MTNA Nat’l Conference – Catherine Rollin on Technique

(Click here to see all of my posts on the 2009 MTNA National Convention.)

Sorry for the blurry picture! That’s Catherine Rollin and the big screen which displayed her hands close up as she played. She presented a seminar today called Technique and Artistry: You Can’t Have One Without The Other. If you are familiar with her Pathways to Artistry books, then you’ll know why I was eager to attend this seminar.

Ms. Rollin demonstrated several different types of staccato and legato touch, showing their application in excerpts from several pieces of literature. Having that big screen up front made it very easy to see what she was doing on the piano and was a big plus.

Here’s my general summary. Gestures are important. The visual aspect of the gesture colors the sound in the perception of the listener, and the physical gesture colors how the performer plays the sound, making it less dry. As she says, the gesture gives it “humanity.” If you try to effect, for instance a two-note slur with fingers only, it feels dry. The “soul” of the two-note slur is in the gesture – using an elastic wrist to drop and lift. It’s important to teach these gestures while the student is still playing 5-finger pieces.