of expression, among which rubato 
plays a somewhat prominent part. For 
it is, so to speak, the musical pulse-beat 
of the player. Being subordinate to 
conception, its function and manner 
must be governed by the latter. 

CONCEPTION 

Different Can one and the same phrase be con- 

Conceptions ce i ve( j differently by different artists and 

Individ- st ^^ be individually correct in each in- 

ually Correct stance ? 

Certainly! Provided that whatever 
the conception be it preserves the 



PIANO QUESTIONS 103 

logical relations of the parts in building 
up the phrase, and that it is carried 
through the whole course of the piece 
in a consistent manner. Whether a cer- 
tain conception of a phrase is or is 
not compatible with the general character 
of the piece and how far the freedom of 
conception may extend, it will be for 
the aesthetic training and the good taste 
of the player to determine for each and 
every case separately. 

In the first attempts at a new piece Which 
must matters of conception be observed Should 

i'ii Come 

at once or only after the piece has been First 
technically mastered? Conception 

Unless one is a very experienced reader Technique ? 
it will be hardly possible to think of 
matters of conception until the technical 
means to express them and the neces- 
sary perspective of the piece have been 
gained. It is always safer first to make 
sure that the notes as such, and their 
respective times value have been read 
correctly, and that the technical diffi- 
culties have, to a fair degree, been over- 
come. This done, the question must be 
settled as to whether the general character 



104 PIANO QUESTIONS 

of the piece is dramatic, i. e., tragic 
or conciliatory, melancholy, lyric, rhap- 
sodic, humorous, or changeable, and so 
forth. Only when our mind on this 
point is made up with the utmost definite- 
ness, can we approach the details that 
are conditioned by the conception. 

FORCE OF EXAMPLE 

Hearing Should a pupil hear a piece played 

"Before before studying it? 

Studying If the pupil's imagination needs stimu- 
li lation he should hear the piece well 
played before studying it. If, however, 
he is merely too lazy to find out the 
rhythm, melody, and so forth, and rather 
relies upon his purely imitative faculty, 
he should not hear it, but be compelled 
to do his own reading and thinking. 

THEORY 

Why the Do you recommend the study of harmony 
Pianist an( j counterpoint to the piano student? 

Should -D 11 i rr i 

Study *ty *" means! To gam a musical 
Harmony insight into the pieces you play you 
must be able to follow the course of their 
harmonies and understand the contra- 
puntal treatment of their themes. With- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 105 

out the knowledge gained through a seri- 
ous study of harmony and counter-point 
your conceptions will be pure guesswork 
and will lack in outline and definiteness. 

Why is it supposed to be necessary to Why so 
have fifteen keys to complete the circle D ^/ rent 
of fifths ? Why would not twelve suffice, Keys ? 
and thus avoid duplicate keys ? 

Not fifteen, but twenty-five tonalities 
complete the circle of fifths, theoretically, 
and they are all necessary because of 
the many harmonic turns that occur in 
modern music and which could not be 
intelligently demonstrated unless we use 
the tonalities with seven, eight, nine or 
more sharps and flats. For otherwise 
we might have to change the signature 
so frequently as to become utterly con- 
fusing to even the most musicianly reader. 
C-sharp minor has but four sharps, yet 
the scale of its dominant (its next rela- 
tive) has eight sharps. 

Is it absolutely necessary for me to The Re- 
study harmony in connection with my ^^ ' v 
piano ? My teacher wants me to do it, to Piano- 
but I don't see the use! Of what benefit 
is harmony ? 



106 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Of what benefit is the general school- 
work a child has to go through? To 
play the piano well a good hand and so 
many hours of practice are not sufficient; 
it requires a general musical education. 
This means, first and foremost, a knowl- 
edge of harmony, to which you may 
later add the study of counterpoint and 
forms. Your teacher is absolutely right. 

Would you care to recommend two 
Qr ^^ Q f ^ k est books on the study 

e i_ a 

of harmony ? 

The doctrine of harmony is ever the 
same, but the modes of teaching it are 
constantly changing and, I trust, im- 
proving. For this reason I feel a certain 
hesitation in recommending at this time 
the text-books which I studied many 
years ago, especially as I am not certain 
that they have been translated into 
English. I advise you, therefore, to 
inquire of some good teacher of harmony 
or, at least, of a reliable music publisher 
or dealer. E. F. Richter and Bussler 
wrote works of recognized merit, which, 
though no longer modern, may be safely 
studied. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 107 

Is it possible to learn modulating from Learning 
a book without the aid of a teacher, so \ Modu ' 

late 

as to connect two pieces of different 
tonality ? 

Possible, yes, but not probable; for 
since in your written exercises you are 
likely to err at times, you will need some 
one to point out your errors and so 
show you the way to correct them. 
Generally speaking, I do not think 
much of studying the rudiments of any- 
thing without the aid of an experienced 
adviser. 

Is it possible to study counterpoint Studying 
without a teacher, and, if so, what book Co ^ te ^- 

9 _ ' . pmnt by 

can you recommend lor its study ? One's Self 

It is quite possible, provided you are 
certain never to misunderstand your 
text-book and never to commit any 
errors. Otherwise you will need the 
advice of an experienced musician in 
correcting them. A good teacher, how- 
ever, is always better than a book 
for this study. Of text-books there 
are a great many. Any reliable music 
house will furnish you with a list of 
them. 



108 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Should Besides my study of the piano shall I 
P> try to compose if I feel the inclination 

Students J . .. r T 

Try to an d believe 1 have some talent for it ? 
Compose? The practice of constructing will al- 
ways facilitate your work of reconstruct- 
ing, which is, practically, what the ren- 
dition of a musical work means. Hence, 
I advise every one who feels able to con- 
struct even a modest little piece to try 
his hand at it. Of course, if you can 
write only a two-step it will not enable 
you to reconstruct a Beethoven Sonata; 
still, there may be little places in the 
Sonata that will clear up in your mind 
more quickly when you have come in 
touch with the technical act of putting 
down on paper what your mind has 
created, and you will altogether lose the 
attitude of the absolute stranger when 
facing a new composition. Do not con- 
strue this, however, as an encouragement 
to write two-steps! 

The Please advise me as to the best way 
^ l earnm g composition. Which is the 
Wants to best work of that kind from which I 
Compose cou \^ l ea m ? 

First learn to write notes. Copying 



PIANO QUESTIONS 109 

all sorts of music is the best practice for 
that. Then study the doctrine of har- 
mony. Follow it up by a study of the 
various forms of counterpoint. Proceed 
to canon in its many kinds and intervals. 
Take up the fugue. Then study forms 
until you learn to feel them. Books for 
every one of these stages there are many, 
but better than all the books is a good 
teacher. 

What is the difference between the The 
major and minor scale ? Does it lie in 
the arrangement of semitones or in the Major 
character, or in both ? an ? 

There are three differences: First, in scales 
the arrangement of the semitones; second, 
in the character; and, third, in the cir- 
cumstance that the minor scale admits 
of a number of modifications for melodic 
purposes which cannot be made in the 
major scale. 

Which is the true minor scale, the There is 

melodic or the harmonic ? My teacher Of* 

. , . m Mino 

insists upon the harmonic, but it sounds Scale 

ugly to me. Will you please tell me 
something about it ? 



110 PIANO QUESTIONS 

There is but one minor scale; it is the 
one upon which the chords of its tonality 
are built; it is the one upon which your 
teacher wisely insists, because the so- 
called melodic minor scale offers no 
new intervals to your fingers, and because 
the term melodic minor scale is applied 
to that form of deviation from the real 
scale which is most frequently used, but 
which is by no means the only devia- 
tion that is possible; nor is it the only 
one in use. 

What is What is the difference between the 
the Differ- ma j or an( j m i nO r scales ? 

ence Be- *L ... 

tween the I he major scale has a major third 
sixth, while the minor scale has a 



minor third and sixth and raises its 



Scales? seventh to a major seventh by an acci- 
dental elevating sign, raising a natural 
note by a sharp, and a flat note by a 
natural. If you begin your major scale 
upon its sixth degree and, counting it as 
the first of the minor, raise the seventh, 
you obtain the minor scale, in which, 
however, many modifications are ad- 
missible for melodic (though not for 
harmonic) purposes. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 111 

As a waltz and a menuet are both in How 
three-fourth time, is it only the tempo ^^ 
in which they differ, or are there other Mazurka. 
differences ? and 

Waltz, menuet, mazurka, and polo- 
naise are all in three-fourth time and are 
not confined to a definite tempo. The 
difference between them lies in the struc- 
ture. A waltz period that is, the full 
expression of a theme needs sixteen 
measures; a menuet needs only eight, a 
mazurka only four measures. In a ma- 
zurka a motive occupies only one measure, 
in the menuet two, and in the waltz four. 
The polonaise subdivides its quarters 
into eighths, and the second eighth 
usually into two sixteenths ; it differs, 
therefore, from the other three dances 
by its rhythm. 



What is the meaning of the word The 
"Toccata"? I do not find it in the 
Italian lexicon and the English musical 
dictionaries differ widely in their defini- i 
tions. None of their definitions seems 
to apply to the Toccata by Chaminade. 

To make the matter quite plain let 
me say, first, that "Cantata" (from 



PIANO QUESTIONS 

cantare to sing) meant in olden times 
a music piece to be sung; while "Sonata" 
(from suonare to play) designated a 
piece to be played on an instrument; 
and "Toccato" meant a piece for key- 
board instruments like the organ or piano 
and its precursors, written with the in- 
tention of providing special opportuni- 
ties for the display of the skill of touch 
(from toccare to touch) or, as we would 
now say, finger technique. The original 
meanings have changed so that these 
terms now imply definite forms, like the 
modern Cantata and Sonata. The 
Toccata is, at present, understood to be 
a piece in constant and regular motion, 
very much like those that are called 
"moto perpetuo" or "perpetual motion," 
of which Weber's "Perpetuum mobile" 
is a good example. I have no doubt 
that the Toccata by Chaminade, which 
I do not know, is written on similar lines. 

THE MEMORY 

Playing Is memorization absolutely essential 
Mem y to a good player ? 

Is Indi*- Playing from memory is indispensable 
pensable j- o ^ f ree dom of rendition. You have 



PIANO QUESTIONS 113 

to bear in your mind and memory the 
whole piece in order to attend properly 
to its details. Some renowned players 
who take the printed sheets before them 
on the stage play, nevertheless, from 
memory. They take the music with 
them only to heighten their feeling of 
security and to counteract a lack of 
confidence in their memory a species 
of nervousness. 

Will you please tell me which is the The 
easiest way to memorize a piano piece? Easiest 

. . * . Way to 

Begin by playing it a few times very Memorize 
carefully and slowly until you can play 
it with a fair degree of exactitude (you 
need not mind an occasional stopping). 
Then go over such places as appeared 
to you especially complex until you 
understand their construction. Now let 
the piece rest for a whole day and try 
to trace in your mind the train of thoughts 
in the piece. Should you come to a dead 
stop be satisfied with what you have 
achieved. Your mind will keep on work- 
ing, subconsciously, as over a puzzle, 
always trying to find the continuation. 
If you find that the memory is a blank 



114 PIANO QUESTIONS 

take the music in hand, look at the 
particular place but only at this 
and, since you have now found the con- 
nection, continue the work of mental 
tracing. At the next stop repeat this 
procedure until you have reached the 
end, not in every detail, but in large 
outlines. Of course, this does not mean 
that you can now play it from memory. 
You have only arrived at the point of 
transition from the imagined to the real, 
and now begins a new kind of study: 
to transfer to the instrument what you 
have mentally absorbed. Try to do 
this piece by piece, and look into the 
printed sheets (which should not be on 
the music-rack but away from it) only 
when your memory absolutely refuses 
to go.on. The real work with the printed 
music should be reserved to the last, 
and you should regard it in the light of 
a proof-reading of your mental impres- 
sions. The whole process of absorbing 
a piece of music mentally resembles 
that of photographing. The development 
of the acoustic picture (the tone-picture) 
is like the bath. The tentative playing 
is like the process of "fixing" against 



PIANO QUESTIONS 115 

sensitiveness to lights; and the final work 
with the printed music is the retouching. 

