The Pianist’s Anonymity

The Pianist’s Reflections Series

As I write this, it’s been another eventful week in celebrity land, with tabloid headlines screaming the latest sordid news about Angelina, Brad, Jennifer, Jonny and others. There’s a common theme here: celebrity can be both a magnet for narcissism and unhappiness and a force that knocks lives off balance.

In the world of piano playing, albeit on a smaller scale, being well-known brings its own challenges, with exposure to conflict, malicious gossip and the envy of those who are less successful or unfulfilled.

So should we basically pursue anonymity?
Can a wise balance be found?

Continue reading The Pianist’s Anonymity

The Art of Piano Fingering

Building a Library

CoverCompleteRami Bar-Niv is one of Israel’s most acclaimed and sought after pianists. He performs worldwide as a soloist with orchestra, recitalist and chamber musician, and has become an ambassador of goodwill for Israel. He has made several well received recordings for CBS, several of his compositions have been published and recorded, and he is widely in demand as a teacher.

Though some UK readers may not have come across Rami, those who are active networking on Facebook will have seen, and no doubt benefitted, from his erudite, constructive and generous support of other pianists. In short, Rami has won many friends around the world with his warmth, charm, and passion for the piano.

The Art of Piano Fingering

The Art of Piano Fingering is essentially a large manual for piano playing, published as a 212 page book via CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Several readers have asked me about it, and my opinion can effectively be summed up in just two words: Buy it.

Books about piano technique are rarely page-turners, and the idea of a large book that just deals with the nitty-gritty of piano fingering may not immediately appear enticing, but don’t be put off. In this review I will explain why I believe this book is an essential purchase for anyone who plays or teaches the piano…

Continue reading The Art of Piano Fingering

Christine Brown’s Printed Legacy

Following on from Karen Marshall’s moving tribute to the late Christine Brown, I have pleasure in providing an overview of Christine’s publications, which are available from Faber Music.

The ten books I will be looking at collectively add up to a huge addition to any piano student or teacher’s library, and teachers may well find that some of these titles become standard resources they return to regularly.

These books were published in addition to Christine’s well-known edition of Czerny’s 101 Exercises Op.261, also published by Faber Music, which Karen has already recommended in her tribute.

Continue reading Christine Brown’s Printed Legacy

Christine Brown Remembered

Guest Post by Karen Marshall

In memory of Christine Brown –  Died in September, 2009

christine-brownMy first meeting of Christine Brown was in my early teens.  I was playing at a concert for EPTA students in Ilkely.  And she at that time, I believe, organised the events.  I remember her smiling face and also rather big round glasses, with a large number of other teachers surrounding her.

It would be many years later that I had a lesson with Christine.  At 15 years I started having piano lessons with Christine’s best friend, Enid Oughtibridge, who would regularly mention Christine in our lessons – so there was still a link even then.

Continue reading Christine Brown Remembered

Introducing ABRSM Piano Star!

I am delighted to inform readers that ABRSM commissioned me to compose a number of pieces for their new Piano Star series of pre-Grade 1 books, which they formally unveil today. I feel honoured to have been involved with these fabulous new books…

As a direct contributor, of course I am unable to offer a full independent review of the publications here for ethical reasons. Instead, I have reproduced today’s Media Release from ABRSM, which gives full details of the publications below.

Continue reading Introducing ABRSM Piano Star!

The Competitions Controversy

Debate about the value of piano competitions continues to stir heated discussion in the classical music world.

Latest to weigh in with a rather controversial blog post is pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, a young Russian formerly awarded Prize Laureate at the Honens Competition of 2012. Kolesnikov goes so far as to name specific jurors who, he says, have voted for their own students in recent competitions, lifting the lid on a practice that he portrays as rife.

Continue reading The Competitions Controversy

Piano Village (Elena Kats-Chernin)

Sheet Music Review

Elena Kats-Chernin (born 1957) is an Australian composer, originally from Uzbekistan (at the time part of the Soviet Union). Kats-Chernin has won numerous prizes, and her music was featured in the opening ceremony’s of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Her output includes 6 operas, the popular ballet Wild Swans, numerous orchestral and instrumental works, film scores and a large amount of piano music.

Piano Village brings together 25 of her piano solos in a single gorgeously presented volume recently published in the UK by Boosey & Hawkes. And it’s a stunning book.

Continue reading Piano Village (Elena Kats-Chernin)

Sit up and Shut down

Piano Qigong Exercises

Here is a simple qigong practice that provides an easy hack for diminishing the effects of anxiety in our lives. It can help before performing, taking an exam, or simply enable us get through the basics of daily life.

Anxiety. It seems to be the curse of the modern age, inflicting and blighting so many of our lives. As pianists we often talk about “performance anxiety”, but the truth is that our anxiety about performing is often one element of a bigger picture, and shouldn’t lightly be isolated…

Continue reading Sit up and Shut down