Somatic education and piano performance

Noulis, Christos (2014) Somatic education and piano performance. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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Somatic Education and Piano Performance

Research in the area of piano performance supports the concept of pianists engaging in problem-free piano methods. Existing pedagogical methods examine piano performance from a localised perspective, specialising in instruction of the detailed movements of the fingers, hands and arms. The present research aims to look at piano performance through a holistic lens. This is done by means of three theoretical and practical axes of somatic education: The Pilates Method, Yoga and the Alexander Technique. The main purpose of this study is to determine whether the three methods of somatic education can be conducive to piano performance. Secondary purposes are to determine whether the nature of educational delivery applied is appropriate in the exposure of pianists to somatic education, the stage of piano education at which pianists’ exposure to somatic education is most beneficial and the components of piano performance that can be enhanced from somatic education.

Bibliographic review of relative literature reveals that, although there is amplitude of information on the application of some somatic methods to piano performance, there does not exist a comprehensive and structured educational system which incorporates principles of somatic education in piano performance.

Ten workshops in Somatics for Pianists© were conducted in music conservatoires of Northern Greece in the span of three years. As a result, 385 valid questionnaires were produced by participating pianists of all levels, aged 15 and above, and with varying capacities as pianists (soloists, students, teachers etc). The questionnaires focused on issues of piano playing, methods of somatic education, workshop delivery and implementation of somatic education to piano performance.

Six email interviews were conducted in order to triangulate results relating to the effectiveness of somatic education on piano performance and the related practical applications. These interviews were given by pianists/piano teachers who are also qualified instructors in one of the three somatic methods examined in this thesis. 3 Analysis of data from the questionnaires and the interviews yielded results that support expansion of knowledge in piano curricula from the purely pianistic issues to more general issues of movement as taught and related in methods of somatic education.

The conclusion of this study is that somatic education has a positive impact on most components of piano performance and recommendations were put forward for future research in the creation of pedagogical manuals that will include systematic and structured modules of somatic education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
May 2014Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 13:35
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54

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