I find it very hard to memorize my In Order 
music. Can you suggest any method to . Mem - 
that would make it easier? Easily 

To retain in one's memory what does 
not interest one is difficult to everybody, 
while that which does interest us comes 
easy. In your case the first requirement 
seems to be that your interest in the 
pieces you are to play be awakened. 
This interest usually comes with a deeper 
understanding of music; hence, it may 
be said that nothing will assist a naturally 
reluctant memory so much as a general 
musical education. Special studies for 
the memory have not come to my knowl- 
edge because I never had any need of 
them. After all, the best way to memo- 
rize is to memorize. One phrase to- 
day, another to-morrow, and so on, until 
the memory grows by its own force 
through being exercised. 

I memorize very easily, so that I can Memoriz- 

often play my pieces from memory IH 9 Q ulck 
, . TV 11 j A i and For ' 

before 1 have fully mastered their getting as 

technical difficulties, as my teacher Readily 



116 PIANO QUESTIONS 

says. But I forget them just as 
quickly, so that in a few weeks I can- 
not remember enough of them to play 
them clear through. What would you 
advise, to make my memory more 
retentive ? 

There are two fundamental types of 
memory : One is very mobile it ac- 
quires quickly and loses just as quickly; 
the other is more cumbrous in its action 
it acquires slowly, but retains forever. 
A combination of the two is very rare, 
indeed; I never heard of such a case. A 
remedy against forgetting you will find 
in refreshing your memory in regular 
periods, playing your memorized pieces 
over (carefully) every four or five days. 
Other remedies I know not and I see no 
necessity for them. 

To Keep I can always memorize a piece before 

Errors J can pj ay ft f ast J) Q y QU a( J v i se p ra c- 

Creeping tising with notes when I already know 
in it by heart ? 

The occasional playing of a memorized 
piece from the notes will keep errors 
from creeping in, provided you read the 
music correctly and carefully. 






PIANO QUESTIONS 117 

SIGHT READING 

Is there any practical method that The Best 



will assist one to greater rapidity in ^^ to 

. , . ,. a * Improve 

sight-reading ? 



The best way to become a quick Reading 
reader is to read as much as possible. 
The rapidity of your progress depends 
upon the state of your general musical 
education, for the more complete this 
is the better you will be able to surmise 
the logical sequel of a phrase once started. 
A large part of sight-reading consists of 
surmising, as you will find upon analyz- 
ing your book-reading. 

What is a good plan to pursue to im- To Gain 
prove the facility in sight-reading ? Facility in 

Much reading and playing at sight Reading 
and as fast as possible, even though at 
first some slight inaccuracies may creep 
in. By quick reading you develop that 
faculty of the eye which is meant by 
"grasp," and this, in turn, facilitates 
your reading of details. 

ACCOMPANYING 

How can one learn to accompany at Learning 
sight ? to Accom* 

Develop your sight-reading by playing 



118 PIANO QUESTIONS 

many accompaniments, and endeavour 
while playing your part also to 
read and inwardly hear the solo part. 

The Art How should one manage the accom- 
of Accom- p an i men t for a soloist inclined to play 

panying a x r * 

Soloist rubato? 

Since you cannot make a contract of 
artistically binding force with a soloist 
you must take refuge in "following." 
But do not take this word in its literal 
meaning; rather endeavour to divine 
the intentions of your soloist from mo- 
ment to moment, for this divining is the 
soul of accompanying. To be, in this 
sense, a good accompanist, one must 
have what is called in musical slang a 
good "nose" that is, one must musi- 
cally "scent" whither the soloist is going. 
But, then, the nose is one of the things we 
are born with. We may develop it, as to 
its sensitiveness, but we cannot acquire a 
nose by learning. Experience will do much 
in these premises, but not everything, 

Learning Wishing to become an accompanist I 
the Art o] anticipate completing my studies in Ber- 
panying lin. What salary might I expect and what 
would be the best "course" to pursue? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 119 

An experienced and very clever ac- 
companist may possibly earn as much 
as fifty dollars a week if associated with 
a vocal, violin, or 'cello artist of great 
renown. Usually, however, accompan- 
ists are expected to be able to play solos. 
There are no special schools for accom- 
panists, though there may be possibly 
some special courses in which experience 
may be fostered. If you come to Berlin 
you will find it easy to find what you 
seem to be seeking. 

TRANSPOSING 

What, please, is the quickest and safest The 

way of transposing from one key to an- 

*i. o T u ui j? / f Trans - 

otner ? 1 have trouble, for instance, in p 0t ing at 

playing for singing if the piece is in A Sight 
major and the singer wants it in P major. 

The question of transposing hinges on 
the process of hearing through the eye. 
I mean by this that you must study the 
piece until you learn to conceive the 
printed music as sounds and sound 
groups, not as key pictures. Then trans- 
fer the sound picture to another tonality 
in your mind, very much as if when 
moving from one floor to another with 



120 PIANO QUESTIONS 

all your household goods you were to 
place them on the new floor as they 
were placed on the old. Practice will, 
of course, facilitate this process very 
much. Transposition at sight is based 
on somewhat different principles. Here 
you have to get mentally settled in the 
new tonality, and then follow the course 
of intervals. If you find transposition 
difficult you may derive consolation from 
the thought that it is difficult for every- 
body, and that transposing at sight is, of 
course, still more difficult than to trans- 
pose after studying the piece beforehand. 

PLAYING FOR PEOPLE 

When to During the period of serious study 

< p T" ma y ^ P^ ^ or P 60 ?' 6 (fronds or strangers) 
or should I keep entirely away from the 
outside world? 

From time to time you may play for 
people the pieces you have mastered, 
but take good care to go over them 
afterward the difficult places slowly 
in order to eliminate any slight errors or 
unevenness that may have crept in. To 
play for people is not only a good in- 
centive for further aspirations; it also 



PIANO QUESTIONS 121 

furnishes you with a fairly exact estimate 
of your abilities and shortcomings, and 
indicates thereby the road to improve- 
ment. To retire from the outside world 
during the period of study is an out- 
lived, obsolete idea which probably origi- 
nated in the endeavour to curb the 
vanity of such students as would neglect 
their studies in hunting, prematurely, 
for applause. I recommend playing for 
people moderately and on the condition 
that for every such "performance" of 
a piece you play it afterward twice, 
slowly and carefully, at home. This 
will keep the piece intact and bring you 
many other unexpected advantages. 

I can never do myself justice when "Afraid to 
playing for people, because of my ner- jj^ 
vousness. How can I overcome it? People 9 ' 

If you are absolutely certain that your 
trouble is due to "nervousness" you 
should improve the condition of your 
nerves by proper exercise in the open air 
and by consulting your physician. But 
are you quite sure that your "nervous- 
ness" is not merely another name for 
self-consciousness, or, worse yet, for a 



PIANO QUESTIONS 

*'bad conscience" on the score of tech- 
nical security? In the latter case you 
ought to perfect your technique, while in 
the former you must learn to discard all 
thought of your dear self, as well as of 
your hearers in relation to you, and 
concentrate your thinking upon the work 
you are to do. This you can well achieve 
by will-power and persistent self-training. 

Effect of I have heard artists play the same 

h^Same P^ ece vear a ^ ter vear an( l eacn ^ me as 

Piece expressively as before. After a piece 
Often k^ been played several hundred times 
it can hardly produce on the player the 
same emotional effect that it originally 
did. Is it possible for a player by his art 
and technical resources so to colour his 
tones that he can stimulate and produce in 
his audience an emotional condition which 
he himself does not at the time feel ? 

In music emotion can be conveyed 
only through the means and modes of 
expression that are peculiar to music, 
such as dynamic changes, vacillations 
of tempo, differences of touch and kindred 
devices. When a piece is played in 
public very often on consecutive occa- 



PIANO QUESTIONS 123 

sions which artists avoid as much as 
they can these expressions gradually 
assume a distinct form which is quite 
capable of preservation. Though it will 
in time lose its life-breath, it can still 
produce a deception just as (to draw a 
drastic parallel) a dead person may look 
as if he were only asleep. In this parallel 
the artist has, however, one great advan- 
tage. Since he cannot play a piece very 
often without having a number of errors, 
rearrangements, slight changes creeping 
into it, he must, in order to eliminate them 
and to cleanse the piece, return from time 
to time to slow practice in which he also 
refrains almost entirely from expression. 
When in the next public performance the 
right tempo and expression are added 
again they tend strongly to renew the fresh- 
ness of the piece in the player's mind. 

I love music dearly and my teacher is The 
always satisfied with my lessons, but when wh st Fai i s 
I play for my friends I never make a to Express 
success. They compliment me, but I Herself 
feel they that do not care for my playing; 
even my mother says that my playing is 
"mechanical." How can I change it? 



124 PIANO QUESTIONS 

It is just possible that your friends 
and your mother may not be amenable 
to the high class of music which you 
play, but if this is not the case your 
affliction cannot be cured offhand. If 
the lack of expression in your playing 
should emanate from a lack of feeling 
in yourself, then your case would be in- 
curable. If, however, you play "me- 
chanically" because you do not know 
how to express your emotions in your 
playing and I suspect it to be so 
then you are curable, although there are 
no remedies that would act directly. I 
suggest that you form close associations 
with good musicians and with lovers of 
good music. By looking well and listen- 
ing you can learn their modes of expres- 
sion and employ them first by imitation 
until the habit of "saying something'* 
when you play has grown upon you. I 
think, though, that you need an inward 
change before there can be any outward 
change. 

The Art of I n the musical manifestations of feeling 

Pla $ith how does the artist ctiefl y differ from 

Feeling the amateur? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 125 

The artist expresses his feelings with 
due deference to the canons of art. 
Above all, he plays correctly without 
allowing this ever-present correctness to 
make his playing seem lacking in feeling. 
Without unduly repressing or suppressing 
his individuality he respects the com- 
poser's intentions by punctiliously obey- 
ing every hint or suggestion he finds in 
the annotations, concerning speed, force, 
touch, changes, contrasts, etc. He de- 
livers the composer's message truthfully. 
His personality or individuality reveals 
itself solely in the way he understands 
the composition and in the manner in 
which he executes the composer's pre- 
scriptions. 

Not so the amateur. Long before he 
is able to play the piece correctly he 
begins to twist and turn things in it to 
suit himself, under the belief, I suppose, 
that he is endowed with an "indivi- 
duality" so strong as to justify an indul- 
gence in all manner of "liberties," that is, 
licence. Feeling is a great thing; so is 
the will to express it; but both are 
worthless without ability. Hence, before 
playing with feeling, it were well to make 



126 PIANO QUESTIONS 

sure that everything in the piece is in 
the right place, in the right time, strength, 
touch, and so forth. Correct reading 
and not only of the notes per se is a 
matter that every good teacher insists 
upon with his pupils, even in the earliest 
grades of advancement. The amateur 
should make sure of that before he 
allows his "feelings" to run riot. But 
he very seldom does. 

Affected Is there any justification for the sway- 

n S of the bodv ' the noddin g of the head, 
Piano the exaggerated motion of the arms, and 
all grotesque actions in general while 
playing the piano, so frequently ex- 
hibited not only by amateurs but by 
concert players, too? 

All such actions as you describe reveal 
a lack of the player's proper self-control 
when they are unconsciously indulged 
in. When they are consciously com- 
mitted, which is not infrequently the 
case, they betray the pianist's effort to 
deflect the auditors' attention from the 
composition to himself, feeling probably 
unable to satisfy his auditors with the 
result of his playing and, therefore, 



PIANO QUESTIONS 127 

resorting to illustration by more or less 
exaggerated gesture. General well-man- 
neredness, or its absence, has a good 
deal to do with the matter. 

