Sunday Sounds, 15th November 2015
The Awakened Soul: “Turmoil Within”
The Awakened Soul, aka Apo Malo, has been producing and sharing fine piano improvisations on SoundCloud for several years, and was one of the first friends I made when I joined the site a few years ago. His music has a depth and spirituality which I believe readers here will appreciate.
Regarding this piece, Apo writes:
“Amidst the confusion of the times, the conflicts of conscience, and the turmoil of daily living, an abiding faith becomes an anchor to our lives.”
– Thomas S. Monson
This piece came to me when I eventually calmed the inner conflicts within my soul. Enjoy this improvisation!
A wonderful sentiment – and brilliantly conveyed in the music!
Follow: The Awakened Soul on SoundCloud
The Fermata Series
“You may be capable of great things,
But life consists of small things.”
Deng Ming Dao is a popular contemporary writer whose meditation books have a Daoist emphasis – I’ve quoted from him before, and no doubt will again as he is a source of tremendous wisdom.
I highly recommend all his books, and the best-selling ‘365 Tao’ is a great place to start, offering a thought a day throughout the year.
Today’s thought is, I think, of particular relevance to musicians. Here’s an extract, which I hope you will enjoy reflecting on:
“Big things seldom come along.
One should know the small as well as the big.
We may all yearn to make lasting achievements and to be heroes, but life seldom affords us the opportunities to do so. Most of our days consist of small things – the uneventful meditations, the ordinary cooking of meals, the banal trips to work, the quiet scratching in the garden – and it is from these small things that the larger events of our lives are composed.
The master musician’s best composition is but one work in a sea of musical tones. If we want to be successful, it is the small things that we should pay attention to.
We must not fall in the trap of waiting so long for the big things that we let numerous small chances slip right by us. People who do this are forever waiting for life to be perfect. They complain that fate is against them, that the world does not recognise their greatness. If they would lower their sights, they would see all the beautiful opportunities waiting at their feet. If they would humble themselves enough to bend down, they could scoop untold treasures up into their hands.”
“Remembrance” Sunday Sounds, 8th November 2015
Tammy Howarth: “Aftermath”
Tammy Howarth is a second year student at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. I first heard her original music posted on SoundCloud before she had finished schooling in Pembrokeshire, and was immediately struck by her originality and talent.
“Aftermath” is a deeply reflective piece, its engaging melody underpinned by subtle arrangement and production. Unlike many pieces in a so-called “post-minimal” style, the arrangement never becomes too much, drowning out the core piano content … it’s this musical sensitivity, restraint and sophistication that I find particularly striking and appealing.
I hope you enjoy this too!
Follow: Tammy Howarth on SoundCloud
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…
Continue reading Karen Marshall: “Bespoke Teaching”
The journalist Jeremy Nicholas interviewed legendary pianist Jorge Bolet back in 1977, and among other things asked him why “The Romantic Pianist” seemed already by then to have vanished.
Bolet’s reply was prescient, and perhaps even more relevant today than it was in the 1970s. Here is his response:
Continue reading Jorge Bolet on competitions
Sunday Sounds, 1st November 2015
Andrew Eales: “Departures”
The Sunday Sounds feature will occasionally feature my own original piano compositions, and it seems fitting to begin where I myself started. This piece was improvised late one night some years ago. Listening back to it I realised that the structure and musical content was satisfactory without any editing, and when I subsequently set up my own SoundCloud account, it was the first piano track that I ever shared.
From the start, it has proved popular with listeners, and if this is your first encounter with it, I hope you will enjoy the piece!
Follow: Andrew Eales on SoundCloud
Guest Author Mark Polishook takes a look at the benefits of weight-based piano technique, with reference to boxing, martial arts and … cherry tomatoes.
Continue reading Piano Technique, Weight in Motion, Boxing, Taichichuan and The Cherry Tomato
Sunday Sounds, 25th October 2015
Terry Robinson: “Legions of Poppies”
Manchester based pianist and composer Terry Robinson says of this beautiful composition:
My wife bought a fabulous original watercolour painting of purple poppies and she left it on the music stand of my piano. As I sat down to practice I gazed at the painting and improvised this track. It has two aspects – the present day image of poppies blowing in the wind and the associated remembrance of soldiers who died in battle.
I recorded the improvisation and practised it until I could play the left hand part without it sounding too amateurish – at the end of recording the track my left hand felt about ready to fall off!
Follow: Terry Robinson on SoundCloud
Sunday Sounds, 18th October 2015
Christian Smith: “The Break of Dawn”
One of the loveliest piano solos I have heard on SoundCloud, “The Break of Dawn” is composed by Christian Smith, a 21 year old composer from Hampshire, England, specialising in romantic and uplifting piano and string compositions.
After 9 months of writers block, and many failed attempts, I have finally managed to complete a composition.
And what a composition it is! You can as always…
Follow: Christian Smith on SoundCloud
Pathways for Teaching
Musicians and teachers often debate the relative merits of aural-based learning versus a notation-driven approach. Seeing the topic wheeled out for discussion again this week, I was reminded of this brilliant quote by the legendary concert pianist Andor Földes, taken from his book “Keys to the Keyboard” written back in 1950 :
“There is no such thing as a proper age for a child to start playing the piano. I avoid saying ‘to start his musical education’ because I believe that an education in music should start very early, perhaps years before the child ever actually learns how to read notes, or can find his way among the black and white keys.”
Földes’ basic point – made some four decades before “The Sounding Symbol” by George Odam re-popularised the phrase “sound before symbol” – is that music is essentially an aural language, and that playing and reading must build on that foundation.
Continue reading “Sound before symbol”: lessons from history