ALAN FRASER: A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
Dedicated to making a difference in your piano technique
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Alan Fraser studied with Phil Cohen until moving to Yugoslavia in 1990 to study with Kemal Gekić. Fraser has used his long experience with Cohen and Gekić along with his professional training in Feldenkrais Method (Hawaii '92) to develop an approach that enriches your sound, increases your virtuosity, and eliminates the risk of injury before it ever arises. He has taken the best aspects from many disparate and sometimes contradictory approaches to synthesize a new, deeper understanding of the complex physical, mental and emotional processes of masterful piano playing. It is accessing the innate power of the hand's structure and function that allows you to replace tension or over-relaxation with effective hand activation.
Fraser's teaching zeroes in on the weak points of your technique, showing you exactly where a new effort is needed to bring your body and hand into better alignment, making your piano tone blossom with new richness and subtlety.
Concertizing, teaching, writing, ‘sketching’
Fraser's workshops and recitals throughout Europe and North America show how this approach works in practice, and he continues to gather new material for future publications, performances and recordings.
Fraser's transformative approach now known as Craft of Piano Method draws on
--- his early association with pioneer pianist and psychologist Phil Cohen, creator of the Leonardo Project
--- deep inquiries into both Tai Chi and Feldenkrais Method
--- a 25-year collaboration with the Croatian virtuoso Kemal Gekić
--- and his own extensive concert and teaching experience.
The Craft of Piano Playing
His book The Craft of Piano Playing (also in DVD) was the first detailed study of Fraser's approach to appear in published form (in 2003). Initially designed to help top-flight pianists add a further dimension of virtuosity and expressivity to their technique, The Craft of Piano Playing has proved popular with pianists of all ages and abilities – its principles hearken back to movement patterns common to us all. A revised 2nd edition of The Craft of Piano Playing was published by Scarecrow Press in 2011.
Honing the Pianistic Self-Image
In 2010 Fraser published a second volume, Honing the Pianistic Self-Image: Skeletal-Based Piano Technique, which leads the hand to a new, sophisticated state – unstable equilibrium – to gain an even finer control over the piano’s colours and emotions, and also shows how a similar state in the whole body offers crucial support to the empowered hand on the keyboard.
In 2012 a third volume appeared, dedicated almost entirely to that most quirky of digits, the thumb. All Thumbs: Well-Coordinated Piano Technique offers 52 new Awareness Through Movement lessons for the hand and body, the better to integrate all the disparate parts into a harmonious, well-functioning whole.
The Alan Fraser Piano Institute
2011 saw the inauguration of the Alan Fraser Piano Institute at Smith College, Northampton Massachusetts. 11 active participants plus numerous observers gathered for a week of intensive lessons, lectures and group Feldenkrais sessions all led by Fraser. He now runs divisions of the Institute in several North American and European cities, always remaining true to the original concept: every participant works with Fraser himself and not relegated to an assistant.
Alan Fraser maintains an active concert and teaching schedule, finds time to address questions on his Forum and write the occasional Blog entry, and is currently preparing several new manuscripts for publication:
--- Kiddie Craft – a series of exercises for studio teachers to give to their young students, based on The Craft of Piano Playing.
--- Community Craft – a collection of pertinent posts and replies from his Forum.
--- The 27 Chopin Etudes: Moving Beyond Mastery – comprehensive groups of exercises designed to address the specific problem of each etude.
--- Phil’s World: The Mindful Hand at the Piano – a fourth volume on piano technique highlighting the latest developments in his work with Phil Cohen.
--- The Wisdom of the Skeleton: Body & Mind Reunited in the Feldenkrais Method (The Inner Workings of Human Learning) – a collection of essays taken from Fraser’s personal experiences as a Feldenkrais practitioner, clarifying just what Feldenkrais Method is and how it works.
Fraser occasionally finds the time to compose; his several vocal works include two masses and a Magnificat. He is also a respected digital sound engineer who edited Kemal Gekić’s monumental recording of the 27 Chopin Etudes.