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Title: Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered
Author: Hofmann, Josef, 1876-1957
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered" ***

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[Illustration: _Josef Hofmann_]


With Piano Questions Answered



Copyright © 1909 by Doubleday, Page and Company;
renewed 1937 by J. Hofmann.

© 1908 by McClure Company; renewed 1936
by J. Hofmann.

© 1920 by Theodore Presser Company; renewed
1947 by Josef Hofmann.

Piano Playing





  A FOREWORD                                   xv

  THE PIANO AND ITS PLAYER                      3

  GENERAL RULES                                19

  CORRECT TOUCH AND TECHNIC                    34

  THE USE OF THE PEDAL                         41

  PLAYING "IN STYLE"                           49




  _Josef Hofmann_                          _Frontispiece_


  _The Position of the Hand_                           20

  _Incorrect Way to Play an Octave_                    28

  _Correct Way to Play an Octave_                      28

  _Incorrect Position of the Little Finger_            29

  _Correct Position of the Little Finger_              29

  _Incorrect Position of Thumb_                        38

  _Correct Position of Thumb_                          38

  _Incorrect Position of the Feet_                     42

  _Correct Position of the Feet on the Pedal_          43

  _Anton Rubinstein_                                   58

  _How Rubinstein Taught Me to Play_                   59


This little book purposes to present a general view of artistic
piano-playing and to offer to young students the results of such
observations as I have made in the years of my own studies, as well as
of the experiences which my public activity has brought me.

It is, of course, only the concrete, the material side of piano-playing
that can be dealt with here--that part of it which aims to reproduce in
tones what is plainly stated in the printed lines of a composition. The
other, very much subtler part of piano-playing, draws upon and, indeed,
depends upon imagination, refinement of sensibility, and spiritual
vision, and endeavours to convey to an audience what the composer has,
consciously or unconsciously, hidden _between_ the lines. That almost
entirely psychic side of piano-playing eludes treatment in literary form
and must, therefore, not be looked for in this little volume. It may
not be amiss, however, to dwell a moment upon these elusive matters of
æsthetics and conception, though it be only to show how far apart they
are from technic.

When the material part, the technic, has been completely acquired by the
piano student, he will see a limitless vista opening up before him,
disclosing the vast field of artistic interpretation. In this field the
work is largely of an analytical nature and requires that intelligence,
spirit, and sentiment, supported by knowledge and æsthetic perception,
form a felicitous union to produce results of value and dignity. It is
in this field that the student must learn to perceive the invisible
something which unifies the seemingly separate notes, groups, periods,
sections, and parts into an organic whole. The spiritual eye for this
invisible something is what musicians have in mind when they speak of
"reading between the lines"--which is at once the most fascinating and
most difficult task of the interpretative artist; for, it is just
between the lines where, in literature as in music, the soul of a work
of art lies hidden. To play its notes, even to play them correctly, is
still very far from doing justice to the life and soul of an artistic

I should like to reiterate at this point two words which I used in the
second paragraph: the words "consciously or unconsciously." A brief
comment upon this alternative may lead to observations which may throw a
light upon the matter of reading between the lines, especially as I am
rather strongly inclining toward the belief in the "unconscious" side of
the alternative.

I believe that every composer of talent (not to speak of genius) in his
moments of creative fever has given birth to thoughts, ideas, designs
that lay altogether beyond the reach of his conscious will and control.
In speaking of the products of such periods we have hit upon exactly the
right word when we say that the composer "has surpassed himself." For,
in saying this we recognise that the act of surpassing one's self
precludes the control of the self. A critical, sober overseeing of one's
work during the period of creation is unthinkable, for it is the fancy
and the imagination that carries one on and on, will-lessly,
driftingly, until the totality of the tonal apparition is completed and
mentally as well as physically absorbed.

Now, inasmuch as the composer's conscious will takes little or no part
in the creating of the work, it seems to follow that he is not,
necessarily, an absolute authority as to the "only correct way" of
rendering it. Pedantic adherence to the composer's own conception is, to
my mind, not an unassailable maxim. The composer's way of rendering his
composition may not be free from certain predilections, biases,
mannerisms, and his rendition may also suffer from a paucity of
pianistic experience. It seems, therefore, that to do justice to the
work itself is of far greater importance than a slavish adherence to the
composer's conception.

Now, to discover what it is, intellectually or emotionally, that hides
itself between the lines; how to conceive and how to interpret it--that
must ever rest with the reproductive artist, provided that he possesses
not only the spiritual vision which entitles him to an individual
conception, but also the technical skill to express what this individual
conception (aided by imagination and analysis) has whispered to him.
Taking these two conditions for granted, his interpretations--however
punctiliously he adhere to the text--will and must be a reflex of his
breeding, education, temperament, disposition; in short, of all the
faculties and qualities that go to make up his personality. And as these
personal qualities differ between players, their interpretations must,
necessarily, differ in the same measure.

In some respects the performance of a piece of music resembles the
reading of a book aloud to some one. If a book should be read to us by a
person who does not understand it, would it impress us as true,
convincing, or even credible? Can a dull person, by reading them to us,
convey bright thoughts intelligibly? Even if such a person were drilled
to read with outward correctness that of which he cannot fathom the
meaning, the reading could not seriously engage our attention, because
the reader's want of understanding would be sure to effect a lack of
interest in us. Whatever is said to an audience, be the speech literary
or musical, must be a free and individual expression, governed only by
general or is it æsthetic laws or rules; it must be free to be artistic,
and it must be individual to have vital force. Traditional conceptions
of works of art are "canned goods," unless the individual happens to
concur with the traditional conception, which, at best, is very rarely
the case and does not speak well for the mental calibre of the easily
contented treader of the beaten path.

We know how precious a thing is freedom. But in modern times it is not
only precious, it is also costly; it is based upon certain possessions.
This holds as good in life as in art. To move comfortably with freedom
in life requires money; freedom in art requires a sovereign mastery of
technic. The pianist's artistic bank-account upon which he can draw at
any moment is his technic. We do not gauge him by it as an artist, to be
sure, but rather by the use he makes of it; just as we respect the
wealthy according to the way in which they use their money. And as there
are wealthy people that are vulgar, so there may be pianists who,
despite the greatest technic, are not artists. Still, while money is to
a gentleman perhaps no more than a rather agreeable adjunct, technic is
to the pianist's equipment an indispensable necessity.

To assist young students in acquiring this necessity, the following
articles were written for _The Ladies' Home Journal_, and for this form
I have gone over them and corrected and amplified. I sincerely hope that
they will help my young colleagues to become free as piano-playing
musicians first, and that this, in its turn and with the help of good
fortune in their career, will bring them the means to make them equally
free in their daily life.

                                        JOSEF HOFMANN.

Piano Playing


The first requisite for one who wishes to become a musicianly and
artistic pianist is a precise knowledge of the possibilities and
limitations of the piano as an instrument. Having properly recognised
them both, having thus staked off a stretch of ground for his activity,
he must explore it to discover all the resources for tonal expression
that are hidden within its pale. With these resources, however, he must
be contented. He must, above all, never strive to rival the orchestra.
For there is no necessity to attempt anything so foolish and so futile,
since the gamut of expressions inherent to the piano is quite extensive
enough to vouchsafe artistic results of the very highest order,
provided, of course, that this gamut is used in an artistic manner.


From one point of view the piano can claim to be the equal of the
orchestra; namely, in so far as it is--no less than the orchestra--the
exponent of a specific branch of music which, complete by itself,
reposes upon a literature exclusively its own and of a type so
distinguished that only the orchestra can claim to possess its peer. The
great superiority of the literature of the piano over that of any other
single instrument has, to my knowledge, never been disputed. I think it
is equally certain that the piano grants to its players a greater
freedom of expression than any other instrument; greater--in certain
respects--than even the orchestra, and very much greater than the organ,
which, after all, lacks the intimate, personal element of "touch" and
the immediateness of its variegated results.

In dynamic and colouristic qualities, on the other hand, the piano
cannot bear comparison with the orchestra; for in these qualities it is
very limited indeed. The prudent player will not go beyond these limits.
The utmost that the pianist can achieve in the way of colour may be
likened to what the painters call "monochrome." For in reality the
piano, like any other instrument, has only one colour; but the artistic
player can subdivide the colour into an infinite number and variety of
shades. The virtue of a specific charm, too, attaches as much to the
piano as to other instruments, though, perhaps, in a lesser degree of
sensuousness than to some others. Is it because of this lesser sensuous
charm that the art of the piano is considered the chastest of all
instruments? I am rather inclined to think that it is, partly at least,
due to this chastity that it "wears" best, that we can listen longer to
a piano than to other instruments, and that this chastity may have had a
reflex action upon the character of its unparagoned literature.

For this literature, though, we have to thank the pianists themselves,
or, speaking more precisely, we are indebted to the circumstance that
the piano is the only single instrument capable of conveying the
complete entity of a composition. That melody, bass, harmony,
figuration, polyphony, and the most intricate contrapuntal devices
can--by skilful hands--be rendered simultaneously and (to all intents
and purposes) completely on the piano has probably been the inducement
which persuaded the great masters of music to choose it as their
favourite instrument.

It may be mentioned at this point that the piano did not have the effect
of impairing the orchestration of the great composers--as some musical
wiseacres assert from time to time--for they have written just as fine
works for a variety of other instruments, not to speak of their
symphonies. Thus has, for instance, the most substantial part of the
violin literature been contributed by piano-players (Bach, Mozart,
Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruch, Saint-Saëns, Tschaikowski, and
many others). As to the literature of the orchestra, it came almost
exclusively from those masters whose only, or chiefest, medium of
musical utterance was the piano. Highly organised natures, as they were,
they liked to dress their thoughts, sometimes, in the colour splendour
of the orchestra. Looking at the depth of their piano works, however, at
their sterling merit, at their poetry, I feel that even a refined
musical nature may find lifelong contentment in the piano--despite its
limitations--if, as I said before, the artist keeps within its
boundaries and commands its possibilities. For it is, after all, not so
very little that the piano has to offer. It is both governed and
manipulated by one and the same mind and person; its mechanism is so
fine and yet so simple as to make its tone response quite as direct as
that of any other stringed instrument; it admits of the thoroughly
personal element of touch; it requires no auxiliary instruments (for
even in the Concerto the orchestra is not a mere accompanist but an
equal partner, as the name "Concerto" implies); its limitations are not
as bad as those of some other instruments or of the voice; it outweighs
these limitations very fairly by the vast wealth of its dynamic and
touch varieties. Considering all these and many other points of merit, I
think that a musician may be pretty well satisfied with being a pianist.
His realm is in more than one respect smaller than that of the
conductor, to be sure, but on the other hand the conductor loses many
lovely moments of sweet intimacy which are granted to the pianist when,
world-oblivious and alone with his instrument he can commune with his
innermost and best self. Consecrated moments, these, which he would
exchange with no musician of any other type and which wealth can neither
buy nor power compel.


Music makers are, like the rest of mankind, not free from sin. On the
whole, however, I think that the transgressions of pianists against the
canons of art are less grave and less frequent than those of other music
makers; perhaps, because they are--usually--better grounded as musicians
than are singers and such players of other instruments as the public
places on a par with the pianists I have in mind. But, while their sins
may be less in number and gravity--let it be well understood that the
pianists are no saints. Alas, no! It is rather strange, though, that
their worst misdeeds are induced by that very virtue of the piano of
requiring no auxiliary instruments, of being independent. If it were not
so; if the pianist were compelled always to play in company with other
musicians, these other players might at times differ with him as to
conception, tempo, etc., and their views and wishes should have to be
reckoned with, for the sake of both equilibrium and--sweet peace.

Left entirely to himself, however, as the pianist usually is in his
performances, he sometimes yields to a tendency to move altogether too
freely, to forget the deference due to the composition and its creator,
and to allow his much-beloved "individuality" to glitter with a false
and presumptuous brightness. Such a pianist does not only fail in his
mission as an interpreter but he also misjudges the possibilities of the
piano. He will, for instance, try to produce six _forte-s_ when the
piano has not more than three to give, all told, except at a sacrifice
of its dignity and its specific charm.

The extremest contrasts, the greatest _forte_ and the finest _piano_,
are given factors determined by the individual piano, by the player's
skill of touch, and by the acoustic properties of the hall. These given
factors the pianist must bear in mind, as well as the limitations of
the piano as to colour, if he means to keep clear of dilettanteism and
charlatanry. A nice appreciation of the realm over which he rules, as to
its boundaries and possibilities, must be the supreme endeavour of every
sovereign--hence also of every sovereign musician.

Now, I hear it so often said of this and that pianist that "he plays
with _so_ much feeling" that I cannot help wondering if he does not,
sometimes at least, play with "_so_ much feeling" where it is not in the
least called for and where "_so_ much feeling" constitutes a decided
trespass against the æsthetic boundaries of the composition. My
apprehension is usually well founded, for the pianist that plays
_everything_ "with so much feeling" is an artist in name only, but in
reality a sentimentalist, if not a vulgar sensationalist or a ranter
upon the keyboard. What sane pianist would, for instance, attempt to
play a cantilena with the same appealing sensuousness as the most
mediocre 'cellist can do with the greatest ease? Yet many pianists
attempt it; but since they are fully aware that they can never attain
such ends by legitimate, artistic means, they make either the
accompaniment or the rhythm, if not the phrasing, bear the brunt of
their palpable dilettanteism. Of such illusory endeavours I cannot warn
too strongly, for they are bound to destroy the organic relation of the
melody to its auxiliaries and to change the musical "physiognomy" of a
piece into a--"grimace:" This fault reveals that the pianist's
spirit--of adventure--is too willing, but the flesh--of the fingers and
their technic--too weak.

The artistic and the dilettantic manners of expression must be sharply
differentiated. They differ, principally, as follows: the artist knows
and feels how far the responsiveness of his instrument, at any
particular part of his piece, will allow him to go without violating
æsthetics, and without stepping outside of the nature of his instrument.
He shapes his rendition of the piece accordingly and practises wise
economy in the use of force and in the display of feeling. As to
feeling, _per se_, it is the ripe product of a multitude of æsthetic
processes which the moment creates and develops; but the artist will
keep this product from asserting itself until he has complied with every
requirement of artistic _workmanship_; until he has, so to speak,
provided a cleanly covered and fully set table upon which these matters
of "feeling" appear as finishing, decorative touches, say, as flowers.

The dilettante, on the other hand, does not consume any time by thinking
and planning; he simply "goes for" his piece and, without bothering
about workmanship or squirming around it as best he may, he rambles off
into--"feeling," which in his case consists of naught but vague,
formless, aimless, and purely sensuous sentimentality. His accompaniment
drowns the melody, his rhythm goes on a sympathetic strike, dynamic and
other artistic properties become hysterical; no matter, he--"feels"! He
builds a house in which the cellar is under the roof and the garret in
the basement.

Let it be said in extenuation of such a player that he is not always and
seldom wholly to blame for his wrong-doing. Very often he strays from
the path of musical rectitude because of his misplaced trust in the
judgment of others, which causes him to accept and follow advice in
good faith, instead of duly considering its source. For, under certain
conditions, the advice of even a connoisseur may be wrong. Many
professional and well-equipped critics, for instance, fall into the bad
habit of expecting that a pianist should tell all he knows in every
piece he plays, whether the piano does or does not furnish the
opportunities for displaying all his qualities. They expect him to show
strength, temperament, passion, poise, sentiment, repose, depth, and so
forth, in the first piece on his programme. He must tell his whole
story, present himself at once as a "giant" or "Titan" of the piano,
though the piece may call for naught but tenderness. With this demand,
or the alternative of a "roasting," public artists are confronted rather
frequently. Nor is this, perhaps, as much the fault of the critic as of
the conditions under which they must write. From my own experience and
that of others I know that the critics in large cities are so
overburdened with work during the season that they have seldom time to
listen to more than one piece out of a whole recital programme. After
such a mere sample they form their opinions--so momentous for the
career of a young pianist--and if this one piece happened to offer no
opportunities to the pianist to show himself as the "great" So-and-so,
why, then he is simply put down as one of the "littlefellows." It is no
wonder that such conditions tempt many young aspirants to public renown
to resort to æsthetic violence in order to make sure of "good notices";
to use power where it is not called for; to make "feeling" ooze from
every pore; to double, treble the tempo or vacillate it out of all
rhythm; to violate the boundaries of both the composition and the
instrument--and all this for no other purpose than to show as quickly as
possible that the various qualities are "all there." These conditions
produce what may be called the pianistic nouveau-riche or parvenu, who
practises the vices of the dilettante without, however, the mitigating
excuse of ignorance or a lack of training.


As the piano, so has also every composition its limitations as to the
range of its emotions and their artistic expression. The hints in this
direction I threw out before may now be amplified by discussing a very
common error which underlies the matter of conception. It is the error
of inferring the conception of a composition _from the name of its
composer_; of thinking that Beethoven has to be played thus and Chopin
thus. No error could be greater!

True, every great composer has his own style, his habitual mode of
thought development, his personality revealing lines. But it is equally
true that the imagination of all great composers was strong enough to
absorb them as completely in their own creation as the late Pygmalion
was absorbed in his Galatea, and to lure them, for the time being,
completely away from their habits of thought and expression; they become
the willing servants of the new creature of their own fancy. Thus we
find some of Beethoven's works as romantic and fanciful as any of
Schumann's or Chopin's could be, while some of the latter's works show
at times a good deal of Beethovenish classicity. It is, therefore,
utterly wrong to approach every work of Beethoven with the preconceived
idea that it must be "deep" and "majestic," or, if the work be Chopin's,
that it must run over with sensuousness and "feeling." How would such a
style of rendition do, for instance, for the Polonaise op. 53, or even
for the little one in A, op. 40, No. 1? On the other hand, how would the
stereotype, academic manner of playing Beethoven suit his Concerto in
G--that poetic presage of Chopin?

Every great master has written some works that are, and some that are
not, typical of himself. In the latter cases the master's identity
reveals itself only to an eye that is experienced enough to detect it in
the smaller, more minute traits of his style. Such delicate features,
however, must be left in their discreet nooks and niches; they must not
be clumsily dragged into the foreground for the sake of a traditional
rendition of the piece. That sort of "reverence" is bound to obliterate
all the peculiarities of the particular, non-typical composition. It is
not reverence, but fetichism. Justice to the composer means justice to
his works; to every work in particular. And this justice we cannot
learn from the reading of his biography, but by regarding every one of
his works as a separate and complete entity; as a perfect, organic whole
of which we must study the general character, the special features, the
form, the manner of design, the emotional course, and the trend of
thought. Much more than by his biography we will be helped, in forming
our conception, by comparing the work in hand with others of the same
master, though the comparison may disclose just as many differences of
style as it may show similarities.

The worship of names, the unquestioning acquiescence in traditional
conceptions--those are not the principles which will lead an artist to
come into his own. It is rather a close examination of every popular
notion, a severe testing of every tradition by the touchstone of
self-thinking that will help an artist to find himself and to see, what
he does see, with his own eyes.

Thus we find that--in a certain constructive meaning--even the reverence
for the composer is not without boundaries; though these boundary lines
are drawn here only to secure the widest possible freedom for their
work. Goethe's great word expresses most tersely what I mean:

     Outwardly limited,
     Boundless to inward.


Successful piano-playing, if it cannot be entirely acquired by some very
simple rules, can, at least, be very much helped by what will seem to
some as contributing causes so slight as to be hardly worth notice.
Still, they are immensely valuable, and I will endeavour to set down a

_The Value of the Morning Hour_ above any other time is not generally
appreciated. The mental freshness gained from sleep is a tremendous
help. I go so far as to say play away for an hour, or a half hour even,
before breakfast. But before you touch the piano let me suggest one very
prosaic little hint: wash the keyboard as clean as you did your hands.
Eating always tastes best from a clean table. Just so with the piano:
you cannot do clean work on an unclean keyboard.

_Now, as to Practice_: Let me suggest that you never practise more than
an hour, or, at the most, two hours, at a stretch--according to your
condition and strength. Then go out and take a walk, and think no more
of music. This method of mental unhitching, so to speak, is absolutely
necessary in order that the newly acquired results of your work
may--unconsciously to yourself--mature in your mind and get, as it were,
into your flesh and blood. That which you have newly learned must become
affixed to your entire organism, very much like the picture on a
photographic plate is developed and affixed by the silver bath. If you
allow Nature no time for this work the result of your previous efforts
will vanish and you will have to begin all over again with
your--photographing. Yes, photographing! For every acoustic or tone
picture is, through the agency of the ear, photographed in the brain,
and the whole occupation of the pianist consists in the reproduction of
the previously received impressions through the fingers, which, with the
help of the instrument, retranslate the pictures into audible tones.

After every half hour make a pause until you feel rested. Five minutes
will often be sufficient. Follow the example of the painter, who
closes his eyes for a few moments in order to obtain upon reopening them
a fresh color impression.

_A Valuable Little Hint Here_, if you will allow me: Watch well that you
actually hear every tone you mean to produce. Every missing tone will
mean a blotch upon your photographic plate in the brain. Each note must
be, not mentally but physically, heard, and to this imperative
requirement your speed must ever subordinate itself. It is not at all
necessary to practise loudly in order to foster the permanence of
impressions. Rather let an inward tension take the place of external
force. It will engage, sympathetically, your hearing just as well.

_As to the Theory_--great energy, great results--I prefer my amended
version: great energy, restrained power and moderate manifestation of
it. Prepare the finger for great force, imagine the tone as being
strong, and yet strike moderately. Continuous loud playing makes our
playing coarse. On the other hand, continuous soft playing will blur the
tone picture in our mind and cause us soon to play insecurely and
wrongly. From time to time we should, of course, practise loudly so as
to develop physical endurance. But for the greater part of practice I
recommend playing with restrained power. And, incidentally, your
neighbours will thank you for it, too.

_Do Not Practise Systematically_, or "methodically," as it is sometimes
called. Systematism is the death of spontaneousness, and spontaneousness
is the very soul of art. If you play every day at the same time the same
sequence of the same studies and the same pieces, you may acquire a
certain degree of skill, perhaps, but the spontaneity of your rendition
will surely be lost. Art belongs to the realm of emotional
manifestations, and it stands to reason that a systematic exploiting of
our emotional nature must blunt it.

_With Regard to Finger Exercises_: Do not let them be too frequent or
too long--at the most a half hour a day. A half hour daily, kept up for
a year, is enough for any one to learn to play one's exercises. And if
one can play them why should one keep everlastingly on playing them?
Can anybody explain, without reflecting upon one's sanity, why one
should persist in playing them? I suggest to use these exercises as
"preliminary warmers" (as practised in engines). As soon as the hands
have become warm and elastic, or pliable--"played in," as we pianists
say--drop the exercises and repeat them for the same purpose the next
morning, if you will. They can be successfully substituted, however. As
compositions they are but lukewarm water. If you will dip your hands,
instead, for five minutes into hot water you will follow my own method
and find it just as efficacious.

_A Rule for Memory Exercises_: If you wish to strengthen the receptivity
and retentiveness of your memory you will find the following plan
practical: Start with a short piece. Analyse the form and manner of its
texture. Play the piece a number of times very exactly with the music
before you. Then stop playing for several hours and try to trace the
course of ideas mentally in the piece. Try to hear the piece inwardly.
If you have retained some parts refill the missing places by repeated
reading of the piece, away from the piano. When next you go to the
piano--after several hours, remember--try to play the piece. Should you
still get "stuck" at a certain place take the sheet music, but play only
that place (several times, if necessary), and then begin the piece over
again, as a test, if you have better luck this time with those elusive
places. If you still fail resume your silent reading of the piece away
from the piano. Under no circumstances skip the unsafe place for the
time being, and proceed with the rest of the piece. By such forcing of
the memory you lose the logical development of your piece, tangle up
your memory and injure its receptivity. Another observation in
connection with memorising may find a place here. When we study a piece
we--unconsciously--associate in our mind a multitude of things with it
which bear not the slightest relation upon it. By these "things" I mean
not only the action of the piano, light or heavy, as it may be, but also
the colour of its wood, the colour of the wall paper, discoloration of
the ivory on some key of the piano, the pictures on the walls, the angle
at which the piano stands to the architectural lines of the room, in
short, all sorts of things. And we remain utterly unconscious of having
associated them with the piece we are studying--until we try to play the
well-learned piece in a different place, in the house of a friend or, if
we are inexperienced enough to commit such a blunder, in the concert
hall. Then we find that our memory fails us most unexpectedly, and we
blame our memory for its unreliableness. But the fact is rather that our
memory was only too good, too exact, for the absence of or difference
from our accustomed surroundings disturbed our too precise memory.
Hence, to make absolutely sure of our memory we should try our piece in
a number of different places before relying upon our memory; this will
dissociate the wonted environment from the piece in our memory.

_With Regard to Technical Work_: Play good compositions and construe out
of them your own technical exercises. In nearly every piece you play you
will find a place or two of which your conscience tells you that they
are not up to your own wishes; that they can be improved upon either
from a rhythmical, dynamical or precisional point of view. Give these
places the preference for a while, but do not fail to play from time to
time again the whole piece in order to put the erstwhile defective and
now repaired part into proper relation to its context. Remember that a
difficult part may "go" pretty well when severed from its context and
yet fail utterly when attempted in its proper place. You must follow the
mechanic in this. If a part of a machine is perfected in the shop it
must still go through the process of being "mounted"--that is, being
brought into proper relation to the machine itself--and this often
requires additional packing or filing, as the case may be. This
"mounting" of a repaired part is done best by playing it in conjunction
with one preceding and one following measure; then put two measures on
each side, three, four, etc., until you feel your ground safely under
your fingers. Not until then have you achieved your purpose of technical
practice. The mere mastering of a difficulty _per se_ is no guarantee of
success whatever. Many students play certain compositions for years, and
yet when they are asked to play them the evidences of imperfection are
so palpable that they cannot have finished the learning of them. The
strong probability is that they never will finish the "study" of them,
because they do not study right.

_As to the Number of Pieces_: The larger the number of good compositions
you are able to play in a finished manner, the better grow your
opportunities to develop your versatility of style; for in almost every
good composition you will find some traits peculiar to itself only which
demand an equally special treatment. To keep as many pieces as possible
in your memory and in good technical condition, play them a few times
each week. Do not play them, however, in consecutive repetitions. Take
one after the other. After the last piece is played the first one will
appear fresh again to your mind. This process I have tested and found
very helpful in maintaining a large repertory.

[Illustration: _The Position of the Hand_]

_Play Always with the Fingers_--that is, move your arms as little as
possible and hold them--and the shoulder muscles--quite loosely. The
hands should be nearly horizontal, with a slight inclination from the
elbows toward the keys. Bend the fingers gently and endeavour to touch
the keys in their centre and with the tips of the fingers. This will
tend toward sureness and give eyes to your fingers, so to speak.

_The Practice of Finger Octaves_: Play octaves first as if you were
playing single notes with one finger of each hand. Lift the thumb and
fifth finger rather high and let them fall upon the keys without using
the wrist. Later let the wrist come to your aid, sometimes even the arm
and shoulder muscles, though the latter should both be reserved for
places requiring great power.

Where powerful octaves occur in long continuation it is best to
distribute the work over the joints and muscles of the fingers, wrists,
and shoulders. With a rational distribution each of the joints will
avoid over-fatigue and the player will gain in endurance. This applies,
of course, only to bravura passages. In places where musical
characteristics predominate the player does best to choose whichever of
these sources of touch seems most appropriate.

[Illustration: _Incorrect Way to Play an Octave_]

[Illustration: _Correct Way to Play an Octave_]

[Illustration: _Photograph by Byron_
_Incorrect Position of Little Finger_]

[Illustration: _Correct Position of Little Finger_]

_About Using the Pedal_: Beware of too frequent and--above all--of
long-continued use of the pedal. It is the mortal enemy of clarity.
Judiciously, however, you should use it when you study a new work, for
if you accustom yourself to play a work without the pedal the habit of
non-pedalling will grow upon you, and you will be surprised to find
later how your feet can be in the way of your fingers. Do not delay the
use of the pedal as if it were the dessert after a repast.

_Never Play with a Metronome_: You may use a metronome for a little
passage as a test of your ability to play the passage in strict time.
When you see the result, positive or negative, stop the machine
at once. For according to the metronome a really musical rhythm is
unrhythmical--and, on the other hand, the keeping of absolutely strict
time is thoroughly unmusical and deadlike.

You should endeavour to reproduce the sum-total of the time which a
musical thought occupies. Within its scope, however, you must vary your
beats in accordance with their musical significance. This constitutes in
musical interpretation what I call the individual pulse-beat which
imparts life to the dead, black notes. Beware, however, of being too
"individual"! Avoid exaggeration, or else your patient will grow
feverish and all æsthetic interpretation goes to the happy hunting

_The Correct Posture at the Piano_: Sit straight before the piano but
not stiff. Have both feet upon the pedals, so as to be at any moment
ready to use them. All other manners to keep the feet are--bad manners.
Let your hand fall with the arm upon the keyboard when you start a
phrase, and observe a certain roundness in all the motions of your arms
and hands. Avoid angles and sharp bends, for they produce strong
frictions in the joints, which means a waste of force and is bound to
cause premature fatigue.

_Do Not Attend Poor Concerts._ Do not believe that you can learn correct
vision from the blind, nor that you can really profit by hearing how a
piece should _not_ be played, and then trying the reverse. The danger of
getting accustomed to poor playing is very great. What would you think
of a parent who deliberately sent his child into bad company in order
that such child should learn how _not_ to behave? Such experiments are
dangerous. By attending poor concerts you encourage the bungler to
continue in his crimes against good taste and artistic decency, and you
become his accomplice. Besides, you help to lower the standard of
appreciation in your community, which may sink so low that good concerts
will cease to be patronised. If you desire that good concerts should be
given in your city the least you can do is to withhold your patronage
from bad ones. If you are doubtful as to the merits of a proposed
concert ask your own or your children's music teacher. He will
appreciate your confidence and be glad of the opportunity to serve you
for once in a musical matter that lies on a higher plane than your own
or your children's music lesson.

_To Those Who Play in Public_ I should like to say this: Before you have
played a composition in public two or three times you must not expect
that every detail of it shall go according to your wishes. Do not be
surprised at little unexpected occurrences. Consider that the acoustic
properties of the various halls constitute a serious danger to the
musician. Bad humor on your part, or a slight indisposition, even a
clamlike audience, Puritanically austere or cool from diffidence--all
these things can be overcome; but the acoustic properties remain the
same from the beginning of your programme to its end, and if they are
not a kindly counsellor they turn into a fiendish demon who sneers to
death your every effort to produce noble-toned pictures. Therefore, try
to ascertain, as early as possible, what sort of an architectural
stomach your musical feast is to fill, and then--well, do the best you
can. Approach the picture you hold in your mind as nearly as
circumstances permit.

_When I Find Bad Acoustics in a Hall._ An important medium of rectifying
the acoustic misbehaviour of a hall I have found in the pedal. In some
halls my piano has sounded as if I had planted my feet on the pedal for
good and ever; in such cases I practised the greatest abstention from
pedalling. It is a fact that we have to treat the pedal differently in
almost every hall to insure the same results. I know that a number of
books have been written on the use of the pedal, but they are theories
which tumble down before the first adverse experience on the legitimate
concert stage. There you can lean on nothing but experience.

_About Reading Books on Music._ And speaking of books on music, let me
advise you to read them, but not to believe them unless they support
every statement with an argument, and unless this argument succeeds in
convincing you. In art we deal far oftener with exceptions than with
rules and laws. Every genius in art has demonstrated in his works the
forefeeling of new laws, and every succeeding one has done by his
precursors as his successors have in their turn done by him. Hence all
theorising in art must be problematic and precarious, while dogmatising
in art amounts to absurdity. Music is a language--the language of the
musical, whatever and wherever be their country. Let each one, then,
speak in his own way, as he thinks and feels, provided he is sincere.
Tolstoi put the whole thing so well when he said: "There are only three
things of real importance in the world. They are: Sincerity! Sincerity!


