The seventh dimension is inconceivable

The transcendental dimension of pianistic practice: a transpersonal integrative approach


BEZERRA, Denise Maria [1]

BEZERRA, Denise Maria. The transcendental dimension of pianistic practice: a transpersonal integrative approach. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. 04 year, Ed. 08, Vol. 06, pp. 148-183. August 2019. ISSN: 2448-0959



This article is an excerpt from the research of a Master in Interpretive Practices / Piano who examined the pianist's self-awareness of differentiated mental states that can occur during instrumental practice, such as “flow state” and “culminating experience”. The author participated as the subject of qualitative research of an interdisciplinary nature, the theoretical framework of which is based on psychology and its effects: cognitive psychology, music psychology and transpersonal psychology, related to the field of music. In this work we tried to observe aspects of “transcendence” as part of pianistic practice, in the light of the “seven stages of development of being” model proposed by the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA). The results suggest that there is not only an optimization of learning in technical aspects, but there is a deepening in the artistic dimension as well as a development at different levels that understand the authorship and transcendence of the pianist, an innovative perspective in music research to initiate.

Keywords: piano, flow, culminating experience, transpersonal.


Playing the piano at the level of expertise is a highly complex action. It goes without saying that the multidimensionality of an efficient scientific practice is built up from a series of measures that include implementation planning, study strategies (BARROS, 2008) as well as awareness of motricity and systematic measures. (P-VOAS, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2015). In addition to these factors, psychological aspects are woven into this complex system.

This article is part of a Masters Research in Interpretive Practices / Piano that examined the pianist's self-awareness of differentiated mental states that may occur during instrumental practice, such as flow state and culminating experience. Qualitative research with an interdisciplinary character is based on the theoretical framework of psychology and its effects: cognitive psychology, music psychology and transpersonal psychology, in connection with the field of music. In the present work it is interesting to analyze aspects of “transcendence” as components of the study process of a piano repertoire in the light of a model of the Transpersonal Integrative NK-Approach (ItA), which originates from transpersonal psychology, in seven stages : Recognition, identification, disidentification, Transmutation, transformation, elaboration and integration.


Transpersonal Psychology, the most recent of the psychological aspects mentioned in this article, largely responds to methodological needs so that mental phenomena of a transcendent nature, such as plateau / flow states and culminating experiences in pianistic practice, can be analyzed in a psychological dimension. It is considered the fourth force in psychology and has changed states of consciousness as the subject of investigation. The first great force in psychology was behaviorism, which originated in the United States in 1913 by John B. Watson. Then, through Sigmund Freud, came to psychoanalysis, second great strength in mental studies. The psychoanalytic study mainly focused on pathology and extreme suffering in the face of their own impotence and human limitation, and revealed the existence of an individual unconscious (SALDANHA, 2006). Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) brought up the idea from psychoanalysis that there is a collective unconscious as well as an individual unconscious. At the same time, the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) expanded the concept of the unconscious and added the spiritual dimension. Other authors denied or expanded upon Freudian works, including Jacob Levy Moreno (1892-1974) - the creator of psychodrama - and Abraham Harold Maslow (1908-1970). Considered the third great force in psychology, the humanistic school emerged in the United States and Europe in the 1950s in response to behaviorism.

Maslow led the humanist movement and served as president in 1968 the American Psychological Association invited Victor Frankl, Antony Sutich, James Fadiman and Stanislav Grof to a meeting. At this meeting the transpersonal psychology was made official, which was considered to be the fourth great force in psychology (idem p.64). Maslow then created a new conceptual framework to legitimize experiences with altered states of consciousness, including experiencegen, as described:

Higher "ribs" include feelings of unlimited horizons unfolding, the feeling of being more powerful and also more helpless than anyone has ever been, the feeling of great ecstasy, astonishment and admiration, the loss of time and space (idem, ibidem).


The phrase "top experience" was used by Maslow (1908-1970), who defines it as “generalizing the best moments of man, the happiest moments in life, the experiences of ecstasy, the maximum enjoyment” (SALDANHA, 2006 p.106). As one of the forerunners of transpersonal psychology, Maslow published the book Religions, Values, and Top Experiences in 1964, in which he explains in detail what the culminating experiences are and their implications. Abraham Maslow developed a theory of human motivation and examined the various aspects of these motivations (MASLOW, 1970, 1971) and systematized the hierarchy of needs. Although he defended psychoanalysis as the best system of psychopathological understanding and the psychotherapy of the time, Maslow, along with Jacov Levy Moreno, declared that Sigmund Freud had a stop in human disease and misery and that it was necessary. consider healthy aspects that give life meaning, wealth and value ”(SALDANHA, 2006, p. 63). According to Saldanha

Since 1943 Maslow has been guided by the study of motivation and has become one of the most respected specialists in human behavior and motivation, a pioneer in supporting the hierarchy of needs and the concept of self-actualization (idem, p. 72).

