How Bach Teaches You to Multitask

Question: What is your style of playing Bach?
\r\n

\r\nHilda Huang: I mean, when I play Bach, I try to make the dances a\r\n dance and make them all really lively and light and think about how \r\nthey would have been played in the Baroque era. Of course now that we \r\nhave the piano, compared to the harpsichord or the clavichord, there's a\r\n completely different sound, so I wouldn't try to imitate the \r\nharpsichord. But we still want to keep some of the essence of the \r\nharpsichord in it, so I like to play with some of the timings in it \r\nbecause on harpsichord there's no dynamics. So all you can do is with \r\ntiming and with touch and articulation. So I like to bring some of those\r\n aspects onto the piano and but keep it in the Baroque style while \r\nhaving a piano sound.
\r\n
\r\nQuestion: How is playing Bach different from other composers?
\r\n

\r\nHilda Huang: I think one, I have a lot of friends who also play \r\ninstruments and mainly their reason for not liking Bach is because it's \r\nso hard, but I like to encourage them to explore more of it because it's\r\n hard, so that they can discover something new within each piece and \r\nhopefully they can use that and take it and apply it to other composers.\r\n So that's also helpful.
\r\n
\r\nI think it's a good way for people to learn how to multitask, because \r\nyou have to deal with so many different voices at once and they all have\r\n to be really clean. It's also just really fun to play and it helps you \r\nimprove your technique. There's so many running lines, I mean you have \r\nto practice them at first, of course, but after a while when you get the\r\n hang of it, it's really fun to just see your hands moving all the way \r\nover the keyboard.
\r\n
\r\nQuestion: How long does it take to prepare a new piece?
\r\n

\r\nHilda Huang:
I usually work on pieces for at least a year. I listen \r\nto them when I first start playing them and I listen for which ones I \r\nlike. So, I'll pick them up, find the music and just start working on \r\nthem by myself. And usually it takes me about a year or so to get some \r\ngood practicing in to get some good understanding about the piece. And \r\nthen after that—of course, during that time, I work with my teacher—but \r\nafter that, we'll start preparing it to use maybe for performances or \r\nother things like that.

Recorded on June 7, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

Keeping track of all the different voices in a Bach piece is a fun way to improve your technique, says the 14-year-old champion pianist—but it can also affect your brain.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your cool

Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.

Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.