Your Story: Yukie Smith

Yukie Smith is from Yokohama, Japan. She now lives in the UK, where she performs, accompanies and teaches piano using her own multi-sensory learning technique.

She’s the author of a piano duet arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (abridged version); and a full version of a violin & piano arrangement of Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango.

Here’s her story …

Continue reading Your Story: Yukie Smith

The Pianist’s Kindness

PATHWAYS FOR LIVING • Feature by ANDREW EALES
Setting our Piano Journey in its Living Context…


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 essentially 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 …

Continue reading Fancy Footwear?

Your Story: Paula Dreyer

Your Stories

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…

Continue reading Your Story: Paula Dreyer

Your Story: Juan María Solare

Portrait by Alban Low

Your Stories

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…

Continue reading Your Story: Juan María Solare

Your Story: Cori Belle

Your Stories

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…

Continue reading Your Story: Cori Belle

Tobin Mueller and the Influence of Illness on his Music

Guest Author Frances Wilson interviews pianist Tobin Mueller

Composer and pianist Tobin Mueller has recently completed a trilogy of recordings in which he explored three eras of Western music through adaptive arrangements, reinvention and original composition.

Each album took one year to develop. The Masterworks Trilogy included jazz interpretations and new works based on:

  1. the Impressionists (Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Fauré, Carpenter)
  2. the Baroque period (J.S. Bach), and most recently
  3. the Romantic movement (Frederic Chopin).

The albums by title are :

  1. Impressions of Water and Light
  2. Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller”, and
  3. Of Two Minds: The Music of Frederic Chopin and Tobin Mueller”.)

Not only have these double-CD albums highlighted the elements of modernity found in these forebears, they have allowed Mueller to discover a personal kinship with each composer.

Tobin’s personal journey has also been colored by the challenges of dealing with a compromising illness. This relationship between the composer and his illness is what we wanted to discuss…

Continue reading Tobin Mueller and the Influence of Illness on his Music