Noted Russian Pianist Urges Students to Simplify Mechanical Problems
So That Thought and Energy May Be Directed to Artistic Interpretation

[Photo caption (the photo is not reproduced here):]
Vladimir Horowitz, the Outstanding Figure Among the Season's New Visiting Pianists

Par 1 "The first concern of the ambitious student should be to make the mechanics of piano playing a comparatively simple matter, so that he may employ all his energy for the artistic interpretation of the composition. This latter phase of piano playing is the most vital in mastering our art.
Par 2 "To read a composition intelligently; to punctuate it and phrase it properly; to give it its due eloquence; to introduce the proper nuances and dynamic shadings; to give it its intended design and form; to convey to the audience the thoughts and emotions which the composer had in mind—this is the really difficult part of piano playing.
Par 3 "As important as these phases are, however, one's performances will be far from satisfactory if purely technical problems are not under one's complete control. Take, for example, executing chord passages which contain melody or accented notes within the chord. The line of the melody must be maintained as well as produced sonorously."
Par 4 This was the prelude to the stimulating conference I had with Vladimir Horowitz during his recent stay in New York. This remarkable young Russian, on his first visit to America, succeeded in having himself recorded in critical annals as the season's most important newcomer among pianists. He is twenty-four years old; Rachmaninoff is his favorite pianist; a conservative Boston audience jumped to its feet and cheered him not many weeks ago; he is now making a spring tour of Europe and will return to America in October for a two and a half months' tour.
Par 5 At his room in the Hotel Majestic, Horowitz went on to explain his method of emphasizing a single voice in chord playing.

Par 6 At first thought, it would appear extremely difficult to sound a chord of three or even five notes with the five fingers on one hand in such a manner that one or even two notes are heard above the others and act as a melody while the other notes act as an accompaniment to that melody. If one were to do it as Horowitz does it, the difficulty would disappear into thin air.
Par 7 There are two correct, though diametrically opposite, methods of attacking the mastery of this necessary accomplishment for perfect piano artistry. To avoid confusion, only one method will be explained at this time. Experience has shown, however, that when one has become a master of this accomplishment by one method, he is also a master by the other even without practice.
Par 8 To accent a melody note within a chord or octave: raise the whole arm with as little muscular effort as possible, until the fingers are between three and five inches above the key. During the up and down movements of the arm, prepare the fingers by placing them in position for the depression of the next group of notes and by holding the finger which is to play the melody-note a trifle lower and firmer than the other fingers which are to depress the remaining, keys of the chord. In first attempting this exercise, there is a feeling of stiffened muscular action. Such a condition is always present in the early stage of mastering this problem and should not cause discouragement. Continued practice will remove this feeling, leaving a relaxed though firm muscular action. Continued development will also remove the necessity for raising the hand so high above the keys.
Par 9 Without ceasing to retain firm though supple joints at the wrists and knuckles, release all tension from the shoulder muscles, permitting the arm to fall with its full weight upon the predetermined keys, the points of contact being the balls of the fingers.
Par 10 The finger which is held a trifle lower and much firmer naturally strikes the key a much firmer blow than do the more relaxed fingers which do not overcome the resistance of the key as easily as does the more firmly held finger. The tone produced by the key so depressed is therefore stronger than the others. Thus, it is plainly seen that in striking a chord, in which a single note is to be accented, the effect can be produced by holding the finger which is to play the melody note a trifle lower and much firmer than the fingers which are to play the unaccented notes. The reason for holding the finger a trifle lower is only psychological in effect; in actual practice, it isn't altogether necessary. Experience shows that in the beginning it is almost impossible to get a student to hold one finger more firmly than the others unless he is also permitted to hold it in a somewhat different position from the others. Holding it a little lower does not change the quality or quantity of tone produced and does not affect the playing in any way but it does put the student's mind at greater ease.
Par 11 There is one more point of vital importance in mastering this problem. In the beginning the super-firmness with which the lowered finger is held will cause a hard tone to be produced. The hardness of tone will disappear with progress in its mastery and freedom of movement in depressing the keys, leaving as a final result a beautiful, sonorous and velvety tone of the desired carrying power.