- Paperback: 109 pages
- Publisher: Greenacres Pr Inc (August 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1929583001
- ISBN-13: 978-1929583003
- Package Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,811,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Piano Power, A Breakthrough Approach To Improving Your Technique
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"A most intriguing and interesting book. I urge all pianists to read it." -- Anthony Newman, Harpsichordist, Organist, Pianist
"It would be hard for me to imagine any pianist, or health care professional involved in the care and treatment of piano-related hand problems, not being interested in this book. It is my professional opinion, as a physician specializing in hand and wrist problems, that the information presented in PIANO POWER is invaluable to pianists of all levels." -- Paul D. Fragner, M.D., Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Hand and Wrist Specialist,Westchester Bone & Joint Associates, White Plains, New York
"PIANO POWER presents a sensible approach in addressing the potential maladies of the pianist -- a welcome addition to the library of any pianist." -- Lillie Rosenthal, D.O., Physician, Miller Health Care Institute for Performing Artists, St.Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, New York City
"Thank you for the pre-publication copy of your book. The subject is so important and has been kicked under the table for many years. Gary Graffman, President of the Curtis Institute, is one of my oldest and dearest friends; I watched the collapse of his fourth and fifth finger and his subsequent retreat to repertoire for the left hand. I have a personal theory that too much practice is as destructive as too little practice. I'm sure that either Leon Fleisher or Gary Graffman could fill you in on many more aspects of this strange malady that attacks pianists. It extends from Clara Schumann to Art Tatum, the latter playing those incredible arpeggios with really the thumb, second and third fingers of his right hand. Mr.Rachmaninov used to tell me that he constantly changed fingerings, especially for recitals because of the fatigue in his fingers. I certainly congratulate on your book, it should be shouted from the housetops." -- SKITCH HENDERSON, Music Director and Founder of The New York Pops, Pre-publication review, February 1999.
"The subject is so important and has been kicked under the table for many years. I certainly congratulate you on your book, it should be shouted from the housetops." -- Skitch Henderson, Conductor, Music Director and Founder of The New York Pops
About the Author
Richard Prokop, pianist, jazz-pianist, teacher and composer, has taught piano for twenty-five years. He received a B.F.A. in Piano/Performance at the State University of New York at Purchase. He also served as an adjunct professor of mathematics at Westchester Community College. In addition to his private teaching, he is a faculty member at The Music Conservatory of Westchester and performs regularly in the White Plains area where he currently lives with his wife Betsy.
Other books by Richard Prokop include:
Piano Power Exercises, For Small Hands, Volume 1
Piano Power Exercises, For Medium Hands, Volume 1
Piano Power Exercises, For Large Hands, Volume 1
Showing 1-2 of 11 reviews
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The idea of setting the text up like a quasi-mathematical treatise, with "theorems" proposed and "proven," is indeed interesting. However, Mr. Prokop often does not construct cogent arguments to support his claims, and his "proofs" are anything but, completely devoid of logical rigor. When one's aim is to debunk myths about piano technique, it is indeed sufficient to present what mathematicians call counterexamples, which contradict hypotheses, thereby disproving them. However, when making conjectures that form the crux of one's method (such as Mr. Prokop's claim that the extensor muscles, those responsible primarily for the up-stroke of the fingers, are almost exclusively responsible for well-formed technique), much more care should be given toward their support. The end result is that his system is based on rather unconvincing ideas regarding what is responsible for good technique.
That said, there is indeed some worthwhile material in this book. The system Mr. Prokop uses to test certain fingers to determine their development, or lack thereof, seems sound. A brief discussion on the "illusion of speed" is interesting for what it suggests, as is the premise that sub-standard technique is usually due to "problem fingers" bogging down passages. As for prescribed exercises, there are remarkably few to be found in this volume. The bulk of the notated exercises are essentially scale passages and some interval work, which may be useful, but are much more affordably obtained in an inexpensive Hanon volume.
There are some away-from-the-piano exercises, again focusing on the extensor muscles. I again say that I have not given these an adequate trial, so I cannot attest to their usefulness or uselessness.
In short, had this book been about $15 cheaper, I would consider it a fairly sound purchase. However, for its brevity (just over 100 pages) and relative paucity of new information, I believe its price to be unjustified by its content.
To me the best part of this book are the diagrams of muscles, bones, and pictures of the resulting types of movements. I think sooner or later every pianist needs to look into these things. Also good are the ideas on how to improve practicing efficiency. Not all of them are applicable to all people, but certainly most will find at least some of them useful.
On the negative side, I find that the semi-mathematical approach taken (proving and disproving theorems) does not add much to the book. I suppose at best it gives some structure, but it also confuses the reader (at one point he manages to disprove both SITTING LOW and SITTING HIGH at the piano, so that leaves the student with ... exactly WHAT option???).
The idea in this book is not new. In fact, all of HANON, Cortot, Donanhyi, and others, advocate the same method of practice - if you read the instructions under the exercises. Donanhyi (the Hungarian virtuoso) produced a ton of nasty exercises to strengthen exactly the extensor muscle group. What IS new is the physiological reason for practicing in this manner, and this is something worthwhile knowing.
Overall I think the book may be useful for beginning to intermediate (adult) students that have very specific finger strength problems, or more advanced students that want to know more about the anatomy of the hand and arm.
I do, however, think that the price of this book is outrageous. It should be no more than 15 dollars. Also I think the title is misleading. Although it is potentially useful it does not contain a miracle cure for technical difficulties.