Friday, January 21, 2011

Balancing act

I had a lesson with Sophia Rosoff this week. I've been studying with her off and on for about 4 years, and it had been a while since my last lesson. I don't always have time to work on classical repertoire, but I've been determined to get back into it, specifically to learn Stravinsky's "Serenade In A".
At the lesson we revisited something we did at one of our very first lessons, balancing an egg. I had heard about this Zen-like exercise from other pianists who had studied with Sophia, and it really blew my mind at the first lesson. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Sophia instructed me to balance an egg first on the carpet, which is pretty easy, and then on a porcelain dish, which is near-impossible. As I sat there moving the egg around, feeling it's weight, but failing to balance it, she finally said "the point is not to balance the egg, but can you feel how all of you is trying to balance the egg?".
I instantly realized that not only was my mind completely engrossed in the activity of balancing the egg, but I could also feel that not just my hands, but my arms and back, and basically my whole body was involved in the process, with the egg being the end point. This is how Sophia says you have to play the piano.
She turns 90 years old next week! As one of her students put it, "90 years of illuminating this world."

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