Milton Keynes & Me

To what extent does the place we live, and the community we are a part of, shape the person, musician and teacher that we become?

That’s a question that I have been reflecting on, prompted by the recent BBC documentary ’Milton Keynes and Me, in which documentary filmmaker Richard Macer returned to Milton Keynes to reflect on his childhood growing up here, and celebrate Milton Keynes’ 50th Anniversary.

Macer’s film was at times thought-provoking, informative, personal, historical, and moving. I didn’t agree with his sometimes negative perspective (and nor did many in Milton Keynes, it would seem!), but that hardly mattered. What was so much more important is that the programme inspired me to reflect on my own experiences of living here over the last nearly three decades.

We probably all wonder from time to time what impact we have made for the good. Hopefully piano teachers such as myself can recall students who gained a lifelong love for music, which sometimes defined their future. But this post isn’t about my contribution, but rather the imprint that has been made on me.

Having lived in Milton Keynes for 28 years – more than half of my life, and more than half of the city’s existence – how has this shaped who I am today?

Continue reading Milton Keynes & Me

Pianodao is Two!

Happy Birthday to Pianodao …

That’s right – it’s been a massive, erm, two years since the Pianodao site launched. In some ways it seems like only yesterday, while in other ways it seems an age. And already I can look back on a huge amount of work, and be immensely grateful for the loads of support from readers.

In raw statistics, Pianodao has welcomed approaching a quarter of a million visits from more than 90 countries. It has recently been listed as one of the Top 20 piano blogs in the world, and became the first piano blog featured by WordPress in their Discover section, which spotlights the cream of the blogging community.

I literally had no idea it would be possible to gain this sort of reach, so the journey has been an unfolding and sometimes emotional surprise to me. And I would encourage any aspiring writer with some good ideas to commit them to a blog – it’s a great and unfettered way to engage with others!

What better time to say THANK YOU to all who support the site!

And in keeping with the theme of the site, it’s a good time to reflect. I’m going to do that by highlighting just a few of the posts which for me, as a writer, stand out as important in my personal journey as a writer here so far…

Continue reading Pianodao is Two!

Active Repertoire: An Adult Student’s Perspective

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.

Continue reading Active Repertoire: An Adult Student’s Perspective

Andrew Eales: an interview

Interview by Frances Wilson

This interview includes material that originally appeared on Frances Wilson’s site The Cross-Eyed Pianist, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.

Continue reading Andrew Eales: an interview

Andrew Eales 2016 Recital

I would like to say a HUGE Thank You! to all who supported my 2016 Recital performance at the Chrysalis Theatre, Milton Keynes on Saturday 8th October.

Each year I try to give at least one solo recital locally as an opportunity to share my own playing and enthusiasm with my students, families and friends in the area – as well as those who choose to travel from further afield.

One such is my friend Stephen Marquiss, himself a very highly respected pianist and teacher, who kindly wrote of the evening:

“Treated to a recital by Andrew Eales last night packed with exquisite musical detail, inspired programming and engaging and informative introductions.”

For those who are interested in the programme I played, and would like to explore the music and composers more, here’s the list:

  • Louis Couperin (1626-61): Chaconne in F major
  • Erik Satie (1866-1925): Sarabande No.1
  • Erik Satie:  Gymnopédies 1-3
  • W.A. Mozart (1756-1791):  Piano Sonata in F major K.332

And after the interval:

  • Elena Kats-Chernin (b1957):  Eliza Aria
  • Elena Kats-Chernin:  Butterflying
  • Robert Schumann (1810-1856):  Papillons Op.2
  • Erik Satie:  3 Gnossiennes

At the end I also performed my own composition “Prelude to a Better Year”, a version of which I recorded here:

The concert was held to benefit the Campbell Community Milton Keynes, a charity that all recent Keyquest Music concerts have supported.

Including the ticket sales and refreshments on Saturday, the total amount we have raised for this wonderful cause over the last three years has now risen to more than £5,000.

Thank you for such overwhelming generosity!