November 2015 MTNA e-Journal

Assessing Injury Risk In Pianists: Using Objective Measures To Promote Self-Awareness
By Paola Savvidou, NCTM; Brad Willis; Mengyuan Li; and Marjorie Skubic

The purpose of this study was primarily to investigate if and how a depth camera could be used to identify potentially harmful hand positions at the keyboard. Three research questions were set forth: (1) How does a pianist’s self-reported hand position in a questionnaire compare to their actual hand position detected by a marker-less motion capture device? (2) Is there any correlation between the amount of time spent in neutral wrist and hand positions and previous or current injury? (3) Do advanced-level classical pianists exhibit certain characteristics in their hand and wrist playing postures that could be modeled by novice pianists? Data was collected from 14 participants who were asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire and perform short musical excerpts, which were captured using the Microsoft Kinect Depth Camera. The results demonstrate promise in the use of the depth camera for assessing injury risk related to hand misalignment. Pianists’ self-perception of their hand position often mismatched with the objective analysis. Although most pianists indicated that they experience discomfort or pain when practicing, the relationship between the amount of time spent in neutral position and the discomfort rate varied. More experienced pianists spend more time in neutral position than less experienced pianists. In addition to this study, the article gives practical strategies for assisting students with improving their self-awareness of their hand alignment at the keyboard. [Read More]


Feinberg On Technique And Sound Production
By Michael Rector

Piano technique is not a subject ideally suited to the written word. Few of the greatest practitioners have the knowledge, inclination and ability to explain the path to mastery. Teachers and performers are not always in need of the same advice. Yet the number of books and articles on the subject continues to multiply, with certain schools and teachers viewed as the gatekeepers of sacred mysteries. One voice that has been largely outside of the debate in this country belongs to Samuil Feinberg. Feinberg served on the faculty of Moscow Conservatory for 40 years and was a prodigiously gifted pianist of exceeding intelligence; these qualities he committed to print in a treatise on piano playing, Pianism as Art. This text is a fascinating and an important document of a sometimes-neglected side of the Russian piano school. Even in repeating the old pianistic verities, Feinberg provides depth of analysis not found elsewhere in the literature. Pianism as Art has not yet been fully translated into English. Likely having suffered from the same lack of official approval as Feinberg’s later compositions, it was published posthumously in 1965. As Feinberg was never well known in the English-speaking world, Pianism as Art is famous only among a few Russian-speaking pianophiles. Topics include virtuosity as an aesthetic good, the relationship between physical motion and structure or phrasing, the importance of rhythm in sound production and vocal imitation at the keyboard. [Read More]