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PracticingPerfection

MemoryandPiano Performance
Expertise: Research andApplications
RobertR.Hoffman, NanacyJ. Cooke,K.AndersEricsson,Gary
Klein,Eduardo Salas,DeanK.Simonton, RobertJ.Sternberg,
and ChristopherD.Wickens, SeriesEditors
Hoc/Caccibue/Hollnagel (1995) Expertiseand Technology:
Issues inCognitionand HumanComputer Interaction
Zsambok/Klein (1997) Naturalistic DecisionMaking
Noice/Noice (1997) TheNature of Expertise in Professional
Acting:ACognitiveView
Schraagen/Chipman/Shalin(2000) CognitiveTask Analysis
Salas/Klein (2001) LinkingExpertise andNaturalistic Decision
Making
Mieg (2001) TheSocialPsychology of Expertise: CaseStudies in
Research,Professional Domains, and ExpertRoles
Chaffin/Imreh/Crawford (2002) PracticingPerfection: Memory
andPiano Performance
PracticingPerfection
MemoryandPiano Performance
Roger Chaffin
University of Connecticut
Gabriela Imreh
Mary Crawford
University of Connecticut
LAWRENCE ERLBAUMASSOCIATES,PUBLISHERS
2002 Mahwah, NewJersey London
Coverphototakenand provided byJamesM.Steeber-New York.
Copyright 2002byLawrenceErlbaumAssociates,Inc.
Allrightsreserved. Nopartofthisbookmaybereproduced inany
form, by photostat, microform, retrieval system, or any other
means,withoutpriorwrittenpermission ofthe publisher.
LawrenceErlbaumAssociates,Inc.,Publishers
10Industrial Avenue
Mahwah,NJ07430
Coverdesign byKathrynHoughtalingLacey
LibraryofCongressCataloging-in-PublicationData
Chaffin, Roger.
Practicing perfection : memory and piano performance / Roger
Chaffin, GabrielaImreh,MaryCrawford.
p. cm.
Includesbibliographicalreferences(p.),discography(p.),
and index.
ISBN0-8058-2610-6(cloth :alk.paper)
1. PianoInstruction and study. 2. Music-Memorizing. 3.Piano
Performance. 4. PianoPerformancePsychological aspects.
I.Imreh,Gabriela. II.Crawford,Mary (MaryE.) HI.Title.
MT220.C473 2002
786.2'143dc21 2001053240
CIP
BookspublishedbyLawrenceErlbaumAssociatesareprintedonacid-
freepaper,andtheirbindingsarechosenforstrengthanddurability.
Printedinthe UnitedStatesofAmerica
1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
In memory ofJohn Stephen Chaffin,
wholovedthepiano
R.C.&M.C.
To my husband Dan,
whoprovided continuous inspiration and support
for thewritingof thisbook
G.I.
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Contents
SeriesEditor'sForeword ix
Preface xi
1 IntheGreen Room 1
Mary Crawford
2 Improvisations 8
Mary Crawford
3 IntheWordsoftheMasters:Artists'AccountsofTheir 26
Expertise
GabrielaImrehwithMary Crawford
4 ExpertMemory 66
Roger Chajfin
5 TheWaytoCarnegie Hall 74
Roger Chaffin
vii
viii CONTENTS
6 Lessons FromJ.S. Bach:StagesofPractice 93
RogerChaffin and GabrielaImreh
7 IntheWordsoftheArtist 139
RogerChaffin and GabrielaImreh
8 Effects ofMusicalComplexityonPractice 165
RogerChaffin and GabrielaImreh
9 Memory andPerformance 197
Roger Chaffin and GabrielaImreh
10 StagesofPractice Revisited 239
RogerChaffin and GabrielaImreh
11 CODA 247
RogerChaffin, Mary Crawford, and GabrielaImreh
Appendix 1:Discography forGabriela Imreh 270
Appendix 2:ScoreoftheItalianConcerto 271
(Presto) byJ.S. Bach
References 279
AuthorIndex 289
Subject Index 293
Series Editor'sForeword
The initial motivation for Roger Chaffin, Gabriela Imreh, and Mary
Crawford's project camewhen Imrehaprofessionalmusicianrec-
ognizedthatideasinthecognitivepsychologyofexpertisewerenotjust
pertinent to her work asamusician,but were actuallyhelpful in her
practice.Whatensuedwasacollaboration amongacognitive psycholo-
gist,aconcert pianist,andasocialpsychologist. Boththemethods the
researchers adopted, andthewaytheypresent thematerialareinnova-
tive.Thismakesforacreativecasestudyincognitivefieldresearch.Not
justforindividualsinterested inmusicalexpertise, oreventhe broader
relations between memoryand performance, thisbook could havea
substantialimpact,both onexpertise studies andpiano pedagogy.
RobertR. Hoffman
Pensacola,FL
December 2001
ix
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reface Pref
Wehaveallexperienced the fascinationand aweofwitnessingaworld
classperformance,whether amusicianinavirtuosorendition, anice
skatermakingtriple axelleaps,or akayakerhurtlingdown aclasssix
rapid. Mostofushavealsomarveled atthe skillthatmakessuch feats
possible. Forexample,theperformanceofevenamoderatelycomplex
pianopieceplacesincredibledemandsonmemoryandphysicaldexter-
ity, requiringthe execution ofbetween 10and 20notes asecond for
minuteson end.Howdoesaperformerrememberitall,hittingevery
note,andatthesametimegiveanaestheticallysatisfyingperformance?
Practice,ofcourse,is partoftheanswertomaketheperformanceau-
tomatic. Still, how can aperformancethatistotallyautomaticbeaes-
theticallysatisfying?Whatdoestheperformerthinkaboutasthe fingers
flyacross the keyboard?Whathappens ifsomethinggoeswrong?
Toanswerthesequestions,weconvenedanunlikelytrio:aconcert
pianist and two psychologists. The pianist, Gabriela Imreh,video-
taped her practiceasshelearned the thirdmovement,Presto,ofthe
ItalianConcertoforaCDofworksbyJ.S.Bach(Imreh,1996).TheCD
thataccompaniesthisbookcontainstheperformancethatmarkedthe
end point ofthe learningprocess. (TheCDincludesthe entirecon-
certo, although our studywasconfinedto the learning ofthe third
xi
xii PREFACE
movement,Presto.)ThePrestoisnotunusuallydifficult, but itishard
tomemorize.Itsrapid tempo provides littleopportunity fortheper-
formertothinkahead,whileitsrecurringthemesrequire closetrack-
ing ofwhat comes next. Retrievalfrom long-term memory must be
rapid and automatic. Thismade it the perfect choice for our study,
since itturned out that the answers to allour questions wereto be
found intheprocessofmemorization.
Theinitialimpetusforthe studycamewhenRogerChaffin, acogni-
tivepsychologist, offered totalktoGabriela'sstudentsaboutmemory.
Gabrielawasstruckbyhowwellcognitivepsychology's understanding
ofexpertmemorymeshedwithherownexperience ofmemorizingand
preparing for performance.Asthe conversations thatfollowed grew
into collaboration, Mary Crawford, a social psychologist, joined the
team in order to record how two people from such different back-
groundscouldworkoutthedifferencesbetweentheirviewpointstoar-
riveatacommon understanding. Wehavetried tomakethe resulting
storyaccessibletobothpsychologistsandmusicians.Forpsychologists,
thetaleisoneofhowprinciplesofmemorizationdeveloped inthelabo-
ratoryapplyinareal-world domain where people makealivingper-
formingfrom memory.Formusicians,thestoryishowthese principles
canshednewlightonthemysteriousprocessofmemorizingforperfor-
mance andsohelpmakepractice more effective.
Webeginbyremindingthereaderofthebottomlineinaperformer's
lifethe numbingfear and the adrenaline rush ofstepping onto the
concert stage in front of an audience. Chapter 1 describes a
day-in-the-life ofaconcert pianistthedayofarecital.Performanceis
thecrucibleinwhichthehoursof preparation andpracticeareput to
thetest,andwewantyou,thereader,tohavethisclearlyinmindasyou
learn,inlaterchapters,whatgoesintothatpreparation. Chapter2tells
howourcollaborationcameaboutandtheissuesitraised.Whoseview-
point would our description of the learning process represent?Per-
former andscientistspeakto different audiences,withdifferent goals,
rhetoricalstrategies,andideasofwhatcountsasevidence.Totheextent
thatwehavesucceeded inprovidinginsightsintothecreationofaper-
formance, itisbecausewewereabletoharnessthecreativetensionin-
herent inthese differences.
Given the difficulty of playing long, complicated programsflaw-
lesslyfrom memory,andthepublichumiliationthatattendsmemory
lapses, itmightbeexpected thatthe pedagogical traditionsinmusic
schools and conservatories would include detailed strategies forad-
dressing the problemsinvolved.Thisproves not tobeso.Conserva-
tory training provides plenty of experience with performance, but
memorization is seen as a largely idiosyncratic matter. Chapter 3
makesthispoint byanalyzinginterviewswithwellknown pianistsin
PREFACE xiii
whichtheytalkaboutmemoryandperformance.Theircommentsre-
vealwidespread agreement about theprimacyofauditoryand motor
memoryandaconsensus thattherearelargeindividualdifferencesin
the useofvisualmemory.Incontrast, the form ofmemorymoststud-
ied bypsychologists, conceptual or declarative memory,is scarcely
mentioned. Thereisplentyofdiscussionofparticularmanifestations
ofconceptualmemory,e.g.,theimportanceofarchitecture ormusical
form,butrarelyinthecontextofmemorization.Thepianistsseem to
thinkofmemorizingassomethingquitedistinctfromthestudyofmu-
sicalformorharmonicstructure.Iftrue,thiswouldmeanthatmusical
memoryisdifferent from othertypesofexpert memory.
Oneofthe hallmarksofexpertise isanabilitytomemorizewithafa-
cilitythatoftenseemssuperhuman.Musiciansarenoexception.Thebi
ographies of famous performers are full oftales of amazingmemory
feats,andGabrielahassomeofherowntotell.Psychologistshavebeen
abletoexplainthememoryabilitiesofotherkindsofexpertsintermsof
generalprinciplesofmemory.Theirresearchhas,however,focused on
domains likememoryforchess games and digit strings inwhich the
memoryislargelyconceptual (ordeclarative).Itisnotimmediatelyob-
viousthatthe sameprincipleswould accountforthe memoryfeatsof
musicians.Conceptualmemorymaybemuchlessimportantinmusic,
becausemotorandauditorymemoryaresomuchmore central.
Wesuggest inchapter4that,contrarytowhatmanypianistsappearto
think,conceptualmemoryisimportantinmusicalperformance.Gabriela
reportedthatoneofhermainchallengesinlearningthePrestowasinte-
grating"handsandhead."Herfingerswereplayingthenotesjustfine.It
washermind(conceptualmemory)thatneededthepractice,tokeepup
withtherapidpaceoftheperformance.Thesolutionwasthe practiceof
performance cues,orfeaturesofthemusicselected forattentionduring
performance.Duringpractice,apianistmustmakemanydecisionsabout
basicissues,e.g.,fingering,andinterpretation,e.g.,phrasing,whoseim-
plementationbecomesautomatic.Thisallowsthepianisttoselectpartic-
ularfeaturesoraspectsofthemusictopayattentiontoinperformance,
e.g., atrickyfingeringorcriticalphrasing.Gabrielareported thatshese-
lectsparticularfeaturestoattendtoandpracticesthinkingofthemasshe
playssothattheycometomindautomaticallyduringperformance,along
withtheassociatedmotor responses.These performance cuesbecome
the retrieval cues that automaticallyelicit the music from conceptual
memoryastheperformanceunfolds.
Duringpractice,attentionisdirectedmainlytowardproblems.Inper-
formance, however,problems mustrecede intothebackgroundsothat
musicalexpressiveness cantakecenterstage,bothinthemindoftheper-
formerand,asaresult,intheaestheticexperience oftheaudience.This
transformation does not happen bymagic,but requires preparation.
xiv PREFACE
Gabrielareportsthat,intheweeksbeforeaperformance,shepracticesat-
tendingtoanewkindofperformancecue,expressivecues,whichrepre-
sent the feelings she wants to convey to the audience, e.g., surprise,
gaiety,orexcitement.Expressivegoalsareidentifiedearlier,butinthis fi
nalphaseofpracticetheiruseasmemoryretrievalcuesisdeliberatelyre-
hearsed.Theresultisareorganizationoftheretrievalhierarchy,addinga
newlevelofexpressivecuesatthetop.This"re-chunking"allowstheper-
former to playwhile focusing on expressive goals, that automatically
elicit from memoryallthe detailed decisions and complex motor re-
sponses builtupovertheweeksandmonthsofpractice.
Itwastheseideasabout theroleofperformancecuesinmemoriza-
tionthatwesetouttoexamineinthetapesofthepracticesessions.The
tapesalsoprovided,asanincidentalbenefit,theopportunitytoseehow
aconcert pianistpractices. Psychologists havebeen interested indis-
coveringhowmuchandwhatkindsofpracticearenecessary toreach
and maintainhighlevelsofskill.Forexample,itrequires an absolute
minimumoftenyearstoreachaprofessionallevelofcompetenceinany
field,andcontinued practiceisneededtomaintainanddevelop these
skillsoverthe course ofacareer. Littleisknown,however, about how
expertspractice.Inchapter5,wedescribethefewstudiesofskilledmu-
sicians'practice,withaneyetoidentifyingcharacteristicsthatmightdis-
tinguishthepracticeofexpertsfromthatoflessexperiencedmusicians.
Ifthe route to expertise involvesthousands ofhours ofpractice,then
evensmallincreases inefficiency mayyieldlargesavingsintimeorim-
provements inperformance.
Thestudiesofmusicpracticedescribedinchapter 5provideawealth
of empirical detail,but fewtools for testing theoretical claims about
memorization.CouldourtapesofGabriela'spracticesessions provide
evidencetosupportherclaimsaboutpracticingand"re-chunking"per-
formancecues? Intheremainderofthebook,wedescribehowwede-
veloped the necessarytoolsandused themto answer our questions.
Chapter6describesthemilestonesofthelearningprocess,dividingthe
preparation ofthePrestointosixstagesandshowinghowquantitative
measures ofpractice changed from one stage to the next. Thisout-
sider'sperspectiveonthelearningprocess iscomplementedinchapter
7withaninsidestory.Asshepracticed,Gabrielaoften paused tocom-
mentonwhatshewasdoing. Hercommentsshowhowthe problems
sheworked onchanged aslearning progressed.
Chapter8bringstheinsiderandoutsiderperspectivestogether, link-
ingthe practice ofparticular passages tothe problems theycontain.
ThreemonthsafterrecordingthePresto,Gabrielasatdownwithcopies
of the score and noted everydecision she had made in learning the
piece, everyfeature shehad paid attention to, and everycue she had
used inperformance.Whenthesefeatureswerelaidalongside thede-
xv PREFACE
tailedrecordsofpractice,theyprovided the keythatunlocked these-
crets ofthe practice records. Wewere ableto see how some kindsof
featuresdominatedpracticemorethanothers,andhowthese changed
overtime.Gabrielawasastonishedathowherinnermostthoughtswere
revealed.Inparticular,wecouldpointtosessions, earlyon,inwhichex-
pressivegoalsfirstbegan to shapeher practiceandthen there-emer-
genceofthesegoalsduringthefinalpolishingofthe piece.
Atthispoint,wereturntothequestionofmemorization.Dotheprin-
ciples ofexpert memory,developed to accountformemoryforchess
gamesanddigitstrings,applytoconcertpianists?Didthepianistusea
retrievalorganizationandpracticetheuseofretrievalcues?Theanswer
isaresounding,"Yes!" Gabrielawenttogreatlengthstoensurethatshe
couldrelyonconceptualaswellasmotorandauditorymemory,engag-
inginprolongedpracticesothatherconceptual representation ofthe
piececouldkeepupwiththetempooftheperformance.These efforts
lefttheirmarkonpractice,affectingwhereplayingstartedand stopped,
wherehesitationsoccurredwhenGabrielabegantoplayfrommemory,
and howwellthe musicwasrecalledwhen shewrote out part ofthe
score from memorytwoyearslater.
Thefinaltwochaptersintegrateourconclusions.Chapter10returns
tothestagesofthelearningprocessintroduced inchapter6,fillingout
thedescriptionwithinsightsgainedfromthein-depthanalysesofprac-
tice and comments. Chapter 11summarizeswhatwe learned about
memorizationandaboutthecharacteristicsofexpertpractice.Wecon-
cludebyconsideringwhatweeachlearnedfromourcollaboration and
howitchangedusasscientists,musicians,and friends.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Manypeoplehavecontributedtotheworkdescribed inthisbook.First,
we thank the undergraduate students who collectivelyput inthou-
sandsofhoursofworktranscribingthepracticeandcompilingthedata.
EllieCorbett,JenniferCuller,andElizabethDohmatFurmanUniversity
were the first to takeon thisenormous taskand helped develop the
methodsweused.AaronWilliamonandHeleneGovinattheUniversity
ofSouthCarolinacontinued theworkandbrought order tothe huge
databasethatwasdeveloping.Thedivisionofpractice intowork and
runs (chap.6),doneby Aaron,formedthebasisofhisundergraduate
honorsthesisattheUniversityofSouthCarolina.BenChaffin provided
criticaltechnicalhelpbywritingtheprogramthatconvertedpracticere-
cords into the elegant graphs and quantitativemeasuresreportedin
chapter6.AmeliaMcCloskeyandSandraPaezatTheCollegeofNewJer-
seycompiled thepracticerecords forinputtothisprogram.Together
withAletheaPape,theyalsotranscribedthe commentsGabrielamade
xvi PREFACE
duringpractice.Julie KonikatWestChester Universityundertook the
content analysisofthese comments (chap.7). HelmadeVriesatThe
CollegeofNewJersey developed themeasurementsofbardurationre-
ported inchapter 9.MichelleMoore,atthe UniversityofConnecticut
preparedthebargraphsinchapters6and7,and HelenMoralestyped
the interview excerpts reproduced in chapter 3.The index was pre-
pared,withgreatattention todetail,byBarbaraStroup.
Thisbookwouldnothavebeencompletedwithouttheadviceanden-
couragementofmanycolleaguesandfriends.InparticularwethankDan-
ielSpalding,whoprovidedhelpandassistanceateverystage.Hewasthe
audience for Gabriela'sfirstpractice performances, and provided her
withadviceanddiscussionofinterpretivedecisions,inadditiontosetting
up and maintainingthe video camera used to record practice. Aswe
wrote, Danread and commented on successivedrafts, making helpful
suggestions andencouragingustowriteformusiciansaswellasforpsy-
chologists. Danalsocompiledthebibliographyofsourcesused inselect-
ingthe excerptsfrom interviewswithpianistsinchapter3.
Weareindebted toCarolaGrindea,whose invitationtogiveawork-
shop on memorization atthe Londonmeetingofthe EuropeanPiano
TeachersAssociation(EPTA)provided thestimulusthatfirstbegan our
collaboration. JudiAmsel,ourfirsteditor atLawrenceErlbaumAssoci-
ates, encouraged usaswestruggledtoshapeourideasintobook form,
and BillWebber,whotookoverasoureditor,sawtheprocess through
andsavedusfrommakingthebooktoolong.BrunoReppandAndreas
Lehmannreadtheentiremanuscript,makingmanyhelpful suggestions
andsavingusfrominaccuracies.RitaAielloandBlairJohnson provided
helpfulcommentsonchapters3through5.DanPhillipsprovidedstatis-
ticaladviceabouttheinterpretation oftheregression analyses. Finally,
thankstothemanyotherswhoencouraged usalongthewaybytheirin-
terest inourwork.
Ialsowanttothankthe departments ofpsychology atFurmanUni-
versity,theUniversityofSouthCarolina,TheCollegeofNewJersey,and
theUniversityofConnecticutthatprovidedmewithcongenialplacesto
work,colleagues toshareideaswith,andlaboratoryspaceand equip-
ment,whilethisworkwasin progress. Thecompilationandanalysisof
thepracticerecordsweresupported byfacultyresearchgrantsfromThe
CollegeofNewJersey,and thefinalpreparationofthebookmanuscript
wassupportedbyaChancellor'sFellowshipfromtheUniversityofCon-
necticut.
Roger Chaffin
December 2001
ONE
Inme Green Room
Mary Crawford
Take the deepest of breathsand watchfor atremble;therecital isabouttobegin.
NoahAdams,PianoLessons
T,
hegreenroomisalonelyplace,howevercrowdeditmaybe.Inthe
green roomperformingartists' generic name for the place they wait
beforegoingonstagethelaserfocusofagreatperformancemustgather
itsintensity.
ItisSunday,October 12,1997, two-thirtyintheafternoon,and Iamin
thegreenroomwithGabrielaImreh.Thisparticulargreenroom,atTrinity
Cathedral,Trenton, New Jersey,isless than luxurious.It seems tobea
dressingroomforclergyandacatchallforchurchequipment.Theroomis
quite coldwith ahigh ceiling.Vestmentcupboards linethewall.Tables
scattered around theroomarecrowded withflower vases,brasscandle-
sticks,hymnals, andoldprogramsfrom services.
Stillitisbetter than some.Anothertime,Iaccompanied Gabrielatoa
recital at awell-known college ofthe performing arts,wherethe green
room, a basement with dripping pipes, was also a thoroughfare for
custodialstaff.Iimprovised ascreenfrom mycoatwhilesheslipped into
hergownfortheperformance.Ratherthanbedripped on,shedidherhair
whilestandinginthewings.Irememberwatchingherfastenthetinyclasp
1
2 CHAPTER1
of a necklace,her hands steady and quick, minutes before stepping on
stagetoplaythegiganticBach-BusoniChaconne.
When aliveperformanceworkswhenthe technicalproficiency,the
aesthetic sensibility, the rapport between the audience and performer
cometogetherbeautyiscreated.Whenitdoesn'tworkwhenthereis
memoryfailure,technicaloraestheticlimitation,debilitatingperformance
anxiety, or a mismatchbetween audience and performertheresult is
painful to all.Liveperformancepersists in an age oftechnically perfect
recordingpreciselybecauseofthetension,uncertainty,and excitementof
real-timemusicmaking.Literally,anythingcanhappen.
Gabriela, still in her street clothes, hangs her stage dress from a
doorjamb and goes on stage to try the piano. Her program today is
demanding:
ChromaticFantasy and FugueinDminor(BVW903),J.S.Bach
SonataNo.14inC-sharpminor,Op.27,No.2(Moonlight),L.vanBeethoven
Etude,Op.12,No.12,"Revolutionary,"FredericChopin
Nocturne,Op.27,No.2Preludes,Op.28,Nos.22,23,24,FredericChopin
Intermission
TwoValses-Caprices from "SoireesdeVienne,"FranzLiszt
AprsunelecturedeDante"DanteSonata,"FranzLiszt
Wehaveanhourbefore theperformance.Thecathedralisempty,the
Baldwingrand standingreadyatthefront outsidethealtarrail.Gabriela
beginsherwarmupwiththeslowmovementoftheMoonlight Sonata,then
runsthrough oneofthewaltzesfrom "SoiresdeVienne." Abig, powerful
passage from the Dante Sonata is next,followedincongruouslyby
"Flight oftheBumblebee,"amuchplayedencorethisseason.Nextshetakes
on some fast runs from the third movement ofthe Moonlight, morebits
from the Dante Sonata,another waltz. After 20minutes ofconcentrated
work,shestandsup,stretches,andreturnstothepianototryaparticularly
difficult passagefrom the Dante Sonata.Shefumbles,takesawrongturn,
and loses her direction. Sheplays itagain and then a third time before
gettingthroughthepassagewithoutamistake.
Itisnow after 3:00p.m.,lessthanhalf anhourbeforetheperformance.
Shehasnotplayedasinglenoteofthedifficultopeningpiece,theChromatic
3 INTHE GREENROOM
FantasyandFugue.Unlikemanypianists,whoopenrecitalswithawarmup
piece that is not particularly difficult for them, Gabrielaalmost always
choosesabig,demandingwork.Shesaysthatshepreferstodothehardest
thingfirst,ratherthanhaveit"hangingover"herthroughout thefirsthalf
oftheperformance.(Typically,shehaschosentomakehugedemands on
herself atboth ends ofthe performance,ending today's recitalwith the
virtuoso Dante Sonata.)Iknow that the Bachfantasyand fugue, with its
difficultpolyphonicstructure,hasgivenhermemoryproblemsinthepast.
I am starting to getvery nervous. Myhands and feet are cold, and the
muscles inmyshouldersand back are tense.At 3:05, shestands again,
stretches,andwalkstothebackofthecathedral.Shetalksaboutthepiano.
"It's good,"shesays,thoughabit"flimsy" inthetouch."Itcanrunaway
fromyouifyou'renotcareful."Backattheinstrument, sheriffsthrougha
few short passages from the Chromatic Fantasy. To me, they seem like
random bits, her practicewithout focus. Bynow Icanhardly write my
notes; my hands are shaking and my movements clumsy.Mybreath is
shallow, my chest constricted. Empathyandmemories ofmy days in
musicschoolmakethewaitingandwatchingalmostunbearable.
MuchofGabriela'spracticeinthehourbefore theperformanceseems
aimed atgettingtoknow theinstrument.Onlyafewartists canafford to
havetheirownpianoshippedwiththemontour.Therestareatthemercy
of out-of-shape, unreliable instruments (not to mention equally out-of-
shapeandunreliabletechniciansandtuners).Gabrielaoftenplaysinsmall
towns where the community's sole concert piano may not have been
played ortunedformonthsatatime.Talesofperformancessabotagedby
thepiano-from-Hellareafixtureofpianists'lives.Perhapsnone surpasses
thisone,seenthroughtheeyesofamusiccritic:
1
AHumid RecitalStirsBangkok
Ahush fell overthe room asMr.Kroppappeared from the right ofthe
stage,bowedtotheaudienceandplacedhimselfuponthestool.
As Ihave mentioned on severaloccasions,the BaldwinConcertGrand,
whilebasicallyafineinstrument,needsconstantattention,particularlyina
climatesuchasBangkok.... Inthishumidity,the felts whichseparate the
whitekeysfrom theblacktend toswell,causinganoccasionalkeytostick,
whichapparentlywasthecaselasteveningwiththeDinthesecondoctave.
Duringthe"ragingstorm"sectionoftheDminorToccataandFugue,Mr.
KroppmustbecomplimentedforputtingupwiththeawkwardD.However,
by thetimethe"storm"waspast and hehad gotten intothePreludeand
Fugue in D Major, in which the second octaveD plays a major role,Mr.
Kropp'spatiencewaswearingthin.
Somewho attended theperformancelaterquestioned whether theawk-
wardkeyjustified someofthelanguage,whichwasheardcomingfrom the
1
CHAPTER 1
stageduringsofterpassagesofthefugue. ... [O]nememberoftheaudience
hadavalidpointwhenhecommentedoverthemusicand extemporaneous
remarks ofMr.Kroppthat theworkman whohad greased thestoolmight
havedonebettertousesomeofthegreaseonthesecond octaveD.Indeed,
Mr.Kropp'sstoolhadmorethanenoughgreaseand duringonepassagein
which themusicand lyricswerebothparticularlyviolent,Mr.Kroppwas
turned completely around. Whereas before his remarks had been aimed
largelyatthepianoandwerethereforesomewhatmuted,tohissurpriseand
thatofthoseinthechambermusicroomhefoundhimselfaddressinghimself
directlytothe audience....
Mr.Kroppappearedsomewhatshaken.Nevertheless,heswiveledhimself
back into position facing thepiano, and leaving the D Major fugue unfin-
ished,commencedontheFantasiaand FugueinGMinor.
Why the concert grand piano's G key in the third octave chose that
particulartimetobestickingIhesitatetoguess.However,itiscertainlysafe
tosaythatMr.Kropphimselfdid nothing tohelp matterswhen hebegan
usinghisfeet tokickthelowerportionofthepianoinsteadofoperating the
pedalsasisgenerallydone.
Possibly it was this jarring or un-Bach-likehammering to which the
stickingkeyboardwasbeingsubjected.Somethingcausedtherightfrontleg
ofthepianotobuckleslightlyinward;leavingtheentireinstrumentlistingat
approximatelya35-degreeanglefromthatwhichisnormal.Agaspwentup
from theaudience,forifthepianohad actuallyfallenseveralofMr.Kropp's
toes,ifnotbothhisfeet,wouldsurelyhavebeenbroken.
It was with a sigh ofrelief therefore,that the audience saw Mr.Kropp
slowlyrisefrom hisstooland leavethestage.Afewmen inthebackofthe
roombegan clapping and when Mr.Kroppreappeared amoment laterit
seemed hewasrespondingtotheovation.Apparently,however,hehad left
togetared-handledfireax,whichwashungbackstageincaseoffire,forthat
waswhatwasinhishand.
My first reactionat seeingMr.Kroppbegintochop at the left legof the
grandpianowasthathewasattemptingtomakeittiltatthesameangleas
therightlegandtherebycorrectthelist.However,whentheweakened legs
finally collapsed altogetherwithagreatcrashand Mr.Kroppcontinuedto
chop, itbecame obvious to allthat he had no intention ofgoing on with
theconcert.
Theushers,whohadheardthesnappingofpianowiresandsplinteringof
soundingboardfromthediningroom,camerushinginand,withthehelpof
the hotel manager, two Indian watchmen, and a passing police corporal,
finallysucceededindisarmingMr.Kroppanddragginghimoffthestage.
Perhaps pianists like to repeat tales like these because they deflect
attentionfromthelesstangiblefactorsaffecting theirperformance. Every
soloistliveswiththe threatofperformance anxietyand memory failure,
5 INTHEGREEN ROOM
whichcandisruptanddestroytheaestheticsofamusicalmomentassurely
asacollapsing piano.
Mountain climberssaythat altitude sickness istotally unpredictable:
The same climb, under the same weather conditions, can be easy or
impossibledepending onthebody'sresponse.Forpianists,themagnitude
and effects of anxiety are unpredictable. Many pianists believe that a
moderateleveloftension before aperformancemakesitbetter.Gabriela
hassaidthattheworstrecitalsheeverplayed,yearsearlier,was preceded
by an unusual level of calm. Moreover, they do not believe that high
anxietynecessarilyleadstopoorperformance.Justlastyear,Gabrielasays,
shewas "sick foraweek"withanxietybefore animportantconcertwith
the Hong KongPhilharmonicaconcert where her performanceof the
Rhapsody onaTheme ofPaganinidrewstellarreviews.
Performanceanxietyfeelsterrible.NoahAdams,hostofNationalPublic
Radio's All Things Considered,has described his first recital as an adult
pianostudent. Adamsplayed ashort,easypieceforanaudienceofother
beginners, a long way from the kinds of situations that professional
pianistsconfront,but hewellknowshow fear feels and how itcan affect
one's playing:
There'sacopperytasteinmymouth,andmyhands arecold.... Icanplay
theprelude prettywell,Idon't knowhow tofactor in thef ear . . . . Iwalk
around thebackyard,tellingmyselfthatit'sonly abit ofpianoplayingin
front ofpeople Iknow and likeand that I'm on the radio every evening
talking to morethan amillion strangers. Imakeacup ofpepperminttea,
mostlyjusttohold andkeepmyhandswarmed.Therecitalstarts.... And
suddenlyI'matthepiano.... Thenameofmypiecehasbeenannounced,so
there's reallynothing for me tosay.Iadjust the knobs on the sides ofthe
pianobench.Itakeoffmyglasses.... Ipush thewooden frameholding the
musicbacktwoinches,placemyfootontherightpedal,andpushitdownto
feelthetension.Myhandswaitabovethefirstnotes.Ihearthephraseinmy
mind... andbegin.
It'slikeskatingvery,veryfastondangerousice,beingpushedbythewind
withnowaytoslowdown.Idon't feelover-the-topnervous,but asIbegin
thegracefuleleven-noterunupthreeoctaveswithmyrighthand,itstartsto
shake.Drastically.I'mstillplayingthecorrectkeys,Ithink,butit'sscaryto
seeyourhandshakelikethat.Imissafewnotes,justleavingthembehind....
Themiddlepart'scomingup;Icouldcollapserighthere.Islowdownforit,
butIcanstillhearthebadnotesclanginglikeapinballmachine.... ThenI'm
thankfully into the lasteight measures.... The soft ending chord comes
upIlookatthekeyboard,soIwon't makeahorrendousfinal mistake...
Ahalf-hourlaterI'm standing inthe kitchen,drinkingabeer,accepting
compliments.It'sanathleticglowanafter racesatisfaction.(Adams,1996,
pp. 197-201)
6 CHAPTER1
Itisnow 3:14p.m. Audiencemembersareapproachingthecathedral,
and Gabrielaisstillout front inher streetclothes.Wehead tothe green
room. I realize that allowing herself only a few minutes to dress is a
deliberatestrategy.Keepingbusy,shesays,helpsalleviateanxiety.Right
now,myownempathicanxietyisreachinganextremelyunpleasantpeak.
Iwishthiswerealloverandwecouldgohome.
Many performing artists develop superstitious routines for the time
leadinguptoperformance.Gabrielahasherowncopingstrategiesforthe
entireday ofaperformance.WhenIarrivedatherhouseatmidmorning,
shewasbusypracticing.Herpracticepiano,aKawaigrand,hadseveral
broken strings, the result of being used for 6 or more hours a day; it
sounded tinny and sharp. BecauseGabrielahas perfect pitch,an out-of-
tunepianoisnotonlyaestheticallypainful,butcaninterferewithmemory
retrieval.However,shefeelscomfortablewithherfamiliarKawai,herdog
Daisyatherstation underneath.
Shehadpracticedslowly,playingshortsectionsfromtheday'sprogram
from afewbarstoperhaps 3minutesinlength.WhenIaskedabouther
strategy,she said that itisaimed at avoidingbecomingtired before the
performance, "not giving yourself away too soon." Yesterdayshe had
donea"hugeworkout" ontheDminor fugue;todayshehad "imagined
it"insteadofactuallyplayingit.Thisstrategy,shesaid,"worksonlyifyou
reallyknow it."
Usuallyshedoesnoteatbeforeaperformance,buttodaysheinsistedon
fixinglunchforme.Quickly,sheslicedcucumber,carrot,and aslippery-
ripeavocado.Isshenervous,Iwondered?Morbidthoughtsofthedanger
toherhandscametomind.Gabrieladoesnotallowherselftodoanysports
thatmightleadtohandorwristinjurynoskating,tennis,orracquetball
forher.Butsheisafearless,creativecook,withanarmoryofchopping and
grinding gadgets and knivesand animpatientenergytodocomplicated
taskspresto.
After lunch,Gabrielavolunteeredthatshehadnotbeennervousabout
thisrecitaluntilabout48hoursbefore.Hergoal,shesaid,istobe"keyed
up," reachingapeakstateofbeing "pleasantlynervous"aboutanhour
before aperformance.Sheconfessedthatshewasmorenervousthanshe
shouldbe.Shethinksitisbecausethisrecitalisonhometerritory;many
friendshavecalledtosaytheywillbeintheaudience.(Afterward,whenI
asked her to review the course ofanxiety and tension throughout the
performanceday,sherememberedthistimeafterlunch,aboutanhourand
ahalfbeforetherecital,asoneoftwounpleasantpeaks.Theotherhadbeen
earlier,beforemyarrival,whenshehadwalkedDaisyandlockedherself
out ofthehouse.)
Wetalklightly,skippingfromonethoughttoanother.Gabriela,prompted
bytheflowerarrangingparaphernaliainthegreenroom,instructsmeon
7 INTHE GREENROOM
thebestwaystodryflowersfromthegarden.Thedressshewearstodayis
agift from herfriend,thepianistAnnaBronskin,onethatAnnahasworn
for herownconcertsandrecitals.Gabrielalovesitselegance:simple lines,
classicwhite silk.Shesaysshe finds comfort in its "stagehistory."Itis
goodtoknowthatAnnahasplayedbeautifully inthissamedress.Asshe
slips intoher high-heeled sandals, sheremembers aconcertin Guilford,
England,whenhersandalstrapbrokemomentsbeforeherperformance.
Shewalked on stage with it held together by several thumbtacks and
playedRachmaninoff withaplomb,buteverytimesheliftedherfoot from
thepedal,theshoestayed behind.
Gabriela'shusband, the conductor Daniel Spalding, iswith us in the
green room.In general, Dan's preperformancestrategy forbothhimself
andGabrielaistoplaydownthedangersanddifficulties ofperforming.Of
herstoryofRachmaninoff andthebrokensandal,hesays phlegmatically,
"Well, allshehastodoissitthere."
Thedirectorofthe cathedralrecitalseriesenters, greetsGabriela,and
givesher acheckwiththanks.Thenwearealone,and itisnearlytimeto
begin.Regardlessofhowthisperformancegoes,Gabrielawillbeawakeat
3 o'clock tomorrow morning, remembering every tiny imperfection."I
try," shehassaid,"tokeepasenseofperspective,nottobeatonmyselffor
mistakes.ButIwanttobeperfect."
Gabrielasmilesalittle."Justwaiting,"shesayssoftly, "istheworst."
ENDNOTE
1.Thereview,availableathttp://charon.sfsu.edu/DISASTER/humid.html,issaid
tohavebeenwrittenbyKennethLangbellfortheBangkokPost.
T WO
Improvisations
Mary Crawford
It allstartedwithafaxtoKatmandu.
Rogerand I,onsabbaticalintheautumnof1992,hadtrekkedhighinto
the Himalayas in Nepal. We left Katmandu in early October, flying to
Lukla (9,000 feet) and then walking to the Chomolungma (Mt.Everest)
basecamp(18,000feet).
ThetrekisaroutinematterforourNepaleseguides.Forussedentary,
middle-aged academicsitisaphysicalchallenge.For3weeks,wewalk
upanddownoversteepridgesandintocold,narrowvalleys.Wecampin
near-freezing temperatures and bathe in glacial streams. We eat rice,
lentils,andourentiresupplyofthoroughlyunappetizing freeze-driedfood.
Inreturnforourefforts,weareprivileged toentertheworldoftheSolo
Khumbu,wheretheSherpapeopleliveinsturdystonehouseswithopen
hearthfires;wherethebacksofmen,women,andyaksaretheonlymeans
ofcarryinggoodsandpeople;wheretheBuddhistprayer Ommani padne
omfluttersonstringsofprayerflagsandwhirlsoninscribedwaterwheels.
Above us are the great peaks of Ama Dablan, Nuptse, Lhotse, and
Chomolungma,GoddessMotheroftheEarth.Theonlywaytoexperience
theseplacesandpeopleistowalkthere.Theonlywaytoreturnistowalk
backout.Attimes,weareaweek'shikefrom thenearestjeeptrack.The
8
9 IMPROVISATIONS
experienceofisolationfrom Westerncultureand immersioninanalmost
medievalworld isprofound.
Katmandumotor scooters, noise, markets crowded with basketsof
fresh oranges and piles ofTibetan rugs, the smells of food cooking on
sidewalk stands, cows and laden porters pushing through the crushof
peopleisoverwhelming after thepeaceand solitude ofthe mountains.
Wearemuchthinner,slightlyspaceyfromaltitudechangeandtheshockof
re-entry, and very, very dirty. We enter the Katmandu guest house,
draggingourfilthy duffels,andlearnthatwehavereceivedafaxfrom the
UnitedStates.
Theverynotionofafaxseems slightlysurreal.Dated2weeksearlier,
themessageisfromGabriela,whowritesthatshehasbeeninvitedtodoa
workshoponmusicalmemoryforthe1993meetingoftheEuropeanPiano
Teachers' Association in London. Would Roger like to do it with her?
Perhapstheycouldconnectsomeofthepsychologicalresearchonmemory
tomusicalmemoryandperformance.Ifheisnotinterested,heshouldcall
orfaxrightaway.Otherwise,shewillaccepttheinvitationforbothofthem
andtheycanworryaboutthedetailslater.
We look at each other. London, memory research, and conference are
concepts from another world. For 3weeks, we have been hearing the
chantingofmonksdoing puja intheirrichlypaintedmonasteries, sharing
food,songs,and firewarmthwithourNepalesefriends,thinkingmostly
aboutputtingonefootinfrontoftheotheranddreamingofflyingoverthe
snow-streamingpeaks.Rightnow,Katmanduisalmostmorethanwecan
handle,letalonethisintrusionfromourWesternlives.Rogerproteststhat
hedoesn'tknowanythingatallaboutmusicalmemory.Butit'sfartoolate
todoanythingaboutit.GabrielamusthavelongsincesentRoger'snameto
Londonwithherown.IfitisRoger'skarmatobecomeanexpertonmusical
memory by next summer, so be it. We shrug and head out for a
Nepalesepizza.
ANUNLIKELYTRIO:THEAUTHORSAND
THE PROJECT
Gabriela knew about Roger's expertise in memory research almost by
chance.Our son Benjamin was astudent ofhers.When sheorganized a
summer music camp for her students, she asked parents to help with
activities, and Rogervolunteered to give aminilecture on memory. He
introducedthestudentstoconceptssuchaschunking,retrievalcues,and
automaticitybasic psychological constructs thathe guessed might aid
10 CHAPTER2
them in learning to play music without recourse to the written score.
Gabrielaimmediatelysawconnectionswithherownideasaboutmusical
memory,andthetwobeganaseriesofconversationsaboutthedemandsof
memorizing for public performance. In these talks, they explored the
similarities and differences between a performer's and a researcher's
perspectiveonmemory.GabrielawaslearningfromRogeraboutthelong
tradition ofpsychological researchon memory,and Rogerwas learning
from Gabriela about the traditions ofmusicalperformanceand the de-
mandsthatareplacedoncontemporaryperformers.
It isonly quite recentlyin history that the performanceofseriousor
classical music in public, and with it the possibility of a career as a
performer,hasbecomeafeatureofsociallife.Beforethat,musicinWestern
societies was performedas asecondary part ofevents in settings where
peoplegatheredforotherpurposes,suchasreligiousorcourtceremonies.
Inthesesettings,musicianswerenottreatedasimportantindividuals,and
virtuosityforitsownsakewasabsent.Thosefewwhowereacclaimedas
performerswereusuallycomposers,andtheyachievedrenownforimpro-
visingorperformingtheirownworks.NotableexamplesincludeBachand
Mozart(Salmon&Meyer,1992).
The practice of performing from memory is an even more recent
innovation begun by ClaraSchumann and FranzLiszt.In the mid-19th
century,these twopianists created asensation inthe salons and concert
hallsofEuropebyplayingwithoutascore.Thesensationwas warranted;
the abilityto performmusic from memory isa remarkableaccomplish-
ment. Some pieces in the piano literature last for over 50minutes and
requiretheproduction ofover1,000notesaminuteforextended periods.
Performancesofsuchpiecesfrom memoryrepresent apinnacleofhuman
achievement.
Theworld oftoday'sperformerisverydifferent from the 19th-century
artisticmilieuintowhichSchumannandLisztintroducedthenewpractice
of performingfrom memory.There are manymoreperformerswho are
skilled and highly trained. Competitionisintense,beginning with audi-
tionsandpublicperformancesforyoungchildren.Thosewhosurvivethe
grueling selectionprocess find alimited (anddwindling)marketfortheir
skills.Indeed,mostareunabletomakealivingasperformers.Thestresses
associated withbecomingaprofessionalperformerareimmense(Salmon
&Meyer,1992).
ClaraSchumannandFranzLiszt'ssensationalinnovationhasbecomea
norm,addingyetanothersourceofstresstotheperformer'slife.Todaythe
ability to play without a score is a central feature of a concert artist's
professionalcompetence.Evenstudentrecitalsandregionalcompetitions
foryoungpianistscommonlyrequirethemusictobememorized.Perform-
11 IMPROVISATIONS
ing from memoryispartofprofessionallife forpianists,aswellasother
instrumental soloists, singers, and conductors. At the same time, the
memory demands represent an important obstacle for many aspiring
musiciansand asourceofanxietyforeventhemostexperiencedperform-
ers(Salmon&Meyer,1992).Memorylapsesdooccur,andtheycancripple
aperformancea painful experienceforartistand audiencealike.
Gabriela and Roger's 1993London workshop, initiated by the faxto
Katmandu,wasacontinuationoftheirconversations aboutmemoryand
musical performance and their first attempt to meld Roger's memory
expertise withGabriela's insightsasan artist. Itdrewastanding-room-
onlyaudience ofpianists and teacherswho wereeagerfornew ways to
conceptualizeandresolvechronicproblemsofplayingfrommemory,and
itledtomoreinvitationstospeakaboutthepsychologyofmusicalmemory.
Encouraged by the interest from the musicalcommunity, Rogerand
Gabriela wanted topresent the samekind ofanalysis toapsychological
audience.Aconferenceoneverydaymemoryscheduled forthefollowing
summer presented an opportunity. Roger pointed out, however, that
psychologistswouldwanttoseesomedata.Atthispoint,RogerandIwere
awayfromhomeagainfortheyear,soaplanwasdevisedoverthephone.
Gabriela suggested videotaping herself as she learned a new pieceof
music.Itwasdecidedthatshewouldrecordherpracticeoftwonewpieces.
Itwas left forGabrielatochoose them from amongthose shewould be
preparingforperformanceduringthecomingyear.Thepiecesshould be
roughlyequalinlength;theyshould benew,and oneshould beharder
than the other tomemorize.Otherwise discussion focused on detailsof
wherethecamerawouldbeplacedandthesafestwaytoshipvideotapes.
Thatwas the extentoftheplanning. Therewas no discussion ofhow
many hours ofpracticewould be involved. (Inretrospect,we probably
shouldhavechosensomethingalittlelesschallenging.)Certainlynoword
was spoken about hypotheses or dependent measures. These were foreign
conceptstoGabriela.Totheextentthatshethoughtaboutit,sheimagined
the videotapes providing illustrations of the various practice strategies
that had been the focus ofthe workshop. Roger,who might havebeen
expectedtohaveaclearerideaofwhatwasahead,wasbusywiththemove
andwithapromisingnewlineofresearchonlearningwordmeanings.It
wasonlyasthetapesbegantoarriveinthemailthathestarted tothink
aboutwhattodowiththemand,astheycontinuedtopileup,to confront
theproblemofhandlingthevastquantityofdatatheycontained.Theone
virtueofthishaphazardbeginning wasthatitensured thattherewasno
opportunityforGabriela's learning tobecontaminated bypreconceived
ideasaboutspecifichypothesesthatmightbetested.BythetimeRogerhad
figured outwhattodowiththedata,thelearningprocesswasover.
12 CHAPTER2
Gabriela had first met Roger and me in 1990, shortly after she had
emigrated to the United States. She is Romanian by birth and both
HungarianandRomanianbyparentage.Shebeganpianolessonsattheage
of5,whenhermothertookherforprivatelessons,and soonafter shewas
enrolledinthelocalperformingartsschool.Twoyearslater,afterher first
juriedexam,theprincipalcalledherparentsandurgedthatifatallpossible
Gabrielashouldattendoneofthefivemainperformingartsschoolsofthe
country.Atthattime,Clujwasa"closed"city,butthefamilymanagedthe
movethere.Intheyearsthatfollowed,theyoungpianistmadeherwayup
theladderofaconservatory education designedtolead toacareer asa
performingartist.Shemadeherdebutattheageof16withtheRomanian
StatePhilharmonicandhassincesoloedwithorchestrasaroundtheworld.
AspecialistintheRomanticrepertoire,includingthecompleteconcertiof
Rachmaninoff, she recentlyshowed her versatility by recording an all-
BachcompactdiscfortheConnoisseurSocietylabel.
1
Itisoneoftheworks
onthisrecording,theItalianConcerto(thirdmovement),thatisthe focus
ofourstudy.Duringmostofthetimethisbookwasinpreparation,shewas
represented intheUnitedStatesbyadivisionofColumbiaArtists,playing
some50recitalsannuallyforaudiencesaroundthecountry.
The first time we heard her play (the Rachmaninoff Second Piano
concertoina1990performanceconductedbyDanielSpalding),Rogerand
Irealizedwewerehearingartistryofthehighestorder.Theperformance
was technicallybrilliant,musicallynuanced, and sensitive.Professional
reviewers,too,havenotedher"keenmusicalintelligence," "breathtaking
agility,"andsuperbartistry.
Aswe cametoknowher, Rogerand Iwerenot onlyimpressed with
Gabriela'smusicalskilland sensitivity,but awedbyherintelligenceand
drive.Inthefirstyearweknewher,sheestablishedasmallteachingstudio,
developed her English from hesitant to utterlyfluent, learned to drive,
becameanAmericancitizen,anddevelopedanewperformancecareerin
thiscountry.
One of the most striking aspects of Gabriela's personality is a high
degree of aesthetic sensitivity in all realms. We expected her to be a
perfectionistatthepianoitisthehallmarkofaprofessional.YetGabriela
approacheseveryaestheticrealmwiththesamehighstandards,andshe
seemstohaveageneralizedabilityincreativeandartisticrealms.Whether
she is painting, cooking, arranging flowers, or designing jewelry, the
processisalwaysintenselyabsorbingandtheproductaestheticallypleas-
ing.Sheisalsounusuallyarticulateaboutherworkandtheskillsinvolved
inplaying thepianoaquality perhapsrelated tohergenerallinguistic
abilities(shespeaksseverallanguagesfluently)and further developed by
teaching.
13 IMPROVISATIONS
RogerandIarebothamateurmusicianswithverymodestperforming
skills.Rogerhasplayedthefluteoffandonforyears,originallyself-taught
and laterwiththehelpofteachers.Istudied musicasan undergraduate,
receivingadegreeinmusiceducation.However, after leavingthatfield in
my 20s,Idid not play or study music until resuming an interest in the
pianosome25yearslater.
Although we areboth psychologists and have been married toeach
otherformorethan27years,RogerandIhaverarelyworkedtogetherona
researchprojectbecauseourspecialtyareasarequitedifferent. Rogerisa
cognitivepsychologistwhoinvestigateshowknowledgeisrepresented in
memory.Hehasworkedprimarilyinbasicresearchontheorganizationof
wordmeaningsinthementallexiconand onthequestion ofhow people
learnthemeaningsofnewwords.Hehasalsoexploredmoreapplied areas
suchasfactors affecting the difficulty ofGREanalogyitemsand people's
knowledgeoftheirownmemoryabilities.BorninEngland,hereceivedhis
undergraduatedegreeatOxfordbeforecomingtotheUnitedStates,where
he earned his Ph.D.at the University of Illinois. He teaches courses in
cognitivepsychology.
Trained as an experimental psychologist, I did research in animal
learning before my interests turned to the psychology of women and
genderanareathathadbeenmuchneglectedbypsychology.Forme,this
entailed much more than just a change in research topics; I began to
questiontheepistemologicalassumptionsunderlyingpsychologicalpara-
digms such as behaviorism and cognitivism, and to feel a need for
innovative research methods and interdisciplinary collaboration. I now
directaprogram inWomen'sStudiesaswellasteachand doresearchin
socialpsychology.
Insummary,thethreepeoplewhojointogethertowritethisbookcome
fromdifferentintellectualtraditionsandpersonalbackgrounds.Farfroma
meetingoflikeminds,ourworktogetherischaracterizedbyanattemptto
bridgeour unlikeness.Wearetwosocialscientists, oneartist;two women,
oneman;twowhoseintellectualinquiryandjobsecurityareprotectedby
academic tenure, and one who earns her living in the marketplaceof
classical music performance;three different nationalities brought up in
three different cultures.Our inquiry isinterdisciplinary; because of our
differences,ourmethodsareunconventionalbybothnecessityandchoice.
Justaseachofushadadifferentstartingpoint,eachhadadifferentsetof
goalsforthisresearchproject.Gabrielasoughttounderstandtheprocessof
memorizingforperformancetomakeherownperformancepracticesmore
efficient and to reduce the possibility ofmemory failure forherself, her
students, andotherpianists.Rogersoughttounderstand memoryexpert-
iseinanewdomainandtocontributetoscientificknowledgeonthistopic.
14 CHAPTER2
I sought todocument the researchprocess, especially thepleasures and
difficulties ofinterdisciplinarycollaboration.Inworkingtogethertoachieve
these varied goals, we have attempted to bridge many polarities that
characterize the production ofknowledge in our culture, and we have
encounteredcomplexitiesthatwedidnotanticipateatthestart.
BRIDGING DIFFERENCES
Empiricism andconstructivism
Rogerapproachedthisprojectasanempiricist,ascientist.Heexpectedto
beabletosystematicallyobserveandrecordrelevantaspectsofGabriela's
practicing behavior and subject it to quantitative analyses that would
revealitsregularitiesregardlessofwhetherGabrielaherselfwasawareof
them.Heexpectedtocorrelatespecificaspectsofpractice(suchasduration
ornumberofrepetitions)withothermeasures(suchasrated difficultyof
thepassage) and todevelop predictions about future behaviorbased on
those relationships.
Roger'smetaphorsoftheprocesswerethoseofexplorationanddiscov-
erythrough thegatheringofquantitativedata.Thesemetaphorsreflecta
realistpositionabouttheworld.Fromthisperspective,realitylieswaiting
tobediscovered;dataexistindependentlyoftheobserver'sconstructsand
can be collected or gathered like fruit for the picking. His underlying
epistemologicalassumptionshadbeenconsistentthroughouthiscareerin
psychology.
LikeRoger,IwaseducatedintheempiricisttraditionofNorthAmeri-
canpsychology.However,Ihadmovedfromanempiricisttoamoresocial
constructionist position.Socialconstructionists makeassumptions about
the natural and socialworld that differ from those held by empiricists.
Theyassumethatthemethodsweusetounderstand theworldaresocial
artifacts arising at a particular time in history and within a particular
community.Likewise,the acceptanceofaparticulartheoryor setofdata
(orindeedanyaccountoftheworld)isasocialandpoliticalprocessrather
than simply a matter of weighing evidence objectively (Gergen, 198;
Potter,1996).
Debates between empiricists and social constructionists are hardly
novel;theyarefamiliar issuesinthephilosophy and sociologyofscience.
However, the debateshave had little effect on the practiceofcognitive
psychology,whichremains thedominantparadigmforNorthAmerican
academicpsychologyandwhichcontinuestorelyonempiricistnotionsof
objectivityandmethod.
15 IMPROVISATIONS
Gabriela,educated asanartistintheEuropeanconservatory tradition,
did not have our investments inepistemological debates. However, the
practicesthatstemmed fromRoger'sempiricismevokedstrong responses
from her.Earlyinthe project,forexample,Rogerpresented an informal
talkabouttheresearchtocolleaguesand sentacopytoGabrielainwhich
helisted himselfastheauthorand referred toher asthesubject.Gabriela
found thisrepresentation whollyunacceptable.Sheseemed tofeel angry
anddemeanedanddiscussedherfeelingswithme.Shethendiscussed the
situation with Roger in a collegial manner. Gently and politely, she
explainedthatshecouldparticipateonlyasanactive,thinkingpartner,not
asapassive subject. Roger,who had thehighest regard forher abilities,
was surprised atherreaction.Atthattime,hesimply had noother way
thanexperimenter and subject toconceptualizetheirworking relationship.
Shaped by the conventions ofpsychology and their codification in the
standardized languageofpsychologicalresearch,andbyhisownhistory
ofresearchusingcollegestudents andarbitrarymemorytasks,hedidnot
recognize that from her perspective he had imposed an unacceptable
hierarchy.Together thetwobegan toworkoutlanguagetoexpresstheir
collaboration asapair ofequally qualified expertswhose expertise hap-
pened tobeindifferent realms.
How, then, might an empiricist, aconstructionist,and an artistwork
together?Eachofusacknowledgedsomestrengthsoftheothers'positions,
and theboundaries among us onthisbasicepistemological stancewere
relativelyfluid.Rogerconcededthevalueofresearchmethodsthatallow
for individualsubjectivity,andherecognized thathisownpracticesasa
researcher often did not fitthe received view ofhow scientific inquiryis
conducted.(Hestillfelt, however, thatother researchers' practicesprob-
ablydid.)He alsoargued thatcritiquesofmainstreampsychology often
reflect a stereotype ofempiricist inquiry,underestimating the methodo-
logicalandconceptualsophisticationofcontemporaryapproachestomind
and thinking.He felt thatGabrielacouldlearnsomething useful from his
quantitative analyses and she agreed. Gabriela was excited about the
prospectoftestingherideasaboutmemorizationandperformance.Atthe
sametime,shesawherselfasanartist,notasaresearcher,andwould not
agree to experimental procedures that violated her ideas of what was
musicallyappropriate.
It is tempting to assert that these epistemological differences were
resolvedinadvanceofourworkingtogetheronthisprojectanempiricist
answertothedilemma.Inotherwords,wemightclaimthatthethreeofus
discussed our personal values and philosophy and agreed that these
valuesundoubtedly influencedour choiceofresearch topic,but oncewe
began doing researchtheybecameirrelevant.Inactualpractice,wehave
16 CHAPTER2
found thatour different standpoints affect thewaywethinkaboutevery
aspect ofthe research process. Asthis projecthas proceeded, we have
muddled throughourdifferences, leaning firstonewayandthen another
aswetriedtoreconcilethegoalsofallthreeparticipants.
Differences andcontested interpretations cropped upmanytimes.We
continuedtobesurprisedbytheextenttowhichwewereeach operating
from aspecificepistemologicalstancewithoutbeing awareofitand how
theselargelyunarticulatedassumptionsinfluencedoureverydaypractices
as researchers. As a constructionist, I was sympathetic to Gabriela's
objections toRoger's empiricist stance, and yet Iwas also familiar with
empiricist researchpractices,theirstrengths, and theirpurpose. Isome-
times found myself explaining and justifying Gabriela's views toRoger
andRoger'stoGabriela.Althoughthiswasnotaneasytask,itdidhelpme
understand theirdifferences andempathizewithbothofthem.
Inretrospect,themembersofthisunlikelytriohavecometosharethree
importantpositions.Thefirstisthevalueofself-reflexivity.Inotherwords,
we choose to reflect throughout this work on our own assumptions,
motives, and epistemological starting points and how they affect the
research process ateverystage.Thesecond, related position isagoalof
strong objectivity.Sandra Harding (1991) argued that, because values
cannot be fully eliminated from scientific practice, allaspects ofscience
shouldbeexaminedinanongoing effort tounderstand theireffects (both
positiveand negative). Thisincludes notonly immediate personal goals
andvalues,butthosethataresomuchapartofthedisciplineorhistorical
period that they may be ordinarily unremarked and socially invisible.
Strongobjectivitystandsincontrasttotraditionaldefinitionsofobjectivity,
whichHardingcalled"weakobjectivity,"andwhichstresseliminatingthe
valuesoftheresearcherfrom theresearchprocesstothepointof"annihi-
latingthesubjectposition oftheknower" (Ewick,1994).Ourthird shared
visionisoneofmethodologicalopenness. Wedecidednot torejecteither
quantitativeorqualitativemethods, norwould we assumethatanyone
methodhastheinsidetracktotruth.
ScienceanaArtistry
Whenwebeganthisproject,Gabrielawasentirelyinnocent ofanynotion
of how scientific inquiryisconducted, and Rogerhad onlyan outsider's
knowledge oftheperformingarts.Istood somewhere between the two,
but closertoRoger,inhavingamodicumoftraininginmusiceducation
(butnoperformingexperience)andaprofessionalidentityasa psychologist.
Not surprisingly, Gabrielasometimeshad doubts about whether her
practiceandperformancestrategiescouldbecapturedinwhatRogercalls
17 IMPROVISATIONS
data.Morethanonceduringtheresearchprocess,shesaidtomeprivately
that shecould not understand why he wanted to focus somuch on the
cumulativerecordsand graphicalsummariesofherpracticesummaries
thatdonotinterestherasmuchastheartisticprocess andhersubjective
experienceofit.Atthesametime,Rogerprivatelyreported tomethathe
experienced frustrationat her reluctance to "sit down and go over the
results."
Thisdifference isrelatedpartlytobasicbeliefsinthepowerofscientific
modes ofinquiry and partly tomore mundane concerns that arerarely
acknowledged inscientific discourse.ForRogerand me,conducting and
publishing researchaccordsprofessionalstatusandwhateverperksmay
comewithit,suchasgrantmoney,reduced teachingloads,and increased
prestige within our universities and disciplines. We are personally in-
vestedincompletingtheprojectnotjustforaltruisticreasonsofcontribut-
ingtoknowledge,butoutofself-interest.Atthesametime,weknowhow
conservative psychology canbe about unconventional methods, itslow
regardforcasestudies,anditsreluctancetorespondtosocialconstructionist
critiques(Fine&Gordon, 1989;Kimmel&Crawford,1999).Itwould be
easierandlessanxiety-provokingforusbothtosticktomoreconventional
research.
For Gabriela, the cost-benefit ratio is different. Everyhour that she
devotes to the project is an hour away from the sort ofwork that will
increase her professional standing. Although she shares our altruistic
motives,sheknowsthatinherprofessionpublishingabookmattersmuch
less than perfecting one's performance,enlarging one's repertoire, or
recording anew compactdisc.Moreover,her schedule iscrowded with
performing,recording,andteaching,andshehasnoneoftheinstitutional
supportswetakeforgranted.
Despite these differences in background and professional payoffs,
Gabrielashowed anintense interestand anastonishingly quickgraspof
thelogicofscientificinquiry.(AtleastitwasastonishingtoRoger,whohas
long labored to teach undergraduates the fundamentalsofresearch de-
sign.) In fact, her enthusiasm near the start of the project had to be
restrained. Shewanted tostudymoreconcertpianists rightaway,add a
sample of conductors, and design complicated studies of her students'
practice.Newtotheresearchprocess,shedidnotthinkabouthowlongit
allactuallytakes.Werecognizedinherresponsetheintellectualdelightof
a bright student who comes to understand the power of systematic
researchandbeginstoseetheworldasherlaboratory,andweexperienced
thesamekindofpleasurewedowhenourcollegeteachingevokessucha
response.
Yetfundamentaldifferences remain.Although the rhetoricofscience
concerns itself with revealing nature's truths, the rhetoric of the arts
18 CHAPTER2
concernsitself withthemysteriesofthecreativeprocess.Theformer isa
rhetoricoflawfulregularitiesinthenaturalandsocialworld;thelatterisa
rhetoricofindividualuniqueness and spontaneity.
Attimes,mundane differences ofopinionarosethatIbelievewere due
tothelawfulness/uniqueness dichotomy.Forexample,lateintheproject,
RogerandGabrieladiscussedhowtoorganizethisbook.Theyagreedthat
theyshouldprovide"thebackground totheproject."Rogerassumed that
thismeantareviewofpsychologists' researchleadingtoarationaleforthe
presentprojectintermsofwhatitwouldadd.Gabrielathoughtthiswould
bewholly inappropriate.Why,sheasked, shouldwewrite abook about
otherpeople'sresearch?Discussingtheissuewithher,RogerandIrealized
thatshefeltplacingourresearchaspartofalonglineofsimilarorrelated
effortsthe adding-a-piece-to-the-puzzle rhetoricalstrategyofscience
demeaneditsoriginality.Shearguedthatthebackgroundchaptersshould
startwiththewordsofwell-knownpianiststalkingabouttheproblemsof
memorizationand the strategies they use, culled from interviews ofthe
performers.Ourprojectshouldthenbepresented asaunique contribution
to solving long-standing problems about which little is known.Rather
than being a piece ofanyone else's scientific puzzle,Gabrielahoped to
showthathercontribution toresearch, likeherinterpretation ofaworkof
music,shouldbejudgedonitsownmeritsasauniquecreativeendeavor.
Tome,itwas fascinating towatchthis debate aboutrepresentation and
recognizethatthereisnorightwaytorepresenttheresearchprocess,only
different strategiesbasedondifferent socialgoals.(Wesolvedtheproblem
bydoingboth,seechaps.3,4,and5.)
A related issue ofrepresentation involves sustaining the mystiqueof
artistry.Therearevirtuallynosystematicobservationalstudies ofconcert
performers, and the interviews in which they discuss their learning
strategiesareoften unrevealing.Onereasonforthissilenceisthat,within
the artistic community, it iswidely believed that art demandsa certain
mystique.Farbettertolettheaudiencebelievethattheartisthasadivine
giftthatisexpressedasnaturallyasthesongofalarkthantorevealthathe
orshesometimesstrugglestomemorizeawork,occasionallyhasmemory
lapses,orindulgesinsuperstitiousritualstowardoffperformanceanxiety.
Gabriela,whose stagepresence hasbeendescribedbyreviewersasradi-
ant,elegant,and glamorous,expressed someofthisneed formystiqueby
confidingthatshefeltself-consciousaboutbeingvideotapedwhilepractic-
inginherbathrobeorjeans.Shealsodescribedacutefeelingsofvulnerabil-
ity in revealing to the competitiveworld ofprofessionalmusiciansjust
howlongandhardshehadtoworktoprepare adifficult pieceforpublic
performance: "My self-protective instincts rebelled against the video
camera preserving my most personal, private timepracticing.Some-
19 IMPROVISATIONS
timesIfeltterriblyinadequate;mymistakesseemedembarrassing"(Imreh
&Chaffin, 1996/1997).Thus,ourcollaborationacrossthesciencehumani-
tiesdivideopeneddifferentvulnerabilitiesandthepossibilitiesofdifferent
rewards for each participant, and these differences were played out in
dilemmasofrepresentingtheresearchprojecttoitsintendedaudience.
"Experimenter" and "Subject"
Most psychological research is conducted on North American college
students(Sears, 1986).Research participantsare kept uninformed about
thepurposeofthestudy;theymayevenbedeceived.Oftentheyareasked
todotasksthatareoutsidetheirordinaryexperienceorevenbizarre,and
they are tested inunfamiliar environments forbrief periods oftime.The
methodsaredecontextualizedandthesituationshighlyartificial.Thedata
they provide are summarized, analyzed, and interpreted by the expert
psychologist.ThisisthetraditioninwhichRogerwastrainedandonethat
he had little cause to question; the approach had provided him with
coherent and lawful data overtheyears,and hisworkwaspublished in
reputablepsychologicaljournals.
Fromaconstructionistperspective,thereisaclearhierarchyofpowerin
this sort of psychological research, and research is conducted in one
directiondownwardinthathierarchy,with"thepowerful, all-know-
ingresearcherinstructing,observing,recording,andsometimesdeceiving
thesubjects"(Peplau&Conrad,1989).Theinequalityoftheexperimental
situation may be especially acute when the researcher is male and the
subjectisfemale (McHugh,Koeske,&Frieze,1986).
Cognitivepsychologyhasadapteditsmethodsandresearchpracticesin
responsetocriticismaboutitsartificiality,buthasbeenslowertoacknowl-
edgecriticismofitspowerhierarchies.Asearlyas1976,criticsofstandard
memory research had begun calling for more naturalistic studies of
memory(Neisser,1976).Theeverydaymemorymovementthatfollowed
formsonecontextforour project(Searleman&Herrmann,1994).Bynow,
research on expertise has alreadylooked at individuals with such real-
worldskillsaschessplaying,dancing,acting,andfigureskating(Ericsson,
1985; Ericsson &Oliver, 1989; Ericsson &Smith, 1991). Working wit
highly accomplished adults,instead ofthecollegestudents usually stud-
iedinpsychology experiments, providesanopportunitytoovercomethe
problems ofthe traditional experimenter-subject hierarchy.Making the
mostofthisopportunity,however,requiresthattheproblemsbeacknowl-
edged,andthishasnothappened.Publishedreportsofexpertisestudies
have either been silent on these issues orhave described circumscribed
relationshipsbetweentheresearchersandtheresearched.
20 CHAPTER2
Iwillbriefly describe afewexamplestoshow how researchers adopt
different strategiesfordealingwiththepotentialbreakdownofthe usual
experimenter-subjectboundaries inexpertiseresearch.Thefirststrategyis
tomaintain theconvention ofpsychological distance that is traditionally
observedinscientificreportwriting.HelgaNoice(1991,1992)conducteda
sophisticated and unique series ofstudies onthememory strategiesand
processes ofprofessionalactors.Throughout her published reports, she
usesthestandardexperimenter-subject terminology.Theexpertactorsare
not named. Shereports that someofthemwerepaid asmallamountfor
participating intheresearch (e.g.,Noice,1991).Interestingly, someofher
researchiscoauthoredwithherspousewhoisaprofessionalactor(Noice
&Noice,1993),andinotherstudiesheisthankedforhishelpinrecruiting
actorsforstudy.
AsimilarstrategyisadoptedbyKacperMiklaszewski(1989,1995),who
videotaped pianists asthey learned new compositions. Thepianists are
referredtobyfirstnameonly,andtheyaredescribed as"volunteers"who
"received smallfeesfortheirwork" (1995,p.139).Aftertheirpracticewas
videotaped, thepianistswatched thetapesandadded their commentsto
the sound track,but they did not interactdirectlywith another human
beingwhile commenting ontheirwork,norweretheylater interviewed
about the meaning oftheir comments.Insomewhat different ways, and
although they are grounded in different interpersonal situations, both
NoiceandMiklaszewskiemployed thestrategyofattemptingtominimize
theeffect ofpersonalandprofessionalrelationships ontheresearchprocess.
Incontrast,CharlesThompson,ThaddeusCowan,andJeroneFrieman
(1993) reflexively took up the question of their relationship with their
"subject," Rajan Srinivasan Mahadevan. Before he became a graduate
student in cognitive psychology in the authors' department, Rajan had
earnedaplaceintheGuinness BookofWorldRecordsbyrecitingthe first
31,811digits ofpifrom memory.Inwritingabout their4-yearproject to
study Rajan's memory abilities, Thompson and his colleagues discuss
ethicalproblems (would hisintensive participationasa subject interfere
with his progress as a graduate student?) and describe the sometimes
difficultpersonal relationshipsbetween Rajanandthefacultymembersof
the group. They discuss Rajan's lively sense of humor as well as his
"annoying"and"exasperating" waysofnotbehavinglikeadocilesubject
(pp. 16-17). For example, he refused to be tested by paid assistants,
insisting on interacting with the project directors. Nevertheless, they
describeRajanas"morethanaresearchsubject;we... cametoknowhim
as acolleague and a friend (p.xi)and a "true collaborator aswell asa
subject." However, Rajan is not listed as a coauthor of the book that
describestheproject.
21 IMPROVISATIONS
How dopsychologists dealwith theblurringofboundaries when the
subjectisalsoanexperimenterandanauthoroftheresearchnarrative?An
interesting example is provided by Fernand Gobet and Herbert Simon
(1996a, Experiment 3)in a study ofexpert memory for chess positions.
Gobetdescribeshimselfinthethirdperson:"AsingleS(thefirstauthorof
thepaper)hasbeenparticipatinginthisexperimentformorethan1year.A
formerchessprofessionalturnedpsychologist,heholdsthetitleofInterna-
tionalMaster." (pp.21-22).
In addition, he justifies studying himself on grounds of historical
precedentand thelogicofexperimental design:
In incorporating in the experimentaldesign the collaborationof subject
with experimenterto find ways ofenhancing performance,we follow the
examplesofEbbinghaus,and ofthe earliersubjects on expertmemoryfor
digit strings.... In a test of cognitiveabilities,with no deception in the
experiment's design, and nopossibilityforsubject deception inanupward
direction,anexpertmemberoftheresearchteamisanappropriate subject.
(pp.21-22)
The rhetorical strategies in this narrativedistancing"subject" from
self byuse ofthethirdpersonand providing adouble-barrelled justifica-
tionforstudyingone'sownexpertisedemonstratejusthowproblematic
this situation is perceived to be. When college students are studied, a
justification of the choice is rarely offered. While it serves to reinforce
traditionalpsychologicalpracticesbypresentingthiscaseasanexception,
theresearchreportsubvertsthesepracticesandassertstheidentity ofthe
"subject." Here Gobet comments on his own motivation, albeit in the
third person:
Swasnotstronglymotivatedatthebeginningoftheexperiment,whichhe
tookasawhimofthe secondauthor,but hewasgraduallyseducedbythe
taskandbecamecuriousabouthowfarhecouldgo.Hisdaily performance
becameanimportantpartofhisweeklyroutine.Abadperformancewould,
insomecases,vexhim fortherestoftheday,agood onewouldexhilarate
him forafewhours.(pp.26-27)
Thenoveltyofthesubjecttakingaspeakingpositiontodescribehisown
motivation is underscored by Gobet's reference to the "whim" of the
second author.Inthiscase,thesecond authorisNobel-winning scientist
Herbert Simon, one of the world's most eminent memory researchers.
Gobet'sdescriptionofhisownmotivation,and especiallyhisassertionof
22 CHAPTER2
choice and controloverwhether and how toparticipateintheresearch,
servetofurtherunderminetheexperimenter-subject hierarchy.
In summary, the recent research literature in cognitive psychology
offers onlytantalizinghintsonhowanexperimenteranda"subject" might
collaborate as social and intellectual equals. Within the literature on
memory expertise, researchers currently adopt different strategies for
dealingwiththeimplicitexperimenter-subject hierarchy,andtheyjustify
theirchoicesindifferent ways.Itisnoteasytotellfrompublished reports
how successful their efforts areattheinterpersonal and sociallevels.We
could find no reports where the participants claimed to have created
entirelynonhierarchicalrelationshipsamongthevariousparties involved
intheresearch.
Themodesofcollaboration described inthisliteratureweresatisfactory
neither to Roger nor Gabriela.As mentioned earlier, Gabriela was not
prepared tobea"subject." Obviously,unlikecollegestudents, shecould
not be induced to participate in researchby a course requirement, the
authorityofaprofessor,orthepaymentofasmallfeeforher time.Nor is
she indebted to psychology or in awe ofits culturallegitimacy.Unlike
research participants who were also graduate students in psychology
(Gobet&Simon,1996a;Thompsonetal.,1993),shehad littletogaininher
chosen profession byparticipating inresearch. Perhapsmost important,
shefeltthatsheunderstood herownmemoryandpracticestrategies:what
shedoes,why shedoes it,andwhy itworkssowell.Shecouldarticulate
herstrategiesand reasonsforadopting them,and shedid soregularlyin
her teaching. Although she saw her research with Roger as a way of
systematizing her knowledge and translatingitinto thevocabularyand
conceptsofanother discipline, shedid not expecttodiscover something
entirelynewabouthowtomemorizemusicforperformance.
Roger regarded Gabriela's skills with a great deal of respect. He
believedthatherinterpretationofthevideorecordwasvitaltotheproject.
Indeed,herecognizedthathecouldnothavemadesenseofitwithouther
collaboration.Atthesametime,heplacedmorevalueonwhat hecalled
objective data (quantitative records of behaviors) than what he called
subjective data (self-reports ofintentions and behaviors).In other words,
likemost cognitive psychologists, he accordedmorerespect toan "out-
sider's"perspective oncognitivephenomena.Thiscreatedapotentialfor
inequalityasGabriela'sinterpretation mightbecomesecondary tohisown.
Onewaythat thetworeconciled thisareaofpotentialtension wasby
agreeing that the value of insider's and outsider's perspectives on a
cognitive event orprocessdependsontheparticular phenomenon being
studied.Somecognitiveprocessestakeplaceattheconsciouslevelandare
quite open to introspective description. Others are not. Moreover, the
23 IMPROVISATIONS
contentsofconsciousness inadomainchangegreatlywithlearning(Baars,
1988).Ingeneral,aslearningproceeds,behaviorsbecomemoreautomatic,
lesssubjecttoconsciouscontrol,and moredifficult todescribe.Afamiliar
and mundane example is learning how to drive a car.At the start, the
learner is conscious of turning the steering wheel, going through the
sequence ofsteps required to change gears, and soon. Later,he or she
carries out these actions automaticallyand is conscious of other things
such as traffic and road conditions. At this point, the steps needed to
actuallykeep thecarontheroadturningthe steering wheel,adjusting
theacceleratorandbrake,changinggearsaresoautomaticthatthedriver
might find itdifficult todescribethecorrectsequence tosomeone who is
just learning.
Researchersinmemoryexpertisehavereportedinstanceswherehighly
skilled performancewas largely unavailable to conscious introspection.
For example, when Rajan Mahadevan was asked to describe how he
learned a large matrixofnumbers, he said that he just fixated on each
numberbriefly.Whenasked formoredetails,hesaid thatbeingasked to
describe how he learned number sequences was like being asked to
describehowherodeabicycle.Hewassurethatheknewhowtodoboth
tasks,butfounditdifficult todescribehowheactuallyaccomplishedthem
(Thompsonetal.,1993).
From this perspective, there might be some automatized aspectsof
Gabriela's practicing that would be more apparent to the systematic
outside observer than to her and other, higher order aspects, under
conscious control,thatwouldbemoremeaningfullydescribed andinter-
preted by Gabriela. In particular, the two collaborators suspected that
motorskillsandmemorywouldbeamenabletooutsideranalysis,whereas
aestheticgoalswouldbeamenabletotheperformer'sownanalysis.
The Paradox of Expertiseand Aesthetics
Expertperformancerequiresautomaticskills.Artrequirescreativityand
freedomofchoice.Howdoesaconcertartistreconcilethesetwotoproduce
atechnicallyflawlessand aestheticallysatisfyingperformance?
Memorization is central to this process. As motor patterns become
automatic,themusicianisfreed tofocusontheperformance.Atthesame
time,wewillseethathowtheperformermemorizesapieceisintimately
relatedtothe interpretation.Bystudying thememorization ofapiecefor
performance, Gabrielaand Rogerhoped tomake visible the process by
whichaninterpretationiscreated.
Questions ofaestheticshavenot often been addressed in researchon
expertmemorybecausedomainsinvolvingaestheticdemandshaverarely
24 CHAPTER2
been studied. When the aesthetics of musical performance have been
studied, as in the work ofBrunoRepp (1998)and Henry Shaffer (1981,
1996),the focus hasbeen onthe finishedperformancerather than onits
preparation or memorization. We describe the few studies that have
looked at the process ofpreparing a piece ofmusic for performancein
chapter 4,but these provide littleinformationabout theaesthetic issues
involved in memorization. Either the pianists have been students, the
projectshaveended atthepointwhere aestheticconsiderationswerejust
beginning to be highlighted,or aesthetic properties ofthe performance
werenot assessed (Lehmann &Ericsson, 1998;Miklaszweski,1989, 1995;
Nielsen, 1997,2000;Williamon,1999;Williamon&Valentine,2000,2002).
Moreover, given the importanceofmemory in apianist's life, thereisa
strikingabsenceofinformationwithin themusicalcommunityabout the
memorizationpracticesofconcertartists.Memorizationisgenerally seen
as"arathermysteriousprocess"(Sandor,1981,p.194)thatdifferssomuch
fromonepersontothenextthateachpianistmustdevelophisorherown
method(Aiello,1999,2000a,2000b).
Theabsenceofinformationonmemoryformusicanditsinterplaywith
interpretation is notable because the most important goal of musical
performance is to create an aesthetically engaging experience for per-
former and audience, and memorizationisanalmost universalmeansto
thisend.Moreover,itisparadoxicalthatmusicalperformancerequiresa
precision of execution that, at first glance, appears at odds with the
demands of creativity and emotional sensitivity. How does a concert
pianist,forexample,maintaintheemotionalcoherenceofapassagewhile
rememberingtohitthebeginning ofanarpeggiowiththecorrectfinger?
EricClarke(1995)discussedhowresearchersinthepsychologyofmusic
and criticalanalysts ofperformancehavehad littleto say to each other
becausepsychologistsareinterested ingeneralmechanisms andcriticsin
individualmanifestationsofexpressivecreativity:
Thereisofcoursemuchfertileoverlapbetweenthetwo,butcognitivestudies
ofmusicalperformancecouldlegitimatelybecriticizedforhavingrevealed
little or nothing about the specificities ofinteresting and exceptionalper-
formance. All of the performancemodels that have been proposed are
(necessarily)extremelyblunttoolswhenitcomestoinvestigatingindividual
performances,astheyarebuiltuponthepremiseofgeneralmechanismsand
specify the unremarkablebackground of commonality underlying a vast
range of adequate or competent performancesanaccount of possible
significance forthose studying generalcognitiveprocesses,but surelyless
interestingtomusicians.Thisdoes notmeanthatweshould throwup our
hands at the complexityand unrelentingspecificity ofperformance,but it
25 IMPROVISATIONS
does strike a blow at naively empirical research on expressionleaving
trenchant questionsabouthowtodoitbetter.(p.52)
GabrielaandRogerweredeterminedtodevelopthesortofmultidimen-
sionalperspectivecalledforbyClarke.Theyproceeded from theassump-
tion that the performer's interpretation of a piece develops from the
earliest moments of playing through the score, when decisions about
fingeringandphrasing aremade,andcontinuesuntilthefinalmomentof
eachperformance.Thecreativityofamusicalperformanceistheresultof
the entireprocessofpreparation forperformance (Nersessian, 1992).In
studyingthisprocess from bothanartist's and apsychologist's perspec-
tive,theyhoped tomakeprogressinintegratingthetwo.
ENDNOTE
1.AdiscographyisprovidedinAppendix1.
T H R E E
IntheWords ortheMasters:
Artists'AccountsorTheirExpertise
Gabriela Imreh with Mary Crawford
S
ome years ago, I fled all that was familiar, safe, and securemy
family and my native Romaniaandstarted abrand-new life as a free,
internationalartistandtheyoungwifeofanAmericanconductor.Itwasa
timeoffear,anxiety,and heartbreakaswellastremendousexcitementI
wasgoingtoAmerica!Aftermanytears,Iwatchedthebeautiful landscape
ofmyoldcountrygoby.Hourslater,Isetfoot on"free" land forthe first
time in my life as the train stopped in Vienna.Thatmoment is forever
engravedinmymemory.
Thenextstop,Stuttgart,wasalsoaveryimportantoneforme.Iwasable
tovisit my former piano teacher,Harald Wagner.Wehadn't seen each
otherinover2yearssincehehad defected,fedup withbeingaminority
(German)artist incommunistRomania.Inthepast,wehad spent many
hourstogetherworkingandlisteningtomusicsomeofthemosthelpful,
formative hours of my life. We had the sort of strong bond that often
developsbetweenmasterandstudentafteryearsofhardwork.Ihad spent
the past 2years on my own, finishing my studies with various official
teachers,butmostlymissingMr.Wagnerandtryingtoputpiecestogether
from alldifferent timesofmymusicalpastlikeahugepuzzle.
26
ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOF THEIR EXPERIENCE 27
Neither ofuswanted towastethatonenightsleeping. Eventually,my
newhusband, Dan,gottiredoftryingtofollow ourRomanianorwaiting
formybrokenEnglishtranslations;heretired.Mr.WagnerandIcontinued
talking.Iwasworriedsick.WasIready?EverythingIhadworkedforwas
behind meandIwasfacingtheunknown.WherewouldIstartbuildinga
performing career in the United States? If I got a start, how was I
goingtocope?
With our conversation treading on such anxiety-provoking territory,
oneoftheloomingquestionswashow toprepareaflawless performance
formyAmericandebut.Sincemyapplicationformarriageand emigration
ayearearlier,allmypublicperformanceshadbeenstopped.Bynow,Ifelt
asifIhad neverbeenonastage.
My studies at the Academyof Music in Romania included yearsof
learningpianopedagogyandthepsychologyofmusic,whichfamiliarized
mewithbothgeneralnotions ofmemoryand currenttheoriesofworking
withit.Also,Iwasrelyingonalmost20yearsofstageexperience,about8
of those at aprofessionallevel.During our conversation thatnight, Mr.
Wagnerbroughtup anewidea,vagueatfirst,almosttoosubtletograsp,
butprovocativeandintriguing.Hesaidhehadbeenthinking abouthow,
inthelastweeksbeforeaperformance,youmustcheckeverything,revise,
andreworkeverydetail,butultimatelythattherewasaspecialtrancelike
feeling that allowed a performer to put worries and problems in the
background (farenough thattheydidnotinterfere,butcloseenoughthat
theycouldbereached).Thiswasnotsomethingonecouldjustswitchon
and off; ithad tobepracticedseriouslyand painstakinglyuntilitwasas
automaticandnaturalastherestofplaying.Toenterthisstate,hesaid,you
had tosomehow remapyourthinking toemphasize theartistic, inspira-
tional elements without ever losing control. In a way, the ideas he
expressedwerenotnew;Ifeltthatonapracticalleveltheyweresomehow
familiartome.Yethearingthemarticulatedinacalm,logicalwaymadea
lastingimpression.
If Ihad to pinpoint the moment when Ibecameinterested in finding
morenuanced and reliableanswerstothequestionsthateverymusician
has about memory,itwould be the conversationthatnight inStuttgart.
Like anyperformer,Ihad alwaysbeen interested inunderstanding and
improving mymemory;memoryisanessentialelementofaperformer's
survivaland success.Overthenextfewyears,Icontinued tothinkabout
memoryasIlistenedtoandreadaboutthegreatperformersofthepast.As
myEnglishimproved, Itookadvantageofhavingaccesstoanextraordi-
naryvarietyandvolumeofprofessionalliteratureinAmerica.Ireadalot
about musicians,especiallypianists. Seeking out old, out-of-printbooks
aboutgreatperformersbecameahobbyonethathascontinuednowfor
morethanadecade.
