An Analysis of Terminology Describing the Physical Aspect of Piano Technique

Title: An Analysis of Terminology Describing the Physical Aspect of Piano Technique
Authors: Wheatley-Brown, Michèle T
Date: 2011
Abstract: Mastering the physical aspect of piano technique has long been a topic of great interest and importance to pianists. This is borne out in the numerous pedagogical approaches on the topic of piano technique. Despite the many contributions from pedagogues and scholars in developing an understanding of piano technique, many conflicting approaches often cause more confusion than clarity. After reviewing the literature on pedagogical approaches to piano technique, this study determined that problematic language might lie at the root of the confusion. Core concepts identified in the review of literature as recurring areas of misunderstanding were tension, relaxation, co-contraction, arm weight, and hand and finger shape. The purpose of this study is to seek where issues of language exist in contemporary piano pedagogical approaches and to show how these problems may contribute to the systemic confusion in piano technique. To do this, the language that is used to describe and define the core concepts identified in the review of literature is analyzed in five modern pedagogical approaches. Five authors who have developed approaches that reflect current trends in piano technique have been selected for this study: Barbara Lister-Sink; Dorothy Taubman; Thomas Mark; Fred Karpoff; and Alan Fraser. The first step of this study entails collecting data from each of the five pedagogical approaches. The data is then analyzed for consistency and accuracy. Problems in language that contribute to the inconsistencies and inaccuracies are examined and illustrated with material from the data collection. This study concludes by identifying the main sources of confusion in the use of language: inconsistent and inaccurate use of terms; wavering between scientific, common, and invented language; challenges in describing opposing qualities that come from tension and relaxation; and failing to discern between the individual subjective experience and the mechanics of movement. By recognizing where the problems in language exist, this study represents an important first step for the pedagogical community to reach a common understanding of the language used to describe the physical aspect of piano technique.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -