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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

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 […]

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Piano

What Does ‘Learning the Piano’ Mean?

This is what the vague objective of ‘learning the piano’ means to me. First of all, what it’s not: the ten-a-penny morons on the piano at the train station, dribbling out an Einaudi piece they learnt on YouTube, have not learned the piano. I started to learn I Giorni once, for a friend, but it […]