28 CHAPTER3
Inparticular,collectionsofinterviewswithgreatpianistsbecamedear
to me. Reading them was a valuable but restricted area of discovery.
Sometimesitwasfrustratingbecausetheperformer offered limited infor-
mation.Insomecases,itwasobviousthatanartistwasguardingpersonal
"secretsofthetrade";inothers,theartistswereextremelyinarticulateor
naive.Inafewoftheinterviews, theartisthad thecouragetoface tough
questions and gavewell-thought-out and intelligent answers. Although
theinterviewswereextremelyvariable,theywereallthatwasavailable.I
kepttryingtounderstand Mr.Wagner'stheory,andsometimesbystudy-
ingtheartists'wordsforalongtimeIcouldgetaglimpseofunderstand-
ing. I kept returning to the same questions: How do the great masters
prepareforatimelessperformance?Howdotheycopewiththeenormous
stressand complexityoftheir craft? Arethereany rulesforhow todoit?
Howgeneralarethey?Dotheyworkforeverybody?
Studying these interviews also made me realize how different the
performer'slifeistoday.ItriedtoimagineHorowitz,Arrau,Michelangeli,
Lipatti, or Bachauer videotaping themselves when they practiced and
talking freely about their fears and failures. Even had they had the
technology, it seems like an absolutely ludicrous idea. They are the
superstars of the past, immortalized in formal black-and-white photo-
graphswearingthree-piecesuits,sometimeswithhats,sittingcomposedly
at the piano or being surrounded by equally fashionable and formal
friends.Eventhedogsseemmoreformalinthesephotographs; theystand
quietlyonaleashortheyheelatthe foot ofthemaster.Moreoften,dogs
(and children) are missing perhaps because they are too messy for the
superstar image.
Thegreatpianistswereheroesstrong,invincible,fearless,andcharm-
ing. Eccentricitieswere accepted; sometimes they were emphasized or
eveninventedasapublicitydevice.Problemswereatotallydifferent issue.
Nosuperstar couldadmittohandpains,injuries,performanceanxiety,or
breakdowns;thesewereusuallysweptunderthecarpet.Sometimes these
imposingfigureswould officially announceanearlyretirementandgotoa
sanitarium or move out to the country. Horowitz did both and did not
perform in public for 10 years after he snapped from the enormous
pressure.
Today,societyexpectsacloser,moreintimatelookattheperformer's
life. What has changed today? What makes movies like "Shine" and
"Hilary and Jackie" possible? What makes it possible for illustrious
pianistslikeGaryGraffman and LeonFleishertotalkabouttheir painful,
career-wrecking hand injuries and more or less successful treatments?
What allows Andre Wattsto talk about sometimes paralyzingperform-
ance anxiety and how he conquers it?What made me sit in front ofa
29 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
camera,althoughsometimes (mosttimes)Ifelt thatIwasmakingatotal
fool of myself in plain view of the world? I think many things have
changed. We talk about anxiety, injuries, and fears because we havea
muchbetterunderstandingofpsychologicalprocessesgenerally.Perform-
ershave learned how muchhelp they cangetinreturn foropening up.
Psychology and medicine are more advanced and sophisticated. They
reallywork;theyreallyhelp.Our imageofour heroeshas changed. Itis
acceptable to be humanto be slightly (just slightly) imperfect in the
processofachievingtheextraordinary.
Thesuperstarsarepresentedtothepublicmoreasnormalpeoplethese
days. Managers and agents encourage a much more accessible, simple,
contemporaryimage.Casualclotheslikejeansandsweatshirts(sometimes
even near nudity for women) have replaced three-piece suits and ties.
Whataretheeffects ofthisnewrepresentation oftheartist?Arewereally
free to relax and be ourselves? Can we artists really talk about our
problems without losing our audiences and their confidencein us?The
answerisambiguous.Wearemuchmorecomfortablewithself-disclosure
thanartistsof50yearsago,buttherearestilltabooareasthatcanhurtone's
imageandnegativelyinfluencethepublic'sjudgmentofone'swork.
IfeelstronglythatIcomeatatimewhenitispossibletodoresearchof
this kind without fearing that the more intimate, self-critical, and self-
analyticalportraititrevealsofmewillwreckmyperformingcareer.(Imay
bewrong,but Ihope Iamnot!)Ithink ofthisresearch asapath toward
finding answers toage-old questions thathaveburdened thepianocom-
munity. For me, it is also a path toward self-discovery. I still have
reservations about what has been revealed willingly (and also unwill-
ingly), but Ihave full confidence that this is the right time for musical
artiststogainnewunderstanding aboutthedifficulties and challengesof
theirprofession.Inthischapter,Iwanttopaytributetothegreatmastersof
thepianobyrereadingtheirwordsinthecontextofourpresentworkand
learninganew from them.
Although the voicesofmanyofthe pianists in my out-of-printbooks
date from a different, morereticentera,theyhavemuchtotellus about
greatartists'understandingoftheprocessesinvolved inlearning, under-
standing,and memorizing music;preparing forpublicperformance;and
dealingwithpressureandanxiety.Fortheseartists,whohadnoinquisitive
psychologists videotaping them before breakfast, the interview was the
onlyvenueforself-disclosure.Whenoneengagesinasortofconversation
throughreadinganinterviewwithsomeonelikeRudolfFirkusny,thesoul
oftheartistemerges.Irecommendthatanyonewhoisinterestedintheart
of thepianogettoknow the artiststhrough reading and rereading their
ownwordsasexpressed ininterviews.
30 CHAPTER3
Forpresent purposes, Ihaveused the interviews ina different way.I
firstidentifiedissuesofinteresttoourresearchproject.Wechosetolookat
theartists'viewsonfivethemes:kindsofmemory,theprocessoflearning
anewpieceofmusic,thememorizationprocess,dealingwithperformance
anxiety,and the experienceofpublicperformance.Ithen read allof the
materialinmypossessioninterviews, biographies, booksonpianotech-
nique, magazines, and journalslookingfor mention of the relevant
issues.Thesourcesthatweremostusefulwerethoseinwhichinterviewers
hadaskedthepianiststotalkaboutthenutsandboltsofputtingtogethera
performance.Intheend,itturned outthatinterviews from arathersmall
numberofbooksand twoarticlesyieldedthemostuseful material(Brower,
1926; Cooke, 1948; Cooke, 1999/1917; Elder, 1986, Dubai, 1997; Mach,
1991/1980,1988;Noyle,1987;Portugheis,1993,1996).Althoughthecollec-
tioniscertainlynotexhaustive(e.g.,BorisBerman's[2000]recentbookwas
notincluded),itdoesspanthe20thcentury, and itdoes providea good
picture of the kind of information that is currently available to the
discriminatingreaderabouthowconcertpianistsviewtheirownprepara-
tionsforperformance.
Foreverysourcethatyieldedsomethinguseful,Ireadfivethatdidnot.
1
Part of the reason for the scarcity of good material is the cult of the
performer, which oftenallows pianiststogetaway with drawing a veil
overthedetailsofhowtheirmagicisproduced.Thereisanotherreason
one that iscentralto our hypothesis about how apiece isprepared for
performance.Apiecehastobeanalyzed andworkedonatmanylevels.At
thefinalandhighestlevel,theartistmanifestshisorherownindividuality,
musicality,personality,taste,sensitivity,andknowledge,allofwhichare
reflectedinthedetailsthatsetoneperformanceapart fromothers.Thisis
themostrewardinglevelfortheperformerandtheonethatpianiststendto
talk about when describing their own performances. Although these
descriptions of expressive goals are interesting (e.g., Mark Zilberquit's
[1983]fascinatingbook onRussianpianists),theydonot tellushow the
performances were put together. Forthiswe need a different and more
detailedlevelofdescription.
Whentheinterviewpassageswerearrayedbytheme,therewasagreat
deal ofvariabilityamong the artists.Thisisnot surprisingthe pianists
represent different nationalities and schools of playing, the interviews
spandifferent eras,andtheageandcareerstageofthepianistsatthetime
of the interview varied. I had expected to find both general rules and
exceptions to the rules. This is such a complex profession, I think it is
simplistic and unrealistic to assume that one thing would work for
everybody.
Therearedifferences grounded intheiruniquepersonalities. Compare
Rubinstein's endless joy in life (cigars, wines, luxury, friends) to the
31 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
rigorousregimes, absolutelystarkand methodical,ofAndre-MichelSchub,
Misha Dichter, and Janina Fialkowska.Idiosyncrasies includeRichter's
interest inpainting, de Larrocha'sinmedicine and surgery, Graffman's
sense of humor, the unbelievable eccentricities of Glenn Gould, and
Michelangeli's totalunreliabilityandrigidity.Tomeasapianist,eventhe
most outlandish eccentricitiescanhavereasonable explanations.Forex-
ample, Michelangeliinsisted ontravelingwith hisownSteinway piano.
Imaginethefinancialcostofthatbutallofusstrugglewiththeimmense
problemofadjusting toanew instrumentforeachperformance.
For allthe diversity that marksartists' approach topracticeand per-
formance,thereareafewcommondenominators. Theseartiststaketheir
practice and profession seriously. They know that their chosen calling
requires extraordinaryself-disciplineand sacrifice. Themajority express
endlessjoy,curiosity,andsatisfactioninwhattheydo.Quitesimply,they
lovemusic.Anythinglessthanthesequalitieswould makeoneunableto
copewiththeperformer'slife.
Ilovedlookingatthechartsthatsummarizedmycontentanalysisand
compared the different accounts. I found it interesting to see that the
interviewers had an activeroleinthe outcomeoftheir questions. Some-
timesapianistwouldanswerquitedirectly,"Idon'tknowhow..." andit
wasuptotheskilloftheinterviewertoaskthequestioninadifferent way
and get exactly what he or she needed: an elaborate, eloquent answer.
Sometimes a pianist would answer a question such as, "How do you
memorize?"brieflyandvaguely,butwhenasked"How doyoupractice?"
or"How doyoulearn?"wouldsayexactlywhatweneededtoknowabout
memory.Somebookshad asetofspecificquestionsthatwereaskedofall
thepianists,suchas,"Doyoupracticehandsseparatelyorinsections?"In
otherbooks,theinterviewerdidlittletodirecttheconversation,soIhadto
read between the lines. Perhaps the artistswere struggling toarticulate
ideasthatare difficult toexpress.Whateverthereason,Ihated toseemy
personal heroes give seemingly shallow answers and secretly I was
rootingforthem.
Whatfollowsaretheresultsofmyanalysis.Thepianists'commentson
their art havebeen arranged into five sections. The first consists oftheir
views onmemory.Thesecond istheiraccountsofhow theypracticeand
theiradvicetoothers onpracticestrategies.Thethird section deals with
theiraccountsofhow theymemorizeawork.Inthe fourth section,they
describetheexperienceofperformanceanxietyandhowtheycopewithit.
Thefinal sectioncontainstheiraccountsofpreparing forpublic perform-
anceand theexperienceofplayingforanaudience.
Thereadershould feelfreetopickandchooseamongtheentriesineach
section.Thereisnoneed toread eachand everyone.Everypianist who
32 CHAPTER3
spokeinformativelyonatopicisincludedbecausewewantedtoshowthe
places of agreement as well as disagreement, but this means that the
pianistsoftensaythesamething.Forthebenefitofthosewhowouldliketo
followthethoughtsofasingleartistacrossthemes,wehavearranged the
commentsinalphabeticalorderbyartist'snamewithintheme.(Ofcourse,
noteveryartistspokeoneverytheme.)Tohelpthereaderplacetheartists'
words in theirhistorical and culturalcontexts,their dates ofbirth (and
death)arelisted inTable3.1,alongwiththenameoftheinterviewer and
theyeartheinterviewtookplace.Sincethedateisnotreportedformanyof
theinterviews,thedateoffirstpublicationofthecollectionofinterviewsis
alsogiven.
KINDSOF MEMORY
Many of the artists spontaneously made distinctions among different
types of memory for music.Muscle (motor) memory, aural(auditory)
memory,andvisualmemory(forboththemusicandhandpositiononthe
keyboard)werefrequentlymentioned. Buildingconceptual(declarative)
memory was described in terms of using formal analysis, harmonic
analysis,and fingeringpatternstounderstand themusic.Manypianists
observed thatmemoryseemedtodevelopunconsciouslyorautomatically
withoutdeliberateeffort. Thiscanbecharacteristicofany ofthe different
typesofmemory(motor,auditory,visual,orconceptual).Werefertoitas
incidentalmemory.
Thecommentsofthepianistsabouteachtypeofmemory,inthisand the
following sections, are summarized in Table 3.2. The table indicates
whether a pianist describes a type of memory as being particularly
important(+)orunimportant(-)personally.Severalpianistsdescribedone
ormorekindsofmemoryasbeingdangerousorunreliable,andthisisalso
represented in the table ().Thetable also indicateswhen a topic was
mentionedinaneutralfashion(*)andwhenitwasnotmentionedatall(.).
(Lackofmention ofaform ofmemorydoesnot,ofcourse,meanthat the
pianist did not make use of it, only that it was not mentioned in the
excerptedpassages.)Sometimesitwashardtoknowifaparticularkindof
memorywasbeingreferredtoornotandthisisalsoindicated(?).
Pianists who refer to conceptual or declarativememory are listed in
column4ofTable3.2.Mostofthesereferencesareindirect.OnlyClaudio
Arrauand IsidorPhilipreferdirectlytomemoryinspeakingofanalytical
memory.Otherreferencesaremoreindirectand appearinmany guises.
Some speak of the roleofmusicalform (Leon Fleisher, PercyGrainger,
EdwinHughes,Victor Seroff), othersofthe importanceofanalyzing the
TABLE3.1
PianistsIncludedinChapter3WithDates,Dateof
Interview(WhenKnown),Interviewer,andFirst
PublicationDate
(for Collections ofInterviews DateRefers toPublication of the Collection)
Born-(died) Interview Interviewer First
date Published
in
Collection
MarthaArgerich 1941 Portugheis 1993
ClaudioArrau 1903-1991 1971 Elder 1982
" "
Dubai 1984
Vladimir Ashkenazy 1937 1983-86 Noyle 1987
DavidBar-Illan 1930 Dubai 1984
Harold Bauer 1873-1951 Cooke 1948
LazarBerman 1930 Portugheis 1996
Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich 1940 Dubai 1984
JorgeBolet 1914-1990 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Alexandre Borowski 1889-1968 Brower 1926
Alfred Brendel 1931 Dubai 1984
JohnBrowning 1933 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Alfred Cortot 1878-1962 Brewer 1926
Bella Davidovich 1928 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Jrg Demus 1928 1965 Elder 1982
Misha Dichter 1945 1983-86 Noyle 1987
AliciadeLarrocha 1923 1969 Elder 1982
"
Dubai 1984
Maurice Dumesnil 1886-1974 Cooke 1948
YuriEgorov 1954-1988 Mach 1988
Janina Fialkowska 1951 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Rudolf Firkusny 1912-1994 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Leon Fleisher 1928 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Ignaz Friedman 1886-1948 Brower 1926
Rudolph Ganz 1872-1972 Cooke 1948
Heinrich Gebhard 1878-1963 Cooke 1948
Walter Gieseking 1895-1956 Brower 1926
EmilGillels 1916-1985 Mach 1988
PercyGrainger 1882-1961 Cooke 1948
MyraHess 1890-1965 Brower 1926
Josef Hofmann 1876-1957 Cooke 1948
Stephen Hough 1961 Mach 1988
EdwinHughes 1884-1965 Cooke 1948
ErnestHutcheson 1871-1951 Cooke 1948
33
34 CHAPTER3
TABLE3.1 (continued)
Born-(died) Interview Interviewer First
date Published
in
Collection
LiliKraus 1905-1986 1969 Elder 1982
"
Mach 1980
BennoMoiseiwitsch 1890-1963 Brower 1926
Elly Ney Brower 1926
MitjaNikisch 1855-1922 Brower 1926
GuimarNovaes 1896-1979 1970 Elder 1982
GarrickOhlsson 1948 Mach 1988
IsidorPhilipp 1863-1958 Cooke 1948
MurrayPerahia 1947 Mach 1988
IvoPogorelich 1958 Mach 1988
MorizRosenthal 1862-1946 Cooke 1948
ArturRubinstein 1887-1982 1970 Elder 1982
Olga Samoroff 1882-1948 Brower 1926
EmilSauer 1862-1942 Cooke 1913
Andre-MichelSchub 1952 Noyle 1987
Rudolf Serkin 1903-1991 1970 Elder 1982
Victor Seroff 1902 Cooke 1948
ErnestSchelling 1875 Cooke 1913
AbbeySimon 1922 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Ralph Votapek 1939 1983-86 Noyle 1987
TamsVsry 1933 1976 Elder 1982
AndreWatts 1946 1983-86 Noyle 1987
Mark Westcott 1946c. 1971 Elder 1982
harmonic structure (JaninaFialkowska,Rudolf Firkusny,LeonFleisher,
MyraHess, Lili Kraus).Manyofthe pianists report that they engage in
mentalpractice (indicatedby a#inTable3.2),which certainlyexercises
conceptualmemory.JrgDemusisspeakingof conceptualmemorywhen
hesaysthat "ifyourheart fails you,yourbrainwillcometothe rescue,"
andIsidorPhilippseems tobereferringtothesame thing whenhe says
that he memorized "by sections" after his memory was weakened by
illness. In most cases, no connection ismade between thinking about a
piece in a particular way and memorization. Wewill have more tosay
aboutconceptualmemorylater.Herewenoteonlythatthereisclearlya
TABLE3.2
PianistsWhoMentionedDifferentTypesofMemoryin
TheirInterviews
TYPESOFMEMORY
Motor Auditory Visual Conceptual Automatic
ClaudioArrau * * * * .
VladimirAshkenazy * * * *
David Bar-Illan * . +
Harold Bauer . . . . +
JorgeBolet + . # *
AlexandreBorowski . - + . .
Alfred Brendel + + - . .
JohnBrowning * * + # .
Alfred Cortot + . . + +
BellaDavidovich * + + * *
JrgDemus * . . * *
MishaDichter * - +
MauriceDumesnil . . . * *
Aliciade Larrocha . + *
YuriEgorov . . . . *
JaninaFialkowska * * * * .
Rudolf Firkusny + . # *
LeonFleisher * + #
IgnazFriedman * * * * .
Rudolph Ganz * * * * .
Heinrich Gebhard +
WalterGieseking . + + # .
PercyGrainger * . . * *
MyraHess * * + * *
Josef Hofmann * * * + .
Stephen Hough * * + *
EdwinHughes * . +
ErnestHutcheson + + - + *
LiliKraus #
BennoMoiseiwitsch ?
EllyNey #
Mitja Nikisch * + # *
GuimarNovaes . * * ? *
IsidorPhilipp . . + .
MorizRosenthal +
35
36 CHAPTER3
TABLE3.2 (continued)
TYPES OF MEMORY
Motor Auditory Visual Conceptual Automatic
ArturRubinstein + *
OlgaSamoroff * + - #
Andre-MichelSchub . . . . *
Rudolf Serkin . . * *
VictorSeroff + * # .
ErnestSchelling * * * . .
AbbeySimon . . . . *
TamsVsry + . . + .
RalphVotapek . . + .
AndreWatts * * . + .
MarkWestcott * . . * .
+ particularlystrongorimportant personally
particularlyweakorunimportant personally
dangerous, insecure,nottobereliedon
# reports usingmentalpractice,indirectlymentioning conceptualmemory
* topic mentioned
? ambiguous astowhether topicmentioned ornot
topicnot mentioned (N.B.,thisdoesnotmean thatthepianist did notmakeuseofthis
form ofmemory,onlythatitwasnot mentioned.)
need for such aconcept. Most ofthe pianists refer to it,but there is no
generallyagreedupon term.
Aninterestingsort ofresponse camefrom pianists who said thattheir
memoryworkedunconsciouslyornaturally, (Table3.2,column5)butthen
proceeded to give explicitand articulatedescriptions of their memory-
enhancing strategiesand routines. Forexample,Rudolf Serkinsaysthat
memoryisanunconsciousprocessofgoingovertheworkuntilit"sticks,"
but then talksaboutrelyingonthearchitectureofthe music.Evenmore
strikingly, he mentions that his fingeringsvary unpredictably. In other
words, he does not rely on motor memory. I think the only possible
conclusionisthatheisrelyingheavilyonconceptualand auralmemory,
yethedescribeshismemoryinitiallyas"unconscious."HeinrichGebhard
andPercyGraingerbothdescribea"nonmental"or"automatic" memory,
butthenspecifyelaborateconceptualstrategiessuchassectionalmemoriz-
ingand careful analysis ofform,rhythm,andharmony.BellaDavidovich
denies "sortingouttheanalyticalstages",instead relyingonher instinc-
tiveknowledge ofmusic,but goes ontoacknowledgethatherinstinctive
37 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
response comesfrom manyyearsofstudyofmusicalform and structure.
What seems tobegoing onhere isthat these artists think ofmotor and
auralmemoryasmemoryanddonotrealizethatanalyzingtheformaland
harmonicstructureisalsoaformofmemorization.
Incontrasttothevariedtermsandconceptsused todiscussconceptual
memory,thepianistsweremuchmoreconsistentintalkingabouttheother
forms ofmemory.Muscleor motor memory (Table 3.2,column 1)is an
unambiguousconceptmentionedbymanyofthepianists.ErnestSchelling
describes it as "training the fingers to do their duty no matter what
happens."Severalcautionthat,although motormemoryisuniversal,itis
the leastreliableform ofmemoryforperformance.Rudolf Serkincallsit
"irritating"and"dangerous".AliciadeLarrochaalsowarnsthatrelying
on the "memory ofthe fingers" is"dangerous".AsLeonFleisher says,
"It's the finger thatdeserts onefirst." Victor Seroff expresses aminority
opinion whenhesaysthatmotormemoryisparticularlyuseful when the
performer isnervous.
Thereisalsoclearagreementaboutauditorymemory(Table3.2,column
2),although itisbynomeansmentioned byeverypianist.Iwould guess
thatauditorymemoryissovitalandautomaticthatitisoftensimplytaken
for granted. Iwould expect ittobenoticed only when the performeris
learning polyphonic or atonal music, where the profusion or lack of
expectedauralpatternscancauseserious difficulty.
Visualmemory,incontrast,isnottakenforgranted (Table3.2,column
3).Manyofthe pianists mention that they either have it orthey do not.
ClaudioArrau,GuiomarNovaes, ArturRubinstein,and JohnBrowning
mention having "photographic"memory;MyraHessdescribes howshe
can"see" and"read"theprinted pagewhenplayingfrom memory;Leon
Fleisher is aware of "interference" when he switches to a differently
printed score.Incontrast, Alfred Brendel,LiliKraus,Ernest Hutcheson,
MishaDichter,HeinrichGebhard,andJaninaFialkowskasaythattheyrely
little on visual memory either because their visual memory is poor or
becausetheydonotfindituseful.Theconsistencyintheseaccountsisthat,
whethertheyuseitoreschewit,thesemasterpianistsallarefamiliar with
theconceptofvisualmemoryand usequitesimilartermstotalkaboutit.
The term photographic memory is often used, although psychologists
now believe that no one's memory is truly photographic. Among the
pianists,however,onlyLeonFleisherexpressed anyskepticismaboutthe
concept,notingwryly,"I'm alwaysinclined toaskwhatkindoffilm they
use:IgotanansweroncefromSeijiOzawa,'Fujifilm'"(Noyle,1987,p.97).
ClaudioArrau:Ihavefour kindsofmemory:muscle,photographic, sound,
andanalytic.Iuseanalyticmemorylast,aftertheworkhasgoneintomy
bodymymuscles,myears,myvision.(Elder,1986,p.45)
38 CHAPTER 3
AlexandreBorowski:Itisvisualmemorywithme.Iseethenotes and signs
ontheprintedpagebeforemeasIplay.No,Idonotseemtohearthemso
muchasIseethem.(Brower,1926,pp. 219-220)
Alfred Brendel:Ihaveagoodauralandkinestheticmemory,butmymemory
isnotvisualatall.Idon't seethescoreasIplay.(Dubai,1997,p.73)
JohnBrowning:Ihaveapartialphotographicmemory.Ithinktheoldruleof
thumb was,thememoryhastobeaural,through theear,visual,tactile.
(Noyle,1987,p.32)
BellaDavidovich:Inlookingatthescore,Ihaveasenseinmymindofwhat
thepiecewillinvolve,whattheimportantelementsare,andwhatIwant
to be telling the audience through this music. Idon't make a habitof
separately sortingouttheanalytical stages. Forme,itisaprocess thatall
takesplaceatonce.IfitisaBeethovenoraMozartsonata,Ialreadyknow
itinstinctively, having studied musicforsomanyyears.Iknowwhatit
involves, so there's no actual conscious thought that has to go into it.
(Noyle,1987,p.39)
J'rg Demus: The expression ''playing by heart" is the key to ... your
subconscious musical feelings and instincts. When you are young, you
play almost unconscious ofwhat you are doing, other than expressing
what you feel about the music. Butat alater age ... this unconscious
approachdoesn'tworkanymoresowehavetosupport theheartbythe
"brains"andusemuchofGieseking'smentalmethod:analyzing, realiz-
ingthisentrycomeshere,thisvoicedoesthis,hereisthefirstbigclimax,
here isanaugmentation, adiminution, astrettoand soon.Youhaveto
have adetailed knowledge ofwhat you areplaying.Then ifyourheart
failsyou,yourbrainwillcometotherescue.(Elder,1986,p.129)
AliciadeLarrocha:First,thereisnaturalmemory.Therearepassages...that
memorizethemselves. Withoutyourrealizingitonedayyouknowthem
byheart.Butthiskind ofmemoryisdangerous.
Second, there isthe kind ofmemorywhich formeisalmost the most
importantmusicalform memorization.Ianalyzetheworkthephrases,
theintervals,thecadences,theform,andsoon.
Third,thereisthememoryofthefingers,whichisalsodangerous but
which canhelp.
Fourth,thereisakindofmemorywhichhelpsmeal ot . . .thememory
of the accents (sofrequent and important in Spanish music)aphrase
wherethereisanaccent,oraphrasewherethereisn't....
And fifth, thereisakindofmemorywhichcanhelp andwhichisalso
dangerous: the visual memory of the keyboardwhatthe hands and
armshavetodo,thedistancetobehere,togetthere.Memoryiscomplex.
Youmusthaveallthesekinds.... (Elder,1986,p.109)
39 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
Misha Dichter:Idon'thaveaphotographicmemory,andthat'swhyIneeda
system.... Icanonly relyonauralmemoryinapinch,because Ihave
good relativepitch.It'sprobablyclosetoperfect pitch ... ifI'm looking
downandmymemory tellsmethisisanFhalf diminishedchord inthe
left hand ifmy memory has goneblankat that moment, Icanhear the
chordand thenplayit,whichisveryhelpful.(Noyle,1987,pp.52-53)
Janina Fialkowska: I'm luckyenough to have visual memory. I also do
[have] aharmonicmemory.ButIcanjustsithere and seethe musicin
front ofme.Thatdoesn'tworkwhenyou'reperforming,though,because
youseeittoolate.... I'mbigonknowingalltheharmoniessothatyou
can'tgetlost....Thenofcourse,thereisthemuscularmemory.That'sthe
longest inthatyoujusthave topracticeand practiceuntilyour fingers
know it by heart. And finally, I do something that is from my French
training, because earlyFrenchtraining isverybig on solfge
2
. Inmany
works, suchasMozartorBach,Icanactuallysolfgethenotes.(Noyle,
1987,p.64)
Rudolf Firkusny.After readingitthrough, Iwould startgetting acquainted
with the general ideas ofthe pieceand start towork. Bywork,Imean
analyzing the harmonic structure, the formal structure, the dynamic
structure ofthepiece.ThenIwouldtrytoputitinshapeinmymindand
thentrytodothesamethingatthepiano.After completing thisprocess
you have the feeling that you basically know the piece and its most
importantelements.(Noyle,1987,pp. 81,83)
LeonFleisher.Memorizingdepends onthecircumstances.Ideallyspeaking
it should be some combination ofaural,visual, and tactile.... Ithink
probably the least reliable, in terms of public performance, is finger
memory,becauseit'sthefinger thatdesertsonefirst.SoIwould thinkin
termsofstructuralmemory,astructurememoryintermsofbarperiods,
howlongthephraseis.Ihaveacertainamountofphotographicmemory,
it's apartoftheequationbut it's not allofit.Ithink Ihavethatbecause
whenIseethepieceI'mplayinginanothereditionthathasitplacedonthe
page differently, Igetconfused.SoIthinktoacertainextentIusevisual
memory.Iclosemyeyes and Iseeiton the screenofmy eyelids,plusI
have an understanding of the structural and harmonic form. (Noyle,
1987,p.97)
Ignaz Friedman: Onemust knowthe piece,itsconstruction and harmony,
through careful study.Therearefour sourcesofmemory:theeye,tosee
thenotesonthepageorkeysthatwouldbevisualmemory;thefingers,
tofind thekeyseasilyonthekeyboarddigitalmemory;theeartohear
thetonesauricularmemory,andlastlythoughwemaysayitshouldbe
first,themindtothinkthesetonesand keysormentalmemory.(Brower,
1926,p.52)
40 CHAPTER3
Heinrich Gebhard:Inmyownmemorizing and teachingmypupilshowto
memorize... therearethreekindsofmemorizingwhichIcondemn:
Firstthe"automatic" memory;thatis,whenthestudentjustpractices
automatically for weeks on a piece until finally, by "multiple digital
repetitions" the fingers get used to the motions required to strike the
rightkeys.
Secondrelyingonyourearandemotionstoreproducethe sounds....
Thirdpainfully visualizingeachprintednoteonthepage.
Iconsider thesethreemethods unreliable.
The method that I use might be called the "keyboard geography
method."Beforewebegintomemorizeapianopiece,westudythenotes
carefully, allthrough, analyzingthe form ofthepiece,thecharacterand
outlineofthemelodies,therhythmsandharmonies.Whenthathasbeen
fairly welldigested ... wememorizehow thepiece lies physically onthe
keyboard, aswestudy amap ingeography, and finally wehearhow the
musicfeels physically onthekeyboard. (Cooke,1948,pp. 82-83)
PercyAldridge Grainger:TohaveasecureconcertmemoryIfinditneedful to
approachmemorizingfromseveraldifferent angles,sothatifoneformof
memoryfails,thereareotherformstofallbackon.
1.Physical(non-Mental)Memory.Thisisthesubconsciousmemoryof
hand and finger acquired from playing a passage through countless
times.IdonotconsiderthisformofmemoryestablishedunlessIcanread
abookatthesametime,orbereadaloudtobysomebodyelse.... This
memory "tidesoneover"whenone'smind "becomesablank".
2.Form-ConsciousMemory.Awarenessofthestructure,form-shapes,
andkeychanges....
3.Theabilitytospellouteachnote[awayfrom thekeyboard]....
4.Sectionalmemorizing.Specialmemorizingofthebeginningofeach
section,sothatoneisalwaysabletobeginsecurely withthebeginningof
the nextsection, ifanything goes wrong with the memory in the sec-
tiononeisin.
5.AwarenessofBarGroupings.... Inpracticingthiskindofmemoriz-
ingonesaystooneself:"Four group,bar 1,bar 2,bar 3,bar4,etc.... If
one'smemoryfails,insideabargrouponeknowshowmanybarstowait
(silently,ororientingoneselfbysoftplaying)untilthenextbargroup,or
section, begins.
6.Transposing Memory.Tobeabletoplayallone'spassagesandpieces
inanykey.Thisgivesoneaspecialgraspofthetidesofmodulationwithin
apiece.(Cooke,1948,pp. 84-86)
Myra Hess:WhenItakeup newwork,Itrytoseeitfrom allsides.BythisI
meanthatIstudyouttheharmony,thechordand keyprogressions, the
technicalrequirements, then themeaning and necessaryinterpretation.
(Brower,1926,p.194)
41 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
Asiswellknown therearethreekindsofmemory training: thatofthe
eye,the ear,and the fingers.AlthoughIuse allthree, Idepend,Ithink,
moreonthefirst thanoneitheroftheothers.Icanreallyseethe printed
pagebeforeme,mentally,andcanactuallyreaditasIplay,justasthough
itwereonthemusic-deskbeforemyeyes.(Brower,1926,p.197)
Edwin Hughes: Knowledge of musical form, of the patterns of musical
composition, isalwaysavaluableasset.(Cooke,1948,p.96)
ErnestHutcheson:UnfortunatelyIhavenovisualmemorywhatever.Thatis
tosay,Icannotformmentalphotographsoftheprintedpage.Irealizethis
isadeprivation.... Myown memory islargelyauraland kinesthetic,
partlyjustpurememory,unassociated withthesenses.(Cooke,1948,p.98)
LiliKraus:Ihaveanexcellentvisualmemory,butwhenIamplayingItryto
eliminateitbecauseIwanttorememberwithmyear,notmyeye.Idon't
wanttoseethemusicbuttohearit,toliveit.Ihavetorememberthesound
and identify with the harmonic, thematic, rhythmic, and mechanical
aspectssocompletelythatIdon'twanttoseethepicture.... (One)must
knowthepiecefromeveryaspectharmonically,melodically,andrhyth-
mically. ... Butfirst and last areliable memory ispossible only ifan
absoluteidentificationwiththepieceinlivingexperiencehastakenplace.
(Elder,1986,p.67)
Guimar Novaes: (Interviewer: Is your memory strongly aural or photo-
graphic?)Both.Iliketolook at the musicveryintentionally.... Ihave
photographicmemory.(Elder,1986,p.25)
Isidor Philipp: IfIdon'tthink thatvisualmemory isuseful,Iamsurethat
analyticalmemoryisabasisofsecurememory.(Cooke,1948,p.112)
Artur Rubinstein:Mymemory ismostlyphotographic, inherited from my
father. When Iplay Iturn the pages in my mind; Ieven see the coffee
stains.Myknowledgeofthearchitectureofawork,how itisbuilt,helps
too.(Elder,1986,p.4)
Rudolf Serkin: Imemorizebyrememberingunconsciously.After awhile
thework sticks.... Youcan't performanyworkwithout knowing its
architecture.... Fingermemoryisirritatingreally,adangerous, unreli-
ablething. Withmeitwould bedisastrous because Ichangefingerings
constantly,atthespur ofthemomentsometimes,accordingtothepiano,
thehall,mydisposition, howIslept,and soon.(Elder,1986,p.57)
Victor Seroff: Musicalmemory consists of at least four elements: (1)Sight
Memory; (2) Physical or Touch memory; (3) Intellectual Memory or
MemoryofFormand Content,and (4)EarMemory.
42 CHAPTER3
Memoryvarieswith theindividual, and somemusicians with agreat
capacityforitpossess onlyoneofthemanyelements.However,thereis
muchgreatersecurityinhavingallfour highlydeveloped. Touchmem-
ory isindispensable to the performer,and isparticularlyuseful ifhe is
nervous ordistractedbysomething.Thefingersalonewillusuallybring
himoutofthewoods.... Sightmemoryistheleastsecure.... (Cooke,
1948,pp. 122-123)
Ernest Schelling:Thereare threeways[ofmemorizing].1,Bysight;thatis,
seeing the notes in your mind's eye; 2,memorizingby"ear",the way
which comestoonemostnaturally; 3,memorizing bythefingers,thatis
training the fingers to do their duty no matter what happens. Before
performing inpublicthestudent should havememorizedthe composi-
tioninalloftheseways.Onlythuscanhebeabsolutelysureofhimself.If
onewayfailshimtheothermethodcomestohisrescue.... (Cooke, 1913/
1999,pp. 276-277)
Tams Vsry: When one is playing, the mechanical movements of the
hands and thementalworkofthememorygohand inhand.Sometimes
youdon'tknowwhichisoperating,sometimesboth,sometimesonlyone.
Itisdangerouswhen onlyeither thehands orthebrainisoperating. SoI
prefer thatbothfingersandbrainbesolidlythere.Thenifonegetstired,
youcanreachtotheother.(Elder,1986,p.138)
HOWTOPRACTICE
Howtopracticehow often,how much, how methodicallyis an emo-
tionallyloaded topicforpianists, onethatinducesguilt,denial,andother
strong feelings.Ibelievethatthisissoforavarietyofreasons. First,many
concert performers began their study asveryyoung children. Although
they were surely motivated to play, some recallbeing forced into long
hours of excruciating practice long before they could understand or
internalize the reasons for such discipline. Martha Argerich reports the
"cheating"she did as a small child to divert herself from practice, and
Lazar Berman says poignantly, "I had no childhood, no youth." Like
Martha Argerich, Itoo sometimes used toread as Ipracticed scales or
exercises.WhileIdonotrecommend this,itdid provide good practicein
dividing my attention.
Asecondreasonfortheemotionalintensitysurroundingpracticeisthat
most pianists, as students, were trained tobelieve that more practiceis
always better. AsAndre-Michel Schub says, "There'sno way of getting
around those hours at thepiano."Asadults, they stillbelieve that they
should be practicing long hours each day, but most do not. Moreover,
43 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
describing one's practice routines to an interviewer could revealweak-
nesses, such as technical limitations, lack of discipline, compulsions,
superstitious routines, and anxiety-induced blocking ofmemory orcon-
centration.Forallthesereasons,Ibelievewecanexpectacertainamountof
dissimulationIliketothinkofitas"fibbing"when pianists areinter-
viewedaboutthisissue.Attheleast,manyaremoreevasiveand guarded
thanwhentheyarediscussing lesssensitive topics.
The range of expressive language and emotion words used by the
pianistswasgreaterthanwhentheytalkedaboutmemory.Thediversityof
their feelings was striking.ClaudioArrau and Janina Fialkowska claim
thatpracticingis"fun,"whileJohnBrowningcomparesitto dishwashing.
OthersLazarBermanandJorgeBoletsaytheydislikeit.Attheextreme
of negativeemotionalreactions,Browningreportsrage,frustration,even
swearing and hitting the piano. The range of habits is striking too.
Reported amounts ofpracticerange from BellaDavidovich's 8one-hour
segments each day to Claudio Arrau, who, in his old age, was still
practicing"two orthreehoursa day."
Despite the range of feelings about practice, there is considerable
agreementthatitisseriousbusiness.LeonFleisherandMishaDichtertalk
about the importance of mindful practicefocused,concentrated, and
highly attentive.JorgesBolet agrees thatmindless practiceisawasteof
time,like"chewingone'scud." Thestrategiesmentionedmostfrequently
(handsseparate,slowpractice,andmentalpractice)arecertainlyactivities
thatrequireconcentration.Inthesamevein,BellaDavidovichstressesthe
importanceofbeingfreshandwellrested,whileJohnBrowningpointsout
theimportanceofworkingon weaknesses.
When I read these pianists' accounts, I recognized some ofmy own
practicestrategies.Forexample,Irelyonrelearningapiecebeforepublic
performancea strategy we describe more fully in later chapters. The
accountsalsogaverisetofeelingsaboutwhetherIpracticetoomuchortoo
little. Myown (perhaps self-serving)belief isthat pianists who practice
long hours tend to be those who become known as more methodical,
precise performers; those who practice less gain reputations as more
spontaneous, creative,and excitingperformers.Forme,no lessthanfor
otherpianists,practicecreatesdilemmasofguilt,responsibility, and self-
definition.
Martha Argerich: (Rememberingher childhood)Officially, Iwassupposed
topracticethreehoursbut,inreality,itwaslessbecauseIcheated.WhatI
really liked was reading, so I used to read while pretending to be
practicing.IfIheardthedoorIwouldput whateverIwasreadingunder
myskirt.... (Portugheis,1993,p.5)
44 CHAPTER3
Claudio Arrau:Ithink it's beautifulto practice;I love to practice. On the
averageIdonowtwotothreehoursaday.(Dubai,1997,p.15)
VladimirAshkenazy:Ithinkyouhavetolivewithapiecetoassimilateit,and
sometimes you have to live with a score all your life to assimilate
everything. Butsuperficiallyspeaking,justtogetthe form, you haveto
know, basically, what happens in the piece of music. You know, the
relationship ofthe individual parts and soon.Thatcomesveryquick.I
don'tevenneed toplayit.(Noyle,1987,p.5)
You can take one measure, you can take two notes and practice
musically. Everything Ipractice, in that case,becomes musical. Some-
timesIplayapassagewhichisdifficultandtrytogetitright,butwithinit
Itrytoplayitmusically (Noyle,1987,p.7)
David Bar-Illan: (Describing his method of silent practice in which he
presses thekeyssoslowlythattheymakenosound)Ifound thistobea
marvelous way of checking on how securely I had memorized the
pieces.... This kind of practice gives you a margin of strength and
security on stage, where we may be performingsomewhat below our
optimumlevel.... Dounderstand thatduringmysoundlesspracticingI
dohearthemusicinmymind.Onecanalltooeasilyplaymusicwithout
actuallylisteningtoit.ThroughthiskindofworkIensurethatmymusic
makingisnotmerelyautomatic.(Dubai,1997,pp.4041)
LazarBerman:Iwasforcedtopracticeandveryoftenitwasnotapleasure.I
had topracticealotasIwas younger thanthe other students but was
expected toplaylikethem. Ihad no childhood, no youth. (Portugheis,
1996,p.11)
Jorge Bolet:Ipracticeatthepianoonlywhen Ifeel itisrequirednomore
thananhourand ahalf atanyonetime.(Noyle,1987,p.14)
Thegeneral principle ofpracticinghands separately,Ithink you can
applytoeveryone.... Practicingslowlyisanothergeneralprinciplethat
isveryimportant.... Idon'treallygettheresultsofwhatIpracticetoday,
thenextday,orthenextday,but probablyfrom ten daystotwo weeks
later
Whatever Ido at the keyboard gives meenough practicematerialso
thatIcanpracticementally,fortwelve, fifteen, twenty hours, whenever
I'mawake.Ialwayshavesomething running throughmymind.(Noyle,
1987, p.17)
John Browning:First of all, every artist gets angry in practicing.He gets
angryatthemusic,orhegetsangrywithhimselfforhisownstupidity.So
there aretimesthatyouhitthekeyboard,andtherearetimesyouswear
four-letter language.It's hard work.It's likedish washing. It isn'tfun.
(Noyle,1987,p.30)
45 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
If one islooking through abrand-new piece, Ithink it's an intuitive
thing.IreadthroughitandIgetanideaofwheretheproblemsformeare
goingtolie....
Also,thesuccessfulperformeristheonewhohasakindofintuitionas
towhatmaynotseem tobegivinghim troublebut whatwillgivehim
troubleintheperformance.It'slikeinsurance.... Youinsure, youover-
prepare,sothatifyouaredistractedduringaconcert,ifyou'renot feeling
uptosnuff,youhavesomuchbacklogofpreparationthatitwillcarryyou
throughautomatically.(Noyle,1987,pp. 28-29)
Alfred Cortot:Intheearlydaysthestudenthastodoconsiderabletechnique
practice, but the material for this should be so carefully chosen as to
eliminateallunnecessaryeffort.Avoiduselessrepetition;rathergetatthe
principal - theheart ofthething youwant toconquer, and cutaway
whatever issuperfluous.
Take the difficult portions and passages ofthe piece you are study-
ing.... Makenew materialfortechnique practiceout ofthem.... The
passage may, in variousways,be developed in such a styleas to fixit
deeply inthemind,besidesmakingitvaluableforfinger,wristand arm
technique.(Brower,1926,p.26)
I consider it absolutely essential for the piano student to commit
everythingheattempts tolearn,tomemory.Ifhewishes toenlarge his
acquaintancewithmusicbygettingtheworksofvariouscomposersand
playingthemthrough,thereiscertainlynoharminthat.Butthisisvery
different from attempting tolearnthepieces.Withthisendinview,one
muststudyseriously, analyzethemusic,seehowitismadeup,consider
itsform andtonetexture,andwhatthecomposer evidentlyintended to
conveythroughit.(Brower,1926,p.30)
BellaDavidovich:Thebesthoursforpracticearethemorninghourswhena
person'smind isfresh and theearsarefresh. . . . Ifind thata one-hour
periodiswhereIachievetheutmostintermsofconcentration.Iworkvery
intensively for one hour and then takea ten, fifteen, or twenty-minute
break during which I will occupy myself with something completely
different, whether it's toeatorsomething else. This method works out
well sothat Ican continueforeight hours, inone-hour periods.... In
general,themoreyoupractice,thebetter.That'sreallytrue.Butthebestis
topracticewithafreshhead,arestedmind,otherwise,you'renotgoingto
beproductive.(Noyle,1987,p.43)
Misha Dichter:ItrytoneverremovemusicalmeaningfromwhatI'mgoing
over.(Noyle,1993,p.50)
After I've learned the piece, I do mental practicing away from the
keyboard.I'vehad someofmygreatestrevelationswhilejogging,oron
thetenniscourt.(Noyle,1987,p.57)
46 CHAPTER3
IhatetothinkofthetimeIwastedasastudent.Nowit'sjustsoeasyto
seecertainshortcuts thatwould havesaved thousandsofhours.(Noyle,
1987,p.57)
In practicing,never daydream. Never use the piano as avehiclefor
simplymovingthefingersandpassingtime.Ifyouhaveonlyonemoment
whenyou'renotawareofwhatyou'redoingmusicallyortechnically(and
usuallyboth),you'rewastingyourtime.... (Noyle,1987,p.59)
Janina Fialkowska: For me, the best time to learn something is in the
morning. I,absolutely, at myadvanced agecannotlearnanew piece,I
cannot memorize, in the afternoon after lunch. I don't know why, I
cannot (Noyle,1987,pp.6768)
IfI'mlearninganewwork,sayit'sSchumann,basically,atthispointin
mycareer,Iknowallthesepiecesinmyhead,andevenifIhaven'tplayed
them,IknowexactlywhatIwanttodowiththem.SoIdon'treallyhaveto
rushoutandbuyalotofrecordingstolistento,whichIusedtowhenIwas
learning a piece. I would buy all of the recordings of all my favorite
pianists andplaythem,andhear,What'shedoing here?Howdoes this
piecego?Now,you'llfindmedoingthatfarless.Actually,abouthalfway
throughmypracticingofapiece,Iamalwaysterriblycurioustohearhow
peoplethatIadmireplaythepieceandcompareitwithwhat I'm doing
and stealtheirbestideas.(Noyle,1987,p.63)
Rudolf Firkusny: Concentration isvery tiring.. .. Sometimes one or two
hoursofconcentratedpracticingismuchmoretiringthanplaying seven
oreighthours.That'sjustthewayitis.(Noyle,1987,p.81)
I believein practicing slowly ... because you canhave much more
controlofwhatyouaredoing.Atothertimesyouhavetoplayintempoto
reallygetthefeelingofthepiece.However,whenyouplayapieceslowly
andintempoyouarepreparedformostthings.Ibelieveslowpracticingis
veryhelpful andvery useful.
WhenIsaypracticing,Idonotonlyspeakofthepurelytechnicalaspect
of thework ... but also themelodic line, thepedaling, allofwhich are
veryimportant.Thetouchisimportant.I'vestudieditandhavefoundout
that it somehow expresses most ofyour ideas which may be right or
wrong,Idon'tcare,butwhichatanyrate,theyareyourown.Tofind out
whattodowiththepianomezzoforte,forte,piano,thetouchcontrol;this
iswhatIcallglobalpracticing.
VeryoftenIpracticeawayfromthepiano,sometimesbeforeIactually
learnthescore.Ireadthepieceawayfrom thepianojusttogettheideas
thatIwouldliketohave,thenIgotothepiano.(Noyle,1987,p.83)
LeonFleisher:Withanew pieceone should sitdown, probablyin achair
awayfromthepiano,andlearnit,lookatit,takeitapart,trytounderstand
itstructurally,harmonically,and inallitselementsasmuchaspossible.
Singittoyourself.Singthevariouscomponents,thevariousmaterial.Get
47 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
somekindofidea.It'snotanideathatyouhavetobewedded toforlife,
but getsomekindofideaofwhatyouthinkitshouldsoundlike,ofwhat
youwantittosoundlike.Then,whenyouhavegottenasfarasyoucanin
this manner, when you've become as specific as you can about the
materialinthis manner, then takeittothekeyboard, becausethenyou
haveagoal.(Noyle,1987,p.92)
Learnapieceasbest youcanup toacertainpoint, and then dropit.
Dropitforwhatever,ninemonths,ayear,ormore,thencomebacktoit,
andinthatperiodofhavingbeendropped, itwillhavematured,grown,
ripened inyoursubconsciousandwhenyoucomebacktoit,itwillhave
evolved.Itwillhavechanged.Youwillseeitwithdifferenteyes,youwill
hearitwithdifferent ears.Relearnitagain,orgoonfrom whereyou left
off,andIwouldrecommenddroppingitthesecondtime.Andonlywhen
you pick it up fora third time do ... you reallyhave a chance ... of
presenting something inpublicthathasbecomegeneticallypartofyou.
(Noyle,1987,p.91)
(Mindless practiceis)verydangerous. Youspend time at the instru-
mentandthefingersaregoingupanddownandthesoundiscomingout
oftheinstrument,butitiswithoutintentbehindit,it'sasthoughyou'rein
automatic... suddenlyyoubecomeconsciouslyawareof"God,whatam
Idoinghere?Iwentthroughsomanyhoursofthiswithoutreallythinking
about it." Itmeans your fingers do it,without realizingthatunder the
stress ofpublicperformance,they're the first thingthatgoes,ifyou are
nervous.(Noyle,1987,pp.9495).
StephenHough:(A)stratagemIfindusefulistopracticewithmyeyesclosed.
Thebrain is trained to use all ofthe senses. The piano, though, seems
confined tothesenseoftouchandhearing,obviously,andalsothe sense
of sight- lookingwhereyou'replayingonthekeyboard.Ifyouremove
one of those senses, you make the other one develop more strongly,
becauseithastoovercompensate.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.136)
Emil Sauer:Onehour ofconcentratedpracticewiththemind fresh and the
bodyrestedisbetterthanfourhoursofdissipatedpracticewiththemind
stale and the body tired. With a fatigued intellect the fingers simply
dawdleoverthekeysandnothingisaccomplished.Ifindinmyowndaily
practicethatisbestformetopracticetwohoursinthemorningandthen
twohourslaterintheday.(Cooke,1913/1999,p.238)
Andre-Michel Schub: People forget the hard work theyput in.When you
readthatthisonedidn'tpracticehard,don'tbelieveit.IknowthatIdid,
and I know that other people did too... . There's no way of getting
aroundthosehoursatthepianoifyoupracticetoplaycorrectly.Itiswhat
itdoesforyourequipmentandforthecontrolofsound.What'sevenmore
importantthanhowmanynotesyouplayiswhatyoudowiththosenotes.
48 CHAPTER3
Themoretimeyouspendatthepiano,themorecontrolyouhave.Practice
hasalottodowithqualitybuttherehastobeacertainnumberofhoursof
playingjusttomaintainalevel.(Noyle,1987,p.108)
(On learning new music):I tend to play through things as much as
possible. Iread quite well, although there arepeople who read better.
Barring a Rachmaninoff concerto,Ican get through apiece and make
somemusicalsenseout ofit.Iquicklybecomeawareofthemechanical
spotsthatneedtobeworkedoningreaterdetail.ButI'mmoreinterested
inhowthisallfitsintoamusicalconcept.... Instartingout,Itrytograsp
thewholepieceasopposedtojustseeingwherehard spotsare.(Noyle,
1987,pp. 103-104)
AbbeySimon:Itrytoput outofmyhead,oroutofmyears,everythingIever
heardaboutthemusic.IapproacheverypieceofmusicasifIhavenever
heard itbefore inmy life,whether itisapiecethat Ihaveplayed since
childhood that I am reviving, or whether it is a new song. (Noyle,
1987,p. 119)
... IpracticenotmorethantwohoursatatimebecauseIgettired.After
thatthereisnoconcentrationsoitisnotworthwhile.(Noyle,1987,p.122)
Ralph Votapek: Iwould rather,after theinitialreading, startbypracticing
veryslowatatempowhereIknowIwon'tgowrong.Idon'tliketodivide
themusicupintosegments:notes,tone,dynamics,phrasing.... Ithink
studyingapieceforthreeweeksissufficient timetolearnthework.After
that,Igetveryimpatient.(Noyle,1987,p.129)
I think it all boils down to your concentration in practicing. If you
concentratewhenyouarepracticing,chancesarenothingwillgowrong
withmemory.Ifonceyou'vememorizedapiece.... thenthedangeristo
playwithoutthinkingtoomuch.AndifIfindIdothattoomuchandthenI
go to play a piece.... I sometimes have a few memory slips at the
performance. Usually they are minor ones, in the left hand, that are
quicklycoveredup,but thefear istherelurking.(Noyle,1987,p.134)
Andre Watts:Practicingisreallyup inyourhead, and thiscomes fi rst . . . .
Youhavetohavetheability tothinkand makedecisionsandtohavea
beliefthatwhenyou'vemadeadecisionyouwillbeabletoimplementit.
Thenextistohavetheabilitytohearasyouplay,tohearandjudgeatthe
sametimesothatyou canlistentowhatyou areproducing.Youtry to
controlit,butalsojudgeatthesametimeanddecide,no,that'snotwhatit
shouldbe.(Noyle,1987,pp. 145-146)
Mark Westcott:Idon'tfeelgoodinside ifImissmuchpractice.Evengoing
onavacationishardforme.I'mnotamasochistaboutitoranything,butI
lovetopractice.Practicingexcitesme.Idoaboutsevenhoursadayonthe
average.(Elder,1986,p.176)
49 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
HOW TOMEMORIZE MUSIC
The requirement of playing from memory is a source of tremendous
anxietyforpianists. Morethanoneconcertartisthasargued that playing
from memory should be abolished (Williamon,in press). For example,
PercyGraingeroncewrote, "Music hasbeen greatlyworsenedbypublic
performances without notes" (Cooke, 1948,p. 86).Yetno pianist today
couldhaveasuccessfulcareerwithoutextremelywell-developedmemori-
zationskills.
Giventhe difficulty ofplayinglong, complicated programs flawlessly
frommemoryandthepublichumiliationthatattendsmemorylapses,itis
surprising that there are so few agreed-on principles of memorization.
Among the multitude ofbooks about piano technique and piano peda-
gogy, fewhavemuchtosayaboutmemorization.Thetopiciseither not
mentioned or dealt with in cursory and formulaic fashion. Rita Aiello
(1999)and AaronWilliamon(inpress)listedasexceptionsonlyBernstein
(1981),Giesekingand Leimer(1972),Hughes(1915),Matthay(1926),and
Rubinstein(1950).Intheinterviewsinmycollection,manyofthepianists
claim that theypay little attention to memorizingthatit iseasy, auto-
matic,andnonproblematicforthem.Overandover,theysaythattheydo
notneedtoworryaboutit.LiliKraussaysshedoesnotknowthemeaning
of the word. Memorization "just happens," according to Andre-Michel
Schub. YuriEgorov claims that, "all at once it comes to me." It comes
"naturally,"saysGuiomarNovaes,sonaturallythat"it's likebreathing"
(JorgeBolet)."IsuddenlyrealizethatIknowit," echoesMitjaNikisch.It's
"very simple" (Walter Gieseking), "very easy" (Benno Moiseiwitsch,
Rudolf Firkusny),"subconscious"(HaroldBauer).
Onewaytoexplainthischorusofdenialistosaythatmemoryfailures
are problems only for amateurs; world-class artists have such highly
developed memorizationskillsthattheyarebeyondthinkingorworrying
about how they do it. Iwould say that the opposite is true: The more
eminent, accomplished,andsought after oneis,themoredangerous and
humiliating thepossibility ofapublicmemoryfailure.Itmaybetruethat
earlyintheircareersmanypianistsrelyonautomaticmemory processes,
but itisjustamatteroftimebeforesomescrapewithdisasterbringshome
theneed toworkmoredeliberately.Toperformtimeandtimeagain,one
needstopreparesafetynets.Ibelievethatmanyoftheartistsareengaging
in major denial when they discount the possibility ofmemorylapses in
theirinterviews.RalphVotapekis,Ithink,unusuallyinsightful whenhe
says that memorization is a "bane" that performers relegate to their
"subconscious"ratherthanconfront theiranxieties.AbbeySimonseems
to illustratethe validityofVotapek's (andmy)viewpoint when he says
50 CHAPTER3
emphaticallythathehasnoideahowhememorizesanddoesnotwantto
know.JohnBrowning,too,iscandid.Hestatesflatlythatmemorizingisan
issue for every pianist. "And I don't care what anybody says, every
performer, nomatter how secure, always thinksabout thepossibilityof
memoryslips."
There are cluesto unacknowledged anxietyin the artists' words.For
example,somenolesstalentedandaccomplished thanotherswhodeny
itspeakindirectly ofanxietyaboutmemorization.VladimirAshkenazy
warnsthatitis"dangerous"torelyonmusclememory.Mostrevealingare
those who mention that they are "blessed naturally" in the memory
department (MyraHess)orboastoftheirmemoryfeats.AlexandreBorowski
claimstohavememorized "the mostdifficult pieceeverwritten"withno
noticeableeffort.JorgeBoletrecountsataleofmemorizingLiszt'svirtuoso
Mephisto Waltzinanhourandaquarter(Noyle,1987,pp.19-20).Ifplaying
from memory were really as natural and automatic as breathing, such
storieswould havenopoint.
Pointing up pianists' concerns about memory isan anecdote told by
Guy Maier about a pianist who ate limebecause he read that memory
problems arecausedbya"lackoflimeinthesystem."Maier advised:
Beforeossificationoralarming complications setin,Ihastentourgeyouto
desistfromyourlimediet!Theonlypossibleutilization ofyourtheorywould
be to offer packages of lime drops to your students as rewards for good
lessons.Youarebynomeansalonewithmemorizationdifficulty. (Cooke,
1948, p.100)
Theviewthateverypianist memorizes differently seems tobewidely
held. AlthoughonlyBennoMoiseiwitsch,EllyNey,andMorizRosenthal
areexplicit onthispoint,many ofthepianistsdescribe characteristicsof
their own memories in ways that make an implicit contrast with the
memoriesofothers.WhenRudolfFirkusnysays,"Mymemorizingisonly
aural, Inever seethe printed page,"he implies that the memorizingof
othersisdifferent. ThisisborneoutbythesummaryinTable3.2.Mostof
thepianistsmakesomemention ofother formsofmemory.
Sotoowith strategiesformemorizing.Everyoneseemstobe different,
and this variety seems to lend credence to the view that everyone's
memoryisdifferent. JrgDemusbuildsmusclememorybyusing consis-
tent fingerings. Olga Samaroff recommends memorizing by sections.
Moriz Rosenthal recommends memorizing thestructure first away from
thepiano.JohnBrowning,WalterGieseking,and VictorSeroff alsomake
useof"mental practice". RudolphGanzadvisesmemorizinghands sepa-
rately,but ErnestHutcheson "practically neverbothers" with this.Jorge
51 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
Bolet,AliciadeLarrocha,andIsidorPhilippsuggestthatstrategieschange
withageorthestateofone'shealth.
Ibelievethattheremustbealotmoresimilarityinthewaythat pianists'
memoriesworkthantheircommentssuggest.Weallmakeuseofthesame
memory systems, and we allhave to perform under similar conditions.
Surelyeveryoneisusingauditorymemorywhentheyhearawrongnotein
their playing, and everyone must rely on the automaticity of motor
memory.Theremaybearealdifference inuseofvisualmemory,butIam
sure that every concert artist has a clear memory for the melodic and
harmonicstructureofthepiecesheorsheplays.
Thislast type ofmemoryconceptualmemoryisimportant for me
personally. Manyofthepianistsalso acknowledge itsimportancewhen
theytalk,likeEllyNey,ofstudyingapieceandthinkingaboutitsmeaning.
ForEdwinHughes and MorizRosenthal,itisthe first thing tobememo-
rized. But there are many others who do not mention it, like Walter
Gieseking, who talksonly ofhearing the music.Doesthis mean that he
doesnot use conceptual memory? Idoubt itvery much. Although itis
certainlypossibleforstudentstomemorizeusingjustmotorandauditory
memoryweseethemdoitallthetimeIdonotbelievethatprofession-
alswould everput themselves inthatposition even iftheywereableto.
Theriskofamemorylapsewouldbetoogreat.Thetestwouldbetoaska
pianistlikeWalterGiesekingtodescribetheharmonicandstructuralform
of apiecehehas memorized.Ofcoursehecoulddothis.Heisoneofthe
pianistswho report engaging inmentalpracticewhichexercisesconcep-
tualmemorymorestronglythananythingelse.
VladimirAshkenazy:Ithinkit'sacombinationofthings.It'smemorizingthe
musicalprogression ofmusic.Thereis something mechanicalabout it,
too.Thefingers memorizethings,but itshould beacombination.Ifyou
rely onyourfingers,it's very dangerous.Itiseverything,mind,visual,
aural,everything.(Noyle,1987,p.8)
Harold Bauer:Itisonlyveryrarely that Ihaveconsciouslyemployed any
systeminmemorizingmusic.Inthevastmajorityofinstances,theprocess
seemstobequiteasubconsciousone,andonlywhenithasbeennecessary
for some specialreason forme toprepare anew composition inavery
shorttimeforpublicperformancehaveIundertakenthemechanicallabor
of "committing to memory." When I have done this, the process has
usuallybeen that ofmere reiteration. It isnot a speedy process, but it
works.Idaresayothermethodsmaybebetter.
Theimportantthing, however, isthatIhavenever felt thatIknewa
pieceofmusicunless the memorizingofithas beenabsolutelysubcon-
scious.(Cooke,1948,p.77)
52 CHAPTER3
Jorge Bolet:Mymemorization isalmost one hundred percent aural.It's a
question ofear.Tome,it'slikebreathing.Youneverhavetothinkabout
breathing. It'ssomething thatyoudoautomaticallytwentyfour hoursa
day,period.Memorizingtomeisjustthatnatural.(Noyle,1987,p.19)
AlexandreBorowski:IamtoldIhaveanunusualmemory.Perhapsthismay
betrue,forIfeelmyabilitytomemorizeissomewhatoutofthe ordinary.
Of course you know Balakireff's Islamey.It has been called, the most
difficult pieceeverwritten.Ibothlearnedandcommittedittomemoryin
fivedays. (Brower,1926,p.219)
JohnBrowning:Memorizingisanissuewitheverybodybecausewehaveto
playfrommemory.AndIdon'tcarewhatanybodysays,everyperformer,
no matter how secure, always thinks about the possibility of memory
slips.... Everybodyhastoworkatmemorizing....
I think mental practiceiscrucialfor performers.You'renot likelyto
haveproblemswithmemoryifyoucansitinachairorlieonabedandgo
through the entire work,no matter how complicated, and call itoutin
yourmind.Ireallydon'tfeelI'mreadytoplayaworkinpublicuntilIcan
dothis.(Noyle,1987,p.32)
BellaDavidovich:Ifit'sapiecethatIhaveheardand amfamiliarwith,then
theapproachistogetitimmediatelymemorizedandintothehandsatthe
sametime. . . . Ihearthemainmelody,thesecondarylines,thebaseline,
thereprises,etc.,inmymind.It'sthoroughly, clearlyimaginable.(Noyle,
1993,p.39)
Thepiece isretained first in the mind and then the fingers,but you
cannot separate how you learn. Everything happens all together, the
mind,theears,thefingers,thefeet.Myphotographicmemoryisactually
quitegood.Veryoften,duringaconcert,I'mabletovisualizethepageand
thenoteswhichI'mplayingatthatmoment.Ihaveitinmyhead.IfIamin
the middle stageofstudying anew work,veryoften Iwill findmyself
walkingdownthestreetandhearingcertainpassagesseparately,echoing
inmymind.Sothememory isworkingawaywhen Ihear fragmentsof
thismusic.Butnotinthebeginningstage.Atthebeginningstageit'sinthe
ears.Aphotographicmemorydoeshelp,butitisthehearingandtheears
thatdothemajor partofthisretainingprocess.(Noyle,1987,p.43)
AliciadeLarrocha:Istudythemusiccarefullyfirsttoformanideaofwhatit
is all about. Then I seek passages or sections which offer the most
difficulty, especiallyinregardtofingering.... Sometimes,too,Ihaveto
playapieceveryslowlytosolidifythememorizationofthepart.Slowness
alsohelpstochecknote accuracyandphrasing ... youseeeverydetail
and at the sametime reinforce the memory.Youare abletoseechords
moreclearly,theform,thedesign,theharmonicgroupings, and soon.It
53 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
helpsenormouslytoknowthephrases,theritardandos,anaccenthere,an
accentthere,anendingphrase,astartingphrase,thatis,allthedetails.
Thismemorizationoftherhythmicalaccentsineveryphraseisavery
importantmemoryaid,butnotquiteasreliableasthememorizingofthe
phrases, cadences, and form. Idon'tbelievemuchinvision memory.It
seemsunsureandleavesmefeelingratherinsecure.Also,Idon'tpractice
above the keys, omitting the aural aspect, that is. (Mach,1991, vol.1,
pp.58-59).
(Interviewer:How doyoumemorize?)Thisisanother thing thatwas
onceveryeasyand littlebylittlehas gottenmoredifficult. First,Isight
readandthenIlookatthestructureoftheworkandworkonthefingering
andwriteitin.Iused toplaywithoutwritingitinbut now Ihavetodo
that.ThenImemorizethepiecefrom avisualpointofview;andthenthe
harmonies.(Dubai,1997,p.148)
JrgDemus: (InresponsetoaquestionaboutlearningBach'sWell-Tempered
Clavier)Ifoundfingeringveryimportant.BecauseIcan'thavetimetogo
over them every timebefore Iplay them, it isimportant that the hand
positions and finger movementsbebuiltintomyhand,evenintheeasy
pieces.Myhand somehowknowswhere togoautomatically.Itishand,
head,and heartwhichhavetofunction. (Elder,1986,p.129)
Misha Dichter: Ihappen to be a rather fast learner, and I have memory
systemsthatworkforme.Andyet,asIgetolder,Idon'ttrustthisrather
superficialgobblingup.Experiencehasshown thatthesearethepiecesI
forget first,when Idon'tallowthingstosinkin.I(prefer toallow)... a
period ofatleastthreemonthsfrom the firstreadingofapiece.Ileaveit
andgobacktootherthings,orlearnnewthings.ThenIcomebacktothat,
andthere'sanewlayerofunderstandingbecauseallthatfiligreeworkhas
fallen into place, into the larger blocks, in fact, that I think were the
composer's intention.(Noyle,1987,p.49)
I'meventuallygoingtowritemyownbookaboutmemorizingbecause
Irealizethat ithas becomesuch asystem.... Itallemanatesfrom the
circleoffifths ... theselittlecircularmotionsoffifths, oneleadingto the
next,lefthandtoright,righttomiddlevoice,andthatsortofthing,which
hasbeentheskeletalunderstandingofthepiece.(Noyle,1987,pp.52-53)
MauriceDumesnil:Ifonepracticesapiecethoroughlyandpatiently,without
undue hurry or time limit; if one studies the difficult passages with
rhythmsandtranspositions(herethehandsseparatelyareinorder);ifone
devotes muchtime tothe study ofproper phrasing, tonecoloring, and
expression in"cantabile"passages,thereisbound tocomeatimewhen
thewholepieceismemorized withouthavingbecomeconsciousofit.In
short, "repetition"seems tome tobe a safe and sound way tocommit
musictomemory,andbyaddingafew"flag-posts"alongtheway,oneis
sure to feel pretty secure; by the latter I mean, for instance, the full
54 CHAPTER3
knowledge ofthevariancebetween repeats oneand twointheclassical
sonata, and oftheharmonies which lead tothemiddlesection orto the
coda.(Cooke,1948,p.79)
Yuri Egorov: There are two concessions, however, Imake to myself when
practicingthemusicI'm goingtoplay.Thefirst isthatIliketopractice
slowly,muchmoreslowlythanIwould liketoplayattheconcert.Ikeep
thesamemovementthough,thatIuseintheregulartempo.... Ialsolike
topracticepianissimo. Thisforcesmoreconcentration....
Ifyou arespeakingofmemorizingthepiece,thatIdon'tdo.Iplaythe
pieceoverandoverforpractice,andallatonceitcomestomethatIknow
themusicbyheart.ButIdon'tsitatthepianoandmemorizeonepageof
themusic.Notatall!(Mach,1991, vol.2,p.48)
JaninaFialkowska:TheveryfirstthingIdoismemorizeit.Beforeanything,
Imemorizeit.Imemorizeitatthekeyboard....IneverconsiderthatIcan
begin toknowapieceifIdon'tknow itbyheart.Ithinkit's cheating to
lookatthemusic... I'matremendously fast learner.Here I'm showing
off, butit'strue.Inever takemorethantwoorthreedaystomemorizea
realfull-scale workoraconcerto.(Noyle,1987,p.64)
Rudolf Firkusny: Forme,itisveryeasy.WhenIplaythepiece acoupleof
times, Iknow it.Mymemorizing isonly aural, Inever seethe printed
page.(Noyle,1987,p.84)
Rudolph Ganz: Ibelieve in the most minute, the most detailed memoriz-
ing, but never the notes alonedynamics and musical phrasing must
go along.... There is memorizing melodically, harmonically, and
polyphonically.Amentalphotographofthepagemustbeachievedtoa
certainextent.Auralmemoryorkinestheticmemoryishelpful. Thefinal
result ofmemorizing must be the abilitytoput the entire composition
down on music paper,with the indications oftempo, dynamics, signs,
andphrasing. (Cooke,1948,pp.8081)
Walter Gieseking:Tocommittomemoryisaverysimple matterwith me,
unlessthecomposition happens tobeverydifficult. Agreatdealcanbe
accomplished byreading themusicthrough away from thepiano. AsI
readittheeyetakesinthecharactersontheprinted pagewhile theear
hearsthemmentally.After afewtimesreadingthrough,Ioftenknowthe
piece,cangotothepianoandplayitfrommemory.(Brower,1926,pp.6667)
Myra Hess: FortunatelyIamblessed naturally with an excellent memory,
and after Ihavemade acareful studyofthepiece,noting thepoints we
have dwelt upon, I nearly know it already, without giving special
attentiontothatsideofwork.(Brower,1926,p. 197)
55 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
Josef Hofmann: Complicatedpartsofamusicalpiecerequiremoreattention;
therefore,theyshouldberepeated oftener thantheeasyparts.
Pianists who master the keyboard sufficiently will fare better to try
memorizingapieceinitsentirety:viz..depictingitwithbothhands from
theoutset,thusobtaininga100%instead ofa50%musicalimpression.
Idaresaythatmemorizing,ingeneral,consistsofthreefactors:namely
theacousticpicture,theopticalpicture,andtheacquiredhabitofmusical
sequences.(Cooke,1948,pp.91-92)
EdwinHughes:Inmemorizinganewcomposition,thefirststepshouldbeto
playtheworkthroughslowly,inordertofind outhowitsoundsandto
become acquainted with its general form and construction. Start to
memorizeitimmediately, eventhough atfirst youmaybeabletoretain
onlyafewsalientpoints. ... Playunderstandinglyand listen....
Play the hands separately at first, noting and analyzing everything,
letting the keyboard images, the feeling for the fingering-groups, and
above all,thesound,impressthemselvesonyour mind.
Remember that the best memorizers are ear-memorizers. (Cooke,
1948,pp.93-95)
ErnestHutcheson: Inmemorizing Iusually takethe pieceas awhole, but
often sectional practice is useful too. In practicing by sections, it is
advisabletoletthemoverlapalittle,sothatthe"joints"willbesecure.
Ipracticallyneverbothertomemorizethehands separately....
Themostimportantthingistomemorizeasnaturallyandeffortlesslyas
possible,withouthurryingtheprocessunduly,andthentotrustentirely
on the subconscious memory, except for correction ofmistakes or im-
provements ofinterpretation.(Cooke,1948,pp.97-98)
LiliKraus:Memorize-thereagainIdon'tknowthatword.BythetimeIcan
produce what I want to hear, by the time I am satisfied with the
interpretationand itistechnicallycorrect,Ihaveknownitalongtimeby
heart.(Elder,1986,p.67)
BennoMoiseiwitsch:Eachpianistseemstohavehisownmethodofcommit-
tingmusictomemory.Ithas alwaysbeenveryeasyforme,so perhaps
thatiswhyIhavenocut-and-drymannerdoingit.Igenerallydomemory
workatthepiano,byplayingthepieceinsectionsandstudyingthemout
indetail.(Brower,1926,p.173)
Elly Ney:Thereare somanywaysofmemorizing. Somepianists play the
pieceoverandoveragreatmanytimes,untiltheyknowit.Othersbeginto
learnthenotesfirstofall,beforethinkingmuchoftheirmeaning.Igoatit
differently. Forme itmust be the musicfirst and the meaning ofit.SoI
begin by thinking, thinking, thinking, studying the tones, the phrases
whichembodythemusicIwishtoreproduce.Icandothisawayfrom the
56 CHAPTER3
piano. ForIdon'tcaretoheartoomuchthesound ofthepiano-nottoo
muchrepetition.Bettertousemymind and accomplishwhatIseekby
mentalmeansinstead ofmechanicalways.(Brower,1926,p.210)
Mitja Nikisch:PerhapsIhavenotthoughtdefinitelyenoughastojusthowI
really do memorizemy music. It seems to come to me almost uncon-
sciously after studying the piece,and Isuddenly realizethat Iknowit,
without the need of the printed page. I can say this, however, that I
visualizethenotesandsignsontheprintedpage,andcanreallyseethem
before measIplay.Ibelievethatisthemost reliableway tolearn and
retainthenotesofacomposition.OfcourseIhearthetonesalso,so,infact,
Ibothseeandhearthematthesametime.Yes,Icanmemorizeawayfrom
thekeyboardwhennecessityrequires.(Brower,1926,pp.188-189)
GuiomarNovaes:(Interviewer:Howhaveyoumemorized?)Verynaturally;
Ihaveneverforcedmymemory.(Elder,1986,p.25)
Isidor Philipp: I amazed my school fellows because I had memorized 48
Preludesand Fuguesofthe"Well-TemperedClavichord".Later,veryill
for months, mymemoryweakened, and Iwas obliged tomemorizeby
sections (Cooke,1948,p.112)
Moriz Rosenthal:Tomemorize a work ofmusicdepends entirely on the
individual's talent and his musical knowledge gained by the studyof
theory,harmony,and composition,and even then everybody develops
theirownmethodofmemorizing.
In my opinion, the best method is the musical approach; that is,to
understand the structure of the work and to find the meaning the
composer endeavored togivetohis composition. Thisshould be done
first,thusmemorizingtheworkawayfrom thepiano....
Thebesttimetodevelopthememoryisasachild.(Cooke,1948,p.114)
Olga Samaroff: Ialways memorize acomposition in sections.Togive an
example: Suppose we takea passage ofeight measures. Ipracticethis
until it is committed to memory. Proceedingto practicethefollowing
passage, Ialwaysbegin, not atthebeginningofthe second eight meas-
ures,buttwoorthreemeasuresback.Inthiswaythejoining-onmeasure
betweenpassageoneandpassagetwogetsdoublepractice,andonehas,
sotospeak,acuebeforeeverypassage,whichgreatlyaidsinsureness....
Thenthereisthinkingthrough apiecementally,awayfrom thepiano.I
candothissometimesasIwalkalongthestreet.Ofcourse,Ithinkitinthe
same movement and tempo asthough Iwere actuallyplaying itat the
piano.Thisisalsoearmemory....
Of course I have my own little devices for contrasting themes or
passagesthe likesand unlikenesses, and other things to help fixthe
compositioninmind.Idonotvisualizethepage,asIsawitbeforeme,as
57 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOF THEIR EXPERIENCE
someplayersdo.Theearplaysthebiggestpart;Irememberthroughthe
ear. I hear it all mentally, not thinking ahead, or expecting what is
comingbecausethatdividestheattention,butjusthearingthemusicas
itunfoldsundermyfingers.Ithinkthereisagooddealofvirtueinhaving
fingermemorytoo.Ifyouknowthepiecewellenoughandhaveplayedit
longenough, the fingers find thekeysthemselves. And sometimes you
canjustleavethemtodoit,whileyouletupthetension,asitwere,sitback
andletthemusicpour forthwithoutcare.
Ithinkoneshould livewithaworkforsometimebeforeventuringto
perform it in publicseveral months at least. (Brower, 1926, pp.
149150,155157)
Andre-Michel Schub:Itjusthappens.Ican'ttellyouhow.Onceyou've spent
Xnumberofhourswithapiece,it'smemorized.(Noyle,1987,p.106)
Victor Seroff: Anexcellentdevicetodevelopmemoryistolearnthe pieces
silently,byheart,before onceplayingthem ontheinstrument.(Cooke,
1948,p.123)
AbbeySimon:Ihavenoidea,noclueastohowImemorize.Thereareallsorts
ofmusicians.... IhaveneverbeenabletotellanyonehowImemorize.I
don'tknownordoIevenwanttoknow!(Noyle,1987,p.122)
Ralph Votapek: Idon'tliketothinkaboutmemorizingbecauseIthinkit'sthe
baneofmanyperformersandiftheydon'tadmitit,it'sbecausetheyputit
intheirsubconscious.(Noyle,1987,p.134)
Andre Watts: The first thing is to go from beginning to end, slowly, and
maybeevensloppilyorbadly,inordertogetageneralsenseofthewhole
bodyofthepiece.... ThenIjustgobackand Istartlearning thenotes,
startplanningtoplay.Itrytolearnthenotesand dotheinitialcombina-
tionofmemorizingandgettingitintothehandsandthebody,butnotina
rote way oranon-musical way.... Bythe time I'm halfwaythrough
learningthepiece,I'mquiteentrenchedforthemomentinallmymusical
ideasand whatIwantoutofthepiece.(Noyle,1987,p.144)
Mark Westcott:Iliketomemorizeapiecerightoffcold.Idothatfirst, and
thenusuallyI'malittlesaturatedwithit.Imemorizeatthepiano,usually
phrasebyphrase,thefirstthing.Forme,apieceneverstartstomature,to
developsubconsciously,untilit'smemorized.(Elder,1986,p.176)
COPING WITHANXIETY
Not long ago, I asked a large group of students at the New Jersey
Governor's SchoolfortheArtstowritedown anonymouslytheirbiggest
58 CHAPTER3
fearsaboutperforming.Noneedforstatisticalanalysesheretheanswers
werevirtuallyuniform.Withhardlyavariation,twothemeswerevoiced:
"Iwillforget"and "Iwillmakeafoolofmyself."
Greatperformersarenotoftenaskedabouttheirfearsand trepidations.
Notice that the comments in this section are fewer and briefer than in
previous sections. Interviewers typically do not steer the talk in this
uncomfortabledirection.Iftheydid,theymightencountertheperformer's
reluctanceto admit his or her fear and lack ofconfidence.Eachartist is
aware that his or her career hangs in the balance when performance
anxietybecomesunmanageable andvisibletothepublic.
Nevertheless, a few of the artists do describe their feelings about
performanceanxiety,andtheyuseverystrongterms.MyraHessspeaksof
greatstressandmentalagitation.Inthecourseofasinglebriefcomment,
JaninaFialkowskarefersto"terror"threetimes.Inasecond-hand account,
Mitja Nikisch, speaking of Anton Rubinstein, talks of "nervousexcite-
ment"and"goingtopieces"from fearevenwhenplayingrelativelyeasy
and familiar music.
Theartistsdescribeseveralcopingstrategies.Mentalrehearsalismen-
tionedbyVladimirAshkenazy,YuriEgorov,and JaninaFialkowskaasa
good form of psychological preparation. Reflectionand meditation are
endorsedbyEmilGilels.LesssanguineisMitjaNikisch'saccountofAnton
Rubinstein'sexcessiveanxiety-relatedsmoking,whichledtohis death.
ClaudioArrau:Idon'tsay Ineverfeel fear before aperformancebut Ihave
learned to channel it. This is important, to channel feelingsof fear, of
anxiety,tousethemitmakesyoumoresensitive.(Dubai,1997,p.5)
Vladimir Ashkenazy: I find it a very good idea to imagine that you're
performing, so that you get into shape what you need on the stage.
(Noyle,1987,pp.10-11)
LazarBerman:Iremember,atahotel,awomancametomeand,kneeling
down,beggedmetoplaythepiano.Iresponded bykneelingdown and
begginghernottomakemeplay.Forme,everytimeIplayinfrontofan
audience, itisaveryimportantand difficult affair, bothphysicallyand
spiritually.Iamneversurethatitisgoingtoendwell.ThisiswhyIprefer
toplaywhenIfeellikeit.She(hismother)decidedtomakeapianistofme
sothatIcould fulfill her dreams.Thisiswhy allofmy life Ihavebeen
unsureofmyself. Idon'tliketoperform;Iamafraid ofperformingbadly.
(Portugheis,1996)
Yuri Egorov:IhavetoadmitthatsometimesbeforeaconcertIgetnervous.I
trytoavoidthejittersbypreparingmyselfpsychologicallyfortheevent.I
beginmypreparationaboutaweekbefore theconcert.Iimaginemyself
59 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
alreadyonthestageactuallyplayingtheconcert.... Ialsoconcentrate,as
Iwould onthenight oftheconcert,onthemusicitself,and review one
moretimejusthowIwillperformit.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.47)
Janina Fialkowska:Playingaconcertoforthefirsttimeisthemost terrifying
experienceinmylife.That'swhyI'mgladwhenIthinkthereareonlytwo
major concertos left forme toperformthatIeverwant toperform:The
BrahmsDMinorand theEmperor.Iwillbeabsolutely terrified the first
timeIplaythem.... Thefirst sound ofplayingthemwith an orchestra
willbeterrifying. (Noyle,1987,p.65)
Isimplycannotgoonthestageandplaywithoutthatverydayhaving
gonethroughthepiecesthatI'mgoingtoplay.Otherwise, it'sapsycho-
logicalthing,Ifeelunsure.Sure,atsometimesI'dplaywell,butIwould
alwayshavethatterrorofforgetting.(Noyle,1987,pp. 73-74)
Emil Gilels:Ihavealwaysbeennervousbefore concerts,and Icontinue to
thisdaytobeso.I'veneverfoundacureforit.ButI'vefoundthatbybeing
reflectiveandmeditativeaboutitall,Icandoit.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.123)
Myra Hess: There have been times of great stress, when I was mentally
agitatedandcouldneitherseethenotesbeforemeorevenhearthem,yet
my fingerswould go on and continue to play ofthemselves.(Brower,
1926,p.197)
Stephen Hough:Quiteapartfrom (technique)isthewholeotherquestionof
nervesand thedifferent waysthatnervescanaffect theperformer.First,
therearethenerves,orthenervousness,onefeelsbefore aperformance
which dissipate when the concertbegins. Then there istheconfidence
whichsuddenly fails theartistasheorshewalksontothestage.Orthe
failure can come in the middle of the performance whether through
tirednessordistraction.... Themind and thenerves canplay various
sortsoftricksonanyone.Iknow;atdifferent times,I'vebeenthevictimof
allofthem.
Yet I can't say that I suffer from any kind of chronic nerves really,
certainlynotlikesomewhoarereallyparalyzedandunabletogivetheir
best.It'sfunnythatformethesizeoftheconcertortheplaceoftheconcert
often haverelativelylittletodowithit.Sometimesitcanbethesmallest
datesomewhere, wherenothing's reallyhangingontheoutcome,thata
badcaseofnervessetsi n. . . . Sometimesyoujusthavetolookatyourself
as ahuman being and realizehow smallyou are in the contextofthe
worldandinthecontextoftheuniverse,andseehowridiculousitistobe
nervous....
Now,Iknowthatit'shardtorationalizethesethingsinthecontextofa
performancewhenyouknowthatyourcareerisoftenridingonhowyou
playwhenyougooutontothestage.However,theperformermusttryto
bedivorcedfromalloft hat . . . . Eachofushastogoouttherewithacrazy
60 CHAPTER3
mixtureofself-confidenceandhumilityandwhatevertalentwehaveand
trytodowhatheorshefeelsthemusicdemands,anddoasmuchasheor
shecan.Ofcourse,allthisiswonderful,philosophizing aswe areover
lunch, but of course when it comes to putting it into practice while
actuallystandinginthewings,well,that's somethingelseagain.(Mach,
1991,vol.2,pp. 137-138)
Mitja Nikisch:Itisreallysad thatthereshould besuch fear aboutplaying
from memory;this attacksallkinds ofartists. Ifitcouldbe doneaway
withwipedoutwhataboonforusall!Somesuffer fromthefearmuch
more than others. One ofthe greatest pianists of any time - Anton
Rubinstein-was apreyoffear inthemostsevereform. Ihaveheardmy
father tellaboutgoingtohisdressingroombefore aconcert,and finding
him inahigh stateofnervousexcitement.Totry and calmhimself and
becomenumbed tothiscondition,hewouldbesmokingonecigar after
another in rapid succession.Theair would be so thickthat one could
hardlydistinguish thegreatartistfrom thesmoke.Hedied ofexcessive
smoking,youknow.Thefear thatmemorywould playhim false would
affect himinunexpectedmoments:eveninaChopinnocturnecanone
fancyit?Hewouldgotopieces.(Brower,1926,p.189)
ONPREPARING FOR
OPTIMALPERFORMANCE
Thistopic,morethananyother,ledtocompletelyidiosyncraticcomments
from pianists. While they describe their reliance on thorough prepara-
tion (Claudio Arrau, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich,JaninaFialkowska),
they also speak of what psychologists call flow (Csikszentmihalyi &
Csikszentmihalyi, 1988):afeelingofimmersioninthemoment, spontane-
ity,creativity,and total absorption. An optimal performanceinvolves a
stateofflow.Itdoesn'talwayshappen.EmilGilelsnotesruefully, "Some-
timesIevenhavetoforce it." Yetwhen anartistisinaflowstate during
performance, I believe that the audience can always tell. After all the
preparation, analyzing,memorizing, and drillingthefingers,thisiswhat
makesagreatperformance.
