In my teaching, I am regularly talking about the music we are studying and performing as a language that communicates to us as the performer and then through us to our audience that hears us. In my own playing and performing, I am studying how different mediums of art interact together as they are created together.
We can easily observe this idea as we pay attention to the score of a movie without music. If you haven't seen this video of the Throne Room Scene of Star Wars - A New Hope, you should check it out. Clearly, the musical interaction with the scene is of tremendous importance.
We can easily observe in examples like this how the music impacts the presentation to the audience, but does the interaction of music and art actually affect the choices of the artist in creating the work? In other words, when an artist creates a work of art while listening or otherwise being impacted by another artist's work, does that change the work in progress?
Painter, David Hummer of the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art and I are experimenting with that concept and observing how music and painting interact in creating a work of art. We have tried it in the studio and have experienced the impact and on January 26th, 2020, we are going to add a third dimension to that mix: a live audience. Our plan is to create a work of art on stage. He will be painting a portrait of musician and composer, Philip Glass. I will be improvising and in a sense creating a musical score to his painting all the while we are both restrained to the time confines of a recital performance.
The performance is January 26th, 2020 at 2pm and will be held at the Caroline Mark Concert Hall at the Wausau Conservatory. Admission is free.
There are many choices for a teacher to use when introducing a child to the piano. Some have been used and proven for decades. Some concepts just continue to work from year to year. The most respected methods have continued to adjust and develop their method to reach each generation of children.
Piano Fun for Kids is yet another way to introduce children to the piano. While some children have a piano at home waiting for them to learn, other families are concerned about purchasing a costly instrument only to find their child has lost interested in a half of a year. Often times, they settle for a second-rate digital instrument or worse yet, an untunable cheap instrument they found online.
Piano Fun for Kids is about introducing the piano in a fun and enjoyable way even if the child does not have an instrument to practice. The end-goal is to help a child discover a love for music-making and a love for the piano and giving the parent confidence and even assistance in their musical instrument investment.
Piano Fun for Kids is designed to be a group experience. Classes are high-energy and the songs the children play are accompanied with fun accompaniment tracks. Six-week mini-semesters are purposefully designed to be to allow the child and family to make small achievable commitments. Each semester only has one book to work through so instead of purchasing four books as most piano methods require upfront, the family only invests in one book at a time. Each book comes with the same accompaniment tracks we use in class so the student can practice with them developing their rhythmic understanding and simply making piano playing fun.
After four mini-semesters of Piano Fun for Kids, the student is well-prepared to continue in piano privately or they may choose to move on to another instrument and the strong musical foundation they have developed in Piano Fun for Kids will help them achieve.
Piano Fun for Kids classes are offered at the Wausau Conservatory of Music in Wausau, Wisconsin and the curriculum is available to any teacher who wants to utilize it for their own group piano classes.
For more information visit http://www.fischermusic.com/store.html or contact us at: http://www.fischermusic.com/contact-us.html
As the school year comes to a close, I really love to look back on all of the opportunities I had to collaborate with students, professors, and others professionals over the past weeks and months. In each case, there are the great memories of performing a piece and of course the journey to get there. Sometimes that journey is easier than others, but it always results in a learning experience and I believe in every case, a great feeling of accomplishment for both the soloist and myself as the collaborator. This list is not exhaustive, and I'm sure I forgot about a few wonderful pieces we performed along the way. I also did not include performances with choirs, vocal jazz ensembles, instrumental jazz ensembles, Southern Gospel groups, or music from church services. In addition, I didn't include the repertoire from a CD I recorded and released this year. Yes, it has been a busy and productive two semesters!
Martha Argerich is among the most inspiring pianists of our era and has given us decades of great performances. Her expressive and lyrical playing sets a high bar for all others playing this instrument. In a New York Philharmonic Orchestra program notes, Ravel was quoted, "The G-major Concerto took two years of work, you know. The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London. But the initial idea is nothing. The work of chiseling then began. We've gone past the days when the composer was thought of as being struck by inspiration, feverishly scribbling down his thoughts on a scrap of paper. Writing music is seventy-five percent an intellectual activity." Perhaps that can be an inspiration to a composer or arranger who hasn't yet found the "muse" for a piece that allows them to quickly expel it to paper, but is slowly working through ideas and crafting their own masterpiece. American jazz was the inspiration behind this piece for Ravel and it is filled with both great excitement and beautiful lyrical themes that Argerich performs masterfully!
Think about a person who can sit down at the piano and just begin to play. They probably don't need music. Maybe, they are even improvising and simply playing from their heart. Isn't that a great image and goal for any pianist? I certainly think so! But, what I think is strange is the fact that most piano teachers do not make that their goal at all in their teaching. Rather than helping the student understand what makes music work, we focus on repertoire lists--checklists of pieces that we've been told they should learn to play. The student may learn some scales and chord patterns, but more times than not, they don't learn to read chord charts let alone improvise and create music.
Piano methods have their place, and the study of great repertoire is very important, but too often, we get lazy as piano teachers and go through our routines, processes and curricula without helping the student understand "why" and help them apply what they are learning as they grow as musicians.
My group piano classes are built on the goal of teaching students to be able to play and enjoy music. It is a practical type of instruction. Doing this in a group with peers allows students to interact and learn from each other perhaps getting new ideas to try for themselves.
A new class has just begun called Piano Fun - Pop Hits. While we will focus on specific popular melodies as a class, the skills the students will be developing can be applied and will be useful for playing any music the student is interested in playing--classical, pop, rock, gospel, blues--and students will be encouraged to discover new things and share them with others in the class.
Sound interesting? A Pop Hits class is starting up this week on Thursday afternoon at 1pm, and there will be other similar classes being launched in the very near future at other times if that time does not work for you. Let me know if you're interested and I'd love to have you in class. Contact me!
Glen Gould was a master interpreter of Bach. He had a great talent at understanding and performing the polyphony of Bach's music. Gould brings out clarity of voices. Gould also put a lot of thought into his performances and trying to interpret them as Bah would have played them. They weren't written for the legato sound of the piano and Gould plays the piano in a style reminiscent of the harpsichord or clavichord which these pieces were written. There are a lot of good Bach performances on recording, but Gould's performances remain among the very best.
Before Spotify, iTunes, and compact discs. Even before the 33 1/3 rpm LP's were the 78 rpm record discs. In the 1930's Horowitz recorded many of these with short pieces such as Chopin mazurkas and etudes, Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, and other shorter works by Debussy, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, and others. Perhaps the very best is the 1930 performance of the Paganini-Liszt-Busoni Etude in E flat. The control over technique is astounding. This is the etude that Arthur Rubinstein heard Horowitz play in 1926 and wrote about in his memoirs: "I shall never forget the two Paganini-:Liszt etudes, the E flat and E major ones. There was more than sheer brilliance and technique; there was an easy elegance-the magic that defies description." Horowitz was a technical monster, but along with this technical mastery is a simple elegance that is unmatched.
In Great Pianists I'll highlight inspiring and challenging interviews with pianists from the past and present. #pianists, #piano