Piano Abstract Technique
“About practising technic for itself alone: this will not be necessary when once the principles of technic are mastered. I, at least, do not need to do so. I make, however, various technical exercises out of all difficult passages in pieces. I scarcely need to look at the printed pages of pieces I place on my recital programs. I have them with me, to be sure, but they are seldom taken out of their boxes. What I do is to think the pieces through and do mental work with them, and for this I must be quiet and by myself. An hour’s actual playing at the piano each day is sufficient to prepare for a recital.
“It must not be thought that I do not study very seriously. I do not work less than six hours a day; if on any day I fail to secure this amount of time, I make it up at the earliest moment. During the summer months, when I am preparing new programs for the next season, I work very hard.
As I said, I take the difficult passages of a composition and make the minutest study of them in every detail, making all kinds of technical exercises out of a knotty section, sometimes playing it in forty or fifty different ways. For example, take the little piece out of Schumann’s Carneval, called ‘The Reconnaissance.’ That needed study. I gave three solid days to it; that means from nine to twelve in the morning, and from one to five in the afternoon. At the end of that time I knew it perfectly and was satisfied with it. From that day to this I have never had to give a thought to that number, for I am confident I know it utterly.
I have never had an accident to that or to any of my pieces when playing in public. In my opinion a pianist has a more difficult task to accomplish than any other artist. The singer has to sing only one note at a time; the violinist or ‘cellist need use but one hand for notes. Even the orchestral conductor who aspires to direct his men without the score before him, may experience a slip of memory once in awhile, yet he can go on without a break. A pianist, however, has perhaps half a dozen notes in each hand to play at once; every note must be indelibly engraved on the memory, for one dares not make a slip of any kind.
By: Germaine Schnitzer, Modern Methods In Piano Study