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Piano Technique - Glossary

4. The Front Line and the Rear Guard

[...] to the tips of the fingers which should always be at the ready, like soldiers at the front (after all, the decisive factor for tone quality is the contact of the fingertips on the keys, the rest: hand, wrist, arm, shoulders, back - are «behind the line» and should be well organized.)”
Heinrich Neuhaus - “The Art of Piano Playing.”, p. 69, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973

H.Neuhaus (►Bibliography) used this military terminology to define the dependencies present in the motor apparatus of the pianist: in this very accurate comparison the front line corresponds to the point of contact between the finger and the key.

As for the “rear guard”, this corresponds to everything that makes up the rest of the motor apparatus, that is to say, according to Neuhaus, the parts going from the hand to the shoulder (personally, I prefer to say… going to the feet firmly planted on the floor).

Besides, the fingers should not be the only ones to be on their guard. This is valid also for every part that makes up the “rear guard” as well as the pianist himself. All the elements that form pianistic technique must interact in perfect harmony, order to guarantee the conditions for the fingers’ optimal playing abilities.


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