A return to the basics of relaxed arms, hands, and supple wrists in a 4-note arpeggio romp

It’s always a pleasure to re-enter the cosmos of a self-hypnotically induced journey across the keyboard in seamless arpeggiated streams. The experience of Oneness produced by well-contoured strands of wave-like, root-third-fifth-root progressions, is surely like dancing lithely across the keyboard. It hearkens back to my most beloved piano teacher, Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, who emancipated my tightly squeezed hands and locked wrists from lengthy imprisonment. To this end, she spent the first few months of my lessons nursing along the natural force of gravity that allowed my arms, wrists and hands to fall limply into my own lap, without a grain of muscular constraint. It produced a new physical experience that fed into the creation of a singing tone, at first imagined, but not yet fully expressed in my playing.

At the time, Mrs. Freundlich’s mentoring had just about awakened what took a few years to fully assimilate. The transformative learning process that included “breathing naturally” through vocal-modeled phrases, had played out at a time when I entered the New York City High School of Performing Arts, having just earned admission with a lackluster, “squeezed out” reading of Beethoven’s “Pathetique.” It was alongside a more appealing violin submission of a Handel Sonata that hastened an acceptance letter that bundled in a dual Major. (The school had a dire need for string players.)

Fast-forwarding the clock, decades later, past my Oberlin Conservatory graduation, and a relapse with a faculty member who assigned deleterious, finger-crunching Schmitt exercises–resuscitated by a God-sent reconnection with Lillian Freudlich at her Riverside Drive townhouse– a period was unleashed of gradual musical autonomy that was Freundlich’s ultimate intent: to teach me how to learn independently.

From those days of carefully nurtured study, to my current undertakings as an eternal piano student and mentor, I’m led back to what I’d set out to explore within a universe of well-shaped 4-note arpeggios. (Some credit in this realm is owed to Ena Bronstein, an Arrau student with whom I studied in the Central Valley-CA) She embraced the “wrist rolls” that are conspicuously displayed in my arpeggio renderings.

These progressions should be well-contoured and seamless– spared of any intrusive accents and bumps. They must surrender to a natural flow of relaxed arms, wrists and hands in synchronized harmony that’s best illustrated in a well-prepared video that exceeds words to express.

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