Piano Technique and Education with Teresa Carreno

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Early Age Technical Education

The November 8, 1913 edition of "Musical America" ​​mentions:

“The pianist Teresa Carreno, always young, dynamic and charming, is with us again”

I still remember the first time I heard it when I was a young girl. I was mesmerized! It was a performance full of excitement, fire and movement… It was impossible not to be impressed.

I tried so hard to emulate it! I was amazed not only by its touch, but also by its light on the stage. He had a conscious mystery, his gait, his demeanor…

He comes before my eyes with his white arms, wrists and that unforgettable red scarf...

When we met Ms. Carreno, she was very happy and surprised when I mentioned her red scarf.

“I still feel as young as the years I wore that scarf,” she said.

The conversation - naturally - came to the subject of piano mastery. Carreno continued:

“I took advantage of starting my studies at a very early age. I started playing with keys and tones when I was 3 years old, I was fascinated by the sound of the piano. At the age of 6, I entered a more serious work routine. I was playing Chopin's a-flat ballad when I was 9 years old.

Another advantage was my first teacher – my father! He saw the interest in the piano and decided that I should get a proper education. He had created a great piano education system. I am currently using this system, which was successful for me, for my students as well.

My father had found stretching and some gymnastic exercises. I can say it worked miracles on me too. However, as in all matters, all these exercises must be done correctly, otherwise no benefit should be expected.”

580 Technical Exercise

“My father created 580 technical exercises for me. Some of them contained the most difficult passages by famous composers. Although these are for one hand, my father made arrangements for both hands.

In this way, both hands worked equally. It took me three days to play all the exercises.

The exercises had to be played in all tonalities. Legato should also be repeated with a half staccato and a touch of staccato.

Can you imagine such a technically intensive work? Today, teachers and students hardly spare any time for such technical studies, apart from etudes and piano pieces.

Another important part of my education was being able to be my own critic. I also learned to listen and to be critical of the work I was playing. This virtue can be learned more easily at an early age.

I must say that I owe a large part of my success to this virtue. I try to instill this skill in my students, and I advise them to make it a part of their routine.

The importance of transposing

 Another working method that my determined teacher insisted on was the transposition of the works. I acquired this skill naturally and unconsciously, so that it gave me the feeling of an ordinary routine, not a job that I put too much effort into.

My father used to say to me in lessons: “You can play this piece in C major tonality, but I don't think you can play it in D major”

This skeptical tactical approach would fire me and I would immediately try to work by changing the tonality. I would be successful in no time.

I can say as follows; I can perform a piece that I can play in all tonalities.

For the first year of my education, I only worked technically. My first piece was Mendelssohn's Capriccio (Op.22). As you can see, I spent quite a patient studentship in the building of the foundation.

Nowadays, with shortcuts and mechanical exercises, pianists are trying to shorten the time and reach success quickly. However, I haven't seen any of them succeed.

The noble path to success requires properly directed hard work.

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I asked Miss Carreno how she achieved this strength with almost no fatigue or physical exertion. He replied:

“The secret of power is relaxation. Relaxing tense muscles at the piano...

While playing those heavy octaves in Tchaikovsky's concerto, the presence of my hands seems completely unconscious. My hands have lost their existence from the shoulders and become a soft limb like dough. That way, I can play the piano for hours without injuring myself.

This can also be described as a kind of mental relaxation. We can think first and then act.

Rudolf Breithaupt was so impressed with this quality play that his famous book “Weight Touch” was dedicated to me.

The only reason I have been able to achieve this quality tone, which I am told is authentic, is because of my controlled relaxation and flexibility at the piano.

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Another thing that caught my attention about Miss Carreno was her hands. They were created for the piano and showed a magnificent adaptation.

“Yeah, my hands look a lot like Rubinstein's hands. When she was a little girl she went to London to play for Rubinstein. He really liked me and took me under his wing. He referred to me as his “musical girl” in all the places we went.

Years later, while sitting in a hotel lobby in New York, an old man's hands caught my attention. Just like Rubinstein's hands. When we got a little closer, our eyes met, it was Rubinstein himself! He immediately stood up and hugged me.

We talked about Berlin, the musical environment there, H. Von Bülow and Klindworth.

We praised Klindworth's success in the Beethoven and Chopin editions.

As Goethe said; Klindworth had built his own monument for this work.

I love being in America and playing here. Contrary to what Europeans think, there is no commercial spirit. The exact opposite! The musical spirit is quite widespread and developing rapidly!

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