“Stand back from the edge please!”

Supporting Your Piano Playing Journey
Written by ANDREW EALES


As the words boomed along the station platform, I realised straight away that they were directed at me. I turned, looked up the platform towards a burly man in an official-looking hi-vis jacket and sheepishly gave him the thumbs up.

I had been momentarily transfixed in a meditation on the nature of fear. Looking down at the rails I realised how easy it would be (having of course first checked there were no trains on the horizon) to step down from the platform, hop across the tracks and explore the beautiful verge that beckoned me from the other side. The grass is always greener…

And yet I would never, ever actually do so.

A self-preservatory terror of the rails had been instilled into me decades ago by my mother. My guess is that most of the passengers waiting on the platform would feel something of the same fear.

When movie heroes leap onto the tracks, we regard it as derring-do, suitably convinced of the huge risks involved. Meanwhile we ignore the thought that ordinary Network Rail employees routinely mosey around the rail infrastructure on a daily basis without being vaporised on the spot.

Most of us rarely question the fears or values that were instilled in us at a young age. But perhaps we should do.

Continue reading “Stand back from the edge please!”

Tom Blankenberg: “Atermus”

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I’ve been enjoying the music of Düsseldorf-based German musician Tom Blankenberg for a few years now, since he first joined the Soundcloud community for pianists which I was running at the time.

And in the intervening years it has been a thrill to see his music develop, to hear that he was touring, and now that his debut album is recorded and released.

“Atermus” offers an accomplished and rounded set of reflective piano works, all superbly recorded (which is perhaps not surprising given Tom’s background as a sound designer and film editor who also records for media and advertising) and released on the Less Records label.

Talking about his piano music, which belongs to the new “neoclassical” or minimal stream, Tom says:

“I tend to call them Short Stories or Polaroids or sometimes even Calendar Sheets.”

A wonderful description, but see what you think for yourself. For me, this is one of the best contemplative and reflective piano albums I’ve heard – I love it!

I hope you will agree that from the experimental harmonies of opening track Tori and through 13 successive moments of musical beauty, concluding with the lusciously melodic November and warmly intimate Nesuto, this is a stunning album!

By the way, in case you were wondering, Tom tells me that the striking title ‘Atermus’ is just a meaningless word which occurred to him while recording:

“I like nonsense titles more that too discriptive ones…”

The album was recorded at Van Heys Studio, Kleve, and in Düsseldorf between November 2017-April 2018, and brings together pieces composed mostly between 2012 and 2018 (together with one earlier piece dating from 1987). The cover art, incidentally, is a reproduction of a work by Hiroshi Kjawano.

You can listen to the full album below, and it is also available on major streaming platforms or to purchase on CD or vinyl. Enjoy!

You can find out more from Tom’s website here.




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Information Overload

Our Piano Journey in its Living Context
Written by ANDREW EALES


“Be like the explorers of old. What they acquired for themselves will always surpass those who merely read about their exploits.”

Deng Ming-Dao: 365 Tao Daily Meditations (199)


Do you often get to the end of a day feeling exhausted from sheer information overload?

It’s a contemporary phenomenon which seems to be part-and-parcel with the internet age. We feel this way whenever we receive more information than we can realistically process and internalise.

We are bombarded daily with information that ranges from the useless – such as Instagram pictures of what a friend eat for breakfast – to the academic (sometimes interesting, but often offering little possibility for application).

And then there’s the depressing 24/7 news cycle, that too often leaves us feeling anxious and bewildered rather than informed.

When the quest for an encyclopaedic knowledge, cutting-edge insight, and a full understanding (however noble these are) leaves us feeling worn out, it’s time to step back, take a break, and learn to be kinder to ourselves.

Simply put, it takes time for us to properly process all this information – or else it will anyway just go to waste!

The trick, it seems to me, is to focus on processing the most useful information:

  • information about people, subjects and music we care about;
  • information we can put to practical use;
  • information gleaned from our senses and experiences;
  • information which feeds or arises from reflection.

Instead of leading to fatigue, such information can open doorways, bring joy, excitement and a sense of playful adventure. And often, as we take care to be more balanced in our consumption, we will find that the information we actually need is more manageable than we previously thought…

In the picture of the overloaded bookshelf above, there’s actually only 14 different books – count them! Not so scary after all!


PIANODAO includes 600+ free articles and reviews to support piano players and educators. Enjoy the site, use whatever helps, and come back for more whenever you like! Please show your appreciation by supporting the site with a contribution here:


THANK YOU!

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