Their words falter as pianists try to describe the sensation of flow.
GarrickOhlssonsays,"I'm aheadofmyself,butI'malsowithmyselfinthe
presentandalittlebitbehindmyself."EmilGilelssaysthateachperform-
anceisdifferentbecauseofanelementofplayful"fantasy";TamsVsry
speaks ofa"half dreamingstate"that allowsfingersand brain towork
together. Ivo Pogorelich best captures the feeling of immersion in the
61 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
musical moment: "The notes have become you and you have become
thenotes."
Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich: I wish I could tell you that I had found a
formula [forhowtoprepareforaconcertonthedayoftheevent]after all
theseyears.... Formetherearenorules.... Ifind thatit's agood idea
not totouch any ofthepieces you're due toplay, but topracticeother
things instead; get to know the piano, find your way into the new
keyboard.Andthen rest.
Butifyouareverywellprepared,nomatterwhatstateofmind you're
in,yourpreparation willsavetheday.
My preparation is always savage. Then again, there are sometimes
variousdemons tocopewithinone'shead.Irecentlywenttothehallthe
daybeforeIwastogiveaconcertandIfoundmyselfpracticingthe fugue
of Beethoven's SonataOp. 101for four hours. That's apiece that I can
usuallyplaywithoutpracticingatall.Butthatday,itwasn't goingvery
welland Iwasscaredlikehell.(Dubai,1997,p.56)
MishaDichter:I'vehadendlessdiscussions withcolleaguesaboutanalyzing
theharmonicstructure.Theyseemymusicallmarkedup,thenotesare
almostobliterated,andtheysay,"Well,that'sverynicetostudy,butwhat
do you think ofduring theconcert?" And Isay, "Exactlythis.. . . " IfI
breakanewpieceupintoitssmallestcomponents,ifIunderstand whya
composer wrote a certain note in that measure that fits into a larger
picture,thensuddenlyI'mseeingapieceanditsbasicharmonicunitsas
the composer intended. These are the things that I'm thinking about
constantly, which causes the tension and relaxation in aperformance.
(Noyle,1987,pp. 49-50)
I'mconstantlypracticingaworkasifIwasperformingit.Idon'tmean,
"Oh,mygoodness,inoneweekthisisgoingtobeontheprogram,andI'm
nervous."Nothinglikethat.Iconsciouslyrecreateintheroom,ascloseas
Ican,thementalimpulses thatwillbegoingon,thathavebeengoingon
sinceIlearned the piece, thataregoing onthatweek before orthe day
before,andthatwillbegoingonduringtheconcert."WhatamIthinking
ofrightnow?"IfIstopconcentratingonthesethingsandstarttobeaware
ofextraneousthings,I'llintroducenervesthataretotallyunnecessary.If
I've builtinthisconcentration,Inever lose sight ofthatstructure fora
moment.(Noyle,1987,p.55)
Janina Fialkowska: Ifit's asolowork,usually Iallowmyself ayear. . . . I
learnthepieceinJuneandI'llprobablystartperformingitinSeptember
orOctoberofthesameyear,but insmallerplaces, usingthemasguinea
pigs. That doesn't mean that I'll give them the worst performance.It
meansthatIwillbelessnervous.Itwillmatureanddevelop,andthepiece
willreachitspeak, usually (thisisthe way ithas happened tome)the
62 CHAPTER3
followingMarch.Thatisthebestit'llbe,atthattime.Iwilldropitthenin
AprilorMay.AndifItakeitupthenextyear,it'llprobablybereallygood.
It'llbesolid. (Noyle,1987,pp.6465)
EmilGilels:WhenIamintop form, Iimaginethemusicinalmostaquasi-
fantasymanner.Butthen,whenIperformawork,eachtimeIalsoplayit
differently.Theideasarealwaysdifferent.SometimesIplaywithgreater
changes in the dynamics, sometimes with less... Imust say that it is
different eachtimeIplay,and itisaprocesswhichIwould say includes
themasteryofthework,knowingthedetail,being comfortablewithit,
andthenaddingthefantasy...whenIamnotfeelingverywell,Ihaveto
tryhardertogetalltheelementstogether.SometimesIevenhavetoforce
it.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.123)
LiliKraus: (Beforegoing onstage)IamsoexcitedthatIhavethefeelingof
beingsofaint,sohelpless, asiftheverycandleofmy lifeisgoingtosnuff
out.IfeelasifIcouldn't liftanarm,moveafinger,and asifI'dnever seen
apiano;itisasifI'mlostanddon'tknowwhattodo.ButwhenIwalkout
and see the friendly grin of those eighty-eight keys reassuring me,
invitingme,Ilovethem,andtheneverythingfallsintoplace.WheneverI
perform,myhappiness hangsonevery note...
Duringtheperformance,thispersonyouseebeforeyou,thisLiliKraus,
ceasestoexistasan individual.I existonlyinthe music Iproject to the
audience.Mymortalityiseclipsed.(Mach,1991,vol.1,pp. 151-152)
Garrick Ohlsson:AsI'mplaying,theonlywayIcoulddescribeitisthatI'm
aheadofmyself,butI'malsowithmyselfinthepresentandalsoalittlebit
behind myselfbecause these arethethreeevaluationpoints. Maybethe
chief oneismoving intothefuturewith yourmind,and ofcoursewith
yourbody,whichishowyouplaythepiano.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.186)
Iguess youcouldcallittakingmoreofapositivementalattitudethan
sheer courage,bravado,orcompetitiveness. Evenwhen I'mwalkingon
the stage to play, I try to think courageous thoughts. I think onlyof
smiling at the audience. What kind of feeling is it? I call it defensive
optimism.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.193)
Murray Perahia:Ilovethe playing, and most ofallIloveplaying apiece
manytimes.Ifeel thisisamostimportant attitude foranartisttohave,
becauseIfeelthattolearnapieceonedoesn'tsimplyplayitinone'shome;
onemustplayitinpublic.Thisisveryimportant,becauseuntilonehas
played the work in public, one doesn't know all ofthe nuances of the
piece.Playingthepieceinpublicbringsnewknowledgeofthemusic.One
canlearnit,onecansingthewords,onecanevenfeelit,butunlessonehas
sung thesongtosomebody, inthepresence ofpeople, onehasn'treally
experienced thesong. (Mach,1991,vol.2,p.215)
63 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIR EXPERIENCE
Ivo Pogorelich:Ibelievea composition canonlybe performedwell ifitis
entirelyyours;youknownotonlyeverynotefrommemory,butthenotes
havebecomeyou,andyouhavebecomethenotes.Thenthecomposition
isyours.Andthencomesthebeliefinyourself.(Mach,1991,vol.2,p.244)
Tams Vsry: (Interviewer: What do you think about as you play?) I
constantlyrevisewhatIthinkabout.NowadaysIcutoutmyconcentra-
tiononnotes.IfindthatifIconcentratetoomuchonwhatiscomingnext, I
willspoilthething.Butontheotherhand,Ineedtoknowtheworksowell
thatmyfingerscanplayitwithoutmythinkingormybraincanreproduce
itwithout myplaying.
Whenoneisplaying,themechanicalmovements ofthehandsand the
mentalworkofthememorygohandinhand.Sometimesyoudon'tknow
whichisoperating,sometimesboth,sometimesonlyone.
Itisdangerouswhenonlyeitherthehandsorthebrainisoperating.SoI
prefer thatbothfingers andbrainbesolidlythere.Thenifonegets tired,
you canreach to the other. Ofcourse, when both fingers and brain get
tired, you mayhaveamemorylapse.... IfIremaininahalf dreaming
state,Iknowwhatiscomingveryclearly.ButifIconcentratetoohardon
whatiscomingnext,Ihaveasortofmentalcramp.(Elder,1986,p.138)
CODA
Wenoted at the startofthis chapterthat reading thewords ofthe great
pianists may help us understand the soul ofthe artist.Problem-solving
strategies,techniques,andtricksofthetradeareinteresting,tobesure,but
sometimes a deeper kind of truth emerges from artists' disclosures to
interviewers. The most moving story in my collection was told byLili
Kraus.OnaconcerttourinIndonesia in1940,Krauswasarrested bythe
militarysecretpoliceandimprisonedonaphonychargeafter theJapanese
occupation of Djakarta. Deprived of her freedom, her family, and her
music, Kraus kept hope alive through constant mental rehearsal. She
recalled her imprisonment and its effects in an interview with Elyse
Mach(1991):
Atthebeginning,IguessIwasjusttoodazedtothinkorfeelanything.Inever
became used to the yelling and cries of pain that echoed through those
subterraneancells.Iwould sitwithmyhands overmyearstohelpshutout
thescreams.IimaginedthatDante'sInfernowasateapartycomparedtothis
place.... Ihadlittletimetothinkofmyself.Occasionally,though,Ididtake
along,wistfullookatmyhandsandwondered whatmightbecomeofthem.
Butthehands did not suffer. Onthecontrary,myhandsbecamesosuperb
becauseIdidtheforcedlaborafterbeingmovedtoaPOWcamp,althoughthe
64 CHAPTER 3
otherwomenintheprison offered, withsinceregenerosity,totakeovermy
duties.Obviously,Icouldn'tpossiblyacceptanysuchsacrificesontheirpart.
AslongasIwastherewiththemIfeltcompelledtodomyshare.... Inthis
particular prison, therewere no faucets and sothere wasn't any running
water.Aboutfortybucketshadtobepulledupinthemorning,fortyatnoon
and forty intheevening.Attheend ofmyfirst day ofdoingthis,my finger
jointsweresoswollenandsopainfulthatIcouldn'topenthefingers.Iwasas
frightened asIwas shocked. Butonlyfor amoment,becausethe thought
cameagainthat,ifIamgoingtoplaythe pianoagain,Iwill;and ifitisn't
meant to be, Iwon't! SoI worked on. And as a consequence, my hands
becamewonderfullystrong.
However,itwasn'tthemanualworkorpossibledamagetomyhandsthat
botheredmesomuch.Whatreallyatemeupwasthelongingformymusic
and my family. Icouldnever decidewhichanguishwasmore tormenting;
however,Iwasconsumedbythedesiretositdownatthepianoandplayand
play.Thislongingalmostdrovememad.SoIresorted toakindof"recall"
fromthesubconsciousrealizingthatIhadtomaterializeallthemusicwithin
methecompositionandtheprojectionsilently.Iworkedsohardatdoing
this that scores and technique, which seemed to have been buried many
fathoms deep,now appeared soreal,sopresent, that IknewthatifIwere
seatedbeforeapianoIcouldplaypiecesIhadn'tpracticedsincechildhood,
andindoingsodiscovernewwondersthatneverseemedsoapparentbefore.
Later,atanotherprison,when theJapanesebroughtinapianoatChrist-
mastime,Iwascommanded,notasked,toplayfortheotherprisoners.Itwas
asifacrystalsourcehadsprungupfromthesandoftheSaharabeforeaman
whohadspentdaysanddayswanderinginthedesert;Ijustpouredoverthat
pianoand,withoutanymusic,Iplayed onand onwithmywholeheart,in
painandjoy.Idon'teven remember howlong,butIdon'trecallrepeating
anypiece,nor do Iremembermakinganymistakeswhileplaying them.It
was asifIcould playanythingand everythingeverknown tomanwhat
merciful madness, (vol.1,pp. 149-150)
CREDITS
Excerpts from Modern Masters of the Keyboard, by Harriet Brower are reprintedwith
permissionbyAyerCompanyPublishers.
Excerptsfrom PianistsonPlaying:Interviews withTwelveConcertPianists,editedbyLinda
NoylearereprintedwithpermissionbyScarecrowPress.
Excerpts from How toMemorize Music, by James Francis Cooke are reprinted with
permissionbyTheodorePresserCompany.
Excerpts from Great Pianists Speak for Themselves,editedby ElyseMach are reprinted
withpermissionbyDoverPublications,Inc.
Excerptsfrom PianistsatPlay,byDeanElderTheInstrumentalistCo.,reprintedwith
permission. Subscribeto Clavier for 10issuesyearlyat $19($27for deliveryoutside the U.S.A.)by writingto200
Northfield Road,Northfield,Illinois;telephone847446-8550 (fax847.446.6262).
65 ARTISTS'ACCOUNTSOFTHEIREXPERIENCE
ENDNOTES
1.TheadditionalsourcesthatIconsultedinthissearchwere:
Badura-Skoda, P. (1993).Interpreting Bachat thekeyboard. Oxford:OxfordUniversity Press.
(Firstpublished inGerman, 1990,LaaberVerlag.)
Brendel,A.(1981). Tnds azenrl.[MusicalThoughts and Afterthoughts].(Translated to
HungarianbyDavidGabor).Budapest:Zenemukiado.Firstpublished inGreatBritain,
RobsonBooksLtd.
Brendel, A. (1990).Music sounded out,essays, lectures, interviews, afterthoughts. New York:
FarrarStrausGiroux.
Chasins, A.(1961).Speaking ofpianists.New York:Alfred A.Knopf.
Cooke,C.(1941),Playing thepianofor pleasure.New York:Simon&Schuster.
Cooke,J.F.(1925).Great men andfamous musicians,educational conferences on theart ofmusic.
Philadelphia: Theo.PresserCompany.
Cutting, L.K.(1997).Memory slips.New York: HarperCollins.
Ewen,D.(1949).Menandwomenwhomakemusic.New York:MerlinPress.
Friedrich, O. (1989). Glenn Gould: A life and variations.Toronto, Canada: Lester & Orpen
Dennys Limited.
Gerig,R.R.(1974).Famouspianistsandtheir technique.Washington: RobertB.Luce.
Gieseking,W.,&Leimer,K.(1972).Pianotechnique.New York:Dover.(Firstpublished asThe
Shortest WaytoPianisticPerfection, 1932,BrynMawr:Theo.Presser Company.)
Horowitz, J.(1982).Conversations withArrau.New York:Alfred A.Knopf.
Jacobson, R.(1974).Reverberations:Interviews withtheWorld's Leading Musicians. New York:
WilliamMorrow&Company.
Kaiser,J.(1971).Greatpianists ofourtime.New York:Herder &Herder.(TranslatedtoEnglish
byG.Allen.)GermanEdition,Munich:1965,Rutten&LoeningVerlagGmbH.
Lenz,W von. (1983).Thegreatpianovirtuosos of our time,aclassicaccount of studies withLiszt,
Chopin, Tausig & Henselt. London: Kahn & Averill, 1983. (First published in Ger-
man,1872.)
Lhevinne, J.(1972).Basicprinciples inpianoforte playing. New York:Dover Publications, Inc.
(Firstpublished 1924,Philadelphia: Theo.Presser Company.)
Mackinnon,L.(1938).Music byheart.London:OxfordUniversity Press.
Neuhaus, H. (1967).DieKunst desKlavierspiels [TheArtsofPianoPlaying].Kln:Musikverlage
HansGerig.
Parrott,J.,withAshkenazy,V.(1985).Beyondfrontiers. New York:JasperParrott.
Pasculescu-Florian,C.(1986).VocatieSiDestinDinuLipatti.[Talentand Destiny,DinuLipatti]
Bucuresti:EdituraMuzicala.
Rubinstein,A.(1973).Myyoungyears.New York:Alfred A.Knopf.
Sbrcea, G. (1984). ntlniri cu Muzicieni ai Secolului XX [Encounterswith Musicians of the
TwentiethCentury].Bucuresti:EdituraMuzicala.
Schonberg, H. C. (1963). Thegreat pianistsfrom Mozart to thepresent. New York: Simon &
Schuster.
Schonberg, H. C. (1988). The Virtuosi, classical music's legendary performers from Paganini to
Pavarotti.New York:VintageBooks.
Soarec,M. (1981). Prietenul Meu Dinu Lipatti [My Friend Dinu Lipatti].Bucuresti:Editura
Muzicala.
Sperantia,E.(1966).Medalioane Muzicale [MusicalPortraits].Bucuresti:EdituraMuzicalaa
Uniunii Compozitorilor.
Whiteside,A.(1955).Indispensables of pianoplaying.New York:Coleman-RossCompany.
Zilberquit,M.(1983).Russia'sgreatmodernpianists.Neptune: NJ:T.F.H.Publications,Inc.Ltd.
2.Solfge isasystemusedbysingerstoidentify thenotesofthescale.
F O U R
ExpertMemory
Roger Chaff in
Whyisitthatsomepeoplecanmemorizeand otherscannot?Iam
onewho cannot. Orisit,"Willnot"?Ihavetried.Ifthe musicissimple
enough,Icandoit.Buttheeffort issogreat,forsuchpaltryresults,thatit
doesnotseemworthit.Thismakesittemptingtothinkofmemoryability
asaspecial gift ortalent.Thehistory ofmusicisfilled with examplesof
extraordinaryfeatsofmemorythatseemtolendcredencetothisview.The
story of the young Mozartwriting out Allegri's Miserere from memory
aftertwohearingswasseen,atthetimeandeversince,asaconclusiveand
finalproofofhisgenius(Cooke,1917/1999).JorgeBolettellsofmemoriz-
ingLiszt'sMephisto Waltz inanhourandaquarter(Noyle,1987).Caseslike
these,andmanyothers,seemtosupportthewidelyheldideathatmusical
abilityisagift,giventothefew,whostandoutfromtherestofusbyvirtue
oftheirextraordinarynaturalendowment.
Thisexplanationflatters thosewhohavethe gift and letstherestofus
off thehook,relievingusoftheobligationtotry.Unfortunately,atleastin
theareaofmemory,talentistooeasyananswer.Likeanyotherability,the
ability to memorize is the product of a complex interaction between
biological endowment and experience (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 199;
Crawford &Chaffin, 1997;Simonton, 1999).Like any other ability, the
abilitytomemorizerequirespracticealotofpractice.Thoseofuswho do
66
67 EXPERTMEMORY
notmemorizehavesimplynotlearnedtheskillorwehavenotpracticedit
effectively.Thisistheconclusionofmorethanthreedecadesofresearchon
thenatureofextraordinarymemory(Ericsson&Smith,1991).
Mozart'sand Bolet'sfeats ofmemoryareastounding,but theyarenot
superhuman. Theyaretheentirelypredictableresultofyearsofintensive
trainingandexperience.Wecanallperformsimilarfeatsinareasinwhich
wearesimilarlyexperienced.Consider firstthespanofworkingmemory
thementalscratchpadthatholdsourcurrentthoughtsforthefewseconds
thatmakeup thesubjectivepresent.Forallofus,geniuses andjustplain
folk alike, the capacity of working memory is 72 (Miller, 1956). This
meansthatwhenweareaskedtoimmediatelyrepeatalistofitems,suchas
digitsorletters,mostofusareabletorecallbetweenfiveandnineitems.If
youhavenottestedyourselfbefore,tryitwiththefollowinglist.Readthe
letters over once and then close the book and repeat them to your-
self inorder.
H E Q F P M R D T B V A Z G I K D L F WR O X S
Youprobablymanagedsomethinglessthanseven.Thisisnormal.Nowtry
againwiththefollowinglist.
YOU ARE A N E X P E R T AT R E A D I N G
You do not even have to try it to know that you will remember allthe
letters.Why?Theanswer isobvious. Youcanread.Youare anexpertat
reading. You have stored in your long-term (as opposed to working)
memory somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 words that you can
immediately and automaticallyrecognize, pronounce, and understand
(Landauer &Dumais, 1997).
1
This makes itpossible for you toperform
feats of memory with strings of letters that would seem astounding to
someoneunfamiliarwith reading.
Whenweseeafamiliarword,werecognizeitasaunit,notasindividual
letters.Thisiscalledchunking.Theexistenceofafamiliar pattern inlong-
termmemory allows us torecognizethat pattern and treatitasa single
chunk of information. Each word can be a single chunk in working
memory.Becausethecapacityofworkingmemoryis72chunks,youcan
rememberalmostasmanywordsasletters.
2
Theabilitytochunkinforma-
tionallowsustorecallmuchmoreinformationinamemoryspantaskfor
familiarmaterialsthaninthesametaskwithunfamiliarmaterials.Itisnot
thatourworkingmemorycapacityhaschanged;itisstill72chunks.Itis
68 CHAPTER4
justthatweareabletohandleinformationinbiggerchunkswhenwehave
moreexperiencewithit.
Chess masters shown a chess board in the middle of a game for 5
seconds with20to30pieces stillinplaycanimmediately reproduce the
position ofthe pieces from memory.Novices,ofcourse,areabletoplace
only a few. Now take the same pieces and place them on the board
randomly and the difference ismuch reduced (Chase &Ericsson, 1982).
The expert's advantage is only for familiar patternsthose previously
stored in memory. Confronted with unfamiliar patterns, even when it
involvesthesamefamiliar domain,theexpert's advantage disappears.
The beneficial effects of familiar structure on memory have been
observed for many types of expertise, including music. People with
musicaltrainingcanreproduceshortsequencesofmusicalnotationmore
accuratelythanthosewithnomusicaltrainingwhennotesfollowconven-
tionaltonalsequences,buttheadvantageismuchreducedwhenthenotes
areordered randomly(Halpern&Bower,1982;Sloboda, 1985).Expertise
alsoimproves memory for sequences ofmovements. Experiencedballet
dancersareabletorepeatlongersequencesofstepsthanlessexperienced
dancers, and they can repeat a sequence of steps makingup a choreo-
graphed sequencebetterthanstepsordered randomly (Allard&Starkes,
1991).Ineachcase,memoryspanisincreasedbythe abilitytorecognize
familiar sequencesand patterns.
Committing informationto long-term memory is a different kind of
challengeforexpertandnovice.Becausenovicesmustworkwith smaller
chunks than experts, they have more to store. The task for experts is
simpler. Becausetheywork inlarger chunks, there isless tobe remem-
bered. Idonotmeantominimizetheexpert's accomplishmentweare,
after all, talking about things like young Mozart's ability to recall the
Misererebut thisiswhy memorizationforexpertsissooften effortless.
This is one reason that many of the pianists in chapter 3 report that
memorizationhappens automaticallyorunconsciously.Whenmemoriza-
tion occurswithout effort, itisbecause theexpertcanrecognizethatthe
musicislargelymadeupoffamiliarpatternsand familiarwaysofvarying
novel patterns.
Many people find this explanation ofmemory ability a little hard to
believe.Onewaytoconvincetheskepticmightbetotakesomeone with
normalmemoryabilitiesand follow theirprogress asatrainingprogram
turns them into an expert memorist. Thiswas the approach ofWilliam
ChaseandAndersEricsson(1981,1982),whoemployedacollegestudent,
identified onlyas"SF," tocomeintothelabregularlyoveraperiodof18
months and do digit-span tasks.Eachday, SFheard strings of numbers
that he had to repeat back from memory. With practice,the numberof
69 EXPERTMEMORY
digitshecouldrecallincreasedsteadily.Hebeganwithanormalworking
memoryspanof8digitsandendedup,after18months,withaspanof80
far outsidetheordinaryrange.
Thisisthekindofabilitythat,ifyou did notknowwhereitcamefrom,
wouldmakeyouthinkthatyouweredealingwithsomekindofgenius.Yet
SFwasnotagenius.Hejustworkedhardforalongtimeanddevelopeda
specificmemoryskill.SF'smemoryabilitieswerespecifictohisdomainof
expertise.Whenhewastestedwithletters,hisabilitieswereatthesame
normallevelthathismemoryfordigitshad beenatthebeginning ofthe
experiment.Likethechessexperts,SFhaddevelopedthespecificabilityhe
hadpracticed.
Howdidhedoit?SFstartedbybuildingonknowledgehealreadyhad.
Thetwokindsofnumberstringsthathewasmostfamiliarwithweredates
and running times. He was a runner and knew a lot about recordsfor
running different distances,soheorganizedstringsofdigitsintorunning
times and dates that he could recognize.Here ishis accountofhow he
recalledadigitstringstarting08033806321431(Ericsson&Oliver,1989):
I made the 803in the beginning a 2-mile. I put a zero onto it, so Ijust
remembered the803asa2-miletimethenthe380wasdifficult,very difficult,
toremember because itwasnotatime.Ihad toconcentrate especiallyhard,
then Imadesix-thirty-two amiletime,thenImadefourteen-thirty-one a3-
miletime....
Bychunkingthedigitsintomeaningfulsequencesinthisway,SFreduced
thenumberofdifferent thingshehad toremember.Heprovidedhimself
withasetofretrievalcuesthattoldhimwhattolookforinmemoryateach
step.Forexample,theretrievalcue"A2-miletime"remindedhimofthe
opening sequence"0803."
SFfurtherreducedthenumberofthingshehadtomemorizebyalways
usingthesameorganizationofdigitsintotimesanddates.Forexample,at
the point when he was able to recall about30digits, he would always
organize the digits into four 4-digitnumbers, followed by three 3-digit
numbers (seeFig.4.1).Thisretrievalschemereducestheamountofnew
information thathastobestoredstillfurther. Thememorytaskisnowto
recall four 4-digit running times followed by three 3-digit times in the
correct order.Thetask isreduced to storing seven chunksin long-term
memory.Duringtesting,afewadditionaldigitscouldusuallyberecalled
fromworkingmemorybringingthetotalmemoryspantoaround30.
Every expert memorizer uses some type of retrieval scheme. The
schemedoesnothavetobehierarchicallyorganized likeSF's.Onewaiter
who was abletotakelong, complexorderswithout writingthem down
70 CHAPTER4
FIG.4.1 TheRetrievalSchemeusedbySFforRecallingStringsofup to30RandomDigits(4
Groups of 4, 3Groups of 3, Plus the Contents of Working Memory). Adapted from "A
methodology forassessing the detailed structure ofmemory skills"by K.A.Ericsson and
W.L. Oliver, 1989, in A.M.Colley &J.R.Beech(Eds.),Acquisitionandperformance of cognitive
skills,p.201.Copyright 1989byJohnWiley&SonsLimited.Adapted with permission.
organized eachorder asamatrixofguests (inorder ofseating) and food
groups (starch,protein, vegetable; Ericsson &Poison, 1988). Rajan, the
memorist described inchapter 2whocouldrecallmorethan30,000digits
of the mathematicalconstant pi, also used a matrix organization.This
enabledhimtostartatanypointinthestringforexample,atthe20,000th
digitandlistthedigitsineitherforwardorbackwardorder(Thompson
etal.,1993).
Concertsoloists areskilled memorizers. Anymusician willrecognize
thatchunkingoccursthatnotescanbeorganized intofamiliar patterns
suchasscales,arpeggios, andharmonicprogressions. Dopianistsalsouse
elaborateretrievalschemesofthesortusedbySFand Rajan? Thepianists
in the previous chapter who insisted that memorizing "just happens"
seemtosuggest otherwise.
Clearly,memorizingforpianoperformanceisdifferent thanmemoriz-
ingdigits and dinner orders.Foronething, piano performanceinvolves
motor (procedural)memory in a way that memorizing digits or chess
boards doesnot. Motormemorydevelopsautomatically and, with prac-
tice, its functioning becomes largely unconscious (Kihlstrom, 1987).It
seemsperfectlyplausiblethatconcertpianistscouldrelyontheautomaticity
71 EXPERTMEMORY
of motor memory to sidestep the need for a highly practiced retrieval
scheme. The deliberate creation and practice of a retrieval scheme is
something that isnecessary forconceptual(ordeclarative)memory, but
maynotbenecessaryformotor(orprocedural)memory(Anderson,1983).
Thisseemstobewhatthepianistsinchapter3aresayingwhentheyreport,
like Andre-Michel Schub, that memory "just happens". Many of the
pianists seem to be saying that they do not make deliberate use of a
retrievalschemeinthewaythatSFand Rajan did.
However, three considerations suggest that these disclaimers arenot
thecompletestory.First,theformal structureofclassical(andmostother
forms of) music, with its divisions and subdivisions into movements,
sections,themes,andmotives,providesaready-madehierarchicalorgani-
zationofthesortthatSFhad tocreateforhimself(Snyder,2000).Evenifa
person didnotsetouttocreateanduseahierarchicalretrievalscheme,it
wouldberemarkableifahighlytrainedmusiciandidnotusethisstructure
toorganizehisorherunderstanding ofapiece.Second,some understand-
ing of the formal structure seems essential if a performer is to avoid
confusing thedifferent repetitionsofhighlysimilarthematicmaterialthat
formthebasisfortheformalstructureofanypiece.Itseemsthatthepianist
must somehow keeptrackofthecurrentlocationinthe formal structure
whileplayingtodistinguishonerepetitionofathemefromanother.Third,
almost all of the pianists in chapter 3 admit to knowing the formal
structure, ifnot to memorizing it. Theyacknowledge the importanceof
analytical memory or of knowing the architecture, musical form, or
harmonicstructure.
In the chapters that follow, we seemany indications that the formal
structurewasimportantinGabriela'spractice.Inchapter9,wearguethat
itprovided theframework foraretrievalschememuchlikethatused by
SF.Despitethehuge differences between memorizing strings ofrandom
digitsand stringsofnotesatthekeyboard,themnemonicstrategies used
byGabrielaandSFhadimportantsimilarities.Bothusedahighlypracticed
hierarchical organization toretrieve chunksstoredinlong-term memory
inaparticularorder.
Theretrievalcues that apianist uses we have called performance cues
because the pianist thinks about them during performance (Chaffin &
Imreh,1997,2001inpress).Theideathatwhattheperformerthinksabout
during a performanceare retrieval cues helps us to better understand
Gabriela's conversation with Harald Wagner in Stuttgart described in
chapter 3.The suggestion was that a performermust practice thinking
aboutthe"artistic andinspirationalelements"ofapieceuntilthethought
of theseexpressivegoalsforthepiecebecomeasautomaticasthe motor
activityofthehands. Theperformer has tolearntousethe inspirational
72 CHAPTER4
elementsasretrievalcues,butthiscannotbejustswitchedonand off;ithas
tobepracticeduntilitbecomesautomatic.ThisisthelessonthatChaseand
EricssondrewfromthestudyofSF.Aparticularretrievalorganization has
tobepracticedoverandoveruntilitsuseisentirelyautomatic.Thisallows
thelimitedresourcesofworkingmemorytobedevotedtotheneedsofthe
moment,formingdigitsintochunksinSF'scase,attending tothe ongoing
performance in the caseofa pianist. With sufficient practice, retrieving
informationfromlong-termmemorybecomessoautomaticthatitrequires
minimalattention from theperformer.
Thistranslation ofthe idea ofautomaticallyfunctioningmemory cues
intotherealmofcreativeperformanceadds anewwrinkletoChaseand
Ericsson'saccount. How isapianist to retain the creativefreshness and
sparklethatisthehallmarkofagreatperformancewhenthepiecehasbeen
played over and over again to achieve the necessary automaticity?The
solution is to select as retrieval cues the interpretive and expressive
featuresofthemusicthattheperformerwantstobringtotheattentionof
theaudience.Thegoalofpracticeinthefinalweeksbeforeaperformanceis
to make sure that it is these features that come to mind automatically
during theperformance,notthedifficulties and troublespots. Itmustbe
thepianist'sexpressiveandinterpretivegoalsthatserveasretrievalcues,
notthe problems.
This calls for a reorganization of the upper levels of the retrieval
hierarchyduringthefinalpolishingforperformancesothatitisthehigher
level musicalgoals that the pianist thinks of.Any remaining difficulties
havetoberechunked and given aninterpretive gloss. Interpretive deci-
sions arerecastinterms oftheir larger,expressiveeffects, e.g.,a sudden
"forte" becomes"surprise".Thepianistpractices whilethinkingofthese
expressivegoalssothattheycometomindduringtheperformancetoact
asretrievalcues,elicitingthefinelytunedmotorresponses.Onlywhenthe
expressive cueshavebecome automaticcanthe pianist hope toachieve
thattrancelikestateinwhichtheworriesandproblemsofthepiecerecede
intothebackgroundandattentionisfocusedentirelyonthemusicandthe
emotions itconveys.Atthispoint,thepianist is(ideally)ableto perform
while thinking about the piece entirely in terms of the higher level
expressive goals.This kind ofreorganizationofthinking about ataskto
focus on high-level goals isanormal feature ofthe development of any
highlyskilledactivity (Wegner&Vallacher, 1986).
Unpackingthis accountofthe roleofretrievalcuesinperformanceis
oneofthemainthemesofthechaptersthatfollow.Wereturntotheideaof
performancecuesinmoredetailinchapters7and8,wherewelookattheir
development over the course oflearning anew piece, and in chapter 9
wherewefocusontheirrolein memorization.
73 EXPERTMEMORY
ENDNOTES
1.The everyday term memory refers to long-term memories. These memories last
anywhere from minutes to decades and their number isvast. Long-term memoryis
distinguishedfromworkingmemory,thementalscratchpad,whichlastsforonlyafew
secondsandhasalimitedcapacity(72).Onewaytothinkoftherelationshipbetween
the two kinds ofmemoryisthatthecontents oflong-termmemorythatarecurrently
activatedareinworkingmemory.
2.Becausethereisasmallcostforchunksthattakelongertopronounce, thecapacity
of workingmemoryisslightly smallerforwords thanletters(Baddeley,Thompson&
Buchanan1975).
F I V E
TheWayto CarnegieHall
Roger Chaffin
Aevery musician knows, the way to get to Carnegie Hall is to
practice.Whatsurprisesmostpeopleisjusthowmuchpracticeisneeded.
Thetrainingofaprofessionalmusicianrequiresmorethan10,000hoursof
music practice and aminimum of10yearsbeforetheyoung musician is
ready to begin a career (Ericsson,Krampe, & Tesch-Rmer, 1993). In
LaurenSosniak'sstudyofagroup ofAmericanpianistswhohad reached
the finals of one or more major international piano competitions, the
averagenumberofyearsofmusicaltrainingwas 17andranged from 12to
25 (Sosniak, 1985). For composers, the preparation is generally even
longer20 years from first exposure to music until their first notable
composition (Hayes,1981; Simonton,1991).Inmusic,asinotherfields,a
minimum of10yearsofdedicated and intensive practiceand preparation
isneeded toachieveeminence.
1
Ithas been one ofthe goals ofpsychology, since its earliest days, to
understand thenatureofextraordinarytalent.Thequestionisimportant
becauseofthesignificanceoftalenttosocietyandbecausethequestionof
whereitcomesfrom hasprovidedaprovinggroundforargumentsabout
thecontributionofnatureandnurturetohuman development (Simonton,
1999).FrancisGalton,whofirstframedthisdebate,believedthattalenthas
an important biological component, as the title of his book Hereditary
74
75 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
Genius(Galton,1979/1869)suggests, and thisbeliefisstillwidely shared
today.Agreatdealofscientific effort has beenexpended in the effort to
identify the geneticallybased traitsand abilitiesofwhich talent iscom-
posed and many likely candidates have been identified (e.g., Coon&
Carey, 1989).Success in predicting outstanding achievement from such
componentshas,however,beenrelativelymeager(Simonton,1999,2001;
Winner,1996a).Thejuryisstilloutontheissue.Itmaywellbethatthelack
ofsuccesshasbeenduetoanoverlysimplisticviewofhowtraitscombine
toproduceextraordinarytalent(Simonton,1999),butitremainstobeseen
whethermoresophisticatedapproacheswillultimatelyprovesuccessfulin
demonstrating the biological basis for talent that most people take
forgranted.
One response topsychologists' lackofsuccessin predicting achieve-
ment from themeasurement oftraitsand abilitieshasbeen tolookmore
closelyatthe contributionofthe environment.Thisworkhasconfirmed
Galton's initial analysis that, whatever the role of inherited ability,a
capacity forhard work and themotivationtoworktoward aparticular
goal are also prerequisites of outstanding achievement (Ericsson,1996;
Ericsson &Lehmann, 1996;Howe, Davidson, &Sloboda, 1998).Particu-
larlycrucialisthe roleofwhatAndersEricssonand hiscolleagueshave
called deliberate practice (Ericsson&Charness,1994;Ericssonet al, 1993).
Althoughthewillingnessofsomeindividualstodevotetheirearlyyearsto
sustained practiceremainstobefully explained,therecanbelittledoubt
thatextended,deliberatepracticeisessentialtooutstandingachievement.
In every area of human achievement that has been examined, the
biographiesofthosewhohaveattainedeminenceindicatethataminimum
of 10years of intensive practicepreceded the achievements that made
themfamous(Ericssonetal.,1993;Ericsson&Charness,1994;Howe,1990;
Sloboda, 1996). This is true for fields like running that call mainly for
physicalskills,forfieldslikechessandmentalcalculationthatdepend on
intellectualskills(Staszewski,1988),and for fields likemusicalperform-
ance(Ericssonetal.,1993;Sosniak,1985),ballet,and figureskating(Allard
& Starkes, 1991) that require a combination of both. Ten years is a
minimum,exceededonlyinaverysmallnumberofcases,andthenbyonly
ayearortwo.Forthemajorityofthesmallnumberofpeoplewhoachieve
eminence,thepathislongerandoften muchlonger.
This 10-yearruleapplies eventochildprodigies, although the myths
thatsurroundtheirearlyyearsoftensuggestotherwisethattheirabilities
appearedsuddenly infully developed form (Ericsson&Charness, 1994).
EvenMozart,theparagonofchildhoodgenius,neededmorethan10years
todevelopthemusicalskillsthatearnedhimhisenduringreputation.His
earlycompositionswouldneverhaveearnedhimthisacclaim.Theyare
76 CHAPTER5
remarkableforayoungchild,buthisfirstworktoclearlystandonitsown
asamasterworkwasnotcomposed untilhewas17,bywhichtimehehad
alreadybeencomposingfor13years(Schonberg,1970;citedinHayes,1981).
2
Even musical savantspeople whose musicalabilities contrast strik-
ingly with their generally low level of functioningrequireextensive
practice.Theirabilitiesoften appeartoemergesuddenlyandwithoutthe
opportunity for practice.When studied more closely,however, savants
turnouttohaveput inyearsofdedicatedpracticejustlikeotherpeople.It
isjustthatinthecaseofsavantsrecognitionoftheirskillsisoften delayed
andhappenssuddenly (Ericsson&Faivre,1988;Howe, 1990,1996;Sloboda,
Hermelin, &O'Connor, 1985).Prodigies and savants mayprogress with
extraordinaryspeed,but eventhese specialcasesput inyearsofpractice.
Therearenowell-documented exceptions totheprinciple that "practice
makesperfect."
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Not onlydoesthe development ofmusicalskillrequirepractice,but the
levelofskillattainedisdirectlyrelatedtotheamountofpractice.Themore
the practice, the greater the achievement. This was the conclusion ofa
series ofstudies by Ericssonand colleagues (1993).Theyobtained retro-
spectivereportsoftheamountofpracticeduringeachyearfrom childhood
tothepresent from pianistsand violinistsrepresenting different levelsof
achievement: successful professional musicians, conservatory students
nominated as having the potential for careers as international soloists,
other student musicians, future music teachers,and accomplished ama-
teurs.Thelevelofaccomplishment was clearly related to the amountof
practice. By age 18, the professionals and conservatory students had
accumulatedapproximately7,000hoursofpractice,thestudentmusicians
5,000hours, future musicteachers3,000hours,and amateurs1,000hours.
Thisisnottosaythatachievementisuniquelydetermined bytheamount
ofpractice.Itisalmostcertainlynotthecasethatanyonewhoputsinthe
requirednumberofhourswouldachievethesamehighlevelofskill.More
accomplished musiciansmaypracticemorebecause their abilitiesmake
practicemorerewardingorbecausetheyaremoremotivated.Therelation-
shipbetweenpracticeandachievementsimplysuggeststhatpracticeisan
important,probablyessential,partoftheroadtohighachievement.
Thesameconclusionissupported byastudyofstudent practiceatthe
high school level by John Sloboda and colleagues (Sloboda, Davidson,
Howe,&Moore,1996).Theycomparedagroupofelitestudentsenrolledin
aselective,specialisthighschoolformusicwithfourothergroupsmatched
77 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
inageandsex.(Thegroupnamesthatfollowareours.)Theapplicant group
was comprised ofunsuccessful applicants for aplace at the school. The
interested group included young musicians whose parents had inquired
aboutapplyingtotheschool,butwhohadnotcompleted an application.
Thenonspecialist groupwerestudentstakingmusiclessonsatacomparable
nonspecialist school. The unsuccessful group were children at the same
nonspecialist schoolwhohad stopped takingmusiclessons. Thestudents
and at least one parent were interviewed about how much time the
students devoted tofourkindsofactivity(formalpractice,improvisation,
playingthroughpreviouslylearned pieces,and"messingabout") during
each year. In addition, a subset of children in the elite, interested, and
nonspecialistgroupskeptdiariesoftheirpracticefor9months.
Themore accomplished musicianspracticed more.Theelite students
started out practicing 30minutes a day on their primary instrument,
whereastheothersstartedoutat20minutes.Bytheirfourthyearofstudy,
theelitestudents weredoinganhour and ahalf aday,theapplicant and
interested groups were doing 30 minutes, and the nonspecialist and
unsuccessful students had neverincreased theirpracticetime.Byage13,
theelitegroup had accumulatedanaverageof2,500hoursofpractice.By
comparison, the applicant, interested, nonspecialist, and unsuccessful
groupshadaveraged56%,56%,31%,and 17%ofthisnumber,respectively.
Whenprogress wasmeasuredbysuccessontheAssociatedBoardexams
(anationalsystemofstandardized musicexams),the five groups showed
similar differences. Theystarted outtogetherand rapidlydiverged, with
theelitestudentsprogressingthroughthegradelevelsfasterthantheother
groupsandtheunsuccessfulstudentsnotprogressing atall.
Asin the Ericssonet al. (1993) study, amount ofpracticewas clearly
linkedtolevelofachievement.Moreover,itseemed thatitwashardwork
and themotivationtodoitthatmadethe difference. First,theamountof
practicerequiredtopasseachgradeleveloftheAssociatedBoardwasthe
samefor the elite students as forthe other groups. Ifanything, the elite
students put in more time. Soit was not a matter of talented students
breezing through the examson the basis ofnatural ability alone.What
were the elite students doing differently? Itwas deliberate practice that
made the difference, not the other kinds of more informal (and less
arduous)practice.Theelitestudents did nomoreinformal practicethan
the three other groups of successful musicians. Moreover, deliberate
practice was hard work for the elite students as much as for the other
groups. It was not a matter of practice coming more easily to them.
Studentsinallgroupspracticedmorewhentheyweretakinglessonsand
less during vacations. Tellingly, the largest decrease during holidays
occurredintheelitegroupfortechnicalpractice(scalesandexercises),the
78 CHAPTER5
most arduouskind ofpractice. This strongly suggeststhat the achieve-
mentsoftheelitestudentswereaproductofhardwork.
Onceapersonhasputinthe10,000ormorehoursofpracticeneeded to
acquire the skills of a concert pianist, still more practice is needed to
maintain those skills.Therelationship between amount ofpractice and
level ofskillcontinuestohold,even forprofessional pianists,and even
after alifetimeofplaying(Krampe&Ericsson,1996).Oneplacewherewe
canseetheeffectsofcontinuedpracticeisinthemanystrikingexamplesof
prominent musicianswho continue their professional careerswell past
normal retirement ageArtur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, and
SviatoslavRichtertonamejustthree.Arethesemusicians immunetothe
normaleffectsofaging?No!Theysufferthesamegeneraldeclineinmental
and motorfunctioninginoldageaseverybodyelse(Krampe&Ericsson,
1996;Krampe,1997).Itisjustthatskillsthatarecontinuallyexercisedare
largely preserved from the effects of aging. Age-related declines in job
performance appear to be negligible in every kind ofoccupation, even
thoselikesimultaneoustranslationandmusicalperformancethatrequire
rapidresponseandcomplexcognitiveskills,solongastheskillcontinues
tobeexercised(Krampe,1997).
RalfKrampeandAndersEricsson(1996)lookedatage-relatedchanges
inmusical and nonmusical skillsinprofessionalpianists.They obtained
retrospectivereportsoftheamountofpracticeduringeachyearanddiary
reportsofcurrentpracticefrom twogroupsofexpertpianists,profession-
alsintheir60sand studentsintheir20s,and from twogroupsofamateur
pianistsmatchedinagewiththeexperts.Aswewouldexpect,theexperts
practiced far more than the amateurs. The novel result was that the
difference continuedintooldage.Theexperts'practicepeakedatage25at
justover30hoursaweekandthendecreasedgraduallyovertheyearsto
justover10hoursaweekbyage60.Fortheamateurs,practiceremained
constantacrossthelifespanatlessthan3hoursaweek.Thedifferences in
accumulated practicetime for the groups were striking: close to60,000
hoursfortheolderexperts,20,000hoursfortheyoungerexperts,10,000for
theolderamateurs,and 2,000hoursfortheyoungeramateurs.
It seems thatthe older expertpianistswere doing just the amountof
practice needed to maintain their high level of skill. Although they
practiced less thantheyounger experts,theyworked moreand had less
leisuretime.Theirpracticetimewascarvedoutfromtheotherdemandsof
abusyscheduleasaprofessionalmusician.Whenthegroupsweretested
on laboratorytasks (somemusic related, others not),both experts and
amateursshowed theusual age-related declines inabilitiesunrelated to
music.Incontrast,music-related abilities only declined intheamateurs.
Fortheexperts,music-relatedabilitiesshowed nodeclinewithage.Even
79 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
more striking, among the older experts, those who practiced moreper-
formedbetteronthemusicalabilitytasks.Evenafter alifetimeofplaying,
abilitywasstillinfluenced bytheamount ofpractice.
In summary, the development and maintenance of musical skills re-
quirespractice,alotofpractice.Toreachthefinalsofinternational piano
competitions, young pianists must practice regularly from childhood,
increasingly dedicating their lives to music.Estimatesofthe amountof
practice required forhigh achievement are remarkablyuniformabout
2,500hoursbyage13,6,500byage17,and approaching 10,000byage21.
Thosewhopracticelessachieveless.Thisistrueforstudents, anditistrue
forprofessionalsevenafter alifetimeofperformingand dedicationtomusic.
THENATUREOFEFFECTIVEPRACTICE
Practice Must Be Deliberate
Are some ways of spending practice time more effective than others?
Common sense suggests that theanswer tothis question mustbe"Yes."
Theexistenceofthrongsofavidamateurmusicians,golfers,joggers,tennis
players, swimmers, and soon istestimony to the fact thatjust messing
aroundisnotenough.Eventherepeatedexerciseofaskillforprofessional
purposes does not necessarily lead to improvement. An early studyof
MorseCodeoperators showed thatoperatorsgenerallyreachedaplateau
inspeed oftransmissionandonlyimprovedbeyondthispointwhen they
were motivated to make a deliberate effort to do so by the offer of a
promotion or pay raise (Bryan &Harter, 1899).Improvement requires
deliberatepractice(Ericssonetal.,1993).
JohnBrowningsaysofpracticeinchapter3that,"Itishard work.Itis
likedishwashing. Itisnotfun" (Noyle,1987,p.30).Whether theyloveto
practice,likeClaudioArrau,or onlypracticewhen necessary, likeJorge
Bolet,noneofthepianistsinchapter3disputesthatpracticeishardwork.
ThisiswhyBellaDavidovich,alongwithseveralotherpianistsinchapter
3,preferstopracticeinthemorningandlimitsherselfto1-hourperiodsof
practiceseparatedbybreaks(seealsoEricssonetal.,1993).Therewardsof
practiceareinthefuturethe additionofanewpiecetotherepertoireor
anincreasedproficiency.Thegoalisimprovement,whichrequiresexperi-
mentation and trialand error.New and better ways ofdoing the same
thing havetobediscovered. Assoon asaproblem issolved, itistimeto
move onto something else (Ericsson,1997).This requires a self-critical
stanceandisprobablywhyLeonFleisher,inchapter3,described mindless
practiceas"dangerous"(Noyle,1987,p.95).
80 CHAPTER5
Therelationship between effort andimprovementwasevidentinJohn
Sloboda's study ofstudent musicians. Itwas the time spent in deliber-
ate practice that distinguished elite students from the interested and
nonspecialist students, not the time spent in messing about, playing
favorite tunes,or improvising (Slobodaet al., 1996).Moreover,the elite
students devoted alargerproportionoftheirdeliberatepracticetoscales
and technical exercises, the most arduous kind of practice, than the
nonspecialiststudents.Theelitegroupmemberswerealsomoreregularin
theirpracticeespeciallyofscales.Theyalsodidahigherproportionoftheir
scalesinthemorning,while theothertwogroups did morescalesinthe
evening.IfBellaDavidovichisrightthatpracticeismoreeffective in the
morning (see chap. 3)thiswould mean that the elite students were
devoting more prime practice time to the most demanding form of
practice.
PracticingIsaSkill
The ability to practice effectively is a skill that develops with training
(Gruson, 1988; Hallam, 1994, 1997a, 1997b).Misha Dichter remarked in
chapter3,hecouldhave"savedthousandsofhours"ofpracticeifhe had
knownasastudenttheshortcutsthatheknowsnow(Noyle,1987,p.57).
Sozniak's (1985) pianists reported that theirteachers gave themexplicit
instructionabouthowtopractice."Shewouldveryclearlyoutlinepractice
methods....Shewouldwriteitdowninabook"(p.50).Whenthepianists
beganstudyingwithamasterteacherbetween the agesof12and 19,the
teachercontinuedtoexerciseadecisiveinfluenceonpracticeby assigning
workandsettingstandards.Thesemasterteachers"assignedanenormous
amountofmaterialandtheyexpectedittobelearnedtothehighstandard
theyset." Practicewasshapedbytheneedtomeettheteacher'sexpecta-
tions. "You played a concert,you didn't play a lesson. Youwalked in
prepared to play a performance.... Youwould get torn apart for an
hour"(p.63).
Ifpracticingeffectively isaskill,thenitseemslikelythatsomepeople
willbebetteratitthanothers.Thisissuggestedbythelargedifferencesin
the amount of practice reported by the elite pianists in Sloboda and
Sosniak's studies. In the Sloboda et al. (1996) study, there were large
differences withineachgroupintheamountofpracticereported.Among
theelite students, therewas "a smallhandful ofoutlierswho dovastly
greater amounts ofpracticethan anyone else"(p.301), and there wasa
handful ofstudentsineachgroupwho managedonverylittlepractice
less than 20% of the group average. At each grade level, there were
students in each group who passed the exam with one fifth as much
81 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
practiceastheotherstudents, andtherewereotherswhodidfourtimesas
much practice.Similarly, there were large differences in the amountof
practicereported bythepianists inSozniak's (1985)study.Intheir early
years,somespenteveryfreeminuteatthepiano,whereasotherspracticed
aslittleaspossible (althoughwith practiceenforcedbyparents this was
stillasubstantialamount).Asthepianistsbecamemoreseriousabouttheir
practiceintheirmiddle years, thedifferences narrowed, but still ranged
from 2to4hoursaday.Thesedifferences inthepracticetimeneeded to
achievethesamelevelofskillmayhavebeenduetodifferences inability,
but theycouldequallywellhavebeen due todifferences inthe effective-
nessofpracticeorboth.
Does practice change and become more effective with training? One
waytoanswerthisquestionistocomparestudentswithdifferent levelsof
experience to seehow practicechanges.Thiswas done in an ambitious
study by Linda Gruson (1988) of 40pianists who each practiced three
different piecesrepresenting different musicalstyles.Thepianists repre-
sented the complete range of levels in the Canadian system of graded
exams formusic students aswell as three concertpianists. Each pianist
audiotaped apracticesession (inwhich theyworked on allthree of the
pieces for the first time) and were interviewed about their practice.In
addition, 12ofthe students, representing three different levelsofexperi-
ence, recorded an additional nine sessions ofpractice.Twenty different
behaviors were recorded, including repetitions of practice segmentsof
differentlengths(note,bar,section,andpiece),commentsofvariouskinds,
andtotalpracticetime.
Therewerecleardifferences inpracticeasafunction ofexperience.The
biggest was that more experienced pianistsworked inlarger units and
seemed tobethinkingmoreintermsofthepieceasawhole.Whenthey
madeanerrororencounteredaproblem,lessexperiencedpianists tended
to repeat the note in question. More experienced pianists, on the other
hand, weremore likelytorepeat sections.Theyalsoplayed through the
entire piece more. A second difference was that the more experienced
pianistsworkedharder.Theypausedlessfrequentlyandpracticedlonger.
The third major effect ofexperience was on students' understanding of
theirownpracticeandwhattheyweretryingtoachieve.Moreexperienced
studentsmademoreself-guidingcommentsduringpractice(e.g.,"Imade
amistake,I'd bettertryagain"). Intheinterviews, themoreexperienced
studentsmentionedmoredifferent strategiesanddescribedtheminmore
abstractways (e.g.,"Igetafeel forthepiece"ratherthan "Iworkonthe
fingering"or"Iplayeachpiecethreetimes").Thesedifferencesallpointto
the conclusion that the ability to practice develops with experience.
Effective practiceisaskillthathastobelearned.
82 CHAPTER5
StudyingExpertPractice
One way to identify characteristicsofeffective practiceisto observe the
practiceofprofessionalmusicians.Therearenotmanystudiesofthissort.
Despite the current fashion for taking the audience behind the scenes
(chap.3),performersareoften reluctanttobetooforthcomingabouthow
their art iscreated. Revealingthe hard work that goes into preparing a
performanceisinconsistentwiththeillusionofeffortlessness andsponta-
neity that isan important part ofthe artists' mystique. Besides, profes-
sionalmusicians havebusyschedules.Practice timeisprecious. Concen-
tration is important and distractions can be ill-afforded. For all these
reasons, most professional musicians are reluctant to reveal too much
about their practice.Nevertheless, some investigators have been ableto
persuade themtotalkabouthowtheypractice(e.g.,Aiello,1999;Hallam,
1995a,1995b).
Interviews With Professionals. In the most wide-ranging study of
professionalmusicians'practicehabits,SueHallam(1995a,1995b, 1997a)
interviewed 22musiciansselected fortheirreputationamongtheir fellow
musicians in London for their technical and musical excellence.They
represented a wide range of experience, musical activities (solo work,
chambermusic,orchestralplaying,conducting,andteaching),andinstru-
ments (allthe major orchestral instruments as well as the organ and
conducting).Notsurprisingly,allthemusiciansdemonstrated ahighlevel
of skillintheirpracticeand akeenawareness oftheir own strengths and
weaknesses. All described awide range ofpracticestrategies that they
applied flexibly according tothe needsofthe moment, deliberately and
strategicallymanagingtheirownlearning,practice,motivation, andemo-
tionalstate.
Eachmusicianwasshownascorethatwasnewtoherorhimand asked
abouttheactivitiessheorhewould undertaketolearnit(Hallam,1995a).
Musicians differed in how analyticallythey approached the music and
whether they took a holistic or piecemeal approach.Three quarters re-
portedconsistentlyusingananalyticstrategyoffirstgettinganideaofthe
structure, tempo, and technical problems in an initial overview, either
playing it through or examining the score.Only onemusician reported
consistently using the oppositeintuitiveapproachofstarting right in
withoutanoverview,workingthroughthemusicbitbybit,andallowing
theoverall picture toemerge gradually.Mostofthemusicians whoused
theintuitivestrategydidsoaspartofamixedapproach,sometimesrelying
ononestrategy,sometimes theother.
83 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
Thosewho alwaysstarted outwith anoverview continued totakean
analytic, problem-solving approach to working out the thematic and
harmonicstructure.
Youspendmostofyourtimedelvingintothereasonsofi t . . . . Ifind Ispend
far moretimeindealingwithconstructionandanalysisandIlearnquitealot
ofmyworkswithoutactuallyplayingthem.(p.120)
Thosewho always orsometimes skipped the initial overview tended to
takeamoreintuitiveapproachnotthinkingtoodeeplyabout form and
structure,but lettingthepiecegradually emerge without toomuchcon-
scious intervention.
Iliketothinkthatthemusicalaspectswilltakecareofthemselvestowards
theend ofyourpracticeschedule,(p.120)
Musicalinterpretationisnotconsciouslyplannedandisprobablylearned
subconsciouslyaspracticecontinues,becausewhenitcomestoperformance
itactuallyhasbeenprettycarefully workedout.Verylittleisleft tothelast
minute,(p.120)
Thetwo different learningstyleswerealsoapparentinthe musicians'
approachtotechnicaldifficulties. Approximatelyhalf themusiciansused
anintuitive approach, repeating passages atgraduallyincreasing tempi.
Anotherquarteradoptedamoreanalyticapproach,changingrhythmsand
slurs,inventingexercises,andavoidingsimplerepetition.Theremaining
quarterused amixtureofthetwoapproaches (Hallam,1997a).
The same differences in learning style appeared in the musicians'
approachestointerpretation.Themoreintuitivemusicians(N=7)allowed
theirinterpretationtoevolveunconsciouslyandintuitively.Theyavoided
deliberateanalysisand planningand avoided listeningtorecordingsof
workstheywerelearning.Incontrast,themoreanalyticmusicians (N=2)
relied on deliberate, conscious analysis of the piece that began before
starting physical practice. They made comparisons with other music,
including recordings ofthe piece they were learning and made connec-
tions with disparate musical ideas. They saw themselves as trying to
discover the underlying meaning ofthemusic.Thosewho tookamixed
approach(N=10)adoptedthetwoapproachesinterchangeably, although
usuallywithaclearpreferenceforoneortheother.
Whenmemorizingawork,mostmusiciansused acombination ofthe
twoapproaches.Manyreported,likemanyofthepianistsinchapter3,that
memorization often occurred automatically, without deliberate effort,
duringtheprocessoflearningtoplayanewpieceanintuitiveapproach
84 CHAPTER5
(Hallam,1997a).Whenadditionalpracticewasneeded,twothirdscontin-
uedtouseanintuitivestrategy,first repeatingshort sectionswithout the
music and then linking them together into larger units until the whole
piececouldbeplayed from memory.Half ofthemusiciansalsoreported
that when they were ready to memorize they would use an analytic
strategyofcognitiveanalysistoprovide aconceptualframework fortheir
memory.Atthisstage,onemusicianreported takingthescoretobedfor
severalnightstoreadthroughbefore falling asleep.
The conceptual frameworks used by these musicians included har-
monicstructure,keychanges,lengthofrests,difficult exitpoints, and the
like.Theconductorreported relyingentirelyoncognitiveanalysis,using
repetitiononlyto"screwitdown"afterithadbeenmemorized.Helikened
hisanalysistoseeingabuilding goup:
Youseethesquareswithnothingelse.Butthenthey'regoingtobe divided
intothreeparts,oranothersquareperhapsleftasitisbecauseit'sabigroom
... ascoreisliket hat . . . there's acertainsquarethere,youareinacertain
section ... and then acertainwaythroughthisthetrumpetsand timpani
actuallyhavesomethingtoplay... anditneverletsyoudown.Youalways
know.(Hallam,1997a,p.91)
In addition to conceptual memory, the musicians reported using a
combination of aural, motor (kinesthetic), and visual memories, with
individualsdifferingintheimportanceofeachtype.Agoodauralmemory
allowed one musician to play from memoryby busking(improvising).
Others reported strong visualmemories, sometimes seeing actualnotes
andatothertimesseeingwithlessdetail:
You need to know whereabouts it ison the page in your mind's eye ...
according to which entry it is... It helps me tremendously. (Hallam,
1997a,p.92)
Other musicians reported relying more on motor memoryparticularly
onceapassagewasbegun:
Onceyouareintoamovingpassage ... thentheeartendstotakeover,the
fingers,themovement,yougetintotheswingofplayingthepassagesothat
thereisnotime,noneedforvisualizingpositions,orcountingmathematical
number,themusicsimplyflows.(Hallam,1997a,p.93)
Hallam'sinterviewsindicatethatexpertmusicianshaveawiderangeof
practicestrategiesavailablethattheyuseflexibly toaddresseveryaspect
85 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
of the task in front ofthem: learning new repertoire, maintaining skills,
preparing for performance, and managing the physical and emotional
demandsoftheirchallengingcareers.Itwouldbeimportant,ifpossible,to
verify these conclusions by directly observing the practiceof at least a
smallnumber ofexpertmusicians.
Flexible Use of Practice Strategies. To find out more directly how
expertmusiciansdeploytheir repertoireofpracticestrategiesinpractice,
SiwNielsen(1997,2000)observed thepracticeoftwo organistsstudents
intheirthirdyearatthe NorwegianStateAcademyofMusic.Theywere
eachvideotaped duringapracticesession astheyworkedonpiecesthey
werepreparingforrecital.Astheypracticed,theyreportedwhattheywere
thinkingabout.Attheendofthesession,theywatchedthetapeand further
describedtheirproblem-solvingactivities.
Bothorganistsusedavarietyofpracticestrategieswithgreatflexibility.
Forexample,theyfocused onnewpatternsastheywereintroducedinthe
piece, separating them out for practice and then merging them with
precedingpatterns.Foreachnewpattern,theydecided whethertobegin
byplayingthetwohandsandthepedalpartsseparatelyandwhetherto
playuptoorbelowtempo.Astheypracticed,theyevaluatedtheirplaying,
selectingweakspotsforadditionalwork,buildingtowardlargerunitsand
towardperformancetempo.Thismaybeprettystandard stuff forexperi-
encedmusicians,butitisdifferent fromwhatbeginnersdo(Hallam,1994).
Itprovides someconfirmation that skilledmusiciansreallydoengagein
theflexibleuseofpracticestrategiesthatHallam'sprofessionalmusicians
reported.
Allocationof PracticeTime. Anotherkindofflexibilitywasevidentin
adiarystudyofastudentpianistpreparingagraduationrecital.Moreor
lessbychance,AndreasLehmannandAndersEricsson(1998)encountered
astudentpianistwhohadbeenkeepingapracticediarywhilepreparinga
recital. This allowed them to examine how the pianist allocated her
practice time among the different pieces ofthe program on the basisof
difficulty. The pianist, GM, was preparing her graduation recital for a
master'sdegreeinpianopedagogyandhadbeenkeepingapracticediary
for 6months.The45-to50-minuteprogramconsistedofaHaydnsonatain
twomovements,threetranscriptionsforpianobyProkofievofmusicfrom
the ballet "Romeo and Juliet," and Debussy's "Estampes,"also a setof
threepieces.Inherdiary,GMrecordedthestartingandendingtimeofher
practice on each piece and sometimes metronome markings; she also
provided reports on the history of her musical development, practice
habits,andarankingofthedifficulty oftheeightpieces.GM'sreportofher
86 CHAPTER5
practice habits since her earliest years indicated that her accumulated
practice time, up to this point inher life, was comparableto the expert
pianistsstudied byEricssonetal.(1993)approximately10,000hours.
GM'spreparationfortherecitalcertainlydocumentsthelonghoursof
practicereportedbytheexpertmusiciansinthestudiesdescribedearlier.
Shestartedinthefallandworkedthroughouttheacademicyear,withonly
a3-weekbreakforChristmas,finishinginthespring.Overthecourseof9
months, she practiced her recital program for 531hours, averaging17
hoursaweek(slightlylessthan3hoursadaywithnopracticeonSundays).
Becausethemusictook37minutestoplayinrecital,thisamountsto14.5
hoursofpracticeforeachminuteofperformance.
GMalsodemonstrated thekindofflexibleadjustmentofpracticetothe
demands ofthe particularpiece ofthe sortnoted by SueHallamin her
interviews with professional musicians. GM altered her allocationof
practicetimetoallowmorepracticeofthetwomostdifficultpiecesduring
the spring semester. This strategicflexibilityin the use ofpracticetime
reflectsanongoingappraisalofherprogressandthetaskremaining.Italso
may indicate a failure to make sufficient allowance for differences in
difficulty inherinitialallocationofpractice time.
Anotherkindofflexibilityintheuseofpracticestrategieswasevidentin
thewaythatGMwentaboutmemorizingherprogram.Shememorizedthe
programtwice,relearningitaftertheChristmasbreak.Thesecondtimeher
goalsweresomewhatdifferent thanthefirst. After thebreak,sheworked
onpreparingwaystorecoverfrom slipsinperformancebymemorizing
thetwohandsseparatelysothatshecouldcontinueplayingwithonehand
ifshemadeamistakeorhad amemoryfailurefortheotherhand.Shealso
strengthened hermemorybyengaginginslowpracticefrommemory,and
shepreparedforapossiblememoryfailureduringperformancebypractic-
ing starting at different points in the piecesothat,incaseofaproblem
duringperformance,shecouldskipforwardandstartafresh.Wewillsee
allofthesestrategiesbeingused inGabriela'spractice.
Learning New Piano Repertoire.The most detailed accounts of the
practice of experienced pianists comes from two studies ofKacper
Miklaszewski's(1989,1995).Thefirst ofthesedescribesapianistlearning
ClaudeDebussy's Feux d'Artifice. Thepianist was a gifted student in his
secondyearattheChopinAcademyinWarsawwhowentontoacareeras
aconcertpianist.AlthoughhehadperformedotherpreludesbyDebussy
andwasfamiliarwiththisonefromliveperformancesandrecordings,he
had notundertakenanyspecialpreparationbefore thestartofthestudy.
Hevideotaped hisentireworkup tothepointatwhichhewasreadyto
87 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
playthroughthepieceforhisteacher.Inaddition,hewatchedthetapeof
hisfirstpracticesessionandcommentedonhiswork(Miklaszewski,1989).
Thepracticeconsisted offour sessions,the first lasting90minutes and
theotherslasting48minutes each.Thepianist worked inshort segments
and did not playthrough thecomplete workuntil theend ofthe fourth
session. InSessions 1and 2,hesystematicallyworked through thepiece
from the beginning in short sections of one to four bars in length,
frequently repeatingsectionsseveraltimes,andthenlinkingtherepeated
section with the sections immediately before it. Two sessions were re-
quired tocomplete thisprocessforthe entire piece. Thirty-fiveminutes
intoSession 1,hevisuallyinspected theremainder ofthescore.Session3
recapitulated the process, starting at the beginning again and playing
through thepieceasection atatime,but with fewer short segments. In
Session4,thesameprocesswasrepeatedinreverseorder,startingwiththe
lastsectionandworkingbacktothebeginning onesectionatatime.Again,
thelength ofthepracticesegments increased overtheprevious sessions,
manybeing5to20barsinlength.Inthelast15minutesofthesession, he
playedthroughthewholepieceseveraltimeswithminimalinterruption.
ThepianistwasusingHallam's (1995a)analyticapproach.Becausehe
wasalreadyfamiliarwiththepiece,therewasnoneedforhimtobeginby
gettinganoverview,buthedidmakeavisualsurveyoftherestofthepiece
athirdofthewayintothesession.Healsotookananalyticapproachtothe
learningofeachsmallsection.Fromthepianist'scomments,Miklaszewski
concludedthathe"firstofallintendedtobuildupaclearideaofthemusic
(itspitchandrhythmcombinations,itstextureand expressivevalue)and
asquicklyaspossible tosupport itbyanimageofhow hishands would
performit" (Miklaszewski,1989,p.103).
Whatfeaturesstandoutaspotentialhallmarksofexpertpractice?First,
theuseofformal structuretodividethepieceintosegments forpractice.
Miklaszewski (1989)reported that "the divisions ofthemusicalmaterial
introducedbythesubjectagreewiththebasicformalunitsofthecomposi-
tion"(p.106)andsuggested thatthey"existinsomeindependent wayin
themusician's mind"(p.106).Thiswasdemonstrated mostdramatically
inSession4,whenthepianistworkedthroughthepiecebackwardsection
bysection.Unfortunately,Miklaszewksiprovidednofurther detail,either
abouttheformalstructureoritsuseinorganizingpractice.Wewillseethe
samethinginGabriela'spractice(chap.8)and willarguethatitplayeda
crucial role in memorization by establishing section boundaries as re-
trievalcuesforrecallingthenextsectionfromlong-termmemory(chap.9).
Second,theflexibleuseofpracticestrategiesreportedbyHallam(1995a,
1995b) was readilyapparent. For example,Bars 35to 38of the prelude
presentedparticulartechnicaldifficultiesforthepianistandreceivedmore
88 CHAPTER5
attentionthanothersectionsinSessions1and4,butnotinSessions2and3.
Inpracticingthispassage, thepianist alternatedtheuseofhands separate
andhandstogetherandslowandfasttempi.Ashebecamemoreproficient,
hands together and fast tempoplayingbecamemorepredominant. This
alternating pattern ofpracticewas not repeated inSessions 2and 3,but
reappeared briefly inSession 4when the difficult section was played in
conjunctionwithadjacentbars,"presumably tosmoothhisperformanceof
thisdifficultpassage"(Miklaszewski,1989,p.106).Furtherevidenceofthe
flexibility of practice strategies comes from the steady increase in the
lengthofpracticesegmentsacrosssessions.Thepianistcommentedthathe
hadtopracticeinsmallsegmentsbecauseofthecomplexityoftheprelude,
suggesting that the length of practice segments was calibrated to the
difficulty of the music and the degree to which it had been mastered.
Again, we will seeevidence of similar effects ofmusicalcomplexity on
Gabriela'spractice(chap.8).
Third, practice was organized around identifying and eliminating
problems through cycles of what we call work and runs (chap.6).The
practiceofBars35to38isacaseinpoint,with itsalternation offast and
slowplayingandhands-togetherandhands-separatepractice.Miklaszewski
suggests that these cycles can be seen as examples of the TOTE (test-
operate-test-exit) sequencesthat arecharacteristic ofplanned, deliberate
activity(Miller,Galanter,&Pribram,1960).Thepianistwouldfirstattempt
toplayasectionuptotempoinalongruntoidentify anyproblems (test).
He then worked on the problems, making notes on the score about his
decisions and practicing slowly to implement them (operate).Thecycle
concludedwithanotherruninwhichheattemptedtoplaythesectionupto
tempoagain(test).Ifthefinaltestwasnotsatisfactory,thecyclewouldbe
repeateduntiltheproblemwassolved.
The TOTE cycle was also reflected in the distribution of comments
during thepracticeofeachsection.Thecommentsinitiallyconcerned the
abilitytoplaythesection(test).Nexttheyfocusedontheremedialactions
thatwereneeded (operate).Finally,theyconcludedwithanevaluationof
success(test).Thefinaltestofthe difficult Bars35to38was accompanied
byasmileofsatisfactionasthepianistconcludedhispracticeofthissection.
A fourth potential characteristicof expert practice was the pianist's
explicit concern with his long-term goal of performing the work. The
pianist was not simply developing an automatic sequence of motor
responses, but wasactivelylookingahead,thinking aboutthepiece,and
developing a plan forhow he was going to perform the work (Shaffer,
1976, 1981; Sloboda, 1985). For each section, the pianist first formed an
overallideaofthetextureand expressivevalueandthendecided howto
perform it,makingmanycommentsaboutfingeringduring theprocess.
89 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
Use of this kind of analytic approach, at least some of the time, was
reportedby allbut oneofthemusiciansinterviewed byHallam(1995a),
suggesting that it isa fairly generalcharacteristicofexpertpractice.We
will certainly see many kinds of evidence of the same approach in
Gabriela'spractice.
Differences BetweenPianists:Effects of Experience? Thesamefeatures
ofexpertpracticealsoemergedinasecondstudythatexaminedindividual
differencesamongthreepianistsastheylearnedtwopiecesalateRomantic
miniature,VomErlengrund,byFr.Zierauandasetofthreevariationsfrom
a cycle of 30 Variations on Paganini by 20th-century composer Rafal
Augustyn(Miklaszewski,1995).Twoofthepianists(JaroslawandLukasz)
wereseniorsattheChopinAcademy,eachgiving10to15recitalsperyear.
The third (Karol) was more experienced,having received his master's
degree8yearsearlier,andwasgivingaround40recitalsperyear.Allthree
aredescribedasveryhighinmusicalachievement.Thepianistswereasked
to actasiftheywere toperform both piecesinpublic and tostop work
when they were ready for public performance.They videotaped their
practice.
Tocomparethepracticestylesofthe threepianists,two types ofruns
and two types ofworkwere distinguished. Runswere divided into(a)
"concert"playing,whichinvolved performanceofan entirepieceup to
tempoandwithaclearlyexpressedinterpretation;and(b)"fluentshorter"
concertplaying,whichconsistedofsimilarplayingofsegmentsconsisting
of atleasttwo phrases. Workwas divided into (a)"playingwith repeti-
tions,"whichinvolvedplayinglongersectionsatclosetofinaltempobut
with many repetitions of short fragments of up to two bars in length
withoutpause,and(b)"concentrated playingandloops,"whichinvolved
multiplerepetitionsofthesamesection.Thenumberofconcertattempts
increased oversessions, whereas"playingwithrepetition" and "concen-
tratedplayingandloops"decreased.
Thepianists allfound the Romanticmusiceasierthan the contempo-
rary,and thiswas reflected intheirpractice.Theydevoted moretimeto
concentratedplayingandloopsforthecontemporarypiece(27%)thanfor
theRomanticpiece(8%),andtheyspentmorepracticetimeontheharder
pieces(ameanof4hours)thanontheeasierones(21/2hours).Also,allthree
pianistspreparedtoperformtheeasier,Romanticpiecewithoutthescore.
Onlyoneprepared toperformthecontemporaryworkwithoutthescore,
and another "practically did not finish" work on the third variation
(Miklaszewski, 1995,p. 141).
Miklaszewskinoted consistentdifferences amongthethreepianistsin
the use of concertplaying and concentrated playing. These differences
90 CHAPTER5
appear to reflect consistent individual learning styles because they oc-
curredinthepracticeoftwoworksinvolvingdifferenttypesofmusic.Two
of the pianists were described as "mov[ing] from a generalapproach to
details"(Miklaszewski, 1995,p.144)andthusappeartohaveadoptedan
analyticapproach(Hallam,1995a),Theotherpianist(Jaroslaw)appearsto
havetakenamixedapproach.Initiallyhewasdescribedas"catching the
whole composition through gradualmastering ofshorter segments"(p.
144),suggestinguseofanintuitiveapproach.However,helaterspent an
entirepracticesession invisualexamination ofone ofthe pieces, which
indicatesananalyticapproach.ItseemsthatthispianistfallsintoHallam's
mixed category.
Thisstudyprovides anopportunity tocomparethepracticeofamore
experienced pianist (Karol)with two lessexperienced pianists (Jaroslaw
and Lukasz), although Miklaszewski does not do so, perhaps out of
considerationforthefeelingsofthoseinvolved.Wemakethecomparisons
withapologies to the musicians. Themore experienced Karolis clearly
distinguished from theothertwopianistsinthreeways.First,hemadea
sharperdistinctionthantheothertwointheamountoftimehespentonthe
twopieces.Hespentapproximately2hoursontheRomanticpieceand5
hoursonthecontemporarywork21/2timeslongerontheharderone.In
contrast, Jaroslaw and Lukaszboth spent only11/4times longer on the
harder piece. Second, Karol made a sharper distinction in his practice
between runs (testing)and work (operating), doing more concentrated
playingandloopsthantheothertwo.Third,thedifferencebetweenKarol
andtheothertwopianistsintheamountofconcentratedplayingwasmore
markedfortheharder,modernpiece(twothirdsmore)thanfortheeasier,
Romanticpieces (onethirdmore).
Of course, wecannot besurethat thesedifferencesaredue to Karol's
greater experience.Theycould justbe idiosyncrasies ofhispracticethat
havenothing todowithexperience.Forthemoment,however,thisisthe
onlypublished study thatpermitsdetailed comparison ofthepracticeof
highly accomplished pianists with different amounts of experience.
3
It
suggests that more expert pianists are able to make finer distinctions
betweenlevelsofdifficultyeitherbecausetheoveralllevelofdifficultyof
anygivenpieceislowerforthemorbecausetheirabilitytorecognizeand
anticipatedifficulties hasincreased.
In summary, Miklaszewski's two studies provide the most detailed
accountwehavetodateofhow expertpianistsgoaboutlearning anew
piece. The studies confirm Hallam's (1995a, 1995b) characterizationof
expertpracticeasinvolvingtheuseofananalyticapproachandtheflexible
useofpracticestrategies.Theyalsoprovideadditionalsupportfortheidea
thatexpertsstrategicallyallotmorepracticetimetomoredifficult pieces,
91 THE WAYTO CARNEGIE HALL
assuggestedbyLehmannandEricsson(1998).Inaddition,Miklaszewski's
studies allow us to expand the notion ofstrategic allocation of effort to
suggest that expert practiceis organized into cycles of work on short
passagescontainingdifficultiesinterspersedwithlongerrunstoassessthe
effectiveness ofthework.Thereisalsothetantalizingsuggestion that the
abilitytoorganizepracticethiswaycontinuestodevelopwithexperience.
Finally, Miklasewski's (1989) study suggests that the use ofthe formal
structure of a piece to organize practice may also be characteristicof
experts. Wehave already suggested that the formal structure plays an
essential role in the memorization ofa new piece, and we pursue this
observation inchapters8and9.
CONCLUSIONS:CHARACTERISTICS OF
EFFECTIVEPRACTICE
Byexamining thepracticeofexperienced musicians,we can identify the
characteristicsthatmaketheirpracticeeffective. Itmaybepossibletouse
thisinformationtoimprovestudents'practiceskills.Evensmallimprove-
ments in the effectiveness ofpracticeare important because ofthe enor-
mousamount ofpracticetimerequired todevelophighlevelsofmusical
ability.Moregenerally,abetterunderstanding ofthe nature of effective
practice should provide the basis for a more detailed understanding of
expertiseanditsdevelopment.Notthatweexpectstudentstopracticejust
like professionals. The improvement of practiceskills is necessarily an
iterativeprocess, with each skill depending on other skills thatmust be
learned. However, having aclearidea ofthe practicestrategies used by
highlyskilledmusiciansprovidesasetofgoalstowardwhichstudentscan
shapetheirownpractice.
Deliberatepractice:
Isaskillthathastobelearned,
Ishardworkandtakestime,
Isaimedatimprovement,
Requiresconstantself-evaluation,and
Involvesacontinualsearchforbetterwaystodothings.
Expertmusicians:
Flexiblyapplyawiderangepracticestrategiestotheproblemathand,
92 CHAPTER5
Strategically allocate practice timeonthebasisofdifficulty,
OrganizepracticeintoTOTEcyclesofwork (operate)andruns(testing), and
Usetheformalstructure ofthemusictoorganizetheir practice.
Weseeampleevidence ofeachofthesecharacteristicsinthefollowing
chaptersaswedescribe howoneexperienced concertpianist went about
learninganewpieceforperformance.Inchapter11,wereturntothislistof
characteristicsofexpertpracticetoexpandandreviseitinthelightofwhat
wehave learned.
ENDNOTES
1.Theoneexceptionmaybethevisualarts(Ericssonetal.,1993;Winner,1996b).
2.Arnold Schonberg (1970,cited inHayes 1981)describes Mozartasa"latedevel-
oper".Other composers reallyhavepushed theboundaries ofthe 10-year rule.Two
exceptionscitedbyHayes(1981)areSatie's Trois Gymnopdies,composedafter8yearsof
experience, andPaganini'sCaprices, composedafter 9years.Thesearepopular pieces,
but theyarenotmasterworks.Earlycompositionswithstrongerclaimstothestatusof
masterworksareAlbanBerg'sSonata,op.1,and DmitryShostakovich's Symphony No.
1,bothcreatedwhenthecomposerswere 19yearsold and had beencomposingfor9
years.Inanycase,thesmallnumberoftheseexceptionsandthelimitedextenttowhich
theyerodethe10-yearlimitsupport the"10-year rule"(seeSimonton,1991).
3.AaronWilliamonand ElizabethValentinehavelookedattheeffects ofexperience
onthepracticeofstudentpianists(Williamon,1999;Williamon&Valentine,2000,2002).
S I X
Lessons FromJ.S.Bach:
Stages orPractice
Roger Chaffin ana Gabriela Imreh
Webeganwithtwoquestions.First,howdoesaperformermemo-
rizeanew piece?Wehaveseenthatoneofthehallmarksofexpertiseisa
remarkable abilityto memorize.Yetstudies ofexpert memory have all
beendoneinareasinvolvingconceptualskills,withchessmasters,mathe-
maticians,physicists,andthelike(Ericsson&Smith,1991).Therehasbeen
littleworkonexpertmemoryindomains involvingcomplexmotorskills
andnoneonexpertmemoryinmusicians.Dotheprinciplesdeveloped for
other domains apply to piano performance?Second, what does aper
former think about while playing? At what level are the details of the
performance consciously controlled (Wegner & Vallacher, 1986)? The
performerhastoreconciletwoapparentlycontradictorygoals.Shehasto
playaccurately,hittingalltherightnotesandkeepingtrackofwheresheis,
andshehastoconveytoheraudiencetheemotionsexpressedinthemusic.
Howdoesapianistmeetboththetechnicaland aestheticdemands ofher
art?Howcanaperson mindfullyperform ahighlyoverlearnedskill?
Toanswerthesequestions, weobservedGabrielalearninganewpiece
alltheway from thefirst timesheopened thescoreatthepiano untilthe
final, polished performance.For the study, Gabriela selected the third
93
94 CHAPTER6
movement (Presto) ofaworkshehad scheduled forperformanceduring
thecomingyear,J.S.Bach'sItalianConcerto.Sheknewthepieceofcourse.It
isastaple ofthepiano repertoire; shehad taught ittoastudent3years
before,but shehad neverlearned itherself.ThePrestowasagoodchoice
for our purposes becauseit isa fairly difficult piece thatGabriela knew
would be hard to memorize. This meant that there would be plentyof
opportunity toobservememorizationandpractice.
Forcomparison,wealsoselectedasecondpiecethatwouldbeeasierto
learn,Claude Debussy's Clair deLune.Thisproved tobe somucheasier
thatitwas relatively uninformative.Somuchsothat,intheaccountthat
follows,wehavechosentofocusentirelyonthePresto.ClairdeLunetook4
hourstolearncomparedto33hoursforthePresto(Chaffin &Imreh,1996).
The Presto was agood vehicle for addressing the questions that con-
cernedus.Itsfasttempoand motoperpetuo styleplaceheavydemands on
memory,requiringtheperformertoretrieveeachpassagefrom long-term
memorywithlittletimeforreflection oranticipation.Thismeansthatthe
performerneedstodevote alotofpracticetomemoryretrieval.Gabriela
neededtopracticeattendingtoparticularfeaturesofthepiecesothatthese
would automaticallycometomindattherightpointduringtheperform-
ance.Theseperformancecuesaredescribed inchapters8and 9.Perform-
ancecuesfunction asretrievalcuesforrecallingthemusicfrom long-term
memory. They also answer the question ofwhat the pianist attends to
duringperformance.
Inthischapter,after introducingthemusic,wesketchoutthestagesof
the learning process. Wethen begin to fill in this outline by describing
quantitativechangesinpracticeacrossthecourseoflearning:changesin
number and length ofpracticesegments,number ofrepetitions per bar,
playingtime,averagetempo,and rateofpractice.Thefollowingchapters
continue to fill inthe picture by describingGabriela'scomments asshe
practiced(chap.7)and the effects onpracticeofdifferent typesofmusical
complexity (chap. 8).Wethen use what we havelearned to answer the
questions with which we started: How does apianist memorize?What
does a performer think about while performing? (chap.9).Chapter 10
returnstothestagesofthelearningprocess, integratinginsights from the
interveningchapters. Finally,chapter11considerswhatwehavelearned
about memorization, expert practice, and the process of collaborative,
interdisciplinary research.
THE MUSIC
The Prestoconsists of 16major sections, most ofwhich are divided into
subsections,giving37sectionsand subsections (referred tocollectivelyas
95 STAGESOF PRACTICE
sections),eachbetween4and20barsinlength.Ithas210bars,notatedin2/
4time,andlasts3to4minutesatperformancetempo.Gabriela'srecording
lasted for 3 minutes and 4 seconds (Imreh, 1996).
l
The score used by
Gabrielaisreproduced inAppendix2.
