Mirror Image Piano Exercises – Piano Drill for Dexterity Used by Chick Corea
Chick Corea: It’s an old tango. “Anna’s Tango.” I thought that would be a nice intro to this. We’re going to talk about as a basis for our chat, this book that we published ourselves, many many years ago, called “A Work in Progress.” What the book was, when I put it together, was an attempt to just write down the way I do things. People ask questions. Musicians ask questions. “How do you did this?” “How do you write?” “How do you put a band together?” So forth, and what ever.
The thing that I want to get across is, in music everyone does it the way they do it. It’s a subjective thing. It’s an art form. So I thought the best that I could offer, in terms of answers, is the way I do things. So this is the way I do things. I call it my hat write up. My musician’s hat. So we have the new version of the musician hat, “A Work in Progress,” by the time we do this in March. The new revisions.
That’s what it’s going to be about. There’s all this stuff in here. We can talk about whatever we want to talk about. Let’s see. You know personal policies as a musician, playing the piano, comping, accompaniment, making time, talking about tempo and rhythm, composing. That’s some things that are in the book.
I thought it would be interesting to take up this one thing. I put a revision in the book under, I call it the “Basics.” Playing the piano. This is in the chapter, “Playing the Piano.” I came across an interesting thing many years ago, that I find is not commonly known, but it’s a way of looking at the keyboard, because the keyboard — there’s the keyboard. You’ve got all these white notes, [Plays notes.]
Then all these black notes [Plays notes.]
If you see how they’re arranged [Plays notes.]
There’s an octave. From C to C. [Plays notes.]
That’s an octave. It’s kind of unevenly arranged, if you look at it. There’s 5 notes there, 6 notes there. There’s another bunch of notes here. It’s a little — it’s not like this. But there is a way to view the keyboard in a mirror image. Where it gets divided exactly in half. And all you have to do is look at the A flat [Plays note] or the D [Plays notes.]
And all of a sudden you have a mirror image, a complete mirror image. If you look this way from the A flat, and this way, from the A flat, you’ll see a mirror image. [Plays notes.]
Graphically, that is. And it’s a great reference point because — I don’t know if this was thought of when this construction of the keyboard was put together, or whenever it was, but if you think about it, most living things, especially the human body, is a mirror image. Make a line down the middle, there’s the two hands.
It’s a mirror image. Divide the mirror in half. It’s a mirror image. The hands fit on the keyboard exactly as a mirror image. You know how you — when you do exercises, you might exercise one side, but then you balance it out by exercising the other size because it’s a mirror image. You do exercises like that. ‘Cause you have to balance the body. With the piano, it’s the same thing. you want to keep both hands going. Usually we’re brought up where one hand is stronger than the other. Usually the right hand. This exercise and using this principle is a way to strengthen any phrase that you want to strengthen by turning it into a mirror image. Let me show you what I mean. There’s a D [Plays note.]
One of the exercises that I wrote, simple exercise, with the five fingers.
You put [Play note] this note here, [Play note] that note there.
See, it’s a mirror image. That’s a D [Plays note]. The hands fit on it like this, the five fingers. That’s a mirror image sound. You see that? So you’ve got five fingers and there’s a book that I used to- that my piano teacher, when I was 8 years old, Salvatore Sullo, from Boston. Classical pianist. Wonderful guy. He used to laugh at jazz. When I went and auditioned for Sulo, I played [Plays song]
He sat there snickering, “Haha that’s that Dizzy Gillespie music!” But anyway, he was a cool guy, he introduced me to these Italian books called the “Rossomandi.” I don’t even know if they make them anymore. I have this tattered copy. They have these mirror image exercises in there. This was the first one. It was [Plays notes.]
You know, [taps fingers.] That’s all it is [Plays Notes.] But the shape of the keyboard, shapes the exact shape of the hand. It’s a mirror image. You can do all sorts of things with that, you can go [Plays notes.] …