ABOUT THE PIANO PER SE 

Do you believe that the piano is the Is the 
most difficult of all instruments to master p no 
more so than the organ or the violin ? Hardest 

If SO, why ? to Master 

The piano is more difficult to master 
than the organ, because the tone-produc- 
tion on the piano is not so purely mechan- 
ical as it is on the organ. The pianist's 
touch is the immediate producer of 
whatever variety or colour of tone the 
moment requires, whereas the organist 
is powerless to produce any change of 
tone colour except by pulling a different 
stop. His fingers do not and cannot 
produce the change. As to string instru- 
ments, their difficulties lie in an entirely 
different field, and this fact precludes 
comparison with the piano. Technically, 
the string instrument may be more 
difficult, but to become an exponent of 
musical art on the piano requires deeper 
study, because the pianist must present 



128 PIANO QUESTIONS 

to his hearers the totality of a composition 
while the string instruments depend for 
the most part upon the accompaniments 
of some other instruments. 

Piano Being a cornet player, and wishing to 

Study become a conductor and composer, I 

ductor and should like to know if the study of the 

Composer piano is necessary in addition to my 

broad, theoretical studies and a common 

college course. 

It depends upon what you wish to 
conduct and what to compose. With no 
other means of musically expressing 
yourself than a cornet it is highly im- 
probable that you will be able to write 
or conduct a symphony. But you may 
be able to lead a brass band and, perhaps, 
to write a march or dance piece. If 
your musical aims are serious by all 
means take to the piano. 

Why the Why do more people play the piano 
Piano than any other instrument ? 

Popular Because the rudimentary stages of 
music study are easier on the piano than 
on any other instrument. The higher 
stages, however, are so much more 
difficult, and it is then that the piano 



PIANO QUESTIONS 129 

gets even with the bold aggressor. A 
violinist or 'cellist who can play a melody 
simply and with good tone is considered 
a fairly good amateur, for he must have 
mastered the difficulty of tone-production; 
he must have trained his right arm. A 
pianist who can play a melody equally 
well is the merest tyro. When he ap- 
proaches polyphony, when the discrimina- 
tion begins between the various parts 
speaking simultaneously, aye, then the 
real work begins not to speak of 
velocity. It is, perhaps, for this reason 
that in reality there are a great many 
more violinists than pianists, if by either 
we mean persons who really master 
their instrument. The number of 'cellists 
is smaller, but the reason for this is to 
be found in the small range of 'cello 
literature and also, perhaps, in the com- 
parative unwieldiness of the instrument, 
which does not admit of technical de- 
velopment as, for instance, the more 
handy violin. If all beginners at the 
piano realized what exasperating, har- 
assing, discouraging, nerve-consuming 
difficulties await them later and beset 
the path to that mastery which so few 



130 PIANO QUESTIONS 

achieve, there would be far fewer piano 
students and more people would study 
the violin or the 'cello. Of the harp 
and the wind instruments I need not 
speak, because they are to be considered 
only in matters orchestral and not 
seriously as solo instruments. 

The What shape of hand do you consider 

^ Piano the best f r P ian P la y in S ? Mine k 

Hand very broad, with rather long fingers. 

The best piano hand is not the popular, 
pretty, narrow hand with long fingers. 
Nearly all the great technicians had or 
have proportioned hands. The genuine 
piano hand must be broad, in order to 
give each finger a strong base for the 
action of its phalanges and to give this 
base space enough for the development 
of the various sets of muscles. The 
length of the fingers must be in proportion 
to the width of the hand, but it is the 
width which I consider most important. 

The Com- Would you advise players with small 

hands to Siiiem P i the heavier class of 
the compositions by Liszt? 
Player Never! Whether the hands are too 



PIANO QUESTIONS 131 

small or the stretch between the fingers 
too narrow if you attempt a piece 
which for these or other physical reasons 
you cannot fully master, you always run 
the serious risk of overstraining. This, 
however, should be most carefully avoided. 
If you cannot play a certain piece without 
undue physical strain, leave it alone and 
remember that singers choose their songs 
not because they lie within their compass, 
but because they suit their voice. Do 
likewise. Be guided by the nature and 
the type of your hand rather than by its 
rapidity of execution. 

What physical exercises are most ad- The Best 
vantageous to be taken in connection r h y s ' lcal 

. . Exercise 

with piano practice ? 1 have been swing- j w ^ e 
ing clubs to strengthen wrists and arms, Pianist 
but have imagined it stiffened my fingers. 
I am inclined to think that what you 
imagined was not far from the truth. 
Can you not replace the real clubs by 
imaginary ones? Since club-swinging 
tends to develop the agility of the arms 
and wrists rather than their strength 
you can easily make the same motions 
without the clubs; for all exertion of 



132 PIANO QUESTIONS 

force that keeps the hands in a closed 
condition is bound to have a bad effect 
on piano playing. Undoubtedly the best 
exercise of all, however, is brisk walking 
in the open air, for it engages every part 
and every organ of the body, and by 
compelling deep breathing it fosters the 
general health through increased oxy- 
genation. 

Horseback My teacher objects to my riding horse- 
ac ]. no f; altogether, but he says I overdo 

. i /v f* T i i 

the it and it stiffens my nngers. Is he right ? 
Fingers Yes, he is. Every abuse carries its 
own punishment in its train. The closed 
position of the hand, the pressure of the 
reins upon the fingers, as constant as it 
is the case in horseback riding, is surely 
not advantageous for the elasticity of 
the fingers. You should, therefore, al- 
low the effect of one ride upon your fingers 
to disappear completely before you in- 
dulge in another. 

When to Do ybu think I should play and 
j^ e a p study the piano just because it is asked 

from the of me, and when I take no interest in it ? 
Piano Most emphatically, no! It would be 



PIANO QUESTIONS 133 

a crime against yourself and against 
music. What little interest in music 
you may have left would be killed by 
a study that is distasteful to you, and 
this would be, therefore, bound to lead 
to failure. Leave this study to people 
who are sincerely interested in it. Thank 
heaven, there are still some of those, and 
there always will be some! Be sure, 
however, that you are really not interested, 
and discriminate well between a lack of 
interest and a mere opposition to a 
perhaps too strenuous urging on the part 
of your relatives. My advice would be 
to quit the study for a time entirely; if, 
after a while, you feel a craving for 
music you will find the way to your 
instrument. This advice, of course, holds 
good also for violin students or any type 
of music student. 

BAD MUSIC 

Must I persist in playing classical The 
pieces when I prefer to play dance music ? 

r T . . i i i-j. i That One 

If, in yo.ur daily life, you wish to be Keeps in 
regarded as a lady or a gentleman you 
are obliged to be careful as to the company 
you keep. It is the same in musical life. 



134 PIANO QUESTIONS 

If you associate with the noble thoughts 
that constitute good or, as you call it, 
classical music, you will be counted 
with a higher class in the world of music. 
Remember that you cannot go through 
a flour-mill without getting dusty. Of 
course, not all pieces of dance music are 
bad; but the general run of them are such 
poor, if not vulgar, stuff as hardly to 
deserve the name of "compositions." 
Usually they are mere "expositions" of 
bad taste. Of these I w T arn you for 
your own sake, and if you wish to avoid 
the danger of confounding the good and 
the bad in that line it is best to abstain 
from it entirely. If dance music it must 
be, why, have you never heard of the 
waltzes and mazurkas by Chopin ? 

Why Rag- Do you believe the playing of the mod- 
Injurious ern ra g-time piece to be actually hurtful 
to the student? 

I do, indeed, unless it is done merely 
for a frolic; though even such a mood 
might vent itself in better taste. The 
touch with vulgarity can never be but 
hurtful, whatever form vulgarity may 
assume whether it be literature, a 



PIANO QUESTIONS 135 

person, or a piece of music. Why share 
the musical food of those who are, by 
breeding or circumstance, debarred from 
anything better? The vulgar impulse 
which generated rag-time cannot arouse 
a noble impulse in response any more 
than "dime novels" can awaken the 
instincts of gentlemanliness or ladyship. 
If we watch the street-sweeper we are 
liable to get dusty. But remember that 
the dust on the mind and soul is not so 
easily removed as the dust on our clothes. 

ETHICAL 

How can we know that our talent is What the 
great enough to warrant us in bestowing Object of 
year after year of work upon its develop- should 
ment ? Be 

Pleasure and interest should be such 
that it is in the actual working that one 
is repaid. Do not think so much of 
the end of your work. Do not force 
your work with the one view of becoming 
a great artist. Let Providence and the 
future decide your standing in music. 
Go on studying with earnestness and 
interest, and find your pleasure in the 
endeavour, not in the accomplishment. 



136 PIANO QUESTIONS 



PITCH AND KINDRED MATTERS 

The Inter- What is meant by "pitch" as regards 

tional 
Pitch 



national pj ano tuning ? People say that a certain 



piano is pitched lower than another. 
Would E on one piano actually sound 
like F on another? 

Yes, it would if the pianos were not 
pitched alike. It is only recently that 
an international pitch has been estab- 
lished which was adopted everywhere 
except in England. In the international 
pitch the A in the second space of the 
treble staff makes 435 vibrations a second. 

Inter- Which piano pitch is preferable, "con- 
national" cert" or "international"? 

Bv a11 means the "international," be- 
cause it will fit your piano to be used in 
conjunction with any other instrument, 
no matter whence it may come. Besides, 
the international pitch was decided upon 
as far back as 1859, in Paris, by 
a government commission, numbering 
among its members such men as Auber, 
Halevy, Berlioz, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Am- 
broise Thomas, and many physicists and 
army generals. You can easily infer 
from this that, in determining that the 



PIANO QUESTIONS 137 

A in the second space of the treble staff 
should have 435 vibrations a second, 
all phases of music vocal, instrumental, 
string, brass, wood, wind have been 
duly considered. 

Is there really a difference of three- The Well- 
eighths of a tone between A-sharp and p^o 
B-flat on the piano ? Scale 

There is no difference on the piano. 
But acoustically there is a difference, 
over which, however, I would waste 
no time, since the evenly-tempered 
scale has been generally adopted, and 
every composition from Bach's time 
to the present day has been thought and 
written in it. 

Is it not a mistaken idea that any The 
one particular key is more or less rich " c ' f r cmr " 

r , ,. , J , of Various 

or melodious than another ? 

The effect of a tonality upon our hearing 
lies not in its signature (as even Beetho- 
ven seemed to believe) but in the vibration 
proportions. It is, therefore, irrelevant 
whether we play a piece upon a high- 
pitched piano in C, or upon a low-pitched 
piano in D flat. There are certain keys 



138 PIANO QUESTIONS 

preferable to others for certain colours, 
but I fear that the preference is based 
not upon acoustic qualities but rather 
upon a fitness for the hand or voice. 
We apply the word "colour" as much 
to tone as the painters apply "tone" to 
colour, but I hardly think that anybody 
would speak of C major as representing 
black, or F major green. 

THE STUDENT'S AGE 

Starting a At what age should a child begin the 

M^ai study f instrumental music? If my 

Training daughter (six years old) is to study the 

violin should she first spend a few years 

with the piano, or vice versa ? 

The usual age for a child to begin 
the study of music is between six 
and seven years. A pianist hardly 
needs to learn another instrument to 
become a well-rounded musician, but 
violinists, as well as the players of 
all other instruments, and also 
vocalists, will be much hampered in 
their general musical development if 
they fail to acquire what may be 
called a speaking acquaintance with 
the piano. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 139 

I am not longer in my first youth, Age of the 
cannot take more than one hour's lesson 
a week, and cannot practise more than 
three hours a day. Would you still 
advise me to begin the study of the 
piano ? 

Provided there is gift and intelligence, 
the will, and the opportunity to study, 
age need not stand in your way. If 
your three hours of study are properly 
used, and your hour's lesson a week is 
with a good teacher, you should not 
become discouraged. 