Great finger technic may be defined as extreme precision and great speed
in the action of the fingers. The latter quality, however, can never be
developed without the legato touch. I am convinced that the degree of
perfection of finger technic is exactly proportionate to the development
of the legato touch. The process of the non-legato touch, by showing
contrary results, will bear me out. To play a rapid run non-legato will
consume much more time than to play it legato because of the lifting of
the fingers between the tones. In playing legato the fingers are not
lifted off the keys, but--hardly losing contact with the ivory--glide
sideways to the right or the left as the notes may call for it. This,
naturally, saves both time and exertion, and thus allows an increase of

How is the true legato accomplished? By the gliding motion just
mentioned, and by touching the next following key before the finger
which played last has fully abandoned its key. To illustrate, let me say
that in a run of single notes two fingers are simultaneously at
work--the "played" and the "playing" one; in runs of double notes
(thirds, sixths, etc.) the number of simultaneously employed fingers is,
analogously, four. Only in this manner is a true legato touch to be
attained. While the fingers are in action the hand must not move lest it
produce gaps between the succeeding tones, causing not only a breaking
of the connection between them but also a lessening of speed. The
transfer of the hand should take place only when the finger is already
in touch with the key that is to follow--not at the time of contact,
still less before.

The selection of a practical fingering is, of course, of paramount
importance for a good legato touch. In attempting a run without a good
fingering we will soon find ourselves "out of fingers." In that
emergency we should have to resort to "piecing on," and this means a
jerk at every instance--equal to a non-legato. A correct fingering is
one which permits the longest natural sequel of fingers to be used
without a break. By earnest thinking every player can contrive the
fingering that will prove most convenient to him. But, admitting that
the great diversity of hands prohibits a universal fingering, all the
varieties of fingering ought to be based upon the principle of a natural
sequel. If a player be puzzled by certain configurations of notes and
keys as to the best fingering for them, he ought to consult a teacher,
who, if a good one, will gladly help him out.

Precision, the other component part of finger technic, is intimately
related with the player's general sense of orderliness. As a matter of
fact, precision is orderliness in the technical execution of a musical
prescription. If the student will but look quite closely at the piece he
is learning; if he has the patience to repeat a difficult place in it a
hundred times if necessary--and correctly, of course--he will soon
acquire the trait of precision and he will experience the resultant
increase in his technical ability.

Mental technic presupposes the ability to form a clear inward conception
of a run without resorting to the fingers at all. Since every action of
a finger has first to be determined upon by the mind, a run should be
completely prepared mentally before it is tried on the piano. In other
words, the student should strive to acquire the ability to form the
tonal picture in his mind, rather than the note picture.

The tonal picture dwells in our imagination. This acts upon the
responsive portions of the brain, influences them according to its own
intensity, and this influence is then transferred to the motoric
nerve-centres which are concerned in music-making. As far as known this
is the course by which the musician converts his musical concept into a
tonal reality. Hence, when studying a new work, it is imperative that a
tonal picture of perfect clarity should be prepared in the mind before
the mechanical (or technical) practicing begins. In the earlier stages
of cultivating this trait it will be best to ask the teacher to play the
piece for us, and thus to help us in forming a correct tonal picture in
our mind.

The blurring of the tonal picture produces a temporary (don't get
frightened!) paralysis of the motoric centres which control the
fingers. Every pianist knows--unfortunately--the sensation of having his
fingers begin to "stick" as if the keys were covered with flypaper, and
he knows, also, that this sensation is but a warning that the fingers
are going on a general and even "sympathetic" strike--sympathetic,
because even the momentarily unconcerned fingers participate in it. Now
the cause of this sensation lies not in a defective action of the
fingers themselves, but solely in the mind. It is there that some
undesired change has taken place, a change which impairs the action of
the fingers. The process is like this: by quick repetitions of
complicated figures, slight errors, slips, flaws escape our notice; the
more quick repetitions we make the larger will be the number of these
tiny blots, and this must needs lead finally to a completely distorted
tonal picture. This distortion, however, is not the worst feature.
Inasmuch as we are very likely not to make the same little blunders at
every repetition the tonal picture becomes confused, blurred. The nerve
contacts which cause the fingers to act become undecided first, then
they begin to fail more and more, until they cease altogether and the
fingers--stick! At such a juncture the student should at once resort to
slow practice. He should play the defective place clearly, orderly, and,
above all, slowly, and persist in this course until the number of
correct repetitions proves sufficient to crowd the confused tonal
picture out of the mind. This is not to be regarded as mechanical
practice, for it is intended for the rehabilitation of a disarranged or
disturbed mental concept. I trust this will speak for the practice of
what I called "mental technic." Make the mental tonal picture sharp; the
fingers must and will obey it.

[Illustration: _Incorrect Position of Thumb_]

[Illustration: _Correct Position of Thumb_]

We are sometimes affected by "thought-laziness"--I translate this word
literally from other languages, because it is a good compound for which
I can find no better equivalent in English. Whenever we find the fingers
going astray in the piece we play we might as well admit to ourselves
that the trouble is in the main office. The mysterious controlling
officer has been talking with a friend instead of attending to business.
The mind was not keeping step with the fingers. We have relied on our
automatism; we allowed the fingers to run on and the mind lagged behind,
instead of being, as it should be, ahead of the fingers, preparing their

Quick musical thinking, the importance of which is thus apparent, cannot
be developed by any direct course. It is one of the by-products of the
general widening of one's musical horizon. It is ever proportionate to
the growth of one's other musical faculties. It is the result of
elasticity of the mind acquired or developed by constant, never-failing,
unremitting employment whenever we are at the piano. A procedure tending
directly toward developing quick musical thinking is, therefore, not

The musical will has its roots in the natural craving for musical
utterance. It is the director-in-chief of all that is musical in us.
Hence I recognise in the purely technical processes of piano-playing no
less a manifestation of the musical will. But a technic without a
musical will is a faculty without a purpose, and when it becomes a
purpose in itself it can never serve art.


To speak in a concrete manner of the pedal is possible only on the basis
of a complete understanding of the fundamental principle underlying its
use. The reader must agree to the governing theory that the organ which
governs the employment of the pedal is--the ear! As the eye guides the
fingers when we read music, so must the ear be the guide--and the "sole"
guide--of the foot upon the pedal. The foot is merely the servant, the
executive agent, while the ear is the guide, the judge, and the final
criterion. If there is any phase in piano-playing where we should
remember particularly that music is for the ear it is in the treatment
of the pedal. Hence, whatever is said here in the following lines with
regard to the pedal must be understood as resting upon the basis of this

As a general rule I recommend pressing the lever or treadle down with a
quick, definite, full motion and always immediately after--mark me,
after--the striking of the keys, never simultaneously with the stroke of
the fingers, as so many erroneously assume and do. To prevent a
cacophonous mixture of tones we should consider that we must stop the
old tone before we can give pedal to the new one, and that, in order to
make the stopping of the past tone perfect, we must allow the damper to
press upon the vibrating strings long enough to do its work. If,
however, we tread down exactly with the finger-stroke we simply inhibit
this stopping, because the damper in question is lifted again before it
has had time to fall down. (In speaking of the dampers as moving up and
down I have in mind the action of the "grand" piano; in the upright
piano the word "off" must be substituted for "up," and "on" for "down.")
This rule will work in a vast majority of cases, but like every
rule--especially in art--it will be found to admit of many exceptions.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Byron_
_Incorrect Position of the Feet_]

[Illustration: _Photograph by Byron_
_Correct Position of the Feet on the Pedal_]

_Harmonic Clarity in Pedalling is the Basis_, but it is only the basis;
it is not all that constitutes an artistic treatment of the pedal. In
spite of what I have just said above there are in many pieces moments
where a blending of tones, seemingly foreign to one another, is a means
of characterisation. This blending is especially permissible when the
passing (foreign) tones are more than one octave removed from the lowest
tone and from the harmony built upon it. In this connection it should be
remembered that the pedal is not merely a means of tone prolongation but
also a means of colouring--and pre-eminently that. What is generally
understood by the term piano-charm is to the greatest extent produced by
an artistic use of the pedal.

For instance, great accent effects can be produced by the gradual
accumulating of tone-volume through the pedal and its sudden release on
the accented point. The effect is somewhat like that which we hear in
the orchestra when a crescendo is supported by a roll of the drum or
tympani making the last tap on the accented point. And, as I am
mentioning the orchestra, I may illustrate by the French horns another
use of the pedal: where the horns do not carry the melody (which they do
relatively seldom) they are employed to support sustained harmonies,
and their effect is like a glazing, a binding, a unifying of the various
tone-colours of the other instruments. Just such a glazing is produced
by the judicious use of the pedal, and when, in the orchestra, the horns
cease and the strings proceed alone there ensues a certain soberness of
tone which we produce in the piano by the release and non-use of the
pedal. In the former instance, while the horns were active they
furnished the harmonic background upon which the thematic development of
the musical picture proceeded; in the latter case, when the horns cease
the background is taken away and the thematic configurations stand
out--so to speak--against the sky. Hence, the pedal gives to the piano
tone that unifying, glazing, that finish--though this is not exactly the
word here--which the horns or softly played trombones give to the

_But the Pedal Can Do More Than That._ At times we can produce strange,
glasslike effects by purposely mixing non-harmonic tones. I only need to
hint at some of the fine, embroidery-like cadenzas in Chopin's works,
like the one in his E-minor Concerto (Andante, measures 101, 102, and
103). Such blendings are productive of a multitude of effects,
especially when we add the agency of dynamic gradation: effects
suggestive of winds from Zephyr to Boreas, of the splash and roar of
waves, of fountain-play, of rustling leaves, etc. This mode of blending
can be extended also to entire harmonies in many cases where one
fundamental chord is to predominate for some time while other chords may
pass in quicker succession while it lasts. In such cases it is by no
means imperative to abandon the pedal; we need only to establish various
dynamic levels and place the ruling harmony on a higher level than the
passing ones. In other words, the predominating chord must receive so
much force that it can outlast all those briefer ones which, though
audible, must die of their own weakness, and while the strong, ruling
chord was constantly disturbed by the weaker ones it also re-established
its supremacy with the death of every weaker one which it outlasted.
This use of the pedal has its limitations in the evanescent nature of
the tone of the piano. That moment when the blending of non-harmonic
tones imperils the tonal beauty of the piece in hand can be determined
solely and exclusively by the player's own ear, and here we are once
more at the point from which this article started, namely: that the ear
is governor, and that it alone can decide whether or not there is to be
any pedal.

It were absurd to assume that we can greatly please the ear of others by
our playing so long as our own ear is not completely satisfied. We
should, therefore, endeavour to train the susceptibility of our ear, and
we should ever make it more difficult to gain the assent of our own ear
than to gain that of our auditors. They may, apparently, not notice
defects in your playing, but at this juncture I wish to say a word of
serious warning: Do not confound unmindfulness with consent! To hear
ourselves play--that is, to listen to our own playing--is the bed-rock
basis of all music-making and also, of course, of the technic of the
pedal. Therefore, listen carefully, attentively to the tones you
produce. When you employ the pedal as a prolongation of the fingers (to
sustain tones beyond the reach of the fingers), see to it that you
catch, and hold, the fundamental tone of your chord, for this tone must
be always your chief consideration.

_Whether You Use the Pedal as a Means of Mere Prolongation_ or as a
medium of colouring, under no circumstances use it as a cloak for
imperfection of execution. For, like charity, it is apt to be made to
cover a multitude of sins; but, again like charity, who wants to make
himself dependent upon it, when honest work can prevent it?

Nor should the pedal be used to make up for a deficiency of force. To
produce a forte is the business of the fingers (with or without the aid
of the arm) but not of the pedal, and this holds true also--_mutatis
mutandis_--of the left pedal, for which the Germans use a word
(_Verschiebung_) denoting something like "shifting." In a "grand" piano
the treading of the left pedal shifts the hammers so far to one side
that instead of striking three strings they will strike only two. (In
the pianos of fifty and more years ago there were only two strings to
each tone, and when the hammers were shifted by the treading of the
left pedal they struck only one string. From those days we have retained
the term "_una corda_"--one string.) In an upright piano the lessening
of tone-volume is produced by a lessening of the momentum of the hammer

Now, as the right pedal should not be used to cover a lack of force, so
should the left pedal not be regarded as a licence to neglect the
formation of a fine _pianissimo_ touch. It should not cloak or screen a
defective _pianissimo_, but should serve exclusively as a means of
colouring where the softness of tone is coupled with what the jewellers
call "dull finish." For the left pedal does not soften the tone without
changing its character; it lessens the quantity of tone but at the same
time it also markedly affects the quality.

To _Sum Up_: Train your ear and then use both pedals honestly! Use them
for what they were made. Remember that even screens are not used for
hiding things behind them, but for decorative purposes or for
protection. Those who do use them for hiding something must have
something which they prefer to hide!


By playing a piece of music "in style" is understood a rendition which
does absolute justice to its contents in regard to the manner of
expression. Now, the true manner of expression must be sought and found
for each piece individually, even though a number of different pieces
may be written by one and the same composer. Our first endeavour should
be to search out the peculiarity of the piece in hand rather than that
of the composer in general. If you have succeeded in playing one work by
Chopin in style, it does not follow, by any means, that you can play
equally well any other work from his pen. Though on general lines his
manner of writing may be the same in all his works, there will,
nevertheless, be marked differences between the various pieces.

Only by careful study of each work by itself can we find the key to its
correct conception and rendition. We will never find it in books about
the composer, nor in such as treat of his works, but only in the works
themselves and in each one _per se_. People who study a lot of things
about a work of art may possibly enrich their general knowledge, but
they never can get that specific knowledge needful for the
interpretation of the particular work in hand. Its own contents alone
can furnish that knowledge. We know from frequent experience that
book-learned musicians (or, as they are now called, musicologists)
usually read everything in sight, and yet their playing rises hardly
ever above mediocre dilettanteism.

Why should we look for a correct conception of a piece anywhere but in
the piece itself? Surely the composer has embodied in the piece all he
knew and felt when he wrote it. Why, then, not listen to his specific
language instead of losing our way in the terms of another art?
Literature is literature, and music is music. They may combine, as in
song, but one can never be substituted for the other.

_Many Students Never Learn_ to understand a composer's specific language
because their sole concern is to make the piece "effective" in the
sense of a clever stunt. This tendency is most deplorable; for there
really does exist a specifically musical language. By purely material
means: through notes, pauses, dynamic and other signs, through special
annotations, etc., the composer encloses in his work the whole world of
his imagination. The duty of the interpretative artist is to extract
from these material things the spiritual essence and to transmit it to
his hearers. To achieve this he must understand this musical language in
general and of each composition in particular.

But--how is this language to be learned?

By conning with careful attentiveness--and, of course, absorbing--the
purely material matter of a piece: the notes, pauses, time values,
dynamic indications, etc.

If a player be scrupulously exact in his mere reading of a piece it
will, of itself, lead him to understand a goodly portion of the piece's
specific language. Nay, more! Through a really correct conning the
player is enabled to determine upon the points of repose as well as upon
the matter of climax, and thus to create a basis for the operations of
his own imagination. After that, nothing remains but to call forth into
tonal life, through the fingers, what his musical intelligence has
grasped--which is a purely technical task. To transform the purely
technical and material processes into a thing that lives, of course,
rests with the natural, emotional, temperamental endowments of the
individual; it rests with those many and complex qualities which are
usually summarised by the term "talent," but this must be presupposed
with a player who aspires to artistic work.

On the other hand, talent alone cannot lift the veil that hides the
spiritual content of a composition if its possessor neglects to examine
the latter carefully as to its purely material ingredients. He may
flatter the ear, sensuously speaking, but he can never play the piece in

_Now How Can We Know_ whether we are or are not approaching the
spiritual phase of a piece? By repetition under unremitting attention to
the written values. If, then, you should find how much there is still
left for you to do, you have proved to yourself that you have
understood the piece spiritually and are on the right track to master
it. With every repetition you will discover some hitherto unnoticed
defect in your interpretation. Obviate these defects, one by one, and in
so doing you will come nearer and nearer to the spiritual essence of the
work in hand.

As to the remaining "purely technical task" (as I said before), it must
not be underestimated! To transmit one's matured conception to one's
auditors requires a considerable degree of mechanical skill, and this
skill, in its turn, must be under absolute control of the will. Of
course--after the foregoing--this does not mean that everybody who has a
good and well-controlled technic can interpret a piece in style.
Remember that to possess wealth is one thing, to put it to good use is
quite another.

It is sometimes said that the too objective study of a piece may impair
the "individuality" of its rendition. Have no fear of that! If ten
players study the same piece with the same high degree of exactness and
objectivity--depend upon it: each one will still play it quite
differently from the nine others, though each one may think his
rendition the only correct one. For each one will express what,
according to his lights, he has mentally and temperamentally absorbed.
Of the distinctive feature which constitutes the difference in the ten
conceptions each one will have been unconscious while it formed itself,
and perhaps also afterward. But it is just this unconsciously formed
feature which constitutes legitimate individuality and which alone will
admit of a real fusion of the composer's and the interpreter's thought.
A purposed, blatant parading of the player's dear self through wilful
additions of nuances, shadings, effects, and what not, is tantamount to
a falsification; at best it is "playing to the galleries," charlatanism.
The player should always feel convinced that he plays only what is
written. To the auditor, who with his own and different intelligence
follows the player's performance, the piece will appear in the light of
the player's individuality. The stronger this is the more it will colour
the performance, when unconsciously admixed.

_Rubinstein Often Said to Me_: "Just play first exactly what is written;
if you have done full justice to it and then still feel like adding or
changing anything, why, do so." Mind well: after you have done full
justice to what is written! How few are those who fulfil this duty! I
venture to prove to any one who will play for me--if he be at all worth
listening to--that he does not play more than is written (as he may
think), but, in fact, a good deal less than the printed page reveals.
And this is one of the principal causes of misunderstanding the esoteric
portion, the inherent "style" of a piece--a misunderstanding which is
not always confined to amateurs--inexact reading!

The true interpretation of a piece of music results from a correct
understanding of it, and this, in turn, depends solely upon scrupulously
exact reading.

_Learn the Language of Music_, then, I repeat, through exact reading!
You will then soon fathom the musical meaning of a composition and
transmit it intelligibly to your listeners. Would you satisfy your
curiosity as to what manner of person the author is or was at the time
of writing, you may do so. But--as I said in the "Foreword"--your chief
interest should centre in the "composition," not in the "composer," for
only by studying his work will you be enabled to play it in style.


Outside of the regular students of the Imperial Conservatory of Music at
St. Petersburg, Rubinstein accepted but one pupil. The advantage and
privilege to be that one pupil was mine.

I came to Rubinstein when I was sixteen years old and left him at
eighteen. Since that time I have studied only by myself; for to whom
could I have gone after Rubinstein? His very manner of teaching was such
that it would have made any other teacher appear to me like a
schoolmaster. He chose the method of indirect instruction through
suggestive comparisons. He touched upon the strictly musical only upon
rare occasions. In this way he wished to awaken within me the concretely
musical as a parallel of his generalisations and thereby preserve my
musical individuality.

He never played for me. He only talked, and I, understanding him,
translated his meaning into music and musical utterances. Sometimes, for
instance, when I played the same phrase twice in succession, and played
it both times alike (say in a sequence), he would say: "In fine weather
you may play it as you did, but when it rains play it differently."

Rubinstein was much given to whims and moods, and he often grew
enthusiastic about a certain conception only to prefer a different one
the next day. Yet he was always logical in his art, and though he aimed
at hitting the nail from various points of view he always hit it on the
head. Thus he never permitted me to bring to him, as a lesson, any
composition more than once. He explained this to me once by saying that
he might forget in the next lesson what he told me in the previous one,
and by drawing an entirely new picture only confuse my mind. Nor did he
ever permit me to bring one of his own works, though he never explained
to me his reason for this singular attitude.

[Illustration: _Anton Rubinstein_]

[Illustration: _How Rubinstein Taught Me to Play_]

Usually, when I came to him, arriving from Berlin, where I lived, I
found him seated at his writing-desk, smoking Russian cigarettes. He
lived at the Hôtel de l'Europe. After a kindly salute he would always
ask me the same question: "Well, what is new in the world?"

I remember replying to him: "I know nothing new; that's why I came to
learn something new--from you."

Rubinstein, understanding at once the musical meaning of my words,
smiled, and the lesson thus promised to be a fine one.

I noticed he was usually not alone when I came, but had as visitors
several elderly ladies, sometimes very old ladies (mostly Russians), and
some young girls--seldom any men. With a wave of his hand he directed me
to the piano in the corner, a Bechstein, which was most of the time
shockingly out of tune; but to this condition of his piano he was always
serenely indifferent. He would remain at his desk studying the notes of
the work while I played. He always compelled me to bring the pieces
along, insisting that I should play everything just as it was written!
He would follow every note of my playing with his eyes riveted on the
printed pages. A pedant he certainly was, a stickler for the
letter--incredibly so, especially when one considered the liberties he
took when he played the same works! Once I called his attention modestly
to this seeming paradox, and he answered: "When you are as old as I am
now you may do as I do--if you can."

Once I played a Liszt Rhapsody pretty badly. After a few moments he
said: "The way you played this piece would be all right for auntie or
mamma." Then rising and coming toward me he would say: "Now let us see
how we play such things." Then I would begin all over again, but hardly
had I played a few measures when he would interrupt and say: "Did you
start? I thought I hadn't heard right----"

"Yes, master, I certainly did," I would reply.

"Oh," he would say vaguely. "I didn't notice."

"How do you mean?" I would ask.

"I mean this," he would answer: "Before your fingers touch the keys you
must begin the piece mentally--that is, you must have settled in your
mind the _tempo_, the manner of touch, and, above all, the attack of
the first notes, before your actual playing begins. And by-the-bye, what
is the character of this piece? Is it dramatic, tragic, lyric, romantic,
humourous, heroic, sublime, mystic--what? Well, why don't you speak?"

Generally I would mutter something after such a tirade, but usually I
said something stupid because of the awe with which he inspired me.
Finally, after trying several of his suggested designations I would hit
it right. Then he would say: "Well, there we are at last! Humourous, is
it? Very well! And rhapsodical, irregular--hey? You understand the
meaning?" I would answer, "Yes."

"Very well, then," he would reply; "now prove it." And then I would
begin all over again.

He would stand at my side, and whenever he wanted a special stress laid
upon a certain note his powerful fingers would press upon my left
shoulder with such force that I would stab the keys till the piano
fairly screamed for me. When this did not have the effect he was after
he would simply press his whole hand upon mine, flattening it out and
spreading it like butter all over the keys, black and white ones,
creating a frightful cacophony. Then he would say, almost with anger,
"But cleaner, cleaner, cleaner," as if the discord had been of my doing.

Such occurrences did not lack a humourous side, but their turn into the
tragical always hung by a hair, especially if I had tried to explain or
to make excuses. So I generally kept silent, and I found, after some
experience, that was the only proper thing for me to do. For just as
quickly as he would flare up he would also calm down again, and when the
piece was ended I would hear his usual comment: "You are an excellent
young man!" And how quickly was all pain then forgotten!

I remember on one occasion that I played Schubert-Liszt's "Erl-König."
When I came to the place in the composition where the Erl-King says to
the child, "Thou dear, sweet child, oh, come with me," and I had played
several false notes besides very poor arpeggios, Rubinstein asked me:
"Do you know the text at this place?"

As a reply I quoted the words.

"Very well, then," he said, "the Erl-King addresses the child; Erl-King
is a spirit, a ghost--so play this place in a spiritlike way, ghostly,
if you will, but not ghastly with false notes!"

I had to laugh at his word-play and Rubinstein himself chimed in, and
the piece was saved, or rather the player. For when I repeated that
particular part it went very well, and he allowed me to continue without
further interruption.

Once I asked him for the fingering of a rather complex passage.

"Play it with your nose," he replied, "but make it sound well!"

This remark puzzled me, and there I sat and wondered what he meant.

As I understand it now he meant: Help yourself! The Lord helps those who
help themselves!

As I said before, Rubinstein never played for me the works I had to
study. He explained, analysed, elucidated everything that he wanted me
to know; but, this done, he left me to my own judgment, for only then,
he would explain, would my achievement be my own and incontestable
property. I learned from Rubinstein in this way the valuable truth that
the conception of tone-pictures obtained through the playing of another
gives us only transient impressions; they come and go, while the
self-created conception will last and remain our own.

Now, when I look back upon my study-days with Rubinstein, I can see that
he did not so much instruct me as that I learned from him. He was not a
pedagogue in the usual meaning of that word. He indicated to me an
altitude offering a fine view, but how I was to get up there was my
affair; he did not bother about it. "Play with your nose!" Yes--but when
I bumped it till it fairly bled where would I get the metaphorical
handkerchief? In my imagination! And he was right.

To be sure, this method would not work with all pupils, but it is
nevertheless well calculated to develop a student's original thought and
bring out whatever acumen he may possess. If such a one succeeded by his
own study and mental force to reach the desired point which the great
magician's wizardry had made him see, he had gained the reliance in his
own strength: he felt sure that he would always find that point
again--even though he should lose his way once or twice, as every one
with an honest aspiration is liable to do.

I recall that Rubinstein once said to me: "Do you know why piano-playing
is so difficult? Because it is prone to be either affected or else
afflicted with mannerisms; and when these two pitfalls are luckily
avoided then it is liable to be--dry! The truth lies between those three

When it was settled that I should make my Hamburg début under his baton
with his own D-minor Concerto, I thought the time had come at last to
study with him one of his own works. So I proposed it, but Rubinstein
disposed of it! I still see him, as if it were but yesterday, seated in
the greenroom of the Berlin Philharmonic during an intermission in his
concert (it was on a Saturday) and telling me: "We shall appear together
in Hamburg on Monday." The time was short, but I knew the Concerto and
hoped to go through it with him some time in the remaining two days. I
asked his permission to play the Concerto for him, but he declined my
urgent request, saying: "It is not necessary; we understand each other!"
And even in this critical moment he left me to my own resources. After
the last (and only) rehearsal the great master embraced me before the
whole orchestra, and I--well, I was not in the seventh, but in the
"eighth" heaven! Everything was all right, I said to myself, for
Rubinstein, Rubinstein was satisfied! The public simply had to be! The
concert went off splendidly.

After that memorable début in Hamburg, which was on March 14, 1894, I
went directly to see Rubinstein, little dreaming that my eyes would then
see him for the last time. I brought with me a large photograph of
himself, and, though fully aware of his unconquerable aversion to
autographing, my desire for the possession of his signature overruled my
reluctance and I made my request.

He raised both fists and thundered, half-angry and half-laughing: "_Et
tu, Brute?_"

But my wish was granted, and I reproduce the portrait in this article.

Then I asked him when I should play for him again, and to my
consternation he answered: "Never!"

In my despair I asked him: "Why not?"

He, generous soul that he was, then said to me: "My dear boy,
I have told you all I know about legitimate piano-playing and
music-making"--and then changing his tone somewhat he added: "And if you
don't know it _yet_, why, go to the devil!"

I saw only too well that while he smiled as he said it he meant it
seriously, and I left him.

I never saw Rubinstein again. Soon after that he returned to his villa
in Peterhof, near St. Petersburg, and there he died on November 19,

The effect that his death had upon me I shall never forget. The world
appeared suddenly entirely empty to me, devoid of any interest. My grief
made me realise how my heart had worshipped not only the artist in him
but also the man; how I loved him as if he were my father. I learned of
his death through the English papers while I was _en route_ from London
to Cheltenham, where I was booked for a recital on the twentieth. The
B-flat minor Sonata by Chopin happened to be on the programme, and as I
struck the first notes of the Funeral March the whole audience rose from
their seats as if by command and remained standing with bowed heads
during the whole piece--in honour of the great departed.

A singular coincidence occurred at my concert on the preceding day--the
day of Rubinstein's death.

On this day I played for the first time in public after my seven years'
retirement (excepting my Hamburg début). It was in London. In this
concert I played, as a novelty, a Polonaise in E-flat minor which
Rubinstein had but recently written in Dresden and dedicated to me. He
had included it in the set called "Souvenirs de Dresde." This piece has
throughout the character of a Funeral March in all but the
time-division. Little did I dream while I was playing it that day that I
was singing him into his eternal rest, for it was but a few hours later
that, in the far East of Europe, my great master passed away, suddenly,
of heart failure.

Two years later I played this same Polonaise for the second and last
time. It was on the anniversary of his death, in St. Petersburg, where
in honour of his memory I gave a recital, the proceeds of which I
devoted to the Rubinstein Fund. Since then I have played this piece only
once, at home and to myself, excluding it entirely from my public
répertoire. For, though it was dedicated to me, the time and
circumstances of its initial performance always made me feel as if it
still belonged to my master, or, at best, as if it were something
personal and private between us two.

Indispensables in Pianistic Success


"The Indispensables in Pianistic Success? Are not the indispensables in
all success very much the same? Nothing can take the place of real
worth. This is especially true of America, in which country I have lived
longer than in any other, and which I am glad to call my home. Americans
are probably the most traveled people of the world, and it is futile to
offer them anything but the best. Some years ago a conductor brought to
this country an orchestra of second-class character, with the idea that
the people would accept it just because it bore the name of a famous
European city which possessed one of the great orchestras of the world.
It was a good orchestra, but there were better orchestras in American
cities, and it took American audiences just two concerts to find this
out, resulting in a disastrous failure, which the conductor was man
enough to face and personally defray. The American people know the
best, and will have nothing but the best. Therefore, if you would make a
list of the indispensables of pianistic success in this country at this
time you must put at the head of your list, REAL WORTH.

"Naturally, one of the first indispensables would include what many term
'the musical gift.' However, this is often greatly misunderstood. We
are, happily, past the time when music was regarded as a special kind of
divine dispensation, which, by its very possession, robbed the musician
of any claim to possible excellence in other lines. In other words,
music was so special a gift that it was even thought by some misguided
people to isolate the musician from the world--to make him a thing apart
and different from other men and women of high aspirations and

"It is true that there have been famous prodigies in mathematics, and in
games such as chess, who have given evidence of astonishing prowess in
their chosen work, but who, at the same time, seem to have been
lamentably under-developed in many other ways. This is not the case in
music at this day at least, for, although a special love for music and a
special quickness in mastering musical problems are indispensable, yet
the musicians are usually men and women of broad cultural development if
they desire it and are willing to work for it.

"Nor can I concede that a very finely developed sense of hearing is in
all cases essential. The possession of what is known as absolute pitch,
which so many seem to think is a sure indication of musical genius, is
often a nuisance. Schumann did not possess it, and (unless I am
incorrectly informed) Wagner did not have absolute pitch. I have it, and
can, I believe, distinguish differences of an eighth of a tone. I find
it more disturbing than beneficial. My father had absolute pitch in
remarkable fashion. He seemed to have extremely acute ears. Indeed, it
was often impossible for him to identify a well-known composition if he
heard it played in a different key--it sounded so different to him.
Mozart had absolute pitch, but music, in his day, was far less
complicated. We now live in an age of melodic and contrapuntal
intricacy, and I do not believe that the so-called acute sense of
hearing, or highly developed sense of absolute pitch, has very much to
do with one's real musical ability. The physical hearing is nothing;
the spiritual hearing--if one may say so--is what really counts. If, in
transposing, for instance, one has associated the contents of a piece so
closely with its corresponding tonality that it is hard to play in any
other tonality, this constitutes a difficulty--not an advantage.