For Maslow, the phenomenon that includes the climax explosion is the culmination or summit experience, as opposed to the plateau experience. The latter has been translated as “state of the river” by Csikszentmihalyi, using a similar example of a young mother with her child, to demonstrate the same effect:

“When I work with my daughter, when she discovers new things: a new recipe of dumplings that she could make on her own, a work of art that made her proud. Reading is another thing she really loves, and we usually read to each other. She reads a little to me, I read to her, and on those occasions I sometimes forget that the rest of the world exists. I am completely lost in what we read ”(CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2004, p. 37).

It can be seen that elements of the flow experience described by Csikszentmihalyi were already defined by Maslow as plateau experience, which is why the term “plateau / flow” is adopted in this work to name such a state of consciousness:

The peak experience itself can often be clearly described as a “little death”, and a rebirth in various senses. The less intense plateau experience is more often experienced as pure pleasure and happiness than a mother who sits in silence for hours and plays with her baby, amazes, thinks, philosophizes without believing much in what she sees. She can experience this as a very pleasant and continuous contemplative experience, rather than something that resembles an explosion of climax that then ends (MASLOW, 1964, p. 4).

It is noteworthy that one of the most relevant aspects of Abraham Maslow's research on culminating experiences is the realization that there is a significant change in the behavior of individuals experiencing these experiences to which he "self-actualizes."[2]. "These changes occur in the direction of a healthy, self-realized person whose characteristics are summarized:

  • A clearer and more efficient perception of reality;
  • More openness to experience;
  • Greater integration, totality and unity of the person;
  • More spontaneity, expressiveness, full function, liveliness;
  • A real self, a solid identity, autonomy, uniqueness;
  • Greater objectivity, detachment, transcendence of the self;
  • Restoring creativity;
  • Ability to merge concrete with abstract;
  • Democratic character structure;
  • Ability to love (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 69).


The flow theory wurde of that Hungarian social psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1934) who initially called “theory about a maximum experience” based on the concept of “flow” or

that state in which people are so saturated with activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so pleasant that people would even experience paying a high price for the simple pleasure of feeling it ”(CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 1992, p.17).

Mihaly found that the Plato / Flow experience occurs when the individual consciously enjoys the moment and can be described in terms of seven basic conditions:

  • The goals are clear: in order for the person to devote himself fully to each activity, it is important that they have an accurate understanding of the tasks that they need to do from moment to moment. According to the author, although the goal is important,

True satisfaction lies in the steps everyone must take towards a goal, rather than the conquest itself (...) and usually people waste the opportunity to greet each other with what they are doing by doing that concentrate whole. Paying attention to the outcome instead of indulging in enjoying all the steps taken during the mission (id., P. 38).

  • FeedbAck is immediate: in order for the plateau / flow state to remain active, the individual must return all the time in relation to the results of his practice. For this author, “the ability to own yourself isjective Giving feedback is indeed the signal that the experts send outdrawt ”(id., p. 39).
  • The balance between challenge and skill: If the challenge and the skills are incompatible, the plateau / flow state disappears, which leads to fear and demotivation (id., P. 40).
  • The concentration deepens: In an activity in which the individual experiences the goals step by step, with the return of immediate results and the compatibility between challenge and skills, the participation exceeds a certain level of intensity, “we don't have to think about it anymore, what to do, just act spontaneously, almost automatically, even if an aspect of the task in question is very difficult or risky ”(id., ibidem). In this plateau / flow state, consciousness and action merge into an endless wave of energy. The concentration im riverss becomes so deep that the term “ecstasy” can be used to describe it (id., p. 42).
  • What matters is the present: In order for the mental status to be plateau / flow, “the current task requires full attention, the worries of routine life cannot get a place to enter the mind” (id., P. 43). That said, the absolute focus on activity prevents the plateau / flow from stopping.
  • The concept of time is changing: the concept of time is distorted into what appears to be 15 minutes was actually 2 hours; or vice versa, it stayed in the activity for 15 minutes, but to such a depth that it appears to have stayed for 2 hours (id., p. 45).
  • Loss of ego: When the individual immerses himself in the experience of plateau / flow, he tends to forget not only the problems and circumstances that surround him, but also the individuality itself. He becomes more aware of his own body, but lays down aside his social identity - name, title and responsibility involved by him - and transcends individuality to the point of “the possibility of actively participating in something larger than the ego without affecting the mental, physical or volitive abilities of the Foregoing individuals ”(id., P. 47).


The state of fluency that a child experiences while playing can be understood as the same mental state as the pianist “playing” his instrument and leads us to an opportunity for extremely natural and organic performance and fun. Csikszentmihalyi describes one such process (Fig. 1) in which “A” is a boy who is learning to play tennis at four different times. At first he only manages to get the ball through the net (A1) and remains in the plateau / flow state, which he carries out for a few months until he becomes bored (A2). When challenged by a more experienced opponent, he enters a state of fear (A3) when he sees his own performance as inferior and sets new goals that bring him back to the plateau / flow state (A4) (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2008). In the piano study it is possible to check these dynamics suggested by the author. In order to observe the experiences of plateau / flow in piano study, two types of study strategies were selected in this work: the rotation of the parts and the conscious repetition. Rotation is a system in which the piece under study is divided into parts, organized and studied separately, and interspersed with other parts or parts of parts. Each of the parts must be run for periods of about 20 to 30 minutes each, so that the roles (A1).

