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Art in Motion

Musical and Athletic Motor Learning and Performance

Edited By Adina Mornell

Musicians tend to believe that the mystery of their art cannot be objectively studied, quantified, or explained. As a result, the term «motor learning» is rarely used in connection with musicians, and an empirical approach to musical performance is more the exception than the rule. Sports scientists, however, show a great interest in musicians because of their advanced skill level and the attentional and emotional demands of the concert stage. This work combines knowledge across disciplines. Advances toward an understanding of human behavior and cognition offer clues to strategies of motor learning and performance that promote the well-being of musicians and athletes. This book provides a forum for an interdisciplinary exchange of research, laying the groundwork for future projects.

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Strategies for Pianist Improvisers (Walter Norris)

Extract

Strategies for Pianist Improvisers Art in Motion is unquestionably the fundamental nature in all performances of music; a flowing momentum from the beginning to ending tones. For musicians and improvisers in particular, the physical motion of fellow performers reacting to the music’s rhythmical pulse (an aspect of conducting) is visually necessary for a togetherness of timing; especially, if the musicians are separated by a distance of several meters, such as in televised stage settings or in recording studios. This is because sound vibrations travel slowly compared with the immediate detection of our eyes. When practicing piano, I may consciously apply a minimum of motion with hands and arms to help produce a convincing quality of tone or rhythmic surge. Even nature triggers our body to respond in motion as we listen to music. One tool I have for mastering difficult phrases or patterns is to play the right hand notation while rotating the left hand and left foot horizontally in contrary motion, all simultaneously. In addition, I will use variations of this handicap 1 , such as executing a figure eight or the Roman numeral ten in contrary motion. I also invert clefs and practice right hand notation with the left hand and vice versa; since this is hands separate, my free hand and foot executes, simultaneously, the above coordination with difficulty. Such examples belong to a time worn adage that the more ways you practice one thing the better you can play that particular thing; also, it helps...

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