Do you think that mastery of the piano Twenty- 
is unlikely or impossible when the begin- fa e ^ ot 
ner is twenty-five years of age ? to Begin 

It is neither unlikely nor impossible. 
Your age will to some degree handicap 
you, because from purely physical causes 
the elasticity of the fingers and wrists 
could be developed much more quickly 
if you were ten years younger. If, how- 
ever, you are endowed with strong musical 
gifts in the abstract you will achieve 
results superior to those attained by 
younger people with less talent. In 
overcoming the difficulties due to a late 



140 PIANO QUESTIONS 

beginning you will find great inward 
satisfaction, and your attainments are 
bound to be a source of joy to you. 

TEACHERS, LESSONS AND METHODS 

The Im- I have a son who is very desirous of 

P ^ a7 the learnin S to P la y tlie piano. I have been 
Right advised that an ordinarily good teacher 

Teacher j s g OO d enough to begin with. Others 
tell me a beginner should get the best 
teacher possible. Which would you ad- 
vise ? I live in a small town. 

The seriousness of your question is 
aggravated by the statement that you 
live in a small town, and that there is 
possibly no teacher of ability to be 
be found in your town. And yet it is 
only such a one that I can recommend 
for your son. For nothing is more 
dangerous for the development of a 
talent than a bad foundation. Many 
people have tried all their lives to rid 
themselves of the bad habits acquired 
from an ignorant teacher in the rudi- 
mentary stages of their studies, and have 
failed. I should advise you to try your 
best to send your boy to some near-by 
city where there is an excellent teacher. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 141 

Wishing to begin the study of the piano Nothing 
now, in my twenty-fourth year, just for But the . 
the sake of my great love for music, $ 
and knowing not even the notes, is it 
necessary to go to an expensive teacher 
at once or would a cheaper teacher do 
for the beginning? 

If music is to be merely a pastime, 
and you content yourself with a mini- 
mum of knowledge, the cheaper teacher 
will do; but if you aspire to become 
musical in a better sense, why, by all 
means, apply to a teacher of the better 
class. The maxim: "For the beginning 
this or that is good enough," is one of 
the most harmful fallacies. What would 
you think of an architect who says: "For 
the foundation loam is good enough; 
we put a sandstone house over it, any 
way." Remember also, that the road a 
cheaper teacher has led you to take must 
usually be retraced when your aspiration* 
rise toward the better in music. 



Shall I take my lessons in a music Music 
school or from a private teacher? Schools 

Music schools are very good for ac- a p r i vate 
quiring a general musical education. Teachers 



142 PIANO QUESTIONS 

For the higher study of an executive 
specialty (piano, violin, the voice, etc.) 
I should naturally prefer private instruc- 
tion from a specialist, because he can 
give more attention to each individual 
pupil than is possible under the whole- 
sa 1 ^ system followed, not by all, but by 
the majority of music schools. What I 
should advise would be a combination: 
General matters harmony, counter- 
point, forms, history, and aesthetics 
in a music school; and private lessons for 
. your specialty from a teacher who has 
an established name as an executive 
artist. The best music schools have 
such a man at their head, and in these 
you find the best combination. 

Individ- After taking lessons for five years and 

?d> a half from a good teacher, would you 

arCor* a dvise a continuance with the individual 

tervatory? teacher or attendance at a college of 

music or conservatory? 

For a general musical education I 
always recommend a good music school 
or conservatory. For the study of the 
piano I think it best to take private 
lessons from an artist who is experienced 



PIANO QUESTIONS 143 

both as an executant and as a teacher. 
Some music schools have such men on 
their staff, if not, indeed, at their head. 

Having had twenty months' lessons Where 
and having now mastered Etudes by ^ u ^ de 

. __. \ Criticism 

Berens, opus 61, by Heller, opus 47, and /, 
Smith's Octave Studies, do you think 
I am justified in continuing my lessons ? 
Assuming that you have really "mas- 
tered" the works you mention I can only 
encourage you to continue your lessons; 
I would, however, advise you to obtain 
an experienced pianist's criticism in 
order to assure yourself that your idea 
of "mastering" is right. 

Is there any preference as to sex in The Se* 
the question of choosing a piano teacher; f ihe 

, . ' Piano 

in other words, is a woman teacher Teach* 
preferable for any reason for a girl and 
and a man teacher for a man ? 

Your question does not admit of gener- 
alization from a purely musical point of 
view. It must be on this premise 
decided by the quality, not by the sex, 
of the teacher. A good feminine teacher 
is better than a bad masculine one, and 



144 PIANO QUESTIONS 

vice versa. The question of sex does not 
enter into the matter. Of course, the 
greater number of eminent teachers are 
found on the masculine side. 

Too Muck My recently engaged teacher says that 

61 the word "method" jars on her nerves. 

Kindly advise me whether a method is 

not the best thing for a novice, and, if so, 

which one ? 

Your teacher, while possibly a little 
over-sensitive, is not wrong. America is 
the most method-ridden country in the 
world. Most of the methods in vogue 
contain some good points about a 
grain of truth to a ton of mere ballast. 
Your teacher's utterance makes me think 
that you were lucky in finding her, and 
that you have excellent reason to trust 
in her guidance. 

What the How does the Leschetizky method 
Le lizk~ ran k w itb otner methods, and in what 
Method Is respect does it differ from them ? 

There are but two methods in all the 
arts: a good one and a bad one. Since 
you do not specify with what "other" 
methods you wish to compare that of 



PIANO QUESTIONS 145 

Leschetizky I cannot answer you with 
definiteness. There are, alas, so many 
"methods"! But the majority of them 
are based upon a deliberate disregard 
for that reverence which is due to great 
compositions and to the example of their 
rendition given by great interpreters. 
I have not studied with Leschetizky, 
but I think that he believes in a very 
low position of the hand and a sort of 
super-energetic tension of the tendons 
of the arms and hands. 

Has a young pupil, after studying the Give 
piano irregularly for two months, tested 
fairly a teacher's ability? Trial 

Of course not! Altogether I do not 
like the idea of a pupil's testing his 
teacher's ability, rather the reverse. 
He may possibly find his teacher un- 
sympathetic, but even this matter he 
is apt to judge prematurely. In most 
cases of irregularly attended or poorly 
prepared lessons the lack of sym- 
pathy means nothing more than that 
the pupil is a trifler and the teacher's 
honesty of purpose is not to his 
taste. 



146 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Either I have a "Piano Method," left over 

Trust f rom lessons with my first teacher; it 

Teacher was very expensive, and I learned only 

or Get a a few pages of it. We moved to a differ- 

New One t eac j ier objects to 



using the book, or, as she says, any 
such book. I do not know what to do 
about it, and would thank you for your 
advice. 

When you apply to a teacher for in- 
struction you must, first of all, decide 
in your own mind whether you have or 
have not absolute confidence in his 
ability. If you trust him you must do 
as you are advised to do; if not, you must 
apply to another teacher. A book, cost- 
ing much or little, plays no part in the 
matter. By what you say of the new 
teacher, however, I am disposed to 
think that he is better than the first one. 

The Commencing piano lessons with my 
seven-year-old daughter, should I de- 
For a vote my efforts to the development of 



Little t ne fi n g er s and hands, or retard such 
development so as to keep pace with the 
expansion of the mind ? 

Your question is interesting. But if 



PIANO QUESTIONS 147 

your mind is clear on that point and 
it seems to be that a one-sided de- 
velopment (in this case technical) is 
dangerous to the "musical" talent of 
your little daughter, why, then, your 
little girl is, indeed, "out of danger." 
Your very question is a credit to your 
insight. 

Is it better for a young student to take Frequent 
one hour lesson or two half-hour lessons a ^ orw 
a week? Shorter 

Since young students are liable to form 
bad habits it is essential that they should 
come under the teacher's eye as frequently 
as possible. Hence, it is preferable to 
divide the hour into two equidistant parts. 

Which plan is better for a child of Number 
eleven or twelve years : to take a one-hour ^ Le9S ^ 
lesson or two half -hour lessons a week ? on 

The child's age is not the determining P r 9 res * 
factor in this matter; it is his musical 
status. 

Is one lesson a week inadequate for On * 
a piano student ? 

It will be sufficient in the more ad- 
vanced stages of piano study. In the 



148 PIANO QUESTIONS 

earlier stages, however, where the 
of forming bad habits is greatest, it is 
best to bring the pupil under his teacher's 
eye twice a week at the very least. 

Better Not What little classics are best for a child 

nV Child a ^ ter s * x mon ths' lessons ? 
"Modified There are collections without number 
Classics ' Q f facilitated or simplified arrangements 
of classic pieces, but I do not altogether 
approve of them. Let the classics wait 
until the child is technically and, above 
all, mentally ripe to approach such 
works as they are written. 

Can Is it necessary for me to go to Europe 

Studied^n to con ^ nue my Eausic studies? 

America? If you have very much money to spare, 
why not ? You will see much, also hear 
much and some of it not quite so 
sublime as you anticipated and, last 
but not least, you will have "studied 
abroad." While this slogan still exer- 
cises a certain charm upon some people 
in America, their number is growing less 
year by year, because the public has 
begun to understand that the United 
States affords just as good instruction in 



PIANO QUESTIONS 149 

music as Europe does. It has also been 
found out that to "study abroad" is by no 
means a guarantee of a triumphant return. 
Many a young student who went abroad 
as a lamb returned as a mutton-head. 
And why should there not be excellent 
teachers in America by this time ? Even 
if you should insist upon a European 
teacher you can find many of the best 
in America. Is it not simpler that one 
teacher from Europe go to America to 
teach a hundred students than that a 
hundred students should make the trip 
for the sake of one teacher? I should 
advise you to stay where you are or go 
to Philadelphia, New York, or Boston, 
where you can find excellent teachers, 
native, resident Americans and foreigners. 
To quote a case in point, let me say that 
in Berlin I found Godowsky's pupils to 
be almost exclusively Americans. They 
came from various sections of America 
to study with him and with no one else. 
But during the eighteen years he spent 
in Chicago they did not seem to want 
him. Perhaps he was too near by! 
Why this self-deception ? Without men- 
tioning any names I assure you that 



150 PIANO QUESTIONS 

there are many teachers in America now 
who, if they should go to Europe, would 
draw a host of students after them, and 
some of these excellent men I know 
personally. It is high time to put an end 
to the superstitious belief in "studying 
abroad." 

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS 

Organiz- Please give me the name of a good 

9 cal Club book on musical history and advise me 

how to organize and conduct a musical 

club among my pupils. Also give me 

a name, please. 

You will find the "History of Music," 
by Baltzell, a serviceable book. As a 
name for your club I suggest that of 
the patron saint of music Saint Ce- 
cilia perhaps, or that of a great 
composer. Ask the secretaries of a num- 
ber of musical clubs for their constitutions 
and by-laws and then adapt these to 
your locality and circumstances. Make 
your pupils feel that it is their club and 
act, yourself, as secretary, if possible. 

How to Get Please explain how to go about pub- 
Music listing a piece of music, and also give 

Published , f , ,,. ,. i 

the name of some good publishing houses. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 151 

It is very easy to publish a piece of 
music if the publisher sees any merit in 
it. Send your piece to any publishing 
house whose name you find on the title 
pages of your sheet music. The readers 
or advisers of the house will report to 
their chief as to the merit of your piece, 
and he will then decide and negotiate 
with you, if his decision is favourable. 
If he should not care for it he will 
return your manuscript and you may 
try some other house. I advise you, 
however, to obtain the opinion of a good 
musician before you send your piece to 
a publisher. 

What is the difference between playing 
"in time" and playing "in rhythm"? in Time " 

Playing in rhythm refers to the inner pi ay i ng 
life of a composition to its musical in 
pulsation. Playing in time means the Rh y thm " 
prompt arrival upon those points of repose 
which are conditioned by the rhythm. 

I find great difficulty in playing any- The 
thing that goes quick, though in a more Student 
moderate tempo I can play my pieces noi pi ay 
faultlessly. Every teacher I had prom- Fast 
ised to develop my speed, but they all Mu8ic 



152 PIANO QUESTIONS 

failed. Can you give me a hint how to 
overcome my difficulty? 

