Month: January 2013

面對自己情感脆弱的一面 Be Vulnerable



Original English Version: Be Vulnerable


「面對自己情感脆弱的一面」(Be vulnerable: 只是意釋) 是一個很難解釋的概念。

從前我在好幾本鋼琴演奏的書中閱讀過有關這個 “Be vulnerable” 的概念(我不記得是那幾本些書,因為實在我看了太多書了)。當我們演奏時,我們需要面對自己情感中的脆弱,需要在音樂中表達情感來演奏。而在我們演奏的音樂中,有一些情感是我們寧願不要去觸碰或感受的(特別是浪漫時期的音樂)。它們可以是悲傷,苦難,痛苦,熱情,憂鬱,心痛,心碎,思念(某事或某人),孤獨,疾病,死亡,被遺棄的感覺,生不如死,找尋愛及失去愛等等,我們不想赤裸自己於這些情感當中,或去面對它們,甚至面對自己脆弱的一面。

當我年輕的時候,我不知道如何在自己的演奏中表達這一切一切的感受。現在我明白了。因為我也經歷過,愛和生活。

當我年輕的時候,我不知道怎樣去表達悲傷。所以每次當我需要在演奏時表達這種情感時,我便會以一個故事,一個現實生活中的經驗來表達。每次我在演奏傷心的曲目時我都會想起我的祖母 – 祖母在我九歲的時候去世了。有時候在想念後,感受後或演奏後我也會哭。雖然心會很痛很痛,但我仍然一直用這個方法來表達傷感。漸漸地,我不再需要它,我可以直接進入那種極其悲傷的情感狀態,同時恰當地在演奏中將它表現出來。

在你的演奏前,思考和感受那一首曲目。無論是一種愉抑或是傷感的情感,嘗試用一個故事或經驗來進入那種心情。就像一些演員在拍攝前因為需要演哭而所作的準備一樣。他們有時候需要進入那種情感來準備眼淚,否則,他們可能只是使用眼藥水來解決。但那些都是假的,而不是真正有感受過的眼淚。那就需要情感。

勇敢面對自己情感脆弱的一面,你便會變得更堅強。而你的音樂也會充滿了生命的色彩。


黃穎妍

Perfection and Intelligence


Students,


I appreciate and admire your endeavors to perfect your playing and the pieces you are working on. But I would like to remind you that, drilling mindlessly without thinking about HOW to fix the problem is a futile act. And a lot of the times, it’s not even how you play it, rather, how you THINK about it.

Playing the piano, to the laymen, might be a sheer act of technicality and showmanship. It’s for them how fast a pianist can move his/her fingers across the keyboard and how big a sound s/he can make out of the instrument. Certainly, we all understand it’s very far from the truth. (And yes, please ignore them when they make silly comments about how much time, effort and money you are “wasting” on your practice/lessons.)

To be able to play well, we need a positive set of mind. We need to be absolutely focused, on what we are doing right, and have the mentality to persist through ups and downs, rights and wrongs. We need a huge amount of patience, because there are a lot of the times that we keep practicing and we just don’t see the results that we want. That’s where the positivity kicks in and keeps us going, knowing we will finally get there, as long as we set our minds in the process to see it through to the goals we want to achieve.

But, on top of that, we need to use our BRAIN. Our INTELLECT. To think, to criticize, to measure, to analyze. We need to understand what our problems are when we get stuck. Three Ws I want you to always ask yourselves: What? Why? How?

“What went wrong? Why did that happen? How can I fix it?”

Yes, I have “heard” you all thinking, or even telling me, “Wow, this is so difficult! I’ve never thought playing the piano is so complicated!” I am not trying to make it difficult for you, in fact, learning to play an instrument/understanding a subject to a certain level of achievement is an extremely complicated and time-consuming (even brain-cell-consuming) task. Therefore I strongly encourage those who are not in for this not to try picking up an instrument unless they are ready for this. It’s always easy to feel instant joy and fun at the initial stage of learning to play the piano. But it’s what comes next that’s hard. People can tell me, “but I want fun”. Sure you do, we all do. The point is, nothing is that fun until you reach a certain level of understanding and mastering that subject, and here is playing the piano. Understanding in various aspects of how it is done, and venture into all the technical, structural, musical, historical, artistical, sensual, and even philosophical areas of it. And the basic thing is, if you can’t even articulate a scale well with clear attack, brilliant sound and even rhythm in Presto, I don’t see how much fun you would be getting. And when you don’t understand what the harmonic language is about in the piece that you are playing, it’s just the same kind of experience when you are reciting a passage in a foreign language you absolutely have no understanding of. Think Russian, or Arabic, or some language you have the faintest idea of how it works/means at all, only you like the sound of how you recite it. Do you think that’s crazy? It’s just as crazy as how you play a piece without understanding the content of it!

