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What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body Paperback – April 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"There is scarcely a keyboard player alive who will not benefit greatly from the information in this book. indispensable, potentially life-changing resource!"
The American Organist
July, 2004

"Every pianist, organist, and harpsichordist should read this book; it offers vital information for teachers and students."

Pastoral music
Oct.-Nov. 2003

"Here is a book that can help all players of keyboard instruments avoid injury while playing with the utmost ease of motion. . . . Wisdom and valuable pedagogical advice are evident throughout this book . . . highly recommended."

The Diapason
January, 2004

About the Author

Thomas Mark teaches piano and body mapping. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Roberta Gary is a professor of organ and the head of the Keyboard Division at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thom Miles is the director of music at Isaac M. Wise Temple and an assistant organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati. He lives in

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 155 pages
  • Publisher: Gia Publications; 3.2.2004 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579992064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579992064
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Carson Mark studied piano in New York, then philosophy at Columbia University. His dissertation "Spinoza's Theory of Truth" received the Ansley Award at Columbia was published by Columbia University Press. He taught philosophy for a number of years, then left academia and returned to the piano. After moving to Oregon, he organized and performed in a chamber music series. He became interested in the problem of pianist's injuries, which led to the publication of his second book, "What Every Pianist Needs to Know about the Body," which has been well received by pianists and translated into several languages. His latest book, "Motion, Emotion, and Love: The Nature of Artistic Performance," published in fall, 2012, explores issues related to the concept of artistic performance.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Lister-Sink on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is simply the best book presently on the market for understanding and acquiring the principles of healthful, injury-preventive keyboard technique. Although nothing substitutes for hands-on training with a knowledgable teacher, this book will be remarkably helpful to the injuried or inquiring keyboardist. It is clear, succinct, and written in accessible, non-tedious language. Informative illustrations abound. The emphasis on technique as a coordination of the whole body with the instrument and the sound biomechanical information throughout are a welcomed relief from the hundreds of historically confusing and dense writings on technique. Technique is a highly complex, subtle physical activity which must be learned by understanding and sensing how the body mechanism works best. Thomas Mark and supplementary authors Gary and Miles, supported by the superb work of Barbara and Bill Conable in Body Mapping and Alexander Technique, have made a truly laudable contribution to the keyboard profession with this book.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Bridget Jankowski on September 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Tom Mark's book is brilliant. It is easy to read and is entirely clear and concise. I am a pianist, piano teacher, and certified Andover Educator and I am thrilled to have such a tool at my disposal. I tell every pianist who comes to me with any kind of movement-based issue to read this book first. I find myself continually rereading it and quoting from it in my teaching. It is the kind of source from which one can gain new insights with each reading. In fact, it is so user-friendly that many people need very little help from me once they have read the book and worked with the ideas on their own.

I have found that after studying this material and making these concepts my own, I have been able to communicate and demonstrate these ideas to my students, regardless of their age or level. It has revolutionized my teaching and playing, and the playing of my students as well.

This book is so well researched and written it should come with a satisfaction guarantee. It's just that good!
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Fearless Girl on August 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The information contained in this book is extremely valuable for ALL musicians (even flute players, like me!). My approach to playing my instrument has changed forever. I enjoy practicing and performing more than ever before, and I feel a lot more confident as a musician.

Learning the practical human anatomy involved in playing my instrument has made movement easier and more enjoyable. I spent many years as a music major feeling extremely limited in my technique (especially my finger technique). Practicing Taffanel Gaubert finger exercises for an hour each day was doing nothing for me except causing a lot of emotional and physical pain. This book showed me how to use my fingers, and whole arm structure, in a more mechanically advantageous way. My scales, or any technical passage that I might encounter in a piece of literature, are faster, more even, and sooooo much easier to play.

The information from this book also made my required group piano class at the University of Northern Iowa a lot easier to get through:) I can't imagine being a piano major or professor and not having this knowledge. The information in this book is what every piano professor needs to be teaching in piano pedagogy. This information needs to become standard knowledge for all musicians--especially those who intend to make music as a living.

I cannot say enough about this book. If you're frustrated with your technical abilities, if you play in pain, if you want to be a responsible this book.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Middle School Orchestra Teacher on August 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although I am a cellist rather than a pianist, the author's delivery of practical information makes this manual a must-read, must-have book on every music teacher's shelf. As a cellist, the information Mark offers on the structure of the legs was especially valuable to me, as was his discussion of breathing.

My goal as a teacher of adolescent string players is to prevent performance injuries in my students before they ever happen. Too often, students quit playing because "something hurts." By having a clear idea of how the body works as a structure, how bones and joints are designed to move and how they are NOT designed to move, teachers can offer their students an opportunity to learn to play pain-free forever. I wish for my students to develop a life-long love of their own performance, whether they choose to be professional musicians or amateurs in a local community orchestra or string quartet. This book enables me to understand my own structure and, in turn, to offer that information to my students.

While the original book on which this work is based, Barbara Conable's "What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body," may be more user-friendly for kinesthetic learners, especially younger students, thanks to its clear graphics and limited text, older students and teachers may find the Mark book more appropriate with its indepth explanations of experiential anatomy. I refer to both books frequently in my day-to-day teaching.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By R. R. Wayne on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Nice one!

I got interested in this book because an acquaintance of mine has been traveling to Portland for lessons and workshops with Mr. Mark, and the resulting improvement in my friend's piano playing has been striking.

I was able to make several improvements in my own approach to the piano almost immediately, based only on Mr. Mark's presentation in this book, which is both clear and detailed (the book is also attractively bound and well laid out.). I also learned a bit about the Alexander approach.

This is not a book on piano technique, but there is valuable technical information here, and the anatomical information Mark provides is directly relevant to technique. I expect it will help one learn any technique that is soundly based on anatomy. I followed this book with Barbara Lister-Sink's video on piano technique, Freeing the Caged Bird, and I found that the two approaches go together beautifully (Lister-Sink apparently also has an background in Alexander work).
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