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About the Lister-Sink Institute

The Lister-Sink Institute is an educational organization dedicated to promoting a healthful, well-coordinated keyboard technique to maximize musical artistry and help prevent potential injury at any point in the career.

Recommended Books About Keyboard Technique

Note from Barbara Lister-Sink

An extraordinary number of books have been written on piano (keyboard) technique over the centuries. While the authors are intelligent, dedicated, insightful and often successful teachers and players, the written word, in general, tends to create yet more confusion. Contradictory opinions, excessively detailed scientific and anatomical descriptions and easily misinterpreted terminology often leave the reader frustrated and bewildered. Playing any keyboard can be one of the most complex coordinations known to human kind. It is an intensely physical experience that defies verbal description.  One simply cannot describe the fragrance of a rose, or the sensations of well-coordinated playing.  So we are left with a handful of books below that will inform and not as easily confuse, although there will still  be contradictions from author to author. My apologies to dedicated authors whose worthy books are inadvertently omitted. –BL-S

Books About Keyboard Technique

  • What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Bodyby Thomas Mark (GIA Publications, Inc., Chicago, 2003). This book and video are excellent for all musicians, but are most appropriate for serious student and adult keyboardists.
  • Famous Pianists & Their Technique, by Reginald Gerig (Indiana University Press, 2007). An exhaustive, complete look at the history of keyboard technique– “schools,” methods, famous teachers, etc. Extremely well-written by a highly informed pianist who has dedicated his life to researching the world of piano (keyboard) technique. The last chapter discusses the most recent return to  “enlightened technique,” i.e., integrated, whole-body coordinated, injury-preventive playing.
  • A Symposium for Pianists and Teachers: Strategies to Develop the Mind and Body for Optimal Performance, (Heritage Music Press, Dayton, OH, 2002). Ten authoritative authors offer their expertise and unique viewpoints in a comprehensive look at piano playing.  Body, mind, emotions and spirit are all addressed in great detail, chapter by chapter.  From performance anxiety, through biomechanics, holistic health, sound pedagogy, mind control, practice methods, etc., etc., this compendium offers an unprecedented amount and depth of information. Viewpoints sometimes differ but all authors are united by their unswerving dedication to developing joyous, informed, and healthy pianists.
  • Mastering Piano Technique, by Seymour Fink (Amadeus Press, 1992). A rational, comprehensive and systematic approach to developing healthy piano technique with special emphasis on free, natural movements and biomechanical laws.  Filled with fascinating anatomical information and imaginative exercises.
  • The Pianist’s Talent, by Harold Taylor (Kahn & Averill, 9 Harrington Rd., London, England, 1994). A small, insightful book on the application of the principles of the Alexander Technique in the playing of a number of the great piano prodigies, including Artur Rubinstein. Historic photos included.

Recommended DVDs and Videos

  • The Art of Piano – Great Pianists of the 20th Century(NVCArts). Extraordinary film and TV footage of extended live performances, from Ignace Jan Paderewski in 1936 to Claudio Arrau in 1970. Includes Horowitz, Rubinstein, Cortot, Gilels, Richter, Michelangeli, Dame Myra Hess, with commentary by 18 present-day pianists and conductors. A wonderful visual and aural documentation of legendary pianists. A great musical and technical teaching resource.
  • Freeing the Caged Bird – Developing Well-Coordinated, Injury-Preventive Piano Technique with Barbara Lister-Sink, (WINGSOUND, P.O. Box 10912, Winston-Salem, NC 27108, 1996, 2005). A clear, direct look at piano technique from the ground up.  Explores piano and body mechanisms, demonstrates potential harmful technical habits, outlines a step-by-step training program with numerous playing examples. Reviewed in Piano & Keyboard magazine as “brilliantly conceived and produced.” Vladimir Ashkenazy calls it “a monumental work!”
  • The Anatomy of a Piano – How Your Grand Piano Works, With Piano Technician John Serkin, (SH Productions, Kansas City, 1991). A unique, excellent look at the mechanism of the piano from the viewpoint of a piano technician whose father, Rudolf Serkin, was one of the great pianists of the 20th century. Beautifully produced. Good for all students, teachers and parents.

Books About Whole Body Awareness and Biomechanics