Guest Author, The Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman writes about the effect that the lack of female composers in music syllabuses had on a young child’s aspirations…
Guest Post by Joni Hawkes
The recent articles on Active Repertoire on Pianodao have struck a chord with me … quite literally.
As an adult beginner into my third year of lessons, I have often found myself avoiding situations where I might be asked to play something, because I simply couldn’t play anything spontaneously without my trusty sheet music to hand.
The more pieces that I learned, the more they were becoming just a growing collection of stuff I couldn’t play.
The concept of Active Repertoire (always having 3 pieces that I enjoy playing, without notice, without embarrassment and without notation) has completely changed my approach to playing.
I now start every practice session by playing my 3 favourite pieces, and whilst I still have the book in front of me, I’m finding that with each session I’m increasingly looking away from the music as I play.
Guest Post by Roberta Wolff
One of the things I love about teaching is hitting upon that perfect explanation, aural, visual or verbal, which offers immediate clarity. Sometimes the answer comes after much reflection and thought and sometimes it seems to hit, apparently, from nowhere.
This is what happened recently with an adult student. After a strong start to her piece she began scrambling, reacting to the notes on the score rather than working with control. I pointed out that to keep playing at her current speed would be to create musical baggage.
This was the first time I had used the term, but her comprehension was immediate simply because she already understood the common phrase, emotional baggage. The idea of musical baggage resonated with her and so has proven to be a simple but powerful aid to her practice.
Naturally, I developed the idea so it could benefit more than just one student.
One of the major stumbling blocks for players is that we too often feel that we are struggling, making little progress, and perhaps just haven’t got what it takes to become a “good player” (however we define what that even is!).
To enjoy playing an instrument, we need to move beyond this negative self-talk. And I suggest that one of the most easy and powerful ways we can all achieve this is to adjust the balance between working and playing during our personal piano time.
I am delighted to host this wonderfully reflective post by the brilliant young pianist Iyad Sughayer, which touches on the nature of musical engagement:
Guest post by Iyad Sughayer
Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is perhaps one of his most celebrated works. Written during his time as a war prisoner at the Nazi Stalag VIII-A camp after the German invasion of France, it is the most intense religiously inspired work I have ever come across.
Despite coming from a Muslim background, having grown up in Jordan, I was still able to understand the strong Catholic Liturgy behind the work. Indeed Messiaen’s Catholic beliefs are clearly and beautifully portrayed throughout the work.
“Music is a serious matter”
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)
Dinu Lipatti was born in Bucharest on 19th March 1917, a hundred years ago this week. His life and career shone with a brightness that helped illuminate the piano’s “golden age”, leaving an indelible hue on our cultural heritage. That blazing light was tragically extinguished on 2nd December 1950, when Lipatti died of Hodgkin’s Disease.
But Lipatti’s legacy lives on, and such was the precision, luminosity and spirituality of his playing that, these many decades later, many of his recordings (mostly from the 1940s) are still regarded as milestones in the history of music.