The Pianist’s Kindness

The Pianist’s Reflections Series

As I write this I am in India on a two-week yoga retreat, in which each day has started with a reflective discourse on the ethics outlined in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, the classic text from which yoga theory subsequently developed.

The first, foundational ethic presented by Patanjali was ahimsa, which can be literally translated no harm, and intrinsically means be kind. Without kindness, there can be no true yoga. And yet, as our teacher rather decisively noted:

“There are plenty of people in this world who can touch their toes – but who are still basically arseholes!”

As usual, what is true in one field can equally apply in another, and certainly from my own observations of pianists – both in online forums and the ‘real world’ – there are plenty of very fine piano players and teachers who, it would seem, somewhat lack kindness.

So how can we encourage the piano community to be a kinder one? As always, the answer must begin with ourselves …

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Fancy Footwear?

My wife Louise and I recently visited my cousin and her husband for a delightful evening meal. At some point in the evening, conversation turned to footwear, and my cousin was appalled to learn that I often wear slippers when teaching in my home studio.

Inevitably, I was quickly ganged up on, the object of much mirth. To be honest, it was a bit harsh. Jibes included:

“How old did you say you are again – 87?”

Followed by,

“Do you wear pyjamas and a dressing gown too?”

And even …

“Are you trying to look like Hugh Heffner?”

Now I ask you, what kind of question is that?

Gamely, I tried to defend myself with:

“…but slippers are really comfortable when playing the piano…”

But of course this quickly led to:

“So do all your pupils bring slippers to wear too?”

Which got me thinking …

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Your Story: Paula Dreyer

Paula is a piano teacher, performer and accompanist in San Francisco, California. She is the composer of “Little Gems for Piano: Rote Pieces that Motivate and Captivate.”

Here is her story…

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Your Story: Juan María Solare

Portrait by Alban Low

The Argentinian composer and pianist Juan María Solare (Buenos Aires, 1966) has lived in Germany since 1993. He has performed as piano soloist and within diverse chamber music groups. He also conducts, has edited music for Ricordi Berlin, and his own compositions are included on 17 CD albums.

Juan tells his story…

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Tokio Myers: Our Generation

Album Review

When 32 year-old Tokio Myers won this year’s Britain’s Got Talent, students were quick to ask my opinion, and like many, I was undecided about his music, but blown away by his story.

Now Tokio returns to the public eye with the release of his debut album…

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Your Story: Cori Belle

I am a pianist in the Seattle area who enjoys performing solo and collaborating with other musicians.

My parents never let me quit taking piano lessons. That, really, is the crux of my story. I did not grow up under a Tiger Mom, but from the very beginning, I grew up being surrounded by classical music…

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