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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seeking the Meaning of Virtuosity: The Integration of Technical Mastery and Musical Artistry in Piano Training

  • Author(s): Chen, Xiao
  • Advisor(s): Faliks, Inna
  • et al.

Virtuoso playing has ingrained itself into the fabric of classical piano performance culture. “Virtuosity” is difficult to define; if treated as an isolated goal, it can result in problems such as mechanical playing and mindless practicing by piano students. Pianists spend years to cultivate technical perfection by employing mechanical finger exercises and training methods. Without a systematic training method, an average piano student might have difficulties combining technical works with musical understanding. By examining and combining valuable pedagogical methods from the 19th and 20th centuries, I establish my own teaching method, specifically designed to help pianists find a musically aware approach to technical training. Inspired by Wieck’s Piano and Song and Neuhaus’ The Art of Piano Playing, my method, “Imagining between Notes”, will hopefully aid piano students to practice technically difficult material with imagination and meaning.

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