Iced Coffee and Fantasies

Iced coffee with the Curmudgeon the other day. He’s recently back from his summer festival; still “inspired”—rather negatively, I fear—by this year’s experience.

“I swear,” he said, swirling cream into his glass, “some people do not want to play expressively. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glued to the Keys

Our fingers press keys down to play notes; and without realizing it, we may be imagining lifting the fingers to end the notes, as though the fingers were glued to the keys. But we needn’t lift the fingers; the keys will do that for us. All we need do is stop holding them down. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Needles and Trust

The first time I went to Dr. A., an acupuncturist, she used the needles and said that she’d then show me a useful exercise. Twenty minutes later I was off the table, sitting in a chair and wondering if she’d forgotten about the exercise. When I asked, she surprised me by saying, “You’re not ready yet.” I was more surprised when I looked inside myself and realized she was right. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unnecessary Teachers

As teachers, we want our students eventually to work on their own—learning repertoire, acquiring technique, forming interpretations, giving performances, deciding what to do next—and teaching their own students. Our job is thus to make ourselves unnecessary; Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Get a grip!

I learned in school that “grip” involved fingers and (opposable) thumb; never thought about how one finger by itself has a kind of grip on a key until 21 years ago, when I lost some sensation in my right hand. This makes me work harder; in big lateral shifts, I use Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eating Poetry

My godfather, Eugene Hochman, was born in Hungary, 1900, into a family so poor that they sometimes “ate poetry” (as he told me) instead of food. As a teen-ager, he won the Hungarian national prizes for poetry-writing, essay-writing and mathematics. The first two came naturally to him; the mathematics, not; so his brother–who had won previously–tutored him in math because the family needed the prize money of about $100. And Eugene won. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lobster Sauce and Soft Pedal

News flash! “Lobster sauce” is so called not because it contains lobster—it doesn’t—but because it goes well with lobster. So I was wondering whether soft pedal is so called because it makes a sound that goes well with soft playing. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who’s Being Tested?

Like many malcontents, or seeming-malcontents, my old friend the Curmudgeon is an idealist. He’s a fine pianist, and a superb teacher—kind, humorous, patient, and resourceful— Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Machine with an Esthetic Purpose

My friend Gerry Sussman, of MIT, called to ask if I’d anything to say on parallelism of art and engineering. (He was preparing a talk.) I did have a remark that I’d never shared with anyone. “A work of art,” said I, “is a machine with an esthetic purpose.” Gerry got a kick out of this, and used it in his talk, Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From a Summer Festival in New York

Tuesday, Week Two: on the fifth floor, I run into Mr. K., with whom I worked last week. He complains passionately and despairingly that he’s suddenly unable to play simple trills in Scarlatti’s “Pastorale” sonata (K.9, D minor); but adds that he can still play double trills! Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment