Finding your own way…

Concert pianist and writer Charles Rosen (1927-2012) offers some interesting advice in his book “Piano Notes

Do you agree with his conclusions?

“…  any dogmatic system of teaching technique is pernicious. Most pianists, in fact, have to work to some extent in late adolescence to undo the effects of their early instruction and find an idiosyncratic method that suits them personally.

Not only the individual shape of the hand counts but even the whole corporal shape. That is why there is no optimum position for sitting at the piano, in spite of what many pedagogues think.”

Charles Rosen: Piano Notes – The Hidden World of the Pianist (2002)


The PIANODAO website features 600+ FREE ARTICLES and REVIEWS.
The blog exists thanks to generous DONATIONS from readers like you.
Regular supporters are welcome to join the TEA ROOM COMMUNITY.


Andrei Gavrilov’s concerns

PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING • by ANDREW EALES
personal support • BOOK A MENTORING SESSION


Andrei Gavrilov is one of the world’s finest concert pianists, who has in recent years dedicated himself to giving master-classes to upcoming players around the world. So when he comments on the current state of music education and piano playing, it is certainly worth listening.

Some of his latest comments could prove controversial however. Mr. Gavrilov has provided a lengthy list of the “major mistakes” that he feels are “obstacles to artistic development”.

You can read his comments in full on the Cross-Eyed Pianist page here, but the overall impression he gives is that teachers and young pianists are neglecting artistic development, musical analysis and cultural understanding. He concludes that in four years of giving master-classes, he met:

“…nobody who could even be able to touch a single serious composition without destroying it in all senses.”

It is beyond doubt that Mr. Gavrilov’s robust observations offer genuine insight, but I feel sure that he is overstating his case. I personally know of many leading players and teachers who go out of their way to place music in its proper historical and cultural context. There is surely no shortage of upcoming players able to communicate great art with profound depth, with young artists like Benjamin Grosvenor, Daniil Trifonov, Igor Levitt, Jonathan Biss, Alice Sara Ott, Khatia Buniatishvili, Sunwook Kim, HJ Lim, Beatrice Rana, Conrad Tao, Louis Schwizgebel, Federico Colli and others firmly proving that point.

That said, Mr. Gavrilov is not the first, and nor is he alone, in expressing concerns about current trends in music education and performing.

Speaking to International Piano magazine (Jan/Feb 2014) the internationally revered pianist Maria João Pires suggested that it is the “competitive world” that has destroyed a lot of the transmission of our culture, and she sees a clear connection between piano competitions and marketing. She says:

“To compete always damages your soul. If you compete you are not a musician any more.
We old musicians should perhaps give the new generation alternatives. I think our mission is to transmit what has been transmitted to us. This competitive world, this marketing world, has destroyed a lot of that transmission.
Competitions are not the way, that’s for sure!”

Piano competitions have certainly come to dominate the commerce, marketing and performing culture of our time, especially for aspiring professional players. Given this context, is it really any wonder if teachers encourage competition participation and focus on the aspects of their students development most likely to turn them into “winners”?

According to Maria João Pires, competing “damages the soul”. This is one of the many issues that Pianodao will need to look at in more detail over the coming months. For now it is sufficient to note that for too many players, their experience even at an early age irrevocably equates performing with competition.

Some refuse to play at all in later life, even exhibiting significant anxiety reactions to any request to play in front of others. The field is thus left clear for the “winners” to scale ever greater heights of technical virtuosity, continuing their tour of the competition circuit in the hopes of making a reputation for themselves.

Whether or not Andrei Gavrilov’s concerns and those of Maria João Pires are connected, there is no doubt that Mr. Gavrilov has touched on important issues that pianists and teachers will want to ponder. It will certainly be very interesting to see how his colleagues around the world respond to his critique.


The PIANODAO website features 600+ FREE ARTICLES and REVIEWS.
The blog exists thanks to generous DONATIONS from readers like you.
Regular supporters are welcome to join the TEA ROOM COMMUNITY.


Happiness

PATHWAYS FOR LIVING • by ANDREW EALES
setting our piano journey in its living context.


“Humanity grows more and more intelligent, yet there is clearly more trouble and less happiness daily.
How can this be so?
It is because intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom.”

Lao Tzu: Hua Hu Ching (translated Brian Walker)

The big question for us all is this: what do we do with our knowledge?

Do we accumulate knowledge simply to “fight back”, to be “better” and more “successful” than the next person?

Or does our own self-improvement and development go hand in hand with generosity towards other people?

There are many possible responses, but it’s important to recognise the priority of wisdom over knowledge, because this leads to happiness and peace.


The PIANODAO website features 600+ FREE ARTICLES and REVIEWS.
The blog exists thanks to generous DONATIONS from readers like you.
Regular supporters are welcome to join the TEA ROOM COMMUNITY.


“Developing Gradually”

PATHWAYS FOR LIVING • by ANDREW EALES
setting our piano journey in its living context.


Have you noticed that the pace of life isn’t slowing?

That social change and technological innovation are often adding to the stress of your daily life rather than alleviating it?

Sometimes we simply need to slow down.

To find calm and purpose.

This is true for all of life – including our piano playing.

The image of a tree growing gradually on a mountainside sums up the natural wisdom of making secure progress, and reaching purposefully towards all the points one must in one’s individual journey.

This image of “Developing Gradually” (I Ching 53) is likely to recur here on the Pianodao site as core wisdom. It underpins the development of this site.

There is so much I would like to share here – but it will take time. The planning is done, and roots are growing into the ground. Over the next few months and years I hope that many branches will grow.

And I hope that as you join me on this journey, you will be nourished by the fruits of the site.

Welcome to Pianodao.


The PIANODAO website features 600+ FREE ARTICLES and REVIEWS.
The blog exists thanks to generous DONATIONS from readers like you.
Regular supporters are welcome to join the TEA ROOM COMMUNITY.