The brilliantly inventive music of Bulgarian pianist and composer Borislava Taneva has steadily become one of the jewels of the Editions Musica Ferrum catalogue.
Taneva’s music appears in all three Mosaic books (which I have featured here and will revisit as the series continues to grow), and she has three titles of her own: Sound Stories (2016), and two volumes entitled Riddles, Puzzles and Plays.
Taneva’s music is strikingly creative, and the seam of pedagogy running though it is not simply good: it’s truly inspiring. So read on for a full review and overview…
Once in a while a music book comes my way which quite simply “blows me away”, and such a book is Little Stories, a new collection of 16 late elementary pieces by Polish composer Agnieszka Lasko, published by Euterpe and distributed by Universal Edition.
With it’s truly lush illustrations and presentation of Lasko’s highly original and attractive compositions, the book is a natural winner. The inclusion in several pieces of opportunities for children to improvise and compose takes the book to another level again, making it a truly essential addition to the childrens’ pedagogic literature.
Ask these questions to a hundred pianists, and there’s a good chance you will hear a hundred different answers – but some common themes will most likely emerge.
In this article I am going to consider the many and complex motivations we all experience in life, focussing in on the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, and how each pertains to our piano playing.
Alison Mathews’ excellent collection Treasure Trove has proved a big hit with my students who have been working through it, and I’m delighted that publishers Editions Musica Ferrum have now brought out another collection composed by her: Doodles.
It is very clear straight away that this publication explores very different terrain to Treasure Trove however.
So what is the concept here, and do I think it works? Let’s find out…
Those of us who grew up hearing stories of the young prodigy Mozart composing his first music aged 5, or Beethoven composing the 9th whilst already deaf, may be forgiven for sometimes assuming that composing is something rarified and mysterious, inaccessible for us ordinary folk.
But if the recent explosion of wonderful original solo piano compositions from the likes of Barbara Arens, June Armstrong, Alison Mathews and Nikolas Sideris and many others that have been featured on Pianodao teaches us nothing else, it is that composition is not reserved just for the transcendent few.
What’s more, there are many resources available that you can use to guide you through introducing composition to students.
These resources, combined with an encouraging attitude and a sense of humour, can make composing a really fun and educational activity that both you and your students will enjoy. Best of all, none of these resources require you the teacher to be a composer. All you need is an encouraging attitude and a willingness to experiment.
Below you will find a list of resources that will help you to introduce yourself and your students to composing, as well as some tips from Barbara, June, Alison and Nikolas.
A good performance depends on the player’s personal interpretation of the music. Enjoyment, for the listener, depends on their personal response to the music. Which in turn is informed by personal musical taste and experience.
And in the same way, learning to play a musical instrument is a highly personalised experience. In this post we’ll consider why that is true, and what it means in practice.
The writer Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) gave us these much treasured words:
“Come away from the din.
Come away to the quiet fields,
over which the great sky stretches,
and where, between us and the stars,
there lies but silence;
and there, in the stillness
let us listen to the voice
that is speaking within us.”
Whether speaking of the Divine, or perhaps the voice of our own inner creative inspiration, these words represent a powerful call which we should and surely must heed on a regular basis.
For the school child, the busy professional or the highly active senior, the “Quiet Fields” could mean time spent at the piano.
For those of us whose work involves performing on or teaching the piano, the “Quiet Fields” are necessarily elsewhere.
But for all of us the imperative applies: we need time away from the daily grind to listen and to renew.