ThePrestoisfairlyshortand containsnomorethananormalshare(for
Bach) oftechnical difficulties. Gabrielajudged it tobe less difficult than
twootherpiecesshewaspreparingforthesamerecordingtheChromatic
FantasyandFugueinDminorandBusoni'stranscriptionoftheChaconne
in Dminor.Hinson (1987)rated the Italian Concertoasbeing of medium
difficulty on a4-pointscaleranging from easy to difficult, whereasFaurot
(1974)described the Italian Concertoas difficult.
Thedifficulties ofthe Prestocomefrom four sources.First,themusicis
polyphonic andthevoicesshiftbetweenthetwohands,sometimes witha
third or fourth voice to bring out as well. Second, like most of Bach's
keyboardmusic,itdoesnotfollowstandardconceptualormotorpatterns.
Hecontinuallydefiesexpectations,veeringawayfromtheusualcontinua-
tionofafamiliarpatternsothatthemusicdoesnotsiteasilyinthehand.As
aresult,eachbar,eveneachhalfbar,mustoftenbelearned ofitself.Third,
thefasttempogivestheperformer notimetothinkaboutwhatiscoming
upnext;therearenosustainednotesorpausesforthepianisttocollecther
thoughts. This is compounded by the fourth source of difficultythe
complexityofthe formal structure.
TheItalian Concertotakesitsnamefrom the musicalform ofthe Presto,
which isin Italian Rondo form. In the prototypical ItalianRondo, anA
themerepeatssixtimes,eachseparatedbydifferentthemes.InthePrestoof
the Italian Concerto,eachrepetition isslightlydifferent. Asifthisdoes not
provide enough opportunity for confusion, Bach doubles up on the A
theme (repeatsittwiceinsuccession) atthebeginning, middle,and end,
givingninerepetitionsaltogether(seeFig.6.1).Ontopofthis,theBtheme
repeats threetimes,and oneoftheserepetitions isdoubled, making four
repetitions. The C theme occurs twice.Only Section D, a fugue, occurs
once.ThisisthekindofelegantcomplexityforwhichBachisjustlyfamous.
Keeping track ofthese multiply embedded repetitions, with no time to
thinkaboutthenextone,addsanelement ofhorizontalcomplexitytothe
verticalcomplexityofthepolyphony thatmakesthePrestoverydifficult to
memorize.
Eachtimeathemeisrepeated,therecomesapointatwhichitdiverges
from other repetitions ofthe sametheme.Thesepoints ofdivergence we
call"switches".A switchisaplacewheretwo (ormore)repetitions ofthe
samethemebegin todiverge.Forexample,thereisaswitchbetween two
repetitionsofthe BathemeinBars29and 171.Thetwobarsare identical
exceptforan octavejumponthe second note ofthe left hand in Bar171.
FIG. 6.1 The formal structure of the Italian Concerto by J.S.Bach. Themes (sections) are
representedbycapitalletterswithdifferentvariationsrepresentedbysubscripts.Themesthat
aredoubled (repeatedtwiceinsuccession)areunderlined.Inparenthesesarethenumberof
repetitions(firstnumber)and doublings(secondnumber)ofeachtheme.
96
97 STAGESOF PRACTICE
Thisnote(inbothbars)istheswitch.Notmakingthejumpputsthepianist
inBar29;makingitputsherinBar171.Keepingtrackofwhichwaytogoat
switchesisoneofthemainchallenges ofplayingthePrestofrommemory.
RECORDINGPRACTICE
Gabrielataped herpracticefrom thefirst timeshesatdown atthe piano
with the score until the piece was ready for the recording session. The
Prestowaslearnedforanall-BachCDprofessionallyrecordedinSeptem-
ber1994.Preparationoftheprogramforthisrecording,includingthework
onthePresto,was fitted intoabusyprofessionalschedule. Duringthe10-
monthperiod thatthePrestowaslearned, Gabrielawasalsopreparingthe
restoftheprogramfortheCDwhilemaintainingafullschedule involving
30 performances of two different recital programs and preparing five
different concerti forpiano and orchestra, two ofthem forthe first time.
Before the recording session, she tried out the Presto once in public,
substitutingitintoarecitalprogramabouttwothirdsoftheway through
thelearningprocess.
WhileGabrielawaslearningthePresto,wehad notyetformulatedthe
specific hypotheses to be tested. Indeed, the whole idea of quantifying
behavior and testing hypotheses was foreign toGabriela.Theplan was
simple: tocollectdata sothat thepoints wehad made inour workshop
could be illustrated in a conference on everyday memory (Chaffin &
Imreh,1994).ThedescriptionoftheformalstructureonwhichFigure6.1is
basedwasprovided attheendofSession 12inresponsetoarequest from
Roger abouthow shehad divided up thepieceforpractice.Hehad just
received the videotapes of the first practice sessions and was having
trouble identifyingwhich sections were which. Gabriela responded by
marking a copy ofthe score with the section boundaries and switches,
labelingeachsectionandsubsectiontoindicatethethemeanditsvariation.
2
Workontranscribingthefirstpracticesessionsbeganatthistime,and
thecumulativerecordsofpracticedescribedlaterweredeveloped.Thelast
important development inthemethod occurred during preparations for
the conferencepresentation about the research (Chaffin &Imreh,1994).
ThePrestowasgettingitsfinalpolishingwiththerecordingsessionabout7
weeks away.Forthe conference,Gabrielaprovided adescription ofher
decisionmakingforonesectionofthepiece(seeFig.8.1).Theaccountwas
sovaluablethatRogeraskedhertoprovide thesameinformationforthe
wholepiece,whichshedid severalmonthslater,atatimewhen shewas
listening to the tapes ofthe recording session as part ofthe production
process.Thisdescription offeatures ofthe pieceorganized on 10dimen-
98 CHAPTER6
sions provides the basis for the measures ofmusical complexitywhose
effects onpracticearedescribed inchapter8.
Preparationfortherecordingsessioninvolved57practicesessions,45of
whichweretaped.Thetapedsessionsrepresentalmosttheentirelearning
process.Mostofthesessions thatwerenottaped tookplaceimmediately
before the recording (Sessions 4548and 5157).Atthispoint, Gabriela
consideredthatlearninghadbeencompleted.Practiceconsistedsimplyof
playing through the pieceonceortwicetomaintain itat ahigh levelof
readiness until the recording session. However, these sessions are in-
cludedinthedescriptionofthelearning process.Gabrielamadeanoteof
how manytimessheplayed through thepiece,and theduration ofeach
session was estimated from this record.One other session was notrec-
orded.InSession23,Gabrielaplayedtheentireconcertothroughtwice
oncewithastudent asanaudienceand oncebefore thestudent arrived.
Onesessionthatwasrecordedwasnotincluded intheanalysesbecauseit
was atypical.In Session 25,Gabrielaplayed the Prestotwice forRoger
duringadiscussion oftheresearchproject.
Tapingwasdonemostlyonvideotapewiththecamerapositionedtothe
pianist'srightandslightlybehindhersothatherhandsandthescorewere
visible.AudiorecordingsweremadeforpracticeSessions25to35because
ofproblemswiththemicrophoneonthevideocamera.Thesameproblem
withthemicrophonealsoresultedinthelossofdataforSessions18and19,
forwhichtheentireaudiotrackwasinaudible,andinthelossofGabriela's
commentsduringthewholeofSessions14to16and forpartsofSessions13
and 20to24.
The 57practice sessions, totaling 33hours, were clustered in three
distinct periods,separated bytwolongintermissionsduringwhich the
piecewasnotplayed(seeTable6.1).
3
Thefirstlearningperiodconsistedof12practicesessions,totalingmore
than11hours,overa4-weekperiod.Therewasthenanintervalofalmost4
monthsbefore thebeginning ofthe secondlearningperiod. (ClairdeLune
was learned during thisinterval.)Twosessions ofpracticeon thePresto
(Sessions 13and 14)occurred midway through this interval, separated
from the mainbody ofthe second learning period. Includingthese two
sessions, the second learning period consisted of 12practice sessions,
totaling 8hours. Apart from the first two sessions, the second learning
periodlastedfor14daysandconcludedwiththefirstpublicperformance
of thenew piece.After theperformance,therewas anotherinterval,this
timeof2months, before thebeginning ofthe third learningperiod.The
start ofthe main body ofsessionswas again preceded by two isolated
sessionstowardtheendoftheinterval,occasionedthistimebyameeting
oftheauthors.Thefinallearningperiodconsistedof26sessionslasting14
TABLE6.1
SummaryofPracticeSessionsforthe Italian Concerto
(Presto) byJ.S.Bach
Durationinhoursandminutes
Learning
Period Sessions Week N Total Mean Max. Min.
1 1-3 1 3 2:57 0:59 1:12 0:41
4-5 2 2 2:35 1:17 1:25 1:10
6-9 3 4 3:47 0:57 1:47 0:31
10-11 4 2 1:24 0:42 1:07 0:17
12 5 1 0:36 0:36
Total 1-12 1-5 12 11:19 0:57 1:47 0:17
Intermission 1
2 13 13 1 0:57 0:57
14-17 20 4 2:56 0:44 1:02 0:20
18-21 21 4 2:31 0:38 1:01 0:28
22-24 22 3 1:42 0:34 0:51 0:08
Total 13-24 13-22 12 8:06 0:41 1:02 0:08
Intermission2
3 25-27 30 3 0:55 0:18 0:24 0:14
28 32 1 0:26 0:26
29-32 33 4 3:11 0:48 1:34 0:14
33 34 1 0:59 0:59
34-35 35 2 0:46 0:23 0:25 0:21
36 36 1 0:33 0:33
37 37 1 0:22 0:22
38-39 38 2 1:11 0:35 0:49 0:22
40-41 39 2 0:55 0:27 0:30 0:25
42-44 40 3 0:47 0:16 0:23 0:03
45-52 41 8 2:37 0:20 1:00 0:12
53-57 42 5 1:18 0:16 0:30 0:12
Total 25-57 30-42 33 14:00 0:25 1:34 0:03
Total 1-57 1-42 57 33:25 0:35 1:47 0:03
99
100 CHAPTER6
hours, spaced over 12weeks, and ended with two performancesof the
Prestoduringarecordingsession.
STAGESOFTHE LEARNINGPROCESS
Wicinski(1950;reportedinMiklaszewski,1989)identifiedthreestagesin
the process oflearning anew pieceforperformance:preliminary ideas,
work on technicalproblems, and trial rehearsals (seeTable6.2).These
stages were distilled from interviewswith 10eminent Russian pianists,
includingSviatoslavRichter,EmilGilels,andHeinrichNeuhaus,onhow
theywentaboutlearninganewpiece.InWicinski'sfirststage,thepianist
gets to know the music and develops preliminary ideas about how it
should be performed.This is followedby a stage ofhard work on the
technicalproblems.Thethirdstageisdevotedtotrialrehearsals,inwhich
the ideas developed in Stage 1are combined with the technical skills
developed inStage2toproducethefinalinterpretation.
Gabriela independently described her process in learning the Presto,
usingasimilarbutmoredetailedschemeinvolvingfivestages:scoutingit
out,sectionbysection,thegraystage,puttingittogether, and polishing.
TherelationshipbetweenthetwoschemesisshowninTable6.2.Bothstart
withapreliminaryscoutingofthepiece(1)followedbysection-by-section
workontechnicalproblemsand fingering(2a).Gabrielathendescribesa
graystage(2b)inwhichthetransitionismadefrom thinkingaboutevery
detailtoplayingautomatically.Foratechnicallydemandingpiecelikethe
Presto, the transition is slow, whereas for a piece with few technical
challenges,likeClairdeLune,thisstageisalmostabsent.Wicinski's third
stageoftrialrehearsalsisdivided byGabrielaintoputtingittogether(3a)
andpolishing(3b).Again,polishingmaybeperfunctory foraneasypiece
withasimplestructurelikeClairdeLune,but wasimportantforthemore
demanding and complexPresto.Afinalstageofmaintenancepractice(4)is
included inTable6.2,althoughitwasnotmentionedbyeitherGabrielaor
Wicinski.Maintenance refers tothe period after apiecehas been learned
and before it is performed.Weneeded to add this stage to give a full
accountofthe preparationofthe Presto.
Stage 1. Scouting it Out (Session1)
ForGabriela,thefirststepinlearninganewpieceistoscoutitoutsight
readingthewholeworkfrombeginningtoendtogetanideaofthelarge-
scalestructure.
101 STAGESOF PRACTICE
TABLE6.2
StagesofLearning aNew PieceforPianoDescribedby
Imreh andWicinski(1950)
Stage Imreh Wicinski
1 Scoutingitout Preliminaryideas
2a Sectionby section Workontechnicalproblems
2b Thegraystage
3a Puttingittogether Trialrehearsals
3b Polishing
4 Maintenance
This will typically be done inasingle run through the entire piece at the
beginningofthefirstpracticesession.Forme,thefirstreadthroughthepiece
istypically doneataslowtempowithmanyhesitationsandpausesto find
therightnotes.Thegoalistosimplyhearthepiecetogetanideaofitsoverall
shape. Knowledgeabout the type ofpiece and the composer already pro-
vides a fairly detailed schema for the architectureofthe piece. Theinitial
scouting identifieshow themusiconthepagemapsonto thisschema and
identifiesanysurprises.AtthistimeIalsomakeapreliminaryevaluationof
theworkoftheeditorand ofanyfingeringsnotatedinthescore.
This was the procedure for the Italian Concerto, although Gabriela
alreadyhad ageneralideaofthestructureofthepiecefromhavingtaught
it3yearsearlierand from ageneralknowledge ofitsmusicalform.Inthe
firstsession,Gabrielabeganbyplayingslowlythroughtheentireconcerto,
withmanyhesitations andpausesbutwithout stopping topracticeany-
thing. Thescoutingrun allowed her to identify the main outline ofthe
formal structure, locate the technical difficulties and other issues that
wouldhavetobedealtwith,andseehowtodivideupthepieceforthenext
stage. Like the pianist studied by Miklaszewski(1989) and most of the
musicians interviewed by Hallam (1995a, 1995b), she took an analytic
approach.
Stage2a:SectionbySection (Sessions16)
Thenextstagebegan,20minutesintothe first session,immediately after
the initial scouting expedition and continued through to the end of
Session6.
102 CHAPTER6
Thenextstepistogetthemusicintothefingers.Thisisdonebyplayingsmall
sections. The harder the music, the smaller the sections. Then the small
sections are joined together linking them, backwards and forwards,into
largerunits.Thisprovidesmultiplestartingpointsincaseofmemoryfailure
ormistakesinperformance.... Memorizingcanstartatthis stage.
Gabriela beganworking through the Presto,afewsectionsat a time,
makingdecisionsaboutfingeringsandworkingthemintothefingers.At
thebeginningofSession6,shewasableto announce,
Okay,sotheplanfortodaywastoprettymuchtowrapuptheroughdraft,so
let'sseeifitishappening.
Apparentlyitwasbecauseafterthistherewasabreakforafewdayswhile
Gabrielaworked onthefirst movement.
Stage2alearningwaslargelycompleted.Thetransitionfrom onestage
toanotherisnot,ofcourse,clearcut.Transitionsoccurredatdifferent times
for different passages and problems.Theprocessoftestingfingerings,for
example, continued until the entire piece could be played through at
performancetempo,asinthefollowingepisode inSession8.
Iamtryingtouse[a]fingeringthatmaynotwork.Imayjustletitgobecause
itisjusttoomuchtrouble.ItmaybejustthenewfingeringthatIputinthat's
notworking.Okay,whatIamgoingtodo. . . .Thisissofrustrating.Ifeellike
reallycursing.ButIknowthatwithpassageslikethis,it'sgoingtotakeweeks
untilit settles....
DespitethisStage2aactivityinSession8,themainfocusofpracticehad
shifted. AsGabrielasaid,thefingeringshad tosettleand meanwhileher
focusshifted toanewgoal.
Stage 2b:The GrayStage (Sessions 716)
Thenextgoalistodevelopautomaticity.Thegraystageistheperiodwhen
automaticityisdeveloping,but isnotyetfullyreliable.
Thegraystageis,insomeways,thehardest.Itisfrustrating.Yourmemoryis
startingtobeaccuratebuttheplayingisnotsogoodyet.Youdon'tyethave
good coordinationbetween mind and fingers. It is a matterofcontrol,of
whetheryoucanactuallytellyourhandswhattodoorwhetheryourhands
areaheadandyoucomealongbehindandjustcheckonwhattheydid.You
103 STAGESOF PRACTICE
wanttobeincontrol,tobeoutinfront.Butyourfingers(motormemory)can
gomuchfaster.Theconceptualrepresentation ismuch slower.
For me, the greatest struggle at this stage is to speed up conceptual
memorytoclosetoperformancetempo. Becausethemotor memory isnot
completely developed youneed alotmoreconceptual controlatthis stage
than you willlater. Youhave to anticipate the mistakes your fingers will
make and prevent them from making them. Rather than saying, "Okay,
fingersdoyourjobandI'llcheckandseethatyoudo", yousay,"I'll tellyou
whattodo". Butyourbrainjustdoesn'tworkthatfast.Yourfingerscango
much faster.
ThelearningofthePrestowasgoingmoreslowlythanexpected.When
shereturnedtoitatthebeginningofSession7,atthebeginningofthegray
stage,Gabrielanotedhowmucheasierthefirstmovementhadbeentolearn.
Now,asfarasnumberofpages[inthescore],we'retalkingthesameamount,
sevenpages.Andforsomereasonthis[thefirstmovement]wasjustabouta
million times easier to learn. I have a couple of suspicions [about why].
[First],itismucheasierasitis....[Second],Ialsoallowedmyselftositdown
and stayforlongerperiods oftimeatthepianothanIdidwith[thePresto].I
had alittlemoretime.Ireallydoprefer todigintomypracticingandwork
longer sessions.
Askedaboutthiscommentduringaninterview,Gabrielaexplainedthat
concentratedpractice:
Givesitabetter chance tobe stored, first ofall,inmuscle memory, where
thingsbecomesecond nature.... Neuhaus,aRussianpianist,...compared
[spreading out practicetoowidely]totryingtocookameal.Ifyouput the
kettleonthestove,and,justwhenyouareabouttobringittoaboil,youhave
to go offand do something else, you will never get the meal cooked.[In
learningthePresto],Iactuallyletmysoup getcompletelycoldbeforeIwent
backtoit.WithmystudentsIgive themsimpleadvice.Itellthem, "Three
timesyouhavetopracticein[close]successiontogetanykindofresult."
Gabriela alsoexplainedinthisinterviewwhy shehad beenunableto
followherownadvice:
Iwasplayingarecital...[which]ismuchhigherpriority. Itwas Christmas
and New Year' s.... Thatisoneofthe greatest problemsofallperforming
and teaching pianists.Youhave toswitch sooftenfrom doing completely
different things. It takes a lot of energy just to switch. I knew that I was
makingitdifficult formyself.
104 CHAPTER 6
Asked ifshe considered postponing the work until shehad more time,
Gabrielareplied:
No,Ihadmadeabargainwithmyself,thatIhadtohaveitlearnedbythefirst
oftheyear.SoIwasjustfittingitinthebestIcould.... And,asyouknow,at
somepoint Igotonwithit.
ShedidgetonwithitinSession8,which,at1hourand47minutes,was
thelongestoftheentirelearningprocess.
Today,Iamgoingtoreallytrytogetthiswrappedup.Iamreallyfrustrated
becauseIhavethe first movementmemorizedand Ispentjustafractionof
thetimeonit.I . . . thinkIneed tositdownandstaytillIreally accomplish
something,notwastingmytime,soherewe go!"
Thelonger session had the desired effect. After 40minutes,Gabriela
wasabletoplaythroughtheentirepiecefrommemory.Theperformance
was far from fluentthere were severalinterruptionswhen shehad to
backupandrepeatapassage,andatleasttwiceshehadtolookatthescore,
whichwasstillopeninfront ofher. (Wewillhavemoretosayaboutthis
memory run in chap. 9.) Yet she got through it, commenting as she
finished:
That was memorized, ashorribleasit sounds. AtleastIknowwhat Iam
doing.Istillhaveacoupleofdeepgapsinmemory,but....
Thissessionalsosawthefirstmentionofplayingsectionsfrommemory:
Thispagewiththefugue.... Iamgoingtotrytoplayitfrombeginning to
end acoupleoftimes,thenImighteventrytoplayitfrommemory.
Memoryatthispointislargelymotormemory.
Ireachalevelofperformancethatisrelatively"sufficient."It'sprettymuch
intempo.Thesound isnot verygood,but IknowthatIamtryingtoplay
everything out quite roughly because Iknow that the hand has abetter
memoryifit'sexercisedwell.I'llplayitbymemoryandtrytoacceptthe fact
that the level [ofplayingl is going to drop dramaticallybecauseIcannot
concentrate onmorethan tryingtofigureoutthenotes andseewhere the
holesareinmemory(Session8).
105 STAGESOFPRACTICE
Having sacrificed musicality in Session 8 to test and develop her
memory,inSession9Gabrielabegantopaymoreattentiontointerpreta-
tion.Bytheendofthesession,sheappearedtoreachaturningpoint.
It'sgettingthere.It'sfuntoseesomemusicfinallycomingoutofit,because
untilnowit'sjustbeenpullingteethandtorture.
Nonetoosoon.ThedatewasDecember28,andtherewereonly3days
lefttofulfill thebargainshehadmadewithherselftohaveitlearnedbythe
NewYear.However,shewasnotabletogetbacktothePrestoagainuntil
NewYear'sEve,whensheexplained:
IwassofrustratedbecauseIwanted topractice,justtouchup afewplaces,
andIcouldn'tstartthevideoatanytimebecauseIdidn'thavethecontinuous
time....
Themainfocusofthe45-minutepracticesessionwasagainoninterpre-
tation."Mostly,Iamworkingonphrasing."Bythistime,thefirstlearning
period was almost over. The following day, New Year's Day, at the
beginning ofSession11,Gabrielanoted:
I'mjustrunningthroughtheconcerto.Fromnowonit'sjustgoingtobe ...
maintenance work. I won't have much time to spend on it. I'll just run
through itacoupleoftimesand trytofixwhatevergoes wrong.
Thegoalofbeingabletoplaythepieceatasufficientlevelbythefirstofthe
yearhadapparently beenmet.
Thatherpracticewasstillinthegraystageatthispointisindicatedbya
remarkmadeaweeklaterinthefinalsessionofthefirstlearningperiod:
Itstillgivesmepalpitationstoplaythrough it,becauseIdon'tfeel safe and
comfortable. Ifeel likeIreallyhave toconcentrateand control. But,... as
longasyou dothat,you actuallymakeitmoredifficult formotor memory
andfortheautomaticityofmemory towork,andyoushouldnotmesswith
that.So,Ifeellikeyou'rebetweenarockand ahardplace.Itjustisnottothe
pointwhereit'sperfectlyautomatic....And,inthemeantime,themoreItry
tocontrolit,themoreIsometimes interferewiththings thatarewellsetup
(Session12).
Onecouldnotaskforaclearerexpressionofthegraystagedifficultiesof
integrating automaticandconscious control.
106 CHAPTER6
Attheendofthissession, Gabrielaranthroughthelastmovementone
moretimeandthenproposed totesthermemorybeforeputtingthepiece
aside forseveralweeks. Sheplayed through ittwicefrom memory.The
firsttimeshegotstuckandhad toopenthescore,butthesecond timeshe
sailedrightthroughwithminimalhesitation.Shesummedupherprogress:
Well,that'snot awful, but, Ifeel like... thememoryprocessisjustpretty
much60%done,andthereisalotofworktobedone,mostlyonbeingableto
switchtoadifferent section.
If Gabriela had continued to practice instead of taking a break, she
probablywouldhavemovedtothenextstageofputtingittogetheratthis
point.Asitwas,therewasahiatusof3months.Whenshecamebacktoit,
shewould need torecovertheground shehad lostbefore movingon.In
Session12,Gabrielaexplained thereasonforthebreak:
Earlyoninthelearningprocess,havingtoolongbreakscanbe devastating,
but lateron,when thepiecestartstofeelcomfortable,itactuallyhelpsvery
much tosetitasidebecause that forcesyou torelearn it.Everytime you
relearnsomethingyoureallysolidifymemory.So,itwouldbegoodformeto
not look at this [piece] ... itisgood to set [it]aside for a fewweeks [or]
months ... and then startitallbrand new againand lookatitlike you've
never seen it. Each time you do [this],count on forgettingsome. It pretty
muchdependsonhowwellyourmotormemoryisset.
Atthebeginning ofthe second learningperiod, Gabrielatalked about
howshewasgoingtorelearnit:
Therearetwowaystogoaboutrelearningorrereading apiece.This[wayI
amgoingtousenow]isthe... morepainfulone,whichisreading. Because
youarenotrelyingonmotormemoryatall.Theotherwayistojustclosethe
musicand trytojustgetthrough[it]and notworry toomuch. Most ofthe
time,it'sjustanxietyandinhibitionthatwillstopthisfromworkingandyou
willseeabig difference [when you getto]thesecond turnplayingit.[The
second turn] is just going to be much more fluent. Youjust have to get
through thatfirst time(Session13).
Sessions13and 14wereisolated,occurring8weeksafterSession12and
6weeksbeforethemainbodyoflearningperiod2.Session13tookplace2
daysaftertheperformanceofClairdeLune,butthenthePrestowassetaside
againwhileGabrielapreparedforherCarnegieHalldebutandthenrested
herhand after sprainingitinafallontheice.
107 STAGESOF PRACTICE
Twoeventsprovided theimpetusforreturningtothePrestoatthistime.
Onewasthesprainedhand,whichforcedGabrielatoconsider substituting
the Italian Concerto for Busoni's transcription of Bach's Chaconne in D
minorinhernextrecital.TheItalianConcertowouldbeeasierontheinjured
hand.Theotherwastheapproaching endoftheconcertseason.Thenext
recitalwouldbeGabriela'sonlyopportunity toplaytheItalianConcertofor
anaudiencebefore therecordingsession inSeptember. Preparationtook
place over a 14-day period during which she practiced the Presto an
additional 11 times. Sessions were generally shorter than in the first
learningperiodandbecameprogressivelysoastherecitaldateapproached.
We have less information about practiceduring the second learning
period because many of Gabriela's comments were inaudible for these
sessions duetothemicrophonemalfunction.Thiswasparticularlytrueof
Sessions14to16,andtheirinclusioninthegraystageisbasedprimarilyon
theclearevidencethatthenextstageofputtingittogetherbeganinSession
17.Consistent withthe inclusion ofSessions 14to 16inthe graystage is
Gabriela'sretrospectivereportthatittookheratleastthreeorfour sessions
to relearn the piece to the level that it had been at the end of the first
learning period, and the absence of sharp differences between these
sessions and Sessions11to12.
However,thereareindicationsthatGabrielawasgettingreadytomove
to the nextstage ofputting ittogether. InSession 14,shebegan usinga
miniaturizedphotocopyofthescorewiththepagesattachedtoeachother
concertina style, which allowed her to play through the whole piece
withoutturningpages.Atthesametime,shebeganpayingmoreattention
toswitchesplaceswheredifferent repetitionsofthesamethemediverge
from one another (seechap. 8). Getting the switches sorted out is a
necessaryprecursorforputtingthepieces together.
Stage3a:PuttingIt Together (Session17)
Oncetheplayingoftheindividualsectionsisfluent,itistimetoput aside
themusic,createamentalmapforthewholepiece,andlearntoplay from
memory. Having a schema forthe piece makes itpossible to play from
memorybyproviding aretrievalschemethatallows thepianist to keep
trackofwheresheisand avoidtakingwrongturns.Theschema specifies
the sequence ofthemes and pinpoints the switches.Gettingtheretrieval
schemetofunction effectively atperformancetempowasachallenge:
Anotherimportant aspectofthisstageofpracticeislearningnottogetlostin
thetransitions from onesectiontoanother.Inaslowpieceorapiecewitha
simplestructurethisisnotabigissue.Thereisplentyoftimetothinkabout
108 CHAPTER6
what is coming up next and the structure is simple. Thepossibilities for
taking awrong turn arelimited.Thepiecethatwestudied was a different
matter.Firstofall,thepieceisveryfast,and therearenosustained notesor
pauseswhereyoucancollectyourthoughts.Ifyoudonotknowwhereyou
are going, you are sure to get lost. This is because the A theme keeps
returning, alittledifferent eachtime.Onevariantputsyouonthe trackfor
thesecond returnoftheAtheme.Aslightlydifferent variationputsyou at
theendofthepiecebeforeyouknowwhathashappened.Youarelikeatrain
cominguptoasetofpointswhichswitchthetrainfromonetracktoanother.
If you set the points oneway, you goin one direction;ifyou setthem the
otherway,yougointheotherdirection.Youhavetothrowtheswitchbefore
yougetthere,oryouareliabletowreckthetrain.
Putting it together occurred in Session 17,in which the practice was
clearly different from what had gone before. It was the first and only
sessiondevoted entirely tolearning toplay from memory.Gabriela had
played from memoryinSession8atthecostofthemusicalintegrityofthe
pieceandinSession 12justtoshowthatshecoulddoit.Nowplaying from
memory was the main goal. As she explained at the beginning of the
session,"Iwanttoplaythispieceintendaysin Arkansas."
The main task in Session 17 was "learning not to get lost in the
transitionsfromonesectiontoanother."Transitionsandswitcheswerethe
focusofthefirsthalfhourofthesessionasGabrielaworkedwiththescore,
carefully comparing the different returns of the A and Bthemes. For
example, after comparing the various repetitions of the A theme, she
summarized her conclusions:
Okay,so. . . thisisoursecondending,thirdendingactually.Onewas[plays].
Oh,sorry [plays].Thesecond oneisrightatthe end [ofthesegment] thatI
practiced[plays].Andthisisthethird,adifferent key.
Withthedetailsofthetransitionsandswitchesclearlyinmind,Gabriela
was now ready to put the piece together. She eased into it in stages,
running through itwith her miniaturized scorefolded sothat shecould
onlyseesomeofthepages.Thensheclosedthescorealtogetherandplayed
entirely from memory. The first run without the score was much more
successful than the previous effort in Session 12.Gabrielaexplained the
difference:
ThelasttimeIplayedfrommemory,ifyouremember... Iwasrelyingvery
muchonmotor memory... Ihad veryfewreferenceplaces,whereIknew
exactlywhatIwasdoing.Ihadalot,butcomparedtonowitwasmuchless.
109 STAGESOF PRACTICE
So,nowIthink,eventhoughImadeafewmistakes,Iknowwhatthemistake
was,and how tofixit.
After successfullyrunning through thepiece twicewithout the score,
Gabriela was ready toplay it foran audience and called out to ask her
husband,DanSpalding,tolisten.Sheplayeditagain,butnotaswell."That
wasreallybad.Ifellintoalmosteverytrapontheway."Thenextrunwent
better until toward the end. Gabriela concluded that shehad run outof
steam.Itwastimeto stop.
Session 17hadaccomplishedatransitiontoanewstage.Gabrielacould
now play reliablyfrom memory. Shehad put together a schema for the
overallstructure ofthe piece that could be used toguide its recall from
long-termmemory.Theretrievalschemeprovided thereferenceplacesor
retrievalcuesneeded tomonitortheprogress ofthemotorprogram.The
motorprogramwasbynowlargelyautomatic,butconsciousattentionwas
stillneeded toretrievethevarious chunks orsections from memory and
initiatetheirexecution.
Stage3b: FirstPolishing (Sessions 1824)
Having a mental schema for the whole piece and being able to play it
through from memory makes it possible to adjust the balance and
interrelationsofthevarious sections.This,inturn,suggestsfurther musi-
calideasthatleadtofurther refinementsoftheperformance.Thisprocess
ofpolishing isneverreallyfinishedandcanberedone overand over:
Themaingoalofthepolishingstageistosettlethepieceintoyourmemoryat
a highlevelofperformanceand with adefiniteemotional shape toit.Itis
reallyamatter ofroutinerehearsal rather than practice.
Anothergoalistobuildup yourconfidenceforthetroublespots.Almost
every piece, especially technically challenging pieces, have their pitfalls,
placesthatcouldbeproblemsorplacesthatyouarejustafraid of.Duringthe
last stage you want to enter a period in which you a have a really good
percentageofsuccess.It'slikeiceskaterswiththeirtripleaxelsand lutzes.
Youhavetotryand getthemsolidand consistentforseveralweeksbefore
andbuildupconfidence.
A third goalistomakesurethat theemotional architectureofthe piece
standsoutclearly,andthatthepieceflowswell.Youmakesurethatnothing
isoverdone,thatyoudonotoverplay;thatyoudon'tshootyourclimaxesby
getting there tooearly, givingitaway; thatyoudon't plan itsothatyour
greatestclimaxcomestooearly,sothattherestofthepieceisananticlimax.
Whenyouhaveawholerecital,youhavetodothesamethingforthewhole
recital,makingsureitflowswell.
110 CHAPTER6
Afourthgoalischeckingyourmemory.Youhavetocheckyourmemory
cuestomakesureofyourreactions tothem.Memoryhastobevery secure
becauseyou havetobe readyfortheunexpected inperformance. No two
performancesarealike.Youneverknowaboutthepiano,whetheryouwill
likeitorhateit,orwhethertheaudienceisgoingtobewarmorcold.Duringa
performance you have to deal with factors that you cannot know about
before hand. Itmaybelittlekidswrigglingaboutin the first row or some
problemwiththepiano.Whatevertheproblem,theshowmustgoon.You
havetomakesurethatyoudon'tfall apart."
PolishinginSessions18to24wasmarkedbytwonewactivities:practice
performances and slow practice. Wealready mentioned the first practice
performanceforDanattheendofSession17.Thepurposewastobecome
accustomed totheaddedpressureofanaudience. AsGabrielasaid atthe
beginning ofSession19,"IamgoingtoplaythisforDan.Put alittlebitof
pressureon." DanwascalledontolistentothepieceagaininSessions20
and22.Thefinalpracticeaudiencewasapianostudent (RogerandMary's
son, Ben),forwhomGabrielaplayed thewhole concertoinSession23.
Extended slow practiceoccurred for the first time in Session 18and
occurredineverysessionfrom19to24.Slowpracticedevelopsconceptual
memory. Bydecreasing the efficiency ofmotor memory, it forces musi-
cianstothinkaboutwhattheyareplaying.Inthesesessions, Gabrielawas
thinkingaboutherexpressivegoalsforthepieceandalsoaboutfingerings
andpatternsofnotesthingsthathadnotbeenactivelypracticedforsome
time(seechap.8).Thiswastheprocessofremapping describedinchapter
3,inwhichtheartisticand inspirational elements arebrought tothe fore,
allowing the problems to recede into the background. In chapter 9,we
show that in these sessions Gabriela was training herself to focus on
expressive goals,making surethat thethought ofthesewas sufficient to
elicitallofthefingeringsandcomplexactionsthathadbecomeautomatic
during themanysessions ofgraystagepractice.
Another part of polishing was the addition of further interpretive
refinements that had tobe worked into the performance. At one point,
Dan's opinionwassolicited:
Iwanttoaskyousomething.I . . . didnotmakeupmymind,butIkindof,I
thinkitisadoubletheme.Itisreallyapolyphonic theme.Youknow,it'snot
themeand accompaniment(Session20).
Performing thepieceinpublicafter Session 24wasrisky.Gabrieladid
not fully trust her memory yet;forthe public performance,shehad the
111 STAGESOF PRACTICE
scoreoutonthepiano"asaninsurancepolicy."Thiswashighly unusual.
Gabrielahasperformedwithascoreononlyahandful ofoccasionsandis
notaccustomedtoit.Thescoreisonemorethingtothinkaboutandcanbe
a serious distraction. Shedid not expecttoneed it,but nevertheless the
intricacies of the Presto are such that she felt that the possibility of a
memoryfailurewastoogreattoriskplayingwithoutit.
Stage 3b:Repolishing (Sessions2630)
We might say that the Presto had been learned at this point. However,
Gabriela saw it as still under development for the recording session,4
monthsaway,andcontinued torecordherpractice.Becausethe polishing
stagelasted forsuch alongtime,wehavesubdivided itintothree parts:
first polishing, repolishing, and increasingthetempo.Repolishingbegan
after anintervalof8weekswiththreeisolatedsessions(25-27),whichwere
occasionedbyameetingamongtheauthors todiscusstheprogressofthe
research.GabrielaplayedthePrestothroughfrommemorytoseehowwell
she could remember it and then practiced it in two short sessions on
successivedays.
Practicesessionsweremuchmorespread outduringthethird learning
period.Therewasa2-weekintervalbeforeGabrielareturnedtothePresto
againinSession28andanotherweekbeforeSession29.Eachtimememory
needed somerefreshing.Atthebeginning ofSession28,"Ihavetogoand
workoutacoupleofplacesthatneedrefreshing." InSession29,
I'mgoingtoputoutallthemusicinmynicehandy-dandyXeroxversionand
I'mgoingtoplayitfiveorsixtimes,mediumtomoderatelyslow.Definitely
undertempoandwithaverynicerichtoneandjustcleanitup alittle,and
thentrytorememberallthedetails thatweretherebeforeandtryto repeat
different onesandthentrytoworksomemoreondetails.
Oncememoryforthedetailshadbeenrefreshed,therewas"cleaning up"
worktobedone.AgaininSession30,"IcleaneduptherighthandandIam
veryhappywiththat."Somespotsinvolvedtechnicalproblems.
ThereareacoupleoftechnicalproblemsthatIamnothappywithandtwoof
them are the ... big leaps in left hand inbar 67and bar 153. I'll have to
workonthose.
MostofGabriela'sattention,however,wasoninterpretation:
112 CHAPTER6
Iwantittobe excitingand very full ofstuff, but Idon'tknowhow much
somebodycanhear.SeewhatIwouldlikeissortofastereoeffect here....
Youknow,one[part]comesinandonecomesout,but I'mnotsureatthat
speedifanyonecancatchthat(Session28).
InSession 30,shewas"... tryingtobring out the left hand thereas
yousee."
Bytheendofthissession,Gabrielahaddoneallthatwaspossibleinthis
directionandconcluded,"It'sreallyamatterofendurancefromnowon."
But still shewas not satisfied.ThePrestowas toobland.Itlackedthe
excitement and dramatic impact to bring the concerto to a satisfactory
conclusion. Despite the possibility that a faster tempo might make it
impossibleforalistenertohearsomeoftherefinementsoftheinterpreta-
tion,increasingthetempowasthesolution:
Idon'tknowhowmuchsomebodycanhear... I'mnotsureatthatspeedif
anyonecancatchthat.
Stage3b:IncreasingtheTempo (Sessions3144)
ThedecisiontochangethetempowasannouncedinSession31."Italkedto
Dan yesterday. He said I should play it even faster." In reaching her
decision, Gabrielahad alsoconsulted apianistcolleague,EnaBronstein,
butthedecisionhadbeenforeshadowed inanexchangewithDanabout
tempo3months earlierinSession20.Gabrielahad mused, "IthinkIam
playingittoofast.. . . "
Dan,helpfully noncommittal,said"Thinkso."
Gabrielasaid,"Oh, I'msure... It'snerve-racking.Butthat'sthefun.It
hastobe.Ifyou cando allthethings [at]this tempo ... Thatwould be
pretty exciting."
ThatwasSession20and theyweretalkingaboutatempoof132beatsper
minute.AtthebeginningofSession31,Gabrielatriedanew,faster tempo
and concludedthatitwas "excellent." Puttingthemetronomeonit,she
determinedthatthenewtempowas132thesametemposhehadlikedin
Session20.
Bringingthe Prestoup tothenew tempotook11moresessions spread
outover5weeks.Thelonghaulbeganinearnestwithamarathon13/4-hour
session, the second longest of the whole learning process. Session 32
introducedanewformofpracticethatbecameafeatureintheweeksthat
followed.Gabrielaworkedonthefugue (SectionD)withthemetronome,
beginning at aslow tempo and increasing it onenotch after every two
repetitions.Shewasnothappyaboutthis.
113 STAGESOFPRACTICE
Well,Idon'thaveanychoice.Idohavetodothisandit'smiserablework....
Metronome'sgoingtohatethistoo.It'sterrible.
Themetronomewasusedagaininthesameincrementalwayinthreemore
sessions.
BySession35,thenewtempowasbecomingmorecomfortable.Gabriela
noted,"EverytimeIslowdown,justalittlebit,itseemslikeitissomuch
easier."Inthefollowingsessions,sheincreasedher targettempoto 138,
givingherselfsomeleewaytoslowdowneventuallytotheinitialtargetof
132.InSessions40and 42,shetested the stabilityofthe tempousing the
metronome."Themetronomeseemstohavehelpedbecauseitseemstome
it'smuchmorestable."
Itwasnearlythere.InSession41,sheconcluded,"Thereisn'tthatmuch
more that I cando,"and at the beginning ofSession 43,"I'mrunning
through myprogram fixing littlethings andjustbasically once ortwice
throughevery thing."Butitdid not gowell. "Ican'tbelieve [Iamstill
havingtroublewiththis]."Aftersomemoreworkwiththemetronome,"I
don'tlikeit.It'sirritating,maddening, hateit."
FinallyinSession 44,thetrialperformancewent offwithout problems.
Thelearningprocesswas finally over.Gabrielastopped tapingherprac-
tice,turningonthevideocameraagaininSessions49and50onlytorecord
agoodperformanceforRogertousewithhistalksabouttheresearch.
Stage4:Maintenance (Sessions4557)
Onceapieceislearned,ithastobemaintainedatahighlevelofreadiness
until the day of the performance.Sessions 45 to 57 were devoted to
maintenance.
Knowingwhen apiece isreadyforperformance can be difficult. Often,of
course,you areworkingagainstadeadline.Youworkdifferently againsta
deadlinethanwhenyou cantakeamoreleisurelyapproach.Adeadlineis
notnecessarilybad.Itpushesyou.
Someperformers,forexamplePabloCasals,wouldnotperformapiecein
publicuntiltheyhadworked onitfortwoyears.Ontheotherhandthereis
Christina Kisswho embarked on this huge endeavor ofperformingthe
completeLiszt,anenormousundertaking.Shewillpreparesomething fairly
fast, injustafewmonths,and playitonceinrecital.Sheplaysfour or five
recitalsayear,eachoneadifferent program.Thepreparationinthese two
caseshastobedifferent. Thegoalsaretotallydifferent. Casalswantstogive
theultimateperformance.Hewantstomakesurethathehasput thepiece
114 CHAPTER6
througheverytestandthatitisexactlyashewantsit.Kiss'staskisdifferent,
topresent inNew Yorkforthe first timetheentireLisztopus. Heraccom-
plishmentisperhapsevenmoreimpressivethanCasals,butIamsuresheis
notgivingherultimateperformanceofthesepieces.
IwouldliketobeclosertoCasals.IpracticesomuchbecauseIwanttoget
closetomyultimateperformance.Notthatthisisafixedthing.Everypianist
knowsthatalmosteverytimeyourelearnapieceyou find newthingsthat
youmissedthefirsttime,evenaftertenorfifteenyearsandplayingitdozens
of times.Thereisalwaysroomforanother,moreinterestinginterpretation.
Thatispartlywhysomeperformersrecordapiecemorethanonceand why
they don't like to listen to old recordings. Itbothers them that they have
accomplishedmorewiththepiecesincetheyrecordedit.Butevenknowing
this,youtrytogetclosetothe"truth"ofapiece;thetruthforyouatthattime.
Evenafter aoneortwoweekbreakfrom apieceyourunderstanding ofit
changesdramatically.Thatalsotellsyouthatthereissomethingtobesaidfor
notpracticing.Therearepianists,GlennGouldforexample,whowouldnot
play a piece for two weeks before performance. I can understand that.
Sometimes whenIrelearn apiece and ithas not been forgotten toocom-
pletely,Isitdownand playit,and Ifeelthatfirstperformanceismore fresh
andmoreinterestingthanalmostanythingIwillbeabletodointhreeweeks
ofpracticingit.Idon'tknowhowtocapturethatfreshnessandthatfeelingof
newness.Itisastruggletostrikethisbalanceandtoknowwhenapieceisready.
Therearesomepianists,notverymany,whohavesuchan extraordinary
ear and such an extraordinarytalent, and such extraordinaryconfidence,
thattheycanperformwithoutmuchpreparation,withouttakingthetrouble
toreinforce theirbackupsystems.Forexample,MarthaArgerichissaidto
have had an extraordinarysuperstition in her youngest years that if she
played apiecefrombeginningtoendonce,itwouldnotbegoodinconcert.
Soshenever played itthrough from beginning toend, exceptin perform-
ance.Idon'tthinkshedoesthatanymore.Butsheisoneofthoseextraordi-
narytalents.
Pianistsdividemoreorlessevenlyonwhetherandhowmuchand what
youshouldpracticeonthe day ofaperformance. Some work throughthe
piecesdutifully. Somedon'ttouchthoseworksthatday.Mostpeople won't
reallyplaythroughanythingonthedayofaperformance.Partofthereason
for thisisthe fear thatifanythingdoesgowrongitisgoingtowreckyour
performanceatnight.Othersthinkthatifsomethinggoeswrong,Ihadbetter
fixitbeforeIgoin.
Inthedaysimmediatelybefore therecordingsession, Gabrielacontin-
ued torun through herprogram,playingpiecestwoorthree timeseach.
ForthePresto,thelastofthesesessionsoccurredthemorningofthedaythe
recording was made.During the recording session, Gabrielaplayed the
Prestotwice,bothflawless performances.
115 STAGESOF PRACTICE
EFFECTSOF OBSERVATIONONPRACTICE
Did taping her practice alterGabriela's learning process? Yes,although
onlyasoneofmyriadfactorsthatinfluencedwhenandhowshepracticed.
Wehaveseenthattheneed torecordherpracticemadeithardertofitthe
Prestointoherpracticescheduleintheinitialsessions.Itwas inconvenient
tohavetoturnonthevideorecorder,whichwasinadifferent room from
thepiano.Also,shefeltself-consciousaboutthecamera.Shefirstreferred
to this at the beginning ofSession 7,when she mentioned that she had
foundthefirstmovementmucheasiertolearn.Notonlywasitlesscomplex,
It is a little bit inconvenient to have to turn the [videotape] machine on,
becausesometimes I[would liketo]justsitdownandtouchsomething up,
but [the need to record] forces me to be very structured and be dressed
appropriately.
Shereturned tothesamepointatthebeginning ofSession9:
"I'vebeenwonderinghowmuchthecameraisinhibitingme,becausereally,
thisisnotsomething that manypeople wouldbehappy about.It's quitea
personal affair, toworkon apiece.It's not thatIdon't feel comfortablein
frontofthecamera.[But]it'sjustlikehavingyourdirtylaundryinplainview
ofpeople.... Ican'tgetoverhowdifferentthetwomovements[thefirstand
third]havebeenintheway I'velearned them.Youhaveseen, Iplayedfor
youthefirstmovement after onlytwoandahalfdaysofpracticeand those
weren't sixhourdays.Theywerejustsmallsessions. ... Istillthinkit[the
Presto]isaverydifficult movement."
InSession 10,Gabrielareported thatthesamethinghadhappened again:
YesterdayIwas sofrustratedbecauseIwanted topractice,justtouchupa
few places.AndIcouldn't startthevideoatanytimebecauseIdidn'thave
thecontinuoustime,plusIwasn't dressed fortheoccasion.Ilovetopractice
inmyrobeandsoftthingsthatarecomfortable.
So recording made Gabriela avoid short practice sessions, resulting in
longer intervals between sessions than she would have liked, slowing
downthelearning process.
116 CHAPTER6
PRACTICERECORDS
Tounderstand more concretely what wasgoingonineach session, we
devised a visual representation of the practice record. An example is
showninFigure6.2.Thescoreappearsonthehorizontalaxisatthebottom
of the figure. Belowthe score,bar numbers areindicated alongwith the
sectionsand subsections.TheexampleshowspracticeofSectionC,which
consistsofthreesubsections,Ca,Ca',andCb.(Sectionsandsubsectionsare
referred tocollectivelyassections,and CaandCa'arereferred toastheCa
section.)Theverticalaxisrepresentsthepracticesegments,starting atthe
bottom ofthe figure with the first segment and ending at the top ofthe
figurewiththelast.Eachlineoftherecordrepresentstheplaying ofone
practicesegment (i.e.,asequenceofnotesplayedwithoutstopping).Each
time the playing stopped, the record begins again on the next line up.
Figure6.2showstheportionofSession4duringwhichGabrielaworkedon
SectionCforthe first time.Therecordofpracticestartsatthebottom left
with two segments that start at the beginning of Section Ca. The first
segmentstopsattheend ofCa.Shethenreturnedtothebeginning ofCa,
playedthroughitagainandonintotheCbsection,stoppingsixnotesinto
Cb.Shethen went backto the beginning ofCbwhere the nextseveral
segments start;and soon.The150-plus segments inthefigure represent
approximately15minutesofpractice.
Creatingthepracticerecordsforthesefigureswasslowwork.Itwould
havebeenimpossible withouttheenthusiastichelp ofhard-working and
dedicated student assistants wholistened repeatedlytoeachsession and
recorded whereeachpracticesegment started andstopped.Itwasneces-
sarytomakesomecompromises.Gabrielaworkedextremelyfast. In the
initialsessions,thereweremany"stutters"where sherepeated anoteas
sheorganized herthoughtsabouthowtocontinue.Earlyonwe adopted
thestutterrule.Repetitionsofasinglebeatwerenotrecordedunlessthey
occurredmorethanthreetimes.
Thecomputer-generated representationinFigure6.2isa far cry from
ourfirst efforts atcreating practicerecords,which weremuchcruder.As
the first videotapes ofthe earlypracticesessions arrivedby mail,Roger
andhisstudentsmadereduced sizedcopiesofthescoreandattachedthem
to the bottom oflargesheets of graph paper, drawing in eachpractice
segmentbyhand.Soonwehadenormoussheetsofpaperwrappedaround
threewallsofan office. Itwas timetorethinkthisapproach.Eventually,
with some programming help from Roger and Mary's son, Ben, we
managedtoshrinkthings downtoamoremanageablesize(Fig.6.2).
AsGabrielalookedatthefirstpracticerecords,duringtheintervalafter
Session12,sherealizedthattheydidnotdisplaywhatis,forher,themost
FIG. 6.2 Practicerecordforthe first timethepianistworked onSectionC,showingwherethepianist started and stopped. Therecord
reads from bottomright with each linerepresenting theuninterrupted playing ofthe music shown on the horizontalaxis.Eachtime
playing stopped and restarted, the recordbegins again on thenext line up. Practicewas organized by sections and Section Cbwas
practiced more than Section Ca. From"A comparison ofpracticeand self-reportas sources ofinformationabout the goals of expert
practice," by R.Chaffin and G.Imreh,2001,Psychology ofMusic,29,p. 47.Copyright2001by the SocietyforResearchinPsychologyof
MusicandMusicEducation.Adaptedwith permission.
118 CHAPTER6
beautiful partofpracticewhensheputstogetherherworkon different
sectionsandrunsthroughalargersegmentofthepiece,seeinghowthings
fittogether.Wecallthistypeofpracticerunsand distinguish itfrom work.
Workinvolvesplayingthesameshortpassagerepeatedlytosolveparticu-
lar problems, establish musclememory,develop fluency, and make the
playingofthepassagemoresecure.Runsarelongerpracticesegments.For
thePresto,runsweredefinedaspracticesegmentsextendingovertwoor
morecompletesectionswithminimalinterruption.
4
Theyhavethreemain
functions.Oneistotestandlocateproblemsthatrequirework(Miklaszewski,
1989).Forexample,runstestmemoryfordifficultpassages.Afeaturethat
canbemanagedeasilyenoughwhenplayedaspartofashortsegmentmay
notbesecurewhenencounteredincontext.Asecondpurposeistopractice
transitions between sections.Finally,runsallowinterpretiveandexpres-
sivedecisionstobeevaluatedinthebroadermusicalcontextofsurround-
ingsectionsortheentirepiece.
Work is represented in Figure 6.2by dark lines, runs by gray lines.
Almost all the practiceon the two Ca sections was in the form ofruns
becausethetwosectionswereplayedwithoutinterruption, whereasmost
of the practice on the Cb sectionwas in the form ofwork.Gabriela first
played through the Casectionaspart ofarun that started in anearlier
section(notshowninthefigure)untilshecametothebeginningoftheCb
section,whereshestopped.ThepracticeoftheCbsectionwasthenmostly
workinterspersedoccasionallywithrunsinwhichCbisconnectedwithCa.
Thefigure illustratesfour important features ofthepractice.First,like
the practiceofMiklaszewski's (1989) pianist, it isdivided into work on
short passages separated by longer runs. This reflects the problem-ori-
ented natureofthepractice.Everythingwas donewithaspecific goalin
mind.Chapter8shows the effectiveness ofthisapproachindisposingof
one class of problems after another. For now, the work on Section C
providesagoodexample.Theworkshown inFigure6.2,from Session4,
largelysolvedtheproblems ofthissectionsothattheydidnotneed tobe
revisited.Ironically,whenRogerlaterpointedthisouttoGabriela,shewas
spooked.Thefollowingday,inSession29,shecommented,
Imessedup ... around [bar]85[thebeginningofCb].Iwasthinkingabout
what you told me yesterday, that Inever had to rework that section. It
bothered me. . . .
Thesecond featuretonoteinthepracticerecordisthattheCasections
receivedmuchlesspractice(25segments)thanCb(162segments).Thisis
119 STAGESOF PRACTICE
becauseCbwasmoredifficult.Inchapter8,weseewhy.Cbinvolvedmore
fingeringdecisionsand technical difficulties.
Third,practicesegmentstended to startatthebeginningsofsections.
Theystartinmanydifferentplaces,butthebeginningsofCaandCbhavea
specialimportance.Thesignificance ofthisuse ofthe formal structureto
organize practice is explored in chapter 9 as part of our discussion of
memorization.
A fourth important feature ofpracticeisapparent when Figure6.2is
compared with Figure 6.3, which shows the only other timeGabriela
devotedsubstantialworktoSectionCinSession9.Thedifference between
Sections Ca and Cb in the amount of practice they received is much
reducedcomparedtoSession4.SectionCbwasgettingeasier.Theeffectof
practice was toreduce differences between easier and harder passages.
Eventually the difference was eliminated altogether.Bythe fourth time
Gabrielaworked onthispassage, inSession 13,theentireCsection was
practicedasawhole,andtheCaandCbsubsectionsweretreatedidentically.
QUANTITATIVE MEASURESOF PRACTICE
The different patterns of practice seen in Figures 6.2and 6.3are now
described in terms ofthree quantitativemeasures:length ofthepractice
segments (segment length), number of practice segments (number of
segments), and number oftimeseachbar isplayed (repetitionsperbar).
5
Each of these measures was computed separately for runs and work,
allowingacomparisonoftheamountofplayingdevotedtothetwotypes
ofpractice(percentageofpracticedevoted toruns).
Four more measures examined temporal aspects ofthe practice.The
durationofthepracticesessionshasalreadybeensummarizedinTable6.1.
Hereaslightlydifferentversionofthesamemeasureisused:Timespentin
activitiesotherthanplayingwassubtracted from thesession durationto
giveameasureoftheactualplayingtimeinasession.Asecondimportant
temporalaspectofpracticeistempo,whichwasmeasured astheaverage
tempo used in a session (mean target tempo). Toexamine how much
playingtimewasactuallyexpendedinplayinguptotempo,wemeasured
the practice rate by taking all the music played in an entire session
(expressedasthenumber ofbeats)anddividingitbytheplayingtimefor
thesession. Thepracticerateisthustheaveragenumber ofbeatsplayed
per minuteoverthecourseofasession. Ifplayingislargelyup to tempo,
andiftherearefewpausesandhesitations,thentherateofpracticewould
FIG.6.3 Practicerecordforthe second timethepianist worked onSectionC.Differences between the Caand Cbsections were much
reduced. From"Acomparison ofpracticeand self-reportassourcesofinformationaboutthe goalsofexpertpractice,"byR.Chaffin and
G.Imreh,2001,Psychology of Music, 29,p. 47.Copyright2001by the Societyfor Researchin Psychology ofMusicand MusicEducation.
Adaptedwith permission.
121 STAGESOF PRACTICE
beclosetothemeantargettempo.Totheextentthattherateofplayingfalls
belowthetargettempoorisinterruptedbyhesitationsandpauses,therate
ofpracticeislessthanthemeantargettempo.Thisratiowasexpressedas
the rate/tempo ratiothe ratio of the practice rate to the meantar-
gettempo.
The large number of practice sessions makes it impracticalto give
valuesonallthesemeasuresforindividualsessions.Instead,sessions are
grouped intosetsofadjacent sessions addressing similargoals.Themain
criterionusedtodeterminegroupingsintosetswasGabriela'scomments
duringthepracticesessions,butthemeasuresandanalysesdescribedhere
andinthefollowingchapterswerealsoconsidered.Theresultingorgani-
zationconsistsoffour setsofsessions foreachlearningperiod.(Period1:
Sessions1-6,7-8,9-10,and 11-12;Period2:Sessions13,1416,17,20-24;
and Period3:Sessions2627,2830,3144,4557).
6
Acomparisonofthese
session setsindicateshowpracticechangedoverthelearningprocess.
7
Segment Length
Figure6.4shows thelengthofpracticesegmentsseparatelyforruns and
work. The length of runs generally increased as learning progressed,
whereas the length ofwork segments showed no overallincrease.The
lengthofrunsmorethandoubled duringthefirst learningperiod.Atthe
beginningofPeriod2,inSession 13,runswereaboutthesamelengthasat
theendofPeriod1,andagaintheymorethandoubledbytheend.Session
17wasanexceptiontothepatternoflinearincrease;initrunswerelonger
thaninanyothersession.ThiswaswhenGabrielaput thepiecetogether,
learning to play from memory.The latterpart of the session consisted
solelyofrunsthroughtheentirepiecewithoutthescore,whereasinother
sessionsthepiecewasgenerallyplayedfromstarttofinishonlyonceortwice.
The third learning period recapitulated the second (again with the
exceptionofSession17). Atthestart,thelengthofrunsdropped towhat
theyhadbeenatthestartofthesecondperiodandclimbedbackuptothe
same endpoint. The second learning period built on what had been
accomplished during the first; the third period recapitulatedthe second
exceptthattheputtingittogetherstageinSession 17wasabsent.
Changes in segment length developed differently forwork and runs,
supporting the idea thatthey are distinct types ofpractice.InPeriod 1,
workincreasedsteadilyinlength,butthechangesweremuchsmallerthan
for runs.Gabrielawasworkingonshortpassages,makingbasicdecisions
aboutfingering,articulation,andphrasing,andestablishingthemotorand
auditorymemoriesnecessarytoimplement them.Asshemasteredeach
122 CHAPTER6
FIG.6.4 Meanlength(inbars)ofrun and worksegmentsineachsessionset.
smallpassage, sheconnected ittoitsneighbors and the work segments
lengthened.TheprocesscanbeseeninthepracticeonSectionCinFigures
6.2and6.3.
InPeriods 2and 3,incontrast,the directionofchangewenttheother
way.Worksegmentswerelongestatthebeginningofeachlearningperiod
and becameshorteraslearning progressed. Asthe number ofproblems
needingworkwasreduced, worksegmentsincreasinglyfocused onone
problem at a time and were limited to its immediate context. Again,
Session17wasanexceptiontothegeneralpatternanotherindicationthat
thegoalsforthissessionweredifferent from other sessions.
NumberorRun andWorkSegments
Figure6.5showsthenumberofpracticesegmentspersessionforrunsand
work. The number of segments generally decreased across the three
learningperiodsandacrosssessionsetswithinlearningperiodsprimarily
becauseofthedecreaseinthelengthofpracticesessionsalreadynoted(see
123 STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG. 6.5 Mean numberof practice segments(separately for runs and work) in asingle
session,bysessionsets.
Table6.1).ThemainexceptiontothispatternwasinPeriod3,whenthere
weremorepracticesegmentsinSessions28to30thaninSessions26to27.
8
RepetitionsperBar
Althoughthenumberand lengthofpracticesegmentscaptureimportant
characteristicsofpracticesessions,neitheraloneprovidesadirectmeasure
oftheamountofpracticeinasession.Thisisbestmeasuredbytheproduct
of the two measures,whichgivesthe totalnumber ofbarsplayed in the
session. Dividing the total number of bars played in a session by the
numberofbarsinthepiecegivesthenumberofrepetitionsper bar.
9
The
numberoftimesabarisrepeatedistheamountofpracticeitreceived,and
the mean for allbarsisthe averageamount ofpracticeaccomplished in
asession.
Figure6.6showsthemeannumberofrepetitionsperbar forruns and
work.Ifwethinkofrunsandworktogetherasameasureoftheamountof
124 CHAPTER6
FIG.6.6 Meannumberofrepetitionsofeachbarinasinglesession (separatelyforrunsand
work),bysession sets.
practiceinasession,thentheamountofpracticepersessionwasapproxi-
matelythesameinthefirsttwolearningperiodsbutlowerinthethird.It
wasalsolowerinthelastsessionsetofPeriods1and2thaninearlierones.
For most ofPeriods 1and 2,eachbar was played 10to 13timesineach
session.AttheendsoftheseperiodsandinPeriod3,eachbarwasplayed5
to6timeshalfasoften.Thedifferences intheamountofpracticeare due
totheshorterlengthofpracticesessionsattheendofPeriods1and2andin
Period 3.Thenumber ofrepetitionsper bar isdetermined jointlyby the
playingtimeinasession and therateofpractice.
10
Thepercentageofrepetitionsthatwerepartofarunratherthanpartofa
worksegmentprovidesameasureofthepercentageofpracticedevoted to
runs(Fig.6.7).
11
Thefirstthingtonoteisthatthevaluesareallgreaterthan
50%.Thegreaterlengthofrunsmeansthatmorebarswereplayed during
runsthanduringwork,eveninSessions 1to6,whereworkaccountedfor
welloverhalfofthepracticesegments.
12
Thesecond thing tonoticeistheincreaseintheproportion ofpractice
devoted torunsacrosslearningperiods andwithin eachlearning period.
Thepercentageofrepetitions that were part ofarun started out at60%,
125 STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG.6.7 Percentageofpractice(repetitionsofeachbar)devotedtorunsineachsessionset.
increasingsteadilytoalmost90%by the end ofthe first learning period.
The percentage decreased slightly at the beginning ofPeriods 2 and 3,
before increasingtoamaximumof96%during thepolishing forthe first
performance and 94%while increasingthe tempo in Sessions 31to44.
Theseincreasessuggest thatworkwasdirectedatsolvingproblems and
thatthenumberofproblemsinneedofsolutiondecreasedwithpractice.
Itisimportanttonote,however,thatworkneverdisappeared entirely.
EvenattheendsofPeriods2and 3,workstillaccountedfor5%ofpractice.
In terms ofnumber ofpracticesegments, ofcourse, the proportion was
muchhigher.InSession20to24and 31to44,workaccountedforslightly
morethan20%ofpracticesegments.Workremained asignificant partof
practice even when the great majority ofpracticewas devoted to runs.
Sessions28to30provideacaseinpoint.Thepercentageofrunswaslower
thanin the rest ofPeriod 3and lower than inmost ofPeriod 2.In these
sessions,Gabrielawasrefiningherinterpretation,workingonbringingout
themesand syncopations(seechap.8).Thedecreaseintheproportionof
practice devoted to runs in these sessions reflects the work involved in
establishing the new phrasing and dynamic effects whichinvolved the
repetitionofshortpassages.
126 CHAPTER6
Playing Time
The playing time in a session is the amount of time spent actually
practicing,excludingbothextended interruptionsandthetimeneeded to
sitdownandbeginplayingafterturningonthecamera.Interruptions were
notfrequent,buttheydidhappen fromtimetotime.Forexample,onone
occasionGabrielacompared differenteditionsofthescore.Atother times,
shetalkedatlengthtothecameraandoccasionallyleftthepianotoattend
toother matters.Theduration ofthese extended interruptions was sub-
tractedfromthetotalsessiondurationgiveninTable6.1toprovideamore
accuratemeasureofthetimeactuallyspentinpractice.Interruptionswere
excludedfrom themeasureofplayingtimeiftheylastedformorethan30
seconds. Pauses ofless than 30seconds were included because mostof
themwereclearlypartoftheworkofpracticing.Mostlastedforlessthan5
secondswhilethepianistwroteonthescore,spoketothecamera,orsatin
thought.(Theamountoftimespentintheseactivitieswassurprisinglylarge.)
Playingtimedecreased from an averageofanhour per session inthe
firstlearningperiodtohalfanhourinthethird(seeFig.6.8).Playingtime
wasgenerallylongeratthebeginningofanewstageorwhenworkbegan
onanewpracticegoal.Thefirstsixsessionswereeachaboutanhourlong,
but this was not long enough. At the beginning of Session 7,Gabriela
attributed her slow progressonthe Prestotonot having time for longer
sessions.Comparingitwithhermorerapidmasteryofthefirstmovement,
sheconcluded:
Iallowed myselftositdownandstayatthepianoforlongerperiodsoftime
[for thefirst movement]thanIdidwiththelastmovement[thePresto] ... I
had alittlemoretime.Ireallydoprefer todigintomypracticingandwork
longer sessions.
WhenshewasfinallyabletotakemoretimeinSession8,whichat 1
3
/4hours
wasthelongest session oftheentirelearningprocess,itdid thetrickand
shewas abletoplaythrough the entirepiece from memoryforthe first
time.Thelast two sessions inPeriod 1wereshorter thantheothers.As
Gabrielanoted atthebeginning ofSession11,
It'sgoingtobeashortsession.... It'sgoingtobe... maintenancework.I'll
justrun throughitacoupleoftimesand trytofixwhatevergoeswrong.
InPeriod2,twosessionsweremuchlongerthantheothersSession13
andSession17.InSession13,Gabrielawasrevivinghermemoryaftera2-
127
STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG.6.8 Playingtime:Timespentinplaying(min)duringasinglesession,bysessionsets.
month interval. In Session 17,she put the piece together and played it
throughrepeatedlywithoutthescore.InPeriod3,sessionsweregenerally
shorter. The one exception was Session 32,which lasted l
l
/2hours and
begantheworkofincreasingthetempotothenewleveldecidedinSession
31.(Thisexception does not appear in the figure because Session 32is
averaged inwith the 14other sessions inthe set.)Generally,sessions in
which work on a new goal began were longer and were followed by
shortersessionsinwhichtheskillwasconsolidated.
Tempo
To obtain a measure of the average tempo in each session, tempo was
measured 10times at roughly evenly spaced intervals by adjusting an
electronicmetronome until itcorresponded tothe tempo oftheplaying.
Themean ofthese valuesrepresents the targettempo atwhichGabriela
wasaimingtoplayduring thesession. Figure6.9shows themeantarget
tempo per session aswell asthemaximumand minimum target tempo
measured duringeachsession set.
13
128 CHAPTER6
Eventhemaximumandminimumtempidonotgiveacompletepicture
of the range of tempi that actually occurred. Often, the tempo varied
continuouslyasGabrielasloweddowntothinkaboutwhatcamenext,and
thenspeededupagain.Todealwiththismoment-to-momentvariability,
wesetthemetronometomatchthetempothatreappeared repeatedlyin
between slowerpassages.Theslowertempiwerenotmeasured because
they occurred too briefly and because hesitations and pauses do not
haveatempo.
Themeantargettempoincreasedsteadilyacrosssessions,beginningat
82beats per minute and ending with 114. Themaximum target tempo
increasedfrom 112inthefirstlearningperiodto120inthesecondto148in
thethird.Withinlearningperiods,however,themaximumtempodidnot
increase systematicallyacross sessions except during the third period,
whenSessions31to44weredevotedtoincreasingit.Theminimumtarget
tempo,incontrast,didnotchangesystematicallyoverthelearningproc-
ess,butremainedwithinanarrowrangeof64to88.InSessions20to24and
31to44,therewereprolongedperiodsofdeliberateslowpractice,and the
minimum tempo in these sessions reflects of this kind of practice.It is
interestingtonote,therefore,thatasimilarminimumtempooccurredinall
the other session sets even though these did not contain episodes that
couldclearlybelabeledasslowpractice.Apparentlyshortepisodes ofslow
practicewereinterspersed throughoutthelearningprocess.
Gabriela's first choiceof a tempo for performancewas 120beats per
minute. At the beginning of Session 24,she played the piece through
severaltimesatthistempo.Becauseher firstpublicperformancewasthe
followingday,wemayassumethatthiswasthetemposheintendedtouse.
(Unfortunately,wedonothaveatapeoftheperformance.)Itisinteresting
that this same tempo occurred in Session 8during the first fluent run
through the entire piece and again in Session 17,when she was first
practicing playing from memory.Itappears that 120wasthegoalallthe
way through, although there was relatively little practice actually at
thistempo.
InSession31,Gabrielaannouncedthatshehaddecidedto"playiteven
faster"andchose132beatsperminuteas"prettyexciting... anexcellent
tempo."Asalreadynoted, this was not anentirelynew idea.Thesame
tempohadbeentriedoutinSession20,andalsousedbrieflyinSession26.
Yetthenewtempopresentedproblems,particularlyforthefugue(Section
D).Thesolution wasslowpractice.Thefollowingday,Gabrielabrought
thefugueuptothenewtempoinamarathonsession.Shebeganworkwith
themetronome at66.Playingthepassagetwiceateachmetronomesetting,
sheincreased thetempoonenotchatatime,finishingat138.
129 STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG.6.9 Mean,maximum,andminimumtargettempo(beats/min)ineachsessionset.
Gabriela continued toworkwith the metronome until the last taped
session, using tempibothslowerand faster thanher goalof132,withan
averageof114.Sheexperimentedwithfastertempi,workinguponestepat
atime,inSession37from136to148butsettledon138asthemaximum
Thiswasthetempoused inSessions49and 50when sheplayedthrough
thepieceseveraltimestorecordaperformanceonvideotape.OntheCD
recording,however,thetempoisbackto132,thetempooriginallyselected
inSession31.
If thetargettempoinSessions31to44wasbetween 132and 148,why
was the mean target tempo in thesesessionsonly 114?Similarly, if the
targettempowhilepolishing forthe first performancewas 120,why was
the mean target tempo for these sessions only 103?Theanswer is slow
practice,whichGabrielafirstusedforextended,repeated runsinSessions
19 to 24 and then again in Sessions 32, 38, and 39. In polishing for
performance, slow practicerehearses and strengthens memoryretrieval
cuesthatguideperformance.
130 CHAPTER6
MeasuresorEffort andFluency
Practice Rate. Thepredominantimpressionofallthepracticesessions
was one of continuous, urgent activity. We wanted to document this
intensity and urgencyby showing thatalmost everymomentofplaying
timewasfilled.Tothisend,wecomputedthepracticeratebydividing the
number ofbeatsplayed inasession (numberofrepetitionsper bar x210
bars x2beats perbar)bytheplayingtime. Thepractice rateisthusthe
averagenumber ofbeatsactuallyplayed per minuteacrossthe courseof
thewholesession.Weexpectedthepracticeratetobelowerthanbut fairly
closetothemeantargettempoforthesessionperhapsaround100beats
per minute, indicatingthatGabrielaspentalmost allofher practicetime
actuallyplaying.Thisistheimpressiononegetsfromwatchingthetapesof
thepracticesessions.
We were somewhat taken aback to find that the numbers did not
supportthisimpression atall.TheaveragepracticerateisshowninFigure
6.10.Acrossallsessions,theratewasamere24beatsperminute, fluctuat-
ingbetween 18and30beatsperminute.Thepracticeratewasthreetofive
timeslowerthantheaveragetempoforasession.Onreflection,itisclear
thattwofactorsareresponsible forthisshortpauses andplayingbelow
the targettempo.Althoughwehad excludedlong interruptions during
practicesessions from ourmeasureofplayingtime,thisstillleft themuch
more numerous short pauses. These momentary gaps, mostly 1 to 3
secondsinlength, occurred when Gabriela paused tothink, talk tothe
camera,or,intheearlysessions, annotatethescore.
Theother sourceofthelowpractice ratewasplayingbelowthe target
tempo. Asmentioned earlier, Gabrielararelyplayed at a steady tempo
exceptwhendoinglongrunsup tospeed.Therestofthetimethetempo
varied continuously.Ashortpassagewould often beplayed first slowly
and then repeated at varied and increasing tempi until it reached or
exceeded the target tempo. The tempo of longer passages also varied
continuously. For example, at the beginning of Session 12,she played
throughthewhole piece frombeginningtoend.Thetargettempoof11
appeared repeatedly,but wasfrequentlyinterspersed withmuchslower
tempi asGabrielaslowed down to avoidmaking amistakeormentally
review what came next. These slower tempi are not reflected in the
measurement ofthe targettempo becauseeachpersisted for only afew
seconds,changingfromonebartothenext.(Welookatthesourceofthese
hesitations inchap.9.)
Theseconsiderationssuggestedthatweshouldthinkofpracticerateas
ameasureoffluency.Therateofpracticereflectstheslowdowns, hesitations,
and interruptionstothe fluent progressofthemusic.Ifpracticerateisa
131 STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG.6.10 Meanrateofpractice (beats/mm) ineachsessionset.
measureoffluency,then wewould expectittoincreaseacross sessions.
Theabilitytoplayfluentlymust certainlyhave increased withpractice.
Severalofthechangesthatwehavealreadynotedpointinthisdirection.
Mean target tempo increased across sessions, as did the length of run
segments and the percentage of repetitions that were part of a run. In
addition,pausestoannotatethescoreandmakecommentsoccurredlessin
thelatersessions.Allofthesethingswouldbeexpectedtoresultinhigher
ratesofpracticeinlatersessions.
Withsomanyfactorsconvergingtoproduceanincreaseinthepractice
rate,itwassurprisingtofind thatitdidnotshowasteadyincreaseacross
sessions.PracticeratedoesappeartoincreaseinitiallythroughSessions14
to16,but thenitdropssharplyand attheendsofPeriods2and3wasno
higherthanattheendofPeriod1.Statisticaltestsshowthatthe differences
werejustrandomfluctuationsratherthanrepresenting anyrealchange.
14
Whatisgoingon?Weknowthatthemeantargettempoincreased.The
lastsetofsessionswas 30beatsper minutefaster thanthe first set. How
couldthisnotresultinanincreaseintherateofpractice?Partoftheanswer
istheuseofslowpracticeinlatersessions(20-24and3144).Theotherpart
oftheansweristhatuseofhighlyvariabletempipersisted.Evenwhen the
132 CHAPTER6
piece was well learned, Gabriela's playingcontinued tobe interspersed
with hesitations and slowdowns. Why? What was she doing?
15
The
answer, which came as abig surprise to some ofus, was that she was
thinking. Sometimes sheslowed down tomakesure shedid not makea
mistake at some spot that had been giving her trouble. Sometimes she
pausedtomentally rehearsewhatcamenextbeforeplayingit.Sometimes
sheeventriedtotripherselfup:
SometimesIpurposefully trytoshortcircuitmyplayinginordertodouble
check my back-upsystems. Itry tomakeituncomfortable. Forexample,I
might thinkabout amistaketomakemyself concerned toseeifthis short
circuitsmy playing.Another timeImight use the opposite approach and
think, "I can handle this," and make myself feel confident. Playing for
someone[apracticeaudience]isanotherwayofdoingthesamething.Itputs
thepressure on.Iknowitwillmakemecrackup,but Idon't knowexactly
where.ThenwhenIseewheretheproblemsare,IknowwhatIhavetowork
on.Inour study,playingforthevideocamerahad thesameeffect. Youcan
seethiswhen Iplayedfrom memoryinsession 12.Thefirst timethroughI
was verynervous and Ihad allkinds ofproblems. Thesecond timeIwas
muchmorerelaxedanditwentmuchmoresmoothly.
Sowereturntotheideaofpracticerateasanindexofeffort,butnowwe
mustthinkoflowpracticeratesasmoreeffortful thanhighratesinsteadof
the other way around. A low practice rate means that the pianist is
continually slowing down to think about what she is doing instead of
simplyplaying fluentlyandeasily.Theaveragepracticerateranged from
18 to 30 beats per minute, approximately four times slower than the
average target tempoand three times slower than theminimum target
tempi we sampled. Watchingthe tapes, onehasthe impression thatthe
pieceisbeingplayedcontinuouslyand atafasttempo.Infact,mostofthe
time istaken up with pauses and hesitations. It isthis, as much as the
continuous playing, that is responsible for the overall impression of
constanthurry,effort, and striving.
Itwouldnotbesurprisingtofindthiskindofhaltingperformanceinthe
case of work, which naturally consists of short segments and frequent
interruptions.Whatwehavelearnedfromlookingattherateofpracticeis
thatthesamethinghappensduringruns.Thegoalofarunisnotsimplyto
provideafluent,concertlikeperformance.Moreoften thefluent progress
oftheplayingwasdeliberatelydisrupted sothatGabrielacouldtestherself
under the kind ofadverseconditions shemightencounter ifthings went
badlyduring aperformance.
133 STAGESOF PRACTICE
FIG.6.11 Rate/temporatio(rateofpractice/meantargettempo)ineachsessionset.
Rate/Tempo Ratio. Toseehowmuchpracticeistakenupwithhesitations
andpauses,weneedtolookathowmuchthepracticeratefallsshortofthe
targettempo.Thedifferenceisameasureofhowfarplayingdeparted from
thesmooth, fluent ideal.Therelationshipbetweenthetargettempofora
sessionandthepracticerateisprovidedbytherate/temporatio(Fig.6.11).
Therate/tempo ratiowaslow.23andthesmallfluctuationsbetween
.21and .30werenogreaterthanwouldbeexpectedbychance.
Let us try some different ways ofunderstanding what arate/tempo
ratioof.23means.IfGabrielahadplayedatthetargettempoconsistently,a
one-hoursessionwouldhavebeenoverin15minutes.Alternatively,ifshe
had played atthetargettempoforanhour,shewouldhaveplayed four
timesasmuchmusicasshedid.Likepracticerate,therate/temporatiocan
beseenasameasureofeffort atleastafterplayinghasbecomeautomatic.
Lowerratiosreflecthigherlevelsofeffort. Playingup tothetargettempo,
without hesitationor slowing down, iseasier and more satisfyingthan
playingwhilecontinuallyhesitating,pausing,andslowingdown.Onthis
way oflookingat it, a ratio of .23indicates ahigh level of effort. Three
quarters of practice time was spent not in playing, but in thinking
thinkingaboutwhatwasbeingplayed,whathadbeenplayed,orwhatwas
134 CHAPTER6
about tobeplayed. Thissuggests thattheconsistency oftherate/tempo
ratioacrosssessionsmayrepresentanupperlimitontheamountof effort
Gabrielawasabletosustainortheamountofdisruptionshecould tolerate
whilestillpracticingefficiently.
This conclusion solves a puzzle about Gabriela's practice. Piano
pedagogues emphasize theimportanceofslowpractice.Ifyou canplaya
passagecorrectlyataslowtempo,thenbringingituptotempoiseasy.Yet
slowpracticeappearedtobeabsentfrommostofGabriela'searlypractice
sessions.Only inSessions 19to24,32,38,and 39did shesystematically
playlargesectionsofthepieceatamuchreducedtempo.Thepracticerate
of24beatsperminutesuggestsadifferent story.Gabrielawasdoingalot
ofslowpractice,butforshortpassages.Slowpracticewasintermixedwith
practiceup totempo.Sherarelyplayed ataslowtempoforlong,but she
did so frequently. When slow practice was needed, she slowed down.
Whenitwasnot,shespeeded up.
Whenthisfeatureofherpracticewaspointed outtoher,Gabrielawas
pleased.Sheknewthatotherpianistsrelyheavilyonslowpractice,andher
teachers had always emphasized itsimportance. Although she believed
thather styleofpracticeworkedforher,shehad wondered whethershe
shouldbedoingmoreofit.Sheexplained thatinpracticingthePresto,she
would slow down at passages where therewere difficulties sothat she
couldbesurethat,"Myheadwasinfrontofmyhands.Iwantedtobesure
thatIcouldplaythe difficult passages consciously."
Tosummarizethiscomplicatedtale:Webeganbylookingforameasure
thatwouldreflecttheconcentratedeffort andcontinuous,relentlessactiv-
ityapparentinthepracticetapes.Initially,wethoughtthatthehighlevelof
effort wouldbereflected inhighratesofpractice,but wehad overlooked
theenormousamountofplayingbelowthetargettempo.Asaresult,we
weresurprised byhowlowthepracticerateturned outtobeaboutone
quarterofthetargettempo.ItmightseemthatGabrielawastakingiteasy,
spendingthreequarters ofeachpracticesessiondoingnothingjustday
dreaming or resting. Yetthe videotapes showed that nothing could be
further from thetruth.Sowehad toturnourinitialthinking onitshead.
Instead of effortful practicebeing indicated by ahigh practicerate,itis
reflectedbyalowpracticerateandlowrate/temporatios.Practicethatis
full ofpauses and hesitations is effortful. We still seepracticerate as a
measureofconcentrationand effort, but atleast forthis pianist and this
piecelowratesindicatedahighlevelof effort.
Initiallywewerepuzzledbythefactthatneitherthepracticeratenorthe
rate/tempo ratio changed across sessions. We knew that tempo and
segmentlengthincreasedacrosssessions,anditseemedthatthesechanges
should lead to an increase in the rate ofpractice.However, seeing the
135 STAGESOF PRACTICE
practicerateand theratioasmeasuresofeffort makessenseofthe lackof
change.Effort remainedconstant.Gabrielawasnotpracticingjustforthe
pleasure ofplayingthepiecethrough and hearinghow niceit sounded.
Shewasworkingonitandcontinuedtoworktotheveryend.
Itseemslikelythatthehigh levelofeffort reflected inthe rate/tempo
ratios isone ofthe characteristicsof effective practicethatwe set out to
find.Basedonwhatwelearnedinchapter5aboutthenatureofdeliberate
practice, it is perhaps not surprising that an expert's practice would
involve continual monitoring and rapid changes of strategy. What is
surprising is that somuch more time isspent on the mental processes
involvedinmakingthesejudgmentsanddecisionsthaninactuallyplaying
thenotes.Although severalofthepianists inchapter 3talkedaboutthe
importance of mental rehearsal, we did not expect to find that even
practiceatthekeyboardwasmorementalthanphysical.
SUMMARY
In this chapter we provided an overview of the learning process. The
complexstructure,rapidpace,and motoperpetuo styleofthe Prestomeant
that29hoursofpracticeover10monthswasrequiredbeforeGabrielawas
satisfiedthatitwasreadyforrecording,followedbyanother4hourswhile
itwasmaintained inreadinessuntiltheperformance.Practicewasdivided
intothreelearningperiodsseparatedbyperiodsof2to3months.Practice
sessions becameshorter aslearningprogressed, beinglonger inthe first
learningperiod, at thebeginning ofeachperiod, and when anew skill,
suchasplayingfrommemory,wasfirstacquired.Theinitiallearningtook
11hours, after which Gabrielapronounced the Presto to be about60%
learned.Thisprovedtobeaboutrightsofarasthe firstperformancewas
concerned. It took place after another 8 hours of practice.Yet for the
recording, Gabrielawanted alot moremoreexcitement,moreexpres-
sion.Another 10hoursofpolishing wereneeded before she felt readyto
performitthewayshewanted,with4morehoursofmaintenance practice
bringingthetotalpracticetimeto33hours.
Gabrielasettledonatempoof120earlyonandappearstohaveusedthis
for herfirstperformance.DuringPeriod3,however,shedecidedthatthis
tempo was not fast enough. It did not provide the headlong sense of
excitementand momentum thatshethought Bachhad inmind when he
scoredthispiecein2/2 timeandmarkedit"Presto."Shechose132asthe
newtempo,andthiswasthetempo eventuallyused intherecording.In
practice,however,sheregularlysetfastertempi,generallyaround138,but
sometimesevenhigher.Tobringherplayinguptospeed, Gabrielamade
136 CHAPTER6
frequent use ofslow practice, gradually increasing thetempo up to and
beyondthetarget.Shealsousedslowpracticetocheckconceptualmemory
inpolishingforperformance.
TheinitialpracticeofSectionC(Figs.6.2and6.3)providesarepresenta-
tivepictureofseveralimportantcharacteristicsofthepractice.Therewere
periodsofintensiveworkonashortpassageinterspersedwithlongerruns
fitting several sections together. In addition to ironing out the joints
between chunks, runs served to evaluatethe successofthe mostrecent
workand identify otherproblemsneedingwork.Moredifficult passages,
suchasSectionCb,werepracticedmorethaneasiersections,likeCa.With
practice, the differences between easier and harder passages decreased
untiltheydisappearedaltogether.Runsbecamelonger,andtheir propor-
tion increased. Runsaccounted for the majority ofbarsplayed inevery
session, even at the beginning of the learning process. This proportion
increasedacrosssessionssothat,bytheend,runsaccountedforabout95%
ofallthebarsplayed.However,workdidnotdisappearaltogether,evenin
the finalstagesofpolishing.