"Too much cannot be said about the advantage of an early drill. The
impressions made during youth seem to be the most lasting. I am certain
that the pieces that I learned before I was ten years of age remain more
persistently in my memory than the compositions I studied after I was
thirty. The child who is destined for a musical career should receive as
much musical instruction in early life as is compatible with the child's
health and receptivity. To postpone the work too long is just as
dangerous to the child's career as it is dangerous to overload the pupil
with more work than his mind and body can absorb. Children learn far
more rapidly than adults--not merely because of the fact that the work
becomes more and more complicated as the student advances, but also
because the child mind is so vastly more receptive. The child's power
of absorption in music study between the ages of eight and twelve is
simply enormous; it is less between twelve and twenty; still less
between twenty and thirty, and often lamentably small between thirty and
forty. It might be represented by some such diagram as:

  30 to 40 years of age    Limited Receptivity    Limited Results
  20 to 30      }          Still Less Accomplishment
  years of age  }
  12 to 20      }          Less Accomplishment
  years of age  }
  8 to 12       }
  years         }          Greatest Receptivity
  of            }          Greatest Accomplishment
  age           }

"Of course, these lines are only comparative, and there are exceptional
cases of astonishing development late in life, due to enormous ambition
and industry. Yet the period of highest achievement is usually early in
life. This is especially true in the arts where digital skill is

"All teachers are aware of the need for the best possible drill early in
life. The idea one so often hears expressed in America: 'Since my
daughter is only beginning her studies--any teacher will do,' has been
the source of great laxity in American musical education. If the father
who has such an idea would only transpose the same thought to the
building of a house he would be surprised to find himself saying: 'Since
I am only laying a foundation, any kind of trashy material will do. I
will use inferior cement, plaster, stone, bricks, decayed wood and cheap
hardware, and employ the cheapest labor I can procure. But when I get to
the roof I shall engage the finest roofmakers in the world!'

"The beginning is of such tremendous importance that only the best is
good enough. By this I do not mean the most expensive teacher
obtainable, but someone who is thorough, painstaking, conscientious,
alert and experienced. The foundation is the part of the house in which
the greatest strength and thoroughness is required. Everything must be
solid, substantial, firm and secure, to stand the stress of use and the
test of time. Of course, there is such a thing as employing a teacher
with a big reputation and exceptional skill, who would make an excellent
teacher for an advanced student, but who might be incapable of laying a
good foundation for the beginner. One wants strength at the
foundation--not gold ornaments and marble trimmings and beautiful
decorations, fretwork, carving. Just as in great cities one finds firms
which make a specialty of laying foundations for immense buildings, so
it is often wise to employ a teacher who specializes in instructing
beginners. In European music schools this has almost always been the
case. It is not virtuosity that is needed in the makeup of the teacher
of beginners, but rather sound musicianship, as well as the
comprehension of the child psychology. Drill, drill, and more drill, is
the secret of the early training of the mind and hand. This is indicated
quite as much in games such as tennis, billiards and golf. Think of the
remarkable records of some very young players in these games, and you
will see what may be accomplished in the early years of the young

"In all arts and sciences, as one advances, complications and obstacles
seem to multiply in complexity until the point of mastery is reached;
then the tendency seems to reverse itself, until a kind of circle
carries one round again to the point of simplicity. I have often liked
to picture this to myself in this way:


"It is encouraging for the student to know that he must expect to be
confronted with ever-increasing difficulties, until he reaches the point
where all the intense and intricate problems seem to solve themselves,
dissolving gradually into the light of a clear understanding day. This
is to me a general principle underlying almost all lines of human
achievement, and it appears to me that the student should learn its
application, not only to his own but to other occupations and
attainments. This universal line of life, starting with birth, mounting
to its climax in middle life, and then passing on to greater and greater
simplicity of means, until at death the circle is almost completed, is a
kind of human program which all successful men would appear to follow.
Perhaps we can make this clearer by studying the evolution of the steam

"The steam engine started with the most primitive kind of apparatus. At
the very first it was of the turbine type. Hero of Alexander (Heron, in
Greek) made the first steam engine, which was little more than a toy.
According to some historians, Heron lived in the second century before
Christ, and according to others his work was done in the latter half of
the first century. He was an ingenious mathematician who often startled
the people of this time with his mechanical contrivances. It is
difficult to show the principle of his engine in an exact drawing; but
the following indicates in a crude way the application of steam force
something after the manner in which Heron first applied it.


"A is a retort containing water, which is heated to steam, which issues
from the tube at B and is caught in the wheel in such a manner that the
wheel revolves. The principle is simplicity itself; and the noteworthy
fact is that--primitive as it is--it has the characteristic principle
involved in the turbine engine of to-day. After Heron many others
attempted to use controlled steam to produce force, until, in 1764,
James Watt made discoveries which paved the way for the modern steam
engine, constituting him virtually the inventor of the type. Thereafter,
the machinery became more and more complicated and enormous in size.
Double, triple and quadruple expansion types were introduced until, at
the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876, a giant engine was
exhibited by Corliss--a marvelous engine, with many elaborate details.
Then, having reached the maximum curve of complexity, engine
construction became more and more simple, and now we have turbine
engines, such as the Parsons engines, which are all far smaller and
simpler than their grandfathers of the seventies, but at the same time
vastly more powerful and efficient.


"In the art of piano playing we have much the same line of curve. At
first there was childlike simplicity. Then, with the further development
of the art, we find the tendency toward enormous technical
accomplishment and very great complexity. Fifty years ago technic was
everything. The art of piano playing was the art of the musical
speedometer--the art of playing the greatest number of notes in the
shortest possible time. Of course, there were a few outstanding giants,
Rubinsteins, Liszts and Chopins, who made their technic subordinate to
their message; but the public was dazzled with technic--one might better
say pyrotechnics. Now we find the circle drawing toward the point of
simplicity again. Great beauty, combined with adequate technic, is
demanded rather than enormous technic divorced from beauty.

"Technic represents the material side of art, as money represents the
material side of life. By all means achieve a fine technic, but do not
dream that you will be artistically happy with this alone.
Thousands--millions--of people believe that money is the basis of great
happiness, only to find, when they have accumulated vast fortunes, that
money is only one of the extraneous details which may--or may
not--contribute to real content in life.

"Technic is a chest of tools from which the skilled artisan draws what
he needs at the right time for the right purpose. The mere possession
of the tools means nothing; it is the instinct--the artistic intuition
as to when and how to use the tools--that counts. It is like opening the
drawer and finding what one needs at the moment.

"There is a technic which liberates and a technic which represses the
artistic self. All technic ought to be a means of expression. It is
perfectly possible to accumulate a technic that is next to useless. I
recall the case of a musician in Paris who studied counterpoint, harmony
and fugue for eight years, and at the end of that time he was incapable
of using any of his knowledge in practical musical composition. Why?
Because he had spent all of his time on the mere dry technic of
composition, and none in actual composition. He told me that he had been
years trying to link his technic to the artistic side of things--to
write compositions that embodied real music, and not merely the reflex
of uninspired technical exercises. I am a firm believer in having
technic go hand in hand with veritable musical development from the
start. Neither can be studied alone; one must balance the other. The
teacher who gives a pupil a long course in strict technic unbroken by
the intelligent study of real music, is producing a musical mechanic--an
artisan, not an artist.

"Please do not quote me as making a diatribe against technic. I believe
in technic to the fullest extent in its proper place. Rosenthal, who was
unquestionably one of the greatest technicians, once said to me: 'I have
found that the people who claim that technic is not an important thing
in piano playing simply do not possess it.' For instance, one hears now
and then that scales are unnecessary in piano practice. A well-played
scale is a truly beautiful thing, but few people play them well because
they do not practice them enough. Scales are among the most difficult
things in piano playing; and how the student who aspires to rise above
mediocrity can hope to succeed without a thorough and far-reaching drill
in all kinds of scales, I do not know. I do know, however, that I was
drilled unrelentingly in them, and that I have been grateful for this
all my life. Do not despise scales, but rather seek to make them

"The clever teacher will always find some piece that will illustrate the
use and result of the technical means employed. There are thousands of
such pieces that indicate the use of scales, chords, arpeggios, thirds,
etc., and the pupil is encouraged to find that what he has been working
so hard to acquire may be made the source of beautiful expression in a
real piece of music. This, to my mind, should be part of the regular
program of the student from the very start; and it is what I mean when I
say that the work of the pupil in technic and in musical appreciation
should go hand in hand from the beginning.


"The use of the pedal is an art in itself. Unfortunately, with many it
is an expedient to shield deficiency--a cloak to cover up inaccuracy and
poor touch. It is employed as the veils that fading dowagers adopt to
obscure wrinkles. The pedal is even more than a medium of coloring. It
provides the background so indispensable in artistic playing. Imagine a
picture painted without any background and you may have an inkling of
what the effect of the properly used pedal is in piano playing. It has
always seemed to me that it does in piano playing what the wind
instruments do in the tonal mass of the orchestra. The wind instruments
usually make a sort of background for the music of the other
instruments. One who has attended the rehearsal of a great orchestra and
has heard the violins rehearsed alone, and then together with the wind
instruments, will understand exactly what I mean.

"How and when to introduce the pedal to provide certain effects is
almost the study of a lifetime. From the very start, where the student
is taught the bad effect of holding down the 'loud' pedal while two
unrelated chords are played, to the time when he is taught to use the
pedal for the accomplishment of atmospheric effects that are like
painting in the most subtle and delicate shades, the study of the pedal
is continuously a source of the most interesting experiment and

"There should be no hard-and-fast rules governing the use of the pedal.
It is the branch of pianoforte playing in which there must always be the
greatest latitude. For instance, in the playing of Bach's works on the
modern pianoforte there seems to have been a very great deal of
confusion as to the propriety of the use of the pedal. The Bach music,
which is played now on the keyboard of the modern piano, was, for the
most part, originally written for either the clavier or for the organ.
The clavichord had a very short sound, resembling in a way the staccato
touch on the present-day piano, whereas the organ was and is capable of
a great volume of sound of sustained quality. Due to the contradictory
nature of these two instruments and the fact that many people do not
know whether a composition at hand was written for the clavichord or for
the organ, some of them try to imitate the organ sound by holding the
pedal all the time or most of the time, while others try to imitate the
clavichord and refrain from the use of the pedal altogether. The extreme
theories, as in the case of all extreme theories, are undoubtedly wrong.

"One may have the clavichord in mind in playing one piece and the organ
in mind in playing another. There can be nothing wrong about that, but
to transform the modern pianoforte, which has distinctly specific tonal
attributes, into a clavichord or into an organ must result in a tonal

"The pedal is just as much a part of the pianoforte as are the stops and
the couplers a part of the organ or the brass tangents a part of the
clavichord. It is artistically impossible to so camouflage the tone of
the pianoforte as to make it sound like either the organ or the
clavichord. Even were this possible, the clavichord is an instrument
which is out of date, though the music of Bach is still a part and
parcel of the musical literature of to-day. The oldest known specimen of
the clavichord (dated 1537) is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New
York City. Should you happen to view this instrument you would realize
at once that its action is entirely different from that of the piano,
just as its tone was different. You cannot possibly make a piano sound
like a clavichord through any medium of touch or pedals. Therefore, why
not play the piano as a piano? Why try to do the impossible thing in
endeavoring to make the piano sound like another instrument of a
different mechanism? Why not make a piano sound like a piano? Must we
always endure listening to Wagner's music in a variety show and to
Strauss' waltzes in Carnegie Hall?


"If one were to ask me what is the indispensable thing in the education
of a pianist, I would say: 'First of all, a good guide.' By this I do
not mean merely a good teacher, but rather a mentor, a pilot who can and
who will oversee the early steps of the career of a young person. In my
own case, I was fortunate in having a father, a professional musician,
who realized my musical possibilities, and from the very beginning was
intensely interested in my career, not merely as a father, but as an
artist guiding and piloting every day of my early life. Fate is such a
peculiar mystery, and the student, in his young life, can have but a
slight idea of what is before him in the future. Therefore, the need of
a mentor is essential. I am sure that my father was the author of a
great deal of the success that I have enjoyed. It was he who took me to
Moszkowski and Rubinstein. The critical advice--especially that of
Rubinstein--was invaluable to me. The student should have unrelenting
criticism from a master mind. Even when it is caustic, as was von
Bülow's, it may be very beneficial. I remember once in the home of
Moszkowski that I played for von Bülow. The taciturn, cynical
conductor-pianist simply crushed me with his criticism of my playing.
But, young though I was, I was not so conceited as to fail to realize
that he was right. I shook hands with him and thanked him for his
advice and criticism. Von Bülow laughed and said, 'Why do you thank me?
It is like the chicken thanking the one who had eaten it, for doing so.'
Von Bülow, on that same day played in such a jumbled manner with his
old, stiffened fingers, that I asked Moszkowski how in the world it
might be possible for von Bülow to keep a concert engagement which I
knew him to have a few days later in Berlin. Moszkowski replied: 'Let
von Bülow alone for that. You don't know him. If he sets out to do
something, he is going to do it.'

"Von Bülow's playing, however, was almost always pedantic, although
unquestionably scholarly. There was none of the leonine spontaneity of
Rubinstein. Rubinstein was a very exacting schoolmaster at the piano
when he first undertook to train me; but he often said to me, 'The main
object is to make the music sound right, even though you have to play
with your nose!' With Rubinstein there was no _ignus fatuus_ of mere
method. Any method that would lead to fine artistic results--to
beautiful and effective performance--was justifiable in his eyes.

"Finally, to the student let me say: 'Always work hard and strive to do
your best. Secure a reliable mentor if you can possibly do so, and
depend upon his advice as to your career. Even with the best advice
there is always the element of fate--the introduction of the
unknown--the strangeness of coincidence which would almost make one
believe in astrology and its dictum that our terrestrial course may be
guided by the stars. In 1887, when I played in Washington as a child of
eleven, I was introduced to a young lady, who was the daughter of
Senator James B. Eustis. Little did I dream that this young woman, of
all the hundreds and hundreds of girls introduced to me during my tours,
would some day be my wife. Fate plays its rôle--but do not be tempted
into the fallacious belief that success and everything else depend upon
fate, for the biggest factor is, after all, hard work and intelligent

_Piano Questions Answered_


  TECHNIQUE                                     PAGE

  1. General                                      3

  2. Position of the Body                         4

  3. Position of the Hand                         6

  4. Position of the Fingers                      6

  5. Action of the Wrist                          9

  6. Action of the Arm                           11

  7. Stretching                                  12

  8. The Thumb                                   14

  9. The Other Fingers                           16

  10. Weak Fingers, etc.                         18

  11. Staccato                                   21

  12. Legato                                     22

  13. Precision                                  25

  14. Piano Touch vs Organ Touch                 26

  15. Fingering                                  27

  16. The Glissando                              29

  17. Octaves                                    29

  18. Repetition Technique                       34

  19. Double Notes                               35

  THE INSTRUMENT                                 35

  THE PEDALS                                     39

  PRACTICE                                       45

  MARKS AND NOMENCLATURE                         57


  1. Bach                                        80

  2. Beethoven                                   83

  3. Mendelssohn                                 85

  4. Chopin                                      86

  EXERCISES AND STUDIES                          93

  POLYRHYTHMS                                    96

  PHRASING                                       98

  RUBATO                                        100

  CONCEPTION                                    102

  FORCE OF EXAMPLE                              104

  THEORY                                        104

  THE MEMORY                                    112

  SIGHT-READING                                 117

  ACCOMPANYING                                  117

  TRANSPOSING                                   119

  PLAYING FOR PEOPLE                            120

  ABOUT THE PIANO PER SE                        127

  BAD MUSIC                                     133

  ETHICAL                                       135

  PITCH AND KINDRED MATTERS                     136

  THE STUDENT'S AGE                             138

  TEACHERS, LESSONS AND METHODS                 140

  MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS                       150


This little book is compiled from the questions and my answers to them,
as they have appeared during the past two years in the _Ladies' Home
Journal_. Since the questions came mostly from young piano students and
cover a large number of matters important to the study of the piano, it
was thought that this republication might be of interest to piano
students in general, and that, gathered into a little volume, they might
form a new and perhaps not unwelcome sort of reference book.

To serve as such and to facilitate the reader's search for any
particular subject, I have grouped the questions, together with their
answers, under special headings.

It is only natural, however, that a book of this character cannot
contain more than mere suggestions to stimulate the reader's individual
thinking. Positive facts, which can be found in books on musical history
and in kindred works, are, therefore, stated only where they are
needful as a basis for the replies. Any rule or advice given to some
particular person cannot fit every other person unless it is passed
through the sieve of one's own individual intelligence and is, by this
process, so modified as to fit one's own particular case.

There are, in addition to the questions presented and answered, one or
two points about piano-playing that would naturally not occur to the
average student. The opportunity to discuss those here is too favourable
to be allowed to pass, and as they hardly admit of precise
classification, I venture to offer them here as a brief foreword.

To the hundreds of students who at various times have asked me: What is
the quickest way to become a great piano-player? I will say that such a
thing as a royal road, a secret trick, or a patent method to quickly
become a great artist, does not exist. As the world consists of atoms;
as it is the infinitely small things that have forced the microscope
into the scientist's hand, so does art contain numberless small,
seemingly insignificant things which, if neglected entirely, visit dire
vengeance upon the student. Instead of prematurely concerning himself
with his inspiration, spirituality, genius, fancy, etc., and neglecting
on their account the material side of piano study, the student should be
willing to progress from atom to atom, slowly, deliberately, but with
absolute certainty that each problem has been completely solved, each
difficulty fully overcome, before he faces the next one. Leaps, there
are none!

Unquestionably it does sometimes happen that an artist suddenly acquires
a wide renown. In such a case his leap was not into greatness, but
merely into the public's recognition of it; the greatness must have been
in him for some time before the public became aware of it. If there was
any leaping, it was not the artist, but the public that did it.

Let us not close our eyes to the fact that there have been--and probably
always will be--artists that gain a wide renown _without_ being great;
puffery, aided by some personal eccentricity, is quite able to mislead
the public, but these will, at best, do it only for a short time, and
the collapse of such a reputation, as collapse there must be, is always
sure, and sad to behold.

The buoyancy of mind, its ability to soar, so necessary for both
creative and interpretative art, these are never impaired by close
attention to detail. If they should be destroyed by attention to detail,
it would not matter, for they cannot have been genuine; they can have
been but sentimental imaginings. Details are the very steps which, one
by one, lead to the summit of art; we should be careful not to lift one
foot before the other one rests quite securely upon its step. One
should--to illustrate--not be satisfied with the ability of "getting
through" some difficult passage "by the skin of the teeth" or "without
breaking down," but should strive to be able to play _with_ it, to toy
with it, in order to have it at one's beck and call in any variation of
mood, so as to play it as it pleases the mind and not only the fingers.
One should acquire sovereignty over it.

This sovereignty is technique. But--technique is not art. It is only a
means to achieve art, a paver of the path toward it. The danger of
confounding technique with art itself is not inconsiderable, since it
takes a long time to develop a trustworthy technique; and this prolonged
association with one subject is apt to give it supremacy over all others
in one's mind. To guard against this serious danger the student should,
above all, never lose sight of the fact that music, as does any other
art, springs from our innate craving for individual expression. As
word-thought is transmitted from man to man by verbal language so are
feelings, emotions, moods--crystallized into tone-thought--conveyed by
music. The effects of music may, therefore, be ennobling and refining;
but they can as easily be degrading and demoralizing. For the saints and
sinners among music-makers are probably in the same proportion as among
the followers of other professions. The ethical value of music depends,
therefore, not upon the musician's technique, but solely upon his moral
tendencies. The student should never strive to dazzle his auditor's ear
with mere technical brilliancy, but should endeavour to gladden his
heart, to refine his feelings and sensibilities, by transmitting noble
musical thoughts to his mind. He should scorn all unnecessary,
charlatanish externalities and strive ever for the inwardness of the
composition he interprets; for, in being honest to the composition he
will also be honest to himself and thus, consciously or not, express his
own best self. If all musicians were sincere in this endeavour there
could be neither envy nor jealousy among them; advancing hand in hand
toward their common ideal they could not help being of mutual assistance
to each other.

Art, not unlike religion, needs an altar around which its devotees may
congregate. Liszt, in his day, had erected such an altar in Weimar, and
as its high priest he stood, himself, before it--a luminous example of
devotion to art. Rubinstein did the same in St. Petersburg. Out of these
atmospheres, thanks to the inspiring influences of Liszt's and
Rubinstein's wonderful personalities, there have emerged a large number
of highly meritorious and some eminent artists. That many of them have
lacked the power in their later life to withstand the temptations of
quick material gain by descending to a lower plane is to be regretted,
but--such is life. Many are called, but few are chosen. Since those days
several of these "many" have attempted to create similar centres in
Europe. They failed, because they were not serving art, but rather made
art serve their own worldly purposes.

The artists of talent no longer group themselves around the man of
genius. Perhaps he is not to be found just now. Each little celebrity
among the pianists keeps nowadays a shop of his own and all to himself.
Many of these shops are "mints," and some of them produce counterfeits.
As a matter of course, this separative system precludes all unification
of artistic principles and is, therefore, very harmful to the present
generation of students. The honest student who will discriminate between
these, sometimes cleverly masked, counterfeit mints, and a real art
altar must be of a character in which high principles are natively
ingrained. It might help him somewhat to remember that when there is no
good to choose we can always reject the bad.

What is true of teachers is just as true of compositions. The student
should not listen to--should not, at least, repeat the hearing of--bad
compositions, though they may be called symphonies or operas. And he
can, in a considerable measure, rely upon his own instincts in this
matter. He may not--and probably will not--fully fathom the depths of a
new symphony at its first hearing, but he must have received general
impressions of sufficient power and clearness to make him _wish_ for
another hearing. When this wish is absent he should not hear the work
again from a mere sense of duty; it were far wiser to avoid another
hearing, for habit is a strong factor, and if we accustom our ear to
hear cacophonous music we are apt to lose our aversion to it, which is
tantamount to a loss of good, natural taste. It is with much of modern
music as it is with opium, morphine, and other deadly drugs. We should
shun their very touch. These musical opiates are sometimes manufactured
by persons of considerable renown; of such quickly gained renown as may
be acquired nowadays by the employment of commercialistic methods; a
possibility for which the venal portion of the public press must bear
part of the blame. The student should not be deceived by names of which
the general familiarity is of too recent a date. I repeat that he should
rather consult his own feelings and by following them contribute his
modest share toward sending some of the present "moderns" back into
their deserved obscurity and insignificance.

I use the term "moderns" advisedly, for the true masters--some of whom
died but recently--have never stooped to those methods of
self-aggrandisement at which I hinted. Their places of honour were
accorded to them by the world because they were theirs, by right of
their artistic power, their genius and the purity of their art. My
advice to the students and to all lovers of music is: Hold on with all
your might to the school of sincerity and chastity in music! It is saner
and, morally and æsthetically, safer than the entire pack of our present
nerve-tickling, aye, and nerve-racking "modernists." Music should always
elevate; it should always call forth what, according to the demands of
time and place, is best in us. When, instead of serving this divine
mission, it speculates upon, and arouses, our lowest instincts for no
better purpose than to fill the pockets of its perpetrator, it should
receive neither the help nor the encouraging attention of any
noble-thinking and clean-minded man or woman. Passive resistance can do
a good deal on these premises.

The matter of abstention from a certain type of music recalls to my mind
another evil from which Americans should abstain; it is the curious and
out-of-date superstition that music can be studied abroad better than
here. While their number is not very large, I personally can name five
American teachers who have struggled here for many a year without
gaining that high recognition which they deserve. And now? Now they are
in the various capitals of Europe, receiving the highest fees that were
ever paid for instruction, and they receive these high fees from
American students that throng their studios. That the indifference of
their compatriots drove these men practically out of their country
proved to be of advantage to them; but how ought those to be regarded
who failed to keep them here? The wrong is irreparable in so far as
these men do not think of returning to America except as visitors. The
duty of American students and lovers of good music is to see to it that
such capable teachers as _are_ still here should _remain_ here. The mass
of emigration to Europe of our music students should cease! If a student
has what is understood by "finished" his studies here and his teacher
sets him free, he may make a reconnoitring tour in Europe. The change of
views and customs will, no doubt, broaden his mind in certain
directions. But musically speaking, he will be sure to find that most of
the enchantment of Europe was due to its distance. Excepting the
excellent orchestras of Europe and speaking of the general music-making
there, it is at present not quite as good as it is here: neither is the
average music teacher in Europe a whit better than the man of equal
standing here.

Americans should take cognizance of the fact that their country has not
stood still in music any more than in any other direction. Each year has
recorded an advancing step in its development. We must cease to compare
the Europe of to-day with the America of fifty years ago. At present
there is an astonishingly large number of clever and capable musicians
in America, and, as with good physicians and lawyers, their ability
usually stands in inverse proportion to the amount of their advertising.
It is these worthy teachers for whose sake the superstition of "studying
abroad" should be foresworn. What Uncle Sam has, in the field of music,
not directly produced he has acquired by the natural law of attraction;
now that so many talented and learned instructors, both native and
foreign, are here they should be given a fair opportunity to finish a
pupil's development as far as a teacher can do it, instead of seeing
him, half-done, rush off "to Europe." If I were not convinced that a
change on this score is possible, I should not have devoted so many
words to it. It is merely a question of making a start. Let me hope that
each reader of this little book may start this change, or, that, if
already started, he will foster and help it. If his efforts should be
disparaged by some, he need not feel disheartened, but remember that he
belongs to the "land of limitless possibilities."





[Sidenote: _What Does "Technique" Mean?_]

What are the different techniques, and which one is most generally used?
What is the difference between them?

Technique is a generic term, comprising scales, arpeggios, chords,
double notes, octaves, legato, and the various staccato touches as well
as the dynamic shadings. They are all necessary to make up a complete

[Sidenote: _The More Technique the More Practice_]

Why do pianists who have more technique than many others practise more
than these others?

Why have the Rothschilds more secretaries than I have? Because the
administration of a large fortune entails more work than that of a small
one. A pianist's technique is the material portion of his artistic
possessions; it is his capital. To keep a great technique in fine
working trim is in itself a considerable and time-absorbing task. And,
besides, you know that the more we have the more we want. This trait is
not only human; it is also pianistic.

[Sidenote: _How to Improve the Technique_]

Should I endeavour to improve my technique by trying difficult pieces?

You should not confine yourself to pieces that come easy to you, for
that would prevent all further technical progress. But beware of pieces
that are so difficult that you could not play them--in a slower
tempo--with absolute correctness. For this would lead to the ruin of
your technique and kill the joy in your studies. Play pieces that are
always a trifle harder than those you have completely mastered. Do not
emulate those who say: "I play already this or that," without asking
themselves "how" they play. Artistry depends ever upon the "how."


[Sidenote: _Do Not Raise the Piano-Stool Too High_]

Are the best results at the piano attained by sitting high or low?

As a general rule, I do not recommend a high seat at the piano, because
this induces the employment of the arm and shoulders rather than of the
fingers, and is, of course, very harmful to the technique. As to the
exact height of the seat, you will have to experiment for yourself and
find out at which height you can play longest with the least fatigue.

[Sidenote: _The Height of the Piano Seat_]

Is my seat at the piano to be at the same height when I practise as when
I play for people?

Yes! Height and distance (from the keyboard) of your chair--which should
never have arms--you should decide for yourself and once for all time;
for only then can you acquire a normal hand position, which, in its
turn, is a condition _sine qua non_ for the development of your
technique. See also to it that both feet are in touch with their
respective pedals so as to be in place when their action is required. If
they stray away and you must grope for the pedals when you need them it
will lead to a break in your concentration, and this will cause you to
play less well than you really can. To let the feet stray from the
pedals easily affects your entire position. It is a bad habit. Alas,
that bad habits are so much easier acquired than good ones!


[Sidenote: _The Tilt of The Hand in Playing Scales_]

Should my hand in playing scales be tilted toward the thumb or toward
the little finger? I find that in the scales with black keys it is much
easier to play the latter way.

I quite share your opinion, and extend it also to the scales without
black keys. I think the natural tendency of the hands is to lean toward
the little finger, and as soon as you have passed the stage of
preliminary training, as soon as you feel fairly certain that your
fingers act evenly, you may yield to their natural tendency, especially
when you strive more for speed than force; for speed does not suffer
tension, while force craves it.


[Sidenote: _The Results Count, Not the Methods_]

Does it make any difference if my fingers are held very much curved or
only a little? I was told that Rubenstein used his fingers almost flat.

Since you mention Rubinstein I may quote his saying: "Play with your
nose, if you will, but produce euphony (_Wohlklang_) and I will
recognize you as a master of your instrument." It is ever a question of
the result, whether you play this way or that way. If you should play
with very much curved fingers and the result should sound uneven and
pieced, change the curving little by little until you find out what
degree of curvature suits your hand best. Experiment for yourself.
Generally speaking, I recommend a free and easy position of hand and
fingers, for it is only in a position of greatest freedom that their
elasticity can be preserved, and elasticity is the chief point. By a
free and easy position I mean that natural position of hand and fingers
into which they fall when you drop your hand somewhat leisurely upon the

[Sidenote: _Cantabile Passages_]

Should a cantabile passage be played with a high finger-stroke or by
using the weight of the arm?

Certain characteristic moments in some pieces require the high
finger-stroke. It may be used also in working up a climax, in which
case the raising of the fingers should increase proportionately to the
rise of the climax. Where, however, the strength of the fingers is
sufficient to obtain the climacteric result by pressure, instead of the
stroke, it is always preferable to use pressure. As a general principle,
I believe in the free-hanging, limp arm and recommend using its weight
in cantabile playing.

[Sidenote: _An Incorrect Position of the Fingers_]

Pray how can I correct the fault of bending out the first joints of the
fingers when their cushions are pressed down upon the keys?

Your trouble comes under the head of faulty touch, which nothing will
correct but the constant supervision by a good teacher, assisted by a
strong exertion of your own will power and strictest attention whenever
you play. This bending out of the first joint is one of the hardest
pianistic ailments to cure, but it is curable. Do not be discouraged if
the cure is slow. The habit of years cannot be thrown off in a day.


[Sidenote: _Don't Stiffen the Hands in Playing Scales_]

Should the hands be kept perfectly still in playing scales and
arpeggios? Or, to lessen fatigue, is an occasional rise and fall of the
wrist permissible in a long passage of scale or arpeggio?

The hands should, indeed, be kept still, but not stiff. Protracted
passages of scales or arpeggios easily induce a stiffening of the wrist.
Hence, an occasional motion of the wrist, upward and downward, will do
much to counteract this tendency. It will, besides, be a good test of
the looseness of the wrist.

[Sidenote: _The Loose Wrist_]

Is it not impossible to preserve a complete looseness of the wrist in
piano-playing because of the muscles that connect the forearm with the

By no means. You should only see to it that you do not stiffen the wrist
_unconsciously_, as most players do. The arm should be held so that the
wrist is on a line with it, not bent, and by concentrated thinking you
should endeavour to transfer the display of force to the finger-tips
instead of holding the tension in your arm. For this produces fatigue,
while the way I suggest will lead you to develop considerable force
through the hand and fingers alone and leave the arm practically limp
and loose. It takes months of study under closest attention, however, to
acquire this looseness of the arm.

[Sidenote: _The Position of the Wrist_]

Do you favour a low or high position of the wrist for average type of

For average work, I recommend an average position; neither high nor low.
Changes, upward or downward, must be made to meet the requirements of
special occasions.

[Sidenote: _Do Not Allow the Wrist to Get Stiff_]

If one's wrist is stiff is there any set of exercises especially adapted
to acquiring a freer movement? Or is there any special method of

It depends on whether your wrist is stiff from non-use or from wrong
use. Assuming the latter, I should recommend studies in wrist octaves,
but you must watch your wrist while playing and rest at the slightest
indication of its stiffening.


[Sidenote: _When Tremolo Proves Unduly Fatiguing_]

I cannot play tremolo in the left hand for any length of time without
great fatigue. I have tried changing the position of the hand from high
to low, the sidewise motion, and the quiet hand. What is the correct
method, and may the difficulty be overcome by slow practice?

The tremolo cannot be practised slowly, nor with a stiff or quiet hand.
The action must be distributed over the hand, wrist, underarm and, if
necessary, the elbow. The shoulder forms the pivot whence a vibratory
motion must proceed and engage all the points on the road to the
fingers. The division of labour cannot be done consciously, but should
better proceed from a feeling as if the whole arm was subjected to an
electric current while engaged in playing a tremolo.

