Let’s talk about our practice expectations

Pathways for Teaching

Lack of practice is an issue that most piano players grapple with at some point – and it is something that teachers don’t always handle graciously and with understanding…

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“Solo” – Oliver Sadie

Sunday Sounds

Oliver Sadie was one of the first musicians whose piano recordings I discovered when I joined SoundCloud a few years ago, and with whom I connected in those earlier, more “community” oriented days on the platform.

One aspect of Oliver’s musical development which has inspired many is his ability to provide a complete “package” – not simply great music, but also well played, beautifully recorded and packaged. These reveal the skills and dedication of a true professional, and it has been a pleasure to see over the years how his subsequent career as an upcoming award-winning media composer has developed.

An irony is that although Oliver has worked so hard to develop his career, his music comes easily and naturally.

He is one of the most talented free improvisers I know of outside of jazz, effortlessly playing, recording and performing fully-formed piano works with the spontaneity that comes from genuine talent, and with an appeal that has naturally attracted a huge following.

“Solo” is a track in which Oliver returns to this simple ethos.

Follow: Oliver Sadie on SoundCloud

Year of the Fire Monkey

The Chinese New Year officially starts on February 8th 2016, marking the start of the Year of the Fire Monkey. So what is the background to this ancient tradition, and what (if anything) might it mean for the year ahead?

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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”

Sunday Sounds

This week, I am sharing a compilation of some of my favourite pieces by Greek pianist and composer, Fivos Valachis, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing online for a few years now. He is a musician for whom I have the utmost respect.

Fivos also has an interesting “piano journey” story to tell, which I will let him share in his own words while you enjoy listening to his music:

“Born in Athens (Greece) in 1959, crossroad of Western and Eastern culture, I learnt as a child to appreciate both classical and popular culture.

In 1967, I fell in love with the piano, beginning the study of the instrument. My adolescent years were years of continuous curiosity and musical experimentation, moving from folk music to hard rock, from pop / rock to classical music. These were also the years that I composed my first “rudimentary” pieces and songs. And I learnt to also play the guitar, accordion, bouzouki and baglama.

In 1977, after finishing High School, I concluded my studies in classical piano at the Conservatory of Athens and then moved to Turin, Italy for graduate studies in Computer Science. As I continued my studies I also played as a pianist in piano-bar, taught piano and harmony, and worked as a private freelance musician. 1978, I was the winner of second prize of UNESCO’s International Competition for original music for children. 1981, parallel to the university, I graduated in jazz technique and improvisation with teacher Giorgio Gaslini.

For the next 20 years, for personal reasons, I largely retired into the background, but composed Greek and Italian songs and music for advertising under a pseudonym. At the same time I continued to compose neo-classical piano music, and gave small private concerts for up to 50 people.

In May 2013 I woke up and decided to share my musical diary not only with friends and family, but through the internet with everyone using SoundCloud   and streaming concerts on YouTube. The effect of this decision on my life was unimaginable: new contacts with great musicians, 21 charity concerts in one year in Italy, and many new friends around the world.”

Fivos is indeed a musician who has taken the internet with both hands and found a way to share his wonderful music far and wide. In the process he has gained an enthusiastic and large international audience.

Follow: Fivos Valachis 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

Sheet Music Review

’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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Andrej Zatkalík: “Ancient Memories”

Sunday Sounds

Andrej Zatkalík is a musician based in Bratislava, Slovakia, who regularly shares his piano improvisations on SoundCloud, and they are simply too good to miss!

An improvisation of two halves, reflective and passionate by turns, Ancient Memories is a typically astonishing work which reveals Andrej’s technical prowess and assimilation of classical piano styles.

Writing about his musical process, Andrej says:

“My first musical steps began in childhood at the age of 8, when I started playing the piano. I learnt at the local musical school for the next seven years. From that time on, my greatest passion has been piano improvising. It’s like an open-ended adventure to put your fingers on the piano keys and let your soul speak with the universal language of music!

I often play around with simple musical motifs, adding changes and variations to them. That way I create my improvisations.

Sometimes I record myself playing, and by listening back I can find some interesting melodies or chord progressions, which I don’t remember playing. My music is mostly unplanned, and the majority of my piano pieces I have created during one evening, which is why I often use the word “evening“ or “night“ in title name.”

Follow: Andrej Zatkalík on SoundCloud