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With Your Own Two Hands [Paperback]

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 15 1998
This best-seller by the nationally acclaimed pianist is a realistic program for conquering nervousness, sharpening concentration, and enhancing coordination. Bernstein observes that musicianship requires the same talents used in any activity, and shows how to develop a dedication to practice that can harmonize the musical and personal self.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for pianists! July 9 2001
I originally ordered this book for my niece who is experiencing much pain when she plays the piano. Since she is a music major and piano is her primary instrument, finding help has become a priority. When the book arrived, I browsed through it to see if it seemed to have helpful advice. I saw plenty to interest me that I decided to buy a second copy for myself. As a professional horn player, I found the first part of the book (A Reason For Practicing: Why Do You Practice, Why Don't You Practice and Concentration) captivating. He looks at the reasons people practice and don't practice. He is sensitive to the psychological and human values that greatly influence one's approach to music. His approach to concentration and feeling is one that is worth studying. In the second part of the book (The Disciplines:Tempo-Rhythm-Pulse, Listening, You and the Piano and Choreography), his analysis of various aspects of playing is both lucid and perceptive. I also felt that his section on the mechanics of playing looked as though it could be quite helpful to my niece as she struggles to overcome the pain she experiences when playing (I'll look forward to hearing if she feels the same). The final section of the book (Fulfillment through Performing: Performing, Memory, Nervousness and Finale) brings this work to a logical conclusion. I consider this book essential for reading and study.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book all pianists will enjoy Oct. 13 2000
Bernstein, Seymour. With your own two hands: Self-discovery through music. - New York: Schirmer Books, c1981. (Book review) Denise Stuempfle - September 2000
Seymour Bernstein, a much sought-after pianist and master-teacher, uses his combined experience as performer and teacher to motivate fellow musicians to seek self-integration through the pursuit of music. Comprehensive in scope, With your own two hands is a holistic approach to the study of the piano. This type of learning experience is imbued with authenticity since, as Bernstein tells us, "when your feelings are converted into muscular activity, your automatic pilot or reflex system is fed not only physical impulses but also the feelings implicit within them." Clearly, the behavioral and the affective find equal footing here -and without contradiction. Self-destructive habits associated with practice are logically addressed and illustrated. For those needing motivation to practice, other than the goals of self-actualization and self-integration, perhaps the more altruistic perspective will suffice: "When we practice we fulfill our share of responsibility in the circle of giving," says Bernstein. Those who feel compelled to practice to the exclusion of all else are reminded that "a musician who separates his art form from his personal life, does so at a price both to himself and to others," thus denying himself the opportunity of achieving balance in life. Other issues of concern to pianists, such as memorization, stage fright and various performance techniques are effectively and honestly treated here. Finally, in Schumann's own words, Bernstein bids us invoke the spirit of the muse in our practice, "Always play as if a master were present.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book gives me the most important thing.. June 21 2001
I'm a relatively new piano student. Just started learning to play the piano 10 months ago and I am still able to grab the essence of this book. Truly inspirational, I always want to know one ultimate reason I should be practicing. This book really delivers what it promises. It gives me the right attitude. My relationship with my teacher is improving. No doubt, it works wonder on me and I can never turn away from my piano from now on.
-Additional comments-
The later part of the book is about various technique/suggestions. Being a piano novice I wouldn't dare to validate this part. I did find some interesting anecdotes about playing the piano but I still need some help from my teacher on a few chapters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book will make you want to rush to the piano April 23 1997
By A Customer
After a nearly 20-year lapse I took up the
piano again and came across this book. It is full
of wonderful anecdotes and advice, not only for
pianists but for anyone who plays an instrument.
One-by-one, Berstein demolishes the myths and
misunderstandings that keep us from exercising
and enjoying our talents. He teaches us that
mistakes and slips are natural and OK; invokes
us to strike the right balance between technical
excellence and emotional openness. His anecdotes,
drawn from real-life experiences with his
students, are valulable object lessons.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some gems, here and there Oct. 29 2002
If you can tolerate all the touchy-feely psychobabble, the boasting, self-promotion and pretentiousness, you will find some genuinely worthwhile and (to me anyway) original ideas on a variety of topics -- how to memorize, how to strike a balance between staying loose and obtaining a "big sound", hmmm, I might be able to come up with one or two more. So basically, you're looking at a high noise-to-signal ratio here. On the other hand, if you hate to practice and you're looking for a motivational book, this may be just the thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Motivated me to keep playing piano Jan. 26 2004
Before reading this, I thought it was a kind of mechanical things. And I treated playing piano carelessly. But this book helped me to be serious about it.The title itself shows his idea on piano playing. In the first part I reflected on my attitude to practicing and my teacher. He suggests various aspects of techniques in the second part. Not all of suggestion worked for me but surely it is worth reading.If you are interested in 'why' and 'how as an intermediate player, I think this book is for you.
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