21 Amazingly Easy Pieces

Sheet Music Review

’21 Amazingly Easy Pieces’ is an original collection of new pieces  by Barbara Arens, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2014, which has recently come to my attention – and I am seriously impressed with it.

‘Piano Misterioso’, from the same author and publisher, will also be reviewed shortly on Pianodao.

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Andrej Zatkalík: “Ancient Memories”

Sunday Sounds

Andrej Zatkalík is a musician based in Bratislava, Slovakia, who regularly shares his piano improvisations on SoundCloud, and they are simply too good to miss!

An improvisation of two halves, reflective and passionate by turns, Ancient Memories is a typically astonishing work which reveals Andrej’s technical prowess and assimilation of classical piano styles.

Writing about his musical process, Andrej says:

“My first musical steps began in childhood at the age of 8, when I started playing the piano. I learnt at the local musical school for the next seven years. From that time on, my greatest passion has been piano improvising. It’s like an open-ended adventure to put your fingers on the piano keys and let your soul speak with the universal language of music!

I often play around with simple musical motifs, adding changes and variations to them. That way I create my improvisations.

Sometimes I record myself playing, and by listening back I can find some interesting melodies or chord progressions, which I don’t remember playing. My music is mostly unplanned, and the majority of my piano pieces I have created during one evening, which is why I often use the word “evening“ or “night“ in title name.”

Follow: Andrej Zatkalík on SoundCloud


Sunday Sounds

This aptly named piece by Simeon Walker is a delight of restraint and warmth. Perfect for the season – and I hope you love this as much as I do!

Simeon explains:

“Last year, on January 2nd, I sat down to play and began to think through my thoughts about the new year ahead.

For me, this song is about contrasts. The space between anticipation and tentativeness about all that will happen. Musically, I tried to capture this through full, warm, chord-based movement, whilst trying to retain a coldness and hesitance in the sound, that could also reflect the time of year.

I tried to leave as much space as possible in this piece to enable the listener to be aware of their own feelings about the new year. Contrast and space.”

Follow: Simeon Walker on SoundCloud

András Schiff & Natural Breathing

András Schiff – surely one of the most revered pianists of our time – made the following extraordinary observation in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine (No.76, Feb-March 2014):

“For me, it is breathing that is vital. You must breathe naturally, like a singer. Pianists and string players often tend to forget the necessity of breathing and they can become very tense; then they get back pains and wrist pains and so on. Usually it can be sorted out through the breathing.”

Breathing is a subject that I have rarely seen discussed in connection with piano technique, and even less so in the context of pianists’ injuries, their causes, cures and corrections.

So András Schiff is hitting on a point that it would seem is indeed too often overlooked. Let’s explore this further…

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Is Mindfulness relevant to piano playing?

Guest post by Doug Hanvey

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…

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The Art of Piano Pedagogy

The great Russian pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus (who taught such legendary classical pianists as Radu Lupu, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels) wrote:

“I consider that one of the main tasks of a teacher is to ensure as quickly and as thoroughly as possible that he is no longer necessary to the pupil; to eliminate himself, to leave the stage in time, in other words to inculcate in the pupil that independent thinking, that method of work, that knowledge of self and ability to reach his goal which we term ‘maturity’, the threshold beyond which begins mastery.”

Heinrich Neuhaus
‘The Art of Piano Playing’,
trans. K.A. Leibovitch, London 1973

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The Importance of Music

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.

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Overcoming Injury – A Personal Story

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… 

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“Turmoil Within”

Sunday Sounds

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