Figure 1: Challenge Graph / Skills, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

On the other hand, conscious repetition consists of doing each of the parts multiple times, provided that the act is done with maximum attention to avoid the state of awe. The “play” characteristic of this combination of study strategies creates a dynamic whose aim is not to touch the part from start to finish, but to be in contact with the whole work, with each part guaranteed by the rotation (A3, A4), is factored. Thus, the scope of the following conditions required for the state of the plateau / river can be seen: a) balance between challenge and skill (guaranteed by deliberate repetition of small parts) (A1); b) What matters is the focus on the present (the fear of having to touch all of the work is neutralized by the obligation to touch only the selected small stretch) (A3, A4); c) clear step-by-step goals (demarcation of smaller and defined time parts brings security to each completed route) (A4); d) Immediate feedback (by repeating the stretch for a limited time, the individual can evaluate his performance each time and use metacognitive skills of self-monitoring and self-regulation, components of motivation (A1, A2, A3, A4). With these competencies in action, the plateau / flow state tends to be established, increasing the intensity through automation, leading to the point where concentration deepens. From there comes the loss of the notion of time, followed by the loss of the ego. The person is completely delivered to the activity that can last a few moments or even many hours. “Plate [fluxo] au is fun” (PRIVETTE, 1983, p. 1364).

The situations of the plateau / flow in the practice of the piano keep the individual in a mental state that allows and favors the increasingly intense concentration, which leads to a full awareness of the interplay of the body, cognition and emotions, essential elements for the Interpretation of a pianistic work. The more efficient this interaction, the greater the artist's balance in its implementation. These requirements give the pianist expanded states of consciousness that lead to self-actualization. A pianist who can follow this path and often experience these experiences is given the opportunity to establish contact with much deeper dimensions of his own being and the work of art itself. Testimonies from pianists such as the Portuguese Maria Joo Pires in describing what happens during the pianistic interpretation define:

We have to believe that a miracle can happen. And they happen, more and more, when they believe ... Music is the sign that miracles exist. The light in your soul opens to something unknown, you become ... just after ... It is very important, we cannot say no to something when there is something.[3]

This type of language that the pianist uses in attempting to report the phenomenon is characteristic of describing a culminating experience. Inefficiency is an attribute of transcendent experiences that are difficult to translate into words.

A contemporary composer's account shows similarities in description:

You reach an ecstasy so deep that it imagines it no longer exists. I've had this experience countless times. Then my hand moves without command and I seem to have nothing to do with what is going on. I just sing there and look in a state of awe and enchantment. And (music) flows by itself (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2004, p. 43).

In the practice of the piano it is possible to experience moments of intense satisfaction and joy that result from a deep aesthetic experience, both for those who play and for those who listen. With Abraham Maslow's perspective of self-actualization through the frequent occurrence of these experiences, the pianist has the opportunity to experience a much broader dimension of his own being, his connection to the work and the composer, in addition to restoring his relationship with the public ; this situation goes beyond the simple aesthetic experience (connected to the senses).

This topic is based on the authors of the transpersonal orientation, Abraham Harold Maslow (1968), Pierre Weil (1995), Roberto Assagioli (1993, 2013), Vera Saldanha (2006, 2008) and Ken Wilber (2010), who confirm the idea, that consciousness expands. Mihaly, on the other hand, understands Csikszentmihalyi by changing consciousness into the simple feeling of dizziness caused by an individual who begins to spin on the axis itself and becomes dizzy. It is not possible for this author to expand or expand consciousness, just to mix it up. In his words: “Consciousness cannot be expanded; All we can do is mix up its contents, which gives us the impression that it is being enlarged somehow ”(CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 1992, p. 112).

Although we do not agree with this suggestion, it is permissible to use the indicators of the plateau / flow state classified by the author as they do not constitute a contradiction. This is how the concept of "state of consciousness" is defined from the perspective of transpersonal psychology:

States or levels of consciousness symbolize in the theoretical body to go through the different dimensions of consciousness. These are steps that guide and expand the process and facilitate the perception of different levels of reality. It is the way this practice takes place in clinical, educational, group and other areas where transpersonal counseling is intended. It is one of the elements that distinguishes it from other approaches (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 118).


The Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA) was systematized, expanded and structurally and dynamically presented by the Brazilian psychologist Vera Saldanha from the main concepts of transpersonal psychology, for application in education, health and institutions, which makes reading and understanding easier. Saldanha described the elaboration of this knowledge in psychology as a transpersonal integrative approach and his way of teaching it as transpersonal didactics. For this work I will describe the seven stages that the author of the AIT has worked out in the context of pianistic practice, using some psychological techniques and analysis tools. The theoretical framework proposed by this approach fulfills the task of capturing musical experience as a scientific event and requires a protocol that considers its subjective characteristic, which is widely preferred in the context of transpersonal didactics, the transpersonal integrative approach (ItA).

