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Fundamentals of Piano Practice Paperback – October 31, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (October 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419678590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419678592
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Taiwan, 1938; lived in Japan, 1945-1958; started piano lessons in 1949, then received a BS degree from RPI, Troy, NY (1962), and Ph. D. in Physics from Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (1967), USA. Worked as analytical research scientist, 1967-1998, mainly in electron microscopy and spectroscopy, at the Bell Telephone companies in NJ. This book originated from observations on the piano methods of Mlle. Yvonne Combe, who taught our two daughters; while writing it, I discovered that piano pedagogy had never been researched, documented, and analyzed properly; therefore, this book is my attempt at correcting that deficiency. It is not a definitive finished product: it is just the beginning of a sea change in piano pedagogy.

More About the Author

Author of "Fundamentals of Piano Practice"

I was born in Taiwan in 1938, grew up in Japan (1945-1958), started piano lessons in 1949, and moved to the U.S. in 1958; received a BS degree in Physics from RPI in Troy, NY, and PhD in Physics from Cornell Univ. in 1967. Worked in analytical research (electron spectroscopy) until 1998, mostly at Bell Labs. The writing of this book originated in an incident in 1978 when I took one of our two daughters to her piano lesson with Mlle. Yvonne Combe. Little did I know that it would change my life, a once in a lifetime experience. After a few years of lessons, our daughters were progressing at unbelievable speed, which my wife and I attributed (mistakenly) to their exceptional musical talent. During this lesson, the teacher took out a frayed book with all the lesson pieces arranged according to difficulty, for choosing a new piece to study. Mlle. Combe said, "Choose whatever you want!!!", and my daughter looked all over the book for what she might like. I couldn't help interfering to ask "Shouldn't she stay within her level of difficulty?" The teacher smiled knowingly with our daughter and answered "Difficulty isn't our problem, is it?" I was so impressed by the implications of what she said that I decided to investigate this teaching method. It took me about 15 years of research to realize that most teachers do not teach practice methods and another 10 years to gather the material for this book.
I taught myself to tune the piano by reading books because, as a married student living on a research stipend and my wife's baby-sitting income, I did not have the money to pay a piano tuner to keep my piano always in tune. Since neither my wife nor I had absolute pitch, I must attribute our daughters' accurate absolute pitch to the fact that our piano was in tune since their birth.

Customer Reviews

I found this book very useful and the information given really works when applied.
Regino
Mr. Chang is not a performing pianist, nor is he an accomplished piano teacher; thus, he appears unqualified to write on piano practice and performance methods.
Dr. Ervin Nieves
I never went through the process of piano training, so I have no insights into the good and bad of "normal" methods as opposed to those put forth in this book.
Holly_Wood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Craig T. Niedzielski on November 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very happy to see this book available on Amazon, so that I may publish my gratitude to its author.

Read the Product Description above, carefully. That sums it up, and it is no idle boast.

As a self-taught pianist, I have read many books and articles on piano playing, including some of the greatest teachers and pianists. Though I have learned much from my studies, it was not until I read this book that I had the breakthrough that really opened up my abilities. Reading this book, one has the sense of taking a fantastic excursion to places yet unexplored, and coming away with a sense of astonishment that this is indeed the first treatise to really come to grips with the fundamentals of learning how to play the piano.

The proof of any self-help manual is in the result, and I can say loud and unequivocally that my playing has developed tremendously since I applied the techniques found here. I have taken on repertoire that I never would have attempted previously, and I am constantly amazed to watch myself, my hands, traverse the keyboard with such surety, even in demanding passages.

Before, too, I was hesitant to play in front of persons outside my own family. Through these methods, I have learned my pieces so well that I now have the confidence to play in front of complete strangers.

I could go on and on, but you don't need to be reading this review, you need to get and read this book. For me, it was the single greatest find in all my pianistic ramblings.

A plenitude of stars.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By B. Rogers on April 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book radically improved my piano playing. I was a good amateur classical guitarist when younger, but did not take up the piano until age 40. I assumed it would be impossible to develop enough technique as an adult to play anything very interesting. I spent 8 years or so banging out Hanon exercises and scales and got nowhere at all musically. With much painful labor I could work through some of the easiest Hayden sonatas at 75% of proper tempo. This book taught me how to practice the piano musically and in about a year and a half all of the Mozart and Hayden sonatas are within range and I am able to play for teachers or friends without falling apart. I no longer creep through scores looking for approachable adagios; I go straight for presto and allegro con brio.
This book clearly shows what's wrong with the way many students and teachers approach piano practice and tells you how to do it efficiently and quickly. Some of the tips I found most helpful were (1) throw Hanon in the trash (2) practice hands apart more than you think you need to (3) whenever you are working on a tricky passage, play it over and over at whatever tempo is relaxed, but end by playing it once very, very slowly (4) start your practice by playing a difficult piece musically without a long warm-up on scales and exercises.
The author sometimes has an idiosyncratic way of looking at things. For example, he suggests that in order to learn to play an Alberti bass very fast you should just realize that playing all notes of the chord simultaeously is the same as playing the Alberti pattern infinitely fast -so all you need to do is slow down a bit from the infinitely fast tempo. Clever, but not really that helpful. In spite of little quirks like that, though, this book can really help.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Trouser Roller on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's a great deal of valuable information in this book - but oh for a really good editor. It is sometimes like a stream of consciousness, long paragraphs hung together without a coherent plan of organization.

That said, if you play the piano, definitely buy it - but be prepared for a lot of frustration in order to glean out the nuggets of gold contained in the book. Go through it and make copious notes and bookmarks, then organize the material yourself so you can use it effectively.

Example: There's a description of how to go at learning Beethoven's Fur Elise that has loads of excellent suggestions. However, it's not identified in either the Table of Contents or the Index. I had to spend many frustrating minutes leafing through all the pages to find it again after a space of 3 weeks.

Also the layout is visually boring and dense, like a typewritten manuscript. It's tedious to read, and the content is extremely verbose.

Review update: 9/18/09. I have now pretty much finished going through this book and reiterate that there's some really invaluable information and exercises in it. It's well worth the struggle to extract its value.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By garby francis leon on April 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dr. Chang's book is not perfect - as he says, it's a work in progress - but it's a tremendous contribution that sheds major light on a series of related topics which, up til now, have remained as mysterious as the dark side of the moon to every other author, for a century or more.

Piano technique and virtuosity are, by their very nature, rather mysterious: they seem to arise in 'geniuses' while being withheld and kept out of reach from the rest of the human race. Can that really be? Or is it actually just a matter of proper training and teaching? Dr. Chang held the first view until he saw his two daughters making extraordinary progress under French piano teacher Yvonne Combe, who had once long ago been Debussy's assistant. At first believing that his kids were just amazingly talented, he then turned his scientist's eye to take a closer look and reached the opposite conclusion: his daughters learned to play extremely well because they had been trained correctly by Yvonne Combe, the teacher whom he acknowledges on his book's title page.

Like all good scientific work, those real-world results and phenomena form the basis for Dr. Chang's book: starting from phenomena that seemed hard to understand at first, the extraordinary results brought about by a master teacher drew Dr. Chang's analytical eye - causing him to analyze exactly what was going on, then carefully setting down his observations, ideas and the techniques he observed in this book, and in an effort to help others accomplish the same things.

Dr.
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