Twoimportantfeatures ofthepracticeapparentinFigures6.2and6.3
werenotexplored here,butareleftforlaterchapters. First,morepractice
was devoted to the more complex Cb section than to the simpler Ca
sections.Inchapter8,weexaminetheeffectsofdifferentkindsofcomplex-
ityonpractice.Second,sectionboundariesservedasstartingandstopping
places forpractice segments. The use ofsectionboundaries to organize
practicesuggeststhattheformal structuremayhaveservedasaretrieval
schemeassuggested inchapter4.Wereturntothisideawhenwediscuss
memorizationinchapter9.
Gabriela's practicewas continuous, intense, and relentless. This was
reflectedinthelowratesofpracticeandlowrate/temporatios,whichdid
not change across the learning process. Playing was continuallyinter-
rupted by short pauses and hesitations, and this was as true for later
sessions whenthepiececouldbeperformedfluently asforearlysessions
beforefluencyhadbeenachieved.Threequartersofpracticetimeappears
tohavebeen spent inthinking ratherthan playing.Thisintense mental
effort maybeoneofthecharacteristicsthatmakethepracticeofanexpert
so effective.
ENDNOTES
1.OntheCDcoverthepieceislistedaslasting3:14.Theshorterdurationlistedhereis
based onmeasurements ofbardurationdescribed inchapter9.
STAGESOFPRACTICE 137
2.ThesymmetricalrepetitionoftheBandCthemesaroundtheDthemerepresented
inFigure6.1wasnotexplicitlyrepresentedinGabriela'sinitialdescription oftheformal
structurewhichconsisted ofthelabelingofsections, subsections, subsubsections, and
switches inafour-level scheme. Switcheswere listed inthis initialdescription ofthe
formalstructure,buttheirsignificancewasnotappreciatedatthetimebyRoger.When
he did begin to understand their importance, approximately3years later, he asked
Gabrielatomarkthemonthescore,notrealizingthathealreadyhad theinformation.
Gabrieladidso,anditwasthissecondreportthatwasusedintheanalysesreported in
chapters8and9.
3.Theamountofpracticegivenherediffers slightlyfrom thatreportedbyin Chaffin
and Imreh(1997).Lowerestimateswereusedhereforthedurationofthesessionsthat
werenot taped (Sessions23,4548,and51-57).Also,onesession inwhichanew tape
wasstartedmidsession wastreatedastwodifferent sessionsintheearlierreport.
4.Aseriesofshortersegmentsextendingovertwosectionswasalsoregardedasarun
if itappeared thattherun wassimplyinterrupted bytheneed tocorrectafewnotes.
Seriesofoverlappingshorter segments thatextendovermorethantwosectionswere
regardedassegmentsofarununlesstheyincludedthreesuccessiverepetitionsofanote
orsequence ofnotes, inwhichcasethe repetitionwas classified aswork.Allpractice
segmentsthatdidnotmeetthecriteriaforbeingpartofarunwereclassifiedaswork.
5.Whenapracticesegment started or stopped inthe middle ofabar,the bar was
counted ifmore than a single beat of the barthat is,more than half thebarwas
played.Segmentsofasinglebeatorlesswerenotincluded unlesstheywererepeated
morethanthreetimesinsuccession(the"stutter rule").
6.NoquantitativedataarereportedforSessions45to57.Mostofthesesessionswere
not recorded becauselearninghad been completed and maintenancepracticesimply
consisted oftwoorthreerunsthrough frombeginningtoend.Sessions49and 50were
recordedtoobtainarecordofafinishedperformance.Becausetherewassomepractice
inthesesessions,thesedataareincludedwiththoseforSessions31to44.However,this
session set is referred to asSessions 31to 44becausesessions after 44were devoted
primarilytomaintenance.Toobtainmeansforsessionsets,meanswerefirst computed
for eachsession and thesessionsetmeanscomputed from thosemeans.
7.Statisticalcomparisons using two- or one-way ANOVA'sfollowedby post-hoc
comparisonsshowedreliabledifferencesforallthemeasuresinvolvingsegmentlength
andfrequencybetweenatleasttwoofthelearningperiodsandatleasttwoofthesession
sets.Meantargettempoalsoshowedreliabledifferences,butpracticerateandtherate/
temporatiodid not.
8.ThedifferenceinnumberofrunandworksegmentsinSessions26to27and28to30
wasstatisticallyreliable.
9.Moreprecisely,the totalnumber ofbarsplayed in asession was divided by the
numberofbarsinthepieceplayedatleastonceinthesession.EverybarofthePrestowas
played atleastonceineverysessionbut one after the section-by-section stage of the
learningprocess.
10.Thiswasconfirmed byamultipleregression analysisinwhichplayingtimeand
practiceratetogetheraccountedfor85%ofthevariabilityinthenumberoftimeseach
bar wasrepeated(R
2
=.85).
11. The percentage of repetitions that occurred as part of a run = (((runs/
(runs+work))*100).
12.The percentage based on the number of run and work segments is not pre-
sented here.
13.When the Franzelectronicmetronome used for these measurements was cali-
bratedagainstastopwatch,measuredtempiwereslowerthantruetempiby3.4%at120
beatsper minute and 8.0%at60beatsper minuteaboutonemarkingonthemetro-
nomescale.Themeasuresreportedinthetextand figure inthischapterhavenotbeen
138 CHAPTER6
adjusted, however, because the metronome used by Gabrielaappears to have been
subject toasimilarmeasurementerror.InSession 31,Gabrielareportedthatthenew,
fastertemposhehadchosenwas132onthemetronomeshewasusing.Measurementso
bardurationatthistempo(describedinchap.9)indicatedthattheactualtempowas139
beatsperminute,5.3%fasterthanthetempoindicatedbythemetronome.Tomaintain
consistencywiththisreportedtempo,themeasurements oftemporeportedherehave
notbeenadjusted.Mostmetronomes areprobablysubject toasimilarleveloferrorof
measurement. The tempi reported here probably underestimate the true values
by3%to8%.
14.The one-way ANOVA's for rate of practice and rate/tempo ratio were not
significant (p>.05).
15.Commenting to the cameraadded to the pauses inpractice,and sothe rateof
practicemighthavebeendecreasedbythepresenceofthecamera.Threeconsiderations
suggest thatcommentshadlittleimpactontherateofpracticeandshouldnotalterthe
conclusionhere.First,therateofpracticewasequallylowinsessionswheretherewere
few comments (1112,2022,and 3144;seeTable7.2)and in sessionswherethere
werethemostcomments(1-6).Second,therateofcommentingwasneververyhigh,
rangingfrom onecommentevery2minutesinSessions1to6tooneevery5minutesin
Sessions 31to44.Becausecomments weretypicallyshort,taking 1to3seconds, this
roughestimatesuggests theproportion oftimetakenup incommentingranged from
1%to3%.Thesesmallvaluesdolittletomakeupthe77%ofpracticetimethathastobe
accountedfor.Third,makingcommentsrequiresthoughtandmentaleffort sothateven
if commenting did affect the practicerate, the observed ratestillrepresents a lotof
mental effort.
S E V E N
IntheWords ofthe Artist
Roger (Chaffin ana Gabriela Imreh
Ashepracticed,Gabrielacommented fromtimetotimeonwhatshe
was doing. Our description ofthe learning process dependsheavily on
thesecomments.Althoughdescribingthepianist'sactivityatthekeyboard
provides important information about what went on in the practice
sessions,itdoesnottelluswhatshewastryingtoaccomplish.Forthis,the
comments aremuch morehelpful. Inthenextchapter, we return to the
activityatthekeyboardandlinkitmoredirectlytoitsgoals.First,letussee
what canbe learned about those goals from thepianist'saccountofher
ownactivity.
Gabrielatalkedaboutwhatshewasdoingasmuchasshecouldwithout
interfering with her work. Particularlyin the early sessions, she made
frequent comments.Mostwereshort,madeduring briefpausesbetween
practicesegments.Somearecryptic,butmanyprovideaclearand detailed
account of goals and strategies. From time to time, Gabriela stopped
practicing to provide a longer explanation of some point she felt was
significant.Attheend ofthreesessions (12,17,and 24),shegaveparticu-
larly detailed descriptions of what she had been working on, going
through thescoreidentifying features ofthemusicthatcurrentlyneeded
herattention.
139
140 CHAPTER7
TABULATIONOFTHE COMMENTS
Gabriela'scommentsweretranscribed and the frequency of20 different
topics counted. The topics, shown in Table 7.1with examples, were
organized into four broad groups.Comments aboutbasicissues (finger-
ing,technical difficulties, and familiarpatterns)dealtwiththosefeatures
ofthepiecethatapianistmustpayattentiontosimplytoplaythroughit.
Commentsaboutinterpretation(phrasing,tempo, dynamics,andmiscel-
laneous) dealt with decisions that shaped the musical characterof the
piece.Commentsabout performance (memory,musicalstructure,useof
the score, and attention)concerned issues involved inperforming from
memory. Comments about metacognitive issues dealt with progress or
lack of it (evaluation, affect, learningprocess), reflections about the re-
search(research),and strategies (plans,slowpractice,useofmetronome,
fatigue,evaluationofeditionofthemusic).
Thefirst threeofthesegroupingswereinitiallydevelopedbyGabriela
whendescribingthedecisionsshemadeduringpracticeandthefeaturesof
the piece she attended to inperformance.Detailsofthis description are
given in the nextchapter,where itisused to identify the aspects ofthe
piecethatreceivedthemostpracticeateachstageofthelearningprocess.
Inthischapter,weuseasimilarframeworktodeterminewhichaspectsof
the piece received the most comments. This makes it possible to see
whether the topics commented on most were also the ones that were
practicedmost (Chaffin &Imreh,2001).
Thenumberofcommentsoneachtopicwascountedforeachofthe37
practicesessionsforwhichthecommentswereaudible,andsessionswere
combined into sets. Comments from Session 24are reported separately
becausetheycameattheend ofthesessionwhenGabrielawent through
the score describing in detail her interpretation of the piece and the
features she still needed to attend to in performing it. This lengthy
descriptionwasunliketheshortcommentsmadeduringpracticeandwas
tabulatedseparately.
1
THE SHIFTFROMBASICTO
INTERPRETIVETOPICS
The pianist's concerns changed across the learning process. The main
direction of the change can be seen in Figure 7.1, which shows the
percentage of comments about basic, interpretive, performance, and
metacognitiveissuesineachlearningperiod.Commentsaboutbasicissues
TABLE7.1
CategoriesUsedinContentAnalysis ofCommentsMade
During Practice
Topics Examples
Basic
Fingering Theseareveryweak fingers.
Technical Itsoundsabsolutelyinsanebecauseofthelargestretch.
Patterns Ihavenoideawherethismotif isgoing.Itjustgoesall
overtheplace.
Interpretation
Phrasing I'mtryingtoemphasizethissyncopation.
Tempo Atleastthere'snotempo problems.
Dynamics/pedal Thatgivesmeroomforanicecrescendo.
Miscellaneous It'sreallyapolphonic theme...nottheme and
accompaniment.
Performance
Memory There'snothingelselikeit,sothereisnothingtoshort
circuitit.
Musicalstructure Ihavetocheckeverytransitionbecauseeverytimeitis
something different.
Use ofscore I'lltrytoplaythefirsttwopages frommemory.
Attention Ireallyhavetoconcentratetogetthroughitin
onepiece.
Metacognitive
Evaluation Iamstillnothappywithit.
Affect Itismiserablework.
Learningprocess Ineverhad toreworkthat section.
Research It'salittlebitinconvenient toturnthemachineon.
Plans+strategy WhatIamgoingtodotodayisjusttouchitup.
Slowpractice Iamgoingtoplayi t . . .definitelyunder tempo.
Metronome Themetronomeseems tohave helped.
Fatigue I'mgoingtostopbecauseIamverytired.
Editor IamgoingtolookatanothereditionbecauseIwantto
knowifIhaveoptions.
141
142 CHAPTER7
FIG.7.1 Percentageofcommentsmadeduringpracticeaboutbasic,interpretive, performance,
andmetacognitive issuesineachlearning period.
decreased over the three learning periods, whereas comments about
interpretation increased steadily. Comments about performance issues
werefrequent inthefirsttwolearningperiodsanddecreasedinthethird.
Commentsaboutmetacognitiveissueswerethemostfrequentthroughout
andincreasedsubstantially inthethirdperiod.
Table7.2showsthe frequency oftheindividualtopicsforeach session
set.Inthe following sections,weuseGabriela'scomments,organized in
termsofthefourmaincategories,toprovideamoredetailedpictureofthe
learning process.
Basic Issues
Comments aboutthe basictopicsoffingering,technicaldifficulties, and
familiar patternswereconcentratedin the sectionby section stage(Ses-
143 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
sions16)asthepianistwasworkingherwaythroughthepieceforthefirst
time (seeTable7.2).Commentson these topics then decreased sharply,
consistentwiththeideathatthesebasictopicshavetobeaddressedonlyat
theoutset.Interestingly,however, afewfingeringand technical difficul-
tieswere mentioned asstill needing attention right before the first per-
formanceinSession24,suggestingthattheywerefunctioningasperform-
ancecues(seechaps.8and9).
Fingering and Technical Difficulties. Fingerings are a very personal
choicedepending onthesizeofthehandandtheinfluenceofone'sschool
ofpianoplaying.Thechoiceofwhichfingertouseforanoteisconstrained
by avariety oftechnical, interpretive,and expressive factors,aswell as
performanceconsiderations,suchastheneedtoattendtootheraspectsof
themusicataparticularpointintimeandpragmaticfactorssuchaseaseof
memorization. Fingeringwas the subjectofthe majority ofthe pianist's
commentsinSessions1to6assheworkedthroughthepiece,asectionata
time,tryingoutfingeringsandwritingdecisionsonthescore.
Apianist'strainingincludeslearningfingeringsforstandardpatternsof
notes (e.g., scales, arpeggios, and diatonic triads). Fingerings for these
standard patterns are relativelyautomaticforaskilled pianist (Sloboda,
Clarke, Parncutt,&Raekallio(1998). In Session 1,Gabrielaexpressed a
preferenceforastandard fingering,explainingthat,
I am going to change this fingering [the editors'], because it's obviously
useless.I'mgoingtocountonastraightFmajorfingeringasopposedtowhat
they[theeditors]do... [because]I'dhavetolearnsomethingbrandnew.
In the edition Gabrielaused, the editor, Kurt Soldan, had indicated
fingerings (see Appendix 1), and part of the decision-making about
fingeringinvolvedevaluatinghissuggestions. Sherapidlyformed agood
opinion ofhiswork.DuringSession1,sheturnedtothecoverpagetosee
who the editor was and then repeated a suggested fingering with
thecomment,
Someoftheseideasarereallygood.Forinstance,thisisreallyintriguingand
it'squiteunusual,butitmightworklikeacharm.
LaterinSession5,sheregrettedgivingtheeditor'ssuggestionssomuch
weight: "I have to rework this ... I learned it allwrong ... I tookfor
grantedwhatwaswritten,anditcanbedonesomuchbetter."
144
TABLE 7.2
FrequencyofCommentsbyTopic andSessionSetWithPercentagesfortheMajorCategories
PracticeSession Sets
Topic 1-6 7-8 9-10 11-12 13 17 20-22 24 25-30 31-44
Basic
Fingering 32 3 1 0 2 1 0 12 0 0
Technical 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 7 2 4
Patterns 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 0
TotalBasic 49 4 4 0 2 2 0 20 4 4
% 38 14 10 0 20 7 0 23 12 3
Interpretation
Phrasing 4 1 6 0 1 0 0 11 3 4
Tempo 4 1 2 0 0 0 2 2 1 20
Dynamics 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 0 2
Miscellaneous 2 0 6 0 0 0 5 6 5 13
TotalInterpretation 12 2 14 0 1 0 7 33 9 39
% 8 7 34 0 10 0 27 37 26 32
Performance
Memory 14 5 0 3 1 4 2 3 5 2
Attention 7 2 0 1 1 1 1 10 1 3
Structure 19 0 3 6 1 8 0 7 0 2
Score 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 2 4
Total Performance 40 8 3 10 3 17 3 20 8 11
% 28 29 7 50 30 57 11 23 23 10
Metacognitive
Evaluation 25 5 13 3 3 4 9 4 5 15
Affect 5 2 1 1 0 3 3 3 0 5
LearningProcess 2 4 2 2 1 2 0 1 0 4
ResearchProcess 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 4 3 1
Plans+strategy 9 2 2 4 0 0 3 3 3 18
Slow-practice 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7
Metronome 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 14
Fatigue 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
Editor 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
Metacognitive 44 14 20 10 4 11 16 15 13 69
% 30 50 49 50 40 37 61 17 38 56
146 CHAPTER7
Technicalconsiderations wereonebasis forfingeringdecisions: "Just
tryingtoseeifthefingeringsmatchtogether.Hereitlookslikeaproblem
with right and left hand. [PLAYS].Thetwohandsdon't seem to bother
eachother"(Session1).Also,"See,inthefingeringheretherearetoomany
turns.... SoI'meliminatingthemallinthisonegroup.Ihopeit'sgoingto
help. [PLAYS].Itworks"(Session4).Decisionsaboutfingeringwerealso
based oninterpretive andexpressiveconsiderations: "The reasonhe[the
editor]does thisisbecausetheseareveryweakfingers,sohe's ... using
stronger fingerssowemight have more clarity" (Session 2),and "It's a
crazy,veryuncomfortablefingering,but it's going tosound betterandI
cangetawaywithitifIreplace..." (Session4).
Another constraint in selecting fingerings was ease ofmemorization.
Gabriela waslookingforrepeatedpatternsand, wheneverpossible,used
the same fingeringforapattern eachtimeitappeared. InSession 1,she
noted that she was trying, "To keep the fingering as symmetrical as
possible, which helps most with my memory." Absence of a familiar
patternmade memorizationmore difficult: "WhatIdon'tlikeabout this
fingeringis[that]itbreaksthepatterncompletely.Thehand isnotableto
have[a]... solidreferralpoint."
Settlingfingeringsisthefirstprioritywhenlearninganewpiece.Motor
memory begins to develop immediately so that changing a fingering
producesinterferencebetween theoldandnewfingeringsandtakesalot
longertolearnthantheoriginalchoice.Toavoidthisinterference,apianist
musttrytoanticipatehowshewillwanttoperformthemusicwhensheis
abletoplayfluentlyanduptospeed.Evenintheinitialsessions,beforeshe
couldplayfluently,Gabrielahadtoanticipateherinterpretiveandexpres-
sive goals so that her choice of fingerings would not constrain her.
ThinkingaboutthisinSession4,she noted,
I sometimes do change [fingerings]much later in the [learning]process.
[Just]becauseeverythingisworking[in]slowtime,ofcourse,[doesnotmean
itwillworkatafastertempo].Certainthingsjustturnoutnottoworkatall.
There were also comments about technical difficulties that did not
involveexplicitdiscussion offingeringchoices:
Righthereit'spurelyatechnicalproblem.IamhavingtroublebecauseIam
tryingtophrasesimilarnotesdifferently. IamtryingtoplayAsharp andI
amnotverysuccessful atit.(Session4)
Therighthandisfairlyeasy. . .[butthesamemotif]isexactlywhatbothers
the left hand. The weak fingers stop this nice rotation, so I'm trying to
147 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
transmitsomestrengthfromtherighthand.It'slikeifIexplaintobothhands
thattheyhavethesamethingtodo,maybeit'sgoingtohelp.(Session5)
You know occasionally, although there is not any obvious technical
difficulty, thereis[aproblem].Tohit thatGisone.ForsomereasonIkeep
overshootingit.(Session9)
Patterns. Apianist'sselectionoffingeringsbeginswiththerecognition
of familiar patternsofnotes forwhich standard fingeringsare automati-
callyavailable(Slobodaetal.,1998).Mostofthesewentunremarked, but
Gabrielanoted in Session 1:"The sequence is [PLAYS].Seehow simply
theysettle in."
However, unpredictability is characteristic of Bach's music, and the
Prestoisnoexception.Bach'sunpredictabilityisduepartlytohisrepetition
of themes and patterns in new variations and partly to his historical
position at the beginning of the development ofpiano technique. As a
memberofthefirstgeneration tocomposeforthepianoforte,Bachdid not
havethebenefitofthedevelopments inpianotechniquethatcamefromthe
work ofthe great pianist-composers like Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt.
These latercomposers established the characteristicpatterns ofpianistic
compositionsofamiliartoustoday.InBach'stime,thesefamiliar patterns
had yet to be invented, so the patterns he used seem unpredictable
toustoday.
These differences are reflected in the way the different composers
workedBach on paper (sofar as we know), Chopin and Liszt at the
pianoandinthemusicBach'smusiccomesfromthehead,Chopinand
Liszt'sfrom thehand.Gabrielaremarkedonthese differences:
Ifyoulistentothese...,it'snotlikeaChopinnocturnewhereyoucanpretty
muchpredictwhatisgoingtohappen.Everythingisnew.Almosteverybar
[there]issomethingthathasalmostnothing todowiththeideabefore....
[Here there is a] scale ... and then ... that's something new, [that has]
absolutelynothingtodo [withwhatwentbefore].(Session1)
Gabrielanotedtheimpactofthislackofpredictabilityonmotormemory:
Aproblemisthatnoneofthehandscangoonautomaticpilot,which,tobe
honest,I'vegottenused to[inplayingalotofRomanticrepertoire].... For
instance,hereIhavet o. . .watchforthat.Imayactuallychangethefingering
back [tothe standard fingering]because itseems to take too much ofmy
concentration.(Session1)
148 CHAPTER7
Shealsonotedtheimportanceofpredictabilityforauditorymemory."I
havenoideawherethismotif [isgoing].Itjustgoesallovertheplace.This
isoneofthoseplaces... whereaudiomemorydoesnothelpwhatsoever"
(Session1).
Interpretive Issues
Commentsaboutinterpretationoccurredmostlyatthebeginningandend
ofthelearningprocess (seeTable7.2).Thereweresomecommentsabout
eachaspectofinterpretationinthepracticebysectionsstage(Sessions1-6)
and earlyinthe graystage (Sessions9-10).After this,therewere almost
nonefortheremainder ofthegraystageorduring theputtingittogether
stage in Session 17.Not until the polishing for the first performance
(Sessions20-23)docommentsabouttempoandgeneralinterpretiveissues
reappear, and even then the number issmall.However, Gabriela must
havebeenthinkingaboutinterpretationbecauseitisthemainfocusofher
descriptionofhow sheplanstoperformthepieceattheend ofSession24.
Afterthis,interpretation continued asthemostfrequenttopicofcomment
duringthethirdlearningperiod.Inthefinalsessionset(3144),interpreta-
tionwasmentioned morefrequently thanatanyothertime.
Interpretation ofBach'smusicisacontroversialsubject formusicians.
Interpretive options are generally considered to be more restricted for
BaroquethanforRomanticmusic.Baroquecomposersweremorecontent
to follow convention, whereas the Romanticsvalued unconventionality.
Also,thedynamiclimitationsofBaroque-erakeyboardinstruments(e.g.,
theharpsichordandclavichord)areassumedtohaveplacedlimitationson
the use ofdynamicvariationinthe performancepracticesofthe period.
Therewere,however,stillplentyofinterpretivedecisions tobemade.
PhrasingandDynamics. Wehavealreadynoted thatdecisions about
fingering werebased, inpart, on interpretive and expressive considera-
tions. Other commentsinSessions 1to6alsoindicatethatGabrielawas
thinking about interpretation intheinitialsectionbysectionstage:"I've
beendyingtotrythat,toput theforteinonthat"(Session4).
Mostofthecommentsaboutphrasing anddynamicsinSessions1to6
explainedhowtryingtoimplementaparticularinterpretivedecisionmade
apassage difficult toplay:
Actually, Iwant toput the accent here ... and that's muchharder todo.
(Session4)
149 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
ThereasonIstumblediswhenIwantedtodosomethinginteresting.Yousee
howhereithasafeelingoffourquarternotes.... Itfeelslikethebar divides
up intwo, and actuallyitgivesitalot ofenergy,soIwant todothat and
emphasizeit.(Session4)
Comments likethissuggest thatdecisions aboutphrasing onlyattracted
comment when they resulted in technical difficulties or a nonstandard
interpretation of the music. Because she had played so much Bach,
Gabriela may have made many interpretive decisions automaticallyby
analogywithpiecesshealreadyhadinherrepertoire.
Otherthangeneralevaluativeremarks,interpretationbecamethemost
frequenttopicofcommentinSessions9and10.Mostwereaboutphrasing.
Forexample,"Okay,Iwasthinkingaboutbringingoutallthelongnotes."
Commentscontinuedtobedirectedatthedifficultiesthatphrasing caused:
"EverytimeItrytobringouttheleft hand ... Iscrewup." Butaesthetic
effectsarealsomentioned:"Oh, thatisabeautifuldiscovery.Iamgoingto
keepitlikethat,andIhaven'thearditlikethatwithotherpeople,[PLAYS].
Tobringoutthelongnotes."
InSession10,Gabrielanoted thatphrasingwashercentralconcern:
Mostly,I'mworkingonphrasing.I'mplayingsomethingsveryshort. . .and
somethingsverylongandprecise,anditsreallythreeplans[voices]or four
thatyouhavetocontrolatthesametime,asyousee[PLAYS].Seethat'swhy
... I'mhavingmoretroublewiththatbar,becausethere [are]threethings
happening. I'm trying to teach myself to detach those notes. Trying to
emphasizethissyncopation.
After 5minutes morework,"IhavetoworkinoneaccentthatIhaven't
got...."Laterinthesamesession,"It's terriblebecauseIfeellikeIshould
holdtheE,andthatbreakscompletelythewholerhythm."
The work on phrasing continued at the start of the second learning
period.Insession 13,Gabrielacommented,"Iamtryingtobringout[the]
soprano,thetop.... It'sjustanexperimenttomakeitmoreenjoyable."
Unfortunately, exceptfor Session 17,which contained no comments on
interpretation,the commentarywas largelyinaudible from Session 15to
Session23.
Session 24was thelastpracticesession before Gabrielaperformed the
pieceinpublic.ShewasleavingtoflytoArkansaslaterthesameday.Her
goalwasto"Justtouchitup." Attheendofthesession,shedescribedwhat
shehadbeenworkingon:"I'm tryingtoworkalotmoreontouches,sound
quality,and differences indynamicsthatarealsodifferences intoneand
color."Shethenwentthrough thepiece,barbybar,describing whatshe
150 CHAPTER7
wastryingtoaccomplishateachpoint.Fingeringandtechnical difficulties
werementioned,butthemainfocuswasonphrasingand interpretation:
Inbars8,9,10andonI'mtryingtolightenthesoundup... andbringoutthe
left hand.Justeveryothernote,forcing italittlebit out.I'm alsotryingto
make the theme abit more robust with a little pedal on the ending once
inawhile.
There was also a focus on dynamics: "The dynamic changes I already
workedinat[bar]number 17.Remember,I'mdoinganecho,andIthinkit
worksverywellinbar 19.Andthenbacktoforte inbar20." Therewere
commentsabouttempo:"And Islowdownalittlebitattheendingof23. . .
justtoemphasize theend ofthe first musicalsection,"and aboutexpres-
sion:"I'm tryingtobring[thetheme]outinamorelyricalwayinbar52-53
andmaybenotquitesoshort."Thepianist'sconcernswith interpretation
werealsoevident insomeofhercommentsabouttechnicaldifficulties: "I
trytoputtheaccentsin;it'sveryhard."
Gabrielawasalsoattendingtorelationsbetweendifferent repetitionsof
thesametheme,makingsuretogiveeachitsowndistinctcharacter.
[Bar] 155[is]again very light pianissimo. This time,though, I'm doing
different dynamicsfromthesimilarsectionon77. . . . HereIdoacrescendo.
It reverses again, and I'm trying to emphasize how the whole section
expandsintwodirections. It'squiteexciting,andIstillhavetothinkhere.
The focus on interpretation continued in the third learning period.
CommentsinSessions28to30wereprimarily concernedwithphrasing
anddynamics:
Itsounds abitbusy.Iamtryingtothinitout.(Session28)
I'mmakingsomemoremusicaldecisions.... ThereareafewthemesthatI
wanttobringup,especiallywhen theycomeinleft hand like [bar]93,and
also when it comes in the middle of the fugue. I want to bring it out.
(Session28)
Iwastryingtobringouttheeighthnotesinthatline.(Session31)
I'mgoingtobringouttheselines.... That'sthefirst one.There'sonehere
that's much more interesting because the voices move alittlebit onthat.
That's[bars]72through73andon.Andthen,yes,let'ssee.... (Session33)
Iread ... thatBachwasn't muchofanechodynamicsfan,but thisisoneof
thefewplaceswhereheactuallywrotesomein.AndI[found]outmorein
151 INTHEWORDS OFTHEARTIST
[thispiece]thanwhat's[written]there.ButIthinkthatkindofopensthedoor
becausenobodyelse.... (Session33)
Fiveminuteslater,"Yes,Ithinkitisgoingtowork.Ifoundanotherone.It's
reallybeautiful"(Session33).
Session33appeared tocompletetheworkonphrasingand dynamics.
The only other comments on these topics were the resolve, expressed
repeatedly(Sessions33,39,and41),"Togovery,verylight[ly]."InSession
41,assheconcluded that thepiecewas learned, Gabrielanoted: "I still
havetotrytolightenupthetouchtothemaximum,butIhavetomakesure
thatthepianoresponds."
Tempo. Therewerefewcommentsaboutchanges oftempo.Asnoted
earlier,theBaroquetraditionallowsrelativelylittlefreedomtovarytempo
within a piece. In Session 31,however, Gabrieladecided to change the
tempo ofthe whole piece and "play it even faster." Shementions this
frequently insubsequent sessions,andlaterinaninterview:
EversinceIwas akid Ihavebeenaterriblespeed freak. IthinkifIdid not
havethepianoitwouldbeterriblebecauseIwouldgetitoutofmysystem
somehow.Ithinkitisthethrillofit.Iactuallyrelateittoracecardrivers.Ican
justtellit'sthesamekindoffeeling.
I have to recognize that [feeling] in me as a performer because it is
dangerous. As a kid,I was always playing everything faster than I was
supposed to.MypianoteacheralwayssaidshewouldneedValiumbeforea
concertofminebecauseIwouldshowuponstagesmiling,lookingperfectly
fine.ThenIwould sitdown and shewouldjusthangontotheseat.... Of
courseitwas theadrenaline.... Soitwas animbalancethatIhad trouble
with.ButIdolikespeed.Neuhaus[theRussianteacherandpianist]saidthat
pianistswhoatsomepointintheirlivesdonothavethedesiretobeatthelife
outofthepianoarenevergoingtoamounttoanything.
WiththeBach[Presto],thepeoplewhosayyoushouldn'tplaythesepieces
fastareterriblywrong.Tomeitisridiculoustoclaimthatspeed wasnotthe
Baroqueway.Theviolinistswereplayingfast. ListentoVivaldi.It'swild,
andit'sfine,andeveryonesays,"Goahead."Butwhenpianistsplayinthat
tempo,peoplesay,"No,no.Theharpsichorddidn'tgothatfast,"thatitwasa
limitationoftheinstrument,thecomposerwasnotfeelingthatkindofspeed.
But,asamatteroffact,theharpsichordisamuchlighterinstrument,soyou
canplaymostthingsfasterontheharpsichordthanonthepiano.And,inthe
case of the Bach, Ialso felt that people played it slower because ofsome
technicalrestrictions,becausetheycouldn'tplayitfaster. Iwantedtotryto
actuallyplayitasfast asit felt itshould go.And itispresto,and it'sincut
time.Soyou know you haveeveryindication from the old Bach thatyou
coulddoit[thatway].It'slikeagreenlight.
152 CHAPTER 7
Soitwasaveryclearlycalculatedrisk.IknewexactlywhatIwasdoing.I
wasactuallyconstantlybattlingmyinstincttogofasterjustforthesakeofit,
for thepleasure ofit.Iusuallytrytofind anexcuseforit.Theexcusecanbe
choosing the right music or, like in this case, I think it's real. There's
something thatcomesout thatdoes notcomeout atanyother speed. This
reallywildchitter-chatter.Adifferentmusic,likeahiddenpolyphony, thatif
youplayabitsloweryoudon't hear.Itdoesn'tgel.
AndIthinkitisdevilishlyhardtoplaythisway.Now,thefunpartis,that
onceyoucanplayitthatway,youcangodown[intempo]alittlebit...You
wanttomakesureyoucanplayitfasterthanyouwillinperformance,sothat
youhavethatlittlecushionthere.That'sgoodtoknow, [whenyouwant]to
playitthat fast.
In Session 31,the pianist first checked her playing for stability: "I'm
going to run it with the metronome ... Seewhat happens. [See]ifI'm
shifting the tempo a lot." After playing through the entire piece, she
concluded,
Thatwasmiserableplaying,butatleastthere'snotempoproblem.Muchless
than Iexpected. Iusually can tell, ifI'm not feeling comfortable with the
metronome, that there's some technical, [or]some rhythm problem. Butit
doesn'tseemlikeI'mgettingoff[tempo]somuch.It's[just]moreconcentra-
tion[thatisneeded], asusual.
Shethenplayedthepiecethroughatafaster tempothatmetwithher
approval.
Okay,that'sprettyexciting.I'mgoingtocheckthistempoandwriteitdown
becauseit'sfairly fast . . . . Iwould saythatisanexcellenttempo, andit's
metronome[marking]132[beatsperminute],whichisupthere.Asyousee,
I'mhavingenormousproblemswiththefugue.I'llhavetogetonit.
Shepostponed that task, however. After working on some remaining
pointsofinterpretation,shetriedthenewtempoagain,"Mainlytojusttry
toletitadjustbyitself. SeehowmuchIcandowithouttoomuchpractice.
ButtrytochangetechnicallywhatIneedtochangetogotowarpspeed."
LaterGabrielaexplainedthatshewas seeinghow farshecouldgowhile
stillcontinuingtoattendtothesameperformancecuesshehadbeenusing
attheslowertempo:"Everytimeyouraisethegeneraltempoyouhaveto
get rid ofmoreperformance cuesbecausethere isa limitto how many
activecuesthebraincanhandle."Shehadhopedthatshemightbeableto
manage the new tempo without eliminating performancecues,but this
153 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
provedimpossible.ParticularlyinSectionD,majorthinningandreorgani-
zationwasneeded:
Itwouldberealexcitingwithoutthatfugue.IhaveacoupleofplaceswhereI
haveserious lefthandproblems.Younoticeitin[bar]97and ... about[bar]
132.I'llhavetoactuallysitdownandpracticerealhard,slowpractice.Ineed
morepatience(Session31).
Thehard,slowpracticebeganthenextday.
AtthebeginningofSession32,Gabriela gave herself one last chance,
playingthepiecethroughtwiceatthenewtempo(132beatsperminute)to
seewhether slowpracticemightnotbeneeded after all.Sheconcluded,
Okay,well... Ihavetositdownwiththispieceofmetronome,thisterrible
bit of equipment and work on the fugue. Actually,the whole page that
containsthefugue,becauseIstillcan'tgetthroughthat [atthenewtempo].
I'llopenmymusic,andI'mgoingtosetthemetronometoaslower,veryslow
speed actually. I'll move it up slot by slot, very patiently. So I have to
remembermygoalis132.1usuallycountbackfromthatabout20[notcheson
themetronome].It'sgoingtobevery,veryslow,butitusuallyworks.
GabrielaworkedwiththemetronomethroughoutSession32andagain
inSessions 37,38,and41,graduallybecomingmorecomfortablewiththe
newtempo.InSession33,shenoted, "Istill feel likeit's astruggle inthis
tempo,andIneed toworkmoretomakethetempocomfortable.It'svery
hard and stickyhere."InSession35,shewas"Stillcrackinguphereand
there,butitsgettingbetter."InSession36,"Well,asyousee,themistakes
arestartingtofadeoutalittlebi t . . . . It'scomingalong."BySession41,she
wasabletoreport,"Now,thisis[the]tempothatI . . .setaboutthreeweeks
ago[132],and [then]itseemedliketopnotch,maximum.[Now]itisquite
comfortable." Even so,use ofthe metronome "Is probably going to be
prettystandard routineforawhile."
In Session 42,she began to use the metronome in a new way, not
increasing the tempo gradually, but playing with it set at her targeted
tempo. Gabrielaexplained, "The metronome seems tohave helped, be-
causeitseemstomethatitismuchmorestable."Themetronomewasused
againinthisway inSessions 43,44,45,and 49.Gabrielaexplained, "The
metronomeisnecessarybecauseithelpsmereachasteadinessthatisvital
for this.Andsometimesunsteadiness isduetorealtechnicalproblems.So,
... weneedtoeventhose out."
Thequestionoftheoptimumtempoforperformanceremainedopen.In
Session31,Gabrielahaddecidedthatatempoof132was"prettyexciting."
154 CHAPTER7
But she also wanted to play expressively, with all of the interpretive
decisions shehad made at the slower tempo. Indeed, she continued to
makeinterpretivedecisions inSessions 31and 33even after decidingon
thenewtempo.Therewasaconflict here.Playingfaster gavetheexcite-
mentthatshewanted,butmadeithardertobringoutsomeofthenuances
of interpretation.InSession35,sheobserved,
Imaystilltakethetempodownalittlefortherecording.Idon'tknowyet.I
justdon'twantittosound super frantic. Ihavetosomehow makeitsound
easy.IfImanagethat,thetempoisgoingtowork.IfIdon't,I'llhavetoslow
down. [Meanwhile],practicingfast isnot goingtohurtatall.EverytimeI
slowdownjustalittlebititseemslikeitissomucheasier.
InSession37,shepushed thetempoupto148before commenting,
Iwasexperimenting.Thisisbrilliant.Aninsanetempo.Ijustwantedtoseeif
ithasanythingtooffer.Itwastoofast.Imayplayitslower.Ijustdon'tlikeit
veryveryfast,soImayslowitdown.Let'ssee.
Shesettled onatempoof138.
InSession41,theexercisewasrepeatedasshepushed thetempoupto
148again:"Imighttrytoseeonenotchup,justtoseewhathappens,maybe
two.[Iwill]justtrytoplaymuchlighter.It'sanexperiment."Shereached
the sameconclusion:"It'stoomuch.It'sugly." After playing thepiece
throughagainalittleslower,sheconcluded,"That'sfast,that's138andit's
justaboutmaximum,Ithink,forthatpiece.Itjustcan't takemore [or]it
soundsfrantic."
A tempo of 138becamethe new standard for the remainingpractice
sessions.Yet,asshehadforecastinSession35,shedidtakethetempoback
down (to 132)for the recording. Gabrielawas not prepared to sacrifice
either the nuances of her interpretation or the excitementof the faster
tempo.Withhard work,shemanaged boththenuanced interpretation
andthe"warpspeed".
Performance Issues
Thefasttempoand formalcomplexityofthePrestodemandahighlevelof
attention. Retrievalcues must be brought to mind at a great rate, and
retrievalfromlong-termmemoryhastoberapidandautomatic.Withbars
goingbyattherateofmorethanonepersecond,thereislittletimetothink
aboutwhatcomesnext.Becausethis islargelyamemoryissue,mostof
Gabriela'scommentsaboutperformanceappearinchapter9,whichdeals
155 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
withthistopic.Herewesimplyoutlinetheissuesandindicatethepointsin
thelearningprocesswheretheybecamesalient.
Attention. Gabrielafirst commented ontheneed forconcentration in
Session5.
Nowformetoactually[playitata]tremendousspeedlevel,Ithinkoneofthe
biggest problems for performanceis going to be that, literally for seven
pages,...probablyaboutfive minutes,there'sabsolutelynoplacetorelax
... itispureconcentration.
Comments about theneed forattention appeared againinSession 24as
Gabrieladescribedthethingssheneededtothinkaboutassheperformed.
Attention became a central issue again in Sessions 31to44asGabriela
pushed the tempo up, increasing the rate at which attention had tobe
switched from onememoryretrievalcuetothenext.
Memory and Use of the Score. Memory was a subject of comment
throughout thelearningprocess.Wehavealreadynoted commentsindi-
catingthateaseofmemorizationplayedaroleintheselectionoffingerings
and comments about the difficulty ofremembering unfamiliar patterns.
The first comments about playing from memory appeared in Session 8,
when Gabriela mentioned that she had just played the piece through
without looking atthe score.InSession 12,shementioned that she was
goingtoplaywithoutthescore todemonstratethatshedidhavethepiece
memorized. Comments about memory appear again in Session 17,as
Gabrieladescribedhowshewasgettingreadytoplaywithoutthescoreby
lookingatsomepagesandnotothers.Memorycontinuedtobementioned
fromtimetotimethroughouttherestofthelearningprocessduringwhich
thepiecewasgenerallyplayed frommemory.
Formal Structure. Theformalstructureistheorganizationofthepiece
into sections and subsections based on thematic similarity.Asnoted in
chapter 6,the complex formal structure ofthe Presto,with its multiply
embeddedrepetitionsoftheAandBthemes,isamajorsourceofdifficulty.
The multiple repetitions ofthe same theme, each time a little different,
madeitessential toidentify thedifferences,whichwecallswitches,andto
keeptrackofwhichswitchwascomingupnext.
Thisformalorganizationwasthesubjectofcommentinthepracticeby
sectionsstage (Sessions 16)when itwasused todivideup thepiecefor
practice.Theformal structurealsoappeared prominentlyinSession24as
156 CHAPTER7
thepianistreviewedherunderstanding ofthepieceandtalkedabouther
interpretation.
Gabrielamadeherfirstcommentaboutthethematicstructureattheend
of Session 2,when sheflippedthrough the remaining pages ofthe score
looking for the various returns of the A and B themes she had been
practicing.
Thelastpageisprettymucharepeatofthefirst,atleastsomeofitis. . . . Tiny
changessometimesaretheworst.... Oh,thisisnotgoingtobehard.Again
wehaveapattern andit'snothard.[PLAYS],[I]recognize theproblem. So,a
lotofthethirdpageisgoingtobefairlyeasy.... Thelasttwopagesarevery
muchrepeatedmaterial,...transposedindifferent keys.
Assheworked out the structure,Gabrielamarked criticalplaceson the
score,"The reasonIcircledtheDisbecausethat'swherethetwo. . . , the
themesplitsup." InSession4,sheagainnotedthesimilaritybetweenthe
sectionshewasworkingonand anearlierone:"I'm confusing [it]witha
similarplace...."
Asthislastcommentindicates,similarpassagesareapotentialsourceof
interference.Inthefirstsession,Gabrielahadcommentedonthe difficulty
ofdistinguishingtheAthemeatthebeginningandendofthepiece: "The
left hand isaproblemtoo,becauseitchangedthepattern after [PLAYS].
Insteadofgoingtothe top G,itgoestothe leftbottomG." Atthe endof
Session 5,she reviewed the places that still needed tobe "ironed out",
manyofthemswitches.
There are glitches like [PLAYS]. Absolutely identical.... There's some
difference there, let's see [PLAYS]. The first group is different for sure
because inthefirstversion itis[PLAYS].It'sadifferent key[PLAYS]...and
thenthereareacouplemoredifferencesattheendofthispassage. Andatthe
entrance[PLAYS].See[PLAYS].Andhere,circlingdown[PLAYS].And then
there'sonemoredifferenceatthe end.
Insession 12,Gabrielanotedanotherswitch."Iamconfusingthisbarwith
theonethatis[an]almostidenticalstartforlefthand. . . . "
Atthebeginning ofsession 12,thepianistresponded toarequest from
Roger to describe how she divided the piece up for practice:"As you
asked,IamgoingtotellyouthemainsectionswhereIhave stopped....
Thebig sections that ... I've basically learned one at a time, or less."
GabrielathenlistedstoppingplacesattheendsofBars24,64,92,122,149,
and 174,dividingthepieceintosevensections.Representingthesections
157 INTHE WORDSOFTHEARTIST
oftheformalstructurebycapitalletters,stopping placeswithslashes and
pagebreakswithasterisks,thepiecewas divided:
A,Al/ B,Bl/*A2,C/ A3,D/*A4,B2,A5/ A6,Cl,B3al,B3a2/*B3dl,A,Al.
Fiveofthestoppingplaceswereatdivisionsbetweenmajorsectionsofthe
formal structure.Thesixthwas at asubsectionboundary (betweenB3a2
andB3dl)thatcoincidedwithapagebreak.Thiswastheonlypagebreak
thatdidnotfallonamajorsectionboundary,andGabrielawaslessdefinite
about it as a stopping point. "Somewhere around, huh, [bar]175.Most
timesI'vetriedtopatchthat."
Thecommentsuggeststhatthiswasnotanidealstoppingplaceandshe
wastryingto"patchon"thefinalsubsectionoftheB3dl subsectiontothe
restoftheB3sectionfrommemorywithoutturningthepage.Infact,inthe
sectionbysectionstage,thelastpageneverdidgetpracticedseparately.It
wassimplyaddedontorunthroughsfromothersectionstotheend.Thus,
the organization ofthe piecefor practice,at thispoint, was determined
primarilybytheformalstructure,butwasalsoconstrainedbythephysical
layoutofthemusiconthepage.
A little later in Session 12,Gabriela further explained the role of the
formalstructureinorganizingherpractice:
Those starting-points, ... they are arbitrary.They are based on musical
endingsandsemi-endings.But,eventuallyIdobreakawayfromthem[inmy
practice].Especially,[inorder]nottohavecutsinmymemory.... Andalso
when there are very difficult passages. As you see, I do take [difficult
passages] apart and practicethem separately.Sometimes [I]]take out ...
sections [assmall as] one bar or less and build around them. Istillhave
[passageswhichare]mynemesis,morethanone,which[will]probablyneed
constantmaintenance.... Theyarealwaysgoingtobetough.
Attheendofthesession,Gabrielapromised,"Thosestartingpointsthat
Itoldyouabout,Iwillmarkthemon... theXerox ...thatIam sending
you." After the session was over, shemarked the sections ofthe formal
structure onto a copy of the score, identifying the 17sections and 37
subsectionsmentionedinourdescriptionofthePresto'sformalstructurein
thelastchapter.Therewassomelaterrevisionofthenumberingsystemfor
thesectionsandsubsections,butitisclearthatbythispointthepianistwas
awareofthehierarchicalnatureofthestructureintorepeatingsectionsand
subsections and that this had determined the division of the piece for
practice.
158 CHAPTER7
Anotheroccasiononwhichtheformalstructurefiguredprominentlyin
thecommentswasattheendofSession24justbeforethefirst performance
when Gabriela went through the piece: "I'll try to spend a coupleof
minutestellingyouwhatIamworkingon."Thedescriptionmakesitclear
thatGabriela'sunderstanding ofthepiecewas organized intermsofthe
thematic structure. Although most of what she had to say concerned
interpretation, the location of these features is dictated by the formal
structure.
Ijustsavealittlebitofacrescendoforthereturnofthe[B]themeinbar45. . . .
Thenextsection [atbar 53]Ido reversedynamicsagain and that actually
preparesthisending,thisreturnofthe [B]theme[inbar 59].
Alittlelater,"It's abigjump[atbar93],butIwanttoemphasisitbecause
it's atheme.... Againthereturnofthetheme [atbar 123]isrobust."
Metacogfnitive Issues
We suggested in chapter 5 that attention to metacognitive issues is
probably one ofthe hallmarksofexpertpractice(Hallam,1995a,1995b;
1997a, 1997b). Gabriela's awareness of her own learning processes is
evidentinmanyofthecomments alreadydescribedfromherpreference
for fingeringsthat are easytoremember toconcerns about maintaining
concentration. Attention to metacognitive issues is also reflected in the
continualmonitoring and evaluationofthe effectiveness ofherpractice,
concernwiththeprogressofthelearningprocess,andplansandstrategies
forpracticing.
Evaluation. One characteristicthat undoubtedly characterizes effec-
tivepracticeisdiligentmonitoringoftheperformancequality.Gabriela's
constant monitoring of her playing is evident in the evaluative toneof
many ofher comments on other topics (e.g.,"That was memorized, as
horribleasitsounds").Inadditiontotheevaluationofspecific dimensions,
manycommentswereevaluativewithout mentioning specific aspectsof
themusic.Thesemiscellaneousevaluativecommentsweremorenumer-
ousthananyothersinglecategoryofcomment,accountingfor38%ofthe
total.Manywerecritical.
Well,Iamnotsureif... thatisgoingtowork.(Session1)
I'm makinganenormous[number]ofmistakes.(Session5)
159 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
Oh,it's still not good. It's really far from what I'd like ittobe. It's justso
difficult. (Session 7)
Well,thatwasjustabout aslousyasitcanget.(Session9)
That'sbad,that'sbad,that'sbad. (Session9)
Whatisgoing wrong. That'sterrible. (Session13)
Ijusthatethewaythatsounds.Idon'tknowwhat todowithit.(Session33)
SometimesGabrielaevenapologized:"Thatwassobad.I'msorry.That
wasreallybad" (Session16).Thesenegativeevaluationswerebalancedby
asmallerbut substantialnumberofpositivecomments.
It's fun.(Session4)
It's better. (Session9)
That'sabout amillion timesbetter than twodaysago. (Session20)
Icleaned uptherighthandandI'mveryhappywiththat. (Session30)
It's quitecomfortable.(Session40)
Whether positive ornegative,evaluations were generallydelivered dis-
passionatelywithan air ofdetachment:"I'll havetocheckeverything.I
thinkIamslipping occasionallyand fluctuating [intempo]" (Session30).
Negativeevaluationswereoften softenedbyacceptancethattheproblem
wasunavoidable:"Imadeacoupleofreallybadmistakes,butit'sgoingto
go like this for a while" (Session 20).Often negative comments were
balanced by positive ones: "That needs work too. It's coming along"
(Session10)or"It'd berealexcitingwithoutthatfugue. Ihaveacoupleof
placeswhereIhaveseriousleft handproblems" (Session31).Thedispas-
sionate character of these appraisals may well be a characteristicof
effective practicenotpreviouslyidentified.
Affect. Fromtimetotime,however,dispassionateevaluationgaveway
tostrongerfeelings.Somewerepositive:"It's kindoffun"(Session20),or
"I'm allfired up" (Session40).Othersweremoremixed:"This,itmakes
myhead spin.... Everytimeyougetthrough somethinglikethisclean,
youfeelsoeuphoric ... andthenyoufailatsomething ..." (Session20).
Others were extremelynegative: "It feels likewalking through a mine
field. . . . StillIdon'tfeelcomfortableevenonthefirstpage"(Session2),or
160 CHAPTER7
"Idon'tlikeit.It'sirritating,maddening.Ihateit"(Session42).Gabriela's
strongestnegativefeelingswerereserved,however,forthemechanicsof
recording her practice, in particular the balky microphone. "We are
experiencingtechnicaldifficulties, Roger,yetagain.Icannotstandit.I'm
justsofurious. Icouldjustkillsomebody" (Session24).
Yetweallmanagedtosurvive.
Plans and Strategies.Gabrielasometimesgave brief outlines of her
plans,usuallyatthebeginningofasession,sometimesattheend.These
commentsgivetheimpressionthatshegenerallyhad aclearideaofwhat
shewantedtoaccomplish:
WhenIsitdownagain,Ihavetocleanupthis... andthenitallneedstobe
putintomotormemory,andprobablyI'llbeabletolearnthethirdpage.(end
ofSession2)
So,IthinkinanotherhourIcanprettymuchhavethisuptobeplayable.Istill
have tons of work, but [PLAYS], let's just call it a rough draft, (endof
Session5)
WhatIamgoingtodotodayisjusttouchitup. . . . Runthroughitacoupleof
times. Polish itup andmakesurethatIplayitafewtimes slowly aswell,
(startofSession24)
Ihave... acoupleofplacesthatneedrefreshingthefugue,rondo,140and
on.I'llprobably play it from the beginning and stop everywhere I need
practice. (Session28)
I'm going tomostlyfocus onthe fugue and then run through acoupleof
times[at]mediumtempoandthat'saboutit.(Session35)
I'mgoingtoplaythiswiththemetronomethreetimes.(Session41)
I'm just going torun through ... fixing littlethings, justbasicallyonceor
twicethrough everything. (Session42)
Similarcomments inthe middles ofsessionsdescribed goalsforpartsof
practicesessions:
I'm going totry toplayit from beginning toend acoupleoftimes.ThenI
mighteventrytoplayitfrom memory.(Session8)
Okay, I'm going back to the first page or two to get them really good.
(Session9)
161 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
Sometimes plans included the description of detailed strategies. In
Session4,Gabrieladescribed howshewasgoingtosegmentapassage:
"So, I'mgoingto... chunkitinhalf-bars,andIamgoingto... add[each]
group tothepreviousone and alwaysstartand stop onthe first note ofa
certaingroup.(Afterdoingthisforawhile.)[Now]I'mgoingtotrytoaddthe
groupsbackwards,sothatthisending,whichisreallythehardest,isgoingto
[getplayedthe most]."
InSession8,sheusedthesamestrategyagain,butwithlargerchunks. "I'm
going to try to add a measure and just stop on the first note of each
measure. I think I'm going to use measures as chunks." In Session 6,
interferencebetweentwo different versionsoftheBthemeneeded atten-
tion:"Ihavetorework[this]prettycarefully. ... It'sneverbeensolid,but
now [as]Iput thetwoversionstogether.... Ijusthavetoworkonit.It's
goingtotakeanother halfanhour"(Session6).
Otherstrategiesinvolvedthesizeofunittothinkaboutduringpractice:
I can't think at this speed [atanything] smaller than a half-bar, maybea
wholebar.... Ifmybrainstartstosplitthathalfbarapart,itreally troubles
meand Ihavetogivethese commands[to]myhands forhalf-bar chunks,
otherwiseIgettangledup likecrazy.(Session4)
Other strategies included use of the metronome and slow practice,
which wereboth used frequently during polishing forthe firstperform-
ance(Sessions18-24)and forthefinalperformance(Sessions3144).
Gabrielahad alargenumberofdifferent practicestrategiesavailableto
her,andsheused themasthesituationdemanded. Wenoted inchapter6
theenormousamountoftimedevoted tothinkingduringpractice.Much
ofthistimewasprobablyspentselectingpracticestrategiesonamoment-
to-moment basis as she played. This kind of flexible use of practice
strategies is probably one characteristic of expert practice. Certainly,
Hallam(1995a,1995b)founditindescriptionsofpracticegivenbyprofes-
sionalmusicians.Hereweseethesamethinginactualpractice.
TheLearningProcess.Gabrielaalsoevaluatedherprogress onalarger
timescaleand reflected onthefactorsthatmade the Prestohard tolearn.
Thecommentsindicatearichunderstanding ofthewiderangeoffactors
involved.Forexample,inSession 8,shecommented ontheeffects ofpage
turnsonmotormemory:
162 CHAPTER7
Thatissomething else thatisapain intheneck.Turningpages takesyour
handsoffand thatdoesalotofdamagetomusclememory.So,doingpage
turns[is]difficult. Theyareusuallymemorytrapswherepeoplereallyhave
trouble....
One of the issues that most concerned Gabriela during the initial
section-by-section stage was her inability to find the time to practice
regularly(seechap.6).Sheknewitwasmakingthelearningprocessmore
difficult.
[It's]acoupleofdayslaterandI'mgettingbacktotheBach.So,it'sgoingto
bequiteadisaster.NotmuchleftfromwhatI'vedoneacoupleofdaysago.I
havetogoveryslowlyandprobablyalotoftheworkisgoingtobewasted.
[Plays.]Notasbad asIthought. [Plays.]Thereisabsolutelynoconsolation
aboutlosingsomanydaysexceptwhenyou comeback after afewdaysof
notplayingsomething,youdohaveafreshideaaboutwhetherthedecisions
youhavemadearerightorwrong.(Session2)
Ijust get to practicethis inbits and pieces and this makes it much more
painful. (Session5)
I'm afraid thisisgoingtobeadisaster [PLAYS].Sorryaboutthat.It'sbeen
aboutfour orfivedayssince.... Ihaven't touchedthis.(Session7)
YourememberthetimeItoldyouthateverytimeyouleavethepieceforany
amount of time, especially in such an early stage, it drops down several
levels,and itissomethingIdreadandhate[because]itissofrustrating and
embarrassingbecauseyouaredoingthesamethingsover.(Session9)
Gabriela also demonstrated her awareness ofher own learningproc-
esses in her identificationof problem passages. We have already seen
commentsaboutmanyofthesepassagesfromtheinitialsection-by-section
stage.BySession9,theywereacknowledgedwithawearyfamiliarity.
Thesame old places as usual. Therest ofthishas alwaysbeen okay, but
shaky.(Session9)
All the oldplaces,just aswe suspected. Istillhavetocontinue with abig
workout. . . . (Session10)
Energy andFatigue. AnotherwayinwhichGabrielarevealsanaware-
nessofher own learningprocesseswas inmonitoringher energy level.
Mostofthecommentswereaboutfatigue."I'm goingtogothroughthelast
few pages,thenIamgoingtostopbecauseIamverytired"(Session2).In
163 INTHEWORDSOFTHEARTIST
Session4,after almostanhourofpractice,"Aagh,I'mgettingverytired."
Shecontinued topracticeforawhile, carefully weighing how muchwas
left to do.
Thelasttwopagesarealright,butthenexttwoaresheerhell.... Soactually,
ohgosh,I'mnotevenhalfwaythorough.Anyway,ifIeliminatethelasttwo
pages,Ihavetwomoretogo,andthey're... goingtobethehardest.
Itwastoomuch,and15minuteslatershestopped."MaybeI'llstopnow
andtakeabreakandcomebackanddo it."
Ontwootheroccasions,Gabrielamentioned beingtiredshortlybefore
ending the session. "I definitely feel like I am running out of steam"
(Session 30),and "I guess Iam pretty tired" (Session 32).On only one
occasiondidGabrielamentionnotbeingtired:"It's 2:30intheafternoon,a
veryenergetictimeof day."
ThesecommentsaboutenergylevelshowthatGabrielawasconcerned
about the effectiveness ofher practice.Shewas monitoring her energy
level and stopping when she could no longer practice effectively. A
concern about the effectiveness of practice may be one of the keys to
developinghighlevelsofskill.Certainly,Gabriela'sconcernaboutfatigue
is reminiscent of an observation by Ericsson, Krampe, &Tesch-Rmer
(1993)thatthemoreaccomplishedyoungperformersintheirstudytook
morenaps.
INCOMPLETENESSOFTHE COMMENTS
Gabriela's commentsduring practiceprovide afascinatingand essential
windowintothelearningprocessbyidentifyingproblemsshewaswork-
ingonand decisionsshewasmaking.However,theygiveanincomplete
picture.Thecommentsareaboutproblemsthatseemed importantatthe
time.Forexample,therearealotofcommentsaboutmemorybecausethat
was our main interest. Other problems may not have been mentioned
becausetheyseemedtoomundaneorobvious,becausetheywerehardto
put into words, or because to do so might have seemed vain. Evenif
Gabrielahadtriedtogiveacompletedescriptionofheractions,itwouldbe
impossible.Thereistoomuchgoingon.Itisnotpossible tomentioneach
decision,letalonethereasonforit.Besides,Gabrielawasnottryingtogive
acompletedescription.Longstretcheswentby,sometimesentiresessions,
with no comment at all. Thecommentswere only intended to provide
signposts tothethingsthatshethoughtweremostimportant.Therestof
164 CHAPTER7
thestoryistoldbywhatactuallywentonatthekeyboard,whichweturnto
inthenextchapter.
Psychologists tend to be skepticalof first-personaccountspeople's
descriptions oftheirownbehaviorandthoughtprocesses.Peopletendto
focusonthenovelandexceptionalandignorethemundaneandcommon-
place.Also,manymentaloperationsarenotopentointrospection(Nisbett
&Wilson,1977).Thisiscertainlytrueforthementalprocessesresponsible
for therapid,overlearnedactionsinvolvedinpianoperformance.Although
reports about the goals of ongoing problem solving and actions are
generally reliable(Ericsson&Simon, 1980),itwould add greatlyto the
objectivity of our description if we could give an independent, third-
person description of what Gabriela was working on in the various
practice sessions. An outside perspective would allow us to determine
howaccurateapicturethecommentsprovideandmighthelpfillinsome
ofthe gaps.
ThisiswhywetapedGabriela'spractice.Thetapesprovideanindepen-
dent,third-personrecordofwhatwentonduringpracticetocomplement
Gabriela's first-person account. We use the practice record to verify,
elaborate, qualify, and amend Gabriela's description of what she was
doing.Todo so,itisnecessarytolinkthepracticethatwent onineach
session and Gabriela's goals for that practice. That is the topic of the
nextchapter.
ENDNOTE
1.The transcript was divided into short passages so that, as far as possible, each
passage concerned asingle topic.Whenapassage dealt withmorethan onetopic,the
number oftopics coveredwasnoted. Segments werethen classifiedindependently by
twojudges,oneunconnected withtheproject.Theagreementratewas86.8%(Kappa=.78).
Thegrouping ofsessions intosetsisslightly different than thatused forthepractice
data inchapters 6and 8.Frequenciesarenot given forSessions14to16because there
werefewaudible comments inthesesessions,nor are they givenforSessions25to26
because there were no comments in these sessions. Comments for Session 24 are
reported separately from those forSessions20to23.Attheend ofSession 24,Gabriela
wentthrough thescoregivingalengthyanddetailed description ofhowsheperformed
thepiece.Becausemostofthecomments inthissession werepartofthisdescription,it
wastabulatedseparatelyfromthepreceding sessions.(Similardescriptions ofperform-
ancecuesinSessions 12and 17were muchshorter and werenottabulated separately.)
E I G H T
Effects of Musical Complexityon
Practice
Roger Chaffin ana Gabriela Imreh
In this chapter, we look at what Gabrielaactuallydid in practicein
contrasttothepreviouschapter where welooked atwhat shesaid.The
practice record provides us with an outsider's view of the learning
processthekind ofobjective recordofbehaviorthatscientific psychol-
ogytendstobemostcomfortablewith.Thisallowsustoseewhetherthe
issuesGabrielamentioned inher commentswhilepracticingcorrespond
towhatshewasdoingatthekeyboard.Totheextentthattheyagree,our
confidence in the conclusions we draw are strengthened. Theremaybe
disagreements, and these may be informative too.Some practicegoals
may have seemed too obvious and mundane to mention, others too
grandiose,and stillotherstoovagueor ineffable.
Welookattherelationshipbetweenhowapassagewaspracticedand
the sort ofcomplexitiesor problems it contains. Bylooking at whether
somepassages wererepeated morethanothers,wecanaskwhatmusical
featureswereresponsiblefortheextrapractice.Ifsomepassagesservedas
startingplacesmorethan others,wecanaskwhatfeaturesweresingled
out forthisspecialattention.Ifpracticesegments stopped orwereinter-
ruptedinsomeplacesmorethanothers,wecanaskwhy.Forexample,if
165
166 CHAPTER8
bars with technical difficulties were repeated more than bars without
them,thistellsusthattechnicaldifficultieswerebeingpracticed.Ifpractice
segments startorstopmoreonbarscontainingdynamicfeatures,thistells
us that dynamics are a focus ofattention. Once we have identified the
effects of different kinds of musical complexity on practice, we can
compare these with Gabriela's comments during the same sessions. If
practiceisfocusedonfingeringinthesamesessionsthatGabrielaistalking
aboutfingering,thenwehavealinkbetweenherownreportofwhatshe
wasthinkingandourobservationofwhatshewas doing.
Tobegin, we needed a bar-by-bar description of the features of the
music. This description was provided by Gabriela, who reported each
decision shehad made aboutthepiece,organized intermsof10dimen-
sions.Thesereportsprovidedthebasisformeasuresofmusicalcomplexity
oneach dimension.
TEN DIMENSIONSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITY
The aspects that a pianist attends to and makes decisions about while
learningcanbecapturedby10dimensions.Apianistmustattendtothree
basicdimensions (fingering,technicaldifficulties,andfamiliarpatterns)to
producethenotesand fourinterpretivedimensions (phrasing, dynamics,
tempo,and pedaling) toshape themusicalcharacterofthepiece.Imple-
mentationofmostofthesedecisionsbecomesautomaticwithpractice.A
few, however, stillrequire attention during performance,and these be-
come performancecuesfeatures ofthe piece that the pianist practices
thinkingaboutwhileperforming.Theperformancecuescanbeorganized
into three performancedimensions (basic,interpretive, andexpressive).
These dimensions are summarized in Table 8.1. The idea of basic,
interpretive, and performance dimensions was introduced in the last
chapteraspartoftheframeworkfordescribingGabriela'scomments. Here
weusetheframework inthecontextforwhichGabrielaoriginallydevel-
oped it, to summarize her decisions while learning the Presto. First,
however,weneedtogiveamoreprecisecharacterizationofeachdimension.
BasicDimensions
Toplayapiecethrough,apianistmustidentify familiarpatternsofnotes,
make decisions about fingering,and decide how to copewith passages
containing technical difficulties. Familiarpatterns are the scales, arpeg-
gios, chords, harmonic progressions, diatonic triads, and other more
complexpatterns that thepianist has learned to recognizeand produce
167 EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
TABLE8.1
DimensionsofaCompositionThataPianistMustAttend
toandMakeDecisionsAboutWhile Learning and
Performing
Dimension Description
Basic:requireattention to Fingeringsdecisionsaboutunusual fingerings
simplytoplaythenotes Technicaldifficultiesplaces requiring attention
tomotor skills(e.g.,jumps)
Familiarpatterns scales,arpeggios, chords,
rhythms,etc.
Interpretative:shapethe Phrasinggroupings ofnotesthatform musi-
musicalcharacterof calunits
thepiece Dynamicsvariationsinloudnessoremphasis
Tempovariationsin speed
Pedalinguseofpedal
Performance: represent Basicfamiliarpatterns,fingering,andtechnical
featuresrequiring atten- difficulties
tionduringaperformance Interpretivephrasing, dynamics, tempo,pedal
Expressiveemotiontobeconveyed (e.g.,
surprise)
throughlongyearsofpractice.Thesearetheconceptualandmotorchunks
thatexperiencedpianistsbringtothetaskofunderstanding andmemoriz-
ing a score (Halpern &Bower,1982).Thebeginning pianist starts with
scales, arpeggios, and simple examples of each of the major stylesof
composition.Practiceofthesebasicpatternscontinuesthroughthestudent
years, while more complex and subtle patterns are learned through
exercises and etudes and through mastery of a varied repertoire. As a
result,apianist isabletorecognizealargenumber ofstandard patterns
andperformthemautomatically.Thepresenceoffamiliarpatternsmakes
memorization easier becauseitisonlynecessary tolearn the deviations
that give each passage its individuality. One of the characteristicsthat
makes Bach's music hard to memorize is that he often departs from
familiarpatternssothatnothingevergoesasexpected.
Thepianist mustalsomakedecisions aboutfingering.When possible,
standard fingeringsforfamiliar patterns arepreferable,but the obvious
choicesmustoftenbemodifiedbecauseofthecontext(Slobodaetal.,1998).
168 CHAPTER8
Astandard fingeringmayput thehandintoaconfigurationthatmakesit
difficult to play the next pattern or may not allow a criticalnote to be
executedwithsufficient strengthorsensitivity.Forexample,thefirstthree
fingers ofeachhand arestronger and canbemorefinely controlledthan
the fourth and fifth. The pianist can use these differences to enhance
performance ofparticularnotes by choosing fingersappropriate to the
type of effect she wants to produce. Such choices help give eachper-
former'sinterpretationofapieceitsuniquecharacter.
Thereare two maincriteriatobeconsidered inchoosing afingering:
howwellitsuitsaparticularinterpretationanditseaseofexecution.When
thetwosetsofgoalsareopposed tooneanother,abalancemustbestruck.
Oncethedecisionhasbeenmade,itmustberemembered.Fingeringsalso
serveasmemorycues.Thinkingabouttheplacementofaparticularfinger
remindsthepianistofthepassagesheisabouttoplaywhileensuringthat
thehand isinthecorrectpositiontoexecuteit.
Technical difficulties require movements that are particularly awk-
ward,fast,orvulnerabletoerror.Forexample,inajump,thepianistmoves
thehandfromonelocationonthekeyboardtoanother.Inafastpiece,such
as the Presto, it may not be possible to move the eyes to monitor the
landing. Instead, the hand's trajectory isjudged solely on the basisof
kinestheticinformation.Onotheroccasions,aninterpretivedecision,such
asaparticularphrasing, maycreateatechnicaldifficulty by requiringa
certainemphasisorseparationofnotesthatisdifficult toexecutewiththe
necessaryprecision.
InterpretiveDimensions
Attentiontofourdimensionsconcernedwithinterpretationisrequiredto
shape a musically sensitive rendition. Thepianist must make decisions
aboutphrasing,dynamics,tempo,anduseofthepedal.Phrasinginvolves
theidentificationofnotesthatbelongtogethertoformmelodic,harmonic,
orrhythmicpatterns.Phrasingisauseful toolforthinningoutthetexture
of the fast and complexpolyphonic structure of a piece like the Presto.
Oftennotescanbegroupedintophrasesbyvirtueofsomefamiliarpattern,
suchasascaleorarpeggio.However,manyopportunitiesforphrasingare
less obvious. Finding these implicit structures is an essential part of
learning a new piece.Choosing among the possibilities determines the
performer's unique and personal interpretation. Discoveringanewpat-
tern is a delight. To find one that other performers, perhaps even the
composer, have not discovered is to find a treasure all one'sown. A
exampleofthiskindofdiscoveryappearsinGabriela'scommentsduring
Session31.
169 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
Thewaythemusiciswritten,Ithinkiteasilycouldbeinterpretedasalittle
error inediting[or]writing.Thosesyncopes [syncopations]arevery,very
excitingand Ithinkworthbringingout.And thereisonethatisinthe left
hand,notwrittenoutassuch,inbar112...,andIthinkIamgoingtodoitas
a syncope. It is muchbetter. And, Idon't know, there are two of them.
Actually,thereisonein109too.
Changes in dynamicsand tempo help highlight the phrases the per-
former has identified and emphasize or moderate the impact of the
melodic and harmonic structure. Dynamic features in Bach are fairly
simple.Changesinoverallloudnessaremadeinstepsratherthancontinu-
ously, reflecting the limitations of the harpsichord and clavichord on
which dynamic changes are produced by changing manuals. Phrasing
dynamicsallowanotetostand outoraseries ofnotestobeperceived as
belongingtothesamephrasebyvirtueofbeingplayedinthesamefashion
(e.g.,louderorshorter).Gradualchangeinthesequalitiescanalsohelptie
asequenceofnotesinto aphrase.
1
Abruptchanges ineither loudness or
tempocanmarktheend ofonephraseand thebeginningofanother, and
theyalsobuildandreleasetensionwithinandacrossphrases.
Thetwopedalsofthemodernpianoprovideanothertoolforpianiststo
implementtheirinterpretations.Thepedalsallowtheperformertocontrol
tonequalityanddurationofresonancewithinthepiano,alteringthecolor
ofthenotes.Becausetherewasnopedalonearlykeyboard instruments,
pianiststendtouseitsparinglywhenplayingBaroquemusic.Gabrieladid
useitforthePresto,however,toassistwithphrasing. Pedalingaseriesof
notesinthesamewaycanunitethemintoaphraseasdoesgivingnotesthe
samedynamicemphasis. Theseuses ofthepedal arerepresented by the
featuresofthepedal dimension.
Performancee Dimensions ormanc Dimensions
Themanydecisions apianistmakesaboutbasicand interpretivedimen-
sionsduringpractice become automaticasthey arebuilt intomotor and
auditorymemory.Inperformance,apianistdoesnothavetimetothinkof
everyfeature.Eachmustbeknownsowellthatitoccurswithoutconscious
thought, leaving the pianist free to attend to the instrument, hall, and
audience.Fortheperformance,thepianistselectsarelativelysmallnum-
berofthemostcriticalbasicandinterpretivefeaturesandattendstothese.
For example,particular fingeringsthat are criticalto setting up a hand
positionforthefollowingnotes,oraphrasingthatisstillnotfully reliable,
continue to require attention during performance. These become the
performancecues.
170 CHAPTER8
Unlikethebasicandinterpretivedimensions, whicharefamiliartoany
musician,theideaofperformancecuesisnew.Atleastwearenotawareof
anypreviousdiscussionthathasdealtwiththeseissuesinthesameway.
2
The idea emerged during our early discussions of how preparing for
performance isamatterofmakingsure that retrieval cues operate auto-
matically (chaps.2and 4).Exploringthis idea and learningmoreabout
how performance cues function was an important motivation of our
research.
Performancedimensionsrepresentthosefeaturesofthemusicthathelp
performers play thepiecetheway theywant.Thinkingofeachperform-
ancecueat the right moment brings thenecessary informationto mind
when itisneedednot sofar ahead soastodistract attention from the
precedingpassage,butnottoolatetoguidetheforthcomingmovements.
Practiceofperformancecuesgives the artistcontroloverwhat happens
during theperformanceofarapidpiecelikethe Prestoand also provides
the means to correct things if they begin to go wrong. Thinking of a
performancecueelicitsthecorresponding actions andprovides accessto
moredetailedinformationstoredinlong-termmemory.Performancecues
are thus retrieval aids. Memorizing a piece is a matter of establishing
performance cues that serve as retrieval cues to elicit the music from
memory(seechap.9).
We divide performancecuesinto three types:basic,interpretive, and
expressive. Basic and interpretive performancecues are subsets of the
complete sets ofbasic and interpretive features alreadydescribedthe
onesthatstillrequireattention duringperformance.Inaddition, expres-
siveperformance cues represent thepianist'sexpressive goals, the emo-
tions to be conveyed to the audience, and the sense of how these are
articulated intherelationship between thevarious sections ofthe piece.
Expressivecuesgivethepieceitsoverallmusicalshape,specifyingtheebb
andflowoffeelingsthataretheartist'smostpersonal,subjectivecontribu-
tiontoaperformance.Theyarebasedonthebasicandinterpretivefeatures
ofthemusiccoupledwiththeperformer'sknowledgeofrelatedworksand
ofthehistory,taste,andmusicaltradition ofthecomposer'sera.
Performancecuesevolveoverthecourseoflearninganewpiece.Bythe
timesheisreadytoperforminpublic,Gabrielaaimstobethinking about
thepieceintermsofexpressivecues(e.g.,surprise,gaiety,excitement).As
she makes her final preparations for a performance,she looks for the
centralexpressiveintentbehindeachpassage,distillingthisfromthemass
ofmoredetailedinterpretiveandstructuralfeatures.Playingwhilethink-
ingofthesegoalsestablishes linksbetweentheexpressiveintentionsand
themotorresponses thatembodythemaswellaswiththemore specific
basicand interpretive cuesthatguidedplaying earlierinpractice.Bythe
171 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
timepolishing iscomplete, the expressive goals have coalesced and itis
possible tomentallyrehearse the entire piecein terms ofthe expressive
goalsofeachpassage.Thisrechunkingcreatesanewleveloforganization
in the retrieval hierarchy, providing the memory cues to be used in
performance. Asnoted in chapter 3,when pianists talk about their per-
formances, their descriptions are often given entirely at the level of
expressive cues.
Ideally,theperformanceofapiecethatisthoroughly learnedwouldbe
guided solely by expressive cues. This would provide the maximum
freedomtoplayexpressivelyandrespond totheimmediatecontext.When
thishappens,theperformerexperiencesthetrancelikestateIvoPogorelich
described inchapter3:"Thenoteshavebecomeyouandyouhavebecome
thenotes."Yeteachperformanceisdifferent, and onanotheroccasiona
performermayhavetoworkhardtokeepthingsontrack.Thisiswhenthe
basic and interpretive performance cues come into play to keep the
performancegoingthrough perturbationsand distractions.
Thedifferentdimensionsareatangledhierarchy,representing different
levelsoforganizationofthesamematerial.Decisionsononedimension are
oftenlinkedtodecisionsonanother.Fingeringdecisionsareoftenmadeto
solve an interpretive or technical problem. Technicalproblems may be
givenan interpretativegloss.Instead ofthinking ofatechnical difficulty
duringperformance,itisbettertowrapitwiththeinterpretiveeffectthatis
produced(e.g.,aparticularphrasingoremphasis).Interpretiveeffectscan,
inturn,besubsumed undertheexpressivegoaltheyserve.Forexample,
thephrasing mayprovide anexcitingorpowerful moment. Thinkingof
theexcitement rather than thephrasing during performanceprovides a
moreconvincingexecution.
So the same musical feature may be encoded in different ways at
different pointsinthelearningprocess.Mostofthebasicand interpretive
features simply become automatic, fading from awareness. A few are
retained to become basic and interpretive performance cues by being
monitoredduringlaterstagesofpractice.Duringperformance,theyhover
on the fringes of awareness, which is focused on the expressive cues.
Expressiveperformancecuesrepresent the highest leveloforganization
andincorporatethecombinedeffectsofalltheotherbasicand interpretive
features.
MeasuringMusical Complexity
Toreportthe featuresofthe Prestooneachofthe 10dimensions,Gabriela
identifiedthedecisionsshehadmadeorfeaturesshehadpaidattentionto
during practiceby marking them on acopy ofthe scorewith an arrow
172
FIG.8.1 Thelocation offeatures (indicated by arrows)thatthepianist reported attending to during practiceofSection Cofthe Italian
Concerto (Presto). Featuresareshown separatelyforthreebasic,four interpretive, and threeperformancedimensions. From"Acomparison
of practiceand self-reportas sources ofinformationabout the goals of expertpractice," by R.Chaffin and G.Imreh, 2001,Psychology of
Music,29,p.44.Copyright2001bytheSocietyforResearchinPsychologyofMusicand MusicEducation.Adaptedwith permission.
173 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
pointing tothelocationofeachfeature.Figure8.1shows anexamplefor
SectionC.Eachdimension was represented by a different setofarrows.
Thecomplexity ofabaroneachdimensionwasmeasured bycounting the
number of features reported for the bar. For example, the first bar of
SectionCcontainsfour familiarpatternsandonefingering,four phrasing,
andtwodynamicfeatures,oneinterpretiveperformance,andoneexpres-
sive performance cue. In Figure 8.1, the performancecues are labeled,
althoughtheselabelswerenotpartoftheanalysesdescribed here.
Inchapter6,whenwelookedatagraphofthepracticeofSectionC(Fig.
6.2),wesawthatSectionCbwaspracticed morethanSectionCa.InFigure
8.1, we see a possible reason for this difference. Section Cb was more
complex than Section Caonthebasic dimensions.Section Cbmay have
requiredmorepracticebecauseitcontainsmorefingeringdecisions,more
technicaldifficulties, andmoredifferent patternsthanCa.Wearelooking
for just this kind ofcorrespondence between complexityand amountof
practice.Toseewhether therelationship betweentheamountofpractice
andcomplexityoccurredforotherpassagesandinothersessions,weused
regression analysestolookatthe effects ofthe 10dimensions onpractice
moregenerally (Chaffin &Imreh,2001).
AnothercharacteristicofthepracticeofSectionCinthepracticerecord
(Fig.6.2)was thetendencytostartpracticesegments atthebeginningsof
sections.Gabrielaappeared touse the sectionsofthe formal structureto
organizeherpractice.Again,wewanttoknowwhetherthisoccurredmore
generally. To answer this question, the location of the boundaries was
included in the analyses alongwith the serialposition ofeachbar inits
section and another important aspect offormalstructurethe locationof
switches.Thelocationofeachbarintheformalstructurewas represented
intheanalysesbyfourmeasures:whether thebarwasthefirstorlastinits
section (two measures), the serial position of the bar in the section
(numberingfrom thebeginning), and thenumber ofswitchesinthebar.
3
Switches are places where two or more repetitions of the same theme
diverge(seechap.6).
How many times did Gabriela use the pedal? How many different
familiar patterns did she find in a typicalbar ofthe Presto? How many
switches canasinglebarcontain?Theanswers totheseandother similar
questionscanbefound inTable8.2,whichgivesdescriptivestatisticsfor
the 10dimensions, switches,and numberofnotesinabar.Theanswerto
how many times the pedal was used is tobe found in the first column
(total),which gives the totalnumber of features reported for the entire
piece(45uses ofthepedal).Thesecond column(meanperbar)gives the
average number of features reported in each bar and shows that, for
Gabriela,thetypicalbarcontained 3.59familiarpatterns.Thethird column
174 CHAPTER8
TABLE8.2
DescriptiveStatistics forComplexityonBasic, Interpretive,
andPerformance DimensionsandforSwitchesand
NumberofNotesinthe Italian Concerto (Presto)
Total Mean Standard Numberof
for Piece perBar Deviation Range Zero Values
Basic
Fingerings 259 1.71 1.27 5 41
Technical difficulties 204 0.97 1.01 4 69
Familiarpatterns 741 3.59 1.41 7 2
Interpretive
Phrasing 518 2.47 1.76 7 22
DynamicChanges 270 1.29 0.91 3 53
Tempo Changes 5 0.02 0.15 1 205
Pedal 45 0.21 0.47 2 170
Performance
Basic 147 0.70 0.66 3 85
Interpretive 139 0.66 0.56 2 80
Expressive 72 0.34 0.49 2 139
Other
Switches 49 0.23 0.53 3 168
Notes 2794 13.3 2.32 15 0
(standard deviation) shows that there was sufficient variabilityforpur-
posesofregressionanalysisforeverymeasureexceptperhapsfortempo.
4
Additional information about variability is provided by the last two
columns(rangeandnumberofzerovalues),whichtogetherindicatethat
theanswer toourthirdquestionabout switchesis thatthemaximum
numberinasinglebarwas3.
Did the different dimensions describe different aspectsofthemusic?
Table8.3suggestsso.Thetableshowsthecorrelationofthe10measuresof
complexitywitheachotherandwithserialpositioninasection,numberof
switches,andnumberofnotes.Therelativelylowvaluesindicatethateach
measure provided somewhat different informationabout the piece.The
highestcorrelations were forbasicperformancecueswith technical diffi-
cultiesandinterpretativeperformancecueswithdynamicfeatures.Thisis
becausethebasicandinterpretative performancecuesweresubsetsofthe
larger sets of basic and interpretive features.The moderate size of the
TABLE8.3
CorrelationMatrix forMeasuresofMusicalComplexity,Switches,andNumberofNotes (N=210)
Basic Interp Express. Serial
Patterns Fingers Technical Phrase Dynamics Tempo Pedal Perf. Perf. Perf. Position Notes
Patterns
Fingers 0.30
Technical 0.36 0.29
Phrase 0.39 0.21 0.09
Dynamic 0.14 0.29 0.16 0.24
Tempo 0.05 0.04 0.00 0.10 0.12
Pedal -0.02 0.16 -0.11 0.26 0.15 0.26
Basic 0.11 0.18 0.46 -0.01 0.35 0.02 0.09
Interpret. 0.02 0.18 0.04 0.26 0.48 0.04 0.19 0.30
Express. 0.04 0.07 -0.10 0.24 0.35 0.15 0.33 0.25 0.45
Serial -0.09 -0.15 0.11 -0.21 -0.15 -0.03 -0.17 0.06 -0.02 -0.14
Notes 0.29 0.16 0.23 0.07 0.01 -0.05 -0.22 0.13 -0.01 -0.08 0.17
Switches 0.10 0.11 0.02 0.21 0.15 0.05 0.09 0.22 0.24 0.34 -0.09 0.15
176 CHAPTER8
correlations indicates that the basic and interpretive performance cues
weredistinctfromthecompletesetsofbasicandinterpretivefeatures from
whichtheywerederived.Thesecorrelationsalsotellusthatthetechnical
and dynamic dimensionswerebigger sources ofperformance cuesthan
theotherbasicandinterpretive dimensions.
DOESTHE FOCUSOF PRACTICE CHANGE
DURINGLEARNING?
Our division of dimensions into basic, interpretive, and performance
containsanimplicitordering.Itsuggeststhatpracticemightfocusoneach
typeofprobleminturn:firstbasic,theninterpretive,and finallyperform-
ance.Thisgeneralideaofaprogressioncanbestatedmorepreciselyasfour
hypotheses. Practiceshould focuson:
thecompletesetoffeaturesforthebasicdimensionsbeforethecompleteset
offeatures fortheinterpretive dimensions,
thecompletesetsofbasicandinterpretivefeaturesbeforethesubsetsselected
asbasicandinterpretiveperformancecues,
thebasicperformancecuesbeforetheinterpretiveperformancecues,and
thebasicandinterpretiveperformancecuesbefore theexpressive perform-
ancecues.
Wediscussthebasis foreachoftheseexpectations and consider why
they may or may not prove correct.First, the basic dimensions are so
namedbecausetheirfeatureshavetobesettledonsimplytoplaythenotes.
Sothereisgoodreasontoexpectthatpracticewillfocus onbasicdimen-
sionsfirst.However,thereisalsogoodreasontothinkthatanexpertmight
makedecisionsaboutinterpretation andexpressionrightatthebeginning
so that these goals can shape decisions about fingering and technical
difficulties. Wesaw someevidenceofthisinGabriela'scommentsin the
section-by-sectionstage(chap.7).Forexample,shementionedinSession2
thatnotesneedingmoreemphasisshouldbeassignedtostrongerfingers.
