Updated: Aug 11, 2019
In order to be fully under control of the sound and quality of our tone, it is fundamental to be intellectually situated in the present.
When one plays, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the size of the actual delivery. So many notes ought to be performed in time and with precision. Nevertheless, we should always be aware of the uniqueness of the attack phenomenon. In other words, the full cycle of tension, release, sustain and relaxation should be completed for each and every note even in the fastest of passages.
Horizontal tendency vs. Vertical playing
After having seen many Scaramuzza pianists playing and talking about playing, I learned there is a very subtle line that divides a precise and successful performance from one that is not. This line is crossed when we are driven by a tendency we have to play thinking too much about the notes in the future instead of those ones we have to deliver in the present. In order to keep us mentally anchored to each key, we need to focus on performing until the very end of each key. We need to avoid thinking too much about what we have to deliver afterwards.
We need to learn how to enjoy the pleasure of playing each note. In other words, we the need to find the pleasure in pressing each key, in feeling how our finger holds the weight of our arm while we extend the duration of each note and how we remove our weight from each key in order to play the following one.
The attacks become enjoyable mainly when we learn how to minimize the tension involved in their production. This happens mainly when we can abstract our minds from the mechanical side of performing and we can focus on the sound production as the main concern of our playing.
Maestra Edda Maria Sangrigoli explains in a short interview recorded in August 2016 in Buenos Aires - Argentina, how her maestro, Vicente Scaramuzza, could work for an entire lesson focused on two bars. The level of in-depth applied to this kind of analysis is “time-paralysing”. Why? Because the “time zoom” applied to the passage in order to understand how each note sounds requires the slowing-down of the piece to a tempo which is just “analytic”. Well, we are not going to say that playing the pieces in slow tempo is something revolutionary, but we can truly say is that his approach was revolutionary in that he obtained results no one else could from applying this same teaching format.
If we are seeking to improve the precision of our performance, we need to raise our awareness of what is happening in the present. We also need to reduce our anxiety about what is about to happen in the future. In this way, we will be able to keep our mind focused in the “musical dots” that compose our previously planned “lines”.