[Sidenote: _Play Chords With a Loose Arm_]

Should octave chords be played with rigid arms, the wrists and fingers
thereby increasing the tone volume, or should the arms be loose? My
teachers differ in their methods; so I turn to you for advice.

With few exceptions, dictated by certain characterizations, chords
should always be played with a loose arm. Let the arm pull the hand
above the keys and then let both fall heavily upon them, preparing the
fingers for their appropriate notes while still in the air and not, as
many do, after falling down. This mode of touch produces greater
tone-volume, is least fatiguing, and will have no bad after-effects.


[Sidenote: _Fatiguing the Hand by Stretching_]

I stretch between my fingers--taking the second and third, for instance,
and trying to see how many keys I can get between them. It has helped
me, but shall I be doing wrong to continue?

If, as you say, you feel benefited by your stretching exercises you may
continue them. But in your place I should beware of fatigue, for while
the hand may show an improvement in its stretch while you are practising
these exercises, if it is fatigued it will afterward contract so that
its stretch is liable to become narrower than it was before.

[Sidenote: _Do Not Injure the Hand by Stretching It_]

Is there any way to increase the stretch of my very small hand?

Any modern teacher, acquainted with stretching your hand, can devise
certain exercises that will be applicable to your particular hand. As
the lack of stretch, however, may be due to a number of different causes
I should advise you to desist from any stretch exercise that might be
recommended to you without a close examination of your hand, since the
wrong kind of exercise is not only apt, but bound, to injure it, perhaps

[Sidenote: _A Safe Way of Stretching the Small Hand_]

Is there any exercise, on the piano or otherwise, that would tend to
stretch my hand so as to enable me to play octaves? My fingers are short
and stubby. My teacher has not given me anything definite on this score.

The attempts to widen the natural stretch of the hand by artificial
means lead easily to disastrous results. It was by just such attempts
that Schumann rendered his hand useless for piano-playing. The best I
can recommend is that before playing you soak your hands in rather hot
water for several minutes and then--while still in the water--stretch
the fingers of one hand with the other. By doing this daily you will
gain in stretch, provided you refrain from forcing matters, and provided
also that you are still young, and your hands are flexible.


[Sidenote: "_What is the Matter With My Scales?_"]

What is the matter with my scales? I cannot play them without a
perceptible jerk when I use my thumb. How can I overcome the unevenness?

In answering this question I am in the position of a physician who is
expected to prescribe a treatment for a patient whom he has neither
examined nor even seen. I can therefore advise only in a very general
way--as I have done with many questions to avoid the eventuality of
being confronted by an exceptional case. The cause of the hand's unrest
in the passing of the thumb lies usually in transferring the thumb too
late. The thumb waits usually until the very moment when it is needed
and then quickly jumps upon the proper key, instead of moving toward it
as soon as the last key it touched can be released. This belatedness
causes a jerky motion of the arm and imparts it to the hand. Another
cause lies in a fault no less grave than the first. Since the hand has
only five fingers while the scale numbers many notes (according to its
length), the player must replenish his fingers by passing the thumb
under the hand so as to form a conjunction between the notes played and
those to be played. This passing of the thumb conditions a change or
shifting of the hand toward the keys to follow, but the shifting of the
hand must not coincide with the passing of the thumb or the result will
be a jerk. The position of the hand in relation to the keyboard must not
change. It must remain the same until the thumb has struck its new key.
Not until then must the shifting of the hand take place. In this way the
jumpiness or jerkiness of the scale can be avoided, provided one can
follow this precept punctiliously--which is not an easy matter,
especially in great speed. Alas, why are those pesky scales so
difficult, in fact, the most difficult thing to do on the piano?

[Sidenote: _How to Hold the Thumb_]

What is the correct position for the thumb? Should it be curved well
under the hand while playing?

In scale-playing the thumb should be slightly curved and kept near the
index finger in order to be ready when needed. In pieces this position
of the thumb cannot, of course, always be observed.

[Sidenote: _Which Fingers Demand Most Attention?_]

Should one pay special attention to the training of the thumb?

It may be said that the thumb and the middle finger are the two
arch-conspirators against a precise finger technique. They crave your
greatest attention. Above all, you must see to it that, in touching the
keys with these fingers, you do not move the whole hand, still less the


[Sidenote: _The Fourth and Fifth Fingers_]

What exercise would you recommend for the training of the fourth and the
fifth fingers?

Any collection of Etudes is sure to contain some that are devoted to
the training of those two fingers. In the Cramer Etudes (Bulow's
selection) you will find Nos. 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 20 adapted to your
case, but do not pin your faith to the print! In all matters of art the
"how" is of far more consequence than the "what." Play what you will,
but bear your weak points in mind while you play. This is the real
remedy. Keep hand and arm as loose as you can while training the fourth
and fifth fingers.

[Sidenote: _The Action of the Little Finger_]

In making wide skips in which the little finger strikes a single note,
as, for instance, in left-hand waltz accompaniments, should one strike
on the end of the little finger or on its side; and should the finger be
curved or held more or less flat?

The little finger should never strike with its side. It should always be
held in its normally curved condition, and straighten at the stroke only
on such occasions when its own force proves insufficient and requires
the assistance of the wrist and arm muscles.


[Sidenote: _To Strengthen the Weak Finger Use It_]

How can I strengthen the little finger of my right hand? I avoid it in
playing, using the next finger instead.

By employing your little finger as much as possible and at once quitting
the habit of substituting another finger for it.

[Sidenote: _The Weak Fingers of the Left Hand_]

What exercise would you recommend for the training of the fourth and
fifth fingers of the left hand?

Slow trill with various touches, with highly lifted fingers producing
strength through their fall and with a lesser lift of the fingers
combined with pressure touch, watching closely that the little finger
strikes with the tip and not with the side. Rhythmic evenness should
also be punctiliously observed.

[Sidenote: _When the Fingers Seem Weak_]

What kind of technical work would you advise me to take to make my
fingers strong in the shortest time consistent with good work?

If your fingers are unusually weak it may be assumed that your muscular
constitution in general is not strong. The training of the fingers
alone will, in that case, lead to no decisive results. You will have to
strive for a general strengthening of your muscular fibre. At this
point, however, begins the province of your physician and mine ends. If
you consider your constitution normal, four or five hours' daily work at
the piano will develop the necessary digital force, if that time is
judiciously used.

[Sidenote: _No Necessity to Watch the Fingers_]

Is it always necessary to watch the fingers with the eye?

In places where the fingers slide, and do not jump from one note to
another at a distance, there is no need of keeping the eye on them.

[Sidenote: _Biting the Finger-Nails Spoils the Touch_]

Is biting the finger-nails injurious to the piano touch?

Certainly; biting the nails or any other injury to the finger-tips and
hand will spoil your touch. Extreme cleanliness and care in cutting the
nails the proper length are necessary to keep your hands in condition
for playing the piano.

[Sidenote: _To Prevent Sore Finger-Tips After Playing_]

How can I prevent my finger-tips, after prolonged playing, from feeling
sore the next day?

Experience teaches that in such cases, as in many others, cleanliness is
the best remedy. After playing wash your fingers at once in warm water,
with soap and brush, and then rub them well with either cold cream or
some similar fatty substance. In the development of speed on the piano,
the rigidity of the skin on the fingers is a great hindrance; it makes
us feel as if we played with gloves on the fingers.

[Sidenote: _Broad-Tipped Fingers Not a Disadvantage_]

Are broad-tipped fingers considered a detriment to a man student of
piano; for instance, if the finger grazes the black keys on each side
when playing between them?

Unless broad-tipped fingers are of an unusual thickness I do not
consider them an obstacle in the way of good piano-playing; the less so,
as the white keys--whatever shape the fingers may have--should never be
struck between the black ones, but only in the midst of the open space.
Altogether, I hold that the shape of the hand is of far greater
importance to the pianist than the shape of his fingers; for it
furnishes the fingers with a base of operations and with a source of
strength, besides holding the entire control over them. Studying the
hands and fingers of celebrated pianists you will find a great variety
of finger shapes, while their hands are usually broad and muscular.

[Sidenote: _What to do With the Unemployed Hand_]

When playing a piece in which a rest of a measure and a half or two
measures occurs should I drop my hand in my lap or keep it on the

If the temporarily unemployed hand is tired it will rest better in the
lap, because this position favours the blood circulation, which, in its
turn, tends to renew the strength. I should, however, not put it away
from the keyboard too often, for this might easily be taken for a


[Sidenote: _Wrist Staccato at a High Tempo_]

What can I do to enable me to play wrist staccato very fast without
fatiguing the arm?

Change your wrist staccato for a little while to a finger or arm
staccato, thus giving the wrist muscles a chance to rest and regain
their strength.

[Sidenote: _The Difference Between "Finger Staccato" and Other Kinds_]

What does "finger staccato" mean? Is not staccato always done with the

By no means! There is a well-defined arm staccato, a wrist staccato, and
a finger staccato. The latter is produced by a touch similar to the
rapid repetition touch--that is, by not allowing the fingers to fall
perpendicularly upon the keys, but rather let them make a motion as if
you were wiping a spot off the keys with the finger-tips, without the
use of the arm, and rapidly pulling them toward the inner hand. The arm
should take no part in it whatever.


[Sidenote: _The Advantage of Legato Over Staccato_]

Is it better for me to practise more staccato or more legato?

Give the preference to legato, for it produces the genuine piano tone,
and it develops the technique of the fingers; while the staccato touch
always tends to draw the arm into action. If you play from the arm you
cannot expect any benefit for the fingers. For the acquisition of a
legitimate legato Chopin's works cannot be highly enough recommended,
even in the transcriptions by Godowsky, which become impossible when
tried with any touch other than legato. He wrote them, so to speak, out
of his own hand, and his legato is so perfect that it may well be taken
as a model by anybody.

[Sidenote: _To Produce Good Legato_]

Should you advise me to make use of a high finger-stroke? My teacher
makes me use it exclusively, but I notice that my playing is neither
legato nor quiet. It is almost humpy.

Your manner of putting the question expressed your own--and
correct--judgment in the matter. This playing "in the air" is lost
energy, and will not lead to a good legato. The most beautiful tone in
legato style is ever produced by a "clinging and singing" gliding of the
fingers over the keys. Of course, you have to watch your touch in order
that your "clinging" does not deteriorate into "blurring," and that your
"gliding" may not turn into "smearing." If you apprehend any such
calamity you must for a while increase the raising of your fingers and
use more force in their falling upon the keys. Under constant
self-observation and keen listening you may, after a while, return to
the gliding manner. This much in general; of course, there are places
and passages where just the opposite of my advice could be said, but
still I think that the high finger-stroke should rather be employed for
some special characteristic effects than as a general principle.

[Sidenote: _The Firm and Crisp Legato Touch_]

I am confused by the terms "firm legato touch" and "crisp legato touch."
Wherein lies the difference?

Legato means "bound together," for which we substitute the word
"connected." Two tones are either connected or they are not connected.
The idea of various kinds of legato is purely a sophism, a product of
non-musical hyper-analysis. By "legato" I understand the connecting of
tones with each other through the agency of the fingers (on the piano).
The finger that evoked a tone should not leave its key until the tone
generated by the next finger has been perceived by the ear. This rule
governs the playing of melodies and slow passages. In rapid passages,
where the control through the ear is lessened, the legato is produced by
more strictly mechanical means, but there should, nevertheless, always
be two fingers simultaneously occupied. Do not take the over-smart
differentiations of legato seriously. There is no plural to the word


[Sidenote: _Not Playing the Two Hands at Once_]

My teachers have always scolded me for playing my left hand a little
before my right. It is probably a very bad habit, but I do not hear it
when I do it How can I cure it?

This "limping," as it is called, is the worst habit you can have in
piano playing, and you are fortunate in having a teacher who persists in
his efforts to combat it. There is only one way to rid yourself of this
habit, namely, by constant attention and closest, keenest listening to
your own playing. You are probably misstating it when you say that you
do not "hear" it when you "limp"; it seems more likely to me that you
do not listen. Hearing is a purely physical function which you cannot
prevent while awake, while listening is an act of your will-power--it
means to give direction to your hearing.


[Sidenote: _How Organ-Playing Affects the Pianist_]

Is alternate organ and piano playing detrimental to the "pianistic

Inasmuch as the force of touch and its various gradations are entirely
irrelevant on the organ, the pianist who plays much on the organ is more
than liable to lose the delicacy of feeling for tone-production through
the fingers, and this must, naturally, lessen his power of expression.

[Sidenote: _Organ-Playing and the Piano Touch_]

Is it true that a child beginning music lessons on an organ gets much
better tone than one beginning on a piano, and does the side study of
pipe-organ, after two years of extensive piano work, impair the piano

It is only natural that a child can get better tone out of an organ than
on a piano, because it is not the child but the organ that produces the
tone. If the child's purpose, however, is to learn piano-playing it
would not be wise to let him begin on an organ, because this would leave
the essential element--the art of touch--entirely undeveloped. And if
his piano touch has been formed it can easily be undone again by letting
him play on the organ.


[Sidenote: _The Universal System of Marking Fingering_]

In what respect does American fingering differ from foreign fingering,
and which offers the greater advantages?

There is no "American" fingering. Many years ago the "English" fingering
(which counts only four fingers and a thumb, and indicates the latter by
a plus mark: +) was adopted by a few of the less prominent publishers in
America; but it was soon abandoned. If you have a piece of sheet music
with English fingering you may be certain that it is not of a recent
edition, and I would advise you to obtain a more modern one. The
advantage of the universal fingering lies in its greater simplicity, and
in the circumstance that it is universally adopted.

[Sidenote: _The C-Scale Fingering for All Scales?_]

Do you advise the use of the C-scale fingering for all the scales? Is it

The C-scale fingering is not applicable to scales reposing on black keys
because it creates unnecessary difficulties, the mastering of which
would be a matter rather of mere sport than of art.

[Sidenote: _Fingering the Chromatic Scale_]

Which fingering of the chromatic scale the is most conducive to speed
and accuracy?

The right thumb always upon E and B, the left one upon F and C. Between
times use three or four consecutive fingers as often as convenient. At
the beginning of a long chromatic scale select such fingers as will most
naturally bring you to one of the stations just mentioned.

[Sidenote: _The Fingers Needed to Play a Mordent_]

When executing the mordent, is not the use of three fingers preferable
to two?

The selection of the fingers for the execution of a mordent depends
always upon the preceding notes or keys which lead up to it. Since
we cannot lift the hand just before a mordent for the purpose of
changing fingers (for this would mean a rude interruption) we have
to use whatever fingers happen to be "on hand." An exchange of
fingers in a mordent is seldom of any advantage, for it hampers
precision and evenness, since, after all, each finger has its own


[Sidenote: _To Play a Glissando Passage_]

Will you describe the best method of holding the hand when playing
glissando? Which is preferable to use, the thumb or the forefinger?

In playing glissando in the right hand use the index finger when going
upward, the thumb when going downward. In the left hand--where it hardly
ever occurs--use the middle finger in either direction, or, if you
should find it easier, the index finger downward. The production of so
great a volume of tone, as is possible on our modern piano, has
necessitated a deeper fall of the keys than former pianos possessed, and
this deeper dip has banished the glissando almost entirely from modern
piano literature.


[Sidenote: _How Best to Play the Octaves_]

Should I play octaves using the "hinge" stroke from the wrist or by
using the arm? I find I can get more tone by using the arm stroke, but
cannot play so rapidly.

The character of the octaves must govern the selection of means to
produce them. For light octaves use the wrist, for heavier ones draw
more upon the arm. Rapidity requires that you avoid fatigue. If you feel
fatigue approaching from too constant use of one joint, change to the
other, and in doing this change also the position of the hand from high
to low, and _vice versa_. For wrist octaves I recommend the low position
of the hand, for arm octaves the high one.

[Sidenote: _Rapid Octaves_]

Please suggest some method of playing octaves rapidly to one who finds
this the most difficult part of piano-playing. Would be grateful also
for naming some octave études that could be used in the répertoire.

If rapid octaves seem to be "the most difficult part of piano-playing"
to you, take it as an indication that they do not suit your nature. A
"method" will never change your nature. This need not discourage you,
however; it is only to prevent you from trying to make a specialty of
something for which you are not especially qualified and to save you a
needless disappointment. Hold arms and hands in but a slight tension,
and at the slightest fatigue change the position of the hand from high
to low and _vice versa_. Your seat at the piano should not be too low.
Study the first book of Kullak's Octave School, and, later on, the
second book.

[Sidenote: _When Playing Octaves_]

When should I use the arm to play octaves as I have seen some concert
players do? As I was watching them there did not seem to be the
slightest motion from the wrist.

Most concert players play their octaves more from the arm than from the
wrist, but their wrist is nevertheless not so inactive as it seems to
have appeared to you. They have probably distributed the work over the
wrist, the elbow, and the shoulder in such a way that each had to do
only a part of it. Light octaves can come only from the wrist, while
heavier ones put the elbow and shoulder into action. To make this
distribution consciously is hardly possible. A striving for economy of
force and the least possible fatigue will produce this "division of
labour" unconsciously.

[Sidenote: _Wrist Stroke in Long Octave Passages_]

When playing extended octave passages, such as the Liszt arrangement of
"The Erlking," should the endeavour be to play all from the pure wrist
stroke; or is it well to relieve the strain by an occasional impulse (a
sort of vibration) from the forearm? Is there any advantage in varying
the height of the wrist?

In extended octave playing it is well to vary the position of the wrist,
now high and then low. The low position brings the forearm into action,
while the whole arm coöperates when the wrist is held high. From the
wrist alone such pieces as "The Erlking" cannot be played, because the
wrist alone gives us neither the power nor the speed that such pieces
require. Besides, the octaves, when all played from the wrist, would
sound "cottony." The wrist alone is to be used only in light, graceful

[Sidenote: _Stiff Wrists in Playing Octaves_]

In playing octaves or other double notes my wrist seems to stiffen. How
can I remedy this?

Stiffness in the wrist results from an unmindful use of it. When
practising octaves or double notes think always of holding the arm and
its joints in a loose, limber condition, and when you feel fatigued do
not fail to stop until the muscular contraction is relieved. In a little
while you will see your conscientious practising rewarded by acquiring
an elasticity commensurate with your general physical status.

[Sidenote: _Premature Fatigue in the Arms_]

Why does it tire my arms when I play octaves and a continuation of
little runs? How can I avoid it, so that they will feel free and easy?

Premature fatigue is usually caused by undue muscular contraction. Keep
your arms and wrists loose and you will find that the fatigue
disappears. For your sensation of fatigue may be due, not to exhaustion
of muscular power, but to a stoppage of circulation caused by an
unconscious stiffening of the wrist. Change the position of the wrist
from high to low and _vice versa_ whenever you feel the "fatigue"
coming on.

[Sidenote: _Kullak's "Method of Octaves" Still Good_]

Is Kullak's "Method of Octaves" still one of the best in its line? or
can you recommend something better?

Since the days when Kullak's "School of Octaves" was printed, experience
has taught us some things which might be added to it, but nothing that
would contradict it. Nor, so far as I know, has anything better appeared
in print than the first volume of that work especially.


[Sidenote: _The Difficulty of Playing Repetition Notes_]

Please help me about my repetition notes. When I wish to play them
rapidly it seems that the key does not always produce a sound? Is it
because of my touch?

First, examine the action of your piano. It occurs not infrequently that
the fingers do their work well, but fail in the results because of an
inert or lazy piano action. If, however, the fault does not lie in the
instrument, it must lie in a certain stiffness of the fingers. To
eliminate this you need, first of all, a loose wrist. Furthermore, you
should not, in repetition technique, let the fingers fall
perpendicularly upon the keys, but with a motion as if you were wiping
the keys with the finger-tips and then pull them quickly toward the palm
of the hand, bending every joint of them rapidly.


[Sidenote: _The Playing of Double Thirds_]

Please tell me something about the general practice of thirds, both
diatonic and chromatic; also, about those in the first movement of the
Grieg Concerto.

As the playing of passages in single notes requires a close single
legato, to do double thirds requires an equally close double legato. As
to the exact details of legato playing I may refer you to my book,
"Piano Playing," where you will find the matter discussed at length in
the chapter on "Touch and Technic."


[Sidenote: _The Kind of Piano Upon Which to Practise_]

Is it irrelevant whether I practise upon a good or a bad piano?

For practice you should never use any but the very best available
instrument. Far, rather, may the piano be bad when you play for people.
This will not hurt you nearly so much as will the constant and habitual
use of a piano with a mechanism in which every key demands a different
kind of touch, and which is possibly out of tune. Such conditions impair
the development of your musical ear as well as of your fingers. It
cannot be otherwise. As I said once before, learning means the acquiring
of habits: habits of thinking and of doing. With a bad instrument you
cannot develop any good qualities, even if you should possess them by
nature; much less can you acquire them. Hence, I recommend a good piano,
clean keyboard--for your æsthetic perceptions should be developed all
around--a correct seat and concentration of mind. But these
recommendations presuppose on the part of the student some talent and a
good teacher.

[Sidenote: _Do Not Use a Piano Extreme in "Action"_]

Is it not better for a student in the advanced stage of study, who is
preparing for concert work, to practise on a piano with a heavy action
in order to develop the finger and hand muscles, and to use an
instrument with a light action for obtaining an artistic finish to the
lighter passages occurring so often, for instance, in Chopin's music?

All extremes are harmful in their effects upon study and practice. A too
heavy action stiffens and overtires the fingers, while too light an
action tends to impair your control. Try to obtain for your practice a
piano the action of which approximates as nearly as possible that of the
piano on which you have to play in the concert, in order to avoid
unpleasant surprises, such as premature fatigue or a running away of the

[Sidenote: _How Tight to Keep the Piano's Action_]

Should I keep the action of my piano tight?

Keep it tight enough to preserve the "feeling" of the keys under the
fingers, but to make it more so would endanger your finger action and it
may injure your hand.

[Sidenote: _The Action of a Beginner's Piano_]

Do you think it wise for a beginner to practise on a piano that has a
heavy action?

That depends upon the age and physical development of the beginner.
"Heavy" and "light" action are not absolute but relative terms, which
comprise in their meaning the power of resistance in the player's hand.
The action should be so adjusted that the player can--even in the
softest touch--always feel the key under his finger. A too heavy action
leads necessarily to an employment of the shoulder muscles (which should
be reserved for brief, special uses) and may permanently injure the

[Sidenote: _Playing On a Dumb Piano_]

Are mechanical appliances, such as a dumb keyboard, of advantage to
the student of the piano? Should its use be restricted to a particular
stage in the course of study?

Music is a language. Schumann said: "From the dumb we cannot learn to
talk!" The totally dumb or mute piano should, therefore, not be used, or
very little, if we aim at a "musical" technique--that is, a live,
multicoloured technique qualified to express musical thought and
feeling. Personally I have never used a dumb piano.


[Sidenote: _A General Rule About the Pedal_]

Should I use the pedal with each melody note? Should like a general

The treading upon the pedal should always follow immediately after the
striking of the note for which it is intended, or else there will be
discords arising from the mingling of that note with the one preceding
it. This is the general rule. Exceptions there are, of course, but they
occur only in certain moments when a mingling of tones is purposed for
some special effect.

[Sidenote: _The Use of the Pedal for Colouring_]

What is the use of the damper pedal?

Primarily it serves to prolong such tones as we cannot hold with the
fingers. But it is also one of the greatest means for colouring. The
employment of it should always be governed by the ear.

[Sidenote: _How to Use the Pedal_]

Please tell me how to use the pedal. I find that in some pieces there is
no mark under the measures to show me when it should be used. Is there
any rule which you can give me?

Assuming that you have in mind the artistic use of the pedal, I regret
to say that there is no more a rule for this than for the mixing of
colours upon the palette of a painter who strives for some particular
shade or tint. He knows that blue and yellow make green, that red and
blue make purple; but those are ground colours which he can rarely use.
For the finer shades he has to experiment, to consult his eye and his
judgment. The relation between the pedal and the player's ear is exactly
similar to that of the palette and the painter's eye. Generally speaking
(from sad experience) it is far more important to know when _not_ to use
the pedal than when to use it. We must refrain from its use whenever
there is the slightest danger of unintentional mingling of tones. This
is best avoided by taking the pedal _after_ striking the tone upon which
it is to act, and to release it promptly and simultaneously with the
striking of the next tone. It may be at once taken again, and this
alternation must be kept up where there is either a change of harmony or
a succession of "passing notes." This is the only positive rule I can
give, but even this is often violated. Let your ear be the guardian of
your right foot. Accustom your ear to harmonic and melodic clarity,
and--listen closely. To teach the use of the pedal independent of the
action of your own ear is impossible.

[Sidenote: _Let Your Ear Guide Your Pedalling_]

In Weber's "Storm" should the pedal be held down throughout the entire
piece, as directed? It produces quite a discord.

Without knowing this piece, even by name, I may say that the pianos of
Weber's time had a tone of such short duration and volume that the
discords resulting from a continuous use of the pedal were not so
noticeable, as they are now upon the modern piano with its magnificent
volume and duration of tone. Hence, the pedal must now be used with the
utmost caution. Generally speaking, I say--again--that the ear is the
"sole" guide of the foot upon the pedal.

[Sidenote: _Use Pedal With Caution in Playing Bach_]

Is Bach's music ever played with the pedal?

There is no piano-music that forbids in playing the use of the pedal.
Even where the texture of a piece does not require the pedal--which
happens very rarely--the player might employ it as an aid where the
reach of his hand proves insufficient to hold all the parts of a harmony
together. With Bach the pedal is often very important; for, by judicious
use--as, for instance, in the cases of organ-point--it accumulates
harmonic tones, holds the fundamental tone and thus produces effects not
dissimilar to the organ. Qualitatively speaking, the pedal is as
necessary in Bach's music as in any other; quantitatively, I recommend
the utmost caution in its use, so as not to blur the fine texture of his

[Sidenote: _The Student with a Fondness for the Pedal_]

I always want to use the pedal as soon as I take a new piece, but my
teacher insists that I should get a good singing tone first. Is she

You "want" to use the pedal? In the face of your teacher's advice to the
contrary? Then why did you apply for a teacher? People who consider
their own pleasure while engaged in any kind of study need no teacher.
They need discipline. Learn obedience! If by following your teacher's
advice you should fail to progress, even then you have no right to do
anything else than go to another teacher. But he will in all probability
not be very different from the first one in his precepts. Hence, I say
again: You should learn obedience!

[Sidenote: _Using the Two Pedals at Once_]

May the damper pedal and the soft pedal be used simultaneously, or would
this be detrimental to the piano?

Since the mechanisms of the two pedals are entirely separate and
independent of each other you may use them simultaneously, provided that
the character of a particular place in your piece justifies it.

[Sidenote: _To Produce a Softer Tone_]

Should the expression "_p_" be executed by the aid of the soft pedal or
through the fingers?

The soft pedal serves to change the quality of tone, not the quantity.
It should therefore never be used to hide a faulty _piano_ (or soft)
touch. Mere softness of tone should always be produced by a decrease of
finger-force and a lessening of the raising of the fingers. The soft
pedal should be employed only when the softness of tone is coupled with
a change of colouring, such as lies within its range of action.

[Sidenote: _Do Not Over-Use the Soft Pedal_]

Should the Gavotte in A, of Gluck-Brahms, be played without the soft
pedal? Does a liberal use of the soft pedal tend to make the student
lazy in using a light touch?

Your first question is too general, as there is no piece of music that
should be played entirely with or without the soft pedal; it is used
only when a certain change of colouring is proposed. A too frequent use
of the soft pedal does tend to a neglect of the _pianissimo_ touch, and
it should, therefore, be discouraged.

[Sidenote: _Once More the "Soft" Pedal_]

My piano has a rather loud tone to which my people object, and urge me
to play with the soft pedal. I use it most of the time, but am afraid
now to play without it. What would you advise?

If a soft touch and sound are liked, have the mechanism of your piano
changed at the factory. I found myself in the bad condition at one time
that I could not play certain passages independently of the position of
my foot on the soft pedal. Such is the strength of association that
very soon a constant use of the soft pedal produces physical inability
to play unless the foot is pressing the pedal.


[Sidenote: _The Morning Practice On the Piano_]

In resuming my studies in the morning what should I play first?

Begin with your technical work. Scales in all tonalities, each at least
twice well rendered. First slowly, one after another, then somewhat
quicker, but never very quickly as long as you are not absolutely sure
that both hands are perfectly even, and that neither false notes nor
wrong fingerings occur. To play the scales wrong is just as much a
matter of habit as to play them right--only easier. You can get very
firmly settled in the habit of striking a certain note wrong every time
it occurs unless you take the trouble of counteracting the formation of
such a habit. After these scales play them in octaves from the wrist,
slowly and without tiring it by lifting the hand to a needless height.
After this play either Czerny or Cramer, then Bach, and finally Mozart,
Beethoven, Chopin, and so on. If you have the time to do it, play one
hour in the morning on technical studies and use one hour for the
difficult places in the works you are studying. In the afternoon play
another hour, and this hour you devote to interpretation. I mean by this
that you should now apply æsthetically what you have technically gained
in the morning by uniting your mechanical advantages with the ideal
conception which you have formed in your mind of the work you are

[Sidenote: _Morning Is the Best Time to Practise_]

How much time should I spend on clearly technical study? I am practising
three hours a day; how long should I practise at a time?

Purely technical work--that is, work of the fingers without the
participation of mind and heart--you should do little or none, for it
kills your musical spirit. If, as you say, you practise three hours a
day I should recommend two hours in succession in the morning and one
hour in the afternoon. The morning is always the best time for work.
Make no long pauses in your work, for they would break your contact
with the piano and it would take considerable time to reëstablish it. In
the afternoon, after the major portion of your daily task is done, you
may move with greater freedom, though even this freedom should be kept
within proper bounds.

[Sidenote: _Time to Devote to Technical Exercises_]

Should I practise studies in general for my progress or should I confine
myself strictly to my technical exercises?

Your strictly technical exercises should occupy one-quarter of the
entire time you can give to your work. Two quarters you should use for
the technical preparation of the difficult passages you encounter in the
pieces you are studying, and during the last quarter these passages
which have been thus prepared should be ranged into their proper places
in the pieces, in order that you may not lose your view of the totality
of the pieces while studying or practising details.

[Sidenote: _The Only Kind of Practice Worth While_]

In purely technical, _i. e._, mechanical, practice may I have a book or
a magazine on the music-stand and read?

This question will appear grotesque to any one who has not thought of
it, yet it is legitimate; for I know positively that this crime upon
themselves has been committed by many. I cannot warn students too
strongly against this pernicious habit. It is far better to practise
only half as long, but with concentrated attention. Even purely
mechanical matter must be transmitted to the motor-centres of the brain
through the agencies of the ear and eye in order to bring beneficial
technical results. If the brain is otherwise occupied it becomes
insensible to the impression of the work in hand, and practise thus done
is a complete waste of time. Not only should we not read, but also not
think of anything else but the work before us, if we expect results.
Concentration is the first letter in the alphabet of success.

[Sidenote: _Practising Eight Hours Instead of Four_]

Will I advance quicker by practising eight hours instead of four, as I
do now?

Playing too much in one day has often a deteriorating effect upon one's
studies, because work is profitable, after all, only if done with full
mental concentration, which can be sustained only for a certain length
of time. Some exhaust their power of concentration quicker than others;
but, however long it may have lasted, once it is exhausted all further
work is like unrolling a scroll which we have laboriously rolled up.
Practise self-examination, and if you notice that your interest is
waning--stop. Remember that in studying the matter of quantity is of
moment only when coupled with quality. Attention, concentration,
devotion, will make unnecessary any inquiries as to how much you ought
to practise.

[Sidenote: _Playing With Cold Hands_]

Shall I, when my hands are cold and stiff, play at once difficult and
fatiguing things in order to limber them up?

