The Tyranny of Tradition in Piano Teaching

A Critical History from Clementi to the Present


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About the Book

The strict traditions of piano teaching have remained entrenched for generations. The dominant influence of Muzio Clementi (1752–1832), the first composer-pedagogue of the instrument, brought about an explosion of autocratic instruction and bizarre teaching systems, exemplified in the mind-numbing drills of Hanon’s “The Virtuoso Pianist.” These practices—considered absurd or abusive by many—persist today at all levels of piano education. This book critically examines two centuries of teaching methods and encourages instructors to do away with traditions that disconnect mental and creative skills.

About the Author(s)

Concert pianist and pedagogue Walter Ponce received his doctorate from Juilliard. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former Director of Keyboard Studies at UCLA, and for many years under the Wilford Division of Columbia Artists Management, he has performed around the world in every genre of the solo and chamber music repertoire.

Bibliographic Details

Walter Ponce
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 261
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7832-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3629-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1. The Genesis of Cognitive Impairment 3
2. Mousseau vs. Clementi 10
3. The Legacy of Clementi 24
4. Descending from “Parnassus” 35
5. Musical Asceticism 50
6. The Legacy and Religion 68
7. The Legacy of Emulation 83
8. The Legacy of Abuse 93
9. The Legacy of the Gradus Complex 112
10. The Legacy of the Brainless Little Animal 121
11. Music and the Mind 135
12. The Mind in Piano Playing 146
13. Disparities and Paradoxes 157
14. Twentieth Century: Assimilation and Rejection 171
15. End of the Millennium 185
16. Contemporary American Music Education 190
17. The Legacy on the Best and the Brightest 202
18. Rituals and Myths 212
19. Conclusion 222
Chapter Notes 233
Bibliography 242
Index 247