Liz Parker doing the dreaded plank
February 21, 2020
Honouring the Feb. 21 birthday of Carl Czerny (who made piano practise and endless journey …)
Just hearing the name “Carl Czerny” and I’m feeling Pavlovian dread at the memory of all of his studies and piano exercises I had to practise for what felt like hours on end. Like with a lot of things that kids dislike – homework, exercise, vegetables, chores, and going to bed at a sensible hour – practising Czerny wasn’t fun at the time, but upon reflection, one was really glad to have learned his studies.
Born into a musical family and considered a child prodigy, Czerny was part of an incredible musical teaching dynasty. He studied with Beethoven at age 10, and noted Beethoven’s attention to proper fingerings and physical restraint at the keys. After becoming a piano teacher at age 15, he taught the young Franz Liszt, whose performance style was radically different than Beethoven’s. He was amazed at the raw goods, though, and took Liszt on as a student.
The Art of Finger Dexterity is a series of studies to teach the young pianist how to play quickly with an even touch. Any student of the Royal Conservatory of Music will know these studies. The very first study in this clip is something just about every piano student has played (and quite a bit slower, I might add). At the time, I considered these difficult “piano workouts”, the way I consider doing plank at the gym. With the perspective I have now, I can hear some creativity in these studies. I doubt I’ll look back on plank the same way.
Carl Czerny was born February 21, 1791 Vienna, Austria, and died July 15, 1857, also in Vienna.