Two of the concepts underlying the dynamic aspects of this approach are presented here: R.E.I.S. (Reason, feeling intuition and sensation) and experience / evolution axis. The axis of experience symbolizes the integration of the four elements of psychological development - reason, emotional intuition and sensation (REIS) - represented by a horizontal line on another vertical line that cuts in half (Idem), as shown in the graphic below:

Figure 2. Experience axis diagram and evolution axis.

The construction of the axiom is based in some respects on the Jungian reference to psychological types[4]. In the transpersonal approach of the ITA, however, psychological functions are viewed as elements of psychological development and bring an expanded perspective on the concepts of reason, emotion, intuition and sensation[5]n. In this approach, emotion is seen as very desirable and includes the biological conception of knowledge and love, which was developed by Humberto R. Maturana e[6]was developed, the author integrated the concept of love as

a fundamental, biological and relational state in education and human health. In addition, emotion is important because it gives the situation the experience aspect, brings the necessary energy into the process of psychological development, favors learning. It will only be harmful if the individual remains fragmented and identified only with emotions, which will prevent the manifestation and integration of other psychological functions and elements of human development (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 188).

In the light of this model, it can be confirmed that the axis of experience deals with evolution in empirical aspects related to the practice of techniques and exercises, integrating reason (thoughts), emotion (feeling), intuition and sensation.

By practicing frequently in his instrument, the pianist takes the first step towards developing deeper parts of the psyche and integrating them into the waking consciousness, allowing for a healthier expression of the psyche (Idem). On the other hand, the evolutionary axis concerns ethical aspects, values ​​of being (S) and access to expanded states of consciousness at a stage known as the “higher spiritual order” (WHO). Recognitions are occurring at the WHO levelincidents on, ridge and plateau / flow experiences occur and are later integrated into the waking consciousness.

According to Maslow, primary creativity is the stage of inspiration, the creativeiven asight, d. a. at the level of Wen; and that the second phase, the secondary creativity, consists in the elaboration and development of the material of the first phase,

in hard work, in the discipline of the artist who can devote half a life to learning his resources, means and materials until he is ready for the full expression of what he sees. (...) The virtues that accompany the secondary creativity, the results, are the real products, the great paintings, the great novels, the bridges, the new inventions, etc. are both in other virtues - tenacity, patience, coming to terms - as well in the creativity of personality (MASLOW, 2008, p. 85).

The Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA) also focuses on a tertiary process

defined as a series of references that are inherent in human development and foster the awakening of the spiritual dimension and offer an experiential update of positive, healthy values, both individual and collective associations, characterizing a process that is subject to the principle of transcendence (SALDANHA , 2008, P. 144).

From the perspective of the transpersonal integrative approach, the existence of a “drive to transcendence” in humans is admitted, a concept formulated by Vera Saldanha and based on the studies of Abraham Harold Maslow. In linguistic practice, this drive mobilizes the pianist in search of self-realization, be it while studying a short piece, either in an integral work or even throughout his life. Before one meets basic and meta-needs in piano studies, there is a drive that nourishes the motivation to play more and more and to improve.

In this perspective, the pianistic action consists in the interaction between the three levels of creativity, which occurs non-linearly and dynamically and without which it is not possible to build a practice on the level of professional competence and the development of simultaneous being. The first and second stages meet the needs that Maslow describes as fundamental[7]e. According to the AIT's proposal, the pianist's most basic needs, survival and security (primary) and recognition and self-esteem (secondary) would be met. New needs, self-actualization and self-actualization arise when the tertiary process arises. At this level, the drive of transcendence can be expressed and covers both the basic needs and the meta-needs, holocentric, i.e.

at the center of it all, in which there are of course ethical positive values ​​such as solidarity, beauty, ecstasy and spirituality themselves as inclusive aspects of human development (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 147).

The Axis of Experience approaches this approach to pianistic practice and considers the study of the piano itself, the use of cognitive strategies, the stimulation of REIS, the application of techniques to optimize movement, piano lessons and related areas, presentations, i.e. all practical experiences. On the other hand, the evolutionary axis, which manifests itself simultaneously with the desire for experience, concerns metamotivations and subjective aspects that are accessed in the dimension of the superconscious. It is these musical experiences that reach a level of transcendence and fullness, with different degrees of intensity, such as the state of the plateau / flow, culminating experiences, exercises of active imagination, which are applied to pianistic practice, among other things. The result of these experiences is the connection with inner values ​​that promote an integral evolution of being (S), as supported by Maslow. According to the author of the transpersonal didactics

The dynamics used contain the stimulus for the inner resources that the individual himself has and that can be accessed under certain circumstances. This spring is the central point of the work in this approach, it is the manifestation of the superior or supra-conscious mental order (...). This psychic authority grasps reality clearly, knows what is necessary and best for us on our journey in the learning process, mental and physical healing. However, this access is not that simple or simple and generally has to be favored (id .: p. 140).

The interaction between these dynamic aspects of the pianist's psyche results in a process that obeys a series of steps. Saldanha worked out a classification into seven levels in connection with the process of development of the being:

These are stages of a technique we call interactive, and are also integrative stages of a process of personal development related to the basic needs of motivational theory, described by Maslow and related to the seven centers by Weil. psychological and transpersonal development (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 161).

