Friday, January 4, 2019

Snow on the mountain

Over the holidays, I had a performance in a neighboring state, and a lady came up afterward to say nice things. 

She was impressed that I had "snow on the mountain."

To persons of my generation this sounds like a maneuver from "the Karate Kid" but it actually refers to the fine art of curving one's fingers. A piano teacher of hers from decades past had told her that her hand ought to be sufficiently posed so that snow could accumulate on the back of the hand, thus "snow on the mountain."

I've not heard this one before. And I spent enough time studying with persons from the Fleischer school (like Fleischer) or other Americans (like the Serkin branch) who maintain that the fingers should be relatively (though not completely) flat (that is, only a slight curve), that it was a little bit of a surprise. Not completely. I realize my fingers are still somewhat curved. In years past (pre-college) they were probably more curved than they are now, but that was owing partially to my study with a Chinese student who stressed the curvation. 

In any case, it works. I find myself less strict on doctrine these days and more interested in what works. I find it difficult to imagine that one can get by without a certain amount of snow accumulating on the hands, but I would not set a minimum recommended snow accumulation there.

It is interesting what persons will pick up on. One person many years ago commented in an amateur setting that they could tell I knew what I was doing as soon as I put my hands on the keys, before I even played a note.

That should tell us something. And what it should tell us is that there is a reason we pay our teachers money to teach us. Some of these things don't come naturally, though they feel natural after the fact. 

At any rate, this is my first, re-gifted advice for the new year.

Remember to make sure you have "snow on the mountain."

And don't make too loud a noise while it is up there! You don't want to start an avalanche.

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