THERE is a good reason that learning to play the piano is generally considered child’s play. Not because it is easy but because, on the contrary, it requires years of patient practicing that few adults have time for.
The fingers must be strengthened by hours and hours of exercises – scales, chord progressions and the ubiquitous drills designed by the French composer Charles-Louis Hanon, whose 1873 book, “The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises,” is still the most widely used hand workout in print. There are fingering patterns to memorize, sounds to recognize, motor skills linking the brain and the body that can be refined only by continuous repetition. Right?
Right – unless you are a movie star, in which case a combination of camera tricks and extraordinary training techniques can take you from “Chopsticks” to Chopin over the course of a few weeks. Like gaining 80 pounds for a role, feigning piano virtuosity is one of those transformations that consistently wins Oscars. From F. Murray Abraham’s portrayal of Mozart’s sidekick Salieri in “Amadeus” to Geoffrey Rush’s of the pianist David Helfgott in “Shine”; from Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman in “The Pianist,” and Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in “Ray”: the pianist role, when skillfully executed, leaves audiences mesmerized and full of questions.
Read full article (registration required): The 60-Day Course in Perfect Fake Piano Playing