The steps are analyzed following and linear for didactic purposes, but can occur at the same time: 1- Detection; 2- identification; 3- disidentification; 4- transmutation; 5- transformation; 6- preparation; 7- integration. The “development factor” of being, which is based on the principle of this didactic, is compatible with the development that has taken place during the learning process and the construction of a work in the pianistic action that favors their correlation. The transcendental aspect of the musical experience is then observed through this bias, which is why we do not limit ourselves to the construct of traditional psychology as it does not deal with this concept.

According to the model proposed by the author of the ItA, an analysis of the situations involved in the pianistic action is made. In the seven phases of this process, from recognition to integration, intrinsic changes occur in the pianist, which are promoted by the change in the practical aspect as well as the psychological dimension.


“Process” is a word derived from the Latin Processus, Projection, descended from, forward and cedere, gmarry; is associated with the route and means "move forward" or "move forward". In this work it is understood that progress, the way forward in working with a musical work in the study or maintenance phase, consists of a simultaneous psychological process in which changes are made with the pianist on different levels through interaction the elements of psychological development ( reason, emotion, intuition and sensation: REIS).

The approximation of the transpersonal integrative approach to the field of interpretive practices is based on the evidence that there is a psychological process inherent in the preparation of a pianistic work. According to Barros

The process of preparing a pianistic repertoire that culminates with its execution is a relevant field of research for the field of interpretive practices, since the end result of this execution depends unconditionally on the previous work (BARROS, 2008, p. 2).

It should be noted that in a psychological approach it is of particular interest to analyze the process, a source of important data for the analysis, in addition to the results. The description of this process in the light of the transpersonal integrative approach is presented here on the basis of a seven-level systematization created by the psychologist Vera Saldanha. There are seven stages of a technique that the author calls inclusive, and are also interactive stages in a process of personal development. The steps are linked to the motivational theory described by Maslow, the development of which is geared towards self-realization in seven stages, stimulated by the drive of transcendence (SALDANHA, 2006). It goes without saying that the concepts presented in the course of this investigation support the analysis and understanding of the pianistic action in the transpersonal process in the seven stages described below:


This stage consists of a first meeting, the first contact when the pianist interacts with the musical work in question, according to his profile of interests, or, according to Saldanha, “a look around” (idem, p. 162). The work may be new to the pianist, as may a revival, a new seven-step cycle of something that was already known. Every pianist experiences this phase in a special way, depending on their expertise, experience with study methods and personality methods. American pianist Murray Perahia explains that when he starts a new piano piece, he keeps playing it without thinking about structure and analysis, just preoccupying himself with the work. Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire says that the condition for choosing to study a new piece is to be in love with her; otherwise it feels like a "mole"[8]“.

In this phase of initial contact, some impressions about the piece outline the connection between the pianist and the work. It is fundamental to keep in mind, like metacognition and self-regulation, what the motivation is to learn a new piece. What the pianist consciously or not wanting when choosing this piece at this point. Basic questions to ask in this first step are: “Why did I choose this piece?”; "What do I expect with this piece?" "What does this piece mean to me?" "What moment am I passing as I deepen my contact with this work?" "What changes have I experienced after completing my full study of this piece and what will change in my life?" A self-confident attitude requires questioning right from the start of the choice of repertoire, through the metacognitive abilities of self-observation, self-monitoring and self-assessment.

In the recognition phase, the first musical elements of the work are manipulated, its general structure, themes, progress, character; It is time to analyze and select the excerpts, mark fingerings, study optimizing movements in the pianistic action. At this stage occurs

an internal mobilization, a motivation that can be triggered by intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli. As far as motivation is concerned, it is the moment when there is a gap, a space of ignorance in the face of something new which, according to Maslow, is one of the basic needs (SALDANHA, 2006, p.162).

Having confidence in the initial stages of learning, regardless of the level of knowledge of the pianist, is crucial in recognizing possible unconscious difficulties that may be latent. In this phase there is a boiling of musical elements, a selection of what is already known and what is new, an awakening of the elements of psychological development that reaches an apparent chaos. Perhaps there is an immediate affinity for a certain type of repertoire or an aversion to first contact with certain works or, on the contrary, there can be a difficulty in experiencing something new, different that escapes the convenience of working a repertoire close by. from what is already known. The fear associated with “the new” should be controlled by the mechanisms of metacognition, because it is an emotion associated with fear that can inhibit the pianist's motivation and thus the performance. It is noteworthy that, depending on the level of motivation, it is possible to reach the state of plateau / flow in the first stage, provided that the interplay between pianist / work / instrument takes place in a pleasant and healing way.

A satisfactory recognition step enables the transition to the next step, identification, since something cannot be identified without first recognizing it. The first stage lays the way to the following steps, so that the more competently the work is done at this stage, the greater the chances of self-realization in the next steps.