In forcing things with cold hands you always run the danger of
overstraining, while with a gradual limbering you may safely try the
same tasks with impunity. Handle the piano lightly while the hands are
cold, and increase both force and speed only when the hands have gained
their normal temperature and elasticity. This may take half or even
three-quarters of an hour. It may be accelerated by putting the hands
in hot water before playing, but this should not be done too often,
because it is apt to weaken the nerves of the hands.

[Sidenote: _Counting Out Loud_]

Is counting aloud injurious to a pupil's playing--that is, does not the
sound of the voice confuse the pupil in getting the correct tone of the
note struck?

Loud counting can hardly ever be injurious--especially not while the
pupil is dealing with time and rhythm. This part mastered or fully
understood, the audible counting may be lessened and finally abandoned.
During practice loud counting is of inestimable value, for it develops
and strengthens rhythmic feeling better than anything else will, and,
besides, it is an infallible guide to find the points of stress in a

[Sidenote: _The Study of Scales Is very Important_]

Must all study of the piano absolutely begin with the study of scales?

Scales should not be attempted until a good finger-touch has been formed
and the very important action of the thumb in the scale has been fully
prepared. After that, however, I consider the practising of scales
important, not only for the fingers, but also for the discipline of the
ear with regard to the feeling of tonality (key), understanding of
intervals, and the comprehension of the total compass of the piano.

[Sidenote: _The Study of the Scales_]

Do you approve of the study of all the fifteen major scales by piano
students, or is the practice of the enharmonic ones unnecessary?

One should learn everything in that line in order to select from one's
store of learning that which the occasion calls for. Study or practise
all scales as they are written, and later also in thirds, sixths, and

[Sidenote: _When Reading Over a New Piece_]

When studying a new composition, which is preferable: to practise first
with separate hands or together?

When first looking over a new composition both hands should be employed,
if possible, for this is necessary to obtain, approximately, at least, a
mental picture of it. If the player's technique is too insufficient for
this the deciphering must, of course, be done for each hand separately.

[Sidenote: _Practising the Two Parts Separately_]

When I am learning a new piece should the hands practise their parts

Provided you have formed a general idea of the piece, it is well to
practise the hands separately, because you can, in this way, concentrate
your attention upon the work of each hand. As soon, however, as each
hand knows its work the hands should play together in order now to
pursue the musical purpose for which the separate practice was only a
technical preparation.

[Sidenote: _Four Ways to Study a Piano Piece_]

Should a composition be studied away from the piano?

There are four ways to study a composition:

1. On the piano with the music.

2. Away from the piano with the music.

3. On the piano without the music.

4. Away from the piano without the music.

2 and 4 are mentally the most taxing and fatiguing ways, no doubt; but
they also serve best to develop the memory and what we mean by "scope,"
which is a faculty of great importance.

[Sidenote: _The Conditions Which Dictate Speed in Playing_]

How fast or slow should Schubert-Liszt's "_Auf dem Wasser zu singen_" be
played? What modern parlour pieces would you recommend after Bendel's

Even if I did believe in metronomes, as I do not, I could not indicate
speed for you or for anybody, because it will always depend upon the
state of your technique and the quality of your tone. For modern parlour
pieces I suggest the two volumes of Russian piano music published by G.
Schirmer, New York. You will find pieces of various degrees of
difficulty there from which you may select what suits you best.

[Sidenote: _To Work Up a Fast Tempo_]

Which is the best way to work up a fast tempo?

The best help is to hear the piece or part which you have in mind played
quickly by another person, for this aids you in forming the mental
concept of it, which is the principal condition to which all ability is
subject. There are, however, other ways which each one of us must find
for himself: either by a gradual increase of speed until you reach your
individual maximum or by starting at once at full tilt, even though some
notes should drop under the piano and then be picked up in subsequent
repetitions. Which of these two or any other ways is best for you no one
can tell; your musical instinct will guide you if you follow it

[Sidenote: _The Best Way to Work Up a Quick Tempo_]

Is it ever a waste of time to practise a piece over and over again for
months as slowly as a beginner and with utmost concentration? After
having done so and gradually working up a tempo, I then find I cannot
play so fast as I want to. Is it not wise to begin all over again as
slowly as possible? I prefer to work this way, but have been told that
one gets "stale," studying the same music for a long time.

Do you advise practising with or without the pedal?

Slow practice is undoubtedly the basis for quick playing; but quick
playing is not an immediate result of slow practice. Quick playing must
be tried from time to time, with increasing frequency and heightened
speed, even at a temporary loss of clearness. This loss is easily
regained by subsequent returns to slow practice. After all, we must
first learn to think quickly through the course of a piece before we can
play it quickly, and this mental endeavour, too, will be greatly aided
by occasional trials in a quicker tempo. As for getting "stale," a
variety of pieces is necessary to preserve the freshness of each one.

Regarding the pedal, I suggest that you use it judiciously from the very
beginning of the study of a new piece; though never in finger exercises.

[Sidenote: _Watch Your Breathing_]

What is the purpose of associating breathing with piano playing, and to
what extent should it be practised?

Breathing is as important in piano playing as in all physical exertion,
and more so when we speak of pieces that entail the use of great
muscular force; for this causes a quickening in the action of the heart;
respiration naturally keeps step with it, and the result is often a
forcible breathing through the mouth. Players resort to open-mouth
breathing in such cases because they cannot help themselves. If, at the
last spurt of a bicycle race, we should call to the wheelmen, "Breathe
through the nose!" we could not wonder if our advice remains unheeded.
This open-mouth breathing, however, need not be learned; it is the
self-help of nature. I recommend breathing through the nose as long as
possible. It is more wholesome than mouth-breathing, and it refreshes
the head more. When physical exertion becomes too great then you will
neither need nor heed my advice or anybody's; your nature will find its
own line of least resistance.

[Sidenote: _Take a Month's Rest Every Year_]

Must I keep up my practice during my Christmas holidays of a month?

If you have worked well on your development during the spring, summer,
and autumn it will be to your advantage to stop your practising entirely
for a month. Such a pause renews your forces as well as the love for
your work, and you will, upon resuming it, not only catch up quickly
with what you may think to have missed, but you will also make a quick
leap forward because the quality of your work will be better than it
could be if you had persisted in it with a fatigued mind. In a tired
condition of mind and body we are very apt not to notice the formation
of bad habits, and since "to learn means to form correct habits of
thinking and doing" we must beware of anything that might impair our
watchfulness as to bad habits. The greatest persistence cannot turn a
bad habit into a virtue.


[Sidenote: _The Metronome Markings_]

What is the meaning of M. M. = 72 printed over a piece of music?

The M stands for "metronome," the other for the name of its inventor,
Maelzl. The figures indicate the number of beats a minute and the note
shows what each beat represents--in this case a quarter note. The whole
annotation says that the average speed of the piece should admit of
seventy-two quarter notes being played in a minute. I advise you,
however, rather to consult the state of your technique and your own
feeling for what is musically right in deciding upon the speed of the

[Sidenote: _The Personal Element and the Metronome_]

In Chopin's Prelude No. 15 is the movement in C-sharp minor to be played
in the same tempo as the opening movements, or much faster? How should
the 6-8 and 9-8 movements of Liszt's Dance of the Gnomes be

The C-sharp minor movement should not increase in speed, or only very
little, because it rises to a considerable height dynamically, and this
seems to counteract an increase of speed. As to the metronoming, I would
not bother about it. The possibilities of your technique must ever
regulate the speed question in a large degree. Tempo is so intimately
related with touch and dynamics that it is in a large measure an
individual matter. This does not mean that one may play andante where an
allegro is prescribed, but that one person's allegro differs slightly
from that of another person. Touch, tone, and conception influence the
tempo. The metronome indications are to be accepted only with the
utmost caution.

[Sidenote: _Metronome Markings May Better Be Ignored_]

How fast, by metronome, should the minuetto of Beethoven's Sonatina,
opus 49, Number 2, be played?

If you possess an edition of Beethoven that has no metronome marks you
have been singularly fortunate, and I would not for the world interfere
with such rare good luck. Consult your technique, your feelings, and
have confidence in your good sense.

[Sidenote: _There are Dangers in Using a Metronome_]

How should one use the metronome for practising? I have been warned
against it, as my teacher tells me one is liable to become very stiff
and mechanical by the persistent use of it.

Your teacher is eminently right. You should not play with the metronome
for any length of time, for it lames the musical pulse and kills the
vital expression in your playing. The metronome may well be used as a
controlling device first, to find the approximate average speed of a
piece, and, second, to convince yourself that, after playing for a
while without it, your feelings have not caused you to drift too far
away from the average tempo.

[Sidenote: _The Real Meaning of Speed Terms_]

What is the meaning of the words Adagio, Andante, and Allegro? Are they
just indications of speed?

They serve as such; though our musical ancestors probably selected these
terms because of their indefiniteness, which leaves a certain margin to
our individuality. Literally, Adagio (_ad agio_) means "at leisure."
Andante means "going" in contradistinction to "running," going apace,
also walking. Allegro (a contraction of _al leg-gie-ro_) means with
"lightness, cheerful." Primarily these terms are, as you see,
indications of mood; but they have come to be regarded as speed

[Sidenote: _A Rule For Selecting the Speed_]

As the words "largo," "allegro," etc., are supposed to indicate a
certain rate of speed, can you give a rule so that a student who cannot
have the aid of a teacher will be able to understand in what time he
should play a composition?

If the metronome is not indicated you have to consult your own good
taste. Take the most rapid notes of your piece, play them rapidly as the
general trend of the piece will æsthetically permit, and adjust the
general tempo accordingly.

[Sidenote: _How Grace Notes Are Played_]

How are the grace notes played in these measures from Chopin's Valse,
opus 42, and when are grace notes not struck simultaneously with the


Grace notes and their chiefs--that is, those notes to which the grace
notes are attached--should ever be played with one and the same muscular
impulse. The time occupied by the grace notes should be so minimal that
it should not be discernible whether they appear simultaneously with the
base note or slightly before it. In modern music it is usually meant to
precede the bass note, though the good taste of the player may
occasionally prefer it otherwise.

[Sidenote: _Rests Used Under or Over Notes_]

What is the meaning of a rest above or below the notes of the treble

The rests you speak of can occur only when more than one voice (or part)
is written in the same staff, and they indicate how long the entrance of
the other voice is to be delayed.

[Sidenote: _What a Double Dot Means_]

What does it mean when a note is double-dotted, like:


I thought first it was a misprint, but it seems to occur too frequently
for that.

As the first dot prolongs the note by one-half of its own value, so does
the second dot add one-half of the value of the first dot. A half-note
with one dot lasts three-quarters, with two dots it lasts seven-eighths.

[Sidenote: _The Playing of Slurred Notes_]

Should I accent the first note under a slur thus:


or should I lift my hand at the end of the slur thus:


Slurs and accents have nothing to do with each other, because accents
relate to rhythm, while slurs concern the touch. The last note under a
slur will usually be slightly curtailed in order to create that small
pause which separates one phrase from another. Generally speaking, the
slur in piano music represents the breathing periods of the vocalist.

[Sidenote: _How a Tie and a Slur Differ_]

What difference is there between a slur and a tie?

None in appearance, but much in effect. A tie continues the sound of the
note struck at its beginning as long as the note-value at its end
indicates. It can be placed only upon two notes of similar name in the
same octave which follow each other. As soon as another note intervenes
the tie becomes a slur and indicates a _legato_ touch.

[Sidenote: _Slurs and Accents Not Related_]

How should the beginning of slurs be accented?

Slurs and accents have nothing to do with each other. Slurs indicate
either a legato touch or the grouping of the notes. Which one of the
notes thus grouped is to be accented depends upon its rhythmical
position in the measure. The strong and weak beat (or positive and
negative beat) govern the accent always, unless there is an annotation
to the contrary, and such an annotation must be carried out with great
judiciousness, seldom literally.

[Sidenote: _How Long an Accidental Affects a Note_]

Where there is an accidental on the last beat of a measure does not that
note resume its signature beyond the bar unless tied? The case I speak
of was in a key of two flats, common time. The fourth beat, E, was
naturalized and the first note of the next measure was E with the flat
sign. I maintain that the flat sign is superfluous, and I should like to
know if this is right?

You are quite right, theoretically. Nevertheless, the proper tonality
signature of a note that was changed is very frequently restated when
the same note recurs beyond the bar. Though this special marking is not
necessary theoretically, practical experience has shown that it is not
an unwise precaution.

[Sidenote: _"E-Sharp and B-Sharp" and the Double Flat_]

What is the meaning of the sharps on the E and B line, and of a
double-flat? Are they merely theoretical?

They are not theoretical, but orthographical. You confound the note C
with the key on the keyboard by that name. B-sharp is played upon the
key called C, but its musical bearing is very remote from the note C.
The same applies to double-flats (and double-sharps), for D with a
double-flat is played upon the key called C, but it has no relation to
the note C. This corresponds precisely with the homonym in language:
"sow"--"sew"--"so"--sound alike, but are spelled in various ways
according to the meaning they are to convey.

[Sidenote: _The Effect of Double Flats_]

How is an octave, written thus, to be played?


As the single-flat lowers a note by a half-tone, so a double-flat lowers
it by two half-tones or a full tone.

[Sidenote: _Double Sharp Misprinted for Double Flat_]


In playing an operetta recently I found the double-sharp sign used for
double-flats as well. Is this correct?

The sign may be a misprint. But if it should occur repeatedly I advise
you to make quite sure, before taking the misprint for granted, that the
sign is not, after all, meant for a double-sharp.

[Sidenote: _When an Accidental Is in Parentheses_]


Please tell me how a chord or an interval marked thus, is executed. What
does an accidental in parentheses mean?

Chords marked as above are slightly rolled in the same manner as if
marked by a serpentine line, unless the sign denotes a linking with the
other hand. Which of the two meanings is intended you will easily infer
from the context. Accidentals in parentheses are mere warnings given by
some composers wherever there is a possibility of doubt as to the
correct reading caused by a momentary harmonic ambiguity. I have found
these accidentals in parentheses so far only in the works of French

[Sidenote: _The Staffs Are Independent of Each Other_]

Does an accidental in the right hand influence the left?

Inasmuch as piano music is written in score form, the two staffs are as
independent of each other as are the staffs in an orchestral score. We
may, in cases of suspected misprints, draw certain inferences from one
staff to the other, provided that they are justified by the prevailing
harmony. As a rule, the two staffs are independent of each other in
regard to accidental chromatic signs.

[Sidenote: _Why Two Names for the "Same" Key?_]

I am often asked why there must be fifteen keys in music instead of
twelve--that is, why not always write in B instead of C-flat, in F-sharp
instead of G-flat, in D-flat instead of C-sharp, or _vice versa_? I can
only say that the circle of fifths would not be complete without the
seven scales in sharps and the seven in flats: but Bach does not use all
the fifteen keys in his Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues, omitting
entirely, in the major keys, G-flat, D-flat, and C-flat, and, in the
minor keys, A-sharp and A-flat. Are compositions in sharps considered
more brilliant than those in flats? Do composers consider modulation in
selecting their key?

The answer to your question hinges upon whether you recognize in music
mere tone-play or whether you concede a mental and psychic side to it.
In the former case the mode of spelling a tone C-sharp or D-flat would
be, indeed, irrelevant. But in the latter case you must admit the
necessity of a musical orthography qualified to convey distinct tonal
meanings and musical thoughts to the reader and to the player. Though
there is in the tempered scale no difference between C-sharp and D-flat,
the musical reader will conceive them as different from one another,
partly because of their connection with other related harmonies. These
determine usually the composer's selection in cases of enharmonic
identities. In the script of human language you will find an analogy
than which none could be more perfect. In English there are, for
instance, "to," "too," and "two"; words in which the spelling alone, and
not the sound of pronunciation, conveys the different meanings of the

[Sidenote: _The Meaning and Use of "Motif"_]

What is the meaning of a "motif"? What does a dash mean over a note?
What is the best book of instruction for a beginner, a child of ten?

A motif is the germ of a theme. A theme may be composed of reiterations
of a motif, or by grouping several motifs together; it may also combine
both modes of procedure. The most glorious exemplification of
construction by reiteration of a motif you will find in the opening
theme of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. A dash over a note enjoins the
player to hold that note with the finger until it has received its full
value. The best "instruction book" for a child is a good teacher who
uses no instruction book, but imparts his knowledge to the child from
out of his own inner consciousness.

[Sidenote: _Tied Staccato Notes_]

In playing notes written thus is it permissible to slide the fingers
from the keys or should there be only a clinging touch?


Notes marked as above are to be played in such a manner that each note
is slightly separated from the next. The best touch for this is from the
arm, so that the fingers are not lifted from their joints, nor from the
wrist, but that the arm pulls the finger upward from the key.

[Sidenote: _The "Tenuto" Dash and Its Effect_]

What do short lines below or above a note or chord mean in
contradistinction to a staccato or an accent? And does it affect the
whole chord?

The dash under or above a note is a substitute for the word "tenuto"
(usually abbreviated into "ten."), which means "held," or, in other
words, be particular about giving this note its full sound-duration.
This substitute is usually employed when the holding concerns a single
note or a single chord.

[Sidenote: _A Rolled Chord Marked "Secco"_]

How should I execute a chord that is written with a spread and also
marked "secco"?--as in Chaminade's "Air de Ballet, No. 1."

Roll the chord as evenly as possible in all its parts; but use no pedal
and do not hold it, but play it briskly and short.

[Sidenote: _Small Notes Under Large Ones_]

What is the meaning of small notes printed under large ones?

Usually the small notes are an indication that they may be omitted by
players who have not the stretch of hand necessary to play them.

[Sidenote: _Accenting a Mordent in a Sonata_]

How should one play and accent the mordent occurring in the
forty-seventh measure of the first movement--allegro di molto--of
Beethoven's Sonata Pathétique, Opus 13?

The accent ought to lie upon the first note of the mordent, but you
should not make a triplet of it by occupying the whole quarter with its
execution. The mordent must be played fast enough to preserve the
rhythmic integrity of the melody-note.

[Sidenote: _The Position of the Turn Over a Note_]


The turn stands sometimes directly over the note and sometimes farther
to the right of it. Does this difference indicate different executions
and, if so, how would the two turns have to be played?

The turn always begins with its uppermost note. When it stands directly
over a note it takes the place of this note; when more to the right the
note is struck first and the turn, judiciously distributed at the time
of its disposal, follows.

[Sidenote: _How Are Syncopated Notes to be Played?_]

How are syncopated notes to be played?

Notes occurring an entire beat of the prescribed time are, when
syncopated, to be played between the beats. If the syncopated notes
occupy only a fraction of the beats they are played between the
fractional beats.

[Sidenote: _A Trill Begins on the Melodic Note_]

In modern compositions should all trills begin upon the note which is
written, presuming there is no appoggiatura before the note? Is the
alternation of the thumb and the second finger desirable in the playing
of a trill?

Where not expressly otherwise stated (by appoggiatura) trills usually
begin upon the melodic tone (the note which is written). Change fingers
when those employed get tired. For extended trills the use of three
fingers is advantageous, while in shorter trills two fingers will
preserve more clarity.

[Sidenote: _Position of Auxiliary Note in a Trill_]

In the accompanying example of the trill should the auxiliary note be a
tone or a half-tone above the principal note? If the half-tone, what
would be the name of the auxiliary note?


The episode you quote moves evidently in the tonality of G minor. The
trill stands on B-flat. As the auxiliary note of a trill is ever the
diatonic sequel of a stated note it must, in this case, be a whole tone
above B-flat, namely C. Since the piece is written in D major there
should have been a "natural" marked under the sign of the trill.

[Sidenote: _Speed and Smoothness in Trilling_]

Will you kindly suggest a good method of gaining speed and smoothness in

While there are no "methods" for trilling there are certain means by
which sluggish muscles may be assisted. Yet, even these means cannot be
suggested without knowing the seat and cause of your trouble. The causes
differ with the individual, but they are, in the majority of cases,
purely mental, not manual. To trill quickly we must think quickly; for
if we trill only with the fingers they will soon stick, lose their
rhythmic succession, and finish in a cramped condition. Hence, there is
no direct way to learn trilling; it will develop with your general
mental-musical advancement. The main thing is, of course, always to
listen to your own playing, actually and physically, to perceive every
tone you play; for only then can you form an estimate as to how quickly
you can "hear." And, of course, you do not expect to play anything more
quickly than your own ear can follow.

[Sidenote: _Difference in Playing Trills_]

What is the difference in the manner of playing the trill in measure 25,
and those in measures 37 and 38, of the Chopin Polonaise, Opus 53?

The significance of the trill in measure 25 is melodic, while that of
the trills in measures 37 and 38 is purely rhythmic, somewhat in the
nature of a snare-drum effect. The first trill requires greater stress
on the melodic note, while in the other two you may throw your hand, so
to speak, on both notes and roll the trill until it lands upon the next

[Sidenote: _The Meaning of Solfeggio_]

What is meant by "spelling" in music?

Unless it means the variety of ways in which most chords can be written
it refers to an oral reciting of notes, properly called solfeggio.


[Sidenote: _Some Pieces for a Girl of Fourteen_]

Please tell me some pieces of the classics which are not too difficult
for my daughter of fourteen to play. She has a great deal of talent but
not much technique. The Kuhlau Sonatinas she can play very well.

If your daughter is fourteen years old and has--as you say--much talent
but little technique, it is high time to think of developing her
technique, for a pianist without technique is like a pleasure traveller
without money. At any rate, I should prefer the easier sonatas by Haydn
and Mozart to those of Kuhlau, because of their greater intrinsic merit.
Any good teacher will assist you in selecting them to fit your
daughter's case.

[Sidenote: _In Playing a Sonata_]

In playing sonatas my teacher tells me it is a great fault if I neglect
to observe the repeat marks. I have heard it said by others that the
repetition is not necessary, though it may be desirable. Will you please
give me your opinion?

In a sonata it is of serious importance to repeat the first part
(exposition) of the first movement in order that the two principal
themes, as well as their tributaries, may well impress themselves upon
the mind and memory of your auditor. For, unless this is accomplished,
he cannot possibly understand and follow their development in the next
part. That the exposition part is not the only one to be repeated you
will find frequently indicated; for instance, in the last movement of
the "Appassionata," where the repetition is needful, not for the reason
stated before, but for the sake of formal balance or proportion.
Generally speaking, I am in favour of following the composer's
indications punctiliously, hence, also, his repeat marks, which serve
æsthetic purposes that you will perhaps not understand until later, when
the sonata has, in your hands, outgrown the stage of being learned.

[Sidenote: _A Point in Playing the "Moonlight Sonata"_]

Should not the notes of the triplet figure in Beethoven's "Moonlight
Sonata" be so blended into each other that you do not hear them in
separate notes, but as a background, so to speak, for the notes in the

The truth lies midway between two extremes. While the accompaniment
should be sufficiently subdued to form, as you say, a harmonic
background, it ought, nevertheless, not to be blended to such a degree
as to obliterate entirely the undercurrent of a triplet motion. The
accumulation of each chord should be produced through the pedal, not
through an excessive legato touch.

[Sidenote: _Playing the "Spring Song" too Fast_]

Should Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" be played in slow or fast time?

It is marked "Allegretto grazioso." The latter term (graceful, in
English) precludes a too-quick movement.

[Sidenote: _What a Dot May Mean_]

This is the seventh measure of Chopin's Polonaise, Opus 26, No. 1. What
is the meaning of the dot placed after the D in the bass? Whenever this
measure is repeated the dot occurs, or I should have thought it a


The left-hand notes follow each other as eighth-notes. Their respective
duration, however, is indicated by the upward stems and the dot. It is
intended here that a complete chord should be built up by accumulation,
as in illustration _a_:


and I would also hold the fifth eighth as in illustration _b_.

[Sidenote: _Where the Accent Should be Placed_]

In playing Chopin's Impromptu in A-flat, Opus 29, should the first or
the last note of the mordent receive the accent? I have heard the
mordent sound like a triplet? Is this the correct accent?

The last note of the mordent should be accented in this case.

[Sidenote: _A Disputed Chopin Reading_]

In Chopin's Nocturne in F-sharp, after the _Doppio_ Movement, when
returning to Tempo I, and counting five measures, should the right hand
in the fifth measure play this melody?


The various editions differ from one another in this measure. Peters's
edition, generally considered the best edition of Chopin's works, has
the second version, which commends itself by its greater naturalness.

[Sidenote: _Playing the "Melody in F"_]

In Rubinstein's "Melody in F" should the melody be played in the left
hand or be divided between the two hands?

Where there is no valid reason for doing otherwise it is always best to
follow the composer's prescription; for, in most cases--and with great
composers in all cases--the author knows what he meant to say. In the
aforesaid piece, too, I advise you to adhere to this principle, since it
is written with a view to teach the division of the melody between the
right and left hand. Any other execution would ruin this purposed

[Sidenote: _When Two Fingers Have the Same Note_]

In Schumann's "Blumenstück," third number, the uppermost notes of the
left hand are identical with the lowest of the right hand. Should the
thumbs of both hands strike the same keys at the same time all the way
through or should the left hand omit them?

The left hand should omit them, but be careful to omit only those that
are really duplicates. There are a few places toward the end of each
section where the left-hand notes differ from those in the right. In
those cases you must be careful to play all the notes that are written.


[Sidenote: _The Beginner in Bach Music_]

Can you give me a few helpful suggestions in a preliminary study of

A totality consists of many parts. If you cannot master the totality of
a work by Bach try each part by itself. Take one part of the right hand,
one part of the left, add a third part, and so on until you have all the
parts together. But be sure to follow out the line of each separate part
(or "voice," as the Continentals say). Do not lose patience. Remember
that Rome was not built in a day.

[Sidenote: _Bach's Music Necessary to Good Technique_]

Do you think the study of Bach is necessary to the development of one's
technique, or should one let his music alone until a later day when
one's technique is in good condition? Some of his music seems so dry.

Bach's music is not the only music that develops the technique. There
is, for instance, the music of Czerny and Clementi to be considered. But
Bach's music is particularly qualified to develop the fingers in
conjunction with musical expression and thematic characterization. You
may start with Czerny and Clementi, but you ought soon to turn to Bach.
That some of his music seems dry to you may be due to your mental
attitude by which you possibly expect from ecclesiastical music what
only the opera can give you. Think yourself into his style and you will
find a mine of never-dreamed-of enjoyment.

[Sidenote: _Always Keep in Touch with Bach_]

Do you think that the playing of Bach's works will keep one's hands in
good technical condition? And which is the best edition of Bach's piano

Bach is good for the soul as well as for the body, and I recommend that
you never lose touch with him. Which is the best edition would be hard
to say, but I have found the Peters edition to be very good.

[Sidenote: _Bach's Preludes and Fugues_]

What is the plan of a "Fugue," how does it differ from an "Invention"
and "Prelude," and what is the purpose of studying the pieces so named
by Bach?

The explanation of the plan of a Fugue would exceed by far the limits of
the space at my disposal. It would require a text-book, of which there
are many to be found in every good music store. The Fugue is the most
legitimate representation of true polyphony. Its difference from an
Invention is expressed in the two names. A Fugue (_fuga_, flight) is the
flight of one musical thought through many voices or parts, subject to
strict rules, while an Invention is an accumulation of thoughts moving
with absolute freedom. The definition of Prelude, as something which
intentionally precedes and fittingly introduces a main action, fits the
musical Prelude perfectly; especially in the case of Bach. The purpose
of all these forms is that of all good music-making, namely, the
purification and development of good taste in music.

[Sidenote: _As to the Bach Fugues_]

Of the Bach fugues do you consider the C sharp major difficult to
memorize, or do you advise the use of the D flat arrangement instead?

Such little differences have never bothered me, and I can therefore
hardly answer your question definitely. It has been frequently
observed--though never explained--that to many people it comes easier to
read music in D flat than in C sharp. Hence, if you prefer the D flat
edition it will reduce the difficulty for you. Possibly this more
accessible version may aid you optically or visually in your work of


[Sidenote: _Order of Studying Beethoven's Sonatas_]

I am just beginning to reach an intelligent interpretation of
Beethoven's music. Now, in what order should the Sonatas be studied?

If you should really have the laudable intention to study all the
Sonatas of Beethoven for your repertory I should think that you may
safely take them up very much in the order in which they are printed,
with the exception of Opus 53 and the Appassionata, which--spiritually
as well as technically--rank with the last five. The Steingräber
edition, however, furnishes a very fair order of difficulty in the index
to the Sonatas.

[Sidenote: _The Beethoven Sonata with a Pastoral Character_]

My teacher calls the Sonata opus 28, by Beethoven, the "Pastoral"
Sonata. I have not found anything "pastoral" in any of the movements. Is
it because I do not understand it, or is the name a mere amateurish

The name "Pastoral Sonata" could, no doubt, be traced to an arbitrary
invention, perhaps of some over-smart publisher endeavouring to heighten
the attractiveness of the Sonata to the general public by the addition
of a suggestive title. Yet it seems to fit the Sonata pretty well,
because, really, its main characteristic is a rural sort of peaceful
repose. Especially the first movement is of a tranquillity which,
surely, does not suggest the life of a metropolis. But in the other
movements, too, there are many episodes which by their naïveté and
good-natured boisterousness indicate the life of the village.

[Sidenote: _A Few, Well Played, Are Enough_]

Must I play all the Sonatas of Beethoven's in order to become a good
player, or is a certain number of them sufficient, and, if so, how many
would you advise?

Since the playing of all the Sonatas does not necessarily prove that
they were all well played, I think it is better to play one Sonata well
than to play many of them badly. Nor should Beethoven's Sonatas be
regarded as a musical drilling-ground, but rather as musical
revelations. As they are not all on precisely the same high plane of
thought, it is not necessary to play them all. To familiarize yourself
with Beethoven's style and grandeur of thought it is sufficient to have
mastered six or eight of his Sonatas; though that number, at least,
should be _mastered_.


[Sidenote: _The Study of Mendelssohn_]

In a complete course for a piano student should the study of Mendelssohn
be included? Which of his compositions are the most useful?

Mendelssohn is surely a composer who is not to be omitted. His melody
alone, besides other virtues, entitles him to be included, for melody
seems to grow scarce nowadays. To develop a fine cantilena his "Songs
Without Words" of slower motion, for instance, are just the thing.


[Sidenote: _What Is the Best of Chopin?_]

Which are the best compositions of Chopin to study by one who really
desires to know him?

All the Etudes, all the Preludes, the Ballades in A flat, G minor and F
minor, the Berceuse and the Barcarolle. The Mazurkas, Nocturnes,
Waltzes, and Polonaises you are probably familiar with; hence, I mention
the aforesaid other works. Generally speaking, of Chopin a pianist
should know everything.

[Sidenote: _The Charm of Chopin's Touch_]

What kind of touch did Chopin have?

Since a description of his touch would require too much space I refer
you to the book from which I gathered the most explicit information on
this point. It is "The Life of Chopin," by Frederick Niecks (London and
New York, Novello, Ewer & Co.), and in the second volume, from page 94
to about 104, you will find what you wish to know, as far as it is
possible to convey the charm of one art through the medium of another.
Since you seem interested in Chopin I would recommend that you closely
study both volumes of this masterly biographical work.

[Sidenote: _Mood and Tempo in the A-Flat Impromptu_]

What is the tempo (by metronome) of Chopin's Impromptu in A-flat, and
what idea did the composer embody in it?

The editions vary in their metronome markings and I believe none of
them. Your tempo will largely depend upon the state of your technique.
To the second question my reply is that Chopin has composed "music"
which--as you know--represents thoughts only in a musical sense,
otherwise it deals with purely psychic processes, moods, etc. The humour
of this Impromptu is mainly an amiable, ingratiating one, here and there
slightly tinged with a sweet melancholy. It should not be played too
fast, for it easily loses this latter attribute and then sounds like a
Czerny exercise. A moderate tempo will also tend to bring out the many
charming harmonic turns which, in too quick a tempo, are likely to be

[Sidenote: _Chopin's Barcarolle_]

In Chopin's Barcarolle there is a number of trills preceded by grace
notes. Are they to be executed according to Philipp Emmanuel Bach's
rule, so that the grace notes take their time from the note that follows

Philipp Emmanuel Bach's rule is a safe one to follow, but do not
confound a rule with a law. If you have reached that plane on which an
attempt at the Barcarolle by Chopin is rational, you must feel that your
individual taste will not lead you too far astray even if it should
prompt you occasionally to depart from the rule.

