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EXPLORING A MODERN APPROACH TO THE WORK OF MUSCLES IN PIANO PLAYING WITHOUT TENSION

 

RESEARCHERS:

 

MIKHAIL AND INESSA NIKS — 1985-1996 (Redlands, CA)

 

             Research for the effective physical approach to piano playing culminated with the patent of the piano device, the Hand Guide, in 1991 by Mikhail Niks. An accompanying training manual, Play Without Tension, was completed by Inessa Niks in 1998.

            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             The Hand Guide provided a precise demonstration of the effective work of muscles engaged in piano playing. The principles of piano technique without tension led to the explanation of the “singing tone,” the most acoustically effective and beautiful sound that the piano instrument can produce. A lecture-recital, Mystery of Singing Tone, was dedicated to the solution of producing an acoustically effective sound of piano. This lecture-recital is the The lecture is illustrated by playing of pianists representing a school of "singing" tone of the past and the playing of the author of the lecture-recital, Inessa Niks (Inessa Niks was recorded on a 1927 5' 7" Steinway model L; narration was provided by Dimitri Niks).

 

FREE DOWNLOAD AUDIO:  Mystery of Singing Tone  (MP3, 36.2 Mb)

 

              Understanding of this phenomenon inspired further investigation into the specific sounds of great composers, research conducted by Mihail and Inessa Niks (1991-1996). The lecture-recital, Distinctive Sounds of Great Composers, is dedicated to the discovery of an amazing variety of acoustical sounds which we deem characteristic for different musical styles and major composers. The lecture is narrated and illustrated by Inessa Niks.

 

FREE DOWNLOAD AUDIO:  Distinctive Sounds of Great Composers  (MP3, 46.9 Mb)

 

 What does the Niks Technique looks like? 

             With the principles of Niks Technique piano playing becomes very efficient from the standpoint of muscle usage. In the following video sample, Inessa Niks illustrates the economy of movements in piano playing without tension:

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Guide attached to piano (click pic to enlarge)

     

 

 

             The Hand Guide was on loan to the Händel-Haus in Halle and Robert Schumann Museum in Zwickau, Germany for the Robert Schumann Year celebration in 2010-2011 and subsequently acquired by the Robert Schumann Museum in 2011.  The Hand Guide (photo taken by Christiane Rieche, Curator of the Musical Instrument Collection, Händel-Haus) was attached to a piano built by Matthäus Andreas Stein, Vienna, 1827, an instrument very similar to one which Clara Schumann received as a gift from her father, Friedrich Wieck in 1825.