Quickness of action, of motion, even 
of resolution, cannot be acquired by 
training alone; it must partly be inborn. 
I assume that your piano-playing is one 
phase of a general slowness. There is 
but one remedy for that. You have 
relied upon your teachers to develop 
your speed you should have relied 
upon your own will-power. Try to will 
it and to will it often; you will see the 
ability keep step with the exertions of 
your will. 

"Wonder- My child of five years of age shows 
Children" s jg ns o f g re at talent for music. He has 
Pianists a keen, true ear, and plays rather well 
for his age. Does this justify me in 
hoping that something out of the ordi- 
nary will become of him? They say 
that so-called "wonder-children" never 
amount to anything in later life. 

That "wonder-children" never amount 
to anything in later life is not borne out 
by history. If some are disappointments 
it is either because they astonished by 
mere executive precocity, instead of 



PIANO QUESTIONS 153 

charming by their talent, or because they 
were ruined by unscrupulous parents or 
managers who confounded the promise 
of a future with its realization. But, 
aside from these few, all great musicians 
were "wonder-children," whether they 
became composers, pianists, violinists, 
'cellists, or what not. The biographies 
of our great masters of the past centuries 
as well as those of more recent times 
(Mendelssohn, Wagner, Chopin, Schu- 
mann, Liszt, Rubinstein, and all the 
others), will bear me out in this statement. 
If your child shows more than mere 
precocity if, for instance, he does not 
merely play in his fifth year what others 
play in their tenth, but shows qualities 
of musical superiority then you may 
with a fair degree of certainty feel hopeful 
of a fine musical future for him. 

Shall I attend orchestra concerts or The Value 
shall I give preference to soloists ? 1 Goin 9 

By all means attend orchestra and Concerts 
chamber-music concerts! For these will 
acquaint you with those works which 
are, after all, of the greatest importance 
to the student. Besides, you will usually 



154 PIANO QUESTIONS 

hear more correct interpretations than 
from soloists. The latter, with some 
luminous exceptions, overestimate their 
own authority and take such unseemly 
liberties that in many cases you hear 
more Smith, Jones, or Levy than Beetho- 
ven, Schumann, or Chopin. Individ- 
uality in a soloist is certainly a great 
quality, but only if it is tempered by a 
proper deference to the composer of 
the work in hand. If you cannot hear 
a soloist who is capable of sinking his 
individuality in the thought, mood, and 
style of the composer he is interpreting 
and this is given to only the very 
greatest you do far better to prefer 
to the "individual" renditions of a 
soloist the "collective" renditions of the 
orchestra or string quartette. The syn- 
thetic nature of the orchestra forestalls 
the extravagances of so-called individ- 
uality and insures, generally speaking, a 
truthful interpretation. The very worst 
conductor imaginable cannot do as much 
harm to a composition as can a mediocre 
soloist, for an orchestra is a large body 
and, therefore, not so easily moved and 
shifted from the path of musical rectitude 



PIANO QUESTIONS 155 

as is a single voice or an instrument. A 
really great soloist is, of course, the finest 
flower of the garden of applied music, 
for his touch with the instrument is 
immediate and he needs no middleman 
to express the finest shades of his concep- 
tions; while the conductor and even 
the best has to impart his conception 
(through the baton, facial expression, 
and gesture) to other people before it 
can become audible, and on this cir- 
cuitous route much of the original fervour 
and ardour may be lost. But there are 
more good orchestras than great soloists, 
and hence you are safe in attending 
orchestra and chamber-music concerts. 

Compelled to study without a teacher 
for two years before I can go to a con- That 
servatory, what method should I study student 
for my technique and what pieces ? Working 

You fail to say whether you are a Alon * 
beginner or already somewhat advanced. 
Still, I think it safe to recommend 
Mason's "Touch and Technique," Stern- 
berg's Etudes, opus 66; and select your 
pieces from the graded catalogues which 
any publisher will be glad to send you. 



156 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Music as Would you advise a young man with 
a Profes- a g OO( j foundation to choose music 

* . . 

that is, concertizing as a career, or 
tion should he keep his music as an accom- 
plishment and avocation? 

Your distinguishing between music and 
concertizing gives direction to my reply; 
that the question was not answered by 
your own heart before you asked it 
prompts me to advise music for you as 
an avocation. The artist's career nowa- 
days is not so simple as it appears to be. 
Of a thousand capable musicians there 
is, perhaps, one who attains to a general 
reputation and fortune. The rest of them, 
after spending money, time, and toil, give 
up in despair, and with an embittered 
disposition take up some other occupation. 
If you do not depend upon public music- 
making for a living; if your natural endow- 
ments are not of a very unusually high 
order, and if your entire personality does 
not imply the exercise of authority over 
assemblages of people spiritual author- 
ity, I mean it were better to enjoy your 
music in the circle of your friends. It is 
less risky and will, in all probability, give 
you much greater satisfaction. 



PIANO QUESTIONS 157 

When I hear a concert pianist I want How Much 
to get more from his playing than You Can 

tl f . . . J 6 Get From 

aesthetic ear enjoyment. Can you give Music 
me a little outline of points for which to 
look that may help me in my piano 
study ? 

There is no pleasure or enjoyment 
from which we can derive more than 
we bring with us in the way of receptive- 
ness. As you deepen your study of 
music and gain insight into its forms, 
contrapuntal work and harmonic beauties 
you will derive more and more pleasure 
from listening to a good pianist the deeper 
your studies go. What their playing 
reflects of emotional life you will perceive 
in the exact measure of your own grasp 
upon life. Art is a medium connecting, 
like a telegraph, two stations: the sender 
of a message and the receiver. Both 
must be pitched equally high to make 
the communication perfect. 

You would confer a favour upon a "It is So 
teacher by solving a problem for her that ^f MC A 

, iji 11 i iM? i i Easier to 

has puzzled her all her life; why do Read Flats 
all pupils prefer flats to sharps? I am Than 
not at all sure that I do not, in some rps 



158 PIANO QUESTIONS 

degree, share this preference. Is it a 
fault of training, or has it any other 
cause ? 

Your question is both original and 
well justified by frequent observation, 
for it is quite true that people prefer to 
read flats to sharps. But note it well 
that the aversion to sharps refers only 
to the reading, not to the playing. If 
any one should find it harder to play in 
sharps, say, after knowing the notes 
well, it would be a purely subjective 
deception, due to a mental association 
of the note-picture with the respective 
sounds. My personal belief is that the 
aversion to the reading of sharps is caused 
by the comparative complexity of the 
sign itself, and this leads me to think 
that the whole matter belongs rather to 
ophthalmology than to either acoustics 
or music. 

As between Liszt and Rubinstein, 
w ^ om do vou consider the greater? 
Greater? Rubinstein I knew very well (I was 
his pupil), and have heard him play a 
great many times. Liszt, who died when 
I was sixteen years old and had not 



PIANO QUESTIONS 15* 

appeared in public for some twenty 
years previously, I never met and 
never heard. Still, from the descrip- 
tions which many of my friends gave 
me of him, and from the study of his 
works, I have been able to form a fair 
idea of his playing and his personality. 
As a virtuoso I think Liszt stood 
above Rubinstein, for his playing must 
have possessed amazing, dazzling qual- 
ities. Rubinstein excelled by his sin- 
cerity, by his demoniacal, Heaven- 
storming power of great impassioned- 
ness, qualities which with Liszt had 
passed through the sieve of a superior 
education and if you understand how 
I mean that term gentlemanly ele- 
gance. He was, in the highest meaning 
of the word, a man of the world; 
Rubinstein, a world-stormer, with a sove- 
reign disregard for conventionality and 
for Mrs. Grundy. The principal differ- 
ence lay in the characters of the two. As 
musicians, with regard to their natural 
endowments and ability, they were prob- 
ably of the same gigantic calibre, such 
as we would seek in vain at the present 
time. 



160 PIANO QUESTIONS 

As to One If I am deeply interested in Beethoven's 

Composer mus j c can j not fin( j j n him a u that there 
Exclud- . . . 

in# vlW is m music, in both an aesthetic and a 
Others technical sense ? Is any one's music 
more profound ? 

You imagine yourself in an impene- 
trable stronghold whence, safe from all 
attacks, you may look upon all composers 
(except Beethoven) with a patronizing, 
condescending smile. But you are 
gravely in error. Life is too rich in 
experience, too many-sided in its mani- 
festations, to permit any one master, 
however great, to exhaust its inter- 
pretation through his art. If you base 
your preference for Beethoven upon 
your sympathies, and if, for this reason, 
his music satisfies you better than 
that of any other composer, you are 
to be complimented upon your good 
taste. But that gives you no right to 
contest, for instance, the profoundness 
of Bach, the aesthetic charm of Chopin, 
the wonders of Mozart's art, nor the 
many and various merits of your con- 
temporary composers. The least that 
one can be charged with who finds 
the whole of life expressed in any 



PIANO QUESTIONS 161 

one composer is one-sidedness, not to 
speak of the fact that the understanding 
cannot be very deep for one master if 
it is closed to all others. One of the 
chief requirements for true connoisseur- 
ship is catholicity of taste. 

I am fifty-six years old, live in the A Sensible 
mountains sixty-five miles from any rail- s he e . 

i 111 i T * f Playing 

road, alone with my husband, and 1 have / or 
not taken lessons in thirty-five years. Pleasure 
Do you think "Pischna" would help me 
much to regain my former ability to 
play? If not, what would you advise 
me to do ? 

Refrain from all especially technical 
work. Since your love of music is 
strong enough to cause you to resume 
your playing you should take as much 
pleasure in it as possible and work 
technically only in the pieces you 
play that is, in those places which, 
offer you difficulties. Decide upon a 
comfortable fingering first, and practise 
the difficult places separately and 
slowly until you feel that you can 
venture to play them in their appro- 
priate speed. 



162 PIANO QUESTIONS 

First What pieces would you advise me to 

Learn memo rize after Rachmaninoff's Prelude 

Simple m C-sharp minor and Chopin's A-flat 

Things Ballade ? These pieces do not appeal to 

e the majority of people, but I enjoy them. 

If such a work as Chopin's Ballade in 

A-flat does not "appeal to the majority" 

as you say the fault cannot lie in 

the composition, but must be sought in 

the interpretation. Why not try a few 

pieces of lesser complexity and play 

them so perfectly that they do appeal to 

the majority. Try Chopin's Nocturne, 

opus 27, No. 2; Schumann's Romanza, 

opus 28, No. 2; or his " Traumerei," or 

some of the more pretentious "Songs 

Without Words" by Mendelssohn. 

About I am twenty-four, have had four years' 

Starting rigorous work in a conservatory and a 

Concert P ar ti a ' college training. My technique 

Career is adequate for Brahms's Rhapsody in 

G minor and McDowell's Sonatas. I 

have good health and am determined not 

to grow self-satisfied. Is there a place 

on the concert stage even if only as 

an accompanist for a woman thus 

equipped ? 



PIANO QUESTIONS 163 

Any public career must begin by 
earning the good opinion of others. 
One's own opinion, however just, is 
never a criterion. My advice is that 
you speak to some of the prominent 
concert agents, whose names and ad- 
dresses you find in every well-accredited 
music paper. Play for them. They 
are usually not connoisseurs by actual 
knowledge, but they have developed 
a fine instinct for that which is of 
use to them, and you are, of course, 
aware that we must be of use to 
others before we can be of use to our- 
selves. If the right "stuff" is in you 
you will make your way. People of 
ability always do. That there is 
room for women on the concert stage 
is proved by the great array of meri- 
torious women pianists. Especially for 
accompanying women are in demand 
that is, for good accompanying. But 
I would not start out with the idea of 
accompanying. It seems like going to 
a commercial school to study be to an 
4 ' assistant ' ' bookkeeper. Become a fine, 
all-round musician, a fine pianist, and 
see what the tide of affairs will bring 



164 PIANO QUESTIONS 

you. The proper level for your ability 
is bound to disclose itself to you. 