[Sidenote: _Chopin's Works for a Popular Concert_]

What works of Chopin would you suggest for a popular concert programme?

Nocturne, Opus 27, No. 2; Fantasy Impromptu, Opus 66; Scherzo, Opus 31;
Berceuse, Opus 57; Valse, Opus 64, No. 2; Polonaise, Opus 26, No. 1;
Chants Polonais (in Liszt's transcription).

[Sidenote: _Taking Liberties with the Tempo_]

In playing Chopin may one take liberties with the tempo and play
different parts of the same mazurka or nocturne in various degrees of

Undoubtedly. But the extent of such liberties depends upon your æsthetic
training. In principle your question admits of an affirmative reply, but
a specific answer is impossible without an acquaintance with your
musical status. I recommend that you be very cautious about "taking
liberties"; without, however, ceasing altogether to follow the
promptings of your good taste here and there. There is such a thing as
"artistic conscience"; consult it always before taking a liberty with
the tempo.

[Sidenote: _Omitting One Note in a Chord_]


In the beginning of the Waltz in E minor by Chopin the left hand has to
play this chord a number of times. I can stretch any three of the four
notes, but not all four. Can one of them be omitted, and which one?

You may omit the upper E, the second note from the top, but you may do
so only so long as it is physically impossible for you to strike all
the four notes. For, by omitting this note you do alter the tone colour
of the chord as well as its sonority. As soon as you have acquired the
requisite stretch--and anybody who does possess it--I would advise that
the note be not unnecessarily omitted. Chopin evidently meant to have
that note played.

[Sidenote: _Masters Cannot be Studied in Order_]

Will you give me your views as to the order in which the masters of
piano composition should be studied?

To classify composers, without specifying their works, is never
advisable. Beethoven's first and last sonatas differ so fundamentally
from each other in every particular that one may play the first one very
well and yet be for many years (perhaps forever) unable to play the last
one. And still, it is the same Beethoven that wrote both works. We can,
therefore, hardly speak of an "order of composers." So long as we are
dealing with masters the question should not be: Which master?--but,
Which composition does your stage of mental and technical development
call for? If you will defer the study of any other composer until you
have fully mastered the works of Beethoven--only the principal ones, at
that--you will need a life of more length than the Bible allots to the
average man.

[Sidenote: _The Greatest Composers as Pianists_]

Is it true that nearly all the great composers have been pianists?

If by pianists you mean musicians whose sole medium of audible musical
utterance was the piano, your question admits of no other than an
affirmative reply. The only exception I can think of just now was
Berlioz; there were, no doubt, others, but none who belongs to the truly
great ones. The reason for this is, perhaps, the circumstance that the
pianist throughout his education is brought into touch with greater
polyphony than the players of other instruments, and that polyphony is a
basic principle in music.

[Sidenote: _The Study of Operatic Transcriptions_]

Is the study of Thalberg's operatic transcriptions of any value to the
piano student?

Operatic transcriptions begin with Liszt. What was written before him in
that line (and in some degree contemporary with him, hence it includes
Thalberg) is hardly of any significance. If you feel a special
inclination toward the transcriptions of Thalberg you may play them;
they will not harm you so very much. But if you ask me whether they are
of any musical value I must frankly say, no.

[Sidenote: _Modern Piano Music_]

Are such pieces as "Beautiful Star of Heaven" or "Falling Waters" in
good taste? What contemporary composers write good piano music?

Pieces with pretentious names are usually devoid of such contents as
their names imply, so that the names are merely a screen to hide the
paucity of thoughts and ideas. Speaking very generally, there seems to
be not very much good music written for the piano just at present. By
far the best comes from Russia. Most of these compositions are rather
difficult to play, but there are some easy ones to be found among them,
such as the "Music Box," by Liadow, "Fantastic Fairy Tales," No. 12, by
Pachulski, and others.


[Sidenote: _Exercises for the Beginner to Practise_]

Is there any special book of practice exercises that you think best for
a beginner and that you would care to recommend?

Any reliable music publisher will tell you which book of exercises is
most in demand. The effect of the exercises depends, of course, upon the
way you play them. Indications as to touch, etc., are usually given in
such books. What kind of exercises your case demands cannot be
determined without a personal examination by an expert.

[Sidenote: _Good Finger Exercises_]

What would you say are the best studies for plain finger work?

The exercises of "Pischna" are to be recommended. They have appeared in
two editions, of which one is abridged. They are known as the "large"
and the "small Pischna." You may obtain them through any large music
house, I think, in the Steingräber Edition.

[Sidenote: _The Value of Heller's Studies_]

Are Heller's studies practical for a young student lacking in rhythm and

Yes, they are very good, provided the teacher insists that the pupil
plays exactly what is indicated and does not merely "come near it."

[Sidenote: _Good Intermediate Books of Etudes_]

Living in the country, where there is no teacher available, I would
thank you for telling me what Etudes I ought to study. I have finished
those by Cramer and Moscheles, and can play them well, but find those by
Chopin too difficult. Are there no intermediate works?

You seem to be fond of playing Etudes. Well, then, I suggest:

"Twelve Etudes for Technique and Expression," by Edmund Neupert.

"Concert Etudes," by Hans Seeling (Peters Edition).

"Etudes," by Carl Baermann (two books), published in Germany.

"Etudes," by Ruthardt (Peters Edition).

But why not select an easy Etude by Chopin and make a start? The best
preparation--if not the Etudes themselves--is Heller's Opus 154.

[Sidenote: _Etudes For Advanced Players to Work at_]

What regular technical work would you prescribe for a fairly advanced
pianist--one who plays pretty well such things as the Chopin Etudes in
C minor, Opus 10, No. 12, and in D flat, Opus 25, No. 8, and the B flat
minor prelude?

My advice to advanced players is always that they should construct their
technical exercises out of such material as the different places in the
pieces at hand furnish. If you should feel the need of Etudes for
increasing your endurance and control of protracted difficult passages I
suggest that you take up the Etudes by Baermann and those by Kessler.
The former are a little easier than the latter.

[Sidenote: _The Value of Clementi's "Gradus" To-day_]

My first teacher laid great store by Clementi's "Gradus ad Parnassum,"
and insisted upon taking every study in it, while my new teacher, with
whom I recently started lessons, says that it is "outlived,
superannuated." Was my old or my new teacher right?

They were both right; one as a pedagogue, the other as a musician. As
you do not mention the reason of your first teacher's insistence, I must
assume that he employed the "Gradus" as exercises, pure and simple. It
serves this purpose quite well, though even as studies for the applying
of technical disciplines they are, on account of their dryness,
"outlived," as your new teacher correctly says. Modern writers have
produced studies which combine with their technical usefulness greater
musical value and attractiveness.


[Sidenote: _Playing Duple Time Against Triple_]

How must I execute triplets played against two-eighths? In Clementi's
Sonatina, Opus 37, No. 3, first page, you will find such bars.

In a slow tempo it may serve you to think of the second eighth-note of
the triplet as being subdivided into two sixteenths. After both hands
have played the first note of their respective groups simultaneously,
the place of the aforesaid second sixteenth is to be filled by the
second note of the couplet. In faster motion it is far better to
practise at first each hand alone and with somewhat exaggerated accents
of each group until the two relative speeds are well established in the
mind. Then try to play the two hands together in a sort of
semi-automatic way. Frequent correct repetition of the same figure will
soon change your semi-automatic state into a conscious one, and thus
train your ear to listen to and control two different rhythms or
groupings at the same time.

[Sidenote: _The Two Hands Playing Different Rhythms_]

How should, in Chopin's Fantasy Impromptu, the four notes of the right
be played to the three of the left? Is an exact division possible?

An exact division would lead to such fractions as the musician has no
means of measuring and no terms for expressing. There is but one way to
play unequal rhythms simultaneously in both hands; study each hand
separately until you can depend upon it, and put them together without
thinking of either rhythm. Think of the points where the two hands have
to meet, the "dead points" of the two motions, and rely on your
automatism until, by frequent hearing, you have learned to listen to two
rhythms at once.

[Sidenote: _The Old Problem of Duple Time Against Triple_]


How should the above-quoted notes be brought in with the lower triplets?

It would be futile to attempt a precise and conscious division in such
cases. The best, in fact, the only, way to do is to practise the hands
separately with an exaggerated accent on each beat until the points
where the hands meet are well conceived and the relative speed ratios
are well understood. Then try to play the hands together, and do not be
discouraged if the first attempts fail. Repeat the trial often and you
will finally succeed if the separate practice has been sufficient to
produce a semi-automatic action of the hands.


[Sidenote: _The Value and Correct Practice of Phrasing_]

Can you give an amateur a concise definition of phrasing and a few
helpful suggestions as to clear phrasing?

Phrasing is a rational division and subdivision of musical sentences,
and serves to make them intelligible. It corresponds closely with
punctuation in literature and its recitation. Find out the start, the
end, and the culminating point of your phrase. The last-named is
usually to be found upon the highest note of the phrase, while the
former are usually indicated by phrasing slurs. Generally speaking, the
rising of the melody is combined with an increase of strength up to the
point of culmination, where, in keeping with the note design, the
decrease of strength sets in. For artistic phrasing it is of the utmost
importance properly to recognize the principal mood of the piece, for
this must, naturally, influence the rendition of every detail in it. A
phrase occurring in an agitated movement, for instance, will have to be
rendered very differently from a similar-looking phrase in a slow,
dreamy movement.

[Sidenote: _Do Not Raise Wrist in Marking a Rest_]

In observing a rest should the hand be raised from the wrist?

Never! Such a motion should be made only in rapid wrist octaves or other
double notes when a staccato is prescribed. The regular way to conclude
a phrase, or observe a pause, as you say, is to lift the arm from the
keyboard and keep the wrist perfectly limp, so that the arm carries the
loosely hanging hand upward.


[Sidenote: _As to Playing Rubato_]

Will you please tell me what is the best method of playing rubato?

The artistic principles ruling rubato playing are good taste and keeping
within artistic bounds. The physical principle is balance. What you
shorten of the time in one phrase or part of a phrase you must add at
the first opportunity to another in order that the time "stolen"
(rubato) in one place may be restituted in another. The æsthetic law
demands that the total time-value of a music piece shall not be affected
by any rubato, hence, the rubato can only have sway within the limits of
such time as would be consumed if the piece were played in the strictest

[Sidenote: _How to Play Passages Marked "Rubato"_]

I find an explanation of _tempo rubato_ which says that the hand which
plays the melody may move with all possible freedom, while the
accompanying hand must keep strict time. How can this be done?

The explanation you found, while not absolutely wrong, is very
misleading, for it can find application only in a very few isolated
cases; only inside of one short phrase and then hardly satisfactorily.
Besides, the words you quote are not an explanation, but a mere
assertion or, rather, allegation. _Tempo rubato_ means a wavering, a
vacillating of time values, and the question whether this is to extend
over both hands or over only one must be decided by the player's good
taste; it also depends upon whether the occupation of the two hands can
be thought of as separate and musically independent. I assume that you
are able to play each hand alone with perfect freedom, and I doubt not
that you can, with some practice, retain this freedom of each hand when
you unite them, but I can see only very few cases to which you could
apply such skill, and still less do I see the advantage thereof.

[Sidenote: _Perfect Rubato the Result of Momentary Impulse_]

In playing _rubato_ do you follow a preconceived notion or the impulse
of the moment?

Perfect expression is possible only under perfect freedom. Hence, the
perfect _rubato_ must be the result of momentary impulse. It is,
however, only a few very eminent players that have such command over
this means of expression as to feel safe in trusting their momentary
impulses altogether. The average player will do well carefully to
consider the shifting of time values and to prepare their execution to a
certain degree. This should not, however, be carried too far, as it
would impair the naturalness of expression and lead to a stereotyped

[Sidenote: _The Difference Between Conception and Rubato_]

Is there any difference between conception and _rubato?_

Conception is a generic term and comprises the service of each and all
means of expression, among which _rubato_ plays a somewhat prominent
part. For it is, so to speak, the musical pulse-beat of the player.
Being subordinate to conception, its function and manner must be
governed by the latter.


[Sidenote: _Different Conceptions May be Individually Correct_]

Can one and the same phrase be conceived differently by different
artists and still be individually correct in each instance?

Certainly! Provided that--whatever the conception be--it preserves the
logical relations of the parts in building up the phrase, and that it is
carried through the whole course of the piece in a consistent manner.
Whether a certain conception of a phrase is or is not compatible with
the general character of the piece and how far the freedom of conception
may extend, it will be for the æsthetic training and the good taste of
the player to determine for each and every case separately.

[Sidenote: _Which Should Come First--Conception or Technique?_]

In the first attempts at a new piece must matters of conception be
observed at once or only after the piece has been technically mastered?

Unless one is a very experienced reader it will be hardly possible to
think of matters of conception until the technical means to express them
and the necessary perspective of the piece have been gained. It is
always safer first to make sure that the notes as such, and their
respective times value have been read correctly, and that the technical
difficulties have, to a fair degree, been overcome. This done, the
question must be settled as to whether the general character of the
piece is dramatic, _i. e._, tragic or conciliatory, melancholy, lyric,
rhapsodic, humorous, or changeable, and so forth. Only when our mind on
this point is made up with the utmost definiteness, can we approach the
details that are conditioned by the conception.


[Sidenote: _Hearing a Piece Before Studying It_]

Should a pupil hear a piece played before studying it?

If the pupil's imagination needs stimulation he should hear the piece
well played before studying it. If, however, he is merely too lazy to
find out the rhythm, melody, and so forth, and rather relies upon his
purely imitative faculty, he should not hear it, but be compelled to do
his own reading and thinking.


[Sidenote: _Why the Pianist Should Study Harmony_]

Do you recommend the study of harmony and counterpoint to the piano

By all means! To gain a musical insight into the pieces you play you
must be able to follow the course of their harmonies and understand the
contrapuntal treatment of their themes. Without the knowledge gained
through a serious study of harmony and counter-point your conceptions
will be pure guesswork and will lack in outline and definiteness.

[Sidenote: _Why so Many Different Keys?_]

Why is it supposed to be necessary to have fifteen keys to complete the
circle of fifths? Why would not twelve suffice, and thus avoid duplicate

Not fifteen, but twenty-five tonalities complete the circle of fifths,
theoretically, and they are all necessary because of the many harmonic
turns that occur in modern music and which could not be intelligently
demonstrated unless we use the tonalities with seven, eight, nine or
more sharps and flats. For otherwise we might have to change the
signature so frequently as to become utterly confusing to even the most
musicianly reader. C-sharp minor has but four sharps, yet the scale of
its dominant (its next relative) has eight sharps.

[Sidenote: _The Relation of Harmony to Piano-Playing_]

Is it absolutely necessary for me to study harmony in connection with my
piano? My teacher wants me to do it, but I don't see the use! Of what
benefit is harmony?

Of what benefit is the general school-work a child has to go through? To
play the piano well a good hand and so many hours of practice are not
sufficient; it requires a general musical education. This means, first
and foremost, a knowledge of harmony, to which you may later add the
study of counterpoint and forms. Your teacher is absolutely right.

[Sidenote: _Text-Books on Harmony_]

Would you care to recommend two or three of the best books on the study
of harmony?

The doctrine of harmony is ever the same, but the modes of teaching it
are constantly changing and, I trust, improving. For this reason I feel
a certain hesitation in recommending at this time the text-books which I
studied many years ago, especially as I am not certain that they have
been translated into English. I advise you, therefore, to inquire of
some good teacher of harmony or, at least, of a reliable music publisher
or dealer. E. F. Richter and Büssler wrote works of recognized merit,
which, though no longer modern, may be safely studied.

[Sidenote: _Learning to Modulate_]

Is it possible to learn modulating from a book without the aid of a
teacher, so as to connect two pieces of different tonality?

Possible, yes, but not probable; for since in your written exercises you
are likely to err at times, you will need some one to point out your
errors and so show you the way to correct them. Generally speaking, I do
not think much of studying the rudiments of anything without the aid of
an experienced adviser.

[Sidenote: _Studying Counterpoint by One's Self_]

Is it possible to study counterpoint without a teacher, and, if so, what
book can you recommend for its study?

It is quite possible, provided you are certain never to misunderstand
your text-book and never to commit any errors. Otherwise you will need
the advice of an experienced musician in correcting them. A good
teacher, however, is always better than a book for this study. Of
text-books there are a great many. Any reliable music house will furnish
you with a list of them.

[Sidenote: _Should Piano Students Try to Compose?_]

Besides my study of the piano shall I try to compose if I feel the
inclination and believe I have some talent for it?

The practice of constructing will always facilitate your work of
reconstructing, which is, practically, what the rendition of a musical
work means. Hence, I advise every one who feels able to construct even a
modest little piece to try his hand at it. Of course, if you can write
only a two-step it will not enable you to reconstruct a Beethoven
Sonata; still, there may be little places in the Sonata that will clear
up in your mind more quickly when you have come in touch with the
technical act of putting down on paper what your mind has created, and
you will altogether lose the attitude of the absolute stranger when
facing a new composition. Do not construe this, however, as an
encouragement to write two-steps!

[Sidenote: _The Student Who Wants to Compose_]

Please advise me as to the best way of learning composition. Which is
the best work of that kind from which I could learn?

First learn to write notes. Copying all sorts of music is the best
practice for that. Then study the doctrine of harmony. Follow it up by a
study of the various forms of counterpoint. Proceed to canon in its many
kinds and intervals. Take up the fugue. Then study forms until you learn
to feel them. Books for every one of these stages there are many, but
better than all the books is a good teacher.

[Sidenote: _The Difference Between Major and Minor Scales_]

What is the difference between the major and minor scale? Does it lie in
the arrangement of semitones or in the character, or in both?

There are three differences: First, in the arrangement of the semitones;
second, in the character; and, third, in the circumstance that the minor
scale admits of a number of modifications for melodic purposes which
cannot be made in the major scale.

[Sidenote: _There is Only One Minor Scale_]

Which is the true minor scale, the melodic or the harmonic? My teacher
insists upon the harmonic, but it sounds ugly to me. Will you please
tell me something about it?

There is but one minor scale; it is the one upon which the chords of its
tonality are built; it is the one upon which your teacher wisely
insists, because the so-called melodic minor scale offers no new
intervals to your fingers, and because the term melodic minor scale is
applied to that form of deviation from the real scale which is most
frequently used, but which is by no means the only deviation that is
possible; nor is it the only one in use.

[Sidenote: _What is the Difference Between the Major and Minor Scales?_]

What is the difference between the major and minor scales?

The major scale has a major third and sixth, while the minor scale has a
minor third and sixth and raises its seventh to a major seventh by an
accidental elevating sign, raising a natural note by a sharp, and a flat
note by a natural. If you begin your major scale upon its sixth degree
and, counting it as the first of the minor, raise the seventh, you
obtain the minor scale, in which, however, many modifications are
admissible for melodic (though not for harmonic) purposes.

[Sidenote: _How Waltz, Menuet, Mazurka, and Polonaise Differ_]

As a waltz and a menuet are both in three-fourth time, is it only the
tempo in which they differ, or are there other differences?

Waltz, menuet, mazurka, and polonaise are all in three-fourth time and
are not confined to a definite tempo. The difference between them lies
in the structure. A waltz period--that is, the full expression of a
theme--needs sixteen measures; a menuet needs only eight, a mazurka only
four measures. In a mazurka a motive occupies only one measure, in the
menuet two, and in the waltz four. The polonaise subdivides its quarters
into eighths, and the second eighth usually into two sixteenths; it
differs, therefore, from the other three dances by its rhythm.

[Sidenote: _The Meaning of "Toccata"_]

What is the meaning of the word "Toccata"? I do not find it in the
Italian lexicon and the English musical dictionaries differ widely in
their definitions. None of their definitions seems to apply to the
Toccata by Chaminade.

To make the matter quite plain let me say, first, that "Cantata" (from
_cantare_--to sing) meant in olden times a music piece to be sung; while
"Sonata" (from _suonare_--to play) designated a piece to be played on an
instrument; and "Toccato" meant a piece for keyboard instruments like
the organ or piano and its precursors, written with the intention of
providing special opportunities for the display of the skill of touch
(from _toccare_--to touch) or, as we would now say, finger technique.
The original meanings have changed so that these terms now imply
definite forms, like the modern Cantata and Sonata. The Toccata is, at
present, understood to be a piece in constant and regular motion, very
much like those that are called "_moto perpetuo_" or "perpetual motion,"
of which Weber's "Perpetuum mobile" is a good example. I have no doubt
that the Toccata by Chaminade, which I do not know, is written on
similar lines.


[Sidenote: _Playing from Memory Is Indispensable_]

Is memorization absolutely essential to a good player?

Playing from memory is indispensable to the freedom of rendition. You
have to bear in your mind and memory the whole piece in order to attend
properly to its details. Some renowned players who take the printed
sheets before them on the stage play, nevertheless, from memory. They
take the music with them only to heighten their feeling of security and
to counteract a lack of confidence in their memory--a species of

[Sidenote: _The Easiest Way to Memorize_]

Will you please tell me which is the easiest way to memorize a piano

Begin by playing it a few times very carefully and slowly until you can
play it with a fair degree of exactitude (you need not mind an
occasional stopping). Then go over such places as appeared to you
especially complex until you understand their construction. Now let the
piece rest for a whole day and try to trace in your mind the train of
thoughts in the piece. Should you come to a dead stop be satisfied with
what you have achieved. Your mind will keep on working, subconsciously,
as over a puzzle, always trying to find the continuation. If you find
that the memory is a blank take the music in hand, look at the
particular place--but only at this--and, since you have now found the
connection, continue the work of mental tracing. At the next stop repeat
this procedure until you have reached the end, not in every detail, but
in large outlines. Of course, this does not mean that you can now _play_
it from memory. You have only arrived at the point of transition from
the imagined to the real, and now begins a new kind of study: to
transfer to the instrument what you have mentally absorbed. Try to do
this piece by piece, and look into the printed sheets (which should not
be on the music-rack but away from it) only when your memory absolutely
refuses to go on. The real work with the printed music should be
reserved to the last, and you should regard it in the light of a
proof-reading of your mental impressions. The whole process of absorbing
a piece of music mentally resembles that of photographing. The
development of the acoustic picture (the tone-picture) is like the bath.
The tentative playing is like the process of "fixing" against
sensitiveness to lights; and the final work with the printed music is
the retouching.

[Sidenote: _In Order to Memorize Easily_]

I find it very hard to memorize my music. Can you suggest any method
that would make it easier?

To retain in one's memory what does not interest one is difficult to
everybody, while that which does interest us comes easy. In your case
the first requirement seems to be that your interest in the pieces you
are to play be awakened. This interest usually comes with a deeper
understanding of music; hence, it may be said that nothing will assist a
naturally reluctant memory so much as a general musical education.
Special studies for the memory have not come to my knowledge because I
never had any need of them. After all, the best way to memorize is--to
memorize. One phrase to-day, another to-morrow, and so on, until the
memory grows by its own force through being exercised.

[Sidenote: _Memorizing Quickly and Forgetting as Readily_]

I memorize very easily, so that I can often play my pieces from memory
before I have fully mastered their technical difficulties, as my
teacher says. But I forget them just as quickly, so that in a few weeks
I cannot remember enough of them to play them clear through. What would
you advise, to make my memory more retentive?

There are two fundamental types of memory: One is very mobile--it
acquires quickly and loses just as quickly; the other is more cumbrous
in its action--it acquires slowly, but retains forever. A combination of
the two is very rare, indeed; I never heard of such a case. A remedy
against forgetting you will find in refreshing your memory in regular
periods, playing your memorized pieces over (carefully) every four or
five days. Other remedies I know not and I see no necessity for them.

[Sidenote: _To Keep Errors from Creeping in_]

I can always memorize a piece before I can play it fast. Do you advise
practising with notes when I already know it by heart?

The occasional playing of a memorized piece from the notes will keep
errors from creeping in, provided you read the music correctly and


[Sidenote: _The Best Way to Improve Sight-Reading_]

Is there any practical method that will assist one to greater rapidity
in sight-reading?

The best way to become a quick reader is to read as much as possible.
The rapidity of your progress depends upon the state of your general
musical education, for the more complete this is the better you will be
able to surmise the logical sequel of a phrase once started. A large
part of sight-reading consists of surmising, as you will find upon
analyzing your book-reading.

[Sidenote: _To Gain Facility in Sight-Reading_]

What is a good plan to pursue to improve the facility in sight-reading?

Much reading and playing at sight and as fast as possible, even though
at first some slight inaccuracies may creep in. By quick reading you
develop that faculty of the eye which is meant by "grasp," and this, in
turn, facilitates your reading of details.


[Sidenote: _Learning To Accompany at Sight_]

How can one learn to accompany at sight?

Develop your sight-reading by playing many accompaniments, and
endeavour--while playing your part--also to read and inwardly hear the
solo part.

[Sidenote: _The Art of Accompanying a Soloist_]

How should one manage the accompaniment for a soloist inclined to play

Since you cannot make a contract of artistically binding force with a
soloist you must take refuge in "following." But do not take this word
in its literal meaning; rather endeavour to divine the intentions of
your soloist from moment to moment, for this divining is the soul of
accompanying. To be, in this sense, a good accompanist, one must have
what is called in musical slang a good "nose"--that is, one must
musically "scent" whither the soloist is going. But, then, the nose is
one of the things we are born with. We may develop it, as to its
sensitiveness, but we cannot acquire a nose by learning. Experience will
do much in these premises, but not everything.

[Sidenote: _Learning the Art of Accompanying_]

Wishing to become an accompanist I anticipate completing my studies in
Berlin. What salary might I expect and what would be the best "course"
to pursue?

An experienced and very clever accompanist may possibly earn as much as
fifty dollars a week if associated with a vocal, violin, or 'cello
artist of great renown. Usually, however, accompanists are expected to
be able to play solos. There are no special schools for accompanists,
though there may be possibly some special courses in which experience
may be fostered. If you come to Berlin you will find it easy to find
what you seem to be seeking.


[Sidenote: _The Problem of Transposing at Sight_]

What, please, is the quickest and safest way of transposing from one key
to another? I have trouble, for instance, in playing for singing if the
piece is in A major and the singer wants it in F major.

The question of transposing hinges on the process of hearing through the
eye. I mean by this that you must study the piece until you learn to
conceive the printed music as sounds and sound groups, not as key
pictures. Then transfer the sound picture to another tonality in your
mind, very much as if when moving from one floor to another with all
your household goods you were to place them on the new floor as they
were placed on the old. Practice will, of course, facilitate this
process very much. Transposition at sight is based on somewhat different
principles. Here you have to get mentally settled in the new tonality,
and then follow the course of intervals. If you find transposition
difficult you may derive consolation from the thought that it is
difficult for everybody, and that transposing at sight is, of course,
still more difficult than to transpose after studying the piece


[Sidenote: _When to "Play For People"_]

During the period of serious study may I play for people (friends or
strangers) or should I keep entirely away from the outside world?

From time to time you may play for people the pieces you have mastered,
but take good care to go over them afterward--the difficult places
slowly--in order to eliminate any slight errors or unevenness that may
have crept in. To play for people is not only a good incentive for
further aspirations; it also furnishes you with a fairly exact estimate
of your abilities and shortcomings, and indicates thereby the road to
improvement. To retire from the outside world during the period of study
is an outlived, obsolete idea which probably originated in the endeavour
to curb the vanity of such students as would neglect their studies in
hunting, prematurely, for applause. I recommend playing for people
moderately and on the condition that for every such "performance" of a
piece you play it afterward twice, slowly and carefully, at home. This
will keep the piece intact and bring you many other unexpected

[Sidenote: "_Afraid to Play Before People_"]

I can never do myself justice when playing for people, because of my
nervousness. How can I overcome it?

If you are absolutely certain that your trouble is due to "nervousness"
you should improve the condition of your nerves by proper exercise
in the open air and by consulting your physician. But are you
quite sure that your "nervousness" is not merely another name for
self-consciousness, or, worse yet, for a "bad conscience" on the score
of technical security? In the latter case you ought to perfect your
technique, while in the former you must learn to discard all thought of
your dear self, as well as of your hearers in relation to you, and
concentrate your thinking upon the work you are to do. This you can well
achieve by will-power and persistent self-training.

[Sidenote: _Effect of Playing the Same Piece Often_]

I have heard artists play the same piece year after year, and each time
as expressively as before. After a piece has been played several hundred
times it can hardly produce on the player the same emotional effect that
it originally did. Is it possible for a player by his art and technical
resources so to colour his tones that he can stimulate and produce in
his audience an emotional condition which he himself does not at the
time feel?

In music emotion can be conveyed only through the means and modes of
expression that are peculiar to music, such as dynamic changes,
vacillations of tempo, differences of touch and kindred devices. When a
piece is played in public very often on consecutive occasions--which
artists avoid as much as they can--these expressions gradually assume a
distinct form which is quite capable of preservation. Though it will in
time lose its life-breath, it can still produce a deception just as (to
draw a drastic parallel) a dead person may look as if he were only
asleep. In this parallel the artist has, however, one great advantage.
Since he cannot play a piece very often without having a number of
errors, rearrangements, slight changes creeping into it, he must, in
order to eliminate them and to cleanse the piece, return from time to
time to slow practice in which he also refrains almost entirely from
expression. When in the next public performance the right tempo and
expression are added again they tend strongly to renew the freshness of
the piece in the player's mind.

[Sidenote: _The Pianist Who Fails to Express Herself_]

I love music dearly and my teacher is always satisfied with my lessons,
but when I play for my friends I never make a success. They compliment
me, but I feel that they do not care for my playing; even my mother says
that my playing is "mechanical." How can I change it?

It is just possible that your friends and your mother may not be
amenable to the high class of music which you play, but if this is not
the case your affliction cannot be cured offhand. If the lack of
expression in your playing should emanate from a lack of feeling in
yourself, then your case would be incurable. If, however, you play
"mechanically" because you do not know how to express your emotions in
your playing--and I suspect it to be so--then you are curable, although
there are no remedies that would act directly. I suggest that you form
close associations with good musicians and with lovers of good music. By
looking well and listening you can learn their modes of expression and
employ them first by imitation until the habit of "saying something"
when you play has grown upon you. I think, though, that you need an
inward change before there can be any outward change.

[Sidenote: _The Art of Playing With Feeling_]

In the musical manifestations of feeling how does the artist chiefly
differ from the amateur?

The artist expresses his feelings with due deference to the canons of
art. Above all, he plays correctly without allowing this ever-present
correctness to make his playing seem lacking in feeling. Without unduly
repressing or suppressing his individuality he respects the composer's
intentions by punctiliously obeying every hint or suggestion he finds in
the annotations, concerning speed, force, touch, changes, contrasts,
etc. He delivers the composer's message truthfully. His personality or
individuality reveals itself solely in the way he understands the
composition and in the manner in which he executes the composer's

Not so the amateur. Long before he is able to play the piece correctly
he begins to twist and turn things in it to suit himself, under the
belief, I suppose, that he is endowed with an "individuality" so strong
as to justify an indulgence in all manner of "liberties," that is,
licence. Feeling is a great thing; so is the will to express it; but
both are worthless without ability. Hence, before playing with feeling,
it were well to make sure that everything in the piece is in the right
place, in the right time, strength, touch, and so forth. Correct
reading--and not only of the notes _per se_--is a matter that every good
teacher insists upon with his pupils, even in the earliest grades of
advancement. The amateur should make sure of that before he allows his
"feelings" to run riot. But he very seldom does.

[Sidenote: _Affected Movements at the Piano_]

Is there any justification for the swaying of the body, the nodding of
the head, the exaggerated motion of the arms, and all grotesque actions
in general while playing the piano, so frequently exhibited not only by
amateurs but by concert players, too?