After recognizing and intensifying the engagement with the work, the pianist begins to deepen his bond with the object in question, i.e. he begins to identify with the work as a whole, with the style and / or with the composer. She links the identified parts with her previous experience and manipulates the elements step by step and cumulatively. Identification can be understood as the pianist's affinity for the work or aspects of it. The identification phase determines whether the pianist will continue studying the work or not, and awakens his or her elements of psychological development, reason, emotion, intuition and sensation, and sustained motivation aimed at satisfying basic needs. Therefore, the formation of a positive bond with the work and the artistic work involved in this period consists of predominant factors in order to maintain motivation and continue the process.

For example the case of a pianist who lacks affiliation, in the hierarchy of needs, and who decides to include a trio with piano in his repertoire that is fueled by the motivation to belong to a group and to be accepted by him. Even if this pianist has not yet found the members for the trio, he remains motivated to allow himself to be identified with the intrinsic possibilities of chamber music. A positive connection with work and its environment is established, which consolidates identification.

Saldanha indicates that

Identification only happens when there is resonance with the basic need in which the individual is; Participation, interest or any other task. Knowledge is only as mere intellectual information, dysfunctional, this information decorated, superficial, which is little used for the life of the individual and is usually soon forgotten. With participation, the participation of the emotional ally is mobilized with cognitive, sensory and intuitive structures that are related to learning and its acquisition (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 163).

Indeed, when there is no identification of the pianist and the formation of a positive bond with the work, the task of studying the piece can occur. This situation manifests itself in the feeling of discouragement regarding the work, which would be circumvented with a confident attitude on the part of the pianist. Failure to identify with the author's suggestion can be translated into difficulty memorizing an excerpt or the whole piece; Similarly, even if you can easily memorize it, but keep an unmusical interpretation, cold and distant, this may be the result of poor identification because of not finding the artistic motivation that translates into an expression musically in the excerpt or as a whole piece.

In pianistic action it is possible to clearly observe the moment in which identification is present. An example of this is in my practice when I am working on a section with a high level of difficulty, whether technical or interpretative. The process follows: I stand in front of the track, at the piano, and I try to observe which elements are involved in this pianistic action. From a confident perspective, I observe my moment, my interaction with the game and the piano. I choose the excerpt with the difficulty at the same time as I am looking for cognitive solutions to my queries; I stay in a state of receptivity and let the responses flow, even those that seem to be disposable.At this point there is a preference for the plateau / flow state. In this way I try to work on the selected part with the greatest possible logic, respecting the suggested movements, the current oneen Einsiwant to obey, let flow until the answer comes. From there, this stretch creates an unstoppable bond. The resulting subsequent security makes it possible to identify connections more strongly and more efficiently.

For this analysis, I selected an excerpt from a piece of the repertoire that I had prepared in the Master’s course in Interpretive Practices, Chopin's Ballad No. 1, bars 223-242 (Fig. 6). According to Alfred Cortot in his “Dition de travaille“In this coda, the most obvious technical complications of Ballad No. 1, which the author considers difficult to satisfy the threefold view: of finger resistance, wrist flexibility and elongation (CORTOT, 1929, p. 18). In fact, I have come across a situation that requires full pianistic action. In order to accomplish this task, I used the identification procedure according to the

Figure 3. Excerpt from Ballad No. 1, by F. Chopin (Comp. 223-242).

described above and waited for cognitive responses to develop. To match the composer's suggestion, I tried to adjust the movements from writing taking into account the supports and displacements. Although he deals with a number of study strategies, such as slow study, separate hand study, study with metronome, study backwards, application of movement cycles, imm[9]he still doesn't have the "Presto" Fuoco ”from the proposed composer.

I didn't find the answers to help me overcome my difficulties until an interesting fact came up after two piano lessons in two consecutive weeks. In the first I presented rachmaninoff's Corelli Variations with an adequate performance, which were highly praised by the teacher. My motivation has increased even further and has provided the basic needs of belonging and appreciation of the hierarchy proposed by Maslow. In second grade, a week later, I performed Chopin's Ballad No. 1. To my surprise, my performance was the opposite of what was achieved in the previous class, with errors of interpretation, interruptions, and hesitation. Obviously, the teacher has a number of interventions

my performance zu optimizethat I considered weak. After class, I noticed my level of motivation was dropping and I tossed my hands up with my metacognitive strategies for self-assessment, self-monitoring, and introspection.

Days later, during a plateau / flow experiment in a study session, there was a catharsis, [10]Which the answer I was waiting for emerged from the supraconscious. I understood that the gap between one class and another was created in a problem of a different order: Rachmaninoff's “Corelli Variations” is a new piece to me, and Chopin's “Ballad No. 1 ”is a piece that I have“ tried to play ”since I was a child. From this understanding other answers emerged in the form of a little story of my relationship to this work, as Assagioli describes about the opening of the supra-conscious (ASSAGIOLI, 1993):

I related the complete fact that at the age of 10 I won the album with works by Chopin; heard the recording on DISC (LP) and accompanied in the score; I ventured into the piano and did it by jumping from one track to another and avoiding touching the most complex parts; Eventually I put the piece aside because I thought it was "impossible" to play. Decades have passed and the desire to study the ballad in the master’s course arose, with the consent of my teacher. Since the InsightThat provoked catharsis, I tried to remember how I felt about childhood play, that is, what kind of bond was made in the identification process. I realized that I was internalizing a number of limiting beliefs that reinforced the negative connection of identification and a basic need[11] fuel instead of fulfilling a basic need. Since then, these limiting beliefs have crystallized in my unconscious and sabotaged my self-realization process. However, my infantilized perspective remained unconscious and reinforced the following beliefs:

  • The piece is very long and difficult to perform;
  • It's very quick, impossible to touch;
  • There are too many notes to memorize;
  • It belongs to a very advanced level of performance.

