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Customer Review

75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rethinking Practicing, June 13, 2001
This review is from: The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart (Paperback)
Madeline Bruser's book offers the pianist a chance to rethink the business of practicing. Instead of seeing time spent working at the keyboard as onerous and exhausting, you can change your approach to one of exploration and pleasurable work. This doesn't mean that you smile all the time or that everything suddenly becomes easy. Bruser's emphasis on "mindfulness" means the focus shifts to the process rather than the manic acquisition of more works, more speed, more technical fireworks. These will come as a by-product to paying attention to the actual playing at hand. Shifting that focus is not as easy as it sounds (or reads). Try sitting silently at the keyboard for two minutes before you start playing. It can seem like an eternity to those of us who are used to rushing up and getting going (and then getting mindful after we drive the piece into the wall).
The book is really keyboard-focused in spite of its claim to help all musicians. And it's not sparkling reading; it's rather slow and serious and the photos are dull. The business about a foreward by Menuhin is silly since the comments are vague, leading one to wonder whether he even read the book. So don't consider that a reason for purchase. The publisher should drop the foreward for subsequent editions.
There is a fair amount about the mechanics of playing and proper alignment. While less than riveting, that can be a useful review for those who take their technique for granted. It certainly was for me, as was the discussion of various types of bodywork that can help musicians.
Bruser's book provides an initial way to rethink the approach to the piano for the serious musician. It will help some more than others. When you think about it, the ratio of time spent practicing to time performing is about 100 to 1. Anything that enriches those hours is worth a read.
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