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Piano

Learning to Love Arpeggios

I’m going to lead with a semi-interesting fact: the word arpeggio comes from the Italian arpeggiare — to play on a harp. I have no feel for the proportion of pieces in the piano repertoire that contain arpeggios (or ‘arps’ as I like to abbreviate them), somewhere between ‘a significant number’ and ‘an awful lot’. […]

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Piano

Me, Myself & Corona

Here we are: it’s been several months since that diseased sparrow from Wuhan first spat in someone’s mouth and now the virus has swept across the globe, changing civilisation — at least temporarily — in ways that are ostensibly understandable and tangible, yet utterly bewildering. I occasionally allow myself to think we might emerge from […]

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Piano

A Couperin Christmas

I’ve been completely alone this Christmas: I haven’t spoken to another soul for four days. Although there have been occasional pangs of sadness (after drinking too much of the Japanese gin I found in the back of a kitchen cupboard), no work and no socials have allowed me unfettered piano practice. I’ve temporarily paused work […]

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Piano

Amplification

Having given some serious thought to my last post on the stifling atmosphere of many classical concerts, I’ve reached the conclusion that amplification is the best answer. This article in The Guardian states that classical concert volume levels reach up to 90 dB, compared to rock concerts hitting around 120 dB, around 30 times louder […]

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Piano

Live Classical Music Needs to Try Harder

I started listening to classical music at the same time I started playing the piano. Each fed the other: the more I played the more I wanted to listen, the more I listened the more I wanted to play. Not long after, I went to see my first live performance, a very charming pianist whose […]

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Piano

An Artistic Retrospective

Sometimes clawing my way up the piano learning curve gets tiresome and demoralising. Following my last post, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to perfect small passages in a couple of pieces and I needed a break. I needed to just play some music and feel slightly better about my piano-playing self. […]

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Piano

A Distinguished Performance

‘It is often perfection in little things which distinguishes the performance of the great pianist from the novice.’ I read that little snippet — a quote from Busoni — in James Francis Cooke’s book Great Pianists on Piano Playing. I haven’t read it all, but it’s out of copywright (I think) and you can download […]

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Piano

TERESA SAYS RELAX

Lack of talent and ill-discipline aside, the most significant challenge I face at the piano is my inability to relax. When faced with technically difficult sections, I often find my fine motor control consumed by creeping tension as I descend into the abyss of frustration, jabbing and clawing at the keys as I go, like […]

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Piano

Choosing a Piano

I used to play golf but gave up after one particularly bad round defined by an unbreakable cycle of rage and resignation. Sometime before this, I had the fortune to play a round with a professional. In the spirit of 21st-century amateurism, I sauntered out with hundreds of pounds worth of equipment: ‘forgiving’ irons, which […]

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Piano

Everyone Can(not) Sing

“Everyone can sing.” Said my piano teacher when I expressed concern over the singing part of my Grade 4 exam. Over the next five minutes, I presented some fairly convincing evidence to the contrary and we both agreed that the only worthwhile singing preparation was to prepare myself to get no marks for singing. In […]