Oursecondhypothesisconcernsthebasicandinterpretive performance
dimensionsthataresubsets,respectively,ofthecompletesetsofbasicand
interpretivefeatures. Ifthe selectionofperformancecuesdoes notoccur
until the pianist begins topracticethepieceasaperformance,it would
seemthattheirpracticewouldbeginduringputtingittogetherorperhaps
duringthepolishingstage.However, because performancecuesoccurat
criticalpoints inthe piece,theymightbe afocus ofpracticeeven before
177 EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
theirfuture roleinperformancehasbeendecided.Thiskindofsensitivity
tothe difficulty ofdifferent passagesmightbeoneofthecharacteristicsof
expert practice.Ifso,itwould parallel the kind ofintuitive anticipation
characteristicofexpertsinotherfields (Gobet&Simon,1996b).
Third,practiceofthebasicperformancedimensionmightbeexpectedto
precede practiceofthe interpretive performancedimension for reasons
similartothosegivenearlierforthecompletesetsofbasicand interpretive
features. Basicperformancecuesprovide theinitiallandmarksnecessary
for playingthepieceasawhole, whereas interpretive performancecues
comelater,addingrefinement.Yet,ifinterpretationdevelops throughout
the learningprocess, then basic and interpretive performancecues may
emergetogether.
There are similar considerations for our fourth hypothesis. We have
suggested that a small number of basic and interpretive features are
established asperformancecuesin case they are needed, and that their
finalselectionandpracticeoccurstowardtheend ofthelearningprocess.
Wealsosuggestedthat,inthefinalpreparationforaperformance,expres-
sionmustbecomethecentralfocusoftheartist'sattention.Thepiecemust
bereworkedorrechunkedsothattheperformercandirectfullattentionto
expression,leavingeverythingelsetotakecareofitselfautomatically.Soit
seemsthatpracticeofexpressivecuesshould comeafter thegroundwork
hasbeen laid through earlierpracticeofbasicand interpretiveperform-
ancecues.Nevertheless, expression surelycannotbesimply ladled onat
theendofthelearningprocess.Expressiveintentionsmustguideinterpretive
choices, aswellasdecisions aboutthebasicfeatures onwhichtheyrest,
throughout theprocess.Ifso,thenwemay find effects ofexpressivecues
onpracticewellbeforethefinalpolishingstage.
Insummary,althoughGabriela'sgrouping intobasicandinterpretive
dimensions and performancecues suggests a temporal ordering from
basictoperformance,thisisbynomeansaforegoneconclusion.Effectsof
interpretivefeaturesandperformancecuesontheearlystagesoflearning
maybecharacteristicofexpert practice.
THE EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYON
PRACTICE
Regression analyseswere used to identify effects ofmusicalcomplexity
and structureonpractice.Wehave tried not tobetechnical,but readers
more interested in conclusions than details can skip this section. In
178 CHAPTER8
addition,theimplicationsofthepracticeofperformancecuesformemori-
zationarediscussedinchapter9whilechapter10redescribesthesixstages
ofthelearningprocesstakingintoaccountwhatwehavelearnedhere.
Thepredictorvariablesfortheregressionanalyseswerethe10measures
ofcomplexityand fourmeasuresofstructure,togetherwiththenumberof
notes in eachbar. Thedependent measures were the number ofstarts,
stops,and repetitionsforeachbar.Thenumberofstartsisthenumberof
times a practicesegment begins on a bar. The number of stops is the
number oftimesasegmentendsonthatbar.Thenumberofrepetitionsis
the number of times the bar was played.
5
These three measures were
countedseparatelyforworkandruns.
6
Interpreting the Effects
Theregressionanalysesidentifywhichdimensionsthepianistfocusedon
ineachsetofpracticesessions.Asignificant effect ofadimension indicates
that Gabriela was consistently paying special attention to (or having
specialtroublewith)barscontaining thattypeoffeature.Theeffects were
mostly positive, indicating that bars with more of a particular kindof
feature wererepeated moreor involved morestarts orstops than other
bars.Negativeeffects indicatethatfeatureswererepeatedless frequently
orwerethelocationoffewer startsorstops.
Effectshavedifferent meaningsforrunsandwork.Effects onworkare
generally simpler to interpret. Work on a dimension results in more
repetitions,starts,orstopsforbarscontainingthosefeatures.Theinterpre-
tationofrunsismorecomplex.Forstarts,thesituationissimilartowork.
Aneffectgenerallymeansthatthepianistischoosingtostartatthefeature
inquestion.Incontrast,repetitionsandstopsgenerallyindicate interrup-
tions.Becauserunscoveralotofbars,thosethatare the object ofspecial
attentionduringtherunarenotnecessarilyrepeatedmorethanotherbars.
Repetitionsandstopsgenerallyoccurinplaceswhererunsareinterrupted.
Workandrunsdiffer inthedemandstheyplaceonmemory.Memoryis
notaproblemduring workbecausethepassageonlyhastobe retrieved
from long-termmemorythe first timeitisplayed.Onsubsequentrepeti-
tions,thememoryrepresentationisalreadyactivated.Duringruns,each
succeedingpassagehastoberetrievedfromlong-termmemoryastherun
progresses.Forthisreason,interruptionstorunsareoftenduetomemory-
retrievalproblems.Iftheupcomingpassageisnotretrievedfrommemory
quickly enough, the run must stop until retrievalis completed or the
information isreadfrom thescore.Earlyon,runsmaybeinterrupted by
"finger tangles"when conflicting motorpatterns interfere with onean-
179 EFFECTSOF MUSICAL COMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
otherand thepianist isnotabletothink fast enough toconsciouslyselect
thecorrectpattern.Thisisalsoakindofmemory-retrievalproblem.Runs
may alsobe interrupted by a deliberate decision to goback and repeat
something tothinkaboutorevaluateit.
Some indication ofthe nature ofthe interruption isprovided by the
measures affected. Effectsonstops duringrunsgenerallyindicatememo-
ry-retrievalproblemstherun couldnotcontinuebecauseGabrielawas
notquickenough inthinkingwhathadtobedonenext.Inthiscase,there
may also be effects on repetitions or starts depending on how far the
pianist backsup before continuing the run. Effects on repetitions in the
absenceofaneffect onstopsmayalsoreflect memoryproblems, but they
aremorelikelytobeduetodeliberateevaluation.
Overview
Howdidtheeffectsofcomplexityandmusicalstructurechangeacrossthe
course of learning? Table 8.4shows the dimensions of complexity and
musicalstructurethataffected runsandworkineachofthe11session sets.
Onlystatisticallyreliableeffects (p<.05)arelisted,and theyareindicated
by an abbreviation of the measure affected: repeats (r), starts (s), and
stops(p).
7
Becauseofthelargenumberofeffects, webeginwithaquickoverview.
Practiceinthesectionbysectionstage(Sessions16)wasdistinguished by
effects of all three basic dimensions. The gray stage (Sessions 7-16) of
developingautomaticitywasdistinguished byeffectsofperformancecues,
technicaldifficulties, and interpretive features. Performancecuescontin-
uedtoaffectpracticeintheputtingittogetherstage(Session17),whenthe
piecewas memorized and effects oftechnicaldifficulties wereabsent for
the first time. Polishing for the first performance (Sessions 20-24) pro-
ducedthewidestarrayofeffects:buildingupconfidencefortroublespots
with practiceofbasicfeatures, continued practiceofphrasing and other
interpretivefeatures,andpracticeofinterpretiveandexpressiveperform-
ancecues.Re-polishinginPeriod3wasdistinguished initiallybythe effect
of expressive cues (Sessions 28-30). Then the decision to increase the
tempo(Sessions3144)requiredreworkingoffingering,technical difficul-
ties,andinterpretiveperformancecues.
Thereportcard ismixed forourhypotheses abouttheorderinwhich
effects ofbasic,interpretive, and performancedimensions would appear.
Examination ofTable8.4suggests that effects ofbasic dimensions were
present right from thestart,whereas most effects forinterpretive dimen-
sionsdid notappearuntillater.Incontrast,theeffects oftheperformance
TABLE 8.4
Significant Effects oftheDimensionsofMusical
Complexity onRepetitions(r),Starts(s),andStops(p)
perBarforRunsandWork
LearningPeriod 1
Sessions
Dimensions 1-6 7-8 9-10 11-12
of Musical Runs Work Runs Work Runs Work Runs Work
Complexity
Basic
Fingering r r
r,p .
r
Technical p r,p r,s . r,s,p r,s,p
Patterns . r,p
Interpretive
Phrasing . -r
Dynamics r -r
Pedal -r,p .
Tempo
Performance
Basic -r r,s r,s,p r r,p
Interpretive p p r,p s r
Expressive s . s .
Musical Structure
Begin s s,p s s
End
Serialpos'n r -r r r r
Switch r,s,p r,s,p -r -r -r -r
NumNotes . -r,-s s
R
2
repeat 0.14 0.18 0.29 0.37 0.30 0.25 0.24 0.23
R
2
starts 0.25 0.25 0.17 0.23 0.16 0.14 0.17 0.17
R
2
stops 0.23 0.19 0.20 0.20 0.13 0.10 0.20 0.05
180
181 EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
TABLE8.4 (continued)
LearningPeriod 2
Sessions
Dimensions 13 1416 17 20-24
of Musical Runs Work Runs Work Runs Work Runs Work
Complexity
Basic
Fingering
Technical
r,s .
r
.
.
.
r,s
.
.
.
.
r,p
-r
r,p
-r,-p
Patterns . . . . -s . r,p
Interpretive
Phrasing -p r . . . . r r
Dynamics -r -r,-p . . -r -r
Pedal . . . . -r
Tempo . . p . . .
Performance
Basic . . r r r r
Interpretive . r,s r p . r
r,p
Expressive . . . . .
-p
MusicalStructure
Begin s . s s s
End
Serialpos'n
.
r
.
r
p
-r
.
.
p
.
.
.
p
r
p
Switch p -r . s . .
-p
Num Notes -r p .
R
2
repeat 0.25 0.44 0.21 0.24 0.08 0.19 0.17 0.26
R
2
starts 0.15 0.10 0.14 0.21 0.15 0.09 0.13 0.09
R
2
stops 0.11 0.07 0.13 0.07 0.07 0.05 0.16 0.19
dimensions were not limited to the later learning periods, but affected
practicefrom thebeginning ofthegraystage.
BasicDimensions
Fingering. Work on fingerings began in Sessions 1 to 6, with bars
containingmorenonstandardfingeringsbeingrepeatedmore.Thegoalof
this repetition was to try out fingerings and then integrate the chosen
182 CHAPTER8
TABLE8.4 (continued)
LearningPeriod 3
Sessions
Dimensions 26-27 28-30 31-44
of Musical Runs Work Runs Work Runs Work
Complexity
Basic
Fingering r
r,p
Technical s r,p
Patterns
Interpretive
Phrasing r -r -r,-s r
Dynamics -r -r -r
Pedal
Tempo
s,p
-p
-r
Performance
Basic r -r
Interpretive r r,p r r,s
Expressive r
MusicalStructure
Begin
End
s
p
s s
Serialpos'n r r -r r r
Switch -r s,p r,s,p
p
NumNotes -r,-p -r,-p
R
2
repeat 0.33 0.39 0.11 0.11 0.26 0.20
R
2
starts 0.22 0.14 0.09 0.09 0.13 0.14
R
2
stops 0.10 0.09 0.10 0.09 0.15 0.12
fingering into a smooth motor sequence. While the motor integration
developed,runswereinterrupted by "finger tangles" asconflictingmotor
impulsesdisruptedthesmoothflow ofmovements.Thiswas responsible
for the effect offingering onruns,whichwereinterruptedby fingerings
havingtoberepeated.Thesolutionwasrepetitioninshortworksegments.
However, fingering continued to interrupt runs in Session 7to 8as
Gabriela began to play longer runs from memory.Now in addition to
fingerings needing repetition, runs were actually stopping right on the
183 EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
troublesome fingering. These effects were probably due to lack of
automaticitywhennonstandard fingeringswereplayed without theop-
portunity to think ahead. When a wrong fingering was used, the run
stopped and thepassage was repeated with thecorrectfingering.There
wasnoworkatthispoint,however.Gabrielaknewthatautomaticitytakes
timetodevelopandthat"It's goingtotakeweeksuntilitsettles."
FingeringscontinuedtobeaproblemandinSessions11to12,whenshe
was"justrun[ning]throughi t . . .andfix[ing]whatevergoeswrong,"they
wereoneofthethingsthatneeded fixing.Fingeringswereaproblemagain
inSession13whenmemoryforthepiecewasrustyafter thelonginterval
ofnotplaying.Inthissession,however,Gabrielawasrelyingonthescore
toavoidmistakes.Shehadwrittenmanyofherfingeringdecisionsintothe
score and refreshed memory for them by using fingerings as starting
points for runs. Fingerings also needed refreshing at the beginning of
Period3(Session2627).Thistime,however,Gabrielawasplayingmostly
from memory, and motor memory was reawakened by repeating the
fingeringresultinginaneffect onworkratherthanonruns.
Therewasalsorenewed attentiontofingeringduringthepolishingfor
thefirstperformance(Sessions20-24),whenfingeringaffected bothwork
andruns.Thisiscuriousbecause,atthispoint,therehadbeennoeffectsof
fingeringsinceSession13.Whywouldfingeringsuddenlystartinterrupt-
ingrunsandneedingworkagainjustbeforethefirstpublicperformanceof
the piece? This may be evidence for the rechunking in preparation for
performance that Gabriela described. She said that she was practicing
performancecuesreworkingeverydetailofthepiecetolinkthemtothe
interpretive and expressive performancecues that shewanted to think
about as sheperformed.Wasthis responsible forthe renewed work on
fingering?Wethinkso.WeknowthatGabrielawasusingslowpracticefor
the first timetocheckher conceptualmemoryand improvearticulation.
Playingslowlyreducestheabilityto find thecorrectfingeringautomati-
cally,givingconceptualmemorythechancetocomeupwithitbefore the
fingersmaketheirchoice.Engaginginslowpracticeatthispointcertainly
provided an opportunity to link the fingerings to new, higher level
retrievalcues.Therepetitionofbarscontainingfingeringdecisions during
thesesessionsisevidencethatthiswas happening.
FingeringsalsorequiredattentionduringthefinalpolishinginSessions
31 to 44.As in Sessions 7to 8,fingeringswere interrupting runs, but
Gabrieladidnotrespondbyworkingonthem.Therewesuggestedthatthe
problemwasinterferencefrommotormemoryfortheusualfingerings.But
why should thesecauseproblemsinSessions31to44when thenonstan-
dard fingeringhasbeensuccessfullyusedformonths?Theanswer isthe
increase in tempo. Playing faster involved changingthemovement pat-
184 CHAPTER8
terns,andthenonstandard fingeringwerenotfully automaticinthenew
contexts.Thesolution wastopracticeplayinglongrunswith themetro-
nome,correctingfingeringerrorsastheyoccurred,andsteadilyincreasing
thetempo until thefingeringsbecameasautomaticatthenew tempoas
theyhadbeenattheold.
TechnicalDifficulties. Therewasworkontechnicaldifficultiesinevery
session set from the beginning toSessions 14to 16(Table8.4).Technical
difficulties wererepeatedinshortworksegments.ExceptforSessions1to
6and 13,theseworksegmentsgenerallystartedatthetechnicaldifficulty.
Theseareplaceswhere anunusually complexordifficult seriesofmove-
mentsrequiresattention.Themultiplerepetitioninvolved inworkestab-
lishesamotormemoryforthemovementsthateventuallymakesattention
unnecessary.Whilethisishappening, startingatthedifficulty maximizes
the attention that can be devoted to it. BySession 17,this work was
completedandtechnicaldifficulties werenolonger aproblem.
While this work on technical difficulties was going on, runs were
unaffectedexceptatthebeginninginSessions1to6.Thiscontrastswiththe
effects of fingering on runs during the same period. The absence of
corresponding effects for technicaldifficulties can be attributed to two
things. First, technical difficulties are more distinctive and easier to re-
memberthanfingerings.Second,failuretorememberatechnicaldifficulty
before itappears may slowthings down ormaketheexecutionmessier,
withoutactuallystoppingtherun.Thiswouldbeasignalthatmorework
wasneeded.Sotechnicaldifficulties affectedwork,butnotruns.However,
wheneverawrong fingeringwasused,itwasimmediately corrected, so
fingering did affect runs.
After technicaldifficulties had beenworked onconsistentlyfrom Ses-
sion1toSession16,inSessions20to24thependulumswungtheotherway
and they were ignored. Technicaldifficulties were worked on lessthan
other bars. The explanation lies in the injury to Gabriela's hand. By
avoiding technicaldifficulties sheminimizedstress tothe injured hand.
Apparentlyshefelt secureenoughthatshewaswillingtoprepareforthe
first performanceunder thisrestriction.
Technicaldifficultiesdid,however,needsomemoreworkinSessions31
to44when thenew tempo made itnecessary tostreamline movements.
Thealteredmotorpatternshadtobereestablished throughrepetitionjust
astheyhadbeenatthebeginning.
Patterns. Thenumberofdifferent patternsofnotes,orchunks,inabar
affectedtheinitialworkinSessions1to6.Eachfamiliarpatternhasamotor
sequence associated with it. In bars containing more familiar patterns,
185 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
therearemorediscrete,preestablished motorsequencestobeintegrated,
andthesebarsrequiredmorerepetition.Unliketheeffectsoffingeringand
technicaldifficulties, theintegrationofseparatemotorpatternswascom-
pletedinSessions1to6,andtherewasnoeffectonthenumberofdifferent
patternsinsubsequentsessionsuntilSessions20to24.Thereappearanceof
the effect during thepolishing forthe first performanceissimilarto the
reappearanceoffingeringeffects atthe sametime.Bothappear toresult
from theprocessofrechunking,inwhichthebasicmotorpatternsofthe
piecewerelinkeddirectlywithhigherlevelexpressiveperformancecues.
InterpretiveDimensions
Interpretivedimensions generally affected practicedifferently thanbasic
dimensions. Effects were often negative rather than positive. Bars with
moreinterpretivefeaturestendedtoberepeatedlessandoccasionedfewer
startsandstopsthanother bars.Whymightthisbe?Therearetwo main
possibilities.Oneisthatbarscontaininginterpretivefeaturestendtooccur
in passages that are less complexharmonicallyor rhythmically and so
requirelesspractice.Thereasonthepianistneeded tomakeinterpretive
decisions aboutthesepassages was thatthereisless going onmusically
thaninmorecomplexpassages,providingboththeneedandopportunity
to add interest and complexity through theuse ofinterpretive devices.
Needing less repetition, these barswould alsobe the location of fewer
startsand stops.
Alternatively,interpretivefeatures maybethelocationoffewer starts,
stops, and repetitionsbecausetheyrequirepracticeincontext.Interpretive
features often involverelationships between adjacent bars.Forexample,
thepolyphony involvedinthecreationoraccentuationofavoiceortheme
against the background ofother voices often extends over severalbars.
Otherinterpretivefeatures,suchaschangesindynamicsortempo,involve
contrastsbetween longer passages, eachconsisting ofseveralbars.Fea-
turesofthissortmustbeplayedaspartoftheirlargercontext.Topractice
them,thepianistmustavoidstartingorstoppingatthebarinwhichthe
featurebegins. Thiswould result innegativeeffects forstartsand stops.
With this preamble, we can now turn to the effects of the interpretive
dimensions.
Phrasing. Muchofthephrasing used inthe Prestoconsisted ofgroup-
ingeighthnotesintosetsoffour,emphasizing the first ofeachgroup,so
thattheemphasizednotesformamelodyorfigureagainstthebackground
of the others. Gabriela'scomments in Sessions 1to 6indicatethat she
consideredthiskindofphrasinginmakingbasicdecisionsaboutfingering
186 CHAPTER8
andtechnicaldifficulties. Hercommentswerelargelyconcernedwiththe
difficultiesthiscreated.Forexample,inSession5,"Righthere,it'spurelya
technical problem. I am having trouble because I am trying to phrase
similar notesdifferent[ly]. . . . " Thisattention tophrasingisreflectedin
theregressionanalysesbythenegativeeffect ofphrasingonrepetitionsin
Sessions 1to 6.Bars with more phrasing decisions were repeated less
frequentlyduringworkaneffect thatmayindicatepracticeincontextor
thatworkonphrasingwaspostponed byavoidingplacesthatneeded it
untillater.
There was no effect ofphrasing for the rest of Period 1,not even in
Sessions9to10,wheninterpretationhadbecomeamajortopicofcomment
(chap.7).Forexample,"IhavetoworkinoneaccentthatIhaven'tgot,and
it's stilla shifty place." Although Gabrielawas makingdecisions about
phrasing,thiscommentsuggests thatshewasstillworkingatthelevelof
the individual notes making up each phrase, which may explain why
effects ofentirephrasesonpracticehadnotyetappeared.Inthefollowing
remarkfromSession10,sheappearstoacceptthefactthatphrasingmight
not always be fully implemented. "The notes were there but it was
uncomfortable.Itdidn'tfeelrightand,ofcourse,ImissedthatphrasingI
wasworking on."
Work onphrasing did, however,begin inSession 13.Bars containing
morephraseswererepeatedmoreduringwork,andrunsstoppedonthese
samebarslessfrequentlythanonotherbars.Thepositiveeffect onworkis
straightforward enough.Itindicateshardworkmanyrepetitions ofthe
bar inquestion.Thenegativeeffect on stops forrunsprobablyindicates
practice in context ofphrasing during runs. Topractice or evaluate the
phrasing of a particularbar, the bar was played as part of the longer
context,andsoitwasimportantthattherunnotstoponthecriticalbar.The
negativeeffect ofphrasingforrunstellsusthatGabrielawasusingrunsto
practicephrasing inthecontextofthesurrounding sections.Itisinterest-
ingthatthispattern ofpractice appeared inthe first sessionofPeriod 2.
Oneofthereasonsfortakingabreakfromanewpieceistobeabletohearit
withafresh ear.Whenshedidthis,whatapparentlystruckGabrielawas
theneedforworkonphrasing.
TheothertimeduringthesecondlearningperiodthatGabrielafocused
onphrasingwasinSessions20to24,whenbarscontainingmorephrasing
decisions received more repetitions inboth run and work segments.In
thesesessions, Gabrielawasrefining theinterpretationinpreparationfor
thefirstpublicperformance."Iamtryingt o. . .bringoutthelefthand,just
everyothernote,forcingitoutalittlebi t . . . . I[still]can'tdecidewhetherI
amgoingtodo the echoinbar 99" (Session 24).Theeffects of phrasing
reflectthisconcern.Repetitionsduringworkweretheresultoftryingouta
187 EFFECTSOF MUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
new phrasing, whereas repetitions during runs may reflect the initial
evaluationthatledtotheworkorcontinueddissatisfactionwithitsresults.
Thework on phrasing was completed in the first half ofPeriod 3.In
Sessions 26to27,barswithphrasing features were againrepeated more
thanotherbarsduringwork.InSessions28to30,thecharacterofthework
changedtopracticeincontext,withmorecomplexphrasesbeingrepeated
lessfrequently andworksegments startingonthemlessoften than other
bars.Thisnewpatternofpracticeundoubtedly reflects decisionstobring
outafewthemesmentioned inthecommentsaboutthese sessions.
Dynamics. Dynamics also affected practice in the section by section
stage.Runstended tobeinterrupted bytherepetition ofbarscontaining
dynamicfeatures.Asmentioned earlier,thedynamicfeaturesinthePresto
oftenservedtobringoutaparticulartheme.Theeffect onrunsearlyinthe
learning process means that Gabriela was attending to this aspectof
interpretation from thestart.However,shewasnot sufficiently prepared
to executethese dynamic affects ahead oftime,but had tobackup and
replay the relevant bar. This particular effect did not appear again,
suggesting that theinterruptions caused bythe dynamic features atthis
early stage may have been different from their effects when they later
becameamorecentralfocusofpractice.
Latereffectsofdynamicswereallnegative,andtherewerealotofthem.
Barswithdynamicfeatureswererepeatedlessoftenthanotherbarsduring
runsandwork.Thiswasthemostconsistenteffect observed, occurringin
eitherrunsorwork,orboth,inmoresessionsetsthananyotherdimension
(Sessions 9-10, 13,17,20-24, 26-27, and 3-44). As mentioned earlier,
these effects may reflect practiceincontext,orpassages containingmore
dynamic features may have needed less practice because they were
harmonicallysimplerthanother passages.
Pedal. Barsinvolvinguseofthepedalwererepeated lessoften during
runsinSessions9-10 andduringworkinSessions20-24and3144.Work
wasalsoaffected bypedalinginSessions26to27,whentherewere fewer
stops at these locations.Theseare allsessions in which Gabriela's com-
ments indicate that she was focusing on interpretation.Apparently she
avoided interrupting runs onbarswhere sheused thepedal sothatshe
couldpracticebringingoutthetheme.
8
Tempo. We do not discuss the effects of tempo because the small
number oftempo features makes it likelythat the particular effects are
accidentsoftheirlocationinthe piece.
188 CHAPTER8
Performance Dimensions
Whenshefirst described her useofperformancecues,Gabriela reported
selecting them toguide her performanceduring the final polishing ofa
newpiece.Itwaswithsomesurprise,therefore,thatI[Roger]firstsawthe
resultsinTable8.4.Practicewasapparently affected byperformancecues
from the outset. When I went to Gabriela for an explanation, she was
delighted. First,hernovelideathattherearesuchthings asperformance
cueshad received empirical supportthey really did influence practice.
Evenbetter, their early effect seemed to indicate that early on she had
startedthinkingintermsofthe musicaleffects ofher decisions. She was
very gratified. She now said that she did indeed make note of likely
performance cuesearlyon,but had not liked tosaythatshecouldpick
themout soearlyforfear ofseeming toboast.Shewas awareofhow bad
practicesoundsinitiallythereislittlerealmusictobeheard.Sheknew
thatmostofherattentionwasfocusedonbasicissues.Shedidnotexpect
that the arcanetechnique of regression analysis would pluck from her
practiceevidenceoftheinnermostcreativeintentionsthatguidedherwork.
The[basicandinterpretiveperformance]cuesaretherefromthebeginning,I
wouldsayabout75%oftheonesthatwillbeperformancecues.Iknowwhich
ones are essential and I groom them from the beginning. But, in the
beginning,thereisnowaytoknowforsure.Youhavetodoitasaprocess
and asthepieceevolves itsortofnarrowsdown toafewreallykeyplaces
[whicharefinally selectedastheperformancecues].
We return to the effects ofperformancecues in chapter 9,where we
examinetheirroleasmemory-retrievalcues.Herewefocus ontheques-
tionoftiming:Whendidpracticeofthedifferent performance dimensions
beginandend?
Basic Performance Dimension. Many of the basic performancecues
wereapparentlyidentifiedatthebeginning ofpracticeinSessions 1to6.
These were the fingerings, technical difficulties, and patterns that she
would stillneed to attend to during performance10months later.The
negative effect of basic performancecues on runs indicates that bars
containing these features were played less frequentlythan other bars.
Either they werebeing practicedincontextorworkonthem was being
postponed. Thelatterexplanationseemsmorelikelybecauseworkbegan
inthefollowingsessions (7-8).Performancecueswereplayedrepeatedly
in work segments that started with them. The need for this work is
apparent in the identical effects for runs that were interrupted at these
189 EFFECTSOF MUSICAL COMPLEXITY ONPRACTICE
samepoints. Gabrielawasbeginning toplayfrom memory,managing to
playthroughthewholepiece"mostlyfrom memory" forthefirst timein
Session8.Thefactthatshewashavingtroublewithbasicperformancecues
duringrunssuggeststhat they were beginningtofunction as memory-
retrievalcues.
Further evidencethatbasicperformancecueswere actingasretrieval
cuescomesfrom theircontinuedeffectsinperiod2,whentheyinterrupted
runsasmemorizationofthepiecewascompletedinSessions1416and17.
The work needed to make the basic performancecues fluent was also
completed at the same time. There was no further work on them after
Session17,althoughthebasicperformancecuesdidneedsomerefreshing
atthebeginning ofPeriod 3,whentheyagaininterrupted runs (Sessions
26-27).InSessions28to30,thedirectionoftheeffect reversed,and forthe
first timethese cueswere repeated less than otherbars.The effect may
represent practiceincontext,althoughwhythisshouldbenecessaryonly
atthisonepointinthelearningprocessisunclear.Inthefinalsession set,
therewerenoeffects onrunsorwork.
Interpretive Performance Dimension. The interpretive performance
cues first began to affect practice in Sessions 7 to 8. These were the
phrasings, dynamics,tempochanges,andpedallingsthatGabrielawould
need toattend toduringperformance months later. Atthispoint, they
wereapparentlybeginning totakeontheir roleinguidingperformance
and were singled out forwork in Sessions 9to 10when they served as
startingpointsforworkaswellasinterruptingrunsbygettingrepeated.
Thisapparently provided themusicalshape thepiecehad beenlacking
becauseitwasattheendofSession9Gabrielanoted,"It's gettingthere.It's
so[much]funtoseesomemusicfinallycomingoutof it."
Attention tointerpretiveperformancecuescontinued throughout the
restofthelearningprocess.TheyinterruptedrunsinSessions7to8,9to10,
11to12and wereworkedon from Sessions7-8untilSession 17.Despite
thiswork,interpretiveperformancecuescontinuedtointerruptrunsand
requiredrepetitionduringpolishing forthe firstperformanceinSessions
20 to 24and through much ofPeriod 3.In short,work on interpretive
performance cuesbegansoon after workonbasicperformancecuesand
continuedtotheendofthelearningprocesslongafter workonbasiccues
hadbeencompleted.
9
Expressive Performance Dimension. Initialdecisionsaboutexpressive
goalsweremadeearlyinthefirstlearningperiod.Theireffects appearedin
Sessions7to8,whenGabrielafirstbeganplayingthepieceasawholeafter
learningitinsections.Expressivecuesservedasstartingplacesforrunsin
190 CHAPTER8
thesesessionsandcontinuedtodosoinSessions9to10.Using expressive
cuesasstartingpointswouldhaveestablished themasmemory-retrieval
cues,associatingtheexpressive intentionwiththepassagesthat followed.
Expressivecuesdidnot affectpracticeagainuntilthepolishing forthe
first performance(Sessions 20-24), when Gabrielaavoided interrupting
runs on expressive cues (anegativeeffect on stops).The effect seems to
represent practicein context and may be yet another reflection of the
rechunking needed to focus attention during performanceon expres-
sivecues.
Effectsoftheexpressiveperformancecuesreappeared againinSessions
28 to 30as Gabrielamade "more musicaldecisions" involving "stereo
effects," "trying to thin it out,"and getting "a very nice rich tone."
Repetition ofexpressive cues during runs allowed her to evaluate and
rehearseherexpressiveintentions.
FormalStructure
In the graphs for Section C (Figs. 6.2and 6.3),practiceappeared to be
organizedbytheboundariesoftheformalstructure,withworksegments
tendingtostartatthebeginningsofsections.Theregressionanalysesshow
thatsectionboundarieswereusedasstartingplacesatmanypointsduring
thelearningprocess.Theimportanceoftheformalstructureinorganizing
practice was also evident in numerous effects of switches and serial
position in asection.These effects are discussed inchapter9,wherewe
exploretheuseoftheformalstructureasaretrievalorganization.
HOWDIDPRACTICE CHANGEACROSS THE
LEARNINGPROCESS?
Theoutsider'sviewofthegoalsofpracticedescribedinthischapter largely
agreeswiththeinsider's viewreflected inGabriela'scomments(chap.7).
BothpracticeandcommentsshowthatGabrielainitiallyattendedmoreto
basic than to interpretive dimensions, and that thisbalancereversed as
learningprogressed. Bothviewsalsoagreethatsheattended to perform-
anceissuesthroughoutthelearningprocess.Thetwoperspectivessupport
eachother,providingconvergingevidencethatGabriela'sreports ofthe
musical andperformancefeaturesofthepiecewereaccurateandthatthe
regressionanalyseswereabletoidentify theireffects onpractice (Chaffin
&Imreh,2001).
191 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
Oursuccessinidentifyingpracticegoalsbylookingatthefrequencyof
starts,stops,andrepetitionsofdifferent kindsoffeatureswasbynomeans
a forgoneconclusion. The regression analyses involve several levelsof
abstraction,beginningwithGabrielasittingdownwiththescore2months
after the recording session to recall decisions she had made during
practice. Thereisno necessary relationship between these retrospective
reportsoffeaturesandthedetailsofwhatshedidinpracticesessionsthat,
in some cases, had taken place almost a year earlier.Each of the large
number of significant effects in the regression analyses represents a
correspondencebetweenherretrospectivereportsandwhathappenedin
practice.These effects provide an impressive demonstration oftheaccu-
racyofhermemoryand thevalidityofthefeaturesshereported.
Thegoalsofpracticedidchangeoverthecourseofthelearningprocess,
and thiswasapparentinthechangingeffects ofthedifferent dimensions
on practice. First,basic dimensions were practiced before most of the
interpretive dimensions. Second, forbasicfeatures,practiceof perform-
ancecuesfollowedpracticeofthecompletesetsofbasicfeatures,whereas
for interpretivefeaturesthisorderwas reversedpracticeofinterpretive
performance cuespreceded practiceofthe completesets ofinterpretive
features. Third,workonthebasicperformancedimension began before
work on the interpretive performancedimension and was completed
sooner.Fourth,practiceofthebasicand interpretiveperformancedimen-
sions preceded practiceofthe expressive dimension. Theseconclusions
depend on distinguishing between the initial decision making abouta
dimension and itssystematicpractice.Forexample,expressivecues ap-
peartohavebeenidentifiedandmemorizedatthesametimeastheother
performancecues,butdidnotbecomeafocusofpracticeuntilmuchlater.
Wenowsummarizetheevidenceforourfourhypotheses,focusingonthe
firstappearanceofsystematicpracticeforeachdimension.
First,basicdimensions werepracticedbefore most ofthe interpretive
dimensions.Themotorandperceptualskillsrequiredbybasicfeaturesof
the piece (fingering,technical difficulties, and integrating familiar pat-
terns) were developed in Sessions 1 to 6. Work on these three basic
dimensionswas themainfocus oftheinitialpracticesessions. Therewas
alsoevidenceofattentiontophrasinganddynamicsinSessions1to6.We
discussthe effects ofdynamicslater,but thisearlyeffect ofphrasing was
negativeandprobablyindicatesthattheneed forworkonphrasing was
recognizedbutpostponed.Workonphrasingdidnotbegininearnestuntil
Session13.Attentionturnedtotheotherinterpretivedimensionsearlierin
Sessions 9to 10,when dynamicsand pedal receivedpracticeincontext.
Attention to dynamics and pedaling at this time may have laid the
groundworkforthelaterworkonphrasinginSession13,becausedynamic
192 CHAPTER8
emphasis and pedaling wereused primarilyinthe serviceofseparating
phrasesfrom thepolyphonicbackground.
Althoughpracticeonmostoftheinterpretivedimensionsoccurredlater
thanforbasicdimensions,manyinterpretive decisionsweremade earlier
duringtheinitialworkonbasicdimensionsinSessions1to6.Interpreta-
tion was takeninto accountin the choiceoffingeringsand solutionsto
technical difficulties. This is indicated both by effects of phrasing and
dynamics for these sessions and by comments about interpretation in
Sessions 1to6(chap.7).
Theonedimensionthatwasanexceptiontothepatternoflaterpractice
of interpretive features was dynamics. Dynamicfeatures were repeated
duringrunsinSessions1to6.Runswereinterruptedtoinsertthedynamic
emphasisonaseriesofnotesneeded tocreatethephrasespracticedlater.
Wealreadynotedthepracticeincontextofthesesamedynamicfeaturesin
Sessions9to10and theworkontheresultingphrasinginSession 13.The
practiceofdynamicfeaturesinSessions1to6appearstohavebeenthefirst
step inthis process ofusing dynamicemphasis tocreatephrases and is
thus anexceptiontothegeneralconclusionthatpracticeofbasicdimen-
sionsbeganbeforepracticeofinterpretive dimensions.
Thesecondhypothesisthatworkonperformancedimensions would
begin after the initial work onthecorrespondingbasic and interpretive
dimensions had been completedheldonlyforbasicdimensions. Work
onthebasicperformancedimensionbeganinSessions7to8aftertheinitial
workonthecorrespondingbasicdimensionshadbeenlargelycompleted
inSessions1to6.(ThenegativeeffectofbasicperformancecuesinSessions
1 to 6appears to indicate that theneed forwork was recognized and
postponed.) Thesequencefortheinterpretivedimensions wasthe oppo-
site. Workon interpretive performancecuesbegan in Sessions 7to8
before the initialpracticein contextduring runs ofdynamicsand pedal
featuresinSessions9to10.Itseemsthattheinterpretiveperformancecues
wereestablishedfirstbecausetheyprovidedthebigpicturetheinterpretive
framework within which the more detailed interpretive effects were
developed. The setting up of this framework in Sessions 7 to 8 was
followedbypracticeincontextofthemoredetailedinterpretivedecisions
about dynamicsand pedaling. At this point, ifa particularinterpretive
detail,such astheemphasisofaparticular note,could notbe managed,
playingsimplycontinued.AsGabrielaputit,
Ithinkinterpretationstartsfromthebigpicture,whereyouaregoing.Ithas
todowiththeoverallarchitectureofthepiece,comparingclimaxesandlow
points.Comparing therepeatsoftheAtheme,makingsurethattheyarenot
exactlythesameaseachother.Theseconcernthebigstructureofthepiece.
193 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
Itwasonlylaterthatworkonthemorespecificinterpretivefeaturesbegan,
starting inSession 13with dynamicsand phrasing and continuing with
tempoinSessions14to16,withworkonpedalingnottakingplaceuntilth
repolishing stage in Sessions 26to 27.Thepracticeofthe more specific
interpretive dimensions thus appears tohave come after practiceof the
corresponding interpretive performancedimensions.
Third,workonthebasicperformancedimensionbeganatthesametime
aswork onthe interpretive performancedimension but was completed
earlier.Workonbasicperformancecuesbegan inSessions 7to8,when
Gabriela began to play through the whole piece, at least partly from
memory, achieving a rough draft, "A level ofperformancethat isrela-
tively,I'dsay'sufficient'. It'sprettymuchintempo.Thesound isnotvery
good,but . . .Iamtryingtoplayeverythingoutquiterough. ..." (Session
8)Theworkonbasicperformancecuesinthissession suggests thatthese
criticalmilestones ofthe piecewere an essential part ofher rough draft.
Basicperformancecueswereneeded inSessions7to8becausetheyserved
asretrievalcuestoelicitthe necessary memories.Stilllacking, however,
wastheinterpretationthatwould turnitallintomusic.
Theeffectoftheinterpretiveperformancecuesonbothrunsandworkin
the same session setsuggests that these wereproviding the interpretive
landmarksneededtomaketheperformancemusical.AttheendofSession
9Gabrielaremarkedwithsatisfaction,"It's gettingthere.It'sso[much]fun
toseesomemusicfinallycomingoutofit,becauseuntilnowit'sjustbeen
pulling teeth and torture."Theinterpretive performancecues had pro-
videdtheoverallinterpretiveshapethatwas needed.
MusicallyIcoulddomore[inthegraystagethanearlier]becauseIhad the
wholepicture.Iwasn'tjustlookingatonelittlesegmentatatime.AndIhad
the freedom to havethe emotional flow withoutbeing interrupted allthe
timeby difficulties.
Thework oninterpretive performancecueshad brought musicalcoher-
encetotheemergingperformance.
Workontheinterpretiveperformancecuesbegan atthesametimeas
work on the basic performance cues, but it continued longer. The last
session inwhichthebasicperformancecueswereworkedonwasSession
17.In contrast, work on the interpretive performance cues continued
through Sessions 26 to 27 and 31 to 44. Thus, work on interpretive
performance cuesbegan atthesametimeaswork onbasicperformance
cuesandcontinueduntiltheendofthelearning process.
Theevidence forthe fourth hypothesisthatpracticeofthebasicand
interpretive performancedimensions precedes practiceofthe expressive
194 CHAPTER8
dimensionwasmoreequivocal.Expressivecueswereestablished early
on,but did not become a focus ofpractice until later. On balance, the
hypothesis wasmorewrongthan right,althoughthestoryismorecom-
plexthanthehypothesisallows.Contrarytothehypothesis,thefirst effects
oftheexpressiveperformancecuesoccurredatthe sametimeasthoseof
the basic and interpretive performance dimensions and immediately
before the first work on interpretive performancecues.Expressivecues
servedasstartingpointsforrunsinSessions7to8and9to10.Thiswould
haveprovidedtheoverallframeworkforthe"emotionalflow"ofthepiece
atthebeginningofthegraystage,establishing Gabriela's expressivegoals
asretrievalcues.Thiswasatthesametimeasthe firstworkonthebasic
andinterpretiveperformancecuesinSessions7to8.Theseeffects suggest,
therefore,thattheexpressiveframeworkforthepiecewasestablishedat
thesametimethatthebasicperformancecueswereidentifiedand wasa
precursortotheidentificationoftheinterpretiveperformancecues.Inter-
pretationdidindeed start"fromthebigpicture."
However,practiceofexpressivecuesatthisearlystageofthe learning
process was limited to starting runs at them. Basic and interpretive
performance cues, incontrast,were subjectedto amuchmore intensive
type ofpractice,being played repeatedly as part of short practice seg-
ments. This kind ofpractice isnot ofcourse appropriate for expressive
cues,whichwereneverworkedoninthisway.However,expressivecues
weretheobjectofadifferentkindofpracticeduringthepolishingstage.In
Sessions 20 to 24,they were avoided as stopping places during runs
(practiceincontext),and inSessions 28to30,theywererepeated during
runs.Theseeffectsreflecttheevaluationandpolishingofexpressive effects
that is evident in Gabriela's comments as she prepared for the first
performance (Sessions20-24)and put thefinishingtouchesonherinter-
pretation (Sessions 28-30). If the focus on expression evident in these
sessions isregarded asequivalenttotheworkonbasicand interpretive
performance cuesinSessions 7to8and 9to 10,thenwe could saythat
practiceofexpressivecuesdidindeedbeginmuchlaterthanpracticeofthe
basicandinterpretiveperformancecues.
SUMMARY
Theregressionanalysessuggesttherewasaprogressioninpracticeinboth
directionsup and down the hierarchy ofbasic, interpretive, and per-
formance cues. Forbasic featurestheprogressionwasup the hierarchy,
whereas for interpretive features it was down. On the one hand, basic
dimensionswerepracticedbeforemostoftheinterpretivedimensions, and
195 EFFECTSOFMUSICALCOMPLEXITYONPRACTICE
practiceofthecompletesetofbasicfeaturesprecededpracticeofthesubset
ofbasicperformancecues.Ontheotherhand,forinterpretivefeatures,the
progressionwas inthe otherdirection.Thebigpictureprovidedby the
expressive cues was established first, followed by the interpretiveper-
formancecues,followedbyworkontheparticularinterpretivedimensions.
Thefinalwrinkletothiscomplicatedtaleisthat,althoughthedevelop-
mentofinterpretationbeganwiththeexpressivecues,systematicpractice
of these cues did not occur until the final polishing for performance.
Expression provided the initialframework for the manyhoursofwork
spent in developing the interpretation. At the end ofthis long process,
expressionagainprovidedtheframeworkforconceptualizingthepieceas
it was performed. In the next chapter, we propose that theretrieval
hierarchy was reorganizedduringthe polishing stage so thatmemory
couldbedirectlyaccessedthroughtheexpressivecues.
ENDNOTES
1.Itissomewhat arbitrarywhether phrasings createdinthisway are regarded as
decisionsaboutdynamicsorphrasing.Wechosetotreatthemasdynamicfeatures.
2. Theidea thatwhat a musician attends to during a performance iscriticalto its
successisthecentralmessageofBarryGreenand TimothyGallwey's(1986),TheInner
Game of Music.
3.Position as the first bar in asection or subsectionwas represented by adummy
variable,inwhichthefirstbarwascodedas"1"andallotherbarsas"0." Positionasthe
lastbarwasrepresentedbyaseparatedummyvariable,withthelastbarcodedas"1"
and allothersas"0." Serialpositionwascoded bynumberingeachbarconsecutively
fromthebeginningofthesection(orsubsection).Thus,thefirstbarwasalways"1" and
thevalueforthelastbardepended onthenumberofbarsinthesection.
4.Tempowasincludedanywayforthesakeofcompleteness.
5.Abar wascounted ashavingbeenrepeated ifmorethanasinglebeat(morethan
half thebar)wasplayed.
6.Allpredictorvariables were entered simultaneously.Preliminaryanalyseswere
performedwith15predictorvariables,10measuresofmusicalcomplexity,4represent-
ing position in the formal structure,and number ofnotes. Theresults led to asmall
reductioninthenumberofpredictors.Repetitionswereaffected byserialposition ina
section,butnotbylocationatthebeginning andendofasection,whereasthereverse
was trueforstartsand stops. Asaresult,slightlydifferent setsofpredictorvariables
wereusedforrepetitionsthanforstartsandstops.Serialpositioninasectionwasused
fortheanalysisofrepeatsandlocationatthebeginningandendofasectionwasusedfor
the analysisofstartsand stops. Thustherewere 14predictor variablesforstarts and
stopsand 13forrepetitions.
Anotherdifferencebetweentheanalysesofrepetitionscompared tostopsand starts
wasthatthefirst and lastbarswereeliminated from analysesofstartsand stops.This
avoided distorting effects with thelargenumber ofpracticesegments thatstarted and
ended,respectively,onthesetwobars.
Wetriedtwo different unitsofanalysisforthePresto,bars,and subsections.(Beatsis
anotherpossibleunitthatwedidnottry.)Barsappeartobetheunitbestsuited tothe
196 CHAPTER8
examinationofworkandinterruptionsofruns.Workistypicallyorganizedinsegments
ofafewbars,andmanyinterruptionstorunsalsohavetheireffectsinthespaceofabar
or two. Sections are probably a more suitable levelofanalysis for runs because the
selectionofwhattoplayinarunisprobablymadeatthelevelofsections.Herewelimit
ourdescriptiontoanalysesofbarsbecausetherewereenoughofthemtogivethepower
needed toidentifyreliable effects.
7.Morecompletereportsoftheseanalysesgivingregression coefficientscanbefound
inChaffin andImreh(2001,inpress).Therewere902possibleeffects:286forrepetitions
(13predictor variablesx11session sets x2[runs/work])and 308eachforstarts and
stops (14predictor variables x11sessionsetsx2[runs/work]).Withsomany effects
being tested, some of the significant effects are undoubtedly due to chance. If the
analyses were being used to test hypotheses, this would require use of a more
conservative criterion for significanceto minimizethe risk of incorrectlyidentifying
effects. Our use ofregression analysis is,however, descriptive.Thequestion asked is
whether, during thelearning ofaparticularpiece,thepianist consistently used some
kindsoffeaturesasstartingorstoppingplacesorconsistentlyrepeatedsome kindsof
features.Fromthisperspective, thesignificancelevelofaneffect providesameasureof
itsrobustnessandreliabilityfortheparticularsetofpracticesessionsanalyzedandcan
beusedtoidentifywhichdimensionsthepianistattendedtomostconsistently.Because
ourgoalistoprovideacompletedescriptionofthelearningofthePresto,wehaveuseda
liberal (p<.05)levelofsignificancetoensure thatwe did not omitinteresting effects.
However, the overall character of our description does not change when a more
conservativecriterionisused (Chaffin &Imreh,2001)
8.Thepossibilitythatpassages involvinguseofthepedal wereeasier tolearnisan
unlikelyexplanationbecausemostoftheseeffectsoccurredattheendofPeriod2andin
Period3,whenthepiecewasalreadywelllearned.
9.Notethat the effects ofthe basicand interpretiveperformancedimensions were
independent oftheeffectsofthecompletesetsofbasicandinterpretivefeatures.Thefact
that the performancecues affected practice independently of the complete sets of
featuresindicatesthattheywere,asGabrielareported,servingdifferent functions.The
effects ofthe interpretiveperformancedimension werenot onlyindependent of,but
alsointheoppositedirectiontotheeffects ofthecompletesetsofinterpretive features.
Thisalso suggests thatthe roleofthe interpretiveperformancecueswas different in
kindfrom thatofthelargersetsofinterpretivefeatures.
N I N E
Memoryand Performance
Roger Chaffin and Gabriela Imreh
P.
Performersdeal with mistakestheir own and other people'sall
the time. Usually the recovery is graceful. The potential catastrophe is
averted, and only the performer feels the rush ofadrenaline that comes
from teeteringonthevergeofdisaster.Gabrielarememberswatchingthe
conductorturnseveralpagesbymistakeatacriticalpointin Beethoven's
Emperor Concertoand searchdesperately tofind hisplaceagainwhile she
played on,waiting forthecrash.Onthatoccasion, disaster was averted.
Theconductorfoundhisplaceandtheperformancewenton,butmemory
of the feelingremains.
Mistakesdohappen,eventoexperiencedperformers,andwhentheydo
artistshave tocope asbest theycan.Twoofus (Roger and Mary) were
presentatawonderfulrecitalgivenbythesoprano KathleenBattleatthe
UniversityofConnecticutin1999.Itearnedhersixstanding ovations, but
shehadamemorylapse.Atthebeginning ofonepiece,aboutfourbarsin,
she stopped, leaned over to confer with her accompanist, made a self-
deprecatinggesturetotheaudience,andstartedover.Theincident lasted
just afew seconds and by the end ofthe evening most members of the
audience probably did not even remember it. A more glaring memory
lapseoccurredduringtheperformanceofaMozartconcertoinNewYork
thatGabrielaattended.Therenownedpianist,AliciadeLarrocha,stopped,
197
198 CHAPTER9
gotup, left the stage, returned, and startedagainatthebeginning. This
time she got through the troublesome passage successfully and gavea
beautifulperformance.Gabriela'sworstmemorylapsewasinarecitalasa
student.Shecameoffthestageelatedbywhatshethought tobeaperfect
performance ofaBachPartita,onlytoseethehorrifiedexpressionon her
teacher'sface.Shehad left outanentiresection.
The performerhas to continually guard against the possibility ofa
catastropheofthissort.Memoryisboththesourceoftheproblemand its
solution.Topreventperformancefailures,aconcertartistneedstohavea
conceptualrepresentationofthemusicclearlyinmindatalltimesduring
performance.Torecover,youhavetoknowwhereyouareinthemusic
whichsection,whichbar,wheretheswitchesare,andwhatiscomingnext.
Youusethatknowledgetorestartthemotorprogram.Thenovicecanstart
onlyatthebeginning;theexpertcanstartanywhere,using retrievalcues
strategicallyplaced throughout thepiece.Whensomethinggoes wrong,
theperformerjumpstoasuitable retrievalcueandtheshowgoeson.In
thischapter,weseehowonepianistsetsupthoseretrievalcuesandtrains
them until they operate fast and reliablyenough to get her out of any
impedingdisaster.
Our accountofthispreparation forperformanceaccordssurprisingly
wellwiththetheoryofexpertmemorydevelopedbyAndersEricssonand
hiscolleagues,althoughthattheoryisbasedonthestudyofvery different
kinds ofexpertmemorylargelymemoryforchessboards and random
stringsofdigits(Chase&Ericsson,1982;Chase&Simon,1973;Ericsson&
Kintsch,1995;Ericcson&Oliver,1988,1989).Wedescribedthisresearchin
chapter4andreviewthemainpointsonlybrieflyhere.Expertsareableto
memorizewithanefficiency thatseemsbeyondthenorm(Chase&Simon,
1973).Thisfeat has beenexplainedintermsofthreeprinciples ofskilled
memory: meaningful encoding of novel material, use of a well-learned
retrievalstructure,andrapidretrievalfromlong-termmemory(Chaffin&
Imreh,1997,inpress;Ericsson&Kintsch,1995).
Accordingtothe firstprinciple,experts'knowledge oftheirdomainof
expertiseallowsthemtoencodenewinformationintermsofready-made
chunksknowledgestructuresalreadystoredinmemory (Bousfield, 1953;
Mandler&Pearlstone,1966;Tulving,1962).Foramusician,theseinclude
chords, scales, arpeggios, phrases, and harmonic progressions whose
practiceformsanimportantpartofeverypianist'straining.Thesechunks
and the ability toplay them automaticallyarebuiltup during the long
yearsoftrainingrequired todevelophighlevels ofexpertise (Ericsson&
Charness, 1994;Ericsson,Krampe,&Tesch-Rmer,1993).Theirpresence
inlong-term memory allowstheexpert toimmediately recognize novel
situationsasvariationsofmorefamiliarones(Anderson,1983;Ericsson&
199 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
Kintsch,1995),thinkinlargerchunks thanthenovice(Halpern&Bower,
1982),identifyandrememberlargeamountsofinformationrapidly(Chase
&Simon,1973),andmakesnapdecisionsaboutcomplexsituations(Gobet
&Simon,1996b).
According to the second principle, expert memory requires a
hierarchicallyorganizedretrievalschemetoprovidecuestobeassociated
withnewinformation(Ericsson&Oliver,1989).Thesecuescanbeusedto
retrievethenewlylearnedinformationwhenitisneeded.Forapianist,the
formal structureofapieceprovides aready-made hierarchicalorganiza-
tion(Chaffin&Imreh,1997,inpress;Snyder,2000;Williamon&Valentine,
2002). Figure 9.1 shows a hypothetical retrieval scheme for the Italian
Concerto showing itshierarchicalorganization intomovements, sections,
subsections, and bars.Theexpressivecuesmakeup thenextlevelofthe
hierarchy below the subsection and typically include several bars that
sharethesameexpressivegoal.Thefigureshowsthehierarchyunpacked
tothislevel,asifthepianistiscurrentlythinkingabouttheexpressivecues
inthefirstCasection.Interpretiveandbasicperformancecuesareshown
at the nextlevel,representing specific featuresofthe musicwithin each
bar.Stilllowerlevelsinthehierarchyrepresentmoredetailed knowledge
of basicand interpretive features and, at the bottom level, the individ-
ualnotes.
Accordingtothethirdprinciple ofexpertmemory,retrievalofconcep-
tual knowledge from long-term memory is normally a slow process.
Prolonged practiceintheuseofaretrievalschemedramaticallyincreases
thespeedwithwhichtheexpertcanaccessstoredinformation(Ericsson&
Kintsch, 1995).This allows the expert to rely on conceptual memory in
situationswheremostpeoplewouldneedtorelyonexternalaids,suchas
thescore.Unlikeotherkindsofexpertmemoriststhathavebeenstudied,
however,performersdonothavetorelyonconceptualmemory.
1
Instead,
theycould depend onmotorand auditorymemory.Somepianists prob-
ablydoplaythisway earlyintheircareers,but itisjustamatteroftime
before thelimitationsofthisstrategybecomeapparent. When something
goeswrong duringaperformance,asitinevitablydoes,thepianist must
knowwhereheorsheisinthemusicandbeprepared torestartthemotor
program togettheperformancebackontrack.Thisrequires conceptual
memory.Thehierarchicalrepresentation ofthepieceinworkingmemory
allowsthepianist toselectasuitablepoint forreentryand toactivatethe
appropriateretrievalcue.
Becauseretrievalfromconceptuallong-termmemoryissomuchslower
thanfrommotormemory,oneofthemaintasksinlearningafastpiecelike
the Prestoistobringretrievalfrom conceptualmemory up tothepaceof
theperformance(i.e.,tomatchretrievalfrom motorlong-termmemory).
FIG.9.1 Hypothetical hierarchical retrievalscheme"unpacked"forSectionCofthePresto.
Mainthemes(sections)arerepresentedbycapitalletters.SectionCis"unpacked" intosub-
sections(Ca
1
,Ca
2
,andCb).Subsection Ca
l
isfurther"unpacked"intoitsperformance cues.
ThefirstperformancecueinCa
1
isfurther linkedtothebasicand interpretivefeatures from
whichitisderived.Atthebottomisthenotetowhichthesefeaturesrefer.
200
201 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
Themaintaskofachievingthisintegrationbeginsinthegraystage.Itisthe
lackofintegration thatmakesthisstagesofrustrating.Practiceofbasicand
interpretiveperformancecues,whichbegins atthistime,isthekeytothe
problem. Performance cues areaconceptual representationofthe music
thatislinkedtothecorresponding motorresponse, sothatthinkingofthe
cuedirectly elicits theperformance. Retrievalofthesecues from concep-
tual long-term memory requires practice, however, and it is in the ex-
tended practice ofthese cues that the third principle ofexpert memory
appliestoGabriela'slearningofthePresto.
Chapters6to8have providedawealth ofinformation about howthe
Presto was learned. In this chapter, we explore how well Gabriela's
strategiesformemorization fitthethreeprinciples ofexpertmemory.We
beginwiththecomments(chap.7)andregressionanalyses(chap.8).What
wearelooking forisevidencethatthepianistusedknowledge structures
alreadystoredinmemoryasbuildingblocks(Principle1),used the formal
structure toencode the music inpractice and retrieve itinperformance
(Principle2),and engaged inextendedpracticeintheuseofthisretrieval
scheme (Principle3).
Anadditionalwindow intothememorizationprocessisprovided bya
memory test administered more than 2 years after the performance.
Gabriela wrote out the first page of the score from memory. Recall is
typicallyaffectedbyserialorder,withitemsatthebeginningofanordered
chunk being recalled better than later items (Broadbent, Cooper, &
Broadbent, 1978;Murdock,1960;Roediger &Crowder, 1976).Ifmusicis
organized inmemoryby sections, thenbeginnings ofsections should be
recalledbetterthanlater portions.
We also look closely at the first few times the pianist played from
memory.Thisdidnothappenallatonce.Gabriela'sinitialeffortswere full
of hesitations and pauses while she searched her memory for how to
continue.Thesemomentsareparticularlyrevealingbecausetheyindicate
thataretrievalcuewasnotfunctioninguptospeed.Iftheformalstructure
providestheretrievalschemeneededtoplayfrommemory,thenhesitations
should occur at the critical points in this structureat beginnings of
sectionsand switches.Ifperformancecuesalsoservetoretrieve features
from long-term memory, then we may expect hesitations at these
pointsaswell.
PRINCIPLE 1:MEANINGFULENCODING OF
NOVELMATERIAL
Intheinitialstagesoflearning,itistheexpert'sabilitytorecognizefamiliar
patterns (e.g.,scales,arpeggios, diatonic triads,broken chords, etc.)that
202 CHAPTER9
sets him or her apart from the less skilled. These familiar patterns are
alreadystored inmemorytogetherwiththemotorprogramsrequired to
executethem.Theyprovidethebuildingblocksorchunksthatamusician
reliesontoplayandremember anewpiece,greatlyreducingthetimeand
effort required tolearnit.
OnethingthatmakesBach'smusicmoredifficultthanmostisthateven
thoughhewasatrueinnovatorandmadeatremendouscontributiontothe
development ofwriting for keyboardinstruments, he was stillnear the
forefront ofwhat weknow today asmodern keyboard technique. Itwas
latercomposer/performerslikeBeethoven,Liszt,andChopinwhodevel-
oped away ofwriting forthe piano that we call"pianistic".Fromthat
perspective, Bach'smusicseemsunpredictable.Afamiliarpatternbegins
and then immediatelychanges into a different pattern, equally familiar
perhaps,but unexpected inthat context.Thedifficulties thatthiscreated
wereevident inGabriela's commentsduring theinitialpractice sessions
and in her practiceshedevoted more practiceto passages containing
morepatterns.Abarwithmorepatternstakesmorepracticebecauseitis
unpredictable. Gabrielacomplained of the lack of familiar patterns, but
whatislackingarefamiliarpatternsthatcontinue formorethanjustafew
notes.Theproblemisreallythattherearetoomanypatterns,sothatnone
of them goes anywhere.Combining allthose little chunks into aunified
conceptual and motor sequence takes a lotmore timethan ifthe initial
patternswerelarger.
Familiarpatternshavefamiliarfingerings(Sloboda etal.,1998).When
thepatternskeepchanging,nonstandard fingeringsareneeded.Theseare
atleastasmuchofaburden onmemoryastherapidlychangingpatterns
thatmakethemnecessary.
Comments
The dearth ofpredictable patterns was a frequent topicofcomment, as
Gabrielaworkedthrough thepiecesectionbysection, settingfingerings,
solving technical difficulties, and making decisions aboutphrasing and
articulation. Shenotedtheproblem immediately: "Ihave myhands full
here. Mostly the trouble with this movement is ... places where the
patterns are erraticand unpredictable, and sometimes veryuncomfort-
able"(Session 1).Although shemade use offamiliar patterns wherever
possible,in"every bar [there]issomethingthathasalmostnothingtodo
with theideabefore." InSession1,Gabriela thought that thismade the
Presto"ThehardestI'veevertriedtomemorize."Aftershehadlearnedthe
first movement in a couple of days, she came back to the Presto and
compared itunfavorably.
203 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
If you really look at the first movement though, almost everything is a
pattern.... That'ssomething thehandunderstands. Nowbabblingaround
likeinthethirdmovementisjustveryhardbecauseitdoesn'tmakesense.
[For example],that'shalf ofascale...,that's part ofatrill,and this is[a]
rotation,andthatis[an]absolutelyhorribletangledupmess.So,outoffour
barsthere'snothingtorelyon.
Onewaytocreateanorganizedpatternwherenoneappearstoexististo
imposeonethroughtheselectionoffingerings.Gabrielabegantodothisin
Session1.
HereIchangethefingeringstobeperfectlysymmetrical,becauseIknowthat
thefirstfingeroneachbeginningofagroupisgoingtogivemestability,and
also[helpme]memorizeit.
Ofcourse,creatingpatternsinthiswayaddeditsownburdentomemory
because the fingerings had to be remembered. In Session 2,Gabriela
explained,
ThereasonIneedsomany[fingerings]written[intothescore]isbecausethe
music ismuch more unpredictable.... Within one phrase you have five
different things ... [with]noconnection.There's...absolutelynothingthat
canbeusedinthenextbarthatyou'vehadinthebarbefore.Sointhiscase,
thehandhasamuchharder[time]pickingupthepatternsandstoring[them]
intomusclememoryand,so,goodfingerings[areessential].Youcan't afford
toconfusethehandbygivingitmixedmessages.Youhavetobeconsistent.
Consistencyoffingeringwasnot,however,alwayspossible:
Itwould beidealtokeepthesamefingeringasmuchaspossible, [but] the
handgetstooclose,soeventuallyonthetopitmustbechanged.Thisistoo
close.(Session2)
Effects on practice
In recording the features ofthe piece that she had paid attention to in
practice(seechap.8),Gabrielareportedanaverageof3.5different familiar
patternsofnotesineachbar and 1.7nonstandard fingerings.Atperform-
ance tempo, she would have to cope with an average of four different
patterns eachsecond aswellastwo nonstandard fingerings.Inorder to
cope,thesehavetobecomeautomaticandthattakespractice.Thepractice
occurredattheoutset,inthesectionbysectionstage(Sessions1-6),when
204 CHAPTER9
theregression analysesshowed thatitwasbarscontainingmore different
patternsand more nonstandard fingerings that received the most work
(Table8.4).Itwasinthesesamesessionsthatthecomplaintsaboutthelack
ofpatternsoccurred.
Theidentificationoffamiliar patternswas accomplished in the initial
sectionbysection stageofpractice,andpatternsdidnot affect practicein
theensuinggraystage.Thiswasnotsowithfingerings,whichcontinuedto
disruptrunsinSessions7to8.Nonstandard fingeringhavetobe prepared
aheadoftime.Thepianisthastoremember,"Here,Iamgoingtousethe
fifth finger onthe G,not the fourth." Ifthe mental command isnot sent
soonenough,thewrongfingerisusedandplayingstopswhilethepianist
goesbacktotakeanother goatit.Itisthiscontinual effort tocontrol the
rapidly moving fingers with the much slower conceptualthought proc-
essesthatmakesgraystagepracticesofrustrating.
Eventually nonstandard fingerings become automatic, triggered by
attending toaperformancecue.Sowhydidnonstandard fingerings(and
notbasicperformancecues)startdisruptingrunsagaininSessions31to44,
aftertheincreaseinthetempo?Thetempoincreaserequired a reorganiza-
tion of motor patterns that apparently disrupted the automaticityof
nonstandard fingerings, although these had been functioning fine since
Sessions 7 to 8. The solution was twofold. First, whenever a wrong
fingeringwasused,therunwasimmediately stoppedsothattracesofthe
mistakecouldbeerasedbyplayingthepassageagaincorrectly.Second,
slowpracticeallowed timeforthoughtbeforethekeywaspressed.
Fingering alsoneeded rehearsing attwo other points in the learning
process: atthestartofPeriods 2and3afterthepiecehadnotbeen played
for2or3months.InSession13,thiswasdonebystartingrunsatfingering
features. In Sessions 26to 27,fingering features were repeated during
work.Thedifference inthetypeofpracticeonthesetwooccasionsmaybe
becauseinSession13thepianistwasstillreadingfingeringfromthescore,
whereasinSessions26to27shewasrelyingmoreonmemory,sothatifa
fingeringwashardtoretrievesheimmediatelyrepeateditseveraltimesto
makeitmoreavailable.
Thefirstprincipleofexpertmemoryisatworkhere.Intheinitial section
bysectionstage,Gabrielalookedforpatternsofnotestouseasthebuilding
blocksforherperformance.Finding familiarpatternsgreatlyreduced the
amountofnewmaterialthathadtobelearnedandmadeitpossibletoplay
the piece through from memory, however imperfectly, by Session 8.
EvidenceofGabriela'ssearchforfamiliarpatternscomesfromherlamen-
tationsabouttheunpredictability ofthemusicandheruseoffingeringto
imposeorganization.Evidenceoftheuseoffamiliar patternsasbuilding
blocks comes from the extra work needed to put together bars that
205 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
contained moreofthem. Fingering too,provided evidenceofthe impor-
tanceoffamiliarpatterns.Inchoosinganonstandard fingering,thepianist
is deciding to use a conceptual representation in working memory to
overrideanalreadyestablished motorpattern.Inthedisruptive effectsof
nonstandard fingerings,wecanseeinmirrorimagethebeneficialeffectsof
the familiar motor patterns that made most fingeringrelatively unprob-
lematicand effortless.
PRINCIPLE2:USE OFAHIERARCHICAL
RETRIEVAL SCHEME
Manyofthepianistsinchapter3talked,inonewayoranother,aboutthe
importance of formal structure. Even those, like Rudolf Serkin, who
describedtheirmemorizationasautomaticorunconscious acknowledged
the importance of studying the architectureor harmonic structure ofa
piece.Itisastandard recommendation tostudents todivideapieceinto
sections for practiceon the basis of its formal structure (Hughes, 1915;
Lehrer,1988;Matthay,1926;Sandor,1981; Shockley,1986).Structureisso
importantbecauseitisthekeytomemorizationaswellasinterpretation.
Memorizationislargelyamatteroffindingthenecessaryinformationin
long-termmemorywhenitisneeded (Bousfield,1953;Mandler&Pearlstone,
1966;Tulving, 1962).Inchapter4,wesawthatastudent(SF)was ableto
recallstringsofupto80digitsbychunkingthemasfamiliarrunningtimes
and dates.Recallbecame largely amatter ofremembering theorderofa
seriesoffamiliarchunksdidthe2-miletimecomebeforethe1-miletime?
Tokeepthingsintherightorder,SFusedastandardretrieval scheme that
helpedhimrecalltheinformationheneededintherightorder(e.g.,four4-
digit then three 3-digit times).The formal structureof apiece of music
provides themusicianwiththesamekindofmentaltoola ready-made
hierarchicalorganizationtouseasaretrievalscheme.
TheretrievalschemeforthePrestoinFigure9.1drawsattentiontoone
importantcharacteristicofthiskindofhierarchicalorganization:Nodesat
eachlevelincludealltheinformation linkedtothematlowerlevels.This
reflects the obvious point that we can conceptualizeapiece at different
levelsofdetail.Wecanthinkofthe Prestoasawholeorofitsthemes.We
canfocusononetheme,asubsection,anexpressivephrase,abar,andsoon
downtotheindividualnotes.Inthefigure,thehierarchyisshowntheway
Gabrielareportedthinkingaboutthepieceduringaperformance,withthe
expressive performancecues at the center of her attention in working
memory.Once in workingmemory, the expressive cues actasretrieval
206 CHAPTER9
cues,elicitingtheassociatedmotorsequencesandsummoninglaternodes
intheretrievalhierarchyfromlong-termmemory.Theretrievalhierarchy
canalsobeusedtorecallthemoredetailedinformationfrom lowerinthe
hierarchyifneed be.
One aspect of the formal structure not represented in Figure 9.1is
switches. Switches are placeswhere one repetition ofa theme diverges
from asimilar version ofthesamethemeelsewhere inthepiece. Playing
oneversion puts theperformanceat onepoint inthepiece,playing the
otherversionputsitatanotherlocation.Theswitchisthepoint atwhich
thechoiceismade,wherewhatisplayeddetermineswhichtrackistaken.
Tomakethe right choice,the performer must know the locationof the
switcheswithrespecttothecurrentlocationoftheperformance.Concep-
tual memory is needed because auditory and motor memory cannot
alwaysmaketheswitchautomatically.Whenaperformer doesmakethe
wrong switch, conceptual memory isneeded again to make a graceful
recovery. With luckand good preparation,anexperienced performeris
abletojumpbackontotherighttrackandtheaudienceisnonethewiser.
WeknowthatGabrielawasthinkingabouttheformalstructureasshe
practicedbecauseshecommentedonitassheworkedandalsobecauseit
affected the organization ofher practice.In the section-by-section stage,
eachpracticesessionfocusedonadifferent setofsections.The regression
analysestellusthat,then and later,practicewithin sessions was further
organizedbysections,withpracticesegmentstendingtostartandstopat
section boundaries and switches. Starting at these critical points in the
formalstructureestablishesthemasretrievalcues.Thinkingofaparticular
locationinthepieceandthenplayingitlinksthethought totheaction.
Initially,ofcourse, the music isread from the score.Yetafter the first
timethrough, memorybegins to form, and looking atthe scoreincreas-
inglyservesmoreasaretrievalcuethanasanopportunity toreallyread
thenotes.Thenotesnolongerhavetobereadbecausetheyarealreadyin
memoryinboth motorand conceptualforms. Thescoresimply reminds
the performer ofwhat he or she already knows. Butthisreminding,or
cuing,functioniscritical.Withoutit,theperformercannotgetthroughthe
piece.Onlywhen thecuingfunction hasbeeninternalized and thescore
can be dispensed with is the piece said to be memorized. When this
happens, each retrieval cue is summoned into working memory from
conceptuallong-termmemoryslightlyaheadofthemotorprogramsothat
it is fully activated at the center of attention as the associated motor
sequenceisexecuted.Memorizationisamatterofmakingsurethatthese
cuesautomaticallyarriveinworkingmemorywhentheyareneeded.We
turnnowtotheevidenceforthisaccountinGabriela'scomments,practice,
and recallofthescoreafter morethan2years.
207 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
Comments
Comments aboutthe formal structurewereparticularlyfrequentat four
points during the learning process: at the beginning (Sessions 16), in
Gabriela'soverviewsattheendsofPeriods1and2(Sessions12and24),
and while putting the piece together (Session 17). In the practice by
sections stage (Sessions 16),Gabrielawas mapping her general under-
standing oftheItalianrondo form ontoitsinstantiation inthe Presto.We
canseethishappening earlyinSession 1assheworkedherwaythrough
from thebeginning. WhenshereachedSectionB,sheannounced,"Thisis
goingtobemyfirststop,asagoalfortoday."InSession2,Gabrielatookup
SectionBand,afterworkingherwaythroughitfor20minutes,shecameto
the reappearance ofTheme Aand noted, "Uh, [I]probably hit another
repeatofthemaintheme [A2]."BySession4,shewasbeginning tothink
about putting the different sections together: "At the seams [between
sections]Ishould probablypracticemore...."
Similaritiesbetweensectionsareanaidtomemory,but theyarealsoa
potentialsourceofconfusion.Gabrieladealtwiththisproblem by noting
similaritiesand differencesbetweenrepetitionsofthesametheme.Some-
timessheplayed thetwosections sidebyside:"Ihavetoreworkpretty
carefully thissection. It's neverbeensolid,butnowIhavetoputthetwo
versions[ofthesametheme]together ..." (Session6).
Thissortingoutofconfusionsbetweensectionsisamatterofidentifying
switches,theplaceswheretwodifferent versionsofathemediffer. "And
hereit'sbasicallythesamethemebut . . . thebottomGsteps down, and,
um, it's averysubtlechange"(Session 4).Thefirst mention ofthe term
switchcameinSession5.
... And,ofcourse,manysubtle[differences betweensections]aregoingto
surface ... [whichare]justgoingtomeanthatIwillreallyhavetoconcen-
trateonthisswitcheverytimeIplayeitheroneofthem.
But it was not until Session 12 that she explained the basis for this
metaphor.
Mostlybeingabletoswitchtoadifferentsectionislikebeingatrainengineer,
where you haveto switchtracks; and that'sbasically what Ihaveto do.
Otherwiseyouendup inallkindsofplaces.
WhenGabrielabeganthetaskofputtingthepiecetogether(Session17),
shebeganwiththeswitchesfortheAtheme.
208 CHAPTER9
It's bar ... 9 and 10,around there, and number two [bars 1945]. The
difference isreallyminor,butithastobedrilledin[PLAYS].Here [PLAYS],
allthedifference isinthe left hand.... Okay,[let's]seeifwecancomein
from anearlierplace [PLAYS].
Then,"I'll try [bothpassages] again, [PLAYS].""Uh, Imade amistake.I
reallywanttoplaythefirstoneandthat'stheirregular one."
After 10minutes, shemoved ontotheBtheme.
Andactuallythere'sanotherconflicthere,onbar... 25.[PLAYS]That'sone,
andtheother[bar167]isinthesamekey,butbothturnsaredifferent.Theleft
hand turns down in the middle and the ending is different.... I should
probablypractice....
Shethenput thetwothemes together. "IthinkIamgoing toworkon
these larger sections. There are definitely a lot of conflicts going on
between the first twopages and then thelastpage and ahal f. . . . " Five
minutes later, referring tothe Atheme, "Oh, itstillisdriving mecrazy.
There'sanotheronethat'sdifferenthere.Ihavenoideahowitgoes.I'mall
confused." Butthe confusion was soon dispelled, and after another 5
minutes' workshewasreadytobeginpracticingwithoutthescore:"I'll try
toplaythefirstpage.Let'ssee,howcanIdothis?I'llplaythefi rst . . .two
[pages]bymemory...and keepthelastpageformemoryagain."
Afterplayingthepiecethroughwithout thescore fivetimesin succes-
sion,Gabrieladescribed theretrievalschemeshewas using:
Eventually,atthislevel[ofpractice],you starttohaveasortofamap ofthe
pieceinyourmind.Andyoustarttosortoffocusoncertainplacesinit.I'lltry
totellyou [whattheyare].Thereareacoupleofkeyplaces,likebar 8. . . . I
wasreallyconcentratingonthelefthandtomakethe[correct]switch.Bar23,
thelefthandagain.Bar32,righthandmostly.... Ihavetoconcentrateonthe
switching in74[Aba]...Thenextswitchis145.Thenextoneis150,the ...
third finger inleft hand. . . . "
And soontotheend ofthepiece.
Bythe nexttime Gabriela described how shewas thinking about the
pieceduringperformance(attheendofSession24),onlyafewparticularly
troublesome switchesandsectionboundaries were mentioned.
Istillhavetothinkabitatbar32[theboundarybetweensectionsA1andB]
justtomakesurethatitgoesontherighttrackandIdon'ttakeoff... Istill
haveafewplaceswhereIreallydohavetothinkhardandconcentrateonthe
209 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
turns [switches].... In 154I have to remember not to play a regular
theme.... Istillhavetoremember187[startofthefinalAasection],andthen
theswitches... between190and 191[betweentheAbsections],andthen
jumpingdowninleft handin194.And,anyway,bythenI'mprettymuch
throughtheworst.
ThememorizationthatwentoninSession 17had involved sorting out
thedetailsoftheformalstructure,gettingaclearideaoftheswitches, and
getting this organization into memory. It then served as the retrieval
scheme. Summoning aparticular section or switch from long-term into
workingmemoryactivatedthecorresponding motorsequences. Playing
the Presto from memory was now largely a matter of thinking ofeach
sectionandswitchinturnandlettingmotormemorydoitsjobautomatically.
Effects onpractice
Although comments about the formal structure were limited to times
when thepianist wasthinkingaboutthepieceasawhole,the regression
analysesshowthattheuseofthisstructuretoorganizepracticewasmuch
morewidespread (Table8.4).Theuseofsectionboundaries and switches
asstartingpointsforpracticeestablishedthemasretrievalcues,whilethe
effect of the serial position of a bar in its section suggested that the
organizationofpracticebysectionswasreflected inmemory.
BeginningsandEnds of Sections. Sectionboundariesservedasstarting
andstoppingpointsinpreferencetootherlocations(Table8.4).Startingat
a particular location forms a link in memory between thinking of the
locationand startingtoplay.Sotheuse ofsectionboundaries asstarting
placeswouldhaveestablishedthemasretrievalcues.Thisoccurredatthe
beginningofeachlearningperiod(Sessions16,13,2627)andagainatthe
end(Sessions1112,2024,3144).Atthesetimes,thepianistwasthinking
of the piece as a whole, and its structure was more salient than at
othertimes.
Atthebeginning, inthesectionbysectionstage,attentiontostructure
was needed asthelocationofthe different themes was identified.At the
beginning ofPeriods2and 3,attentionfocusedon sectionsoncemoreto
refreshthememoryfortheirlocations.Attheendofeachlearningperiod,
Gabrielawasgettingreadytoperformwhichagainrequiresthattheentire
structureofthepiecebeclearlyinmind.Atthe end ofPeriod 1,Gabriela
wanted toshowthatshehadthemusicmemorized andplayed throughit
for the first timewithoutthe score.Shewas alsopreparing toplay from
memoryattheend ofPeriod2forher firstpublicperformanceand at the
210 CHAPTER9
end ofPeriod 3for the recording session. Preparation to perform from
memory probably also accounts for the stops at section boundaries in
Sessions 1416and 17.Atthistime,Gabrielawasgettingreadytoput the
piecetogetherandplayfrommemory.
AttentiontostructureattheendsofPeriods2and3alsoservedanother
purpose.Animportantpartofpreparingforperformanceispolishingthe
interpretation. Thisinvolvesthinkingabout the structure ofthepiece in
relationtoitscharacter(e.g.,howthecontinuallyreturning themesofthe
Prestoreinforceitssenseofheadlongmomentum).Theartistmustcreatea
balance among different sections tobring out similarities and contrasts
amongrelated themes.Theebbandflowoftensionandemotion hastobe
modulated ateachlevelofthehierarchysothatthepiecehas anoverall
coherence,the riseand fall oftensionwithineachphrasecontributing to
theriseand fallwithinthesectionandthesectionstotheflowofthewhole
piece.Thisbalancingand tuning ofeachunitinrelationtoits neighbors
extendsbeyond theindividualpiecetothelargerworkand totheentire
programofwhichitisapart.Theartistisshaping theway an audience's
experienceunfoldsacrosstheperformance,and itisattentiontostructure
thatmakesthispossible.Attentiontostructureservesthedouble purpose
ofpreparingboththeinterpretationandtheretrievalstructure.Indeed,the
twoarenotreadilyseparable.
Serial Position inSection. Furtherevidence that practicewas organ-
izedbytheformalstructurecomesfromtheeffectsofserialposition,which
show thattheformal structurewas affecting practiceevenwhen practice
segmentsdid not start at section boundaries(Table8.4).
2
Moreover, not
justpracticewasorganizedbytheformal structure,butmemoryaswell.
Theeffects ofserial positionappear tobedue tothe ubiquitous effectof
serialorderonmemoryitemsearlierinasequenceareeasiertoremem-
ber probably because they receive more attention (Fischler, Rundus,&
Atkinson,1970;Rundus,1971).Positiveeffects onrepetitionsindicatethat
barslaterinasectionwererepeatedmorethanearlierbars,negative effects
thatearlierbarswererepeatedmore.Bothappeartobeduetothegreater
difficulty ofrememberinglaterbars.
Positiveeffects appeared whenever repetitionwasneeded toestablish
orrefresh memory:throughoutmostofPeriod1(Sessions16,78,910),
atthebeginnings ofPeriods2and 3whenmemoryhad faded during the
break (Sessions 13and 26-27), and after the increasein tempo required
memoriestobestrengthened (Sessions 3144).Ontheseoccasions,mem-
ory was weaker for bars later in a section, and they were given more
rehearsal. Negative effects appeared when Gabriela was trying to play
from memorybut was having troublewith gaps inher memory:when
211 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
beginning toplaylonger segments from memory (Sessions 78,1416).
3
Ontheseoccasions,whenmemoryfailed,thepianistbackeduptoaplace
where her memorywas more secure and tried again to get through it.
Because gaps tended to occur later in a section, earlier bars were re-
peatedmore.
4
Switches. The interference caused by the subtle differences among
sectionsatswitchesrequiredintenserepetitiontoestablishdistinctmotor
patterns.InSessions 1-6, switches receivedmorerepetitions, starts, and
stopsthanotherbarsforbothrunsandwork,theonlyinstanceofeffectson
allsixmeasuresatthesametime(Table8.4).
5
Itisinterestingthat,despite
theattentionshegavethem,Gabrielahadlittletosayaboutswitchesatthis
stage.Apartfromthethreecommentsreportedearlier,herintensepractice
of switches went unremarked. It seems that there were other, more
important things to think about. Getting the motor patterns for the
switchestoworkwasafairlyroutinematter;oncetheywereworking,she
ignored them. This is indicated by the negative effects of switches in
Sessions 7-8, 9-10, and 13,which suggest that she was avoiding them
wheneverpossible, eventhoughinSession13theyweredisruptingruns.
Switcheswerejustnotapriorityatthispoint,andGabrielaputoffthinking
aboutthemuntilshewasreadyformemorization.
Preparation for thisbegan in Sessions 1416 when workon switches
began again. Thepurpose was evident in the following session, when
Gabrielafinally setouttomemorizethepieceinSession 17.Although the
attentiongiventoswitchesdidnotshowupintheregression analyses,her
comments show that Gabrielaspent the first half hour carefully going
throughthepiececomparing the different switches."Let'ssee, [switch]
number1is[PLAYS].Number2[PLAYS].Number1isright.Nownumber
2 [PLAYS]I'm going to use a different fingeringfrom the original."She
wasputting the Prestotogether, gettingreadytoplaywithout the score,
and shehad toknowexactlywhichpathtotakeateachswitch.
Switches continued to affect practice in Sessions 20-24, when work
segmentstended not tostop onswitches. Becauseitseemsunlikelythat
Gabrielawouldstillbeavoidingswitchesduringthefinalpolishingforthe
first performance, it is likely that this represents practice in context
playingthroughswitcheswithoutstoppingtoensurethattheappropriate
trackwastaken.Gabrielaexplainedthatatthisstage,"Switchesdon'ttake
alotofrepetition.Theyaremoreamatterofconcentrationandattention.It
isamatterofbuildingup endurance."
Building concentrationand enduranceforswitches continued during
thethirdlearningperiod withintensivepracticeofswitchesduringboth
runsandworkinSessions28-30.Despitetheadditionalpractice,switches
212 CHAPTER9
stillgavetroublewhenthetempoincreasedinSessions3144.Thisiswhen
concentrationandattentionreallybecameanissue.WehaveseenGabriela's
complaintsaboutit:"I'mstillcrackingup. . . . Ifyoumissanybeat,you're
gone"(Session35).
Theswitcheswerethemainproblem.Theywerestillinterrupting runs
in these final sessions (Table8.4).Prolonged practicewas needed and it
hadthedesiredeffect.BySession36,Gabrielareportedthat,"The mistakes
arestartingtofade out alittlebit."Bytheend ofSession41,thetaskwas
almost complete and she concluded, "Thereisn't that much more that
Icando."
RecallAlterTwoYears
Additional evidencethatGabriela's memoryofthe Prestowas organized
into chunks based on the formal structure comes from a memory test
administered morethan2yearslater.Duringpractice,Gabrielagenerally
tried to set things up so that when she played from memory she was
successful. Forexample,inSession 17,she reviewed the switches before
beginningtopracticewithoutthescore.Thiswasagoodstrategyforheras
alearner.Asapsychologist,ontheotherhand,Rogerusuallylikestolook
at situations where there issure to be plenty offorgetting to reveal the
effects ofmentalorganization.
