technique doesnt exist

Is it really that simple?

A six-year-old girl with a mischievous grin and a red bow in her hair pranced into my studio this week. Her green and orange sneakers flashed different neon colors with every bounding step. After recounting all the events of her week to me in two run-on sentences, she settled onto the piano bench (after some encouragement). I placed this music in front of her.

Mary had a Little Lamb

We played through the harmony together. She played the harmony while I played the melody. I then sat down to demonstrate the proper “technique.” Having just arranged this piece the night before, I had not had a great deal of time to think about the “technique” of the arrangement. I did what seemed natural to me. I played with my pinky sounding “sol” and my first, second, third, and fourth fingers sounding the other required pitches. I played it a second time, instructing the student to pay attention to my hands. I asked some questions to ensure she had understood what she was about to play, and then I let her sit down to try the piece herself.

She struggled for a moment when she reached the passage pictured above. Her brow furrowed as she glared at her right hand, trying to get her fingers to do what I had requested. It was not going well. After about ten seconds of trying to play with the fingering I had demonstrated, she stopped playing in frustration. Then, she did something I didn’t expect. Her face brightened, she looked up at the music and started again. This time, when she came to the passage, I watched with curiosity as her pinky sounded “sol” and her thumb bounced around the keyboard playing the other pitches of the right hand melody. She played through the whole song with barely a pause. After she finished we discussed what had happened. With a sharp nod of her head, she explained to me in no uncertain terms, that her way was easier and better.

A part of me wanted to insist that she use my fingering. And then I thought better of it.

"Technique doesn’t exist. The technique is something, it’s how to use your body in order to produce something you want to do. And this is every moment changing. So, because it’s always changing you can’t consider it a technique. It’s an art of using the body. Of course, you can see dancers have a technique, musicians have a technique, but, it’s all words to explain it, because in the end it’s not a technique. If it’s a technique it’s not good anymore. So, I think, we approach music, and we see, how can we be the instruments of that?"
- Maria Joao Pires

It really is that simple, for both children and adults.

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