All such actions as you describe reveal a lack of the player's proper
self-control when they are unconsciously indulged in. When they are
consciously committed, which is not infrequently the case, they betray
the pianist's effort to deflect the auditors' attention from the
composition to himself, feeling probably unable to satisfy his auditors
with the result of his playing and, therefore, resorting to
illustration by more or less exaggerated gesture. General
well-manneredness, or its absence, has a good deal to do with the


[Sidenote: _Is the Piano the Hardest to Master?_]

Do you believe that the piano is the most difficult of all instruments
to master--more so than the organ or the violin? If so, why?

The piano is more difficult to master than the organ, because the
tone-production on the piano is not so purely mechanical as it is on the
organ. The pianist's touch is the immediate producer of whatever variety
or colour of tone the moment requires, whereas the organist is powerless
to produce any change of tone colour except by pulling a different stop.
His fingers do not and cannot produce the change. As to string
instruments, their difficulties lie in an entirely different field, and
this fact precludes comparison with the piano. Technically, the string
instrument may be more difficult, but, to become an exponent of musical
art on the piano requires deeper study, because the pianist must
present to his hearers the totality of a composition while the string
instruments depend for the most part upon the accompaniments of some
other instruments.

[Sidenote: _Piano Study for Conductor and Composer_]

Being a cornet player, and wishing to become a conductor and composer, I
should like to know if the study of the piano is necessary in addition
to my broad, theoretical studies and a common college course.

It depends upon what you wish to conduct and what to compose. With no
other means of musically expressing yourself than a cornet it is highly
improbable that you will be able to write or conduct a symphony. But you
may be able to lead a brass band and, perhaps, to write a march or dance
piece. If your musical aims are serious by all means take to the piano.

[Sidenote: _Why the Piano Is So Popular_]

Why do more people play the piano than any other instrument?

Because the rudimentary stages of music study are easier on the piano
than on any other instrument. The higher stages, however, are so much
more difficult, and it is then that the piano gets even with the bold
aggressor. A violinist or 'cellist who can play a melody simply and with
good tone is considered a fairly good amateur, for he must have mastered
the difficulty of tone-production; he must have trained his right arm. A
pianist who can play a melody equally well is the merest tyro. When he
approaches polyphony, when the discrimination begins between the various
parts speaking simultaneously, aye, then the real work begins--not to
speak of velocity. It is, perhaps, for this reason that in reality there
are a great many more violinists than pianists, if by either we mean
persons who really master their instrument. The number of 'cellists is
smaller, but the reason for this is to be found in the small range of
'cello literature and also, perhaps, in the comparative unwieldiness of
the instrument, which does not admit of technical development as, for
instance, the more handy violin. If all beginners at the piano realized
what exasperating, harassing, discouraging, nerve-consuming difficulties
await them later and beset the path to that mastery which so few
achieve, there would be far fewer piano students and more people would
study the violin or the 'cello. Of the harp and the wind instruments I
need not speak, because they are to be considered only in matters
orchestral and not--seriously--as solo instruments.

[Sidenote: _The Genuine Piano Hand_]

What shape of hand do you consider the best for piano playing? Mine is
very broad, with rather long fingers.

The best piano hand is not the popular, pretty, narrow hand with long
fingers. Nearly all the great technicians had or have proportioned
hands. The genuine piano hand must be broad, in order to give each
finger a strong base for the action of its phalanges and to give this
base space enough for the development of the various sets of muscles.
The length of the fingers must be in proportion to the width of the
hand, but it is the width which I consider most important.

[Sidenote: _The Composition Must Fit the Player_]

Would you advise players with small hands to attempt the heavier class
of the compositions by Liszt?

Never! Whether the hands are too small or the stretch between the
fingers too narrow--if you attempt a piece which for these or other
physical reasons you cannot fully master, you always run the serious
risk of overstraining. This, however, should be most carefully avoided.
If you cannot play a certain piece without undue physical strain, leave
it alone and remember that singers choose their songs not because they
lie within their compass, but because they suit their voice. Do
likewise. Be guided by the nature and the type of your hand rather than
by its rapidity of execution.

[Sidenote: _The Best Physical Exercise for the Pianist_]

What physical exercises are most advantageous to be taken in connection
with piano practice? I have been swinging clubs to strengthen wrists and
arms, but have imagined it stiffened my fingers.

I am inclined to think that what you imagined was not far from the
truth. Can you not replace the real clubs by imaginary ones? Since
club-swinging tends to develop the agility of the arms and wrists rather
than their strength you can easily make the same motions without the
clubs; for all exertion of force that keeps the hands in a closed
condition is bound to have a bad effect on piano playing. Undoubtedly
the best exercise of all, however, is brisk walking in the open air, for
it engages every part and every organ of the body, and by compelling
deep breathing it fosters the general health through increased

[Sidenote: _Horseback Riding Stiffens the Fingers_]

My teacher objects to my riding horseback; not altogether, but he says I
overdo it and it stiffens my fingers. Is he right?

Yes, he is. Every abuse carries its own punishment in its train. The
closed position of the hand, the pressure of the reins upon the fingers,
as constant as it is the case in horseback riding, is surely not
advantageous for the elasticity of the fingers. You should, therefore,
allow the effect of one ride upon your fingers to disappear completely
before you indulge in another.

[Sidenote: _When to Keep Away from the Piano_]

Do you think I should play and study the piano just because it is asked
of me, and when I take no interest in it?

Most emphatically, no! It would be a crime against yourself and against
music. What little interest in music you may have left would be killed
by a study that is distasteful to you, and this would be, therefore,
bound to lead to failure. Leave this study to people who are sincerely
interested in it. Thank heaven, there are still some of those, and there
always will be some! Be sure, however, that you are really not
interested, and discriminate well between a lack of interest and a mere
opposition to a perhaps too strenuous urging on the part of your
relatives. My advice would be to quit the study for a time entirely; if,
after a while, you feel a craving for music you will find the way to
your instrument. This advice, of course, holds good also for violin
students or any type of music student.


[Sidenote: _The Company That One Keeps in Music_]

Must I persist in playing classical pieces when I prefer to play dance

If, in your daily life, you wish to be regarded as a lady or a gentleman
you are obliged to be careful as to the company you keep. It is the same
in musical life. If you associate with the noble thoughts that
constitute good--or, as you call it, classical--music, you will be
counted with a higher class in the world of music. Remember that you
cannot go through a flour-mill without getting dusty. Of course, not all
pieces of dance music are bad; but the general run of them are such
poor, if not vulgar, stuff as hardly to deserve the name of
"compositions." Usually they are mere "expositions" of bad taste. Of
these I warn you for your own sake, and if you wish to avoid the danger
of confounding the good and the bad in that line it is best to abstain
from it entirely. If dance music it must be, why, have you never heard
of the waltzes and mazurkas by Chopin?

[Sidenote: _Why Rag-Time Is Injurious_]

Do you believe the playing of the modern rag-time piece to be actually
hurtful to the student?

I do, indeed, unless it is done merely for a frolic; though even such a
mood might vent itself in better taste. The touch with vulgarity can
never be but hurtful, whatever form vulgarity may assume--whether it be
literature, a person, or a piece of music. Why share the musical food
of those who are, by breeding or circumstance, debarred from anything
better? The vulgar impulse which generated rag-time cannot arouse a
noble impulse in response any more than "dime novels" can awaken the
instincts of gentlemanliness or ladyship. If we watch the street-sweeper
we are liable to get dusty. But remember that the dust on the mind and
soul is not so easily removed as the dust on our clothes.


[Sidenote: _What the Object of Study Should Be_]

How can we know that our talent is great enough to warrant us in
bestowing year after year of work upon its development?

Pleasure and interest should be such that it is in the actual working
that one is repaid. Do not think so much of the end of your work. Do not
force your work with the one view of becoming a great artist. Let
Providence and the future decide your standing in music. Go on studying
with earnestness and interest, and find your pleasure in the endeavour,
not in the accomplishment.


[Sidenote: _The International Pitch_]

What is meant by "pitch" as regards piano tuning? People say that a
certain piano is pitched lower than another. Would E on one piano
actually sound like F on another?

Yes, it would if the pianos were not pitched alike. It is only recently
that an international pitch has been established which was adopted
everywhere except in England. In the international pitch the A in the
second space of the treble staff makes 435 vibrations a second.

[Sidenote: _The "International" Piano Pitch_]

Which piano pitch is preferable, "concert" or "international"?

By all means the "international," because it will fit your piano to be
used in conjunction with any other instrument, no matter whence it may
come. Besides, the international pitch was decided upon as far back as
1859, in Paris, by a government commission, numbering among its members
such men as Auber, Halévy, Berlioz, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Ambroise Thomas,
and many physicists and army generals. You can easily infer from this
that, in determining that the A in the second space of the treble staff
should have 435 vibrations a second, all phases of music--vocal,
instrumental, string, brass, wood, wind--have been duly considered.

[Sidenote: _The Well-Tempered Piano Scale_]

Is there really a difference of three-eighths of a tone between A-sharp
and B-flat on the piano?

There is no difference on the piano. But acoustically there is a
difference, over which, however, I would waste no time, since the
evenly-tempered scale has been generally adopted, and every composition
from Bach's time to the present day has been thought and written in it.

[Sidenote: _The "Colour" of Various Keys_]

Is it not a mistaken idea that any one particular key is more or less
rich or melodious than another?

The effect of a tonality upon our hearing lies not in its signature (as
even Beethoven seemed to believe) but in the vibration proportions. It
is, therefore, irrelevant whether we play a piece upon a high-pitched
piano in C, or upon a low-pitched piano in D flat. There are certain
keys preferable to others for certain colours, but I fear that the
preference is based not upon acoustic qualities but rather upon a
fitness for the hand or voice. We apply the word "colour" as much to
tone as the painters apply "tone" to colour, but I hardly think that
anybody would speak of C major as representing black, or F major green.


[Sidenote: _Starting a Child's Musical Training_]

At what age should a child begin the study of instrumental music? If my
daughter (six years old) is to study the violin should she first spend a
few years with the piano, or _vice versa_?

The usual age for a child to begin the study of music is between six and
seven years. A pianist hardly needs to learn another instrument to
become a well-rounded musician, but violinists, as well as the players
of all other instruments, and also vocalists, will be much hampered in
their general musical development if they fail to acquire what may be
called a speaking acquaintance with the piano.

[Sidenote: _Age of the Student is Immaterial_]

I am not longer in my first youth, cannot take more than one hour's
lesson a week, and cannot practise more than three hours a day. Would
you still advise me to begin the study of the piano?

Provided there is gift and intelligence, the will, and the opportunity
to study, age need not stand in your way. If your three hours of study
are properly used, and your hour's lesson a week is with a good teacher,
you should not become discouraged.

[Sidenote: _Twenty-five Not Too Late to Begin_]

Do you think that mastery of the piano is unlikely or impossible when
the beginner is twenty-five years of age?

It is neither unlikely nor impossible. Your age will to some degree
handicap you, because from purely physical causes the elasticity of the
fingers and wrists could be developed much more quickly if you were ten
years younger. If, however, you are endowed with strong musical gifts in
the abstract you will achieve results superior to those attained by
younger people with less talent. In overcoming the difficulties due to a
late beginning you will find great inward satisfaction, and your
attainments are bound to be a source of joy to you.


[Sidenote: _The Importance of the Right Teacher_]

I have a son who is very desirous of learning to play the piano. I have
been advised that an ordinarily good teacher is good enough to begin
with. Others tell me a beginner should get the best teacher possible.
Which would you advise? I live in a small town.

The seriousness of your question is aggravated by the statement that you
live in a small town, and that there is possibly no teacher of ability
to be found in your town. And yet it is only such a one that I can
recommend for your son. For nothing is more dangerous for the
development of a talent than a bad foundation. Many people have tried
all their lives to rid themselves of the bad habits acquired from an
ignorant teacher in the rudimentary stages of their studies, and have
failed. I should advise you to try your best to send your boy to some
near-by city where there is an excellent teacher.

[Sidenote: _Nothing But the Best Will Do_]

Wishing to begin the study of the piano now, in my twenty-fourth year,
just for the sake of my great love for music, and knowing not even the
notes, is it necessary to go to an expensive teacher at once or would a
cheaper teacher do for the beginning?

If music is to be merely a pastime, and you content yourself with a
minimum of knowledge, the cheaper teacher will do; but if you aspire to
become musical in a better sense, why, by all means, apply to a teacher
of the better class. The maxim: "For the beginning this or that is good
enough," is one of the most harmful fallacies. What would you think of
an architect who says: "For the foundation loam is good enough; we put a
sandstone house over it, any way." Remember also, that the road a
cheaper teacher has led you to take must usually be retraced when your
aspirations rise toward the better in music.

[Sidenote: _Music Schools and Private Teachers_]

Shall I take my lessons in a music school or from a private teacher?

Music schools are very good for acquiring a general musical education.
For the higher study of an executive specialty (piano, violin, the
voice, etc.) I should naturally prefer private instruction from a
specialist, because he can give more attention to each individual pupil
than is possible under the wholesale system followed, not by all, but by
the majority of music schools. What I should advise would be a
combination: General matters--harmony, counterpoint, forms, history, and
æsthetics--in a music school; and private lessons for your specialty
from a teacher who has an established name as an executive artist. The
best music schools have such a man at their head, and in these you find
the best combination.

[Sidenote: _Individual Teacher, or Conservatory?_]

After taking lessons for five years and a half from a good teacher,
would you advise a continuance with the individual teacher or attendance
at a college of music or conservatory?

For a general musical education I always recommend a good music school
or conservatory. For the study of the piano I think it best to take
private lessons from an artist who is experienced both as an executant
and as a teacher. Some music schools have such men on their staff, if
not, indeed, at their head.

[Sidenote: _Where Outside Criticism Is Desirable_]

Having had twenty months' lessons and having now mastered Etudes by
Berens, opus 61, by Heller, opus 47, and Smith's Octave Studies, do you
think I am justified in continuing my lessons?

Assuming that you have really "mastered" the works you mention I can
only encourage you to continue your lessons; I would, however, advise
you to obtain an experienced pianist's criticism in order to assure
yourself that your idea of "mastering" is right.

[Sidenote: _The Sex of the Piano Teacher_]

Is there any preference as to sex in the question of choosing a piano
teacher; in other words, is a woman teacher preferable for any reason
for a girl and a man teacher for a man?

Your question does not admit of generalization from a purely musical
point of view. It must be--on this premise--decided by the quality, not
by the sex, of the teacher. A good feminine teacher is better than a bad
masculine one, and _vice versa_. The question of sex does not enter
into the matter. Of course, the greater number of eminent teachers are
found on the masculine side.

[Sidenote: _Too Much "Method"_]

My recently engaged teacher says that the word "method" jars on her
nerves. Kindly advise me whether a method is not the best thing for a
novice, and, if so, which one?

Your teacher, while possibly a little over-sensitive, is not wrong.
America is the most method-ridden country in the world. Most of the
methods in vogue contain some good points--about a grain of truth to a
ton of mere ballast. Your teacher's utterance makes me think that you
were lucky in finding her, and that you have excellent reason to trust
in her guidance.

[Sidenote: _What the Leschetizky Method Is_]

How does the Leschetizky method rank with other methods, and in what
respect does it differ from them?

There are but two methods in all the arts: a good one and a bad one.
Since you do not specify with what "other" methods you wish to compare
that of Leschetizky I cannot answer you with definiteness. There are,
alas, so many "methods"! But the majority of them are based upon a
deliberate disregard for that reverence which is due to great
compositions and to the example of their rendition given by great
interpreters. I have not studied with Leschetizky, but I think that he
believes in a very low position of the hand and a sort of
super-energetic tension of the tendons of the arms and hands.

[Sidenote: _Give Your Teacher a Fair Trial_]

Has a young pupil, after studying the piano irregularly for two months,
tested fairly a teacher's ability?

Of course not! Altogether I do not like the idea of a pupil's testing
his teacher's ability, rather the reverse. He may possibly find his
teacher unsympathetic, but even this matter he is apt to judge
prematurely. In most cases of irregularly attended or poorly prepared
lessons the lack of sympathy means nothing more than that the pupil is a
trifler and the teacher's honesty of purpose is not to his taste.

[Sidenote: _Either Trust Your Teacher or Get a New One_]

I have a "Piano Method," left over from lessons with my first teacher;
it was very expensive, and I learned only a few pages of it. We moved to
a different city and my new teacher objects to using the book, or, as
she says, any such book. I do not know what to do about it, and would
thank you for your advice.

When you apply to a teacher for instruction you must, first of all,
decide in your own mind whether you have or have not absolute confidence
in his ability. If you trust him you must do as you are advised to do;
if not, you must apply to another teacher. A book, costing much or
little, plays no part in the matter. By what you say of the new teacher,
however, I am disposed to think that he is better than the first one.

[Sidenote: _The Proper Course For a Little Girl_]

Commencing piano lessons with my seven-year-old daughter, should I
devote my efforts to the development of the fingers and hands, or retard
such development so as to keep pace with the expansion of the mind?

Your question is interesting. But if your mind is clear on that
point--and it seems to be--that a one-sided development (in this case
technical) is dangerous to the "musical" talent of your little daughter,
why, then, your little girl is, indeed, "out of danger." Your very
question is a credit to your insight.

[Sidenote: _Frequent Lessons and Shorter_]

Is it better for a young student to take one hour lesson or two
half-hour lessons a week?

Since young students are liable to form bad habits it is essential that
they should come under the teacher's eye as frequently as possible.
Hence, it is preferable to divide the hour into two equidistant parts.

[Sidenote: _Number of Lessons Depends on Progress_]

Which plan is better for a child of eleven or twelve years: to take a
one-hour lesson or two half-hour lessons a week?

The child's age is not the determining factor in this matter; it is his
musical status.

[Sidenote: _One Lesson a Week_]

Is one lesson a week inadequate for a piano student?

It will be sufficient in the more advanced stages of piano study. In
the earlier stages, however, where the danger of forming bad habits is
greatest, it is best to bring the pupil under his teacher's eye twice a
week at the very least.

[Sidenote: _Better Not Give the Child "Modified Classics"_]

What little classics are best for a child after six months' lessons?

There are collections without number of facilitated or simplified
arrangements of classic pieces, but I do not altogether approve of them.
Let the classics wait until the child is technically--and, above all,
mentally--ripe to approach such works as they are written.

[Sidenote: _Can Music Be Studied in America?_]

Is it necessary for me to go to Europe to continue my music studies?

If you have very much money to spare, why not? You will see much, also
hear much--and some of it not quite so sublime as you anticipated--and,
last but not least, you will have "studied abroad." While this slogan
still exercises a certain charm upon some people in America, their
number is growing less year by year, because the public has begun to
understand that the United States affords just as good instruction in
music as Europe does. It has also been found out that to "study abroad"
is by no means a guarantee of a triumphant return. Many a young student
who went abroad as a lamb returned as a mutton-head. And why should
there not be excellent teachers in America by this time? Even if you
should insist upon a European teacher you can find many of the best in
America. Is it not simpler that one teacher from Europe go to America to
teach a hundred students than that a hundred students should make the
trip for the sake of one teacher? I should advise you to stay where you
are or go to Philadelphia, New York, or Boston, where you can find
excellent teachers, native, resident Americans and foreigners. To quote
a case in point, let me say that in Berlin I found Godowsky's pupils to
be almost exclusively Americans. They came from various sections of
America to study with him and with no one else. But during the eighteen
years he spent in Chicago they did not seem to want him. Perhaps he was
too near by! Why this self-deception? Without mentioning any names I
assure you that there are many teachers in America now who, if they
should go to Europe, would draw a host of students after them, and some
of these excellent men I know personally. It is high time to put an end
to the superstitious belief in "studying abroad."


[Sidenote: _Organizing a Musical Club_]

Please give me the name of a good book on musical history and advise me
how to organize and conduct a musical club among my pupils. Also give me
a name, please.

You will find the "History of Music," by Baltzell, a serviceable book.
As a name for your club I suggest that of the patron saint of
music--Saint Cecilia--perhaps, or that of a great composer. Ask the
secretaries of a number of musical clubs for their constitutions and
by-laws and then adapt these to your locality and circumstances. Make
your pupils feel that it is their club and act, yourself, as secretary,
if possible.

[Sidenote: _How to Get Music Published_]

Please explain how to go about publishing a piece of music, and also
give the name of some good publishing houses.

It is very easy to publish a piece of music if the publisher sees any
merit in it. Send your piece to any publishing house whose name you find
on the title pages of your sheet music. The readers or advisers of the
house will report to their chief as to the merit of your piece, and he
will then decide and negotiate with you, if his decision is favourable.
If he should not care for it he will return your manuscript and you may
try some other house. I advise you, however, to obtain the opinion of a
good musician before you send your piece to a publisher.

[Sidenote: _"Playing in Time" and "Playing in Rhythm"_]

What is the difference between playing "in time" and playing "in

Playing in rhythm refers to the inner life of a composition--to its
musical pulsation. Playing in time means the prompt arrival upon those
points of repose which are conditioned by the rhythm.

[Sidenote: _The Student Who Cannot Play Fast Music_]

I find great difficulty in playing anything that goes quick, though in a
more moderate tempo I can play my pieces faultlessly. Every teacher I
had promised to develop my speed, but they all failed. Can you give me
a hint how to overcome my difficulty?

Quickness of action, of motion, even of resolution, cannot be acquired
by training alone; it must partly be inborn. I assume that your
piano-playing is one phase of a general slowness. There is but one
remedy for that. You have relied upon your teachers to develop your
speed--you should have relied upon your own will-power. Try to will it
and to will it often; you will see the ability keep step with the
exertions of your will.

[Sidenote: _"Wonder-Children" as Pianists_]

My child of five years of age shows signs of great talent for music. He
has a keen, true ear, and plays rather well for his age. Does this
justify me in hoping that something out of the ordinary will become of
him? They say that so-called "wonder-children" never amount to anything
in later life.

That "wonder-children" never amount to anything in later life is not
borne out by history. If some are disappointments it is either because
they astonished by mere executive precocity, instead of charming by
their talent, or because they were ruined by unscrupulous parents or
managers who confounded the promise of a future with its realization.
But, aside from these few, all great musicians were "wonder-children,"
whether they became composers, pianists, violinists, 'cellists, or what
not. The biographies of our great masters of the past centuries as well
as those of more recent times (Mendelssohn, Wagner, Chopin, Schumann,
Liszt, Rubinstein, and all the others), will bear me out in this
statement. If your child shows more than mere precocity--if, for
instance, he does not merely play in his fifth year what others play in
their tenth, but shows qualities of musical superiority--then you may
with a fair degree of certainty feel hopeful of a fine musical future
for him.

[Sidenote: _The Value of Going to Concerts_]

Shall I attend orchestra concerts or shall I give preference to

By all means attend orchestra and chamber-music concerts! For these will
acquaint you with those works which are, after all, of the greatest
importance to the student. Besides, you will usually hear more correct
interpretations than from soloists. The latter, with some luminous
exceptions, overestimate their own authority and take such unseemly
liberties that in many cases you hear more Smith, Jones, or Levy than
Beethoven, Schumann, or Chopin. Individuality in a soloist is certainly
a great quality, but only if it is tempered by a proper deference to the
composer of the work in hand. If you cannot hear a soloist who is
capable of sinking his individuality in the thought, mood, and style of
the composer he is interpreting--and this is given to only the very
greatest--you do far better to prefer to the "individual" renditions of
a soloist the "collective" renditions of the orchestra or string
quartette. The synthetic nature of the orchestra forestalls the
extravagances of so-called individuality and insures, generally
speaking, a truthful interpretation. The very worst conductor imaginable
cannot do as much harm to a composition as can a mediocre soloist, for
an orchestra is a large body and, therefore, not so easily moved and
shifted from the path of musical rectitude as is a single voice or an
instrument. A really great soloist is, of course, the finest flower of
the garden of applied music, for his touch with the instrument is
immediate and he needs no middleman to express the finest shades of his
conceptions; while the conductor--and even the best--has to impart his
conception (through the baton, facial expression, and gesture) to other
people before it can become audible, and on this circuitous route much
of the original fervour and ardour may be lost. But there are more good
orchestras than great soloists, and hence you are safe in attending
orchestra and chamber-music concerts.

[Sidenote: _Books That Aid the Student Working Alone_]

Compelled to study without a teacher for two years before I can go to a
conservatory, what method should I study for my technique and what

You fail to say whether you are a beginner or already somewhat advanced.
Still, I think it safe to recommend Mason's "Touch and Technique,"
Sternberg's Etudes, opus 66; and select your pieces from the graded
catalogues which any publisher will be glad to send you.

[Sidenote: _Music as a Profession or as an Avocation_]

Would you advise a young man with a good foundation to choose
music--that is, concertizing--as a career, or should he keep his music
as an accomplishment and avocation?

Your distinguishing between music and concertizing gives direction to my
reply; that the question was not answered by your own heart before you
asked it prompts me to advise music for you as an avocation. The
artist's career nowadays is not so simple as it appears to be. Of a
thousand capable musicians there is, perhaps, one who attains to a
general reputation and fortune. The rest of them, after spending money,
time, and toil, give up in despair, and with an embittered disposition
take up some other occupation. If you do not depend upon public
music-making for a living; if your natural endowments are not of a very
unusually high order, and if your entire personality does not imply the
exercise of authority over assemblages of people--spiritual authority, I
mean--it were better to enjoy your music in the circle of your friends.
It is less risky and will, in all probability, give you much greater

[Sidenote: _How Much You Can Get From Music_]

When I hear a concert pianist I want to get more from his playing than
æsthetic ear enjoyment. Can you give me a little outline of points for
which to look that may help me in my piano study?

There is no pleasure or enjoyment from which we can derive more than we
bring with us in the way of receptiveness. As you deepen your study of
music and gain insight into its forms, contrapuntal work and harmonic
beauties you will derive more and more pleasure from listening to a good
pianist the deeper your studies go. What their playing reflects of
emotional life you will perceive in the exact measure of your own grasp
upon life. Art is a medium connecting, like a telegraph, two stations:
the sender of a message and the receiver. Both must be pitched equally
high to make the communication perfect.

[Sidenote: "_It is So Much Easier to Read Flats Than Sharps!_"]

You would confer a favour upon a teacher by solving a problem for her
that has puzzled her all her life; why do all pupils prefer flats to
sharps? I am not at all sure that I do not, in some degree, share this
preference. Is it a fault of training, or has it any other cause?

Your question is both original and well justified by frequent
observation, for it is quite true that people prefer to read flats to
sharps. But note it well that the aversion to sharps refers only to the
reading, not to the playing. If any one should find it harder to _play_
in sharps, say, after knowing the notes well, it would be a purely
subjective deception, due to a mental association of the note-picture
with the respective sounds. My personal belief is that the aversion to
the _reading_ of sharps is caused by the comparative complexity of the
sign itself, and this leads me to think that the whole matter belongs
rather to ophthalmology than to either acoustics or music.

[Sidenote: _Rubinstein or Liszt--Which the Greater?_]

As between Liszt and Rubinstein, whom do you consider the greater?

Rubinstein I knew very well (I was his pupil), and have heard him play a
great many times. Liszt, who died when I was sixteen years old and had
not appeared in public for some twenty years previously, I never met
and never heard. Still, from the descriptions which many of my friends
gave me of him, and from the study of his works, I have been able to
form a fair idea of his playing and his personality. As a virtuoso I
think Liszt stood above Rubinstein, for his playing must have possessed
amazing, dazzling qualities. Rubinstein excelled by his sincerity, by
his demoniacal, Heaven-storming power of great impassionedness,
qualities which with Liszt had passed through the sieve of a superior
education and--if you understand how I mean that term--gentlemanly
elegance. He was, in the highest meaning of the word, a man of the
world; Rubinstein, a world-stormer, with a sovereign disregard for
conventionality and for Mrs. Grundy. The principal difference lay in the
characters of the two. As musicians, with regard to their natural
endowments and ability, they were probably of the same gigantic calibre,
such as we would seek in vain at the present time.

[Sidenote: _As to One Composer--Excluding All Others_]

If I am deeply interested in Beethoven's music can I not find in him all
that there is in music, in both an æsthetic and a technical sense? Is
any one's music more profound?

You imagine yourself in an impenetrable stronghold whence, safe from all
attacks, you may look upon all composers (except Beethoven) with a
patronizing, condescending smile. But you are gravely in error. Life is
too rich in experience, too many-sided in its manifestations, to permit
any one master, however great, to exhaust its interpretation through his
art. If you base your preference for Beethoven upon your sympathies, and
if, for this reason, his music satisfies you better than that of any
other composer, you are to be complimented upon your good taste. But
that gives you no right to contest, for instance, the profoundness of
Bach, the æsthetic charm of Chopin, the wonders of Mozart's art, nor the
many and various merits of your contemporary composers. The least that
one can be charged with who finds the whole of life expressed in any
one composer is one-sidedness, not to speak of the fact that the
understanding cannot be very deep for one master if it is closed to all
others. One of the chief requirements for true connoisseurship is
catholicity of taste.

[Sidenote: _A Sensible Scheme of Playing for Pleasure_]

I am fifty-six years old, live in the mountains sixty-five miles from
any railroad, alone with my husband, and I have not taken lessons in
thirty-five years. Do you think "Pischna" would help me much to regain
my former ability to play? If not, what would you advise me to do?

Refrain from all especially technical work. Since your love of music is
strong enough to cause you to resume your playing you should take as
much pleasure in it as possible and work technically only in the pieces
you play--that is, in those places which offer you difficulties. Decide
upon a comfortable fingering first, and practise the difficult places
separately and slowly until you feel that you can venture to play them
in their appropriate speed.

[Sidenote: _First Learn to Play Simple Things Well_]

What pieces would you advise me to memorize after Rachmaninoff's Prelude
in C-sharp minor and Chopin's A-flat Ballade? These pieces do not appeal
to the majority of people, but I enjoy them.

If such a work as Chopin's Ballade in A-flat does not "appeal to the
majority"--as you say--the fault cannot lie in the composition, but must
be sought in the interpretation. Why not try a few pieces of lesser
complexity and play them so perfectly that they do appeal to the
majority. Try Chopin's Nocturne, opus 27, No. 2; Schumann's Romanza,
opus. 28, No. 2; or his "Traumerei," or some of the more pretentious
"Songs Without Words" by Mendelssohn.

[Sidenote: _About Starting on a Concert Career_]

I am twenty-four, have had four years' rigorous work in a conservatory
and a partial college training. My technique is adequate for Brahms's
Rhapsody in G minor and McDowell's Sonatas. I have good health and am
determined not to grow self-satisfied. Is there a place on the concert
stage--even if only as an accompanist--for a woman thus equipped?

Any public career must begin by earning the good opinion of others.
One's own opinion, however just, is never a criterion. My advice is that
you speak to some of the prominent concert agents, whose names and
addresses you find in every well-accredited music paper. Play for them.
They are usually not connoisseurs by actual knowledge, but they have
developed a fine instinct for that which is of use to them, and you are,
of course, aware that we must be of use to others before we can be of
use to ourselves. If the right "stuff" is in you you will make your way.
People of ability always do. That there is room for women on the concert
stage is proved by the great array of meritorious women pianists.
Especially for accompanying women are in demand--that is, for _good_
accompanying. But I would not start out with the idea of accompanying.
It seems like going to a commercial school to study be to an "assistant"
bookkeeper. Become a fine, all-round musician, a fine pianist, and see
what the tide of affairs will bring you. The proper level for your
ability is bound to disclose itself to you.

[Sidenote: _Accompanist Usually Precedes Soloist at Entering_]

Should an accompanist precede or follow the soloist on the stage in a
concert or recital, and should sex be considered in the matter?

If the soloist be a man the accompanist should precede him on the stage
in order to arrange his music, the height of his seat or whatever may be
necessary, during which time the soloist salutes the audience. For these
reasons it should be the same when the soloist is a woman, but as women
are of the feminine persuasion it will, perhaps, look better if the
accompanist yields precedence to her.



