It is with great pleasure that I welcome Doug Hanvey from Portland Oregon as a guest author on Pianodao. Doug is a highly qualified and experienced educationalist and teacher of both piano pedagogy and mindfulness. Here he discusses the link between the two…
Guest author and professional visual artist Simon Reich gives his personal perspective…
Being a visual artist myself, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s quite possible that the general populace of the world could live without paintings, sculpture and visual art. But I severely doubt the people on this planet could live without music.
Guest Post by Evelina de Lain
Evelina de Lain writes of her background growing up in the former USSR, the serious injury that stopped her piano playing career in its tracks, her discovery of jazz, and how she finally overcame her injury to become a successful professional pianist with a growing international career…
I am delighted to welcome Karen Marshall, the co-author of the excellent “Get Set! Piano” series and compiler of the ABRSM Encore books, as a regular contributor on the Pianodao site.
In this, Karen’s first post here, she explores the importance of personalised teaching…
Guest Author Mark Polishook takes a look at the benefits of weight-based piano technique, with reference to boxing, martial arts and … cherry tomatoes.
Guest author Simon Reich shares an inspiring personal testimony to the power of music.
With war in Syria, daily muggings, deadlock in the Middle East, domestic violence and escalating racial tensions, we are in desperate need of some good news stories.
Being a creative musician, you may not realize it, but you hold the key to giving the world some peace and inspiration.
As guest author Kevin Pearson explains, learning to play an instrument is believed to make a significant difference to the player’s brain.
Musicians are truly special in the sense that they need skills that few others do. Because musicians need acute hearing, well-developed senses of pitch, rhythm, dynamics and timing as well as great control of small and large muscles that non-musicians rarely use (“small-muscle athletes” as Frank Wilson described it in his book Tone Deaf and All Thumbs) musicians develop neurological and morphological changes that can be beneficial not only when playing their instrument or listening to music, but also in other aspects of everyday life.
Interview by Guest Writer, Simon Reich
I have always thought that to be a well-regarded teacher in a particular area, you need to know the subject inside and out and be a proficient exponent of the subject and Mark Polishook is definitely one of those.
I am delighted to publish a guest post from Frances Wilson, who blogs as The Cross-Eyed Pianist
Much has been written about the young French pianist Lucas Debargue, a finalist in the 2015 edition of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition. The concept of him being “self-taught” (until relatively recently) has been debated across a number of articles, together with his rather unusual technique (“Scales played with only the thumb and index finger and his pinkie sticking up as daintily as Hyacinth Bucket’s” – The Spectator, 18/7/15) and glorious sound. He’s not out of the traditional mold of the international competition winner (commences piano studies at a young age, undertakes rigorous study with a master teacher and progresses to the “Three C’s” of Conservatoire, Competition and Concerto) – and he didn’t even wear a tie during the final!
Guest writer Simon Reich addresses an issue that affects so many of us …
Being a creative musician is a dangerous profession. No, I don’t mean getting your fingers slammed by the piano lid, or a Steinway falling on your head. I mean the proportion of suicides compared to statistics in the general population. Every time I hear a story informing me of another person who has taken their life, be it a celebrity or “man on the street”, I am deeply touched and realise how close I have come to being another statistic.
I knew from early childhood that certain things affected me profoundly. When I heard certain songs or chord progressions, I felt butterflies inside me and sometimes it made me cry. When I would see injustices to class mates or in movies, I would feel deep empathy. Obviously I was quite a sensitive person and music gave me a chance to enter a creative world of my own making.
As positive as these traits were and still are in me, they also have a dark side. Having only recently gained some wisdom on how these thought patterns have affected me, I stumbled on unknowingly through my life, eventually culminating in a breakdown which really forced me to learn more about the subject and about myself.
Here are some of the key points I have learnt about how I tick.
I realised I tried to “please all of the people, all of the time”. This is an impossible task, and ended up causing a massive gap between my expectations & reality.
I had a tendency to place clients higher in the pecking order than my own family, so partook in some pretty crazy overtime hours. I would take bookings for gigs, even though I’d promised to do things with the family. This caused massive frustration on my part as I danced around trying to please everyone. Inevitably I pleased no one and hurt myself in the bargain.
“Learn to love yourself”
I have only just started to hear my negative self talk, and have realised how destructive it has been all my life. I remember listening to a relaxation tape that was meant to be part of your nightly regime. One of the first things the speaker asked you to do, at the end of each day, was reach up behind you and give yourself a pat on the back! He would then go onto say “You did the best you could today with the information you had.”
“Surround yourself with supportive people”
At times I thought I was the only one who felt these thoughts. When I discovered others were in the same boat as me and were willing to help each other out, I rejoiced! Friends who understand your condition and are willing to talk with you are a gift from heaven.
Living with anxiety or depression is not an easy thing, but I have to wonder, “what if I didn’t have this condition? Would I be as productive as a creative artist?” The fact that I have felt the lowest of lows, means I rejoice all the more when I feel the highs.
If you are experiencing these types of feelings, then take solace in the fact that you are not alone and that a helping hand is just a phone call or key stroke away.