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Posted May 16, 2007
There are many of us who studied piano and played well for years only to gradually diminish practice time until poor habits distort what comes from the keyboard to the ear, frustrating a return to past abilities. The brief but very informative 'manual', IMPROVE YOUR PIANO PLAYING by Dr. John Meffen, a noted British pianist, musicologist, teacher and conductor, offers one of the most sound collections of information that will most assuredly restore faith in shy pianists by producing what the title states. Dr. Meffen is a realist teacher, a man who gets to the core of his subject, giving a refresher course on the construction of the piano that is mandatory to understanding the clues to improving performance practices. He then details the common mistakes pianists make - repeating mistakes without analyzing why they are being made, substituting speed for correct technique and offers sound methods to improve these areas. Each section is followed by a list of questions for the reader/pianist: this is not an exam but rather a guide to diagnosing personal problems with fingering, phrasing, pedaling, and interpretation of composer's works. All of this is done with a style of writing that can only be called 'user-friendly' as well as user-supportive: Dr. Meffen keeps the tone light but strict, seeming to have little time for the lazy pianist who is reading his book for a quick fix. The book is written for those who already have some degree of proficiency with the piano, and like any good teacher Dr. Meffen takes a no-nonsense approach to guiding the 'once-upon-a-time-pianist' back to the pleasures of playing well again. The proof of the pudding is in the application of his principles and advice. Note: it works! Highly Recommended for those avoiding the once loved keyboard. Grady Harp
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