I still remember the first time at university when classmate Lael Johnston performed a piece for prepared piano by John Cage at one Studio Master Class. All the piano students were shocked that bits of rubber, nuts and bolts, felt and more were wedged into the strings of a 9-foot Steinway concert grand. Lael assured us that no parts of the piano were permanently damaged. The fascinating thing was that the Steinway sounded exactly like an Indonesian gamelan.
This clip below of jazz pianist Eric Lewis brought all those memories back. Eric doesn't use rubber, nuts or bolts, but his hand technique on the piano strings is pretty impressive and creative. Around the 6'30" mark, he has a very funky groove.
It gives me ideas of things to do with any students who are easily bored or need something exciting to re-energize their playing. However, like Lael, I'll have to assure my students' parents that no piano parts should be permanently damaged in the process of unleashing their child's creativity.
Here's the clip:
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