Accom- Should an accompanist precede or 
Usually fM w tne soloist on the stage in a concert 
Precedes or recital, and should sex be considered 
Soloist j n the mat ter ? 

at 

Entering If the soloist be a man the accompanist 
should precede him on the stage in order 
to arrange his music, the height of his 
seat or whatever may be necessary, 
during which time the soloist salutes the 
audience. For these reasons it should 
be the same when the soloist is a woman, 
but as women are of the feminine per- 
suasion it will, perhaps, look better if 
the accompanist yields precedence to her. 



ALPHABETICAL INDEX OF 
QUESTIONS 

PAGE 

About Starting On a Concert Career. . . 162 

Accenting a Mordent in a Sonata ... 70 

Accompanist Usually Precedes Soloist at Entering 164 

Action of a Beginner's Piano, The ... 37 

Action of the Little Finger, The ... 17 

Advantage of Legato over Staccato, The . . 22 

Affected Movements at the Piano . . . 126 

"Afraid to Play Before People" . . . 121 

Age of the Student is Immaterial . . . 139 

Always Keep in Touch With Bach . . . 81 

Art of Accompanying a Soloist, The V . 118 

Art of Playing With Feeling, The . '..'.. . 124 

As to one Composer Excluding All Others . 160 

As to Playing Rubato . . . , . 100 

As to the Bach Fugues . . . .-.' 83 

Bach's Music Necessary to Good Technique . 80 

Bach's Preludes and Fugues . . , > . 82 
Beethoven Sonata with a Pastoral Character, 

The 84 

Beginner in Bach Music, The .... 80 

Best Physical Exercise for the Pianist, The . 131 

Best Way to Improve Sight-Reading, The . 1 17 

Best Way to Work Up a Quick Tempo, The . 54 

Better Not Give the Child " Modified Classics " . 148 
165 



166 PIANO QUESTIONS 



PACK 



Biting the Finger-Nails Spoils the Touch . . 19 

Books that Aid the Student Working Alone . 155 

Broad-Tipped Fingers Not a Disadrantage . 20 

C-Scale Fingering for All Scales, The . . 28 

Can Music be Studied in America ? . . . 148 

Cantabile Passages 7 

Charm of Chopin's Touch, The ... 86 

Chopin's Barcarolle 88 

Chopin's Works for a Popular Concert . . 88 
"Colour" of Various Keys, The . . .137 

Company that One Keeps in Music, The . . 133 

Composition Must Fit the Player, The . . 130 

Conditions Which Dictate Speed in Playing, The 53 

Counting Out Loud 50 

Difference Between Conception and Rubato,The 102 
Difference Between "Finger Staccato" and Other 

Kinds, The 22 

Difference Between Major and Minor Scales, 

The : . . . 109 

Difference in Playing Trills, The . . . 74 
Different Conceptions May be Individually Cor- 
rect . 102 

Difficulty of Playing Repetition Notes, The . . 34 
Disputed Chopin Reading, A . . . .78 

Do not Allow the Wrist to Get Stiff ... 10 
Do not Injure the Hand by Stretching It . .13 

Do not Over-Use the Soft Pedal ... 44 

Do not Raise the Piano-Stool too High . . 4 

Do not Raise Wrist in Marking a Rest . . 99 

Do not Stiffen the Hands in Playing Scales . 9 

Do not Use a Piano Extreme in " Action " 36 



ALPHABETICAL INDEX 167 

SAGE 

Double Sharp Misprinted for Double Flat . . 65 

E Sharp and B Sharp and the Double Flat . . 64 

Easiest Way to Memorize, The . . . .113 

Effect of Double Flats, The .... 65 

Effect of Playing the Same Piece Often, The . 122 

Either Trust Your Teacher or Get a New One . 146 

Etudes for Advanced Players to Work At . . 94 

Exercises for the Beginner to Practise . . 93 

Fatiguing the Hand by Stretching ... 12 
Few Sonatas of Beethoven, Well Played, Are 85 
Enough, A ...... 

Fingering the Chromatic Scale ... 28 

Fingers Needed to Play a Mordent, The . . 28 
Firm and Crisp Legato Touch, The ... 24 
First Learn to Play Simple Things Well . .162 
Four Ways to Study a Piano Piece . > . 52 
Fourth and Fifth Fingers, The . fc .16 

Frequent Lessons and Shorter . . . 147 

General Rule About the Pedal, A . . . 39 
Genuine Piano Hand, The . .1, .130 
Give Your Teacher a Fair Trial . . .145 
Good Finger Exercises . . ,. . . 93 
Good Intermediate Books of Etudes ... 94 
Greatest Composers as Pianists, The ; . 91 

Hearing a Piece Before Studying It . . .104 
Height of the Piano Seat, The .... 5 
Horseback Riding Stiffens the Fingers . . 132 
How a Tie and a Slur Differ .... 63 
How Are Syncopated Notes to be Played ? . 71 



168 PIANO QUESTIONS 

Mi 

How Best to Play the Octaves ... 89 
How Grace Notes Are Played . . .61 

How Long an Accidental Affects a Note . . 64 

How Much You Can Get from Music . . 157 

How Organ Playing Affects the Pianist . . 26 

How Tight to Keep the Piano's Action . . 37 
How to Get Music Published . . . .150 

How to Hold the Thumb .... 16 

How to Improve the Technique ... 4 

How to Play Passages Marked " Rubato " . 100 

How to Use the Pedal 39 

How Waltz, Menuet, Mazurka and Polonaise 

Differ Ill 

Importance of Studying With the Right Teacher, 

The . . V . . 140 

Incorrect Position of the Fingers, An . . 8 

Individual Teacher or Conservatory ? . . 142 
In Order to Memorize Easily . . . .115 
In Playing a Sonata ..... 75 
"International "Piano Pitch, The . . . 136 
International Pitch, The . . . .136 

Is the Piano the Hardest to Master ? . . .127 
"It is So Much Easier to Read Flats Than 

Sharps!" ...... 157 

Kind of Piano Upon Which to Practise, 

The . ... . . .35 

Kullak's" Method of Octaves "Still Good . . 34 

Learning the Art of Accompanying . . .118 
Learning to Accompany at Sight . . .117 
Learning to Modulate ..... 107 



ALPHABETICAL INDEX 169 



PAGE 



Let Your Ear Guide Your Pedalling . 41 

Loose Wrist, The .9 

Masters Cannot be Studied In Order . . 90 

Meaning and Use of "Motif," The . . . 68 

Meaning of Solfeggio, The .... 74 
Meaning of "Toccata," The . . . .111 

Memorizing Quickly and Forgetting as Readily . 115 

Metronome Markings, The .... 57 

Metronome Markings May Better be Ignored . 59 

Modern Piano Music ..... 92 

Mood and Tempo in the A Flat Impromptu . 87 

More Technique the More Practice, The . . 3 

Morning is the Best Time to Practise . . 46 

Morning Practice on the Piano, The ... 45 
Music as a Profession or as an Avocation . .156 

Music Schools and Private Teachers . . ' . 141 

No Necessity to Watch the Fingers . . . 19 

Not Playing the Two Hands at Once. V . . 25 

Nothing But the Best Will Do . . .' . 141 

Number of Lessons Depends on Progress, The . 147 

Old Problem of Duple Time against Triple, 

The . 98 

Omitting One Note in a Chord . . * 89 
Once More the "Soft "Pedal . . .44 

One Lesson a Week 147 

Only Kind of Practice Worth While, The . 47 

Order of Studying Beethoven's Sonatas . . 83 
Organ Playing and the Piano Touch . . 26 

Organizing a Musical Club . . . .150 



170 PIANO QUESTIONS 

1MB 

Perfect Rubato the Result of Momentary Im- 
pulse 101 

Personal Element and the Metronome, The . 58 
Pianist Who Fails to Express Herself , The . .123 
Piano Study for Conductor and Composer . .128 
Play Chords With a Loose Arm . . .11 
Playing Duple Time Against Triple ... 96 
Playing from Memory is Indispensable . . 112 
"Playing in Time " and " Playing in Rhythm " . 151 
Playing of Double Thirds, The ... 35 
Playing of Slurred Notes, The .... 62 
Playing On a Dumb Piano .... 38 
Playing the "Melody in F" .... 79 
Playing the "Spring Song "too Fast . . 77 

Playing with Cold Hands .... 49 
Point in Playing the "Moonlight Sonata," A . 76 
Position of Auxiliary Note in a Trill ... 72 
Position of the Turn orer a Note, The . . 71 
Position of the Wrist, The . . . . 10 
Practising Eight Hours Instead of Four . . 48 
Practising the Two Parts Separately ... 52 
Premature Fatigue in tne Anns . . .33 
Problem of Transposing at Sight, The . . 119 
Proper Course for a Little Girl, The . . .146 

Rapid Octaves . . ... .30 

Real Meaning of Speed Terms, The ... 60 

Relation of Harmony to Piano Playing, The . 10,5 

Rests Used under or OTer Notes ... 62 

Results Count, Not the Methods, The . . 6 

Rolled Chord Marked "Secco," A ... 70 

Rubinstein or Liszt Which is the Greater ? . 158 

Rule for Selecting the Speed, A ... 60 



ALPHABETICAL INDEX 171 



PAGE 



Safe Way of Stretching the Small Hand, A . . 13 

Sensible Scheme of Playing for Pleasure, A . . 161 
Sex of the Piano Teacher, The . . . .143 

Should Piano Students Try to Compose ? . . 108 

Slurs and Accents Not Related ... 63 

Small Notes under Large Ones . . 70 

Some Pieces for a Girl of Fourteen . . . 75 

Speed and Smoothness in Trilling ... 73 

Staffs are Independent of Each Other, The . . 66 
Starting a Child's Musical Training . . .138 

Stiff Wrists in Playing Octaves ... 33 

Student Who Cannot Play Fast Music, The . 151 

Student Who Wants to Compose, The . . 108 

Student with a Fondness for the Pedal, The . 42 

Study of Mendelssohn, The .... 85 

Study of Operatic Transcriptions, The . . 91 

Study of the Scales, The . . . . . 51 

Study of the Scales is very Important, The 50 

Studying Counterpoint by One's Self . . 107 

Take a Month's Rest Every Year ... 56 

Taking Liberties With the Tempo . [ V . 89 

" Tenuto" Dash and Its Effect, The . . . 69 

Text-books on Harmony . . ... . 106 

There Are Dangers in Using a Metronome . . 59 

There Is Only One Minor Scale . . . 109 

Tied Staccato Notes . . . . . 69 

Tilt of the Hand in Playing Scales, The . . 6 

Time to Devote to Technical Exercises . .47 

To Ga n Facility in Sight-Reading . . .117 

To Keep Errors from Creeping in . .116 

To Play a Glissando Passage .... 29 

To Prevent Sore Finger-tips After Playing . 20 



172 PIANO QUESTIONS 



PAGE 



To Produce a Softer Tone .... 43 
To Produce Good Legato . . . .23 
To Strengthen the Weak Finger, Use It . . 18 
To Work up a Fast Tempo .... 53 

Too Much" Method " 144 

Trill Begins on the Melodic Note, A . . 72 
Twenty-five Not Too Late to Begin . . .139 
Two Hands Playing Difficult Rhythms, The . 97 

Universal System of Marking Fingering, The . 27 

Use of the Pedal for Colouring, The ... 39 

Use Pedal With Caution In Playing Bach . . 41 

Using the Two Pedals at Once ... 43 

Value of dementi's "Gradus" To-day, The . 95 

Value and Correct Practice of Phrasing, The . 98 

Value of Going to Concerts, The . . 153 

Value of Heller's Studies, The .... 93 

Watch Your Breathing . . , . .55 
Weak Fingers of the Left Hand, The . . 18 

Well-Tempered Piano Scale, The . . .137 

What a Dot May Mean 77 

What a Double Dot Means . . . .62 
What Does "Technique "Mean? ... 3 
What Is the Best of Chopin ? .... 86 
What Is the Difference Between the Major and 