When I came into consciousness, it was evident that this psychological material was sufficient to prevent, in a psychological dimension, my performance from being adequate. At that moment there was an integration of identification when “there is involvement, involvement of the emotional, associated with cognitive, sensory and intuitive” (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 225) or what psychologists “closure of the gestalt ”nenno[12]n. The adventure axis has been experienced to this day and one can say that a puzzle has been completed in which the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. In using my metacognitive skills, I recognized the need to deepen my self-confident process and look for further answers that were attributed to an optimization of my performance in Chopin's ballad. That way, the next step would be to immediately deconstruct such limiting beliefs and replace them with new thoughts that were constructive and met my needs. I would prepare for the process of de-identifying the old standards. At this point there is an integration of the identified elements in order to create a vacuum that leads to de-identification, creates a distancing and relativizes it. To achieve this disidentification, the limiting beliefs that have already been identified should be viewed with a detachment so that they can be deconstructed and favor this next stage.

The technique used to neutralize limiting beliefs was "affirmation" and consists in constructively rewriting each sentence and doing the appropriate psychological exchange rates:

  • “The part is very long and difficult to carry out” has been replaced d“I can easily carry out each section from start to finish“;
  • “It's very quick not to touch” was translated by “I habe suitable techniques to easily carry out the fast routes ”;
  • “There are too many notes to memorize” became ersetzt by “I know all the reminder notes, they only appear in my head”;
  • “It belongs to a very advanced level of proficiency” was confirmed by “The Teil is very advanced and is replaced within my capabilities ”.

The statements are adaptable, with content free of psychological limitations, and were repeated daily for a week, all the time: mentally, loudly, to the piano and away from it. Assagioli points out that the act of affirmation is made

Arrangement or declaration of the person himself. It is the use of imperative time, through words like Latin Fiat [13]or “so be it”. The intensity or “psychological tension” of the statement determines the degree and scope of its effectiveness (ASSAGIOLI, 2013, p. 140).

During that week I observed the obvious change in my attitude towards Chopin's ballad and thus the positive change in my performance that was seen in the piano lessons that followed.

The moment I notice iass ich have difficulty aabout i'm not the scDifficulty, the transition to the next stage happens: disidentification.


In this phase there is a perspective view of how to take a step back and observe the situation with deristancing. What was identified in the previous phase cannot already be identified. After he has recognized and identified certain standards in himself, he can already assume a perspective vision. When I repeat my example with Chopin's ballad, there was recognition and identification of negative aspects related to this work; next comes the time to identify, which means I don't need this pattern anymore. I find out that there is difficulty, but I am not that difficulty. Therefore I allow the release of this pattern.

The situation of de-identification can be described analogously with the metaphor of the elephant: As smaller, the elephant cub, if he is trained by a tamer, is tied with a rope in a small stake, buried on the ground. After several attempts to loosen up, the little elephant stops trying and thinks that it is impossible to escape. According to an adult, the tamed elephant remains trapped on the same small pole that kept him captive in his childhood. Obviously, the adult elephant can pull the pole on the rope and loosen it easily. However, his lack of experience and self-awareness prevents him from using his tremendous power to get rid of limitation. I compare my situation with Chopin's ballad with this metaphor because, like the elephant, I kept the same patterns in adulthood that were adopted in childhood and gave up trying because I thought it would be impossible to use the “Presto Fuoco” -Forstep to touchen.

In the stage of de-identification, the internal and external obstacles in learning the extract or piece are demonstrated and a contextualization takes place: how the extract is to be touched, if, in this way, so that, where, etc. From this it can be deduced that there is a maturation with regard to the interaction of the pianist with the work and it is no longer a question of forming the bond, but of participation that takes into account other aspects of the object under investigation. Deeper reflections on acquired knowledge begin at this stage, when other elements are valued and the psychological development elements “sensation” and “intuition” predominate (SALDANHA, 2006).

The ongoing study gradually highlights certain aspects of which non-identification is required. The teacher's participation in this phase is of the utmost importance as it is already "outward", i.e. not identified, in perspective. She is in a privileged position of observer and can imagine what the student is not yet able to perceive at this point in the study. The fact that the teacher is in this position is a very beneficial intervention in the study that enables the pianist to achieve better results than he would have gained alone, which favors the stage of de-identification. It should be noted that although the pianist is aware of a number of suggestions from the teacher, he still identifies with other challenges that are posed during the study of the work and cannot perceive such aspects. An example of this came while studying Variant No. 4, the Corelli Variations by Rachmaninoff, which I prepared during the Masters Recital course presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Variation IV, from Variations on a Corelli Theme, op. 42, from S. Rachmaninoff.