  About Starting On a Concert Career                    162

  Accenting a Mordent in a Sonata                        70

  Accompanist Usually Precedes Soloist at Entering      164

  Action of a Beginner's Piano, The                      87

  Action of the Little Finger, The                       17

  Advantage of Legato over Staccato, The                 22

  Affected Movements at the Piano                       126

  "Afraid to Play Before People"                        121

  Age of the Student is Immaterial                      139

  Always Keep in Touch With Bach                         81

  Art of Accompanying a Soloist, The                    118

  Art of Playing With Feeling, The                      124

  As to one Composer--Excluding All Others              160

  As to Playing Rubato                                  100

  As to the Bach Fugues                                  88

  Bach's Music Necessary to Good Technique               80

  Bach's Preludes and Fugues                             82

  Beethoven Sonata with a Pastoral Character, The        84

  Beginner in Bach Music, The                            80

  Best Physical Exercise for the Pianist, The           181

  Best Way to Improve Sight-Reading, The                117

  Best Way to Work Up a Quick Tempo, The                 54

  Better Not Give the Child "Modified Classics"         148

  Biting the Finger-Nails Spoils the Touch               19

  Books that Aid the Student Working Alone              155

  Broad-Tipped Fingers Not a Disadvantage                20

  C-Scale Fingering for All Scales, The                  28

  Can Music be Studied in America?                      148

  Cantabile Passages                                      7

  Charm of Chopin's Touch, The                           86

  Chopin's Barcarolle                                    88

  Chopin's Works for a Popular Concert                   88

  "Colour" of Various Keys, The                         187

  Company that One Keeps in Music, The                  188

  Composition Must Fit the Player, The                  130

  Conditions Which Dictate Speed in Playing, The         53

  Counting Out Loud                                      50

  Difference Between Conception and Rubato, The         102

  Difference Between "Finger Staccato" and Other
    Kinds, The                                         22

  Difference Between Major and Minor Scales, The        109

  Difference in Playing Trills, The                      74

  Different Conceptions May be Individually
    Correct                                           102

  Difficulty of Playing Repetition Notes, The            34

  Disputed Chopin Reading, A                             78

  Do not Allow the Wrist to Get Stiff                    10

  Do not Injure the Hand by Stretching It                13

  Do not Over-Use the Soft Pedal                         44

  Do not Raise the Piano-Stool too High                   4

  Do not Raise Wrist in Marking a Rest                   99

  Do not Stiffen the Hands in Playing Scales              9

  Do not Use a Piano Extreme in "Action"                 36

  Double Sharp Misprinted for Double Flat                65

  E Sharp and B Sharp and the Double Flat                64

  Easiest Way to Memorize, The                          113

  Effect of Double Flats, The                            65

  Effect of Playing the Same Piece Often, The           122

  Either Trust Your Teacher or Get a New One            146

  Etudes for Advanced Players to Work At                 94

  Exercises for the Beginner to Practise                 93

  Fatiguing the Hand by Stretching                       12

  Few Sonatas of Beethoven, Well Played,
    Are Enough, A                                      85

  Fingering the Chromatic Scale                          28

  Fingers Needed to Play a Mordent, The                  28

  Firm and Crisp Legato Touch, The                       24

  First Learn to Play Simple Things Well                162

  Four Ways to Study a Piano Piece                       52

  Fourth and Fifth Fingers, The                          16

  Frequent Lessons and Shorter                          147

  General Rule About the Pedal, A                        39

  Genuine Piano Hand, The                               130

  Give Your Teacher a Fair Trial                        145

  Good Finger Exercises                                  93

  Good Intermediate Books of Etudes                      94

  Greatest Composers as Pianists, The                    91

  Hearing a Piece Before Studying It                    104

  Height of the Piano Seat, The                           5

  Horseback Riding Stiffens the Fingers                 132

  How a Tie and a Slur Differ                            63

  How Are Syncopated Notes to be Played?                 71

  How Best to Play the Octaves                           29

  How Grace Notes Are Played                             61

  How Long an Accidental Affects a Note                  64

  How Much You Can Get from Music                       157

  How Organ Playing Affects the Pianist                  26

  How Tight to Keep the Piano's Action                   37

  How to Get Music Published                            150

  How to Hold the Thumb                                  16

  How to Improve the Technique                            4

  How to Play Passages Marked "Rubato"                  100

  How to Use the Pedal                                   39

  How Waltz, Menuet, Mazurka and Polonaise Differ       111

  Importance of Studying With the Right Teacher,
    The                                               140

  Incorrect Position of the Fingers, An                   8

  Individual Teacher or Conservatory?                   142

  In Order to Memorize Easily                           115

  In Playing a Sonata                                    75

  "International" Piano Pitch, The                      136

  International Pitch, The                              136

  Is the Piano the Hardest to Master?                   127

  "It is So Much Easier to Read Flats Than
    Sharps!"                                          157

  Kind of Piano Upon Which to Practise, The              35

  Kullak's "Method of Octaves" Still Good                34

  Learning the Art of Accompanying                      118

  Learning to Accompany at Sight                        117

  Learning to Modulate                                  107

  Let Your Ear Guide Your Pedalling                      41

  Loose Wrist, The                                        9

  Masters Cannot be Studied In Order                     90

  Meaning and Use of "Motif," The                        68

  Meaning of Solfeggio, The                              74

  Meaning of "Toccata," The                             111

  Memorizing Quickly and Forgetting as Readily          115

  Metronome Markings, The                                57

  Metronome Markings May Better be Ignored               59

  Modern Piano Music                                     92

  Mood and Tempo in the A Flat Impromptu                 87

  More Technique the More Practice, The                   3

  Morning is the Best Time to Practise                   46

  Morning Practice on the Piano, The                     45

  Music as a Profession or as an Avocation              156

  Music Schools and Private Teachers                    141

  No Necessity to Watch the Fingers                      19

  Not Playing the Two Hands at Once                      25

  Nothing But the Best Will Do                          141

  Number of Lessons Depends on Progress, The            147

  Old Problem of Duple Time against Triple, The          98

  Omitting One Note in a Chord                           89

  Once More the "Soft" Pedal                             44

  One Lesson a Week                                     147

  Only Kind of Practice Worth While, The                 47

  Order of Studying Beethoven's Sonatas                  83

  Organ Playing and the Piano Touch                      26

  Organizing a Musical Club                             150

  Perfect Rubato the Result of Momentary Impulse        101

  Personal Element and the Metronome, The                58

  Pianist Who Fails to Express Herself, The             123

  Piano Study for Conductor and Composer                128

  Play Chords With a Loose Arm                           11

  Playing Duple Time Against Triple                      96

  Playing from Memory is Indispensable                  112

  "Playing in Time" and "Playing in Rhythm"             151

  Playing of Double Thirds, The                          35

  Playing of Slurred Notes, The                          62

  Playing On a Dumb Piano                                38

  Playing the "Melody in F"                              79

  Playing the "Spring Song" too Fast                     77

  Playing with Cold Hands                                49

  Point in Playing the "Moonlight Sonata," A             76

  Position of Auxiliary Note in a Trill                  72

  Position of the Turn over a Note, The                  71

  Position of the Wrist, The                             10

  Practising Eight Hours Instead of Four                 48

  Practising the Two Parts Separately                    52

  Premature Fatigue in the Arms                          33

  Problem of Transposing at Sight, The                  119

  Proper Course for a Little Girl, The                  146

  Rapid Octaves                                          30

  Real Meaning of Speed Terms, The                       60

  Relation of Harmony to Piano Playing, The             105

  Rests Used under or over Notes                         62

  Results Count, Not the Methods, The                     6

  Rolled Chord Marked "Secco," A                         70

  Rubinstein or Liszt--Which is the Greater?            158

  Rule for Selecting the Speed, A                        60

  Safe Way of Stretching the Small Hand, A               13

  Sensible Scheme of Playing for Pleasure, A            161

  Sex of the Piano Teacher, The                         143

  Should Piano Students Try to Compose?                 108

  Slurs and Accents Not Related                          63

  Small Notes under Large Ones                           70

  Some Pieces for a Girl of Fourteen                     75

  Speed and Smoothness in Trilling                       73

  Staffs are Independent of Each Other, The              66

  Starting a Child's Musical Training                   138

  Stiff Wrists in Playing Octaves                        33

  Student Who Cannot Play Fast Music, The               151

  Student Who Wants to Compose, The                     108

  Student with a Fondness for the Pedal, The             42

  Study of Mendelssohn, The                              85

  Study of Operatic Transcriptions, The                  91

  Study of the Scales, The                               51

  Study of the Scales is very Important, The             50

  Studying Counterpoint by One's Self                   107

  Take a Month's Rest Every Year                         56

  Taking Liberties With the Tempo                        89

  "Tenuto" Dash and Its Effect, The                      69

  Text-books on Harmony                                 106

  There Are Dangers in Using a Metronome                 59

  There Is Only One Minor Scale                         109

  Tied Staccato Notes                                    69

  Tilt of the Hand in Playing Scales, The                 6

  Time to Devote to Technical Exercises                  47

  To Gain Facility in Sight-Reading                     117

  To Keep Errors from Creeping in                       116

  To Play a Glissando Passage                            29

  To Prevent Sore Finger-tips After Playing              20

  To Produce a Softer Tone                               43

  To Produce Good Legato                                 23

  To Strengthen the Weak Finger, Use It                  18

  To Work up a Fast Tempo                                53

  Too Much "Method"                                     144

  Trill Begins on the Melodic Note, A                    72

  Twenty-five Not Too Late to Begin                     139

  Two Hands Playing Difficult Rhythms, The               97

  Universal System of Marking Fingering, The             27

  Use of the Pedal for Colouring, The                    39

  Use Pedal With Caution In Playing Bach                 41

  Using the Two Pedals at Once                           48

  Value of Clementi's "Gradus" To-day, The               95

  Value and Correct Practice of Phrasing, The            98

  Value of Going to Concerts, The                       153

  Value of Heller's Studies, The                         93

  Watch Your Breathing                                   55

  Weak Fingers of the Left Hand, The                     18

  Well-Tempered Piano Scale, The                        137

  What a Dot May Mean                                    77

  What a Double Dot Means                                62

  What Does "Technique" Mean?                             3

  What Is the Best of Chopin?                            86

  What Is the Difference Between the Major and
    Minor Scales?                                     110

  "What Is the Matter with My Scales?"                   14

  What the Leschetizky Method Is                        144

  What the Object of Study Should Be                    135

  What to Do with an Unemployed Hand                     21

  When an Accidental Is in Parentheses                   66

  When Playing Octaves                                   31

  When Reading Over a New Piece                          51

  When the Fingers Seem Weak                             18

  When to Keep Away from the Piano                      132

  When to Play for People                               120

  When Tremolo Proves Unduly Fatiguing                   11

  When Two Fingers Have the Same Note                    79

  Where Outside Criticism Is Desirable                  143

  Where the Accent Should Be Placed                      78

  Which Fingers Demand Most Attention?                   16

  Which Should Come First--Conception or
    Technique?                                        103

  Why Rag-time Is Injurious                             134

  Why So Many Different Keys?                           105

  Why the Pianist Should Study Harmony                  104

  Why the Piano Is So Popular                           128

  Why Two Names for the "Same" Key?                      67

  "Wonder Children" as Pianists                         152

  Wrist Staccato at a High Tempo                         21

  Wrist Stroke In Long Octave Passages                   32


A flat, key of, 67.
  Impromptu in, 78, 87.
  Chopin's Ballade in, 162.

A sharp, key of, 67.
  difference between, and B flat, 137.

Accent, where the, should be placed, 78.

Accenting a mordent, 70.

Accents, slurs and, not related, 68.

Accidental, how long an, affects a note, 64.
  when an, is in parentheses, 66.

Accompaniment, 118.

Accompaniments, in left-hand waltz, 17.

Accompanist, 118, 119, 164.

Accompanying, at sight, 117.
  a soloist, 118.
  the art of, 118.

Action, of the wrist, 9.
  of the arm, 11.
  of the little finger, 17.
  a piano extreme in, 36.
  how tight to keep the piano's, 37.
  of a beginner's piano, 37.
  a too heavy, 38.
  too light an, 38.

Adagio, 60.

Advantage, of legato over staccato, 22.
  of universal fingering, 27.

Affected movements at the piano, 126.

Age, and physical development of the beginner, 138, 139.

Age of the student, immaterial, 139.

Aid, books that, the student working alone, 155.

Allegretto grazioso, 77.

Allegro, 60.

America, can music be studied in, 148.

"American" fingering, 27.

Andante, 60.

Appassionata, the last movement of the, 76.

Appoggiatura, 72.

Arm, action of the, 11.
  play chords with a loose, 11.

Arms, premature fatigue in the, 33.

Arpeggio, 3, 9.

Art, of accompanying, the, 118.
  the canons of, 125.

Attention, which fingers demand most, 16.

Auber, 136.

Auxiliary, position of, note in a trill, 72.

Average, speed, 59.
  tempo, 60.

Avocation, music as a profession or as an, 156.

B flat minor, Chopin's Prelude in, 95.

B sharp, 64, 65.

Bach, use pedal with caution in playing, 41.
  the beginner in, music, 80.
  in touch with, 81.

Bach, Philipp Emanuel, 88.

Bach's, music, 80, 81.
  preludes, 67, 82.
  fugues, 67, 82, 83.

Bad music, 183.

Baermann, Carl, 94.

Ballade, Chopin's, in A flat, 102.

Baltzell, "History of Music," by, 150.

Barcarolle, Chopin's, 88.

Beethoven, the sonatas of, 83, 85.

Beethoven's Sonatina, opus 49, 59.
  Fifth Symphony, 69.
  Sonata Pathétique, 70.
  "Moonlight Sonata," 76.
  sonatas, 83.
  order of studying, sonatas, 83.
  Sonata, opus 28, 84.
  style, 85.
  first and last sonatas, 90.

Beginner's, the action of a, piano, 37.

Bendel's "Zephyr," 53.

Berceuse, Chopin's, opus 57, 86.

Berens, 95, 143.

Berlin, 118.

Berlioz, 91, 136.

Best, how to play the octaves, 29.
  morning is the, time to
  practise, 46.
  way to work up a quick tempo, 54.
  what is the, of Chopin, 86.
  the, book of instruction for a beginner, 93.
  the, way to improve sight-reading, 117.
  the, piano hand, 130.
  the, physical exercise for the pianist, 131.
  nothing but the, will do, 141.

Biting the finger-nails, 19.

Blumenstuck, Schumann's, 79.

"Blurring," 23.

Body, general position of the, 4.

Books, of Etudes, 93, 94.
  that aid the student working alone, 155.

Brahms, 162.

Breathing, 55.

Broad-tipped fingers, 20.

Bulow, 17.

Büssler, 106.

C flat, 67.

C sharp, key of, 67.

C sharp major, Bach's fugue in, 83.

C sharp minor movement, the, 58.

Cantabile passages, 7.

Cantata, 112.

Chaminade, Toccata by, 111.

Chaminade's "Air de Ballet," No. 1, 70.

Chopin, Polonaise, opus 53, 74.
  a disputed, reading, 78.
  Life of, 86.
  the best of, 86.
  Etude by, 94.
  Etudes in C minor, 95.

Chopin's works, 23, 79.
  Prelude, No. 15, 58.
  Valse, opus 42, 61.
  Polonaise, opus 58, 74.
  Polonaise, opus 26, No. 1, 77.
  Nocturne in F sharp, 78.
  Impromptu in A flat, opus 29, 78, 87.
  charm of, touch, 86.
  Chants Polonais, 88.
  Fantasy Impromptu, 88, 97.
  Barcarolle, 88.
  Nocturne, opus 27, No. 2, 88, 162.

Chopin's works for a popular concert, 88.
  Ballade in A flat, 162.

Chord, rolled, marked "secco," 70.
  in the Waltz in E minor, 89.

Chords, play, with a loose arm, 11.

  the, scale 28.
  thirds, 35.
  accidental, signs, 66, 67.

Classics, "modified," 148.

Clementi, 81.

Clementi's "Gradus ad Parnassum," 95.
  Sonatina, opus 37, 96.

"Colour," of various keys, 137.

Colouring, 39, 44, 137.

Composer, piano-study for, 128.
  as to one, 160.

Composers, the greatest, as pianists, 91.

Composition, 108, 130.

Conception, difference between, and rubato, 102.

Conceptions, different, 102.

Concert, Chopin's works for a popular, 88.
  etudes, 94.
  work, 156.
  career, 162.

Concerto, the Grieg, 35.

Concerts, the value of going to, 153.

Conservatory, individual teacher or, 142.

Conductor, piano-study for, 128.

Correct practice of phrasing, 98.

Counterpoint, studying, 107, 142.

Cramer Etudes, the, 17, 45.

C-scale fingering, 28.

Counterpoint, studying, by one's self, 107.

Counting, 50.

Course, proper, for a little girl, 146.

Criticism, where outside, is desirable, 143.

Curved fingers, 6, 7.

Czerny, 45, 81.

D flat, key of, 67.
  arrangement of Bach's Fugues, 83.

Damper pedal, the, 43.

Dance, music, 134.
  Liszt's, of the Gnomes, 58.

Dangers in using a metronome, 59.

Dash, "tenuto," and its effect, 69.

Diatonic, thirds, 35.
  sequel, 73.

Different, conceptions, 102.
  rhythms, 97.
  keys, 105.

Difference, between "finger staccato" and other kinds, 22.
  in playing trills, 74.
  between conception and rubato, 102.
  between major and minor scales, 109.

Difficulty of playing repetition notes, 34.

Doppio movement, in Chopin's Nocturne in F sharp, 78.

Dot, double, 62.
  what a, may mean, 77.

Double notes, 35.
  thirds, 35.
  dot, 62.
  flat, 64, 65.
  flats, 65.
  sharp, 65.

Dumb piano, playing on a 38.

Duple time, 96, 98.

E minor, Waltz in, 89.

E sharp, 64.

Ear, let your, guide your pedalling, 41.

Easiest way to memorize, 113.

Edition, Peters's, of Chopin, 79.

Edition, Steingräber, of Beethoven, 84.

Education, general musical, 141.

Element, personal, and the metronome, 58.

"English" fingering, 27.

Erlking, Liszt arrangement of the, 32.

Errors, to keep, from creeping in, 116.

Ethical, 135.

Etudes, Cramer, 17, 45.
  octave, 30.
  for advanced players, 94.
  good intermediate books of, 94.
  by Ruthardt, 94.
  twelve, for technique and expression, 94.
  concert, 94.
  by Baermann, 94.
  of Chopin, 95.
  by Kessler, 95.
  by Berens, 95, 143.
  by Heller, 143.
  Sternberg's, 155.

Example, force of, 104.

Exercise, best physical, 131.

Exercises, stretching, 12, 13.
  technical, 47.
  for the beginner, 93.
  good finger, 93.

F, Melody in, 79.

F minor, Chopin's Ballades in, 86.

F sharp, key of, 67.
  Chopin's Nocturne in, 78.

Fantastic Fairy Tales, 92.

Fantasy Impromptu, Chopin's, 88, 97.

Fatigue, premature, in the arms, 33.

Faulty touch, 8, 43.

Fifth Symphony, Beethoven's, 69.

Finger, the middle, 16.
  technique, 16.
  the little, 17.
  the weak, 18.
  touch, 19.
  staccato, 22.
  exercises, 93.

Fingering, English, 27.
  universal, 27.
  American, 27.
  the chromatic scale, 28.
  C-scale, 28.

Finger-nails, biting the, 19.

Fingers, position of, 6.
  the other, 16.
  fourth and fifth, 16.
  weak, 18.
  broad-tipped, 20.
  needed to play a mordent, 28.

Finger-stroke, high, 7, 23, 24.

Finger-tips, sore, 20.
  "wiping" the keys with the, 35.

Firm legato touch, 24.

Flat, double, 65.

Flats, double, 65.

Fugue, definition of a, 82.

Fugues, Bach's, 82.

G flat, key of, 67.

G minor,
  Chopin's Ballade in, 86.
  Brahms's Rhapsody in, 162.

Gavotte in A, the, 44.

General, technique, 3.
  rule about the pedal, 39.
  musical education, 141.

Glissando, the, 29.
  to play a, passage, 29.

Gluck-Brahms, 44.

Godowsky, transcriptions by, 23.

Godowsky's pupils, 149.

Going to concerts, value of, 158.

Grace notes, 61.

"Gradus ad Parnassum," Clementi's, 95.

Grieg Concerto, the, 35.

Halévy, 136.

Hand, position of, 6.
  stretching the, 12.
  small, 13.
  unemployed, the, 21.
  genuine piano, 130.

Hands, two at once, 25.
  playing with cold, 49.

Harmonic, clarity, 41.
  turns, 105.

Harmony, study of, 104.
  relation of, to piano-playing, 105.
  textbooks on, 106.

Haydn, 75.

Heller, etudes by, 143.

Heller's studies, value of, 93.
  opus 154, 94.

"History of Music," 150.

Importance of the right teacher, 140.

Impromptu, Chopin's, in A flat, 78.
  Chopin's Fantasy, opus 66, 88, 97.

Instrument, the, 35.

Intermediate, good, books of etudes, 94.

International piano pitch, 136.

International pitch, 136.

Key, two names for the same, 67.

Keys, why so many different, 105.
  "colour" of various, 187.

Kuhlau Sonatinas, 75.

Kullak's, Octave School, 31.
  "Method of Octaves," 34.

Learning, to modulate, 107.
  to accompany at sight, 117.
  the art of accompanying, 118.

Legato, 22, 23.
  advantage of, 22.
  touch, 24.
  meaning of, 24.

Leschetizky method, the, 144.

Lessons, teachers, and methods, 140.
  number of, depends on progress, 147.
  frequent, and shorter, 147.

Liadow, "Music Box" by, 92.

"Life of Chopin," the, 86.

"Limping," 25.

Liszt, 130, 158.

Liszt's, Dance of the Gnomes, 58.
  transcription of Chants Polonais, 88.

Little finger, action of the, 17.

Loud counting, 50.

MacDowell, Sonatas, 162.

Major, difference between, and minor scales, 109, 110.

Marking a rest, in, 99.

Marks and Nomenclature, 57.

Mason's "Touch and Technique", 155.

Masters cannot be studied in order, 90.

Mazurka, 111.

Mazurkas, Chopin's, 86.

Melody in F, the, 79.

Memorize, easiest way to, 113.
  in order to, easily, 115.

Memory, playing from, 112.
  the, 112.

Mendelssohn, the study of, 85.

Mendelssohn's "Spring Song," 77.

Menuet, 111.

Method, too much, 144.
  Leschetizky, 144.

Methods, teachers, lessons and, 140.

Metronome, markings, 57, 59.
  personal element and the, 58.
  dangers in using a, 59.

Meyerbeer, 136.

Minor, difference between major and, scales, 109.
  only one, scale, 109.

Miscellaneous questions, 150.

"Modified Classics," 148.

Modulate, learning to, 107.

Mood and tempo in the A flat Impromptu, 87.

"Moonlight Sonata," the, 76.

Mordent, fingers needed to play a, 28.
  accenting a, in a sonata, 70.

Morning practice on the piano, 45.

Moscheles, Etudes by, 94.

Motif, meaning and use of, 68.

"Moto perpetuo," 112.

Mozart, 46, 75.

Mozart's art, 160.

Music, the beginner in Bach, 80.
  modern piano, 92.
  bad, 133.
  the company that one keeps in, 133.
  can, be studied in America, 148.
  how to get, published, 150.
  as a profession, 156.
  how much you can get from, 157.

"Music Box," the, 92.

Music schools and private teachers, 141.

Nocturne, Chopin's, in F sharp, 78.
  opus 27, No. 2, 88, 162.

Nocturnes, Chopin's, 86.

Nomenclature, marks and, 57.

Note, auxiliary, 72.
  when two fingers have the same, 79.

Notes repetition, 34.
  double, 35.
  slurred, 62.
  tied staccato, 69.
  small, under large ones, 70.
  syncopated, 71.

Object of study, 135.

Octave, chords, 11.
  Kullak's, School, 31.
  in extended, playing, 32.
  passages, 32.

Octaves, 29.
  rapid, 30.
  when playing, 31.
  wrist, 31, 32.
  arm, 31.
  stiff wrists in playing, 33.

Operatic transcriptions, 91.

Order of studying Beethoven's Sonatas, 83.

Other fingers, the, 16.

Organ, touch, 26.
  playing, 26.

Pachulski, 92.

Pedal, a general rule about the, 39.
  how to use the, 39.
  use of the, for colouring, 39.
  use, with caution in playing Bach, 41.
  the "soft," 43, 44.
  a constant use of the soft, 45.

Pedalling, let your ear guide your, 41.

Pedals, the, 39.
  using the two, at once, 43.

"Perpetuum Mobile," Weber's, 112.

Peters's Edition, 79, 82.

Phrasing, value and correct practice of, 98.

Physical exercise, best, for the pianist, 131.

Pianists, the greatest composers as, 91.
  "wonder-children" as, 152.

_Pianissimo_ touch, the, 44.

Piano, height of the, seat, 5.
  touch, 26.
  kind of, upon which to practise, 35.
  extreme in action, 36.
  action of a beginner's, 37.
  playing on a dumb, 38.
  affected movements at the, 126.
  about the, per se, 127.
  genuine, hand, 130.
  when to keep away from the, 132.

"Piano Playing," 35.

"Pischna," exercises of, 93, 161.

Pitch, international, 136.

Pitch and kindred matters, 136.
  international piano, 136.

Play for people, when to, 120.

Playing for pleasure, 161.

Polonaise, Chopin, opus 53, 74.
  Chopin, opus 26, No. 1, 77.

Polonaises, Chopin's, 86.

Polyrhythms, 96.

Popular concert, Chopin's works for a, 88.

Position, of the body, 4.
  of the hand, 6.
  of the fingers, 6, 8.
  of the wrist, 10.
  of the thumb, 16.
  of the turn over a note, 71.
  of auxiliary note in a trill, 72.

Practice, morning, on the piano, 45.
  the only kind of, worth while, 47.
  of phrasing, 98.
  of constructing, 108.

Practise, kind of a piano upon which to, 35.
  exercises for the beginner to, 93.

Practising, eight hours instead of four, 48.
  the two parts separately, 52.

Precision, 25.

Prelude, the B flat minor, 95.
  in C sharp minor, 162

Preludes, Bach's, 82.
  Chopin's, 86.

Private teachers, 141.

Profession, music as a, 156.

Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor, 162.

Rag-time, why, is injurious, 134.

Repetition, technique, 34.
  notes, 34.

Rests used under or over notes, 62.

Rhapsody, Brahms's, in G minor, 162.

Rhythm, accents relate to, 62.
  playing in, 151.

Richter, E. F., 106.

Romanza, Schumann's, 162.

Rossini, 136.

Rubato, as to playing, 100.
  passages marked, 100.
  difference between conception and, 102.

Rubinstein, 158.

Rubinstein's "Melody in F," 79.

Russian piano music, 53.

Ruthardt, "Etudes" by, 94.

Scale, fingering the chromatic, 28.
  only one minor, 109.
  the well-tempered piano, 137.

Scale playing, in, 16.

Scales, tilt of the hand in playing the, 6.
  the practising of, 14, 51.
  the study of the, 50, 51.

Scherzo, Chopin's, opus 31, 88.

Schubert-Liszt's "Auf dem Wasser zu singern," 53.

Schumann's "Blumenstuck," 79.
  Romanza, opus 28, No. 2, 162.
  "Traumerei," 162.

"Secco," a rolled chord marked, 70.

Seeling, Hans, 94.

Sex of the teacher, 143.

Sight-reading, 117.

Slur, how a tie and a, differ, 63.

Slurred notes, the playing of, 62.

Slurs, 63.

Smith's Octave Studies, 143.

Solfeggio, meaning of, 74.

Soloist, 118, 164.

Sonata, accenting a mordent in a, 70.
  in playing a, 75.
  Moonlight, 76.
  Beethoven, with a pastoral character, 84.
  meaning of, 112.

Sonatina, Beethoven's, 59.

Sonatas of Beethoven, the, 83, 85.

"Songs without Words," Mendelssohn's, 86, 162.

Speed, gradual increase of, 54.
  average, 59.
  meaning of, terms, 60.
  rule for selecting the, 60.
  and smoothness in trilling, 73.

"Spring Song," the, 77.

Staccato, wrist, at a high tempo, 21.
  finger, 22.
  arm, 22.

Staffs, the, 66.

Starting, about, on a concert career, 162.

Steingräber Edition of Beethoven's Sonatas, 84.

Sternberg's Etudes, opus 66, 155.

Stretching, 12, 13.

Student, age of, immaterial, 139.
  books that aid the, working alone, 155.

Students, piano, 108.

Studies, Heller's, 93.

Study, object of, 135.

Studying, importance of, with the right teacher, 140.

Syncopated notes, 71.

System, universal, of fingering, 27.

Teachers, lessons, and methods, 140.

Technical, exercises, 47.
  work, 18, 45, 46.
  studies, 46.
  results, 48.

Technique, a generic term, 3.
  how to improve the, 4.
  a precise finger, 16.
  of the fingers, 22.
  repetition, 34.
  a "musical," 38.

Tempo, wrist staccato at a high, 21.
  to work up a fast, 53, 54.
  average, 60.
  in the A flat Impromptu, 87.
  taking liberties with the, 89.
  rubato, 100, 101.

"Tenuto" dash, the, 69.

Textbooks on harmony, 106.

Thalberg, 91, 92.

Theory, 104.

Thirds, double, 35.
  diatonic, 35.
  chromatic, 35.

Thomas, Ambroise, 136.

Thumb, the, 14.
  how to hold the, 16.

Tie, a, 63.

Time, duple, against triple, 96, 98.
  playing in, 151.

Toccata, meaning of, 111.

Touch, faulty, 8, 43.
  finger, 19, 50.
  biting the finger-nails spoils the, 19.
  legato, 24, 63.
  crisp legato, 24.
  piano, 26.
  organ, 26.
  repetition, 34.
  charm of Chopin's, 86.
  and Technique, 155.

Training, a child's musical, 138.

Transcriptions, study of operatic, 91.

Transposing at sight, 119.

Tremolo, 11.

Trill, position of auxiliary note in a, 72.

Trills, on the melodic note, 72.
  extended, 72.
  difference in playing, 74.

Triple time, 96, 98.

"Twelve Etudes for Technique and Expression," 94.

Universal system of marking fingering, 27.

Valse, Chopin's, opus 42, 61.
  opus 64, No. 2, 88.

Waltz, a chord in the, in E minor, 89.

Waltzes, Chopin's, 86.

Weak fingers, 18.

Weber's "Storm," 41.
  pianos of, time, 41.
  "Perpetuum Mobile," 112.

"Wonder-children" as pianists, 152.

Wrist, action of the, 9.
  the loose, 9.
  position of the, 10.
  stiffness in the, 10.
  octaves, 31, 32.
  stroke in long octave passages, 32.

      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Other changes:

Page iv and Index--'POLYRYTHMS' changed to 'POLYRHYTHMS.'

Page xi--'As a matter _or_ course' changed to 'As a matter _of_ course.'

Page 12--'I stretch _beween_ my fingers' changed to 'I stretch
_between_ my fingers.'

Page 43--'expresson' changed to 'expression.'

Page 47--'_ti_ would take considerable time' changed to '_it_ would take
considerable time.'

Page 50--'rhymthic' changed to 'rhythmic.'

Page 78--'Doggio' changed to 'Doppio.'

Page 93--'_or_ which one is abridged' changed to '_of_ which one is

Page 123--'feel _they that_ do not care for my playing' changed to 'feel
_that they_ do not care for my playing.'

Page 140--'be be' changed to 'be.'

Page 158--'Rubenstein' changed to 'Rubinstein.'

Index--'F major, key of, [no page #]' removed.

Index--'Gradus and Parnassum' corrected to 'Gradus ad Parnassum.'

Index--'Hadyn' corrected to 'Haydn.'

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