Minor Scales? . . . . .110 

" What Is the Matter with My Scales ? " . .14 
What the Leschetizky Method Is . . .144 
What the Object of Study Should Be . . 135 

What to Do with an Unemployed Hand . . 21 
When an Accidental Is in Parentheses . 66 



ALPHABETICAL INDEX 173 

PAGE 

When Playing Octaves 31 

When Reading Over a New Piece . . .51 

When the Fingers Seem Weak . . .18 

When to Keep Away from the Piano . .132 

When to Play for People . . . .120 

When Tremolo Proves Unduly Fatiguing . . 11 

When Two Fingers Have the Same Note . . 79 

Where Outside Criticism Is Desirable . . 143 
Where the Accent Should Be Placed ... 78 

Which Fingers Demand Most Attention ? . .16 

Which Should Come First Conception or 

Technique? 103 

Why Ragtime Is Injurious . . . .134 

Why So Many Different Keys ? . . .106 

Why the Pianist Should Study Harmony . . 104 

Why the Piano Is So Popular . . . .128 

Why Two Names for the "Same "Key? . . 67 

"Wonder Children "as Pianists . . .152 

Wrist Staccato at a High Tempo . . .21 

Wrist Stroke In Long Octave Passages . . 32 



INDEX 



A. flat, key of, 67. 
Impromptu in, 78, 87. 
Chopin's Ballade in, 162. 
A sharp, key of, 67. 
difference between, and 

B flat, 137. 
Accent, where the, should 

be placed, 78. 
Accenting a mordent, 70. 
Accents, slurs and, not re- 
lated, 63. 
Accidental, how long an, 

affects a note, 64. 
when an, is in paren- 



Accompaniment, 118. 
Accompaniments, in left- 
hand waltz, 17. 
Accompanist, 118, 119, 164. 
Accompanying, at sight, 

a soloist, 118. 
the art of, 118. 
Action, of the wrist, 9. 
of the arm, 11. 
of the little finger, 17. 
a piano extreme in, 36. 
how tight to keep the 

piano's, 37. 

of a beginner's piano, 37. 
a too heavy, 38. 
too light an, 38. 
Adagio, 60. 
Advantage, of legato over 

staccato, 22. 
of universal fingering, 27. 
Affected movements at the 

piano, 126. 

Age, and physical develop- 
ment of the beginner, 
138, 139. 



175 



Age of the student, imma- 
terial, 139. 

Aid, books that, the student 
working alone, 155. 

Allegretto grazioso, 77. 

Allegro, 60. 

America, can music be 
studied in, 148. 

"American" fingering, 27. 

Andante, 60. 

Appassionata, the last 
movement of the, 76. 

Appoggiatura, 72. 

Arm, action of the, 11. 
play chords with a loose, 
11. 

Arms, premature fatigue in 
the, 33. 

Arpeggio, 3, 9. 

Art, of accompanying, the, 

118. 
the canons of, 125. 

Attention, which fingers 
demand most, 16. 

Auber, 136. 

Auxiliary, position of, note 
in a trill, 72. 

Average, speed, 59. 
tempo, 60. 

Avocation, music as a pro- 
fession or as an, 156. 

B flat minor, Chopin's Pre- 
lude in, 95. 
B sharp, 64, 65. 
Bach, use pedal with cau- 
tion in playing, 41. 
the beginner in, music, 

80. 

in touch with, 81. 
Bach, Philipp Emanuel, 88, 



176 PIANO QUESTIONS 



Bach's, music, 80, 81. 
preludes, 67, 82. 
fugues, 67, 82, 83. 
Bad music, 133. 
Baermann, Carl, 94. 
Ballade, Chopin's, in A flat, 

162. 

Baltzell, "History of Mu- 
sic," by, 150. 
Barcarolle, Chopin's, 88. 
Beethoven, the sonatas of, 

83,85. 
Beethoven's Sonatina, opus 

49, 59. 

Fifth Symphony, 69. 
Sonata Pathetique, 70. 
"Moonlight Sonata," 76. 
sonatas, 83. 

order of studying, son- 
atas, 83. 

Sonata, opus 28, 84. 
style, 85. 

first and last sonatas, 90. 
Beginner's, the action of a, 

piano, 37. 

Bendel's "Zephyr," 53. 
Berceuse, Cnopin's, opus 

57,86. 

Berens, 95, 143. 
Berlin, 118. 
Berlioz, 91, 136. 
Best, how to play the oc- 
taves, 29. 
morning is the, time to 

practise, 46. 
way to work up a quick 

tempo, 54. 
what is the, of Chopin, 

8.6. 
the, book of instruction 

for a beginner, 93. 
the, way to improve sight- 

1* * b ' 

reading, 117. 
the, piano hand, 130. 
the, physical exercise for 

the pianist, 131. 
nothing but the, will do, 

141. . 
Biting the finder-nails, 19. 



Blumenstuck, Schumann's, 
79. 

"Blurring," 23. 

Body, general position of 
the, 4. 

Books, of Etudes, 93, 94. 
that aid the student work- 
ing alone, 155. 

Brahms, 162. 

Breathing, 55. 

Broad-tipped fingers, 20. 

Bulow, 17. 

Biissler, 106. 

C flat, 67. 

C sharp, key of, 67. 

C sharp major, Bach's 

fugue in, 83. 
C sharp minor movement, 

the, 58. 

Cantabile passages, 7. 
Cantata, 112. 
Chaminade, Toccata by, 

111. 
Chaminade's "Air de 

Ballet," No. 1, 70. 
Chopin, Polonaise, opus 53, 

74. 

a disputed, reading, 78. 
Life of, 86. 
the best of , 86. 
Etude by, 94. 
Etudes in C minor, 95. 
Chopin's works, 23, 79. 
Prelude, No. 15, 58. 
Valse, opus 42, 61. 
Polonaise, opus 53, 74. 
Polonaise, opus 26, No. 1, 

77. 

Nocturne in F sharp, 78. 
Impromptu in A flat, 

opus 29, 78, 87. 
charm of, touch, 86. 
Chants Polonais, 88. 
Fantasy Impromptu, 88, 

97. 

Barcarolle, 88. 
Nocturne, opus 27, No. 
2, 88, 162. 



INDEX 



177 



Chopin's works for a pop- 
ular concert, 88. 
Ballade in A flat, 162. 
Chord, rolled, marked 

"secco,"70. 
in the Waltz in E minor, 

89. 
Chords, play, with a loose 

arm, 11. 
Chromatic, 
the, scale 28. 
thirds, 35. 

accidental, signs, 66, 67. 
Classics, "modified," 148. 
dementi, 81. 
dementi's "Gradus and 

Parnassum," 95. 

Sonatina, opus 37, 96. 

"Colour," of various keys, 

137. 

Colouring, 39, 44; 137. 
Composer, piano-study for, 

128. 

as to one, 160. 
Composers, the greatest, 

as pianists, 91. 
Composition, 108, ISO. 
Conception, difference be- 
tween, and rubato, 
102. 
Conceptions, different, 

102. 
Concert, Chopin's works 

for a popular, 88. 
etudes, 94. 
work, 156. 
career, 162. 

Concerto, the Grieg, 35. 
Concerts, the value of going 

to, 158. 
Conservatory, individual 

teacher or, 142. 
Conductor, piano-study for, 

128. 

Correct practice of phras- 
ing, 98. 
Counterpoint, studying, 

107, 142. 
Cramer Etudes, the, 17, 45. 



C-scale fingering, 28. 
Counterpoint, studying, by 

one s self, 107. 
Counting, 50. 
Course, proper, for a little 

girl, 146. 
Criticism, where outside, is 

desirable, 143. 
Curved fingers, 6, 7. 
Czerny, 45, 81. 

D flat, key of, 67. 

arrangement of Bach's 

Fugues, 83. 

Damper pedal, the, 43. 
Dance, music, 134. 

Liszt's, of the Gnomes, 

58. 

Dangers in using a metro- 
nome, 59. 
Dash, "tenuto," and its 

effect, 69. 
Diatonic, thirds, 35. 

sequel, 73. 

Different, conceptions, 102. 
rhythms, 97. 
keys, 105. 

Difference, between "fin- 
ger staccato" and 
other kinds, 22. 
in playing trills, 74. 
between conception and 

rubato, 102. 
between major and minor 

scales, 109. 

Difficulty of playing repe- 
tition notes, 34. 
Doppio movement, in Cho- 
pin's Nocturne in F 
sharp, 78. 
Dot, double, 62. 

what a, may mean, 77. 
Double notes, 35. 
thirds, 35. 
dot, 62. 
flat, 64, 65. 
flats, 65. 
sharp, 65. 



178 PIANO QUESTIONS 



Dumb piano, playing on a 

38. 
Duple time, 96, 98. 

E minor, Waltz in, 89. 

E sharp, 64. 

Ear, let vpur, guide your 

pedalling, 41. 
Easiest way to memorize, 

113. 
Edition,Peters's, of Chopin, 

79. 
Edition, Steingraber, of 

Beethoven, 84. 
Education, general musical, 

141. 
Element, personal, and the 

metronome, 58. 
"English" fingering, 27. 
Erlking, Liszt arrangement 

of the, 32. 

Errors, to keep, from creep- 
ing in, 116. 
Ethical, 135. 
Etudes, Cramer, 17, 45. 
octave, 80. 

for advanced players, 94. 
good intermediate books 

of, 94. 

by Ruthardt, 94. 
twelve, for technique and 

expression, 94. 
concert, 94. 
by Baermann, 94. 
of Chopin, 95. 
by Kessler, 95. 
by Berens, 95, 143. 
by Heller, 143. 
Steinberg's, 155. 
Example, force of, 104. 
Exercise, best physical, 131. 
Exercises, stretching, 12, 

13. 

technical, 47. 
for the beginner, 93. 
good finger, 93. 

F major, key of, 
F, Melody in, 79. 



F minor, Chopin's Bal' 

lades in, 86. 
F sharp, key of, 67. 

Chopin's Nocturne in, 

78. 

Fantastic Fairy Tales, 92. 
Fantasy Impromptu, Cho- 

pin's, 88, 97. 
Fatigue, premature, in the 

arms, 33. 

Faulty touch, 8, 43. 
Fifth Symphony, Bee* 

thoven's, 69. 
Finger, the middle, 16. 

technique, 16. 

the little, 17. 

the weak, 18. 

touch, 19. 

staccato, 22. 

exercises, 93. 
Fingering, English. 27. 

universal, 27. 

American, 27. 

the chromatic scale, 28. 

C-scale, 28. 

Finger-nails, biting the, 19. 
Fingers, position of , 6. 

the other, 16. 

fourth and fifth, 16. 

weak, 18. 

broad-tipped, 20. 

needed to play a mor- 
dent, 28. 
Finger-stroke, high, 7, 23, 

24. 
Finger-tips, sore, 20. 

"wiping" the keys with 

the, 35. 

Firm legato touch, 24. 
Flat, double, 65. 
Flats, double, 65. 
Fugue, definition of a, 82. 
Fugues, Bach's, 82. 

G flat, key of, 67. 
G minor, 

Chopin's Ballade in, 86. 

Brahms's Rhapsody in, 
162, 



INDEX 



179 



Gavotte in A, the, 44. 
General, technique, 3. 
rule about the pedal, 89. 
musical education, 141. 
Glissando, the, 29. 

to play a, passage, 29. 
Gluck-Brahms, 44. 
Godowsky, transcriptions 

by, 23. 

Godowsky's pupils, 149. 
Going to concerts, value of, 

153. 

Grace notes, 61. 
"Gradus ad Parnassum," 

dementi's, 95. 
Grieg Concerto, the, 35. 