In Rachmaninov's piano writing, the use of voice overlay is repeated in different layers, creating a dense and technically complex texture that demands the pianist's ability to carry out such plans with independence and clarity. Although I knew this constellation from writing the musical text, my execution did not show it. Due to the initial difficulty of making the shifts and properly touching the notes, besides the interaction of the pedal, the composer's original idea remained secondary at this stage of the work, and the definition of the plans was not obvious. During the piano lesson, my teacher pointed out this reading error so that I could make the correction. I immediately understood the need to move from one phase of the study to the next step in order to allow this pattern to be identified and expand into a broader perspective on the work.

From this understanding I tried to prioritize clarity in the definition of the two main plans, which led me to study them separately by first playing the chords corresponding to the direction of the theme, fingered in orange below; in a second moment I touched the area shown in blue corresponds to the elements with a decorative function, which suggests that a type of touch is lighter than the level that relates to the subject.

I worked like this during two 30-minute study sessions with a two-day interval. Next, I recorded the execution of the entire route and observed the effectiveness of the study performed. So I noticed the transition from the identification step to the de-identification stage, in this aspect of interpretation.

In my professional experience as a clinical psycho-pedagogue and piano pedagogue, I have recognized that there is a tendency to remain at the level of the confluence between identification and disidentification without being able to consolidate the third stage; or, in order to achieve a de-identification, to distance oneself from limiting patterns without, however, transcending for a transmutation. This fact is explained because some factors can inhibit the drive of transcendence, as well as prevent the occurrence of plateau / flow states and culminating experiences that interfere with the progression of the evolutionary axis. I regard these factors as true means of sabotage that a psy[14]create a chemical toxin that is potentially harmful to the pianist and his artistic work: worry; Anxiety; general tiredness; Exhaustion in relation to studying work itself; Tension, relaxation difficulties and musically worrying about it; amongst other things. In other words, the confirmation of Maslow's motivational theory, the fulfillment of the pianist's basic needs, is a crucial factor in attaining a mental state during his practice that is immune to these sabotage agents, as if there was an ideal psychological environment for this realization ; Otherwise, you may miss the opportunity to reach unimaginable levels of achievement and self-actualization.

Note that the de-identification process involves a release of the energy required for step changes towards transmutation. Technically, by releasing certain restrictive patterns, the pianist can achieve the impossible, despite being attached to them, as there is an expansion of perception with openness to the evolutionary axis and deeper reflections on the knowledge acquired. At that moment the individual's personal interest is favored and intuition and sensation are more valued; there is an opening to levels of perception of greater subtlety that favors the natural emergence of the next level (SALDANHA, 2006).


The importance of fully exercising the stages of identification and disidentification in pianistic action enables a deepening of this process, which favors transformation. The pianist has already internalized the elements of musical analysis, defined possible interpretations and it is possible that he already has the notes in his mind, can play as if they “came out of him” (by Farbe: off the Latin, from the heart). Here technical work gains consistency, movement patterns are established, small changes prepare for big changes (next step, transformation). Aspects of fingering, understanding of form, phrasing, harmonic structure, joints are in this phase, in which “nothing is absolutely certain, nothing is completely wrong or completely good or completely bad” (id., Ibidem). That is, adjustments are tested, all changes are welcome, in an infinite experiment.

Knowledge takes on personal meanings, though

positive aspects, negative, easy, difficult, promote the struggle between the desire to go deeper and give up, as challenges of new acquisition and change are imposed. (...) This moment also includes the functions of concrete and abstract perception, which relate to the sensation and perception of the synthesis from intuition (id., P. 163).

The transmutation takes place in an extremely fruitful phase that is full of opportunities for improvement and brings with it a broader look and new learning perspectives that not only bring analysis, judgment and reflection, but also processes of perception. It is the time of verification, improvement and embellishment of every detail, every sentence, every passage, in which the focus is on the infinite possibilities of sound, articulations, intensities; Artistic-musical aspects find a prominent place in this phase.

In my practice as a pianist I observe that this is the moment in which the experiences of plateau / flow arise, because this is where the deepest participation arises, as the initial barriers have been overcome. Even if I have not yet memorized your piece or excerpts, I can already access its essence and make music.

Another aspect of transmutation is related to small changes, exchange rates. In pianistic action, changes in sound and results are observed, replacing passages that were previously made with a new, more elegant or intense way, etc.

It is worth mentioning the importance of the mind free from barriers that can prevent the flowing idea and the possibilities of the creative process, intrinsic or extrinsic. Depending on the level of the pianist's basic needs, such barriers can accelerate their development process. B. Inadequate intervention by a teacher or employee (extrinsic barrier). The teacher must remain an advisor during this time so that the student can discover his interpretation instead of imposing his style of play. An intrinsic barrier consists of internal patterns of distorted self-image, low self-confidence and self-esteem that inhibit initiatives for pianistic action. The experimental phase fulfills several basic and meta-needs of the pianist and deserves to be respected by colleagues and teachers. The confident attitude, however, is that it allows the artist to deal with such difficulties which are largely favorable at this stage.