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Website Review

Allan Fraser's site

This site seems aimed primarily at selling the author's book and sevices. The excerpts from the book are not very promising. The descriptions of pianistic problems and the movements required are not clear. The book uses non-standard terminology to describe movement. For example "swivel" applied to the wrist which I interpret as abduction. The author admits that "I have been told that some of my exercises are actually dangerous and can damage the hand, cause tendonitis, etc.".

Note: This review deals only with the physical aspects of playing


Quote from the site:

In a section titled "Another physical lesson: the hand as suspension spring (x design)" The author writes as follows. "Put your thumb on a key, then ‘standing’ on it, stretch the four fingers as high as you can, all the while letting a considerable, even close to unbearable amount of weight press down through the thumb into the key. As you bring the second finger ever-so-slowly down to play the adjacent note, keep lots of pressure on the hand, as if there was some huge weight exerting itself on the hand, and the thumb must work hard to keep that weight from crushing the hand down. In addition, act as if there is some huge force keeping the thumb and forefinger apart, and you must work against this force to bring the forefinger to play. I believe this is called isometrics. Notice how this gives you unbelievable exactitude and control over the sound of this note. When you release the note, still holding the thumb and maintaining pressure, let the forefinger spring up again to full extension."

My comments:

This is clearly dual muscular pulls (trying to move to ways at once). The lifting of the fingers uses the extensor muscles while transfering weight to the thumb at the same time uses the flexors of both the thumb and wrist. Since amazing control can be had without this additional stress, this must be classified as less useful. Additionally, isolating the thumb in this fashion with "some huge weight" seems very risky.

Quote from the site:

"The wrist is a hinge joint whose function in piano playing is to transmit the force vectors* acting on it or rather through it precisely, cleanly, completely. It cannot do this if it is either "broken" or locked. If the wrist "breaks", the force vectors sheer off at an angle, their energy nullified. If the wrist is locked, the bones may well be lined up correctly but the forces simply can't get through - they're blocked at the joint."

My comments:

It is an elementary principle of physical mechanics that forces are transmitted best through solid materials. I would never endorse a locked wrist, but to say that forces are blocked at the joint is incorrect.

Quote from the site:

"Rotation: In lateral movement on the keyboard, horizontal movements of the wrist and elbow to the outside tend to make the hand swivel, pulling the thumb away from the keyboard and forcing the fingers to stretch sideways awkwardly. If when navigating a leap to the outside you raise your thumb but leave your wrist and elbow as much to the inside as is comfortably possible, you cultivate rotation of the forearm, a much more efficient form of movement. Rotation helps you leap with alacrity."

My comments:

Here it sounds like the author is talking about forearm rotation, which, is a primary foundation for coordinated technique. Nonetheless, the author's statement of the problem doesn't seem to make much sense. A leap to the outside doesn't make any of my students' hands "swivel" or "pull their thumbs away from the piano". The author describes a leap to the outside where, as I have understood it, the prepartory rotational movement is toward the outside (supination). This would be correct for a chord but for a single note leap, the optimal preparatory movement would be to the inside (pronation) while the playing movement should involve a release of the pronation to a neutral balanced state or continuation through the neutral state, in some cases, as a preparatory movement for continuing to another note.







Created 2002-02-14 Last updated 2003-08-10