So one day,27 months after the recording session, I [Roger] paid
Gabrielaanunexpectedvisitandmadeastrangerequest.Wouldshetryto
playthePrestowithoutlookingatthescorefirst?Gabrielawasnotpleased.
Shehadnotplayeditsincetherecording session,andsheknewshewould
make mistakes thatwould interfere with relearning thepiecewhen she
wanted toperformitagain.Instead,sheoffered towriteitout.Startingat
thebeginning, sheworkedforabout15minutes,untilthetaskbecametoo
tedious.Whenshestopped,shehad completed thefirstpageofthescore,
32bars,containingsixsubsectionsofthepiece.Atthispoint,Gabrielawas
prepared toplay and took her manuscript to the piano. While playing
through it,sheadded morenotesand madesomecorrections.Whenshe
was done, she had correctlyrecalled 65%ofthe notes (Chaffin &Imreh,
1997,inpress).Thisisprettygoodbyeverydaystandards(Neisser,1982),
although fairly normal for an expert (Gobet & Simon, 1996a). More
importantforourpurpose,itprovidedenougherrorstorevealtheeffectof
hermentalorganizationofthepiece.
As already noted, memory is generallybetter forbeginnings oflists.
Serialposition effects thus indicate the nature ofthe chunks into which
memoryisorganized (Mandler &Pearlstone, 1966;Tulving, 1962).If the
PrestowasorganizedinGabriela'smemoryintermsofitsformalstructure,
213 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
memoryshouldbebetterforbarsatthebeginningofasectionand decline
barbybaracrossthesection.Thisiswhatwefound.ThetoprowofTable
9.1shows the mean probability ofcorrect recall, including the changes
made at the piano, as a function of serial position from the section
boundary.Recallofthe firstbar ofeachsectionwas almostperfect (97%),
with memoryforeachsuccessivebar decreasing step by step down toa
mere28%forfinalbarsofthe twolongestsections.
6
Thiskindofserialpositioneffect isthesignatureofamemoryorganiza-
tioninwhichaccessisviathefirstbar ofthesection,witheachsuccessive
barprovidingthecuefornextone.Failuretorecallonebarmeansthatall
thebars after itarelost untilthe startofthenextchunkprovides a new
startingpoint.Theeffect ofserialpositioninasectionprovides compelling
evidence thatGabriela'smemoryforthe Prestowaschunkedby sections,
as predicted by our second principle of expert memory (Ericsson&
Kintsch,1995).
Whatabouttheeffectoftheotherretrievalcues?Shouldn't theperform-
ance cues embedded in each section provide access to memory and
provide starting points forrecallatintermediate pointsin a section?To
find out, regression analyses similar to those reported in chapter 8for
practicewereperformedontherecalldata(seeTable9.2).Becausewehave
recalldataforonly35bars,thenumberofpredictor variableswas limited
tothosemostlikelytoaffect memoryretrieval:threemeasuresoflocation
intheformal structureand threeperformancedimensions.Themeasures
of musical structure show the effect of serial position already seen in
Table9.1.
7
The effects for the three performancedimensions are a surprise.Yes,
basic and expressive performance cues affected recall, but in opposite
directions. Recall of bars containing expressive performancecues was
betterthanotherbars,whereastherecallofbarscontainingbasicperform-
ance cues was worse. Thepositive effect ofexpressive cues iswhat we
expected.Awell-rehearsedretrievalcueprovidesaccesstotheconceptual
memoryforthepieceatthispoint,producingbetterrecall.Incontrast,the
negative effect ofbasic performance cues is a surprise. It suggests that
attentiontobasicperformancecameattheexpenseofotherfeatures,which
wereconsequentlyrecalledlesswell(Fischleretal.,1970;Rundus,1971).
Whywouldbasicandexpressiveperformancecuesaffectrecallinsuch
totallydifferent ways?Iftheadvantageofthesectionbeginnings isdue to
the availabilityof more attentional resources at those points, then the
disadvantageatbasicperformancecuesmaybetheresultofless attentional
resources being available at these points. This seems likely when we
considerthedifferent rolesplayedbythetwotypesofcue.(Theresultsfor
interpretive performance cues suggest that they fall somewhere in be-
tween,which isalsoplausible.)Ideally,apianist would liketo dispense
214 CHAPTER9
TABLE9.1
MeanProbabilityofCorrect Recall and(N)asaFunctionof
Serial PositionFromSectionBoundariesandFromExpressive,
Basic,andInterpretivePerformanceCues
SerialPosition
1 2 3 4 58
SectionBoundaries .97 .90 .87 .69 .28
(6) (6) (6) (6) (1-2)
Performance Cues
Expressive .85 .85 .74 .43 .00
(11) (10)
(5) (3) (3)
Basic .68 .77 .78 .77 .46
(11)
(7) (6) (5) (3)
Interpretive .75
(19)
.78
(8)
.61
(4)
.00
a)
(0)
with basicperformancecuesaltogether during performance,relyingto-
tally on the automaticityofmotor memorytoimplement thesefeatures.
Basicperformancecuesare only used toensure accurateexecutionofa
critical movement, such as the placement of a particular finger or the
trajectoryofahand.Inthesecases,thepianistlearnstomonitorthemotor
response with the result that other features receive less attention. The
pianistconcentratesonthebasiccueandsocannotpayattentiontotherest,
resultinginpoorerrecall.Thebasicperformancecueremindsthepianist
wheretoplaceafingerorhowtomoveanarm,butnotwhattherestofthe
notesare.
Attentiontoexpressive cuesincontrastdoesnotcomeattheexpenseof
otherfeatures.Rather,expressivecuesincludetheotherfeatures.Expres-
sivecuesencapsulate orchunkanexpressivephraseinmuchthesameway
thatasectionencapsulatesorchunksallofthemoredetailedinformation
inthesection.Thisideaofencapsulationorinclusionisrepresented inthe
diagram oflevels of the retrievalhierarchyin Figure9.1.Thinkingofa
node atonelevelactivatesthenextleveldown, providing accessifmore
detailisneeded. Itisthisaccesstolowerlevelsoftheretrievalhierarchy
that accounts for the better recall of bars containing expressive cues.
Expressivecuesprovideaccesstothedetailsofexpressivephrases inthe
sameway thatthebeginning ofasectionprovidesaccesstothedetailsof
thefirstbarandtothosethatfollow,whichmakeaprediction!
215 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
TABLE9.2
RegressionCoefficients and R
2
fortheEffectsofMusical
StructureandPerformanceCuesonProbabilityofRecall
Regression
Variable Coefficient
Musical Structure
Serialposition -.15***
Beginsection -.03
End section .47***
Performance Cues
Basic -.28**
Interpretive -.01
Expressive .24**
R
2
.76***
*=p <.05. **=p <.01. *** =p <.001.
If expressivecuesand sectionboundariesworkinthesameway,then
expressive cues should show the same serial position effect as section
boundaries. Therelevant data areshown inthe second row ofTable9.1,
which shows the meanprobability ofrecallasa function ofserial order
numbered successivelyfrom eachbar containing anexpressiveperform-
ance cue.As predicted, there was a serial position effect, with the bar
containingthecueandtheoneimmediatelyfollowingitbeingrecalledbest
andsucceedingbarsbeingrecalledsuccessivelylesswell.
Whataboutbasicandinterpretiveperformancecues?Dotheyproduce
thesamekind ofserialorder effect? Table9.1showsthesameanalysisfor
theseotherperformancecues.Therewasnoeffect. (Theapparenttrendfor
interpretiveperformancecueswasnotstatisticallyreliable.)Again,wesee
thatbasicperformancecuesdidnotoperateinthesamewayasexpressive
cues,andthatinterpretiveperformancecuesweresomewhereinbetween.
In summary, the use of section boundaries and switches as starting
placesensured thattheselocationsbecameretrievalcues,establishing the
hierarchicalorganizationoftheformalstructureasaretrievalstructurejust
as Ericsson and Kintsch's (1995) account of expert memory predicts.
Expressivecuesappeartorepresent thenextlevelinthisretrievalhierar-
chy,markingthestartofexpressivephrasesthatfurthersubdivide subsec-
tions.ThisisexactlywhatGabrielaclaimedwhenshereportedrechunking
memorycuesduringthefinalpolishingforperformance.Expressivecues
216 CHAPTER9
came to form anew level inthe retrievalhierarchy that could elicit the
motorresponses thatmakeuptheperformance,thebasicandinterpretive
performance cues, and the more detailed knowledge ofthe piece repre-
sentedbythecompletesetsofbasicandinterpretivefeatures.Weturnnow
tothethirdprincipleofexpertmemory,whichmaintainsthatusingsucha
retrievalstructurerequiresthekindofextendedpracticethatGabriela's33
hoursofpracticeofthe Presto provided.
PRINCIPLE 3: PRACTICEATRETRIEVAL
Retrieval from long-term memory isa slow process. Finding an idea in
long-term memory generally takes severalseconds, and cantake much
longer.ThisisaproblemforafastpiecelikethePrestoinwhichnotesflyby
atarateof15asecond.Speedinguptheretrievalprocesstothepointwhere
itcankeeppacewiththemusicrequiresextended practice.Thiswas the
mainreasonthatthePrestotooksolongtolearnandwhyittook14sessions
toincreasethetempoinSessions 3144:
ItwasamatteroflearningexactlywhatIneededtobethinkingofasIplayed,
andatexactlywhatpoint,sothatasIapproachedaswitchingpointIwould
automaticallythinkaboutwhereIwas,andwhichwaytheswitchwouldgo.
AtthetempoGabrielaeventuallyplayedthePresto,sectionsweregoing
byattherateofoneevery5seconds,expressivecuesoneevery2seconds,
basic and interpretive performancecueseveryhalf second. During per-
formance, Gabriela relied primarily on expressive cues. The basic and
interpretive performancecuesweregoingbytooquickly.Theywereonly
thereincasesomeperturbationthreatenedthestabilityoftheperformance.
[Basic and interpretiveperformance cues]are the ones that Imaintain as
active[duringperformance].SowhenIpractice,Itrytoreallykeepthem[in
mind].Theyarethatimportant.Thosearetheonesthat,eventotheveryend,
Ihaveto... monitorclosely.Butinaperformance,hopefully,Iwillneedto
usemaybefiveortenpercent,becauseIthinktheperformanceisbetterifyou
don'tuseanyofthem.
Theextrasecurityprovidedbybasicandinterpretiveperformancecues
isessentialbecauseofthepressures ofapublicperformance:
Whenitactuallycomestothatadrenalinerushinginandyoureallyhavingto
land... it'slikeaniceskater.Theycandotripleandquadruplejumpsallthe
217 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
time... inpractice.Butintheperformance.... Somehowtheperformance
takessomethingelse,andthat'swhatthefinal [performance]cuesareabout.
AndsowhatIamtryingtodo,... istocreateasecurityblanket,wheremy
percentage[ofsuccess]goesup.
Whiletheperformerattendsmainlytotheexpressivecues,shemustbe
prepared to focus on particular basic or interpretive performancecues
whennecessary.Thesearethe"securityblanket".Ensuringthattheywere
activatedrequiredextended practice:33hoursand 57sessionsinall.
Wehaveseenthatpracticeoftheretrievalstructure(sectionboundaries
andswitches)continued untiltheend.Ifwearerightthatwhatwasbeing
practicedwasmemoryretrieval,thenweshould find evidencethatprac-
ticewas affected by the featuresthatGabrielaidentifiedasperformance
cuesandthattheseeffects continued totheendofthelearning process.
Comments
Performance Cues. Thefirst clearreference toperformancecuescame
at the end ofSession 17.
8
Gabrielahad justlearned to play without the
score.Indescribingher"map ofthepiece",shelistedfeaturesofthemusic
thatneeded attentionassheplayedfrommemory.Wealreadymentioned
some of the switches; the other landmarks in the map were all basic
performancecues:
Ihaveathinginbar52whereIhavetoremembertogoallthewaytotheG,
but Ican get through i t . . . . Ihavetoconcentrate on the fingering inbar
67. . . . Ihavethescaleinthelefthandat[bar]124,thetwofoursinarow.. ..
Thefingering in186.
Likethelargersetofbasicfeatures,basicperformancecuesarestoredin
motor and auditory memoryaswellasbeing represented in conceptual
memory.Unliketheotherbasicfeatures,however,thebasicperformance
cuesstillneedattentionduringperformance.Thistakespractice.Retrieval
from conceptualandmotormemoryhavetomeshsothattheconceptual
cueisretrieved slightlybeforethe motor responses. Earlier,in the gray
stage,thishadbeenproblematic.InSession17itwasbecoming smoother.
Where previously the conceptual memory had lagged behind, it now
becamefaster andmoreautomaticsothattheconceptualmemoryforthe
feature was arriving in working memory firstin time to serve as a
retrievalcueforthemotorresponseratherthantheotherwayaround.
ThenexttimeGabrielatalkedaboutperformancecueswasattheendof
Session24,whenshewentthroughthepiecegivingamuchmore detailed
218 CHAPTER9
description ofwhat shewas payingattention toinherpractice immedi-
atelybeforethefirst performance.Inotherwords, shewasdescribingher
current set ofperformance cues. Shehad littleto say about eitherbasic
performancecuesorswitches.Herthinkingaboutthepiecehadmovedtoa
new level, and the focus had shifted to interpretive performancecues.
Basicperformancecueswerenowwrappedinaninterpretiveglosssothat,
instead of talking about a specific fingering or technical difficulty, she
woulddescribetheinterpretive effect thatit produced.
Itrytoput theaccentsin.It's veryhard. Mosttimes I'm lucky,but in93I
sometimes missthatDbelowthestaff.It'sabigjumpanditgoesawfully fast.
ButIwanttoemphasize itbecauseit'satheme.
Phrasing is the most frequent topic mentioned: "And again the ...
doublecounterpointthatI'vebeenworkingoneversinceinbar 45.And
then it changes in bar 49the hands switch roles." Other interpretive
performance cuesinvolvetempoand dynamics:"I'm doing alittlebitof
ritard, just smaller than the other one in bar 75." A few expressive
performance cues were also mentioned: "I'm playing this whole next
section[Bc]quitetransparentandlight[from]38on. . . Iamtryingtobring
[the theme] out in a more lyrical way in bar 52and maybe not quite
soshort."
However, thiswas about it for expression. In the four pages oftran-
scribed commentsthat makeup this report,there wasnothing else that
couldbeidentified astalkingaboutexpression.Thisiscurious.Gabriela
was about toperform the piece forthe first time thenext day. Wasshe
abouttogiveaperformance thatlackedexpression?No,expression had
been built in atevery level from the fingerings tothe calibration ofone
sectionagainstanother.Expressionwasinthere,butGabrielawasnotyet
atthepointwhereshecouldfocusonitassheplayed.Attentionwasstillon
the moredetailed interpretive performance cues through which herex-
pressive goalswereaccomplished.Thisiswhy shewasnot yetreadyto
perform without the score. The process of adding the final level of
expressivecuestotheretrievalhierarchywasstillinprogressandcontin-
uedintothethird learning period.
Unfortunately,Session24wasthelasttimeGabrielawent throughthe
piecegiving asystematicdescription during practice.Shedid, however,
write out the expressive cues for Section C midway through the third
learningperiod between Sessions 31and 32.Thisisthe report shown in
Figure8.1,inwhichGabrielafirstdescribedfeaturesofthepieceonthe10
dimensions. Theexpressivecueswere,"Lightbutmysterious...Surprise
... Holdback...Surprise...Startbuildingcrescendo.. .Noholdingback
219 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
... Prepare for return of the A theme." The detailed enumeration of
expressivecuesatthispointsuggeststhattheprocessofdistillingthemout
ofthelargersetofinterpretiveperformanceand structuralcueswasmore
orlesscomplete.This isconsistentwithour earlier observationthat the
development ofphrasing appeared tobelargelycompleted inSession33
and thatsubsequent sessions weredevoted toincreasing thetempo.The
expressivecueswereinplacebythistime,andthegoalwastomakethem
function effectively atthefaster tempo.
Although there were no comments directly about performancecues
duringSessions31to44,thereweremanycomments aboutthedifficulties
createdbythenewtempo.Attendingtoperformancecuesatjusttheright
moment required intense concentration, and there were frequent com-
plaintswhen itwasnot sufficient.
Concentration. Gabrielanoted theneed forconcentrationearlyon:"It
is pure concentration.... As soon as my concentration goes ... I'm
makinganenormousamountofmistakes" (Session5).Commentslikethis
run throughthepracticesessions likearefrain: "Iranoutofsteamonthe
lastfewpages andyoucantellmyconcentrationdropped dramatically"
(Session17).
ThefactthatGabrielatalkedaboutconcentrationmoreafter shestarted
playingfrommemoryinSession 17(chap.7)givesusaclueastowhy itis
soimportant.Concentrationisneeded sothattherightperformancecueis
broughttothecenterofattentioninworkingmemoryattherightmoment.
ThisisclearwhenGabrieladescribesher"map ofthepiece":
[Inbar 8]Ihave to really concentrate on the left hand to make the right
switch.... [Inbar]52,Ihavetoconcentrateonthefingering.... Ihaveto
concentrateontheswitchingin74.ThenextplaceIreallyhaveplanned to
concentratewas,anoldfriend,118.... AndifIcangetthroughallthose,one
byone,withoutmakingmistakesI'dprobably. . . . " (Session17)
Inthenextsystematicdescriptionof"WhatIamworkingon"attheend
ofSession24,therefrainaboutconcentrationismoremutedbut stillthere.
Nowinsteadofswitches,itisbasicandinterpretiveperformancecuesthat
needmore attention:
I keep the fugue [section D], from 104on, quite light, and just try to
concentrateonreallyjustgettingthroughit.Therearesomanyjumps,Itryto
beaccurate.Rightnow theyaretakingmostofmyattention,like[bar]108.
Thelefthandjump[inbar]110.. .. They'requitedifficult. In119thewhole
220 CHAPTER9
attentionnowgoestothose fairly largeaccentsIput onthewholenotesin
righthand.Ibringthemoutwithaccents....
Gabrielagoesontoexplain how attentiontoafeature strengthens the
link between theconceptual representation and thehands asthe music
flies along:
Istillhavetoconcentrateon150,onthefingeringinlefthand.Itendtoputthe
fourthfingersomewhere.It'stheregularAminorfingering,andIforgetthat
[it]is.Imean,Idon't forget,but sometimesitgoesbysofastthatIforget.So
usuallyifthathappens, Ifinally managetojustrememberthatthere's anA
withfifth fingerin151.AndifIdon'tgetthat,I'mintrouble.Butmosttimes,
if I'd skipthrough thescaleand Imissthefingering,Istilltrytoland onA
withfifth finger (Session24).
Concentration isnecessary to remember.Themotorprogramwillcarry
onregardless.Butifshedoesnotattendtotheperformancecueattheright
moment, the motor response may not be executed with the desired
fingering. Thiscomment alsoexplainsnicelyhow performancecuescan
helpinrecoveringfrom thiskindofslip.IfshemissesthefingeringinBar
150,shewillimprovise, skipping through the scale, relyingon auditory
andmotormemory,untilshecomestothenextperformancecue.Hitting
theAwiththe fifth finger inBar151willput herbackontrack.
The decision to increase the tempo in Session 31strained attentional
resourcestothelimit:"I'm stillcrackinguphereandthere,butit's getting
better. The intensity ofconcentration that's required is amazing. If you
missanybeat,you'regone"(Session35).
Concentration likethisisexhausting. Thesolution wastoincreasethe
automaticityandspeed ofretrievalthroughrepetition.BySession36,"It's
coming along. Ithink itwillneedtechnical maintenance alot,because it
takesenormousendurancetoplaysomanynotes,soclearly,sofast."
Therewas alsoanotherway toachievethe faster tempousingfewer
retrievalcues.
Toincrease speed itisnecessarytounclutterbothyourthinking andyour
manualwork.Itislikebuildingacastleoutofcards.Youbuildacomplexand
fragilestructure,puttinginplentyofreinforcementstomakesureitisstable.
Then you starttakingcardsout, oneat atime, untilyou are left withjust
enoughtosupportthewholeedifice.So,whenyoufirstlearnapiece,youput
inlotsofmovements and mental cues tomakesureyoudoitright. Then,
whenyouspeed up, itisamatteroftakingsomeofthemout.Youleaveout
221 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
someofthecuesandlightenup,orleaveoutsomeofthemotions.Thesecret
istoguide thelistenertowhattolistento.Asitgetsfaster, thelistenercan
hear lessdetail.Soyou havetoguide themwithgood cluesastowhatis
important.
Effects on Practice
The effects ofthe threetypesofperformancecueswereamong the most
consistent and numerous effects in the regression analyses (Table8.4).
Startingandstoppingatperformancefeaturesandrepeatingthemduring
work and runs establishedtheselocations asretrieval cues.Thinkingof
themwhileplayingkepttheperformanceontrack,ensuredthatparticular
features were implemented, and provided a safety net if things began
togowrong.
Basic and Interpretive Performance Dimensions.The first positive
effects of basic performance cues appeared in Sessions 7 to 8 at the
beginning ofthe gray stage (seeTable 8.4).Theinitial decision making
aboutbasicdimensionswasfinished,andGabrielawasbeginningtopay
attentiontolargermusicalgoals,playingthroughthewholepiece,relying
on memorywhenpossible. Thiswas when sheannounced that shehad
beenplaying"largelyfrommemory"(Session8)andthatshewasable"to
seesomemusicfinallycomingout" (Session9).Theemerging musicality,
playingfrommemory,andattentiontoperformancecuesareallpartofthe
sameprocess.Asshebegantogivemusicalshapetolongerruns,Gabriela
wouldstopandrestartatbasicandinterpretiveperformancecuestocollect
her thoughts for what she was trying to accomplish musically.These
placeswerealreadybeginningtofunctionasretrievalcuespoints where
theperformerrefocusedherattentiononthenextmusicalgoal.
Work to strengthen the automaticity of these critical spots began
immediately forthe basicperformancefeatures (Sessions 7-8) and soon
after fortheinterpretiveperformancecuesinSessions 9to 10.Thiswork
cametoanend temporarilywiththeend ofPeriod 1.InSessions 11to12,
Gabrielawas"justrunning through" thepiece.Workontheinterpretive
performance cues began again in Session 13 and work on the basic
performance cues resumed a little later in Sessions 14to 16.Once the
performancecueswereinplace,itwastimetostartplayingentirelyfrom
memory. This happened in Session 17. Work on both types of cues
continued during this session, but it was basic rather than interpretive
performance cues that interrupted runs, suggesting that Gabriela was
relying moreon thebasiccuesat thispoint. Wehavealreadyseen that
222 CHAPTER9
Gabriela'sdescriptionofhermentalmapattheendofthissessionpointsto
thesameconclusion.
BySessions20to24,thishadchanged,anditwasinterpretiveperform-
ancecuesthatinterruptedruns.Basiccuesnolongerhadanyeffect.Asthe
first performance approached, interpretive cues were becoming more
central.Again,theeffects onpracticeareconsistentwiththedescriptionof
performancecuesattheend ofSession24,which focusedoninterpretive
ratherthanbasicperformancecues.
Memory for both basic and interpretive performance cues needed
refreshingafterthe3-monthbreakbetweenPeriods2and3,andrunswere
onceagain interrupted atboth kinds ofcues (Sessions 26-27). Forbasic
performance cues,practiceduring runs inSessions 26to27and 27to28
completedthelearningprocess.
9
Incontrast,theinterpretiveperformance
cuesstillneededworkandwerestillinterruptingrunsinSessions31to44.
Interpretive decisions about phrasing were still being made as late as
Session33.
Expressive Performance Dimension. Gabrielahaddecided onhermain
expressivegoalsbythebeginningofthegraystage,andinSessions7to8
and9to10sheusedexpressivecuesasstartingpointsforruns(Table8.4).
Thisestablishedtheseexpressivegoalsasmemorycues,settinginplacethe
main musical outline for the piece. It was at this point that Gabriela
announcedthatitwasbeginningtosoundlikemusic,andshepreparedto
bringthefirstlearningperiodtoaclose,concludingthatthepiecewas60%
learned. Meanwhilethefocusturnedtofillinginthedetailstorealize the
expressiveframework shehad established.
Asthefirstperformanceapproached, itwastimetodistill afinalsetof
expressivecuestoaccessboththemotorresponsesandthemoredetailed
conceptualknowledgeofthepiece.Thereisevidenceinthepracticerecord
thatthiswashappening inSessions20to24(Table8.4).Inthese sessions,
expressivecuesaffected practiceagainforthefirsttimesinceSessions9to
10.They were avoided as stopping places during runs, thus providing
them with practice in context. At the same time, nearly all the other
dimensions also affected practicetheonly timethatthis happened. In
particular,fingeringand patterns were reworked inaway that had not
beenseensincethebeginning(Sessions 16).Theseeffectssuggestthatthe
retrievalhierarchywasbeingreorganizedtolinkallofthefeaturesofthese
otherdimensionsdirectly toexpressive cues.
10
Another way in which Sessions 18-24 were distinctive was in the
prolonged use of slow practice. Byreducing the effectiveness ofmotor
memory,slowpracticeprovided anopportunitytorehearsethe perform-
223 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
ancecues.Bymakingsurethattheperformancecueswereclearlyinmind
as the notes were played, their links to each other and to the motor
performancewere strengthened.
Although thepracticerecord isconsistentwiththeideathat expressive
cues were becoming the top level of a reorganized retrieval hierarchy,
Gabriela's account of these sessions, described in the previous section,
suggeststhatherfocuswasstillmoreoninterpretationthanexpression.To
developthispointfurther,hereisGabriela'sdescriptionfromaninterview
of how she would normally think about expressive cues right before a
performance:
Somethingelsehappens beforeaperformance....Withverylittlewarmup
and practiceyou [need to]beemotionallyintune.Youhavetosort ofrev
yourselfup.Yousay,"Okay,Iwanttobelikethis,"andyouhavetohavethat
reactionreally fast. Ifyou watchmewarmup before aconcertyou would
thinkIwasatotallunaticbecauseIplaythreenotesoronebar,andthenIgo
ontosomething else,becauseIamgoing from oneend ofthe pieceto the
other.BasicallywhatIamdoingisjusttryingtocatchthemoment tomake
melookforward....Youtrytomakesurethatthey[thefeelings]comefast
andthey'llbethere.... Throughpracticeandworkyougetdulleddownand
before a... performanceyoutrynottoletthathappen. Soyoutrytoputa
twinkleonthesethings.... Youtrytoinspireyourself.Itkeepsthingsalive.
Thereismoretotherechunkingprocessthansimplythinkingofanew
set of cues. It is a matter of linking the motor activity and all of the
interpretive and basic performance cues with the emotions they are
intended toexpress.Theemotionthatis,theideaoftheemotionhasto
becenter stage inworking memory duringtheperformance. Toprepare
forthis,theideaoftheemotionanditsarticulationthroughthestructureof
the music must become the primary way of thinking about the piece
during practice.Gabriela'sdescriptionofherpracticegoalsatthe endof
Session24doesnotsuggestthatshewasyetthinkingofthepiecethisway.
This, and her unwillingness toperform without the scorethefollowing
day,suggestthat the final level oftheretrieval hierarchy, the expressive
cues,wasnotyetfirmly inplaceatthetimeofthefirstperformance.
Theexpressivecuesneeded moredevelopment, andtheycontinued to
beafocusofpracticeaspolishingcontinuedinSessions28to30(Table8.4).
Nowbarscontaining expressive cueswereplayed moreoften thanother
barsduringruns.Thisistheonlytimethatexpressivecueswere repeated,
anditindicates thatGabrielawasthinkingabout them,interrupting runs
to go back and try them again. However, this practice appeared to
complete the development ofthe expressive cuesbecause Gabriela was
224 CHAPTER9
abletoreport expressive cuesforSectionCatthe end ofSession 31,and
theireffects onpracticedid notcontinueinSessions31to44.
InSession 32,therewas ashift inthe goalsofpractice.Thetarget was
stillexpressivetogivethepiece"moreexcitement", andmakeit"more
dramatic". Theroutewasnewanincreaseinthetempo.Theexpressive
cues were apparently not an obstacle because, unlike switches and
interpretive performance cues, they did not interrupt runs. Expressive
cues were apparently functioning well, and they do not appear in the
practicerecordorcommentsforthesesessions.TheevidencethatGabriela
wasusing expressive cuesatallinthis final stageofthelearning process
comes fromherrecallofthepiece2yearslater,when itwasthe expressive
cues,alongwiththeboundaries oftheformalstructure,thatprovided the
primaryway ofretrievingherknowledgeofthemusicfrom memory.
Insummary,theeffects ofperformancecuesonmemoryare consistent
with the third principle.Speed ofretrievalfrom long-term memory was
indeedthemajordifficultyinlearning thePresto,andthiswas exacerbated
bytheincreaseintempoafterSession31.Theproblemwasnotprimarilya
matter of executing movements rapidly enough. The difficulty was
inthemind.
A lot ofmy laterpracticeofthe ItalianConcertowas practicingthrowing
those switches.Myfingers wereplayingthe notesjust fine. ThepracticeI
needed wasinmyhead.Ihad tolearntokeeptrackofwhereIwas.Itwasa
matteroflearningexactlywhatIneeded tobethinkingofasIplayed,and at
exactly what point, so that as I approached a switching point I would
automaticallythinkaboutwhereIwas,andwhichwaytheswitchwouldgo.
HESITATIONDURINGMEMORYRUNS
For the most part, playing from memory and from the score are so
interwoven inGabriela'spracticethattheycannotbeseparated.Memori-
zationoccurredgradually.Shegenerallypracticedwiththescoreopenin
frontofherand,withtime,cametorelyonitlessandless.Thisisreflected
in her comments about memory, which occurred at every stage of the
learningprocess.But,justbecausetheprocesswasgradualdoesnotmean
thatitwaseffortless. Onthecontrary,onthefirsttwooccasionwhenwe
canbesureGabrielawasplayingfrommemorybecauseshesaidsoatthe
timetheeffort requiredwasreadilyapparent.Shestumbledthroughthe
piece,hesitating repeatedly asshestruggled to recall the next passage.
Theserenditions arepainful tohear,but theyprovideaunique window
225 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
ontotheprocessofretrieval.Eachhesitationrepresentsamemorycuethat
operatedtooslowly,eachstoporrepetitionacuethatfailedtoactivatethe
necessarylong-termmemorytraceonthefirst attempt.
The Effort orRemembering
Session8. Thefirst run throughtheentirepiecelargelyfrom memory
occurred about 40minutes into Session 8,the long practice session in
whichGabrielasetoutto"reallyaccomplishsomething"andgetthePresto
"wrapped up".Although the score was still open on the piano, she
announced, "That wasmemorized,horribleasitsounds.AtleastIknow
whatIamdoing.Istillhaveacoupleoffairlydeepgapsin memory."
Theeffortinvolvedwasextraordinary.Therunbegansmoothlyenough
atasteadytempoof116.ThetroublebeganinSectionC.Thetemposlowed
and, forthe remainder ofthepiece, fluctuated from moment to moment,
punctuatedbypauses,sometimesspeedingup,backtotheoriginaltempo,
and sometimes crawling along athalf thepace.Watchingthevideo, the
viewer isstruckbythepianist's dogged persistence. Youwishshewould
just lookup at the music afew inches in front ofher, but she does not.
Instead she battles on, slow and halting, dredging up the music from
memory.Intheend,shedidhavetolookatthescoreinacoupleofplaces,
butthesecapitulationswerehardfought.Theoverwhelmingimpressionis
oneofunyieldingeffort.ForGabriela,theexperiencewasoneofexhilaration.
Itfeelssoliberating,tobeabletoputthemusicawayandtoplaythefirsttime
frommemory.Itisthrilling!Thereissuchahugecontradictionbetweenhow
horrible the musicsounds and how Ifeel. Itbothers me solittlebecauseI
knowIcanfixallthat.Iknowwhatitwillsoundlike.
Wecangetarough idea ofthetimespent instrugglingwithrecallby
comparingtheobserved performancedurationoftheentirerun through
from memory (5mins 1s),with theexpected duration that would have
resulted if the initial, target tempo of 116beats per minute had been
maintained (3mins37s).
11
Theadditionalplayingtimewas 1min 24s
39%morethantheexpectedduration(seeTable9.3).
Howmuchofthisadditionaltimewasspentstrugglingtoretrievethe
musicfrom memoryratherthantomechanicaldifficulties or intentional,
expressivevariation in tempo?Therewere four other runs through the
entirepiece inthe same session.Fortheseruns,Gabriela did not report
playing from memory, so for comparison purposes we assume that
memoryretrievaldifficulties didnotadd totheirperformanceduration.
12
226 CHAPTER9
TABLE9.3
DurationofMemoryRunsandTargetTempoWith
Estimates ofAdditionalPlayingTimeDueto
Difficulties WhenFirstPlayingFromMemory
Memory Run Performance
Variable 8.1 12.1 12.2 17.1-17.4 CD
Observedduration 5:01 5:53 4:13 4:07 3:04
Targettempo(beats /min) 116 118 118 116 138
Expectedduration 3:37 3:34 3:34 3:37 3:03
(420beats/tempo)
Additionalplayingtime 1:24 2:19 0:39 0:30 0:01
(observed-expected)
%additionalplayingtime 38.7 64.9 18.2 13.8 0.0
([additional/expected]*100)
Thefourcomparisonrunslastedanaverageof12%longerthandictatedby
theirtargettempi.Thismeansthatinthememoryrun,atleast27%(39%-
12%)oftheextraplayingtimeisattributabletoretrieval difficulty.
Reader,think ofthe last timeyou struggled torecallsomething from
memory.Stopforamomentandthinkofaparticularoccasion.Remember
howmucheffort ittook.Didyouspendthebestpartofaminutetryingto
remember?Mostofusdonot.Wegiveup alotsooner ornevermakethe
effort at all. (Forexample, did you follow these directions to think ofa
particularexample?Probablynot,whichmakesthepoint.)Recallishard
work.Wedonotengageinitlightly,justtosatisfyawhimofanauthorfor
example.Itmaybethiswillingnesstodothehardworkofrecollectionthat
distinguishespeoplewho canmemorize from the restofus who simply
proclaimthetasktoo difficult.
Session12. Thesecond timeGabrielaplayed from memorywasatthe
endofSession 12.Itwastheendofthefirstlearningperiodandtimetoset
thePrestoasideforseveralmonths.Gabrielawantedtoshowthatshehadit
memorized evenifretrievalwasstillastruggle.
There is one thing I have not done yet for you [Roger] and that is to
completelyput the music away and try toplay itby memory.One ofthe
MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE 227
reasonsisthat. . . .IknowitisgoingtosoundsomuchworsethanwhatIcan
dowiththemusic[score].... Itisgoingtobealotofstumblingandbabbling
and stuff. SoIdidn'twanttoinflictthatonyou.
Sheclosedthescoreandbegantoplay(run12.1).Itwastrue,therewasalot
of"stumblingandbabbling".Thefirsttroublecameintheinitialstatement
oftheAtheme.Gabrielaspent2
l
/2minutesonBars9and 10,playingthem
over and over, trying to get them right. She tried starting from the
beginningagainfivetimes.Intheend,shehadtoadmitdefeatand opened
the scoretolook.Shestarted atthebeginningagain;this timeshesailed
through theroadblockwithout aproblem. After this,things went better,
although there were still hesitations and fluctuationsin tempo. At one
point shedid havetoflip openthescoreforaquicklook,but shedid not
cometoacompletestopagain.
Again, we can estimate the time spent in retrieval (Table 9.3).The
performancedurationwas5minutes,53seconds,notincludingtheinitial
2
l
/2 minutes spent on the first 10bars.Thiswas 2minutes, 19seconds or
65%longerthantheexpectedduration.Howmuchofthisextratimewas
duetoretrievalproblems?TherewasonecompleterunthroughinSession
12withthescoreopen,whichwecanuseasacomparison.Thisruntook
12%longer toperformthan expected on thebasisofitstargettempo.So
hesitations due to retrieval increased the performanceduration of the
memoryrunbyatleast53%(65%-12%)overtheexpectedduration.Thisis
doubletheestimateforSession8.Gabrielawasworkingevenharder.She
hadtobecauseshehadputawaythescore.RecallthatinSession8Gabriela
had thescoreinfront ofherand glancedatitatleasttwice.
Anotherfactorcontributingtoher difficulties inbothSessions8and12
wasthatGabrielawasperforminginfrontofthecamera.Assheputitlater,
"The pressure was on. It was not like playing for myself. It was a
challenge."InSession12,whensheranthroughthepiecefrommemoryfor
thesecondtime(run12.2),Gabrielareportedthatshe"relaxed abit", and
wecanseethe effect. Thistimeshedidnotneed toconsultthescore,and
therewerefewerhesitations.Theperformancedurationwas4.13minutesa
substantial 1.40 minutes faster than the previous attempt and only39
seconds or18%overexpectedperformanceduration (Table9.3).Thisisa
strikingimprovementinfluency.Eithertheeffortputintothefirstmemory
runhadpaid off, orshehad indeed "relaxed".
Session17. GabrielanextplayedwithoutthescoreinSession17.Aftera
review ofthe switches and a preliminary run through looking at some
pagesofthe score,Gabrielawasreadytotryitfrom memory.Sheclosed
thescoreand played through thepiecefour times(runs17.1-17.4), fairly
228 CHAPTER9
fluentlycomparedwiththememoryrunsinSessions8and12.Theaverage
observed duration for the four memory runs was 4.07,which was 30
seconds or 14%more than the expected duration (Table 9.3).Was the
additional 14%due to retrieval problems or was it perhaps due to
expressiveslowing at theendsofsections?Toanswer this question, the
final performancerecorded for the CD was used as a comparison. The
observed duration of 3.04 is almost exactly the same as the expected
duration of3.03, the difference of less than .05%being well within the
marginoferrorforthemeasurementoftargettempo.
Inacommentattheend ofSession 17,previouslyquoted inchapter5,
Gabriela compared her memory for the piece to the last time she had
played from memoryinSession12:
ThelasttimeIplayedfrommemory,ifyouremember... Iwasrelyingvery
much on motor memory ... Ihad very fewreference places,that Iknew
exactlywhatIwasdoing.Ihadalot,butcomparedtonowitwasmuchless.
So,nowIthink,eventhoughImakeafewmistakes,Iknowwhatthemistake
was,and how tofixit.
These"referenceplaces"aretheretrievalorperformancecues,where
the pianist can take stock ofwhere she is,locating what her hands are
currentlyplaying inaconceptualrepresentation.Knowingwhere sheis
allowsher to accessthe performancecuesfor the currentsection.Ifshe
takes a wrong turn at a switch or ifsomethingsounds wrong, she can
retrievetherelevantperformancecuefromlong-termmemoryandcorrect
theproblemimmediatelywithouthavingtoconsultthescore.Sheknows
whereshehasbeen,wheresheisnow,and wheresheisgoingnext.She
knows"how tofixit".
BarDuration asaMeasure of Hesitation
Whichfeaturesofthemusicwereresponsibleforthehesitationsand slow
downsintheseinitialmemoryruns?Ifweareright,thentheyshouldbethe
retrievalcues:thesectionboundaries,switches,andperformancecues.To
seeifthiswasso,HelmadeVriesmeasuredthedurationofeachbarinthe
memoryrunsinSessions8and12andfortheCDperformanceaspartofan
undergraduate researchproject (Chaffin etal.,1999).(Bardurationcould
notbeaccuratelymeasuredforSession17becauseofthepoorqualityofthe
recordedsoundsignal).
13
Wemeasured the firstcompleteplayingofeach
bar.Thisprovided acleanmeasureofthetimerequiredtoplayeachbar
once,butithadthedrawbackofomittingcasesinwhichGabrielastopped
inmidbar.Thisresultedinomittingorunderestimatingsomeofthemost
229 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
substantial hesitations (e.g., the2
l
/2minutes spent trying torecallBars9
and10inrun 12.1).Asweshallsee,thiswayofmeasuringdurationstillleft
morethanenough hesitationstodemonstrateretrievalproblems.
Bar durations decreased and became less variable across the three
memoryrunsandweremostuniform intheCDperformance(Table9.4).
Thesereductions suggest thatmuch ofthevariabilitywas due to lackof
fluency.Whatexactlywasthesourceoftheproblem?
Effects ofMemoryana Expression onMemoryRuns
IfwearerightaboutthefeaturesofthePrestothatserved asretrievalcues,
hesitations should tend to occuratboundaries between sections (asthe
pianist thinks ofhow thenextsectionbegins),atswitches (asshetriesto
remember which switch to make), and at performance cues (as she
remembers a critical decision, perhaps a phrasing or fingering). This
would provide further evidencethatboundaries, switches, and perform-
ance cueswere serving asretrieval cues. Regression analyses were per-
formed withbardurationasthedependentvariableandthesame predic-
torvariablesasintheregression analysesofstarts,stops,and repetitions.
14
Justastheearlieranalysesidentifiedthetypesoffeaturesatwhichpractice
segments started and stopped, the bar duration analyses identified the
typesoffeaturesatwhichhesitationsoccurred.
Changesinbardurationmightbeduetomechanicalproblems,deliber-
ate expressive variation in tempo, or retrieval difficulties. Mechanical
problems would result in longer bar durations for basic dimensions.
Expressivevariationwouldproduce effects,eitherpositiveornegative,at
interpretiveorexpressivecuesandattheendsofsections.EffectsintheCD
performancecanbeassumedtoreflectacceptable,expressivevariationsin
tempo,sowhenthesameeffect occursinpractice,weassumethatitwas
intentional. Other effects in practice are more likely due toproblems
someinabilitytomaintainthetargettempoandthemostlylikelysource
oftheseproblemsismemoryretrieval.
Thethree memoryruns (8.1,12.1, and 12.2)and the CDperformance
wereeachanalyzed.Inaddition, adjustedbar durations werecalculated
for eachmemoryrunbysubtractingthebardurationfortheCDperform-
ance.Thisshouldremovemostoftheexpressivevariationinbar duration
from the practiceruns sothat effects are mostlikely due toproblemsof
some kindeithermechanicalor memory retrieval.Comparing the ad-
justedandunadjustedpracticedatawiththeCDperformancedata allows
us to separate effects that are most likely due to intended expressive
variationfrom thosemorelikelydue toalackoffluency.
230 CHAPTER9
TABLE9.4
MeanBarDurations(insecs),Standard Deviation,and
Coefficient ofVariation (Standard Deviation/Mean)
forPractice andPerformanceFromMemory
Memory Run Performance
Variable 8.1 12.1 12.2 CD
Mean
bar duration
1.86 1.34 1.19 .86
SD
bar duration
1.31 .76 .37 .13
(SD/X)bar duration
.70 .57 .31 .15
Effects DuetoMemory. Weexpectretrievalproblemstobereflectedin
effectsofperformancecuesandstructure.Theperformancecuesproduced
the most consistent effects onbar durations and all appear to indicate
hesitationduetoalackoffluency.Performancecuesslowedplayinginall
threememoryrunsand intheadjusteddata,but notintheCDperform-
ance suggesting that the effects were due to hesitations and were not
intentional.Bardurationwaslongerforbarscontainingbasicperformance
cuesinallthreememoryruns,atinterpretiveperformancecuesinruns8.1
and 12.1, and at expressive performancecuesin run 12.2.(Theeffect of
expressivecuesdidnotappearintheadjusteddata,castingsomedoubton
itsreliability).Thepatternoftheother effects, however,isconsistent with
theideathattheperformancecuesfunctionedasretrievalcuesandthatthe
hesitationswereduetodifficulty withmemoryretrieval.Thehesitations
provided more retrieval time, an opportunity to remember what was
supposed tohappen.
The effects ofstructure, in contrast, cannotbe unambiguouslyattrib-
uted to retrieval difficulties but may have been deliberate, expressive
variations in tempo. The effect ofserialpositions on runs 12.1 and 12.2
looksatfirstsightlikeanotherserialpositioneffect.Barsearlierinasection
wereplayed faster, those laterinasectionmoreslowly,suggesting that
laterbarswerehardertorecall.However,theabsenceofthiseffect inthe
adjusted bar durations indicatesthat the memory run was not reliably
different from the CD performance in this respect. The effects in the
memory run may, therefore, have been deliberate, expressive effects.
Expressioniscertainlythemoststraightforwardexplanationforthe effect
ofendsofsectionsinrun 12.1.Bardurationswerelongerforthelastbarofa
sectionthan forotherbars.Slowingatthe ends ofsectionsisastandard
231 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
TABLE9.5
Significant EffectsofMusical Structure and Performance
FeaturesonLogBarDurationforPractice andPerformance
While PlayingFromMemory: Italian Concerto (Presto)
Adjusted Practice
Practice Performance (Practice-Performance)
Session 8 12.1 12.2 CD 8 12.1 12.2
Variable
Musical Structure
Beginsection . . . -0.06
End section .15
Serialpos'n . .02 .01 . . . .
Switch -.16 . . . -.10
Performance Cues
Basic .27 .09 .11 . .16 . .05
Interpretive .14 .10 . . .10 .07
Expressive .07 . . . .
Basic Dimensions
Fingering . . . . . . .
Technical . . . . . . .
Patterns . . . . . . .
Interpretive Dimensions
Phrasing . . -.02 . . . .
Dynamics -.13 . . . -.08
Pedal . . . . 0 5 . . .
Tempo . . . . 1 4 . . .
Number
of Notes .04 -.01 .03 .01
R
2
.27 .19 .27 .25 .25 .15 .19
expressivedevice(Clarke,1995;Repp,1992).Sincetheeffect alsooccurred
intheCDperformanceandwasnotpresentintheadjusteddata,itisquite
possiblethattheslowingattheendsofsectionsinrun 12.1wasexpressive
ratherthanintended toprovidemoretimefortheretrievalofthenextsection.
Bardurationsinrun8.1werealsoaffected byswitches.Unliketheother
effects ofstructure,thisonewaspresentinboththeoriginalandadjusted
232 CHAPTER9
databut notintheCDperformance,indicatingthatitwasnotintentional
butreflectedsomekindofproblem.Weexpectedproblemswithfluencyat
switches, but the effect isin the wrong direction for this interpretation.
Switcheswere faster thanotherbars,notslower.Theeffect suggests that
switches had some role in playing from memory but what isunclear.
Perhaps Gabrielaknew that shewould have trouble at switches and so
glancedatthescorebeforeshereachedthem.Ortheextraattentionpaidto
switchesinearliersessions mayhavemadethemmorefluent.
15
Effects of Expression. Therewas one other effect ofstructure, and it
appears to be a deliberate, interpretive variation in tempo. In the CD
performance the beginnings of sections were played faster than other
passagesa negative effect. Going faster at the beginning of a section
underlinesthechangeinthematicmaterial(Clark,1988).Wehaveseenthat
Gabrielausedtempotoprovideexcitementandtensioninthisfast-paced
piece. Increasing the tempo at the beginnings of sections added to the
feeling, already created by the repetitive return of the same theme,of
whirlingonaroundabout atfulltilt.
Severalothereffectsalsoappeartobeexpressive.BardurationintheCD
performancewaslongerforbarscontainingtempochangesanduseofthe
pedal.Theeffect oftempoclearlyreflectsdeliberate,temporarydecreases
intempo.Theincreaseinbardurationassociatedwithpedalingmayhave
been designed to draw attention to phrasings created by the use of
thepedal.
Dynamicsalsoaffectedbarduationinrun8.1,buttheeffectswereinthe
opposite direction than those in the CDperformance.Bars containing
dynamic features were played more quicklythan other bars. Asimilar
effect forbarscontaining thebeginningsofphrasesoccurred inrun 12.2.
Sincethedirectionofthe effects seemstoruleoutmechanicalorretrieval
difficulties, itseemsmostlikelythatthesearealsoexpressive effects.Why
was the effect ofdynamicsinthe opposite direction inthe CD perform-
ance?Perhapsbecauseoftheverydifferent tempiinvolved. InSessions8
and 12,Gabrielawasplayingatasubstantiallyslower tempothaninthe
final performance.At the slower tempo, interpretive features could be
underlined by increasing the tempo, while at the faster tempo asimilar
effect had tobeproducedbyslowingdown.
16
Ifthisexplanationiscorrect,
itreflectsconsiderableflexibilityintherealizationofexpressivegoals.
Theeffect ofnumberofnotesontheCDperformancealsoappearstobe
anexpressive effect. Barscontainingmorenoteswereplayed faster than
theotherbarsintheCDperformance.Increasingthenumberofnotesina
barisawayforthecomposertocreatedramatictensionandincreasingthe
tempoatthesametimeisawayfortheperformertoaccentuatethattension.
233 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
Effects DuetoMechanical Difficulties. Therewereno effects forbasic
dimensions.Thisisimportantbecauseitindicatesthathesitationswerenot
due to mechanical problems with fingering and technical difficulties.
Mechanicalproblemswith"finger-tangles" are,however,thelikelyexpla-
nation forthe effect ofnumber ofnotes inrun 8.1. Barscontaining more
noteswereplayed slower.Theeffect isprobablydue toalackoffluency.
Barswith more notes may havebeen more difficult technicallyormore
difficult toremember.
Summary
Theeffects ofperformancecuesand sectionboundaries onbar duration
provideourmostdirectevidencethatthesewereactingasretrievalcues.It
washerethathesitations occurred when thepiece was first played from
memory.Suchhesitations werenot causedbytechnical difficulties, non-
standard fingerings,complexpatterns, or any oftheinterpretive dimen-
sions. They occurred at cuesthat Gabrielareported attending to during
performance.Thisstronglysuggests thatthedelayswereduetoretrieval
problems.
CONCLUSIONS
Gabriela'slearningofthePrestoisdescribedsurprisingly wellbythethree
principlesofexpertmemory,althoughtheseprincipleswerederived from
domainsofexpertiseinwhichmemoryisprimarilyconceptualandskilled
movementisnotrequired.Inpianoperformance,incontrast,motorskillis
clearlycentral.Whatwehavelearnedhereisthatconceptualordeclarative
memory isimportant forconcert pianists,just as it isforother typesof
expertmemorists.
Theoperationofthe firstprincipleofexpertmemorythatnew infor-
mationisencodedintermsofpreviouslyestablishedchunkswasevident
in the initialsection-by-section stage, as Gabrielalooked for patternsof
notestouseasthebuildingblocksofherevolvingperformance.Theability
toseethesepatternsgreatlyreducedtheamountofnewmaterialthathad
tobelearned.Thismadeitpossibleforhertoplaythepiecefrommemory
inSession8after only7hoursofpractice.Evidencefortheimportanceof
familiarpatternsisfoundinGabriela'slamentationsabouttheunpredicta-
bility of the music, in the greater amount of work devoted to bars
containing more patterns, and in the use offingering to organize notes
intochunks.
234 CHAPTER9
The second principle of expert memory maintains that a retrieval
scheme mustbeused toallowcontrolled accesstoinformationstored in
long-termmemory.ForGabriela,theretrievalschemewasprovidedbythe
formal structure of the Presto. Knowledge of the musical structure is
necessary forreliableperformance,particularlyforthe Presto,because its
complexrondo form requires theperformertobecontinually mindfulof
which repetition of each theme is currently being played. Gabriela's
attention to the formal structure is evident in her comments as she
identifiedboundaries andswitchesandfromheruseofsectionboundaries
to organize practice.Starting atboundaries ensured that the musicwas
initially encoded into memory in sections whosebeginnings served as
retrieval cues. The effects ofthis retrievalpracticewere evident 2years
laterwhenGabrielawasabletorecalltheearlybarsineachsectionmuch
betterthan laterbars.Theeffectofserialposition onrecallindicated that
the music was organized in memory by sections, which were further
subdividedintoexpressive phrases.Thefirstbarprovidedaccesstoeach
chunk,witheachbarwithinachunkcuingthenext.
Accordingtothethirdprincipleofexpertmemory,extendedpracticeis
necessaryforaretrievalschemetoworkfastenoughtobeuseful.Extended
practice is evident in the 33hours taken to prepare the Presto for its
recorded performance and particularly in the 14hours ofpractice that
occurredafterthefirstpublicperformance.Muchofthistimewas devoted
topracticingmemoryretrieval,asshownbyGabriela'sfrequentcomments
abouttheneedforconcentrationand thenumerouseffectsofperformance
cues,sectionboundaries,andswitches.Whenacuedidnotoperatequickly
enough,runswere interrupted atthecue,boundary, orswitch that had
causedthetrouble.Theseeffectsoccurredthroughoutthelearningprocess,
including in the final session set when the increase in tempo placed
especiallyheavydemands onrapidmemoryretrieval.
One characteristicofexpertpiano performancenot addressed by the
principlesofexpert memory isthe rechunking that occurred duringthe
finalpolishing stage.Gabrielareported thatinthelaststageofreadyinga
pieceforperformanceshepracticesattendingtoexpressivecuessothatshe
willbeabletothinkaboutthepieceprimarilyintermsoftheemotionsshe
wants toconvey.Atthesametime,shereworksallthedetails,creatinga
newlevelofexpressive cuesthroughwhichtoaccesstheretrieval hierarchy.
Thebehavioralevidenceforthisaccountwas suggestive, ifnotconclu-
sive.Inpreparingforthefirstpublicperformance,Gabrielapaid renewed
attention to expressive cues and basic features, in fact, to almost every
dimensionsomethingthatdidnotoccuratanyotherpointinthelearning
process. Atthesametime, sheengaged inslow practiceforthe first time,
ensuring thatherconceptualmemory(andthustheretrievalcues)would
235 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
be in working memory as she played. Her unwillingness to perform
without the score at the end of Period 2, however, suggests that the
expressivecueswerenotyetsecurelyestablished,andthisissupportedby
the fact that her description of the piece at this time focused on more
specificinterpretiveeffects.Thecontinueddevelopment ofexpressivecues
isindicatedbytheireffect onpracticeinSessions28to30,which appeared
to complete the rechunking process. When Gabriela described the per-
formance cuesforSectionCbetweenSessions31and 32,expressivecues
were clearly labeled. The most direct evidence that this attention to
expressivecueshad established them intheupper levelsoftheretrieval
hierarchycamewhenthepiecewasrecalled2yearslater.Therewereserial
order effects forboth sectionboundaries and expressive cues, indicating
that memory ofthese two levels ofthe retrievalhierarchy provided the
primary accesstomemoryforthepiece.
Ontheonehand,ourconclusionthatconceptualmemoryiscrucialin
pianoperformanceisnotsurprising.Pianopedagogueshavelongempha-
sizedtheimportanceofformal analysisinlearning anewpiece (Hughes,
1915; Lehrer,1988;Matthay,1926;Sandor, 1981;Shockley,1986).Ininter-
viewstudies,professionalmusiciansdescribetheimportanceofcognitive
analysis to their memorization (Aiello,1999;Hallam, 1995a;Williamon,
1999).Manyofthe concertpianists discussed inchapter 3talkabout the
importance of practice techniques that rely on conceptual memory
mentalpracticeawayfromthepiano,slowpractice,andanalyticmemory,
touseClaudioArrau'sterm.
Onthe other hand,the role ofconceptualmemory has not been well
understood bypianists.Thisisapparentinthesesameinterviews.Thereis
alackofacommonterminologyfortalkingaboutconceptualmemory.The
artiststalkedvariouslyaboutform analysis,harmonicstructure,analytic
memoryandstructuralmemory.Yettheseaccountswereoften combined,
confusingly,withdisclaimers,asinBellaDavidovich'saccountofhowthis
information isavailable"instinctively ... sothere'snoconsciousthought."
We hope that by pulling together these comments about conceptual
memoryinchapter3wehavemade theircommonalities more apparent
thanintheiroriginalcontexts,where theywereinterspersed withtalkof
other forms ofmemory.Alhoughtheydescribeitdifferently, most ofthe
artistsacknowledge thatconceptualmemoryisimportant.
The importance of conceptual memory is further obscured by the
greatersalienceofotherformsofmemory.Thefactthatmotormemoryis
largelyimplicit(procedural)addsan airofmysterytothewholetopic
JorgeDemus's unconsciousapproach,AliciadeLarrocha'snaturalmem-
orythatmemorizesby itself, and Rudolf Serkin's unconsciousmemoriz-
ing.Theotherkindofmemorythatappearsinoneinterviewafter another
236 CHAPTER9
isvisualmemory,oftenreferredtoasphotographic.ArturRubinsteinsees
hisphotographicmemoryasaninherited gift,whereasLiliKrausseeshers
asaliability.Evenartistswhodonotrelyonvisualmemory,suchasAlfred
Brendel and Misha Dichter, describe their memorization in termsofits
absence.Whenthesalienceofotherformsofmemoryiscombinedwiththe
lackofacommonterminology fortalkingaboutconceptual memory,itis
nowonder thatthesignificanceofthelatterhasbeenunclear.
Webelievethatconceptualmemoryisimportantforanyconcertpianist,
andthatiftheartistsintheseinterviews hadbeenasked aboutitdirectly
theywould have acknowledged this. Infour recent studies inwhichthe
interviewers were familiar with contemporary memory concepts, the
professionalmusicianswhowereinterviewed reportedineverycasethat
theyusedconceptualmemory(Aiello,1999,2000a;Hallam,1995a;Williamon,
1999).Forexample, Aiello (2000a)asked four concert pianiststo describe
themusicalelementstheywouldusetomemorizetwoPreludesoneby
Bach, the other by Chopin. The pianists all marked features such as
repeated melodies, harmonic changes, chord progressions, arpeggiated
chords,dynamicchanges, and theclimaxapproximately 10featuresfor
eachpiece.
In contrast, students appear to be less clear about the importanceof
conceptualmemory.Whenaskedwhethertheirsegmentationofthemusic
helped them in memorizing, only 6 of Williamon's (1999) 21 student
pianists reported that ithad, although thepracticerecordsshowed that
theyallusedsomestructure toorganize theirpractice.Therewas greater
awarenessofconceptualmemoryamongtheJuilliardstudentsstudiedby
Aiello(2000b).Yetevenamongthesehighlyaccomplishedyoungpianists,
two out ofsixappeared to memorize without any explicitawarenessof
their conceptual memory forthe music.Theywere ableto markonlya
singlefeatureforeachofthescorestheyexamined andreportedthatthey
memorizedbyrote.Thereportsoftheother four studentsweremorelike
those oftheprofessionals.
Conceptualmemoryisaninvaluabletoolforreliableperformance,but
its use appears to develop rather late for most students. We hope the
analysisofmemorizationinthischapterhelpschangethissituationsothat
inthefuture morestudents willbeunderstand howconceptualmemory
canhelpintheirpreparationforperformance.
ENDNOTES
1.We use conceptual memory in place of the more widely used declarative memory
(Anderson, 1983) because we have found thatthe former term makes the idea more
accessibletononpsychologists.
237 MEMORYANDPERFORMANCE
2.Effectsofserialpositionwereonrepetitionsonly,notonstartsandstops,andserial
positionwasnotincludedasapredictorvariableintheanalysesofstartsand stops.
3.Thiseffect didnotoccuratthebeginningofPeriods2and3(Session13and2627)
becausethenGabrielareliedmoreheavilyonthescore.
4.InSessions28to30,thenegativeeffect ofserialposition otherwiseassociated with
runs occurred forwork.Unlikeprevious sessions, work at this point in thelearning
processwasgenerallybysections,runningfrombeginningtoendofasection.Whenthe
new phrasing being practiced did not workwell, thepianist backed up and tried it
again,resultinginmorerepetition ofbarsearlierinthesection.
5.Gabrielainitiallydistinguished threetypesofswitches: (a)Thesamematerialis
repeatedinnonadjacentbars,(b)thesamemusicalmaterialisrepeatedinnonadjacent
barsbutinadifferent key,and (c)similarmaterialisrepeatedinadjacentbars.Thefirst
typeofswitchwasthemostcommoninthePresto,andpreliminaryregression analyses
showthatits effects werelarger thanthoseoftheother twokindsofswitchesorany
combination.Consequently,onlythefirst typeofswitchwas included.
6.One-wayanalysesofvariances(ANOVAs)showed thatdifferences inthetop two
rowsofTable9.1weresignificant (p<.001),whereasthoseforthebottomtworowswere
not (Chaffin &Imreh,inpress).
7.Thenegative effect ofserialposition indicatesthatbars earlierin asection were
recalledbetterthanlaterbars.Theeffect forbeginningsofsectionswas notsignificant
becauseitwas subsumed under themoreglobal effect ofserialposition.The positive
effectforendsofsectionsisnotapparentinTable9.1becausesectionsendedinavariety
ofserialpositions.Also,theeffect intheregressionanalysesindicatesonlythatlastbars
were recalledbetterthan theirserialposition would predict,not thattheywerewell
recalled inabsolute terms.Whentheanalysis wasredonewithout serialpositionasa
predictor, the effect for beginnings of sections was significant,whereas ends ofsec-
tionswasnot.
8.Thetermperformance cuedid notappearinthesecommentsbecausethistermwas
notintroduceduntilafterthedevelopment ofthedescriptionofdecisionsaboutSection
Cintermsof10dimensions thatoccurredbetweenSessions31and32.
9. When a negative effect of basic performancecues on repetitions during runs
occurredinSessions1to6,wesuggestedthatGabrielawasavoidingthesefeaturesuntil
shewasreadytoworkonthem.Asimilarexplanationforthenegativeeffect inSessions
28to30seemsimplausiblesolateinthelearningprocess.
Anotherpossibleexplanationfortheeffects ofthebasicperformancecuesisthatthey
neededattentionduringperformancenotbecausetheywereretrievalcues,butsimply
becausetheyweredifficult. Theinterruptionstorunsthroughoutmostofthelearning
processcouldsimplybeareflectionoftheirtechnicaldifficulty. Thispossibilitycannot
be entirely ruled out, but it does not explain why the pattern of effects for basic
performancecuesissodifferent thanthatfortechnicaldifficultiesand fingering.Ifthe
basicperformancecuesweresimplythemostdifficultofthesebasicfeatures,theymight
beexpectedtoshowthesameeffects,but theydidnot.
If theproblemwiththebasicperformancecueswasjustthattheyweredifficult to
play,then we would expecttoseeworkon them earlyon untilthe difficulties were
overcome. This was the approach to technical difficulties, which were worked on
continuously until theywere mastered in Sessions 14to 16.Basicperformancecues,
however,werenotworkedoninthisway.Atthebeginning,inSessions1to6,whenall
threeofthe basicdimensions wereworkedon,basicperformancecueswereactively
ignored. Practicewas postponed as if the importance of these locations had been
recognized and wasbeing strategicallyignored.Workonthebasicperformancecues
didnotbeginuntilSessions7to8andwasthenrenewed inSessions1416and17.These
arethesessionsthatplacedthelargestdemandsonmemoryinSessions7to8because
238 CHAPTER9
theentirepiecewaspracticedforthefirsttimeandinSession 17becausethepiecewas
played withoutthescore.
Anotherpossibleobjectiontotheinterpretationofperformancecuesasretrievalcues
isthatGabrielagenerallyplayedwiththescoreopen.Itmightbearguedthatretrieval
problemsshouldnotbedisruptivewhenthescoreisavailabletofillingapsinmemory.
However,Gabrielaoften playedfrom memoryeventhoughthescorewasopen.
10.Itis,ofcourse,impossible tosayforsurethatthe effect ofexpression onstops in
Sessions20to24wasaresultofthisrechunkingprocess,but theeffect certainlyreflects
renewed attentiontoexpressivecuesjustbeforetheperformance.
Considerthefollowingalternative explanation fortheeffects oftheexpressivecues.
PerhapsinstartingatexpressivecuesGabrielawasusingthemasaconvenientwayto
dividethepieceintopracticesegments. Ratherthansettingthemup asretrievalcues,
shewas simply using them asstartingand stopping places.Thisisnot anattractive
alternative.First,itdoesnotexplainnotstoppingatexpressivecuesinSession20to24.
Second, whatever the intention, starting in a particular place does establish it asa
retrievalcue.Third,theappearanceofeffects ofexpressivecuesinthesessionsdevoted
topolishing theinterpretationstrongly suggests thattheywererelatedtothisgoal.
11.ThetargettempiinTable9.3wereadjustedupwardbyonemetronomemarking
from theoriginalmeasurementstotakeaccountofaconsistenterrorinthemetronome
used to measure target tempo. When thismetronome was calibrated against astop
watch, measured tempi were slower than true tempi by 3.4%. A similar error of
measurement isindicated independently bythemeanbar durationreported inTable
9.4, which indicates an averagetempo of 139.5 for the CD performance.Thetarget
tempomeasureonthemetronomeforthisperformancewas 132adifference of5.7%.
ThetargettempofortheCDperformanceisthereforereportedinTable9.3as138, which
isthe next metronome markingabove 132.Similarcorrectionswerenot made to the
tempireported inchapter6forthereasonsgiveninfootnote 12tothatchapter.
12.Thisisalmostcertainlyincorrect,but itprovides aconservativebaseline.Tothe
extentthatretrievaldifficulties alsoadded totheplayingtimeofthe four comparison
runs,thetruecontribution ofretrievaldifficultiestothememoryrunareunderestimated.
13.Bardurationsweremeasuredfromthestartofeachbartothestartofthefollowing
bar using acommerciallyavailablesound-editing program tomeasure the temporal
locationofsoundwavesontheaudiotrackofthevideotape.Judgmentofwhere each
barstartedwasmadeusingbothauditoryandvisualrepresentations ofthesignal.
14.Logbardurationswereusedtonormalizethe data.
15.Anotherpossibilityisthatplayingwasdisruptedmoreseverelyatswitchesthanat
otherlocationssothatplayingstopped inmidbarsothattheswitchcouldberepeated.
Becausewemeasured the first completeplayingofabar, this couldhave resulted in
switchesbeingplayedmorefluently.Examinationofthepracticerecordsindicatesthat
ofthe17placesinRun8.1whereabarwasrepeated,4occurredatswitchesand2inbars
immediatelybefore aswitch. Bycomparison, four repetitions occurred at theendsof
sections and four at the beginnings. In Run 12.1, sixofnine repetitions occurred at
switches. Repetitionmayhaveplayedaroleintheshorter durationofbars containing
switches.
16.Theeffect was not simply amirrorofthe increaseintempoduringperformance
becauseitoccurredintheunadjustedaswellastheadjusteddata.
T E N
Stages orPractice Revisited
Roger Chaffin ana Gabriela Imreh
W
vv ebeganour descriptionofthelearningofthe Prestoinchapter6
byidentifyingsixstagesoftheprocess.Wearenow readyto fill outthat
earlier descriptionbyadding whatwehavelearned since from boththe
insider's and the outsider's perspectives. In chapter6,we saw from an
outsider's perspective how the length of runs and the proportion of
practicedevotedtorunsincreasedfrom stagetostage,whilethelengthof
work segments and the effortfulness ofpracticeremained the same. In
chapter7,welookedatthingsthroughGabriela'seyesasshepracticedand
saw that shewas initiallymoreconcernedwithbasicissues,but thatas
thesewereresolvedherfocus shifted tointerpretation.
Inchapters8and9,theinsiderandoutsiderperspectivesweremerged
through the use ofregression analysis, and we saw a similar patternof
development. In the early practice sessions, Gabriela's activity at the
keyboardfocusedmoreonbasicdimensions,whereasinterpretivedimen-
sionshad more effect laterinthelearningprocess. Thiswasbecause the
main work on the interpretive dimensions came only after the overall
musicalshape ofthepiecehad beenestablished. Inchapter9,regression
analysisofthepracticerecordwas supplemented byparallelanalysesof
freerecallandhesitationstounderstandhowthePrestowasrepresentedin
memory. We saw how the formal structureof the piece provided an
239
240 CHAPTER10
organizationalframeworkforpracticeand forGabriela'smemoryrepre-
sentation. Here we provide abrief recapitulation ofhow the Presto was
learned andmemorized.
STAGE 1:SCOUTINGITOUT (SESSION 1)
Thefirststageoflearningconsistedofasinglerunthroughthewholepiece
atthebeginning ofthe first session. Duringthisinitialscouting,Gabriela
identifiedthemainstructureofthePrestosothatshewouldbeabletocome
backandworkonitsectionbysection.
STAGE 2: SECTIONBYSECTION
(SESSIONS 1-6)
InSessions1-6, GabrielaworkedherwaythroughthePrestoafewsections
at atime.Thedivision into sectionswas based on the formal structure.
Beginningsofsectionsand subsectionsserved asstartingpoints forboth
runsandworksegments.Alreadytheswitchesthatdistinguished different
repetitions of the same theme were identified, interrupting runs and
receivingspecialattention duringwork.
Themain taskofthis stagewas establishing motormemory.Familiar
patterns ofnotes had tobe merged to form new, largerpatterns; in the
process,decisionsaboutfingeringandtechnicaldifficultieshadtobemade
and practiced.Thenew motorpatternswerethen tested inlonger runs.
These were ofteninterrupted by fingering and technical difficulties that
hadnotyetbecomesufficiently automatic,requiringthepianisttogoback
andreplaythembeforegoingon.
Althoughworkfocused onbasicdimensions,decisionsaboutinterpre-
tationweremadeatthesametime.Gabrielamentionedinterpretivegoals
in explaining why she preferred a particular fingering and laid the
groundwork for the later development ofphrasing by adding dynamic
emphases that would bring out harmoniclines and polyphonic voices.
Further work on interpretation and the development of an integrated
performancewas,however,postponed untillater.Theplacesthatwould
requirethemostcomplexphrasingdecisionsthosewiththemostphras-
ing featureswereavoided during work. Also, the most criticalbasic
features, the basicperformancecues, were avoided during runs. These
negativeeffectsindicatethatGabrielawasawareoftheissuespresentedby
241 STAGESOF PRACTICE REVISITED
thesepassages,butwasnotyetreadytoaddressthem.Thus,theattention
tobasicdimensionswastheresultofastrategicdecision.
STAGE3:THE GRAYSTAGE (SESSIONS 7-16)
Thegoalofthegraystageistomaketheexecutionofearlierdecisions fully
automatic.Thisisatransitionalphaseinwhichsomethingsareautomatic,
whereas others still require attention and control. Moving back and
forward between automatic and controlled performance is difficult and
frustrating. Thedeveloping motorautomatismsaremuchfaster thanthe
conceptual control processes needed to govern them. Gabriela put it
succinctlyin acomment from Session 12quoted more fully earlier:" .. .
ThemoreItry tocontrolit,themoreI... interfere with things that are
wellset up."
Workontechnicaldifficultieswasadistinctivecharacteristicofthegray
stage. Itspurpose was to makethe execution of difficult passages auto-
matic,andtheachievementofthisgoalinSessions 14to16markedtheend
ofthegraystage.Fingeringsalsohadtobecomeautomatic,andremember-
ingfingeringsduringrunswasanothersourceoftroubleatthe beginning
of the gray stage (Sessions 7-8) and again after the piece had not been
played for5weeks (Session 13).Forfingerings, however,unlike technical
difficulties, thesolutionwasnotmorework,butruns,toprovidepractice
atmemoryretrieval.
Anothertaskofthisstagewastolinktheshortsegmentslearnedinthe
sectionbysectionstageintolongerpassages.Thelengthofrunsincreased
steadilyduringthegraystagefrom 16barsinSessions 7to8to29barsin
Sessions14to16.Linkingsectionsputsnewdemandsonmemory. What
happens inthenewsectionyouarejustentering?Theknowledgeisstored
in long-termmemory;the problemisto find itbefore it istoo latetobe
useful. Memorywas generallybetterforthebeginnings ofsectionswith
theresultthat,asGabrielabeganplayingfrom memory(Sessions8-9and
9-10),interruptionstorunstended tooccurtowardtheends ofsections.
Memorizingbeganduring thegraystage,andthefirstrunthroughthe
entirepiece"largely from memory" occurredinSession 8.Interruptions
and hesitations during this first memory run identified the locationof
retrieval cues: section boundaries, performancecues, and switches, al-
thoughtheevidenceforswitcheswasambiguous.Sectionboundariesand
switcheshad beenused asstartingplacesforpracticesegmentssincethe
beginning and were already established as retrieval cues. In contrast,
practiceofbasicandinterpretiveperformancecuesonlybeganinthegray
stage.Workon the basicand interpretiveperformancecues established
242 CHAPTER10
them as retrieval cues, while the interruptions to runs at these points
demonstrated thatretrievalwas often not fast enough tokeeppacewith
theactivityofthe hands.
Astheabilitytoplaythepieceasawholedeveloped, theemergenceof
anoverallmusicalarchitecturewasmarkedbytheuseofexpressivecues
as startingpoints for runs in Sessions 7to 8and 9to 10.Bythe endof
Session 9,Gabrielareported that shecould finally "see some music ...
comingoutofit."Thiswasaccompaniedbyanewfocusoninterpretation.
In Sessions 9 to 10, dynamics and pedal affected runs in ways that
suggestedthatthesefeatureswerebeingpracticedincontext,andinterpre-
tationbecamethedominant topicofcomment.
Attheendofthefirstlearningperiod,inSession12,Gabrielaclearlywas
still enmeshed in gray stage problems of automaticity and cognitive
control. We already quoted the clear statement of gray stage concerns
madeatthistime:"Itstillgivesmepalpitationstoplaythroughit,because
... Ifeel likeIreallyhavetoconcentrate andcontrol."Atthesametime,
however,shewasbeginningtothinkaboutputtingthepiecetogetherthe
nextstageinthelearningprocess.Thiswasevident inthetwo perform-
ancesfrom memoryatthe end ofSession 12,after whichGabriela noted,
"Probablynowtheseams[betweensections]arequiteobvious.... Ihave
tonowcheckeachtransition [from theAtheme]because everytimeitis
something different."
Theconcernwithtransitionsbetweensectionsanticipatesthenextstage
of putting it together. However, moving onto this the next stage was
postponed by the end ofthe first learning period. In takinga 2-month
break, Gabriela made itnecessary torelearn much ofwhathad already
beendone.AtthebeginningofPeriod2(Session13),threeeffects indicate
that relearning was needed. First, runs tended to start on fingerings,
indicating thatthesefeatures,whichhadbeenfunctioningautomatically,
once again needed attention. Second, switches, which had not been a
problem inSessions11to 12,were now interrupting runsagain.Third,
basicandinterpretiveperformancecuesnolongerinterruptedrunsasthey
hadinSessions7to12becauseGabrielawasonceagainrelyingheavilyon
thescoretoavoidmakingmistakes.
Otherwise, the2-monthbreakhad surprisinglyfewdetectable effects.
Session13looksremarkablylikeSessions9to10and 11to12.Thelengthof
runs was similar to Sessions 11 to 12, an average length of 25 bars,
indicatingthattheintegrationofthepiecethathadbeenaccomplishedby
theend ofPeriod 1had not been lost.Thesame focus on interpretation
continued todevelop,withpracticeincontextofphrasingand dynamics
duringruns,workoninterpretive performancecues,andthefirst appear-
anceofworkonphrasing and dynamics.
243 STAGESOF PRACTICE REVISITED
Attention returned to memorization in Sessions 14to 16with a new
intensity aspracticefocused on featuresthat serve asmemory-retrieval
cues:thebasicandinterpretive performancecuesandtheboundaries and
switches ofthe formal structure.Thiswas the first timethatworkonall
thesedimensions involved inplayingfrommemoryoccurredinthesame
setofpracticesessions.Itpointedthewaytothememorizationthatwasto
occurinSession 17.Gabrielawasgettingreadytoplaywithoutthescore.
STAGE4:PUTTINGITTOGETHER
(SESSION17)
InSession17,GabrielalearnedtoplaythePrestofrommemory.Asbefitsa
sessioninwhichthemaingoalwastoplaystraightthroughthemusic,the
averagelengthofruns,79bars,waslongerthaninanyothersetofsessions.
Theonly effects that reflect the concernwithmemorywere those of the
performance cues that had also marked the previous stage. Basic and
interpretive performancecueswereboth worked on,and thebasicper-
formancecuescontinuedtointerruptruns.
Bytheend ofthesession,Gabrielahad playedthroughtheentirepiece
fluently from memory five times. Muchmore practice at playing from
memory was still needed, but the Presto had been put together and
memorizedandwasreadyforpolishing.
STAGE5:POLISHING
PreparingfortheFirstPerrormance (Sessions 1824)
There were two new features of practice at this time: the use of slow
practice and playing for practice audiences. Slow practice checks and
strengthens conceptual memoryby lessening the contributionofmotor
memory.Practiceaudiencesprovideanopportunitytochecktheoperation
ofperformancecuesunderconditionsclosertothoseoftherecitalhall.
Theseactivitiespointtooneofthemaingoalsofpolishingthe selec-
tion ofexpressivecuestoattend toduring performance.Expressivecues
were avoided as stopping placesaform ofpracticein contextatthe
sametimethatalmosteveryotherdimensionwasreceivingattention.Slow
practicewas part ofthis process ofreorganizationtoo, allowing timeto
thinkaboutboththehigherlevelexpressivecuesandthelowerlevelcues
and features at the same time, forginglinks between them. Two of the
dimensionsreworkedaspartofthisprocesswerefingering,whichhadnot
244 CHAPTER10
been worked on since the end of Period 1 and bars containing more
familiar patterns,whichhad notbeenworkedonsinceSessions 1to6.It
seems likely,however, that the reorganization ofthe retrievalhierarchy
wasnotcompletedintimeforthefirstperformance.Oneindicationofthis
is that Gabriela felt it necessary to have the score open during the
performance. Another is that the description of the piece at the end of
Session 24 focused mostly on interpretation rather than on expression
suggestingthatduringthefirstperformanceGabrielawasattendingmore
tointerpretivethanexpressiveperformancecues.
Another aspect ofpolishing is refining the interpretation, which was
goingonatthesametime.Partofthisischeckingandadjustingtheoverall
shape ofthepiece,making surethatthe different sectionsareinbalance
with oneanother.Thiswas reflected intheattention tointerpretiveand
expressive cues already mentioned, but also in attention to the formal
structure.Thelatterisapparentintherenewedworkonthebeginningsof
sectionsanother thing that had not happened sincePeriod 1.Another
part ofrefining the interpretationwas revisitingestablished interpretive
features and addingnew ones.Therewasworkonphrasings forthe first
timesinceSession13,anddynamicsandpedalingbothreceivedpracticein
context. The addition of new interpretive refinementsis evident in the
comments, for example, about apolyphonic theme:"It'skind offun to
bringout . . .reallyscrumptious."
Afinalgoalofpolishingisbuildingupconfidencefortroublespots.For
thisreason,technicaldifficultieswerenotreworked,butavoidedasmuch
aspossible.ThissparedGabriela'sinjuredhandandavoidedunnecessary
mistakes, which the injury might have introduced at this criticalstage.
Despiteher confidence-buildingtactics,Gabrielawasnot atallsurethat
thepiecewasreallyready.Shedecided toperformwiththescoreopenas
insurance in case things went drasticallywrongsomething sherarely
does.Yetthechancetotry outtheItalian Concertoinconcertwastoogood
tomiss.Thesettingwasinformal,theaudiencesmall,andtheinjurytoher
hand required something less punishing than the Bach/Busoni Chaconne
originallyprogrammed.Theperformancewentoffuneventfully.
Repolisning (Sessions2630)
Thepolishingofthe Prestobegan againafter a2-monthintervalwith the
beginning ofthethirdlearningperiod.First,thebasicdimensions needed
review. There was work on fingerings, and runs started at technical
difficulties. Thisrelearningwas completedinSessions26to27and these
effectsdidnotreappear.AnotherthingthatneededrevivinginSessions26
to27were thememorycues.Runswere interrupted torepeat basicand
245 STAGESOF PRACTICE REVISITED
interpretive performancecues,and therewasattentiontothe beginnings
ofsectionsand switches.PracticeofmemorycuescontinuedinSessions28
to30withpracticeincontextforbasicperformancecuesandmoreworkon
sectionbeginningsandswitchesastheswitchescontinuedtointerruptruns.
Practice did not immediately return to the long runs and practice
performances ofSessions 20to24.Thelength ofrunsdroppedsharply at
thebeginning ofPeriod3andonlyreturnedtoitsformerlevelinSessions
31to44.Intheinterveningsessions,runswereshorteraspracticefocused
onthefurther honing ofinterpretation.Gabrielawas,"...makingsome
moremusicaldecisions.... ThereareafewthemesIwanttobringup."
Shewanted it to be, "exciting and very full of stuff"a "stereo effect"
here, "bring out the left hand" there. These goals are reflected in the
practiceofallfour interpretivedimensions inSessions 26to27the first
time this had happened. Work on phrasing, dynamics, and pedaling
developed the motor skills needed tobring out the themes and voices,
while practice in context of dynamic and tempo features during runs
integrated thenewskillswiththeirsurroundingcontext.
Assheput the final touches onher interpretationinSessions 28to30,
Gabrielacontinued todistilasetofexpressivecuesfrom the largersetof
interpretive cues.Thiswas reflected in the repetition ofexpressive per-
formance cues during runs, which provided opportunities to evaluate
expressive goals and link them to the interpretiveperformancecueson
which they were based. Evidence that this process of distillation and
reorganization was completed by the end ofthe learning process came
from recall ofthe piecemorethan 2yearslater.Atthistime,expressive
cues, along with section boundaries, organized the piece in Gabriela's
memory.Itseemslikelythattheexpressivecueswereinplacebytheendof
Session 31becauseitwasherethatGabrielareported theexpressivecues
for SectionC.
IncreasingtheTempo (Sessions 3144)
Thelearningprocessmighthaveconcludedatthispoint,butGabrielawas
stillnotsatisfied.Thepiecestillneeded moreexcitement,moreenergy.At
thebeginning ofSession 31,sheannounced theintentiontoplayit"even
faster."Thenewtempocreateda"wildchitter-chatter.Adifferent music,
likeahiddenpolyphony, thatifyouplayabitsloweryoudon'thear."To
bringoutvoicesand syncopations, new dynamic features and pedalings
wereadded,bothrequiringpracticeincontext.
First,Gabrielaletit"adjustbyitself."Yetforsomepassages,notablythe
fugue inSectionD,thiswasnotenough.Movementshad tobesimplified
andthenumberofperformancecuesreduced.Thiswasdonewiththehelp
246 CHAPTER10
of the metronome and slowpractice.Repeatedlythe tempo was slowed
andthensystematicallyspeededup,astepatatime,untilthenewtarget
tempo was surpassed. During this process, runs were interrupted at
fingerings, and renewed workwasneeded ontechnicaldifficulties, both
typesofpracticenotseenforalongtime.Thesimplificationofmovements
had reduced theautomaticityofmotormemorysothatrenewedpractice
wasneeded to reinstate the patterns. Toreducethe number ofretrieval
cues, increasing reliance was placed on beginnings of sections and
interpretive performance cues, which both needed work as a result.
Retrievalfromlong-termmemorywasstilloftennotfastenough,resulting
inthedisruptionofrunsattheselocationsandatswitches,theothertypeof
retrievalcuewhoseoperationwascritical.
STAGE 6:MAINTENANCE (SESSIONS45-57)
Thelongtaskofincreasing thetempowasfinallycompleted inSession44.
Fromnow on, itwas amatter of"just basically[running]onceortwice
through everything." In the 2 weeks remaining before the recording
session,thepiecewashoned by regularrun throughs.Toavoid getting
stalefromoverpractice,however,theserunswerelimitedtoonceortwice
throughthepiece.
E L E V E N
CODA
Roger Chaffin, Mary Crawford, ana Gabriela Imreh
T
ht
Thethree of us started this project with different goals.Gabriela
wantedtogainunderstandingofhermemorizationprocesstoknowina
more systematic way what works for hertomake her practice more
efficient and rewarding.Shealsowanted touseourresultstohelpother
pianists, both students and professionalconcertartists. Rogerhoped to
extendthescientificliteratureonexpertmemorytoanewand interesting
domain and identify characteristicsofexpertpractice.Maryshared their
goalsandalsohopedtoexaminetheprocessofinterdisciplinarycollabora-
tion by using Gabriela's and Roger's research as a case study. In this
concludingchapter,we assess how wellwemet allthese goals.We first
address Gabriela's and Roger's goalsby summarizingwhat we learned
about memory, performance, and piano practice.We then address the
lessonslearned from our attempttoworktogether despite differences in
epistemological viewpoints, domains of expertise, and social positions.
Finally,eachofusspeaksbriefly abouthowwewerechanged bypartici-
patinginthisresearch.
247
248 CHAPTER11
WHATDIDWE LEARNABOUTMEMORY
ANDPERFORMANCE?
Whenwebegan,ourgoalwastoseewhetherprinciplesofexpertmemory
developedthroughthestudyofotherkindsofexpertisewouldapplytothe
memorization ofaconcertpianist. Becausethese principles were devel-
opedindomainslikechess,inwhichmotormemoryandaestheticconsid-
erations are minimal, we did not know how well they would apply to
pianoperformance.Ourconclusionisthattheydoapplyextremelywell.