Halvey, 136. 
Hand, position of, 6. 

stretching the, 12. 

small, 13. 

unemployed, the, 21. 

genuine piano, 130. 
Hands, two at once, 25. 

playing with cold, 49. 
Harmonic, clarity, 41. 

turns, 105. 
Harmony, study of, 104. 

relation of, to piano-play- 
ing, 105. 

textbooks on, 106. 
Hadyn, 75. 
Heller, etudes by, 143. 
Heller's studies, value of, 93. 

opus 154, 94. 
"History of Music," 150. 

Importance of the right 

teacher, 140. 
Impromptu, Chopin's, in 

A flat, 78. 
Chopin's Fantasy, opus 

66, 88, 97. 
Instrument, the, 85. 
Intermediate, good, books 

of etudes, 94. 
International piano pitch, 

136. 
International pitch, 136. 



Key, two names for the 

same, 67. 

Keys, why so many dif- 
ferent, 105. 

"colour" of various, 187. 
Kuhlau Sonatinas, 75. 
Kullak's, Octave School, 

31. 
"Method of Octaves,"84. 

Learning, to modulate, 107. 
to accompany at sight, 

117. 
the art of accompanying, 

118. 

Legato, 22, 28. 
advantage of, 22. 
touch, 24. 
meaning of, 24. 
Leschetizlop method, the, 

144. 
Lessons, teachers, and 

methods, 140. 
number of, depends on 

progress, 147. 
frequent, and shorter, 

147. 
Liadow, "Music Box" by, 

92. 

"Life of Chopin," the, 86. 
"Limping," 25. 
Liszt, 130, 158. 
Liszt's, Dance of the 

Gnomes, 58. 
transcription of Chants 

Polonais, 88. 
Little finger, action of the, 

17. 
Loud counting, 50. 

MacDowell, Sonatas, 162. 

Major, difference between, 
and minor scales, 100, 
110. 

Marking a rest, in, 99. 

Marks and Nomenclature, 
57. 

Mason's " Touch and Tech- 
nique, 155. 



180 PIANO QUESTIONS 



Master's cannot be studied 

in order, 90. 
Mazurka, 111. 
Mazurkas, Chopin's, 86. 
Melody in F, the, 79. 
Memorize, easiest way to, 

113. 

in order to, easily* 115. 
Memory, playing from, 

112. 

the, 112. 
Mendelssohn, the study of, 

85. 
Mendelssohn's "Spring 

Song," 77. 
Menuet, 111. 
Method, too much, 144. 

Leschetizky, 144. 
Methods, teachers, lessons 

and, 140. 
Metronome, markings, 57, 

59. 
personal element and the, 

58. 

dangers in using a, 59. 
Meyerbeer, 136. 
Minor, difference between 

major and, scales, 109. 
only one, scale, 109. 
Miscellaneous questions, 

150. 

"Modified Glassies," 148. 
Modulate, learning to, 107. 
Mood and tempo in the A 

flat Impromptu, 87. 
"Moonlight Sonata," the, 

76. 
Mordent, fingers needed to 

play a, 28. 
accenting a, in a sonata, 

70. 
Morning practice on the 

piano, 45. 

Moscheles, Etudes by, 94. 
Motif, meaning and use of, 

68. 

"Motoperpetuo,"112. 
Mozart, 46, 75. 
Mozart's art, 160. 



Music, the beginner in 
Bach, 80. 

modern piano, 92. 

bad, 133. 

the company that one 
keeps in, 133. 

can, be studied in Amer- 
ica, 148. 

how to get, published, 
150. 

as a profession, 156. 

how much you can get 

from, 157. 

"Music Box," the 92. 
Music schools and private 
teachers, 141. 

Nocturne, Chopin's, in F 

sharp, 78. 

opus 27, No. 2, 88, 162. 
Nocturnes, Chopin's, 86. 
Nomenclature, marks and, 

57. 

Note, auxiliary, 72. 
when two fingers have the 

same, 79. 

Notes repetition, 34. 
double, 35. 
slurred, 62. 
tied staccato, 69. 
small, under large ones, 

70. 
syncopated, 71. 

Object of study, 135. 
Octave, chords, 11. 

Kullak's, School, 31. 

in extended, playing, 32. 

passages, 32. 
Octaves, 29. 

rapid, 30. 

when playing, 31. 

wrist, 31, 32. 

arm, 31. 

stiff wrists in playing, 33. 
Operatic transcriptions, 91. 
Order of studying Bee- 
thoven's Sonatas, 83. 
Other fingers, the, 16. 



INDEX 



181 



Organ, touch, 26. 
playing, 26. 

Pachulski, 92. 

Pedal, a general rule about 

the, 39. 

how to use the, 39. 
use of the, for colouring, 

39. 

use, with caution in play- 
ing Bach, 41. . 
the "soft," 43, 44. 
a constant use of the soft, 

45. 
Pedalling, let your ear 

guide your, 41. 
Pedals, the, 39. 
using the two, at once, 

43. . 

"Perpetuum Mobile," Web- 
er's, 112. 

Peters's Edition, 79, 82. 
Phrasing, value and cor- 
rect practice of, 98. 
Physical exercise, best, for 

the pianist, 131. 
Pianists, the greatest com- 
posers as, 91. 
"wonder-children" as, 

152. 

Pianissimo touch, the, 44. 
Piano, height of the, seat, 

5. 

touch, 26. 
kind of, upon which to 

practise, 35. 
extreme in action, 36. 
action of a beginner's, 37. 
playing on a dumb, 38. 
affected movements at 

the, 126. 

about the, per se, 127. 
genuine, hand, 130. 
when to keep away from 

the, 132. 

'Piano Playing," 35. 
"Pischna," exercises of, 

93, 161. 
Pitch, international, 136. 



Pitch and kindred matters, 

136. 

international piano, 136. 
Play for people, when to, 

120. 

Playing for pleasure, 161. 
Polonaise, Chopin, opus 

53, 74. 
Chopin, opus 26, No. 1, 

77. 

Polonaises, Chopin's, 86. 
Polyrythms, 96. 
Popular concert, Chopin's 

works fora, 88. 
Position, of the body, 4. 
of the hand, 6. 
of the fingers, 6, 8. 
of the wrist, 10. 
of the thumb, 16. 
of the turn over a note,71. 
of auxiliary note in a 

trill, 72. 
Practice, morning, on the 

piano, 45. 
the only kind of, worth 

while, 47. 
of phrasing, 98. 
of constructing, 108. 
Practise, kind of a piano 

upon which to, 35. 
exercises for the begin- 
ner to, 93. 
Practising, eight hours 

instead of four, 48. 
the two parts separately* 

52. 

Precision, 25. 
Prelude, the B flat minor, 

95. 

in C sharp minor, 162 
Preludes, Bach's, 82. 

Chopin's, 86. 
Private teachers, 141. 
Profession, music as a, 156. 

Rachmaninoff's Prelude in 
C sharp minor, 162. 

Rag-time, why, is injurious, 
134. 



182 PIANO QUESTIONS 



Repetition, technique, 84. 

notes, 34. 
Rests used under or over 

notes, 62. 
Rhapsody, Brahms's, in G 

minor, 162. 
Rhythm, accents relate to 

62. 

playing in, 151. 
Richter, E. F., 106. 
Romanza, Schumann's, 162. 
Rossini, 136. 

Rubato, as to playing, 100. 
passages marked, 100. 
difference between con- 
ception and, 102. 
Rubinstein, 158. 
Rubinstein's " Melody in 

F," 79. 

Russian piano music, 53. 
Ruthardt, "Etudes" by, 94. 

Scale, fingering the chrom- 
atic, 28. 

only one minor, 109. 
the well-tempered piano, 

137. 

Scale playing, in, 16. 
Scales, tilt of the hand in 

playing the, 6. 
(the practising of, 14, 51. 
the study of the, 50, 51. 
Scherzo, Chopin's, opus 31, 

88. 

Schubert-Liszt's "Auf dem 
Wasser zu singern," 
53. 
Schumann's "Blumen- 

stuck," 79. 
Romanza, opus 28, No. 

2, 162. 

"Traumerei," 162. 
"Secco," a rolled chord 

marked, 70. 
Seeling, Hans, 94. 
Sex of the teacher, 143. 
Sight-reading, 117. 
Slur, how a tie and a, differ, 



Slurred notes, the playing 

of, 62. 
Slurs, 63. 
Smith's Octave Studies, 

143. 

Solfeggio, meaning of, 74. 
Soloist, 118, 164. 
Sonata, , accenting a mor- 
dent in a, 70. 
in playing a, 75. 
Moonlight, 76. 
Beethoven, with a pas- 
toral character, 84. 
meaning of, 112. 
Sonatina, Beethoven's, 59. 
Sonatas of Beethoven, the, 

83,85. 

" Songs without Words," 
Mendelssohn's, 86, 
162. 
Speed, gradual increase of, 

54. 

average, 59. 
meaning of, terms, 60. 
rule for selecting the, 

60. 

and smoothness in trill- 
ing, 73. 

"Spring Song," the, 77. 
Staccato, wrist, at a high 

tempo, 21. 
finger, 22. 
arm, 22. 
Staffs, the, 66. 
Starting, about, on a con- 
cert career, 162. 
Steingraber Edition of 
Beethoven's Sonatas, 
84. 
Steinberg's Etudes, opus 

66, 155. 

Stretching, 12, 13. 
Student, age of, immaterial, 

139. 

books that aid the, work- 
ing alone, 155. 
Students, piano, 108. 
Studies, Heller's, 93. 
Study, object of, 135. 



INDEX 



183 



Studying, importance of, 
with the right teacher, 
140. 

Syncopated notes, 71. 

System, universal, of fin- 
gering, 27. 

Teachers, lessons, and 

methods, 140. 
Technical, exercises, 47. 

work, 18, 45, 46. 

studies, 46. 

results, 48. 

Technique, a generic term, 
8. 

how to improve the, 4. 

a precise finger, 16. 

of the fingers, 22. 

repetition, 34. 

a musical," 88. 
Tempo, wrist staccato at 
a high, 21. 

to work up a fast, 53, 54. 

average, 60. 

in the A flat Impromptu, 
87. 

taking liberties with the, 
89. 

rubato, 100, 101. 
"Tenuto" dash, the, 69. 
Textbooks on harmony, 

106. 

Thalberg, 91, 92. 
Theory, 104. 
Thirds, double, 35. 

diatonic, 85. 

chromatic, 35. 
Thomas, Ambroise, 136. 
Thumb, the, 14. 

how to hold the, 16. 
Tie, a, 63. 

Time, duple, against triple, 
96, 98. 

playing in, 151. 
Toccata, meaning of, 111. 
Touch, faulty, 8, 43. 

finger, 19, 50. 

biting the finger-nails 
spoils the, 19. 



legato, 24, 68. 
crisp legato, 24. 
piano, 26. 
organ, 26. 
repetition, 34. 
charm of Chopin's, 86. 
and Technique, 155. 
Training, a child's musical. 

138. 
Transcriptions, study of 

operatic, 91. 

Transposing at sight, 119. 
Tremolo, 11. 
Trill, position of auxiliary 

note in a, 72. 
Trills, on the melodic note, 

72. 

extended, 72. 
difference in playing, 

74. 

Triple time, 96, 98. 
"Twelve Etudes for Tech- 
nique and Expres- 
sion," 94. 

Universal system of mark- 
ing fingering, 27. 

Valse, Chopin's, opus 42, 
opus*64, No. 2, 88. 

Waltz, a chord in the, in E 

minor, 89. 

Waltzes, Chopin's, 86. 
Weak fingers, 18. 
Weber's "Storm," 41. 
pianos of, time, 41. 
^Perpetuum Mobile," 

112. 

" Wonder-children" as pian- 
ists, 152. 

Wrist, action of the, 9. 
the loose, 9. 
position of the, 10. 
stiffness in the, 10. 
octaves, 31, 32. 
stroke in long octave 
passages, 32.