Jazz Piano Book Reviews on LearnJazzPiano.com

Review: Just Being At The Piano by Mildred Portney Chase

Harmony begins in the Soul, Long before the first note is Played
Just Being At The Piano by Mildred Portney Chase - review and discussion

Author: Mildred Portney Chase
120 pages


From all accounts, this book has changed a lot of piano player's way of thinking about playing. People on LJP have mentioned it as one of the few books that can change your entire idea of sitting down and playing piano. I understand this- there is a mental or spiritual (not in the religious sense) place that a pianist must get to before their music becomes a reflection of who they are and not who they think people want them to be. This is one of those rare books, along with "Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner, that can break down those walls and help you to maximize your playing. This is not about technique, it's about how you approach playing and being yourself.

Description (book jacket or other publisher notes):

There are many approaches to piano theory. They range from the simple technique of reading music and touching the keys, to playing-by-ear, but few have taken the inner path that begins in the soul. Mildred Portney Chase merged her piano lessons with the discipline of mindful Buddhist practice and created an experience that evokes not just music for the pleasure of the listener, but a journey that leads the student to a world of calm and peacefulness flowing from the soul out into the universe . . . ever-evolving day-by-day within the heart of the student.

Full Book Review and Other Notes:

By Jeff Brent, author of "Modalogy" and other great books: This book was recommended by Kenny Werner in his book "Effortless Mastery" I highly recommend it too! It is a quick read with only about 100 pages including the forward. (although I recommend taking a little time with each chapter) To me it reads like a series of short essays, each devoted to specific topics ranging from attitude to practice techniques to performance anxiety, etc, emphasizing relaxation as a means to release the natural musician in us. A very economical, to the point writing style.

Note from the author: Just being at the piano egoless is to each time seek to
reach that place where the only thing that exists is the sound and moving
toward the sound. The music on the page that was outside of you is now
within you, and moves through you; you are a channel for the music, and
play from the center of your being . . . You are at one with yourself and the act, and feel as if the playing has already happened and you are effortlessly releasing it. The music is in your hands, in the air, in the room, the music is everywhere, and the whole universe is contained in
the experience of playing.

. . Works toward developing the musician's sensory awareness of
the sound, of the touch, of what the entire body is experiencing, so
that each tone may sing. --Lee Strasberg

This book is as useful as it is lovely, as it deals with real matters
such as rhythm, finger 'balance and alignment,' the pleasures and
pitfalls of sight-reading and improvisation, slow practice, and tone
production. This Josef Lhevinne student has offered us a profound,
touching, and quite recommendable approach. --Clavier

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