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Technique doesn’t exist

Talks with Lex Bohlmeijer - part 2


'Let people go on and on about technique with hollow, hypocritical words. Real painters are guided by their consciences, which we call sentiment. Their souls, their minds aren’t led by the brush; the brush is for their minds. The canvas is wary of the painter, the painter is not wary of the canvas.'

Vincent van Gogh


Technique. I have never really understood that term, and I don’t really believe in it.

Often people speak about technique as if it is a physical condition, or as if it’s a substance outside ourselves that you could touch. Or people say, we have fingers, we have elbows. No, that’s incorrect; we are fingers, we are bodies, we don’t just have them. We are the instrument ourselves, with our bodies.

Sometimes it’s said that a piece was beautifully played, that it was musical, technically perfect, clever. As if it’s separate from the score. You can’t separate technique from the score. Every separation takes something away. But what it takes to unite yourself with the score – that’s what’s important. Maybe we need a different term for this.

When I started studying piano, I played scales, but that didn’t last long. I was ten years old, and asked myself why I had to play scales in different keys if I encountered the same key in a Beethoven Sonata. If you look at it that way, it’s not a scale, but a fragment of a sonata. So that physical dexterity, which is detached from music, that manual dexterity as something separate that you can take with you like a treasure chest or a suitcase, is a phantom. My teacher Janeta Benun supported this idea. She buried me under w