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Questions & Answers

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F. L. S.—1. "Traümerei" is pronounced Troy-me-rie, accent upon the last syllable.
2. The following collection of organ music, suitable for use on the pipe-organ, is of moderate difficulty and available for church use: Jackson, "Gems for the Organ," $1.50; Morse, "Church Organist," volumes i and ii, each $2.00; and the same author's "Junior Church Organist," $1.50; La Villa, ""Progressive Organist," $1.50.
3. Whitney's "Organ Album" is about the same grade as Eddy's " Church and Concert Organist."
 
E. T. L.—Notes on the same degree can be tied, but it is not customary to do so, unless the bar line intervenes. For example, within a measure it is not customary to tie a half note to a quarter, but to write a dotted half, unless it be in a vocal composition in which the number of syllables or accents vary in different lines, as in the well-known church hymn, "How firm a foundation," etc.
 
A. G. R.—There is no ink made specially for the purpose of writing music. A good writing fluid is all right if you use a music paper with a well-calendered surface. A cheap paper is sure to blot. The following from "Ear Training," by A. E. Heacox, will be found useful by those who wish to write musical characters: "A common error is to make the heads of black notes as large as the white, filling in by a number of strokes or a circular motion of the pen." This makes a very black note and is apt to blot. The book just mentioned contains very complete directions for writing musical characters.
 
L. T. C.—The great song writers are Schubert, Schumann, Franz, Löewe, and Brahms, among the classics, besides others of less renown. The editions of Peters, Litolff, and Schirmer contain volumes of the songs of the above-named and other popular song writers. MacDowell and Chadwick in this country rank very high.
 
A. B. A.—Where this one says the hand should be high and that one low, I would say it depends upon what you are trying to play.
 
It would be well if the student could analyze the effect of every kind of position. Some positions will help best in legato playing, others in staccato work. Some movements and positions are best in chromatic passages, others in extended finger work. Independence of both position and action, or the ability to resist action, is desirable between wrist, knuckles, and fingers respectively, quite as much as between different fingers.
 
Independent control of fingers, hand, wrist, and arm, in movements across the keyboard, are more useful in practice (and more difficult to learn) than mere finger-exercises. The player should be able to hold the wrist high, low, or at medium height; to hold the knuckle-joints in a similar variety of positions, also independently of each other—that is, alternately high and low; to raise and lower the fingers in either curved or extended positions, and to know how to utilize changes from one position to another.
 
One can do some kinds of playing best with high wrist and high knuckles; other kinds with level hand; others still again with low wrist and high knuckles, etc. Sometimes fixed finger positions, with wrist action only, are best; other times clinging finger efforts, with forearm action, unmixed with the other finger and wrist movements. In crossing the keyboard, sometimes wrist and finger progressions are important, excluding separate movements of hand and upper arm.
 
As I have been engaged for years in teaching just how to know the physiological and mechanical side of piano-playing in its relation to artistic interpretation, I am sorry to find the many ways of developing and controlling touch and technic so much neglected. Too many so-called "methods" are so devoid of variety and resource!
 
It is essential to possess the ability to move the right part with the right degree of tension and velocity, alongside of the control and strength to keys,—the other parts steady,—also to have the control necessary to relax certain parts. Many important kinds of position and action should be definitely controlled instead of so few.
 
As regards Liszt's teaching and practice on the subject, I may say that I had many opportunities to hear him play and teach. His work was conspicuous for the infinite variety of expression and means employed therefor. The adaptability of means to an end in each case was marvelous. I seldom hear a "method" spoken of that the speaker's comprehension thereof is not limited to a few cut-and-dried rules. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Let us not get into ruts and mannerisms, but let us take advantage of a combination of artistic taste and modern science to develop interpretative technic.    William H. Sherwood.
 
C. T.—Your question with regard to dealing with a pair of over- flexible hands that yet produce a touch "by no means weak," and that play "really well-advanced works by the best composers," shows an entirely wrong conception of the purpose of piano-teaching. It is not the purpose of the technician to make all hands look-alike, or act alike, or hold the same position, or make the same motions; it is to enable all hands to produce well-rounded tones of beautiful quality, and to combine them into the compositions written down by the great tone-poets so as to give them adequate interpretation. Results alone are worth striving for, and, although experience shows that certain positions and motions usually produce the best results in the easiest manner and with the least work, it is by no means rare to find peculiar hands and individual technic. Overflexibility of fingers is not a fault, but a merit of the highest kind if it is associated with clear and rapid execution, accuracy in time and pitch, strong, well-shaded tone, and endurance. Do not be afraid of having your pupil's hands appear differently from some one else's pupils, but train your scholars to produce acceptable artistic effects in the way that proves easiest or most natural to them. Endurance is a matter of strength—not of muscles or tendons. Strength is always nervous, although it can only be displayed through well-conditioned bones, muscles, and tendons. Very likely, what your pupil needs is general gymnastic training and, perhaps, a better diet, including whole-wheat bread.  Henry G. Hanchett.
 