They alsoprovidethekeytothesecondquestionwewantedtoanswer:
Whatdoesapianist thinkaboutwhileperforming? Ouranswers tothese
two questions turn out to be closely related. During a performance,
Gabriela thinks about memorycues thathavebeen carefully selected to
enhanceherexpressivegoals.Shetrainsherselfsothatthecuessheneeds
areavailablerapidlyand reliably.Someoftheretrievalcuesrepresent the
structure of the music, and others are performance cues representing
decisions about how the piece should be performed. Thehierarchical
structure of the music organizes these cues, with section boundaries,
switches,andperformancecuesmakingupthelowerlevelsoftheretrieval
hierarchy.
Withafast piecelikethe Presto,prolonged practiceisneeded tomake
theoperation ofretrievalcuesrapid enough tokeep up with thepaceof
performance.Likeotherexpertmemorists(Ericsson&Kintsch,1995),this
pianist engaged in extended practicetomakeretrievalfully automatic.
1
Useofaretrievalorganization allowstheperformertorecallthepieceto
mindandhandastheperformanceunfoldsandtokeeptrackofthecurrent
locationintheoverallstructureofthemusic.Theperformer'sconceptual
representationofthepieceprovidesreassurancethatrecoveryispossibleif
awrongturnistakenataswitchorifthereissomeothermajor disruption
totheperformance.Italsomakespossiblespontaneous,improvisational
adjustments during the course ofaperformancewithout destroying the
carefully balancedrelationships amongthevarioussectionsofthepiece.
Bykeeping theoverallstructureclearlyinmind, achange inonesection
can be carried through to similar sections or balanced by appropriate
changesincontrastingsections.
The Formal StructureActs asaMemory-
Retrieval Scheme
Expert pianists use the formal structure of the music to divide it into
sectionsforpractice.Duringthepractice-by-sectionsstage,Gabrielaworked
throughthepieceafewsectionsatatime,dividing itintosectionsonthe
CODA 249
basisoftheformalstructure.Boundariesintheformalstructurewereused
asstartingplacesforpracticesegments.Startingrepeatedly ataparticular
spotestablishes itasaretrievalcuesothatlaterthepianistisabletostart
playingatthatspotsimplybysummoningittomind.Wewereabletosee
theeffects ofthiswhenGabrielarecalledthescoretwoyearslater.Because
thebeginnings ofsectionswereused asretrievalcues,theywereremem-
bered better.
Gabriela's attention to the formal structurewas alsoevident incom-
ments that identified boundaries between sectionsfor example, "[I]
probablyhitanotherrepeatofthemaintheme"(Session 2).Shealsonoted
theneed tomakeadeliberatepoint ofnot startingatsection boundaries.
"Eventually Idobreakawayfrom [startingatboundaries . . . . inorder]
nottohavecutsinmymemory..." (Session12).
Dootherexpertpianistsusetheformalstructuretoorganizepracticein
thesameway?Clearlytheydo.ThepianiststudiedbyMiklaszewski(1989)
divided upthepieceforpracticeintosectionsthatwerereportedlybased
on the formal structure, as did the student pianists studied by Aaron
Williamon(1999;Williamon&Valentine,2000,2002).Directobservational
evidencefrom thepracticeofotherconcertpianistsislacking,but several
of the pianists in chapter 3 mentioned using the musical structure to
memorize. Aliciade Larrochafinds memory more reliablefor the form
than forthe rhythm; Edwin Hughes recommends memorizing the form
right from the start;BennoMoiseiwitschand Olga Samaroff recommend
memorizingbysections.MorizRosenthalrecommendsunderstanding the
structure first away from the piano. Maurice Dumesnil appears to be
referringtowhatwehavecalledswitcheswhenhesaysthathememorizes
"afewflag-posts"thatinclude"thevariancebetweenrepeatsoneandtwo
in the classicalsonata."With a little reading between the lines, several
others who donot explicitlymention structurecanbe added tothe list.
Surely the mental practicerecommended byJohnBrowningandWalter
Giesekinginvolvesattentiontostructureand,likewise,thememorizingof
musicalprogressions thatVladimirAshkenazyprefers.
Whatofthosewhoseaccountsseemtosuggestthatconceptualmemory
playsnopartwho,likeJorgeBoletandRudolfFirkusny,claimthattheir
memories are "almost one hundred percent aural" or who, likeErnest
Hutcheson and Mitja Nikisch,trust "unconscious memory"? Webelieve
that if these pianists had been asked whether they could describe the
formal structureofthe pieces theywereplaying, they would reply,"Of
course!" This is what Rita Aiello (2000a) found when she interviewed
seven concert pianists about how they memorized.
2
Williamon (1999)
reached asimilarconclusionwhenheaskedtwoprofessionalpianists to
learn two pieces and then describe the aspects they focused on while
250 CHAPTER11
performing.Justbecausesomeofthepianistsinchapter3didnot mention
memorizing form doesnotmean that theydonotdoso.Many reported
studying theformal structureofpieces theywerelearning,but appeared
not to think ofthis as memorization. Others,likeAbbeySimon, simply
preferrednottothinkabouthowtheymemorize.
ThePerformerThinksAboutPerformanceCues
Whatanartistthinksaboutaffects theaestheticimpactoftheperformance
on the audience. Ideally, the performer wants to be thinking about
expressive goals for the piece. To focus attention on expression, the
performerneedstopracticethinkingaboutthesegoalsduring practiceso
thattheyspringreadilytomindduringtheperformance.Nottopreparein
thisway istoriskthepossibility that distractionswill intrude. Withthe
adrenalineinducedhyperalertnessthatgenerallyoccursonstage,thereare
toomanyopportunities fordistraction:coughsandrustlesintheaudience,
idiosyncrasies oftheinstrument, anticipationofproblems and difficulties
inthemusic.
Evenwhen anartistplanstorelyontheinspiration ofthemomentas
Gabriela did to a large extent with the other piece whose practice we
recorded, ClairdeLunespontaneitymustbeprepared.Themindmustbe
trained toattendtotheperformancecuesthatelicitthelooked-forinspira-
tion.Somedegreeofimprovisationisimportanteveninapieceashighly
prepared as the Presto.It rapidly becomesboring to perform apiece in
exactlythesamewayeverytime,sotheartistaddslittlesubtleties tomake
each performance more interesting and original. For these nuances of
interpretation toenhancetheexpressiveimpactofthepiece,theperformer
has to have its expressive shape clearly in mind. This requires that
expressiveperformancecuescometomindautomaticallyandreliably.
The idea ofperformancecues developed gradually. The germ of the
ideacamefromGabriela'sconversationwithherteacher,HaraldWagner,
about how toprepare forher debut inthe United States (chap.3).They
talked of the weeks immediately before an important performanceasa
timetoremapthinking,reworkingeverydetailtofocusontheartisticand
inspirationalelementsofthemusicsoastoenteratrancelikestateinwhich
worriesanddetailscouldbeput inthebackgroundandtheperformance
could be governed by artisticgoals. Later,when Rogercameto talkto
Gabriela's studentsabout the psychology ofmemory,his descriptionof
retrievalcuesandhowtheycouldbeorganizedintohierarchiestoimprove
recallconnectedwiththeseearlierideas(chap.2).Westartedtotalkabout
the process as one ofrechunkingoverlayinglower levelretrievalcues
used inthe earlierstages ofpracticewithnew, higher level cues.Asshe
CODA 251
learned thePresto,Gabrieladescribed theretrievalcuesshewasusingon
threeoccasions(Sessions12,17,and24).ThenextstepcamewhenGabriela
satdown and put thisinformationontoacopyofthe score(after Session
31). Shedivided her retrieval cues into three performance dimensions,
giving tangibleshapetoideasthat shehad been mulling overforalong
time.Fromthereitwasasimplesteptoidentifyingperformancecueswith
the psychologicalconcept ofretrievalcuesand theremapping ofHarald
Wagner'sprescriptionwiththeextendedpracticeofretrievalcuesusedby
otherkindsofexpert memorists.
According to Gabriela,performancecues are selected and practiced
duringthepolishingstage.Soitwaswithsomesurpriseandconsternation
that Roger discovered, as he ran the regression analyses on the initial
practice sessions, that the performance cues had been singled out for
special attention right from the start.Asreported inchapter 8,Gabriela
wasdelightedbecauseitsuggestedthatherinterpretationhadbegunwith
the overall musical shape of the piece rather than evolving in a more
piecemeal fashion.True,but italso suggested that Gabrielawas wrong
whenshesaidthatsherechunkedthings, trainingherselftouse different,
higherlevelretrievalcuesinperformancethanshedidinpractice.Wasshe
wrongwhen shesaidthat"the artistic,inspirationalelements"ofapiece
were emphasized in the final weeks before a performance?IfGabriela
startedfocusingonperformancecuesmuchearlier,whatistobemadeof
thisclaim?Ittookusalongtimetoreconciletheapparentconflictbetween
thepianist'saccountofwhatshedidandwhatwewereabletoextractfrom
thepracticerecords.
AsGabrielarecognizedwithsuchdelightwhenshefirstheardaboutthe
regression results, the effects ofperformancecues in the earlypractice
sessions show that the detailed, practicaldecisions about fingering,dy-
namics,phrasing,andpedalingwerebeingdeterminedbylargermusical
goalsthat laterbecameperformancecues.Butthis earlyidentificationof
performancecueswasnecessarilytentative.Theoperationofperformance
cuesisadelicateandcomplicatedprocessthatcannotbefully anticipated
evenbyanexpert.Cuesmustbetested atperformancetempoand inthe
contextofthewholepiecetoseewhatworksand whatdoesnot.Someof
thefeaturesidentifiedearlyonaslikelyproblemsforperformanceturnout
nottobeproblemsafterallandarenotneededasperformancecues.Others
mustberechunked and subsumed under ahigher levelfeaturetoreduce
performancecuestoamanageablenumber.
Sometimesrechunkingissimplyamatterof"wrapping"alowerlevel,
basicfeatureinsideaninterpretiveorexpressivecue.Bygivinganexpres-
sive gloss to a difficulty the pianist isabletoprevent the problem from
interrupting the emotional flow of the music. The lower level detail is
252 CHAPTER 11
rechunked, becoming part of an interpretive or expressive goal. This is
whatwashappening duringpolishing forthe first performance.Inthese
sessions,therenewed effectsofthebasicandinterpretivedimensionsbear
witnessthattheremappingprocessinvolved "reworking everydetail."At
the same time, effects of structure, interpretive performancecues, and
expressivecuessupport theidea thatthelower levelfeatureswerebeing
linked tothesehigherlevelcuesintheretrievalhierarchy.
On other occasions, rechunking is needed to eliminate cues. This
happened after thedecisiontoincreasethetempoinSession31requireda
majorreorganizationofcuesforthefugue (SectionD).FirstGabriela tried
toletit"adjustbyitself," simply dropping ormergingadjacent cues,but
this was not enough. Amoreradicalrealignment was needed. Gabriela
describeditas"miserable work"asshestartedatslowspeeds,playingthe
samesectionsoverandoveratsteadilyincreasingtempitoestablishanew
setofperformancecues.
Althoughuseofperformancecuesbeginsearlyon,rechunkingdoesnot
become a major focus ofpracticeuntil the pianist isready topolish the
piece.It isthiswinnowing, inthe final approach to aperformance,that
Gabriela had inmind when she said that polishing involved practicing
performancecues.Thisiswhentheexpressive performance cuesmustbe
practicedrepeatedlyuntiltheyautomaticallyelicitalltheother,lowerlevel
cues. Letting go ofthe lower level cues allows the artist to achieve the
trancelikestateoffocusedattentionassociatedwithoptimalperformance.
At the same time, the lower level cues must still be available in case
something goes wrong. In this case, the expressive cue may not be
sufficient and abasicor interpretive performance cueisneeded tokeep
thingsontrack.
Whenapieceisfirstmemorized,itsperformanceiscontrolledprimarily
through the basic performance cues. As performance becomes more
polished,thesebecome wrapped inand subsumed byinterpretive per-
formancecues.Finally,controlistransferredtoexpressivecues.Wecansee
thisprocessinthethreesuccessivedescriptionsthatGabrielagaveofwhat
shewaspayingattentiontoassheplayed.The"map ofthepiece"givenat
theendofSession17wasprimarilyalistofbasiccuesandswitches.Bythe
timethepiecewasreadyforperformanceattheendofSession24,themuch
longerandmoredetaileddescriptionof"whatIamworkingon" consisted
primarilyofinterpretiveperformancecues.However,itissignificantthat
almostnoexpressivecueswerementioned. Thepiecewasnotquiteready.
AlthoughGabrielawasgoingtoperformitforthefirst timethenextday,
the final stepofdistillingasmall setofexpressive cues out ofthe larger
massofinterpretiveperformancecueswasnotyetcomplete.Thisisnotto
saythatthefirst performancewasnotexpressive.Alotofexpression was
CODA 253
built into the basic and interpretive cues and the motor memories they
controlled. But expression was not yet at the top level of the retrieval
hierarchy.ItwasnotthefocusofGabriela'sattentionassheperformed.
Whatshewassurelythinkingaboutduringthatfirstperformancewere
thecuesthatshehad listed thedaybeforeinSession24.Heretheyarefor
SectionC.
I'm trying tobring out, in 77[startofCa],the C's and Fin left hand at the
beginningofeachbar.AndI'mstilltryingtodoafairlyaggressive[endingto
theCasections... PLAYS},justinlefthand.AndthenIreturntoverylightly
pianissimo[atthebeginningofthesecondCasection].Andagain,justthe left
hand B-flat (accented), and then I return to pianissimo [in bar 85, the
beginning ofCb]. . . . And that gives me again room foranice crescendo
in86and on.
Thereislittlementionofexpressionhere.Evenaggressiveseemstobemore
about the technicality ofending aphrase with an emphasis than about
expressing aggression.
Theexpressivegoalsbehind these interpretive effects werenotarticu-
lated untilsixpracticesessionslater,aftersession31,whenGabrielalisted
theexpressivecuesshewasusingforSectionC.Inthisreport,the"C's and
Finthelefthand atthebeginning ofeachbar"aretransmuted into"Light
butmysterious." The"fairlyaggressiveending"becomes"Surprise."The
"return toverylightlypianissimo"becomes"Holdback."The"return to
pianissimo [giving]room foranicecrescendo" becomes "Start building
crescendo" followedby"Noholdingback."Weseehere,inthe pianist's
ownwords,theprocess ofrechunking.BetweenSessions 17and 24,basic
performance cueswerefolded intointerpretiveperformancecues.Between
Sessions 24and 32,interpretiveperformancecuesweresubsumed under
expressive cues.
Whenapieceisfullypolished,thepianistplayswithexpressivecuesin
the spotlight, getting the full focus ofattentionevery time.During final
polishing,rechunkingestablishesexpressivecuesatthetopofthetangled
hierarchy ofretrievalcues.Activatingthe conceptual memoryfor a cue
like, surprise or hold back in working memory elicits an echo of the
corresponding feelings in the pianist, as well as the full set of motor
responses requiredtoput itintoeffect. Atthesametime,thelevelsofthe
hierarchy immediately above (the sections and switches of the formal
structure)andbelow(theinterpretiveperformancecues)formapenumbra
on the fringes of awareness ready to be called on when needed. For
example, if the expressive cue surprise in Section C of the Presto is not
sufficient, then thinkingofthedynamicemphasis ontheA,which intro-
254 CHAPTER11
ducesthispassage,should accomplishthesameend.Inanidealperform
ance,onlythetoplevelsarecalledon,butidealperformancesarenotthe
norm,andthepianistispreparingfortheworst.Evenonabadday,when
the pianist has to struggle with the piece, if the basic and interpretive
performancecuesaredoingtheirjob,thenotesarethereandtheaudience
hasnoinklingofthestrugglethatliesbehind it.Thisistheartand skillof
performance.
Sotheanswer toour first questionabouthow aconcertpianistmemo-
rizes isthat shepracticesusing performancecuesasretrievalcues until
they functionrapidly and reliably. Their operation must besosure that
theynotonlyguaranteenote-perfectperformance,butalsopermitrecov-
eryfrom distractionsandmistakes.Theanswertooursecond questionis
thesame.Whatthepianistthinks aboutduringperformance iscarefully
selectedandpracticedretrievalcuesthatproduceareliableandexpressive
performance.
Wehopethatbydrawingattentiontothisaspectofthepreparationfor
performance and describingindetailhowitworks,wecanhelp pianists
improvetheirownplayingforaudiences.Forourreaderswhoarepianists,
wesuggest thatyou reflect onyourown useofperformancecues.Every
musicianusesthem.Itisjustamatterofwhether theselectionismoreor
lessdeliberateandmoreorlesswellprepared. Bydescribing and naming
them,wehopetohelppianistsattendtotheirimportanceandhelpteachers
betterconveytotheirstudentsthestepsneededtopreparefullyforplaying
inpublic.
WHATARETHE CHARACTERISTICS OF
EFFECTIVE PRACTICE?
Aresomeformsofpracticemoreeffective thanothers?Itseemslikelythat
high levels ofability in any field are due,at least in part, to the useof
strategies that make the most of time spent in practice.Observing the
practice of an accomplished artist provided an opportunity to identify
characteristicsthatmighthavecontributed toher high levelofskill.We
observedthesamecharacteristicsofexpertpracticefoundinearlierstudies
of experienced pianists (chap.5)and identifiedothers that were not so
evidentinearlierstudies.Webeginwiththelatter.
The "Rage to Master"
One feature of Gabriela's practice that undoubtedly contributed to its
effectiveness was the concentration with which she worked. On the
CODA 255
videotapes, sheappears tobetotallyabsorbed inwhat sheisdoing.The
paceisunrelenting.Onepracticesegment followsanotherwithout pause.
Theonlybreaksthatoccurwith anyregularity aretotalktothecamera,
and often shescarcelystopsforthat.Intheearlysessions,thefast tempo
createsanimpression offrenzied activity.Practicesegments arecontinu-
allyinterrupted tocorrectfingeringswithsuchspeedthatwedidnoteven
trytorecordtheserapid-firecorrections,adoptinginsteadthestutter-rule
(chap.6)toexcludethemfrom ourpracticerecords.Whenaskedwhy she
had playedsofastintheseearlysessions, Gabriela responded,
Iprobablyplayed faster thanIshould have.Iamimpatientand Iprobably
makeitharder formyself,but when Istartonanew piece,Ihavesuchan
appetitetotakeholdofitand makeitmine.
ThisiswhatEllenWinner(1996b)calledthe ragetomaster.
3
Itproducesa
concentrated absorption inthelearning process thathasbeencharacter-
ized asflow by Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi (1988). Flow is
characteristic ofcreativeengagement, generally occurring when people
areworking,likeGabriela,onchallenging,self-assignedtasksthattheyare
highlymotivatedtoaccomplish(Custodero,2000).This"appetitetotake
hold"isbehind manyfeatures ofGabriela'spractice:intensity ofconcen-
tration,willingnesstoworklonghours,focusongoals,continuous moni-
toring and evaluation ofprogress, varied use ofpracticestrategies, and
division of practice into work and runs. We say a little about each
characteristicinturn.
Concentration
Inanattempttocapturesomething ofthe focused intensityofGabriela's
practice,wemeasured therateofpracticeandtheratiobetween thisrate
andtheaveragetempoofthesession,lookingforaquantitativemeasureof
theintensityofeffort thatwasevidentonthevideotapes. Contrarytoour
initial expectations, we had to conclude that intense concentration was
reflected inlowratesofpracticeandlowrate/tempo ratiosratherthanby
high values (chap.6).Intense problem solving requires alotof thought,
and thinking takestime.Forthechallenging Presto,therate/temporatio
was an astonishing one third. Gabriela spent most ofher practicetime
playingbelowthetargettempoofthemoment.Theslowertempi, pauses,
and hesitations allowedtimeforhertothinkaboutand controlwhatshe
was doing. Two thirds ofpracticetime was taken up with this kindof
thinking. Effortful indeed!
256 CHAPTER 11
Wecannotknowforsurewhetherthelowrate/practiceratiosthatwe
found for Gabriela's practice are a general characteristic of effective
practice and high task involvement. We need a comparison with the
practiceoflessskilledandlessmotivatedmusicians.OneexampleisJames
RenwickandGaryMcPherson's(2000)studyofstudentpractice.Aspartof
alongitudinalstudyofmusicaldevelopment,ninestudentsinvolvedina
primaryschoolbandprogramvideotapedtheirpracticesessions periodi-
cally over severalyears.One younggirl,aclarinetist,spent most ofher
practice on task, simply playing through one piece after another, not
noticing mistakes and not stopping to repeat anything. This style of
practice would be reflected in a high rate/practice ratio.Then one day
during alesson,her teacherplayed ajazz piece forher thatcaught her
interest. The difference in the next practice session was dramatic.She
struggled with thenew piece,playing the sameshort passage over and
over.Inbetweenrepetitions, shesatstaringatthemusic,tryingto figure
outhowtoreproducethesoundsshehadheard.Farmoretimewastaken
upwiththinkingthanwithplaying.Therate/temporatioforthis session
wouldhavebeenevenlowerthanGabriela's.Thestudent clarinetistfirst
dutiful but uninvolved, then activelyengaged in her musicmaking
shows usthatstoppingtothink(anditsresultinglowrate/temporatios)
mightbeageneralcharacteristicofeffortful, rage-to-masterpractice.
Adapting therate/tempo ratioforusewith student musiciansisnot
straightforward. Most of McPherson and Renwick's students spent a
considerableamountoftimeofftask(McPherson&Renwick,2000).Inone
sadinstance,atrumpetstudent spentmoretimeurginghismotherthatit
wastimetostopthanhedidpracticing.Incaseslikethis,higherratesof
practice obviously reflect more effort, rather than less. Only when the
student isontask,liketheclarinetist,do lowerrate/tempo ratios reflect
greater effort. However, with suitable boundary conditions, the rate/
tempo ratio should provide researchers with a useful measure of the
effortfulness ofpracticeand may provide a way to identify the rage to
masterand flowthatappeartocharacterizeeffectivepractice.
Goal Setting
Approaching a new piece with an "appetite to takehold"ofthe music
transformsadifficultandtime-consumingchoreintoatriumphalprogress
toabeautiful,exciting,andperfectperformance.Problemsand difficulties
become stepping stones to this goal rather than obstacles. Gabriela's
learning of ClairdeLuneinjust4hours shows us how short the road to
mastery canbe,whereas the Prestoshows usjust how longitcanbeon
otheroccasions.
CODA 257
Whether the road was long or short, the pianist remained on target,
continuallysettingup subgoals thatwould bringherclosertowhereshe
wanted tobe."Iamgoingtogobacktothefirstpageortwoandgetthem
really good" (Session 9).Forexample, the initial goals were to identify
familiar patterns, decide on fingerings, solve technical difficulties, and
map out the formal structure.These goalswere reflected inmanycom-
mentsduringthesection-by-sectionstage(chap.7)aswellastheeffects on
practiceintheregressionanalysesofsamesessions (chap.8).
"Justtryingtoseeifthe fingerings matchtogether."(Session1)
"It's reallyalogistic[al]problemhere...thehandsgettooclose."(Session2)
"Tinychanges[inatheme]aresometimestheworst."(Session2)
We might expect to see some decrease in problem solving during
polishing.Surelythepianistcouldrelaxalittleand enjoyherhard-earned
accomplishment. This isnot what seemed to happen. Instead, Gabriela
keptlookingforproblems."I'm running throughmyprogram,fixinglittle
things..." (Session43).Workcontinuedtobeasignificantpartofpractice
even during the final polishing, accounting for 5%of practice during
Sessions31to44.OnlywhenpolishingwasfinallycompleteddidGabriela
stoplookingforproblems.Thenshecalleditmaintenance,notpractice,and
didnotconsideritworthrecordingforour study.
Evaluation
Just asimportant assetting goals isevaluating how well they are met.
Gabrieladidthiscontinually,assessingeveryaspectofherplayingaswell
asthe effectiveness ofthe learning strategiesshewas using. Mostofher
comments about basic, interpretive, and performance issues involved
evaluationonthedimension inquestion:
"Thisisaterriblybigextension."(Session2)
"Myfingergetsstuck.Thatpartissohardtoholdthosenotes."(Session13)
"Iwouldsaythat'sanexcellent tempo."(Session31)
Otherevaluativecommentswerenotdirectedataparticulardimension,
but expressed amoregeneralsatisfactionordissatisfaction.
258 CHAPTER 11
"Nottoobad. . . . " (Session17)
"That'saboutamilliontimesbetter...."(Session20)
These nonspecific evaluative comments were more frequent than any
other single category,accountingfor38%ofthe total.Evaluationwas all
pervasive. Toimprove, onemust know what needs tobechanged, and
Gabrielahad noshortageofideas.
Practice Strategies
Expert musicians have awide range ofpracticestrategies and use them
flexibly(Chapter5).ThiswascertainlytrueofGabriela'spractice.Sheused
a variety of strategies, dealing with everything from the selection of
fingerings,totheschedulingofpracticesessions,tothemanagementofher
own physical and mental state. Effective strategies make practice more
efficient. The range and subtlety of the strategies Gabriela used in her
practice were undoubtedly important in attaining the level of artistry
evident intheCDperformanceofthe Presto.
Wealreadymentioned twoimportant examples:theuse ofthe formal
structure to organize practice and practice of performancecues. Other
strategies are evident in the effects of different types ofcomplexity on
practice.Forexample,earlyworkonfingeringwastheresultofthegeneral
strategy ofmaking these decisions at the outset: "I have to find a good
fingering" (Session1).
Thecaretaken with fingerings was part ofa larger strategy ofnever
doinganythingthatwould interferewithlaterlearningorthatwouldhave
tobe unlearned. Forexample, whenever sheused the wrong fingering,
Gabrielawould immediatelycorrectit.AsecondexamplewasGabriela's
unwillingnesstoplaythePrestofrommemorywhenshewasaskedtodoso
2years later.Sheknew that thewrong notes shewould inevitably play
would interferewhenshecametorelearnthepiece.
Otherstrategiesminimizedtheamountofplayingrequiredtoachievea
goal.Forexample,memoryretrievalwassometimespracticedby running
uptoaretrievalcueandstopping.Gabrielaalsodescribedusing akindof
"Reader's Digest"reviewbeforeaperformance,runningthroughthepiece
starting ateachretrievalcueandplayingjustafewnotes(chap.9).
Themost direct and detailed evidence ofthe use ofstrategies comes
from comments made duringpractice.Strategiesofmanydifferent sorts
laybehind themanydecisions aboutbasicand interpretive features and
CODA 259
performance cues (chaps.7and 9).Thecomments often mentioned the
strategyinvolvedinmakingthesedecisions.Otherstrategiesinvolvedthe
fine-grained divisionofthemusicintosegments forpracticeandidentifi-
cationofgoalsforeachpracticesession.
Scheduling? Practice
Gabriela'sschedulingstrategiesbeganwiththedecisiontostartlearning
the Presto10monthsbeforethetargetedperformancedate,allowingtime
torelearn ittwice. (Incontrast,practice ofthe mucheasier ClairedeLune
beganonly6weeksbeforethetargetedperformancedate.)Thespacingof
practice sessions changed over the course of the learning process. In
schedulingsessionsduringPeriods1and2,Gabrielatriedhardtopractice
onconsecutivedaystominimize theopportunity forforgettingbetween
sessions andbemoaned thedemandsonhertimethatmadeitimpossible
todoso.Duringthethirdperiod,incontrast,sessionsweremore spread
outandthelearningperiodwaslonger.
MonitoringEnergy Levels
The concentratedattentionrequired for effective practicetakes a lotof
energy.Monitoringenergylevelsandstoppingwhenefficiency decreases
maybeanothercharacteristicofexpertpractice.Gabrielawascarefultosee
thatshehad theenergysheneeded.Whenshegottootired,she stopped
even if it was not convenient. For example, in Session 4, she stopped
reluctantly,loathetogiveuponcompletingsection-by-sectionworkonthe
wholepiece.Afternotingthatshewastootired,shecarriedonforanother
15minutes,buteventuallystoppedwithoutreachinghergoal.
Work and Runs
Anotherfeatureofpracticethatstemsfromthedesiretomasterthepiecein
the shortest possible timeisits division into work (tosolve aproblem)
followedbyruns(toevaluatetheeffectivenessofthesolution).Miklaszewski
(1989) found this same pattern in the pianist he studied. The pianist
identifiesaproblemandworksonfindingasolution.Thenthesolutionis
testedinalongerrun.Ifitissatisfactory,thepianistmoveson.Ifnot,more
workensues.Repeatingshortsegmentsallowsthepianisttofocusonthe
specificproblemtobeaddressed withaminimumofdistraction.
WeinitiallydistinguishedbetweenworkandrunsbecauseGabriela felt
that was how she organized her practice. The record bears thisout,
showingpracticeorganizedintoblocksofworkseparatedbyruns.Thefact
260 CHAPTER11
that thispattern continued throughout thelearning process strengthens
theideathatitisessential. Evenduring finalpolishing, whentheaverage
run segment covered aquarter ormoreofthe entire piece, the lengthof
work segments remained remarkably constant at 3to 5bars in length.
Worksegments lengthened slightlyonlyinsessions wherethefocus was
onplaying frommemory,whentheaveragelengthincreased to6to9bars.
Dootherpianistsorganizetheirpracticeintoworkandrunsinthesame
way? Again, we suspect so. We already mentioned that Miklaszewski
(1989,1995)found thistypeoforganizationintheexperiencedpianists he
studied.Even relatively inexperienced pianistsappear toorganize their
practice in this way (Williamon,1999, Appendix C).
4
It seems that this
aspectofeffectivepracticeislearnedearlyon.Theabilitytofocusworkon
specificproblemsmay,however, continuetodevelop withexperience.
Use orthe Formal Structure
Use of the formal structure may be another characteristic of effective
practice.WehavealreadydiscussedGabriela'srelianceonthisstructureas
a retrieval scheme. Using structural boundaries as starting places is an
essential part ofthis strategybecauseitestablishes structural features as
retrievalcues.
Students aretaught tousetheformalstructuretodivideup apiecefor
practice, and they appear to master this fairly early. Aaron Williamon
found that students at alllevels oftraining used this strategy, although
theirdivisionsdidnotalwayscorrespondexactlywiththeformalstructure
of the piece (Williamon, 1999; Williamon & Valentine, 2002). If using
structuralboundariesasstartingpointsiseffective,thenstudentswhodoit
moreshould performbetterthanthosewhodoitless.Thisisexactlywhat
Williamon and Valentine found. Students who used this strategy gave
better performances. Why? Because starting at boundaries established
themasretrievalcuestobeattended toduringperformance.Becausethe
composers' expressive intentions are encoded in the musical structure,
directing attention to structural features makes the performancemore
expressive.Thisistheideabehindtheconceptofperformancecuesthatit
matterswhatapianistthinksaboutduringperformance.
Anticipationof Future Goals
Expertshavetheabilitytoanticipatefuture developments. Chessmasters
playing lightning chessanticipate developmentsmuch later inthe game
eventhoughtheycannotbethinkingmorethanafewmovesahead(Gobet
&Simon,1996b).Previousexperienceallowsthem torecognizethesimi-
CODA 261
larityofthecurrentsituationtopreviousgames,andtomakegoodchoices
onthisbasiswithoutexplicitlythinkingthroughtheconsequences.Simi-
larly,when amusicianencountersanewpieceofmusic,experiencewith
similar pieces provides a useful guide to interpretation and expression
eventhoughinitialdecisionscannotbefully evaluateduntillater.
The ability to anticipate future decisions isparticularlyimportant in
selecting fingerings because relearning a fingering is so much more
difficult than learning it in the first place. This is why fingerings for
studentsaredictatedbyeditorsandteachers.Experiencedpianists, how-
ever,typicallymaketheirowndecisions,choosingfingeringssuitedtothe
physicalcharacteristicsoftheirownhandsand training.
Morethanotherfeaturesofexpertpractice,anticipationofinterpretive
decisionsmaybeastrategythatstudents cannotadoptdeliberately.Most
studentshavemorethanenough todowhentheyfirstencounter apiece
just identifying familiar patterns,selecting fingerings, and copingwith
technical difficulties (Hallam,1997b). The abilityto anticipate aesthetic
goalsdependsonprior experience.Theremaybeno substitute forlong
yearsofexposuretothe repertoire.
WHATDIDWE LEARNABOUT
INTERDISCIPLINARYCOLLABORATION?
Asdescribedinchapter2,thereweremanydifferences amongthepartici-
pantsinthisproject.Wediffered intheweightwewerepreparedtogiveto
scientific explanations, in our views of the importance of talent versus
practice in artistic expertise, in the vested interests we brought to the
research, and even in our basic epistemological assumptions. We all
expected that these differences would affect our collaboration,creating
difficulties andmisunderstandings, but wecouldnotforeseeexactlyhow
theseproblemswouldarise.
Thedifference wewereperhaps mostawareofwas thatthenormsof
psychological research positioned Gabriela as a subject rather than an
activeagentintheresearch.Weallworkedhardthroughouttheprojectto
minimizetheimplicitpowerhierarchybroughtaboutbyRogerandMary's
status aspsychologists and expertson behavior.Wewanted Gabriela's
own understanding of her expertise to have equal weight with our
outsiders' account.Tothatend,wedeterminedtheorderofauthorship on
this book at the start, and we attempted to integrate the first-person
accounts ofGabrielaand the other pianists inchapter 3with the third-
262 CHAPTER 11
person account provided by Roger. Yeteven after nearly a decadeof
workingtogether,thedifferingsocialpositionsofthethreecollaborators
sometimes affected theprojectandourrelationships witheachother.
AnexampleoccurredwhenRogerappliedforaninternalgrantfromhis
universitytoextendtheresearch.HeandGabrielaagreedthatthebudget
would include asmallfeetobepaidtoGabrielaasanexpertsubject.The
feeseemed asuitablewaytomarkthedifference inthepotentialrewards
that spending time on the research might bring to each of them. As
described in chapter 2,for Roger the rewards include publications, in-
creased professional status, and grants. In contrast, time involved in
researchforGabrielaistimeawayfromtheactivitiesthatwillincreaseher
professionalstatusperformingandmarketingherskills.Whenthegrant
wasreceived,however,Gabrieladecided thatonfurther reflectionselling
herpracticeinthiswaywasdemeaninganddeclinedthefee.Duringthis
process, there was considerable misunderstanding ofeachother's posi-
tions,andMary'sattemptstomediatewerelargelyunsuccessful.Looking
backonit,webelievethatthisconflictcameaboutbecauseourprojectdid
not fit the norms for psychological research, with their clearhierarchy
betweentheexpertexperimenterandthecompliant,naivesubject.Wehad
nonormative way to represent in the structureofour project the equal
collaborationwealldesired.
In contrast, the differing epistemological perspectives brought to the
projectbyRogerandMarydidnotbecomecauseforconflict.Throughout
the project, empiricism reigned, as Roger developed his quantitative
analyses ofGabriela'spracticeand uncovered the various relationships
betweenthem.Mary'ssocialconstructionistperspectivehadsomeimpact,
asGabrielaandRogerwereencouragedtoreflect ontheirinvolvementin
theproject,whatitmeanttoeachofthem,and howitchangedthem.The
projectandthisbookarenodoubtagreatdealmoreself-reflexivethan
they would have been without this influence.However, there remain
important aspects ofthe socialand historicalframework ofthisresearch
project that havebeen kept in thebackground. Whatwillbe the fateof
playing serious music from memoryindeed of playing it at allin a
digitalandsynthesizederawhenclassicalmusicmakesuplessthan2%of
music sales?Are we studying a dying art? Are the loss ofprivacy and
artistic mystique for the performer,described by Gabrielain chapter3,
relatedtothisdecline?Questions liketheseformpartofthesocialcontext
ofourresearch,buthavenotbeenintegratedintoour analysis.
Oneeffect ofourinterdisciplinarycollaborationhasbeentoproblematize
theideaofmusicalgenius. Byshowing ingreaterdetailthanever before
justhowanoutstanding musicalperformanceiscreated,wehaveopened
up the constructoftalent foranew kind ofexamination.Theview that
CODA 263
extraordinary musical abilities only depend on some special, inborn
geniusishardertomaintainwhenweseejusthowmuchworkgoesinto
thepreparationandhoningofthoseskills,evenforsomeonewhosetalents
havebeenrecognized sincechildhoodandwhohasbeendeveloping her
skillseversince.Onthe onehand,GabrielaperformedClairdeLune from
memoryafter lessthan5hoursofpracticethekind offeatthatseemsto
supporttheideaofmusicalskillasaGod-given gift thatarises spontane-
ouslywithouteffort.Ontheotherhand,ittook33hourstobringthePresto
totheperfectionofthe recordedperformance.At 11hoursofpracticefor
each minute ofperformance,this is workby any reckoning. Practiceis
essential, even for the very talented, even after a lifetime devoted to
practiceandplaying.
Ofcourse,thisdoesnotmeanthattalentisunimportant.Wearedivided
ontheissue.Gabriela,themusician,isconvincedfromherownexperience
as a pianist and teacher that talent isessential. When she meets a new
student forthe first time,shefeels thatshecanusuallytellthestudent's
potentialveryquickly.Hardwork,goodteaching,anddeterminationare
necessary, to be sure, but the student's musical abilities determine the
outcomeofalltheeffort. Withoutthenecessarygifts,studentand teacher
willlaborin vain.Themixtureis different foreachindividual,Gabriela
maintains. Somehave more talent,othersmorecapacity forhard work.
Therareindividualhasboth.Thetwopsychologists,RogerandMary,are
lessconvinced.Clearlythenotionoftalentispartofanimportantideology,
shapingpeople'schoicesandactions.Itsroleasacausalfactorislessclear.
Theenormousimportanceofpracticeandtrainingleavealotlessfortalent
toexplainthaniscommonlysupposed.ToRogerandMary,itseemsmore
interestingtoseehowfardifferences intalentcanbeexplainedintermsof
differences in motivation and practiceskills.Can the effectiveness ofa
person'spracticebemodifiedthroughtheuseofbettertechniques?Wedo
not yet know,but we allbelievethat we havetaken some excitingand
useful stepstowardansweringthisquestion.
Our messageisanoptimisticone.Gabriela'sperformanceofthe Presto
was not simply the product of unreproducable and unattainable in-
gredientstalent,genius,andinspiration.Itwastheproductoflonghours
of hard work, focus on eachproblem to be solved, and effective useof
sophisticatedpracticestrategies.Thisisgoodnewsforthosewhoarenot
bornmusicians.AlthoughwemaynevermatchGabriela'stechnicalabil-
ity, dexterity, and individuality of interpretation, we can emulate the
processbywhichtheywerecreatedinimprovingourownskills.
Ifwearerightinourbeliefthatwehaveidentifiedsomeofthegeneral
characteristicsofexpertpractice,thenfutureresearchmayfindtheminthe
practiceofotherpianistswho perform atthesamelevelasGabrielaand,
264 CHAPTER11
moregenerally,intheworkofthose who achieveeminenceinany field.
Also,studentpianistswhosepracticehasmoreofthesecharacteristicswill
be found to progress faster and perform better than students whose
practicehas fewer ofthem.Finally,and mostimportant,thesame should
betrue ofstudent pianists who aretaughttopracticeinthese ways.We
have not demonstrated any ofthese things here, ofcourse, having just
identifiedkeycharacteristicsinthepracticeofoneperformer.Wedescribe
a program for our own and others' research that may lead to waysof
improvingtheperformanceofothers.
Wesetout tomakethetoolsofcognitivepsychology availableto the
artist to askher own questions abouthow shelearned and memorized
rather than starting with a set of hypotheses to be tested using the
performer as subject. This approach has proved fruitful for us, and we
hopeitprovidesausefulmodelforothers.Collaborationsbetweenartists
andresearchersseemtorepresentanaturalalliance(Davidson&Eiholzer,
inpress). Theperformersgetthe opportunity tolearnmore about what
theyaredoinginpractice,developingthemetacognitiveknowledgethatis
such a criticalpart ofexpertise.Theresearchers get to study important
skillsintheirnaturalsettings. Eachofus feels thatwegained something
important from thecollaboration.
REFLECTIONS:WHATDIDWE LEARNABOUT
OURSELVES?
TheCognitive Psychologist
When we started thisresearch,Ihad noidea what Iwasgettinginto
Gabriela'sinvitationjustseemed liketoogood anopportunity toignore.
However, the researchrapidlytookon a life ofits own.Colleagues and
students alikeresponded with extraordinaryenthusiasm. It seems that
everyonerelatestotheexperienceofgoingonstageandperformingfrom
memorybeforeanaudience.Inthemeantime,mymainlineofresearchon
semantic memory has become secondary in the time Idevote to it.My
amateur but enjoyable practice of playing the flute has been another
casualty.Ihavenotplayed forseveralyearsnow.However,asthisbook
goestopress,Ihopetopickupthefluteagain.WhenIdo,Iwillapproachit
differently. Thebiggest changeismyappreciationoftheimportanceofa
good teacher.WhenItookup the flute about5yearsbefore startingthis
research,IfeltthatanyteacherwhoknewmorethanIdidwouldbegood
CODA 265
enough. After seeingGabrielaatwork,bothasamusicianandateacher,I
now see it differently. The teacher isvital.There are many routes from
where you,thestudent,aretowhereyouwanttoget,buttheyarenotall
thesame length.Also therearedeadendstobeavoided.Thebetter the
teacher,thebetterthechanceofreachingthedestination and the shorter
theroute.
Moregenerally,doing this researchhas made meawareofthe differ-
ence between practice and play. I am an avid white-water kayaker,
paddlingtheriversoftheNortheasternUnitedStateswithsmallgroupsof
other experienced paddlers. Running a white-water river has much in
commonwithmusicalperformance.Onemustknowthedanger spotsand
trickyswitchesbeforehand.Onceontheriver,movesmustoftenbemade
rapidlywithinnarrowtimewindowsthatgrowsmallerasthespeedofthe
waterincreases.Inbothdomains,feedbackaboutadecisionisimmediate
and forceful. Apianist who has lost her place in Rachmaninoff's Third
while an entire orchestra roarsbehind her probably feels a lot like the
paddler who has just missed his line [route]in a Class Vrapid and is
headingdownthedropintoheavenknowswhat,improvisingand hoping
for thebest.ThesedayswhenIamonariver,InoticewhenIamworking
(buildingskills)and when Iamjustplayingaround.Mostly,Iplay,but I
have gained an increased appreciation for the importance of practice.
Going in and out ofa Class IIIhole ahundred times or rehearsing the
Eskimo roll until it is performed automaticallydespite the adrenaline
shockofbeingupside down inturbulentwaterarewaysofensuring the
reliability ofa motorskillforthe day when the unexpected happens in
performance.
The Social Psychologist
Althoughmypart inthisproject was relativelysmall,ithas affected my
thinkingbothasapsychologistandanamateurmusician.Ihavelongbeen
interested ininnovativemethodsforpsychologicalresearch (Crawford&
Kimmel,1999;Crawford&Marecek,1989).ObservingRogerand Gabriela
developoriginalwaysofconceptualizingtheirwork,obtainingdata, and
analyzingresultshasbeenauniqueexperienceforme.Ofcourse,Ihave
knownforalongtimethattheprocessofscientificresearchismuchmore
human,subtleandindividualized thantextbookaccountswould suggest.
Stillitwasfascinatingtowatchand recordaninstanceofcreativecollabo-
rationintheproductionofknowledgebytwosuchdifferent individuals.It
isatributetobothofthemthatafter nearlyadecadeofworkingtogether
acrossdifferences, ourmutualfriendshipisintact.
266 CHAPTER 11
Asamusiclover, Ibelieve thatbeingpart ofthis project has madeit
easier for me to feel comfortablewith my own skill level at the piano.
Instead ofthinking ofmyself asstupid orcompletelyuntalented whenI
stumble through a simple piece ofmusic, Irememberthe thousandsof
hoursofpracticerequiredforthedevelopment ofexpertise.IknowIwill
neverput inthosehoursindeed,likeRoger,Ivirtuallystopped playing
musicaswewrotethisbookbutIamcomfortedbythethought thatIFI
decided toput inthose thousands ofhoursand IFIdeveloped effective
practicestrategies,Icouldprobablyplayprettywell.Inastrangeway,this
allowsmetobumbleonhappilywhenIdohavetherareopportunitytosit
down atthepiano.
Ihavealsogainedincreasedrespectandadmirationfortheskillsand
the temerityof concertartistswho continuetoperform liveinanelec-
tronicera.Becausepeoplewholistentoclassicalmusicnowhearmostofit
in recorded form, technically perfect performances are the norm. This
increases the pressure for perfectionin live performances.Despite the
pressureorperhapsbecauseofit,liveperformancescanhaveanincompa-
rableexcitement.Aswewereinthelaststagesofwritingthisbook,Iturned
on the kitchenradioonemorning and recognized the first movementof
Rachmaninoff'sPianoConcerto#3inprogress.Iknewalmostimmediately
that this must be a live performance.There was a vitalityanelectric
charge of excitementthatcould only come from the high-wire actof
performingthisdifficultworkinrealtime,withpalpablereactionsfroman
audience.Istopped whatIwasdoing and gavetheperformancemy full
attention.
5
Whenthepianist, ArcadiVolodos,sounded thelastnotes,the
roarofapplausewasinstantaneous. ReflectingonwhatIhadlearnedfrom
our researchproject,Ifelt anincreasedappreciationofthemusicand the
artist'sexpertise.
ThePianist
Istartedthisprojecttotallyunawareoftheramifications,complexities,and
sheeramountoftimeandworkthatwouldbeinvolved.Iconstantlyhadto
fight the impulse to limit work that took me away from the piano and
practice.OnceIswitchedgearsandgotawayfrommymusic,Iwasexcited
and stimulated by the beauty ofthe intellectualchallenges and by the
possibility of opening new doors and making discoveries (or at least
understanding old ideas better).Theideas inthis bookare the resultof
endlesshoursofdiscussion,brainstorming,somehowconvergingfromthe
twosidesmusicandpsychologyhopefully gettingthebestfromeach.
Intheprocess,Ilearnedtoappreciateadifferent kindofdedication:the
serious,meticulous,and sometimestediousworkofsettingup anexperi-
CODA 267
mentand analyzingdata.Iwasamazed athowmuchpatientworkwent
into those wonderful,longchartsofpure, dry data.Beyondallthis,the
mostlastingdiscoveryhasbeenthatstudying,analyzing,anddeciphering
data are ultimatelyjustas creative and passionate as music making.It
seemstotakethesameimagination,dedication,andcourage.
To my knowledge, this project is the first to examine a professional
artist's preparation for performance using methods so scientific and
esoteric.Yetitiscertainlynotthefirsttimethatpsychologyhasbeenused
bymusicianstohelpenhancetheirperformance.Inthefirstdecadeofthe
20th century, Sergei Rachmaninoff made the courageous decision to
undergopsychotherapytotreathisdeepdepression, andbyallaccounts
the treatmentwas successful. Sincethen,musicians havelooked topsy-
chology forhelp in dealing with anxiety,and the study ofperformance
anxietyhasnowrevolutionizedourapproachtothisdarksideofprepar-
ing forperformance.Ihope that our work opens the door to a similar
revolution inmusicians' approach tomemorization and preparation for
performance.
Withoutadoubt,thisresearchhelped demystifyacomplexandtouchy
subject for me. At times, however, I still have the same reactionthat I
suspect most musicianswould have iftheyhad to constantly face their
worst fears: I just want to turn around and run! There is definitelya
probleminswitchingbackfromtheorytopractice.Foralongtime,Roger
and Ihad astandard rulethatwecouldnottalkabouttheresearchtoo
closetoaperformance.Iknewthatthiscouldinterferewithmyconfidence
and focus.Generallythishasbeenathrillingrideawonderfulopportu-
nity to learn, discover, and work with such extraordinary scholars
and friends.
I do not think our research has changed my playing, but knowing
myselfbetterdoeshelp.Perhapsithasmadememoreefficient inpractice
and more focused. Probably the biggest thing I have learned is that
memoryisnotvoodoo.Itgivesmegreatconfidencetoknowthatthereisa
scientificbasisforwhatIdo.Ithashelpedmedevelopbetterstrategiesand
memorize faster. When we began our research, I used to follow the
standardpath,beginningwithmotormemoryandgettingthemusicinto
thefingers first. Asourresearchprogressed,Inoticed thatIwaspushing
thedeliberatedevelopment ofotherformsofmemoryearlierandearlier.I
cultivated this,and now Istartmemorywork right away,with the first
reading of a new piece. Spending that extratime on all of its different
aspectsimprovesandsolidifiesthememoryoverall.
Ihavealsodevelopedbetterwaystotestmemory.Icouldseethisona
recent tour when Iwas performingLiszt'sMalediction for the first time.
Thisisoneofthemostdifficultworkswrittenforthepiano.Itistechnically
268 CHAPTER11
difficult,andtherelentlesspacemakesithardtomemorize.Firstperform-
ancesare difficult atthebest oftimes,and thistimewehad changed the
programsothatIwasplayingit2monthsearlierthanoriginallyplanned.
ThenIwas unable topracticemuchforoveraweekbecauseoftraveling
and the orchestra's rehearsal schedule. Finally,Igot terribly sick in the
daysbeforetheperformance.Therehearsalbeforetheperformancewasa
nightmare,withhundredsofwaitersrunning allovertheplacemakinga
horrendous din, setting up for a banquet. The only thing that got me
through that first performancewas my preparation. Iwas sowell pre-
pared;Icouldstartanywhereinthatpiece.Anybar!Eitherhand!
Tenyears ago,Icould nothave done that.Irememberreading about
Janina Fialkowska's habit ofintense mental practice,going through the
whole piece the night before. The thought of doing that made me so
nervous itgave me the creeps. WhatifIdid not know anote?WhatifI
could not remember it?Itwould freak me out and completelyblast the
performance. I did mental practice of course, but just at the level of
performancecues,notallthedetails.NowIcandothedetailsaswell.My
memoryissosecure,Idonothavetoworry,andIknowhowtotestit,with
frequentinterruptionseachhandcominginasfastaspossible afterward.
Sometimes Igo through a piece in my mind, getting inside every bar,
sometimes withbothhands,sometimes with one.Idomemorypractices
beforeperformanceswhereIsitdownandlookatonehand.Tenyearsago,
thiswouldhavebeeninconceivable.Iwouldnothavedaredtotry.NowI
cando itifIneed toformysenseofsecurity,and Idoitwell.
ButIdon'tdoitrightbeforeaperformance.Istillthinkthereisacertain
emotionalflowthatmightsuffer.Infact,itispossibletooverdothekindof
conceptual preparation that we focus on in this book.In preparing the
Malediction right now, I am avoiding intensive testing of conceptual
memoryand relyingmoreonmotormemoryand the flow ofthemusic.I
want toseewhathappenswhen Itakeasimpler,morenaiveapproach.I
am continually looking for the limits as well as the applications of the
knowledgewehavecompiled.
Together,thethreeofushopethatourresearchisasourceofincreased
knowledge and appreciation of music for others. We believe that our
accountofperformancecues,theintimatelinkbetweenmemorizationand
performance,andtheprocessofinterdisciplinaryresearchwillbeofvalue
notonlytoresearchers,buttoperformersandpedagogues, andthatitwill
apply not only topianists,but to other kinds ofskilled performers.Itis
trulycollaborativeknowledgethatcouldonlyhavecomefromunitingthe
insightsofanartistaboutperformancewiththoseofacognitivepsycholo-
gistabout themechanismsofexpertmemory.Incombiningourperspec-
tivesonperformingfrommemory,wehopetoprovideamodelforothers
CODA 269
whowouldliketointegratetheexperienceofmusicianswiththe scientific
studyofmusicand themind.
ENDNOTES
1.Gabriela'slearningofClairdeLune,incontrast,gaveasomewhatdifferentpicture.
Becauseitsslowertempoallowedretrievaltooccuratamoreleisurelypace,thelearning
process was much briefer and retrieval difficulties disappeared after only two
memoryruns.
2.However,itmaybepossible togiveacredibleperformancewithoutbeingableto
articulatetheformalstructureofapiece.Aiello(2000b)suggested thatthiswasthecase
fortwoofthesixstudents sheinterviewedwhocouldreportlittleaboutthestructureor
featuresofapiecetheyhad learned although theywereabletoperformitmusically.
3.EllenWinner(1996b)used theterm ragetomastertodescribetheintense, obsessive
involvement of gifted children in the activities in which they show precocity.By
extending the term to adult behavior, we are suggesting that the motivational and
attentionalprocesses thatproducethiskindofbehaviorinchildrenpersist inlater life.
4. Rather than dividing segments into runs and work, Williamon (1999) used a
measureofdispersion thatreflects theextenttowhichthelength ofpracticesegments
are randomly dispersed around amean.Greaterdeviation from apattern ofrandom
dispersionindicatesthatapianistisdeliberatelyplayingshorterand longer segments.
When apianist isorganizing practice into work and runs,higher dispersion values
indicate a more marked separation in the length of work and run segments. The
dispersionmeasuremayprovetobeausefultoolforcomparingthepracticeofdifferent
pianists.Alimitationofdispersion asameasureofworkand runsis,however, thatit
doesnotdistinguish shortpracticesegments thatarepartofarun from those thatare
part ofanepisodeofwork.
5.Volodos,Arcadi(2000).Rachmaninoff: PianoconcertoNo. 3+solopiano works. New
YorkCity,SonyClassical,SK64384.
Appendix1
Discography for Gabriela Imreh (pianist)
}.S.Bach.New York:ConnoisseurSociety,CD4207.
Hungarian Fantasyfor Pianoand Orchestra.In Bizet-ShchedrinCarmen Balletand
Liszt-SpaldingHungarian Fantasy.New York:ConnoisseurSociety,CD4213.
SoireesdeVienne:Liszt.New York:ConnoisseurSociety,CD 4225.
270
Appendix2
Score of the Italian Concerto (Presto)
C.F. Peters Corporation (1937). J.S. Bach: Klavierbung II. Teil, Italienishches
Konzert,Urtext.K.Soldan(Ed.),EditionPetersNr.4464.Reprintedbypermissionof
C.F. PetersCorporation.
271
272
273
274
275
276
277
278
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Author Index
A
Adams,N.,5
Aiello,R.,24,49,82,235,236,249,269
Allard, F., 68,75
Anderson, J.,198
Atkinson, R.,210
B
Baars,B.,23
Bousfield,W.,198,205
Broadbent,D.,201
Bronfenbrenner,U.,66
Brower,H.,30,68,167
Bryan,W.,79
c
Carey,G.,75
Ceci,S.J.,66
Chaffin, R.,19,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,93,
94,95,96,97,98,99,100,101,102,
103,104,105,106,107,108,109,
110,111,112,113,114,115,116,
117,118,119,120,121,122,123,
124,125,126,127,128,129,130,
131,132,133,134,135,136,139,
140,141,142,143,144,145,146,
147,148,149,150,151,152,153,
154,155,156,157,158,159,160,
161, 162,163,164,190,228
Charness, N.,75,198
Chase,W.,68,72,198
Clarke,E.,24,143,231
Conrad,E.,19
Cooke,J.,30,49,66
Coon,H.,75
Cooper,P.,201
Cowan,T.,20
Crawford, M., 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,
11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,
20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,
29, 30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,
38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,
47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,55,
56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,
66,265
Crowder,R.,201
Csikszentmihalyi,M.,63,255
Custodero, L.,255
289
290
D
Davidson,].,75,76,264
Dubai,D.,30
E
Eiholzer,264
Elder,D.,30
Ericsson,A.,19,24,67,68,70,72,74,75,76,
78,79,85,91,93,164,198,213,
215,248
Ewick,P.,16
F
Faivre,I.,76
Faurot,A.,95
Fine,M.,17
Fischler,I.,210,213
Frieman,J.,20
Frieze,I.,19
G
Galanter,E.,88
Galton,F.,74,75
Gergen,K.,14
Gobet,F.,21,22,177
Gordon,S.M.,17
Gruson,L.,80,81
H
Hallam,S.,80,82,84,87,89,90,101, 161,
235,236,261
Halpern, A.,68,167
Harding,S.,16
Harter,N.,79
Hayes,J.,74,76
Hermelin, B.,76
Herrmann, D.,19
Hinson,M.,95
Howe,M.,75,76
Hughes,E.,205,235
I
Imreh,G.,19,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,
35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,
45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,
55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,
93,94,95,96,97,98,99,100,101,
102,103,104,105,106,107,108,
AUTHOR INDEX
109,110, 111, 112,113, 114, 115,
116,117, 118, 119,120,121,122,
123,124,125,126,127,128,129,
130,131, 132,133, 134,135,136,
139,140,141,142,143,144,145,
146,147,148,149,150,151, 152,
153, 154,155,156,157,158,159,
160,161, 162,163,164,190,228
K
Kihlstrom,J.,70
Kimmel,E.,17,265
Kintsch,W.,198,213,215,248
Koeske,R.,19
Krampe,R.,74,78,198
L
Lehmann,A.,24,75,85,91
Lehrer,P.,205,235
M
Mach,E.,30
Mandler,G.,198,205
Maracek,J.,265
Matthay,T.,205,235
McHugh,M.,19
McPherson,G.,256
Meyer,R.,10,11
Miklaszewski,K.,20,24,86,87,88,89,90,
91,100,101,118,249,260
Miller,G.,88
Moore,D.,76
Murdock,B.,201
N
Neisser,U.,19
Nersessian,N.,25
Nielsen,S.,24,85
Noice,H.,20
Noyle,L.,30,66,79,80
o
O'Connor,N.,76
Oliver,W.,19,198
P
Parncutt,R.,143
Pearlstone,Z.,198,205
291 AUTHOR INDEX
Peplau,L.,19
Poison,P.,70
Portugheis, A.,30
Potter,J.,14
Pribram,K.,88
R
Raekallio,M.,143
Renwick,J.,256
Repp,B.,24,231
Roediger,H.,201
Rundus, D.,210,213
s
Salmon,P.,10,11
Sandor,G.,24,205,235
Searleman,A.,19
Sears,D.,19
Shaffer,L.,24,88
Shockley,R.,205,235
Simon,H.,21,22,164,177,198
Simonton,D.,66,74,75
Sloboda,J.,68,75,76,80,88,143,167,202
Smith,J.,19,67,93
Sosniak,L.,74,75,80,81
Starkes,J.,68,75
Staszewski,J.,75
T
Taylor,S.,228
Tesch-Romer,C, 74,198
Thompson,C.,20,23,70
Tulving,E.,205
V
Valentine,E.,24,249,260
Vallacher,R.,72,93
deVries,H.,228
w
Wegner,D.,72,93
Wicinski(inMiklaszewski,1989),100
Williamon,A.,24,49,235,236,249,260
Winner,E.,75,255,269
z
Zilberquit,M.,30
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Subject Index
A
AcademyofMusic(Romania),27
Aesthetics,seealsoexpressivity
paradox,andexpertise,23
Affect, seealsoexpressivity
commentsofthe artist,159
Aging
and skillmaintenance,78
Amateurmusicians,seealsostudentpractice
and memoryfailures,49
and practiceskill,263,266
Analysis,formal,seealsoformal structure;
harmonicanalysis
Hallamstudyof,82
and kindsofmemory,32
andlearningnewrepertoire,90
and memory,37
multi-leveled natureof,30
Analyticmemory
asconceptualmemory,235
Argerich,Martha,42
onpractice,43
Arpeggiation
and memorization,236
Arrau,Claudio,28,32,60,235
ondeliberate practice,79
onmemory,37
onperformanceanxiety,58
onpractice,44
Artistasresearcher
collaborativecomponent,15,261
comments of,266-269
and mystiqueoftheartist,29
videotapecomments of,139
Ashkenazy,Vladimir,58
on'dangerous'memory,50
onformal structure,249
onmemorization,51
onperformanceanxiety,58
onpractice,44
Attention
basicperformancecues,217
commentsofthe artist,155
during performance,195n,2
andhierarchicalretrievalscheme,205
Audience
empathyof,3
Auditorymemory,84
automaticnatureof,37
askindofmemory,32
and rateofretrieval,199
293
294
and switchselection,206
Automaticmemory,203
commentson,36
Automatic skill
developmentduring'gray'stage,102
and memorization,23
andperformancecues,248
andrepolishingstage,246
and stagethreepractice,241,242
B
Bach,JohannSebastian,2,94,168,198,202
Bachauer,J.,28
Balletexample
and memory,68
Bangkokrecitalreview,34
Bar duration
andhesitations,228233
and performance,230t
Bar-Illlan,David
onpractice,44
Bar repetitions
practicequantification,123
Basicissuesoflearning
commentsoftheartist,140-148
Basicperformancecues,170
commentsoftheartist,219
earlyworkon,221
practice,and dimensionsof
complexity,177
and rateofretrieval,216
andrepolishing stage,244
andstage3practice,241
and two-yearrecall,213214,215
workon,237n,9
and 'wrapping,'252
Battle,Kathleen,197
Bauer,Harold
onmemorization,49,51
Berman,Lazar
onperformanceanxiety,58
onpractice,44
Bernstein,Leonard,49
Biology
vs.experience,
andexpertperformance,263
and memory,66
and talent,7475
Bishop-Kovacevich,Stephen,60,61
Bolet,Jorge,66
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization, 49,50,51,52
onpractice,43,44
Borowski,Alexandre
onmemorization, 50,52
SUBJECTINDEX
onmemory,38
Brendel, Alfred
onmemory,38,236
onvisualmemory,37
Browning,John
ondeliberatepractice,79
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,50,52
onmemory,38
onpractice,44
onvisualmemory,37
Busking,seeimprovisation
Busoni,R,2,95
c
ChaconneinD(J.S.Bach),2, 107
Chessmastermemory,68,198
Childprodigies, seeprodigies
ChopinAcademy,86
Chord progression
and memorization,236
ChromaticFantasy andFugueinD minor
(Bach-Busoni),2,95
Chunking,seealsorechunking
andencodingnewmaterial,198
andlearningnewrepertoire,233
and long-termmemory,68
and memorization,69,167
commentsofthe artist,161
and'runs'and'work,'136
and two-yearrecall,213
andworkingmemory,67
ClairdeLune(Debussy),94,100,250
Climax
and memorization,236
Cognitivepsychologist's perspective,13,14
resultsofthe study,264
Collaboration,247,seealsoepistemological
differences
artist'scommentson,268
andcognitivepsychologyresearch,21
and futurestudies,264
and resultsofthestudy,261-264
Collegestudents
asresearchsubjects,19,21
Complexity,musical
effect onpractice,165-195
Complexitystatistics,174t
correlationmatrix,175t
Composers
preparationneeded by,74,92n,2
Concentration,seealsoattention
commentsoftheartist,219-221
aseffective practicecharacteristic,255
Conceptualmemory,32,84
295 SUBJECTINDEX
absenceof,269n,2
andbasicperformancecues,217
commentsoftheartist,220
importance of,51
and lapses,198
and performancecues,248
and pianoperformance,233,235,236
and rateofretrieval,199,216
and retrievalschemes,71
riskof,268
and slowpractice,110
and switchselection,206
Consciousness, seealso unconscious
memory
andlearningprocess,23
andperformance,93
Constructivism,14
Contemporarymusic
and easeoflearning,89
Copingwithanxiety,seealsoperformance
anxiety
artists'commentson,5863
Cortot, Alfred
onpractice,45
Cultofthe performer,28,30,seealso
mystiqueoftheartist
and revelationofpracticehabits,43
D
'Dangerous' memory,50
'Dangerous' practice,79
DanteSonata (Liszt),2,3
Datacollection,11
Davidovich,Bella,36,80,235
ondeliberatepractice,79
onmemorization,52
onmemory,38
onpractice,45
Debussy,Claude,94
Declarativememory,seeconceptual
memory
Deliberatepractice,75,79,seealso fluency
and effort; rate/tempo ratio
andstudentmusicalachievement,77,
8081
Demus,Jrge,34,235
onmemorization,53
onmemory,38
onmotormemory,50
Dichter,Misha,31,236
onmemorization,53
onmemory,39
onpractice,43,45
onpreparationforoptimal
performance,61
onvisualmemory,37
Difficulty, technical,seetechnical difficulties
Digitalage
andliveperformance,262,266
Digitmemory,68,198,205
Dimensions ofcomplexity,167t
effects onbasicdimensions,180182t
regressionanalysisof,177-190
Distancing
andcognitive psychologyresearch,20,
21
Dumesnil,Maurice
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,53-54
Dynamics
commentsofthe artist,148,150,151
asdimension ofcomplexity,168,187
andmemorization,236
andpracticedimensions,191,192
andrepolishing stage,245
andstage3practice,242
E
Editionofthepiece(Soldan),143
Effort and fluency
measuresof,130135
Egorov,Yuri,58
onmemorization, 49,54
onperformanceanxiety,58
Electronicera
and liveperformance,262,266
Empathyofaudience,3
Empiricism,14
Encapsulation,214
Encodingnew material,68,198,201205
Energylevel
commentsoftheartist,162
aseffective practicestrategy,259
Epistemologicaldifferences, 1316,17,18,
262
and goalsoftheresearch,247
Evaluation,seeself-evaluation
Experience
andexpertperformance,89,263
Experimenter-subjecthierarchy,19,262,see
alsoepistemological differences
Expertise
paradoxof,andaesthetics,23
Expertmemory,23,6672,93
chessmasterexample,68
experimentaldevelopment of,6869
andmemorylapses,198
andpianoperformance,233
andretrievalstructure,215
summaryofresults,248
296
Expertpractice
and mentaleffort,136
and performancecues,177
and resultsofthestudy, 263-264
studiesin, 82-91
Expressivecues
andrepolishingstage,245
stagefivepractice,243
andstage3practice,242
Expressivity
effects onperformance,232
andmemoryruns,229-233
and performancecues,71,72,194,195
rootsof,infingering,146
and slowpractice,110
and tempo,224
F
Fatigue
commentsoftheartist,162
Fearofperforming,seeperformanceanxiety
Feux d'Artifice (Debussy),86
Fialkowska,Janina,31,34,58,60
onmemorization,54
onmemory,39
mentalpracticeby,268
onperformanceanxiety,59
onpractice,46
onpreparation foroptimal
performance,61
onvisualmemory,37
Fingering,32,233
commentsoftheartist,143-147
asdimension ofcomplexity,166168,
182-183
aseffective practicestrategy,258
andgoalsetting,261
and practicedimensions, 191,192
and rateofretrieval,204205
reworkon,222
and stage2practice,240
andstage3practice,241
andstage5practice,243
Firkusny,Rudolf,29,34
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,49,50,54
onmemory,39
onpractice,46
Firstperson research,164,261
Fleisher,Leon,28,32,34
ondeliberatepractice,79
onmemory,39
onmotormemory,37
onpractice,43,4647
onvisualmemory,37
SUBJECTINDEX
Flow
as'ragetomaster,'255
Fluencyand effort
duringpractice
measuresof,130-135
Focusofpractice
and dimensions ofcomplexity,176
aseffective practicecharacteristic,157
Formalstructure
commentsoftheartist,71,155158,
207-209
and deliberatepractice,87
aseffective practicestrategy,260
and hierarchicalretrievalsystem,205
andpianoperformance,234
andpractice, 249-250
and retrievalschemes, 71,199
andstage1practice,240
and two-yearrecall,212
Formanalysis
asconceptualmemory,235
Friedman,Ignaz
onmemory,39
G
Ganz,Rudolph
onmemorization,50,54
Gebhard, Heinrich
onmemory,40
onvisualmemory,37
German,Lazar,42
Gieseking,Walter,49
onformal structure,249
onmemorization,49,50,54
Gilels,Emil,58,60,100
onperformanceanxiety,59
onpreparationforoptimal
performance,62
Goal setting
aseffective practicecharacteristic,256
aseffective practicestrategy,260
Goalsofthe research,13,164,247
andcollaborativeaspect,23
Gould,Glenn,31
Graffman, Gary,28,31
Grainger,Percy,32
onmemory,40
Graystagepractice,100,241-243
artist'scommentson,102-107
andbasicperformancecues,221
effects analysisof,179
andexpressiveperformancecues,194
andinterpretiveissues,148
and rateofretrieval,201,204
Greenroom,1-7
297 SUBJECT INDEX
H
Handinjury(artist's),106, 107,243
'Handsalone' practice,50,88
Harmonicanalysis, 32,8,seealso formal
structure
Harmonicstructure, seealso formal
structure
asconceptualmemory,235
and memorization,236
Hereditary Genius(Galton),74
Hesitations, seealsomemory lapses
andbarduration, 228-229
and memoryruns,224233
Hess, Myra,34,58
onmemorization,55
onmemory,40
onperformanceanxiety,59
onvisualmemory,37
Hierarchicalretrievalschemes, seeretrieval
schemes
Hierarchyofpower
cognitivepsychologyresearch,19
"HilaryandJackie,"28
Hofmann,Josef
onmemorization,55
Horowitz, Vladimir,28,78
Hough, Stephen
onperformanceanxiety,59
onpractice,47
How tomemorizemusic
artists'commentson,49-57
How topracticemusic
artists'commentson,4248
Hughes, Edwin,32,49
onformal structure,32,49
onmemorization,55
onmemory,40
Humanachievement
and intensivepractice,75
Hutcheson, Ernest
onformal structure,249
onmemorization,51,55
onmemory,40
onvisualmemory,37
Hypothesis formulation,176,seealsogoals
of the research
I
Improvisation
and auralmemorylearning,84
Imreh,Gabriela,9394
autobiography,26-27
hand injury, 106,107,243
personal/professional qualitiesof,12
and 'subject'status,22
'subject' statusof,15
Injury, seehand injury (artist's)
Interpretation, seealso aesthetics;
expressivity
commentsoftheartist, 148-154,192,193
and'gray'stage,105
inseparability from retrieval structure,
210
and learningprocess,135
andpracticedimensions, 193
and 'repolishing'stage,111
rootsof,25
rootsof,infingering,146
and slowpractice,110
and stage2practice,240
andstudent goalsetting,261
Interpretive dimensions
asdimensions ofcomplexity,168
Interpretiveperformancecues, 170,218
comments oftheartist,219
earlyworkon,221
practice,and dimensions ofcomplexity,
177
and rateofretrieval,216
and rechunking,252
and repolishing stage,246
andstage3practice,241,242
and two-yearrecall,213,215
Interviewresearch, 29-31
Intuitivelearning
new repertoire,82
ItalianConcerto,94-97
formalstructure,96f,200f
formalstructure,andretrieval
scheme,199
K
Katmandu,8-9
Kayakingand music,265
Kindsofmemory
artists' commentson,3242
distinctionsmadebypianists,32
Kraus,Lili,34
onmemorization,49,55,236
onmemory,40
mentalpracticewhileimprisoned, 6364
onpreparation foroptimal
performance,62
onvisualmemory,37
Kroppreview,34
L
deLarrocha,Alicia,31,197,235
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,51,52-53
298
onmemory,38
onmotormemory,37
Learningnew repertoire,82,86,seealso
encodingnewmaterial
and effect ofexperience, 89-91
and fingeringchoice,146
Learningprocess,seealsorelearningapiece
commentsoftheartist,162
andconsciousness,23
effected bypractice,100107
quantificationofartist's,93-135
stagesof,100-107
Leimer,49
Lettermemory,67
Lipatti,D.,28
Liszt,Franz,10
Liveperformance
aesthetics, versuspreparationfor,24
artist'slastsessionbefore,149
greenroom,1-7
vitalityof,266
Long-termmemory,73n,1,206
andpatternsforencoding new
material,198
andpianoperformance,234
andrunsandwork,178
Loveofmusic,31
L.Krausimprisonment, 6364
M
Mahadevan,RajanSrinivasan,70
asresearchcollaborator,20,23
Maier,Guy
onmemorization,50
Maintenancestage,78,100,246
artist'scommentson,113115
Malediction (Liszt),267,268
Matthay,T.,49
Melody,repeated
and memorization,236
Memorization
and allocationoftime,86,97
artists'commentson,49-57
andautomaticskill,23
commentsoftheartist,51
and fingeringchoice,146
and'gray'stage,104
andintuitivelearning,83
lackofinformationon,24
andperformance,197-236
summaryofresults,248254
andretrievalfromlong-term
memory,205
scientificbasisof,267
seemingeffortlessness of,68
and stage3practice,241,243
SUBJECTINDEX
and student practice,236
Memory,seealsoexpertmemory
artists'commentson,3742
definition,73n,1
long-term,68
runsandworkdemands on,178
vs.effort, 66
Wagnertheoryof,27
workingand long-term,67
Memorylapses,11,49,197198,seealso
hesitations
Memoryresearch
authors'perspectiveson,10,11
and hierarchyofpower,19
Memoryruns,seealsorunsandwork
effects ofmemoryand expressionon,
229-233
hesitationsduring,224233
andplayingtime,226t
Mentalpractice,34,268
L.Kraus'imprisonment,6364
Metacognitiveissuesoflearning
commentsoftheartist,158163
Methodologicalopenness,16
Metronomepractice,112,129,153
andinstrumentcalibration,137n,13
andrepolishingstage,246
Michelangeli,A.,28,31
Moiseiwitsch,Benno
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,49,55
Monitoringenergylevels
aseffective practicestrategy,259
Moonlight Sonata(Beethoven),2
Motivation
and 'ragetomaster,'254
and talent,75
Motorlearning,84
andautomaticskill,23
and practicedimensions,191
Motormemory,32,37
and concentration,220
Demuson,50
and fingeringchoice,146
and 'gray'stage,104
and lapses,198
linktoperformancecues,223
and memorization,235
and rateofretrieval,199
andrepolishingstage,246
and retrievalschemes,70
and slowpractice,110
and stage2practice,240
andstage3practice,241
and switchselection,206,209
Mozart,WolfgangAmadeus,66,68,75,91,
92n,2
299
SUBJECT INDEX
Musclememory,seemotor memory
Musicalcomplexity
effect onpractice,165195
Presto,sectionC,172f
tendimensions of,165171,167t
Musicalperformance,seeunderlive
performance;performance
Musicalstructure,seeformal structure
Mystiqueoftheartist,18,262
and skillofexpertpractice,82
N
Neuhaus, Heinrich,100
NewJerseyGovernor's SchoolfortheArts,
58
Ney,Elly
onmemorization,55
Nikisch,Mitja,58
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,49,56
onperformanceanxiety,59
Nocturne (Chopin),2
Non-mentalmemory,seeautomatic
memory
Normality
and superstars,29
Novaes,Guiomar
onmemorization,49,56
onmemory,40
onvisualmemory,37
o
Objectivity,16
Observation, effect onpractice,115, 138,
227,seealsovideotaping
Ohlsson,Garrick,60
onpreparation foroptimal
performance,62
Orderofappearance
dimensions ofcomplexity,176,179
P
Pageturns
and memorization,161
Patterns
commentsoftheartist,202203
asdimension ofcomplexity,
166168,184
and encodingnewmaterial, 198,
201-205
and fingeringchoice,147
and practicedimensions,191
Pedaluse,169
asdimensionofcomplexity,187
and practicedimensions,191
Perahia,Murray
onpreparation foroptimalperformance,
62
Performance,seealsoliveperformance
artist'sresearchon,28
CD,compared topractice,228229,230,
232
aslong-term goal,88
and memorization,197-236
memorized,10
'practice'performance,110,113
stage fivepractice,244
trance-likestateof,27
Wagnertheoryof,27
Performanceanxiety,5,268
artists'comments on,5863
Performancecues,223,seealsobasic
performancecues; interpretive
performancecues
inartist's retrievalscheme,250254
commentsofthe artist,219
and conceptualmemory,201
definition,71
earlyappearanceof,188
earlyreferencebyartist,217-219
earlyworkon,222
eliminationof,252
encapsulation of,214
establishment of,228
and formalstructure,248
andhierarchicalretrievalscheme,205
andmemoryruns,229
inpianist'sretrievalscheme,250-254
practice,and dimensionsof
complexity,177
and practicedimensions, 192,193
and rateofretrieval,216
and rechunking,252,253
asretrievalcues,94
roleof,196n,9
and slowpractice,223
andstage3practice,241
threetypesof,169-171
and two-yearrecall,213,214,215
Performancedimensions
asdimensions ofcomplexity,169171
effects, emergence of,188190
andpracticedimensions, 192,193
andtwo-yearrecall,213
Performanceissuesoflearning
commentsoftheartist,154-158
Performancepreparation,30,254
commentsoftheartist,223
and expressiveperformancecues,194
300
preparationfor
artists'comments on,6063
stage fivepractice,243
Performing from memory
rootsof, 10-11
Philip, Isidor,32,34
onmemorization,51
onmemory,40
Photographic memory,37
andmemorization,236
Phrasing
comments ofthe artist,148,149,150,
151,218
asdimension ofcomplexity,168,
185-187
establishment of,219
and practicedimensions,191,192
and repolishing stage,245
and stage2practice,240
andstage3practice,242
Pianists' comments onhowtomemorize
music,49-57
Pianists'commentsonhowtopractice,
4248
Pianists' commentsonmemory,3742
Pianists' commentsonperformance
anxiety,58-60
Pianists' commentsonpreparation for
optimalperformance,6063
PianistsinChapterThree,33-34t
Pianists/Types ofMemory,3536t
Pianoquality,3
Playingtime
practice
quantification of,126
Pogorelich, Ivo,60
onpreparation foroptimal
performance,63
Polishing stage,194,195,243244
artist'scommentson,109-111
effects analysisof,179
and performancecues,251
and rechunking,234,252
Polyphony
and technicaldifficulty,95
Power,seehierarchyofpower
Practice,seealsodeliberatepractice;expert
practice;preparation;
section-by-section practice;
slowpractice
allocationoftime,8586,162
artists'commentson,4248
day ofrecital,6
effective
characteristicsof,7992,254261
effects oflearning process on,
190194
SUBJECTINDEX
and establishment ofretrieval scheme,
216221
expert, 82-91
'fibbing' about,43
quantification of,74,119136
quantification of,age-related,78,79
quantification ofrate,130
asskill,8081
Practice-in-context
andbasicperformancedimensions, 187
and dynamics,187
andexpressivecues,187
and interpretivedimensions,185
andphrasing,187
and retrievalcues,187
andstage3practice,242
and stage5practice,243
and switches,211
Practiceperformances,110,113
Practicerecords,116119,117f,120f
Practicesession summary,99t,
Practicestrategies,85,87,258261
commentsofthe artist,43,160161
Practicevs.achievement,76
high-school level,7677
Predictability,lackof
effect onlearning,147,209
Preparation
vs.aesthetics,24
pre-performance,17,2,3,6,30
Problem-solvingresearch,164
Prodigies
and intensivepractice,75
Psychologicalresearchtraditions,14,262
distance,20
Publicperception
andperformer'ssecrets,28
Putting-it-together stage,243
artist's commentson,107-109
effects analysis of,179
and interpretiveissues,148
Q
Quantification ofpractice,116136
R
Rachmaninoff,Sergei,266,267
Ragetomaster,269n,3
aseffective practicecharacteristic,254
Rajan,seeMahadevan,RajanSrinivasan
Rate/temporatio
quantification duringpractice,133
studentpractice,256
Recall
301 SUBJECTINDEX
artist's first attemptat,226227
two-yeartestof,201,212-216
Rechunking,234
and performancecues,250-254
Recital,seeperformance
Regressionanalysis
dimensionsofcomplexity,177-190
Relearningapiece,201,212216
and 'graystage'practice,242
Repertoire
new
expertpracticeforlearning,82
Repetitionoftheme
commentsoftheartist,150,208
Repetitions
Presto,95
Repolishingstage,244
artist'scommentson,111-112
effects analysisof,179
Representationofthe research,18,seealso
epistemological differences
Researchreview
and epistemological differences,18
Retrievalcues,107,seealsoperformance
cues
aseffective practicestrategy,258
andmemorylapses,198
and performance,170
andstage3practice,241
Retrievalrate
and pianoperformance,234
and repolishingstage,246
Retrieval schemes
artist'scommentson,216221
establishment,195
andexpertmemory, 69-71
andextendedpractice,216221
and formal structure,205
hierarchyof,199
andpianoperformance,234
reworkon,222
and runsand work,178
Revolutionary Etude (Chopin),2
Richter,Sviatoslav,78,100
Romanticmusic
and easeoflearning,89
Rosenthal,Moriz
onformalstructure,249
onmemorization,50,56
Rubinstein,Anton,30
memorization,49
onmemory,40
and performanceanxiety,58
and performanceinold-age,78
photographicmemoryof,236
onvisualmemory,37
Runs,seealsorunsand work
hesitationsduring,224-233
and repolishing stage,245,246
Runsandwork,88
asdimensions ofcomplexity,180t
aseffective practicestrategy,259
and expertpractice,90
interpretation ofeffects analysis,178
numberof,122
practiceof,withperformancecues,193
practicequantifiedon,121125,122f
and stage2practice,240
visualrepresentation of,118
s
Samaroff, Olga
onformal structure,249
onmemorization,50,56
Sauer,Emil
onpractice,47
Savants
and intensivepractice,76
Scheduling practice,85,259
Schelling,Ernest
onmemory,42
onmotormemory,37
Schub,Andre-Michel,31,42
onmemorization,49,57
onpractice,47
Schumann,Clara,10
Scientificmethod,11
Score,useof
commentsofthe artist,155
and earlymemorization,206
and performancecues,238n,9
andpolishing stage,243
Scoutingitout stage,100101,240
Secretsofthe trade,seecultoftheperformer
Sectionboundaries,87
effects onpractice,209-210
and memorization,50
asperformancecues,215
and practice, 119
and retrievalcues,229
andstage3practice,241
Section-by-sectionmemory,201
andretrievalscheme,248
Section-by-sectionpractice,205,206,240
artist'scomments on,101-102
aseffective practicestrategy,260
effects analysisof,179
and interpretiveissues,148
andstage3practice,241
Self-disclosure,28-29,seealsomystiqueof
theartist
Self-evaluation
302
comments oftheartist,158159
aseffective practicecharacteristic,258
Self-reflexivity, 16
Serialposition
andmemorization,210
and recall,201,214t,215
and two-yearrecall,212
Serkin,Rudolf,36,235
memorizationby,205
onmemory,40
onmotormemory,37
Seroff,Victor,32
onmemorization,50,57
onmemory,40
onmotor memory,37
"Shine,"28
Simon,Abbey
onformalstructure,250
onmemorization,49,57
onpractice,48
Slowpractice,110,222
pre-performance, 234
and quantificationofpracticerate,134
and repolishing stage,246
Social constructivism, 14
and goalsofthestudy,262
Socialpsychologist's perspective,14
resultsofthe study,265
Society,seepublic
Soldan, Kurt(ed.),143
Solfege,65n,2
Spalding,Daniel,7,27
Spontaneity
andexpressive performancecues,250
andperformance cues,248
Stagefivepractice,243244
Stagefour practice,113-115,243
Stagefright,seeperformanceanxiety
Stageonepractice,100,240
Stagesixpractice,246
Stagesoflearning
artist's,l0lt
Stagesofpractice, 239-246
Stagethreepractice,107109,241243
Stagetwopractice,101,240
Structuralmemory
asconceptual memory,235
Studentpractice,77,8081,256,260
andconceptualmemory,236
and results ofthestudy,264
Superstars
andmythoftheartist,28-29
Switches,95
andbarduration,231
comments oftheartist,155156,224
defined,95
Dumesnil on,249
SUBJECTINDEX
and formalstructure,206
andlapses,198
and memorization,108
asperformancecues,215
andretrievalcues,229
and section-by-sectionlearning,207,211
and stage3practice,241
typesof,237n,5
T
Talentascausalfactor
publicunderstanding of,74,263
Technicaldifficulties
commentsoftheartist,143-147
asdimensions ofcomplexity,166,168,
184
new repertoire,83
and practicedimensions,191
Presto(Italian Concerto),9596
andrepolishingstage,246
and stage2practice,240
andstage3practice,241
Tempo,112
commentsoftheartist,151-154
difficulty of,219
asdimension ofcomplexity,168,187
and expressivity,224
andperformancecues,248
duringpractice
quantification of,127-129,135
and quantificationofpracticetime,119
and rateofretrieval,199,204,216
andrepolishingstage,245
Test-operate-test-exitsequence, see'TOTE'
sequence
Themesofthe interviews,30
Thinkingtime
and practicerate,132,161,255
'TOTE'sequence,88
Training,seepractice
Trance-likeperformancestate,27
and performancecues,72,250
Transitions
and memorization,108
Two-yeartestofrecall,201,212-216
u
Unconsciousmemory,36,seealsoautomatic
skill
V
Valse-Caprice (Liszt),2
303 SUBJECT INDEX
VasaryTamas,42,60
onpreparation foroptimal
performance,63
Videotaping,97-100
effect onpractice,115,138,227
asmethod forobjectiveresearch, 164
objectiveresultsof,165195
Visualmemory,32,37,84
Volodos,Arcadi,266
Votapek,Ralph
onmemorization, 49,57
onpractice,48
Vulnerabilityoftheartist,18
W
Wagner,Harald,2627,71,250,251
Watts,Andre,28
onmemorization,57
onpractice,48
Westcott,Mark
onmemorization,57
onpractice,48
Wicinski'sstagesoflearning, 100,l0lt
Workand runs,seerunsandwork
Workingmemory,73n,1
Wrapping,251