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Technic To-Day and Yesterday

Tausig, according to the say-so of the editor of his Studies, Heinrich Ehlert, had very strict ideas upon certain phases of pianoforte study and technic.
As near as we can get to it from written records, Tausig used to insist upon holding the elbows tightly to the sides while practicing his finger exercises. Whether he actually did this or not we cannot really tell, but this report was probably ancestor to the practice of some teachers of other days in which a book was held pressed up to the side of the body by the elbow while the student played.
Anyone who tries this for any length of time will acquire a stiffness resulting in pain in the muscles, which must surely lead to unnatural strain and injury. Indeed, we have the testimony of teachers who tried it and became so muscle-bound that their progress was impeded.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way, and we have "relaxation" ad nauseam, often resulting in a kind of jelly-fish technic, weak and ineffective. Of course, the sensible pianist and teacher seeks the happy mean, in which the principles of "relaxation" are properly applied.

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