 
M. W.—Rhythm has a twofold meaning in music: its primary one is the regular recurrence of an accent at equal distances, as `1—2; `1—2, or `1—2—3; `1—2—3. This is the rhythm that is denoted by the time signature. Its secondary meaning applies to the way in which this primary rhythm is divided for melodic purposes by notes of different values. For example, the rhythmic unit `1—2 = may be divided into one quarter and two eighth notes, or a dotted quarter and one eighth note, etc.
 
The word "tempo" is used in a technical sense to signify the rate of movement without regard to either time or rhythm, indicated by metronome signs or the words "allegro," "andante," etc.
 
A. W. P.—1. What is the proper touch for Bach?
Bach's music should be played in a rather unassuming manner, regarding tone-quality. The proper touch would depend entirely upon the characters given throughout a certain composition. One phrase may represent a vocal character, while the other reminds us of an orchestral idea. The different nature of such phrases, consequently, requires different touch—i.e., singing touch for vocal and instrumental touch for orchestral effects.
 
2. What technical exercises are best calculated to develop it?
Germer's "Technics": part III, Manual of Tone-production in Pianoforte-playing, will prove to be an excellent guide. Also see page 99 of part I, same book. The polyphonic studies of Riemann, too, are not less highly to be recommended. Bernard Boekelman.
 
S. T. G.—The following solos are of world-wide popularity and are at the same time compositions of great merit, and can be used by a pupil who has finished Hermann's first and second books and is studying Kreutzer's "Forty Etudes." All have piano accompaniment: "Traümerei," Schumann; "Kuiawiak" (second mazurka), "Obertasse" (mazurka), both by Wieniawski; "Cavatina," Raff; "Tarantelle Soir a Portici," Papini; "Call Me Thine Own," fantasy, Mollenhauer; "Berceuse," Reynard; "Cavatina," Bohm; "Berceuse," Haüser; "Legende," Wieniawski. If these are too difficult, Dancla's "Six Petites Airs Varie" (especially numbers five and six), or any of the fantasies from leading operas for violin and piano by J. B. Singelee, of which there are a great number, will be found to answer the purpose perfectly. Robert D. Braine.
 
D. M.—1. The best method of teaching a pupil the letter names on the staff is first to teach the pupil the names of all tones, their scale and interval-relation, with the use of the piano, and afterward to teach him the position of these names on the staff. Staff reading should be based on interval and scale knowledge, and needs far more systematic preparation than is usually assumed.
2. The early lessons of the beginner should be devoted chiefly to creating in the pupil sufficient interest in, and attention to, matters musical. Ear-training on simple rhythms, explanations of the keyboard, and primary exercises in hand and finger movements are well suited for this purpose. Carl Faelten.
 
C. L. H.—The organ in the Town Hall, at Sydney, New South Wales, built by Hill, of London, is the largest organ in the world, according to the best information we can secure. The organ in Albert Memorial Hall, London, is said to be the next in size. The Sydney organ has four manuals. The organ was formally opened by Mr. W. T. Best, the famous English organist, now deceased, who went to Australia for that special purpose.
2. It is not possible to say that any certain number of men are the greatest living organists. In this country Dudley Buck, Brooklyn; Clarence Eddy, Chicago, and George E. Whitney, Boston, rank very high as organists and concert players; in France, Guilmant and Widor are among the most eminent; in England, there are so many good organists in the leading cathedrals that it is almost invidious to say that certain ones are the greatest. Dr. Peace, who succeeded the late W. T. Best as organist of St. George's Hall, Liverpool; Mr. Kendrick Pyne, of Manchester Cathedral, and Mr. W. S. Hoyle, of London, do a great deal of fine concert work, we are informed.
3. The difficulty in the matter of selection of the three greatest organists will also apply to the question of the three greatest pianists. Paderewski, Rosenthal, Joseffy, Sauer, Silote, and Josef Hoffman are in the first rank, each with special excellences.

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