Okay, back to the real issue here, Students. The two-against-three, is it that hard really? Don’t stick with only one method to fix it. I have given you many solutions. Sing it, clap it on your lap, sing RH and clap LH, sing RH and play LH, do them the other way around, and vice versa. Be creative with your practice, and have fun with it.

Being serious is a good thing, and I do appreciate that in you treating piano playing that seriously. However, being serious and getting so tense about it usually brings an adverse effect on helping you to solving the problem. Relax your body. Exhale. (When I ask you to inhale, some of you are holding your breath. So try exhale instead, as by then you must inhale.) Relax your shoulders and upper arms. Can you feel you are squeezing your upper body in when you are nervous or when dramatic moments in the music come in? Sit tall and expand your chest. Sit back and look at the problem, THINK, then TRY. Don’t expect you can fix it in one go. You won’t. Maybe you get lucky sometimes, but that’s harder than winning the mark six.

Be SMART with your practice. You need a lot of that. And you all got it, only you haven’t even started to use a tenth of it.

Playing the piano skillfully, beautifully and tastefully with knowledge, imagination and creativity is for the intellects only. Are you one of them?

I hope you are. In fact, I know you are. Because you are my Students.


Your Teacher,

Teresa Wong

Videos on Recent Progress: 1. Fingertip Focus & First Knuckle Support

Video 1. Fingertip Focus & First Knuckle Support

We use a pencil to practice the feeling of that one focus ballpoint under each fingertip. At the same time, we also feel the sensation of firm first knuckle support.


In Cantonese 中文:

[qt:http://teresawong.dyndns.org:9001/video/fingersupportc.m4v 640 360]




In English:




Note: For better viewing experience, please click on the post’s title and have the video mostly or fully loaded before you start watching it.
注:為了更好的視覺體驗,請點擊這篇文章的標題和等待視像大部分或完全下載後再開始收看。




Teresa Wong

Students’ Reminder of Recent Progress


Students,

These couple weeks we are having great progress on improving our techniques, in fact, quite a milestone on building a solid foundation in all of our playing.


Let me recap what we have done these days:

1. Fingertip focus & first knuckle support
We use a pencil to practice the feeling of that one focus ballpoint under each fingertip. At the same time, we also feel the sensation of firm first knuckle support.

2. Upper arm support and whole arm movement
Once we have grasped the feeling of fingertip focus and first knuckle support (with a firm hand grip of course- but we have dealt with this earlier), we can now start to activate our arms. Engage the upper arm to move the whole arm across the keyboard horizontally, in one straight line.

3. Upper body coordination and lower body weight support/transfer
Move the upper body straight sideways following where the notes go. Keep it straight, not collapse to the sides. No bending at the waist. Keep the body talk and the head level.

4. Singing
Great work this week that everyone is finally singing! Good way to understand how the lines go, how the notes are connected in terms of the intervals instead of just hitting each note separately without understanding how they are related.

And, we have found and proved that singing a phrase/motive once in three seconds is much more efficient than playing it a hundred times isn’t it? Well done you all!

Let’s keep up the good work and keep moving forward and upward!


Teresa Wong


Joy Chan and Teresa Wong: “Prelude-Ave Maria”

January 22, 2013

Joy Chan and Teresa Wong play an arranged duet of the famous Bach-Gounod’s “Prelude-Ave Maria” (Note: there is slight change of some bass chords by the arranger, hence the difference in sound/notes compared to the original version).

[qt:http://teresawong.dyndns.org:9001/video/joypreludeduet.m4v 640 360]


Note: For better viewing experience, please click on the post’s title and have the video mostly or fully loaded before you start watching it.
注:為了更好的視覺體驗,請點擊這篇文章的標題和等待視像大部分或完全下載後再開始收看。



Teresa Wong