Social Media and Feelings of Inadequacy

Following on from her well-received post “Am I Really Good Enough“, guest author Frances Wilson turns her focus to the impact that social media can have on our view of ourselves…

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Iconoclasts, Shibboleths, Paul Bley and Pierre Boulez

Classical composer and conductor Pierre Boulez passed within a week of the influential jazz pianist Paul Bley… in this brilliant in-depth article, guest author Mark Polishook considers the impact that both musicians had on the music of the 20th century and beyond…

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Fivos Valachis: “My Musical Diary”

New Sounds: 23rd January 2016
Fivos Valachis: January (compilation)

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Paul Harris: “A Piece a Week”

One of the most interesting publications for pianists in recent months is ‘A Piece a Week’ – the first two books in a new series by popular author Paul Harris.

The books appear within the best-selling ‘Improve Your Sight Reading’ series, are aimed at players working towards grades one and two respectively, and are beautifully presented by Faber Music.

Reviewing these books seems to me to require two tasks – firstly to identify who they are for (and the concept behind them), and secondly some comments about the actual material included.

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“Porte Harmonique”

New Sounds:  16th January 2016
Mathias Schmitt: “Porte Harmonique – Les Fugues Fantômes – 2015”

Born in Lyon in 1977 , Mathias Schmitt discovered the piano at the age of 5, and followed a classical education to the age of 15. He then met Armand Reynaud , Harmony Professor of Jazz Conservatory of Lyon, who introduced him to improvisation.

He now performs regularly in piano bars and various other places, following his belief in:

“continuous improvisation, punctuated by nods to jazz standards and other tunes buried in our imaginations.”

I am very fond of the harmonic progression that forms the backbone of this piece, and I love the way that Mathias develops this motif into something so emotionally engaging. I hope you enjoy it just as much!

Follow: Mathias Schmitt on SoundCloud

Am I Really Good Enough?

Guest author Frances Wilson considers a question we all ask ourselves from time to time, sometimes more frequently than we should…

Am I Really Good Enough?

  • Am I good enough to pass this exam?
  • Good enough to compete in that festival?
  • Play in that concert?
  • To be a piano teacher?

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The Practising, Playing, Performing Piano Teacher

In this month’s post, well-known author and regular Pianodao contributor Karen Marshall considers how teachers can continue developing their own journey at the piano …

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21 Amazingly Easy Pieces

’21 Amazingly Easy Pieces’ is an original collection of new pieces  by Barbara Arens, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2014, which has recently come to my attention – and I am seriously impressed with it.

‘Piano Misterioso’, from the same author and publisher, will also be reviewed shortly on Pianodao.

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“Ancient Memories”

New Sounds: 10th January 2016
Andrej Zatkalík: “Ancient Memories”

Andrej Zatkalík is a musician based in Bratislava, Slovakia, who has been featured in the New Sounds series previously. While it is an aim to feature as many different new artists here as possible, I have no hesitation in sharing his latest piano improvisation here because it is simply TOO GOOD to miss!

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New Sounds: 3rd January 2016
Simeon Walker: “January”

For the first “Sunday Sounds” of 2016 (renamed “New Sounds” – and from now on this feature will usually appear earlier each weekend), this aptly named piece by Simeon Walker is a delight of restraint and warmth. Perfect for the season – and I hope you love this as much as I do!

Simeon explains:

“Last year, on January 2nd, I sat down to play and began to think through my thoughts about the new year ahead.

For me, this song is about contrasts. The space between anticipation and tentativeness about all that will happen. Musically, I tried to capture this through full, warm, chord-based movement, whilst trying to retain a coldness and hesitance in the sound, that could also reflect the time of year.

I tried to leave as much space as possible in this piece to enable the listener to be aware of their own feelings about the new year. Contrast and space.”

Follow: Simeon Walker on SoundCloud

András Schiff & Natural Breathing

András Schiff – surely one of the most revered pianists of our time – made the following extraordinary observation in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine (No.76, Feb-March 2014):
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