Par 1 It was with considerable hesitation that I consented to tell the readers of the "PORTFOLIO" of my new method of playing the piano. Already I can see their elevated eyebrows as they read the phrase "new method". "Can there be a new method?" they are asking, "Or is this a Pachmann joke?"
Par 2 They are wise in their scepticism, for they have been taught that there is nothing new under the sun. Regarded from the point of view of this generalisation, I suppose my method is not strictly new. Yet it is new to me, and I am a professional pianist of seventy-three years of age.
Par 3 I have been playing the piano ever since I was a boy of ten years old, and yet for sixty years I played without a knowledge of my present method. Then, three and a-half years ago, I happened upon it. To a man of my age it was the discovery of real gold, of an elixir of life. During the past three and a-half years in which I have used this new method I have expended about one-fourth the energy that piano-playing previously demanded of me over a similar period. Whether I can teach this method to others I do not know; certainly I am now too old to do more than just state in this article the general principle. I am of the opinion that the pianist must be somewhat of a genius to change from the accepted style to the Pachmann method with success, but, if he is able to do so, he can be assured of a far easier lot than heretofore.
Par 4 It was when I was playing in Rome that I accidentally alighted on the new method. I was looking through the "Gradus ad Parnassum" of Muzio Clementi, which work, as is well known, was written when the piano was very young. I noticed that this composition was written for a very unusual style of playing: that, instead of crossing the hands as is done for many of the big compositions — Scarlatti's "Sonata", for instance — it provided for one hand completing the runs begun with the other. So that the hands came together in the centre of the keyboard, and returned up or down the keys - but never crossed!
Par 5 It gave me an idea. If, by moving the arms, I could do this and so keep my hands horizontal and always in an almost straight line from my wrists, I might save myself considerable physical effort and wrist-strain. I experimented and found that this could be done. Even when my hands were at either end of the keyboard, I found they could strike the notes without their being at an angle with the wrists.
Par 6 This new method may seem very simple, but the saving of effort is phenomenal. After many hours of practice, I tried my new method in public at Rome. At the end of a three hours' recital I felt more fresh than I had done for many years past. Until then it was usual for me to finish a recital with my fingers tired and stiff. After using the new method my fingers are not even moist, my wrists work perfectly, and they never give that ominous click which they did after long hours of playing with the old method. And all because my hands are kept horizontal and the wrists are never forced. My doctor, who recently examined my hands, was surprised at their remarkably healthy and supple state. By the aid of this new method I hope to continue my public appearances for another twenty years at least.
Par 7 Now one word to my readers on platform deportment. Time after time have I heard it said that Pachmann is a great showman as well as a pianist. This remark has arisen because of my mannerisms on the public platform. My critics instance my fidgeting with the music-stool, my dusting of the piano, my little speeches, my insistence on the piano being absolutely horizontal — and so on. They p. 78 say this is done to create an effect. Yet the facts are otherwise. If these critics could be in my own private apartment when I am practising, they would see me behaving exactly as I behave in public. These are my natural idiosyncrasies. Fortunately for me, the public, instead of being annoyed by them, insist on accepting them as part of the entertainment. My advice to young pianists is, therefore, to be natural. For only by being natural can you produce your best.
Par 8 Though I am now an old man, I believe in plenty of piano exercise. When I was a young man I used to spend ten hours a day at the piano, which was a longer working day than the eight hours of the modern labourer. I have now cut off four, but still practise six hours every day, part of which I spend in finger exercises, according to my new method. My urgent counsel to young pianists is to spend more time than they usually do in phrasing and finger-exercise before attempting to play the great compositions.
Par 9 Make your fingers automatically perfect. Then, when you come to a public performance, you will find that the notes are all in your finger-ends ready to be drawn forth at will. Therefore, practise scales, combinations of chords, finger movements, again and again. And do not forget that your best role is not to hear praise from others, but to be your own worst critic. Know the compositions which accord with your own tastes and feelings. Do not expect that you can be a master of every composer — of every composition. There is no one living who can play everything with equal distinction.