Short comments on Teaching
|Here are some of the comments of Geoffrey Madge,
taken from interviews and master classes.|
How to retain the organic
connections within a composition, joining the music with the
technique? Several of the following observations may
be useful. Both a musical composition or lecture have as one of their main objectives to
communicate in some way with the listener, luckily this can be achieved in
so many creatively different ways.
Maintaining our natural abilities and personality, while
respecting the written text especially at structurally important
moments, to do this we need to know where, when and how. Three questions that
are essential to daily practice. To discover new connections within the
|The performer, hopefully will be able to say ďwhy didnít I think of this, it's
Most important is the study of a wide range of compositions
from the baroque, classical, 19th century through to the major recent
works of the 20th/21st century, not just within a limited "safe" traditional
Experimenting with many methods of approaching the piano, including an intensive study of numerous important historical recordings and films, asking questions, how did the legendary performers play and why? It is only when we master a wide range of possibilities that we are able to freely make sensible choices, not unconsciously sticking to a tunnel vision plan which is unfortunately in these days of haste what we often hear.
There is nothing new about it but much attention is needed concerning sound quality, of course every
work has it's own sound world, but also each hall, person, instrument and way
of playing have their sound limitations which need
different approaches to make the best choices for each situation. The musician must
actively listen to how something is sounding and then have the
possibilities to respond at the critical moments. Often the sound is simply
not connected to the piece or the hall. Our ears need to be extended! To naively listen to how the
playing is projected at the back of a hall. What we actually hear on the
podium and how this sounds at the rear of a
large hall can be two very different experiences. Already trying different balances in the chords can help. With experimentation we may find
many exciting new possibilities. A musician needs to be an acoustical expert, like J S Bach.
|Physical connection with the sound. Let's get more technical!|
It is important to discover new different methods of practice, we need not just one or two approaches to performance, but various, even contrasting ways of making use of the instrument and our personal physical potentials. Studying at times with slow movements, making use of different playing depth's of the keys. Simple principles like the use of a supporting hand, extended or curved fingers, fingers falling into the key from a supported knuckle, easy elbows and wrist joints and upper arms likewise. Fingers slightly diagonal to the keys, or flatter according to the content of the music. All of this can function as a starting point. One needs to experiment with various ways of approaching the keys, with forward movements into the key,or,the grasping of keys as a natural opposite. One basic principle could be, using the unique bone structure of the hands to give support through the joints to the finger tips.
Extremely important is the breathing of the phrases,
knowing where to take time and where not. Giving long notes and
rests their full value, something that can be lost during the heat of performance. The speed of the fastest melodic notes, not played as something
incomprehensible to the listener, can they just manage to say their names? Breathing
of the arms and the hands.
|Perhaps letting go of the endless control would help loosen things up.
As implied above, playing is often technically and musically over controlled,
unfortunately often sounding like a repetition of the last rehearsal. The intuition
needs to be free, to sing over bar lines and first
beats, the discovery of new sounds. Obviously this is only achieved when we
are masters of the basic materials.|
|How important is the
art of listening for the pianist who has to listen to each voice. Certainly it is an acquired art that needs practice by both performers and listeners.
discovering our musical instincts by asking the
right questions at the right time, learning through our own practical experiences.|