Thursday, February 23, 2017

Listening with Scores on YouTube

This is the way you do track listings on YouTube
Nothing focuses the mind when listening to music like following along in the score. It allows you to make connections, connect listening and hearing, as well as stopping the mind from wandering. Back in the day, I amassed a small collection of miniature scores so I could follow along when listening to my favourite records. On YouTube, there are lots of channels that allow you to follow along while listening, but one of my students alerted me to the best one I've found: Ashish Xiangyi Kumar, who has detailed and comprehensive information for each score/video, including a short essay on each work and track listings that trace the work's form.

Here's a comparison of Richard Goode's and Igor Levit's readings of Beethoven Op. 109 (be sure to check out the video on YouTube for the play-by-play with explanatory essay):

More from Ashish Xiangyi Kumar:

Cho Seong-Jin plays all four Chopin Ballades
Beethoven Op. 110 with Lortie, Siirala, and Kovacevich
Both books of Debussy Preludes with Zimmerman
Granados 8 Valses Poéticos with Grosvenor vs. Perez

(Thanks, Alexander!)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Debussy's Les collines d'Anacapri: 2 Performances + 1 Master Class

I'm not sure I agree with Lang Lang's interpretation of Debussy's Les collines d'Anacapri, nor do I agree with his extensive use of hand signals gestures:

Much more enjoyable is Krystian Zimmerman's recording:

Richard Goode working with Sung-Soo Cho at Carnegie's Workshop and Master Class Series:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Building the Right Type of Goals

Frances Wilson has some wise words on our fixation with goal-oriented learning and how it can become unrealistic:
There’s nothing wrong in having goals – they can provide a useful focus – but they can also create disappointment and unhappiness, especially if one does not always fulfil one’s goal. In addition, goals can be curiously anti-motivational. If all your endeavour is focussed on a single goal, what else is there to work for when that goal has been reached? This approach can create a “yo-yo effect” where you might go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one, which makes it difficult to build upon your progress long-term.  
 If you are continually working towards a goal you are in effect saying “I am not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach the goal”. The problem with this attitude is that we tend to postpone happiness and fulfilment until we reach the goal. Thus, it puts a huge burden on us to succeed, which can create unnecessary stress. Instead, we should be kind to ourselves and enjoy the daily process: keep to a realistic daily practise schedule rather than stressing about that big, potentially life-changing goal.
Far better than result-oriented goals (which are often at the mercy of gatekeepers) is to focus on goals that we can achieve as a result of our own hard work and perseverance. In other words, goals that are oriented towards process, knowledge, and small initial gains that work towards a larger final picture.

Read Frances' The Systematic Pianist to get a better idea of the types of systems that build towards realistic goal-setting.

William Grant Still's Romance for Saxophone and Piano

From a performance at the Musical Instrument Museum late last year, here is William Grant Still's Romance for Saxophone and Piano, performed by saxophonist Ryan Lemoine and pianist Sarah Thune.

More about William Grant Still on Africlassical.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Clara Schumann Piano Trio w/1847 Streicher

Here's the Andante movement from Clara Schumann's 1846 Piano Trio Op. 17. Peter Aidu is playing on an 1847 Viennese Streicher piano, and is joined by violinist Asya Sorshneva and Ivan Karizna on cello:

BTW those antlers in the performing space go remarkably well with chamber music.

Sofya Melikyan Plays Mompou

I really enjoyed Sofya Melikyan's spontaneity and emotional depth in the Federico Mompou Variations on a Theme of Chopin. This performance is from the 2014 Chopin+ Festival at CAPe Ettelbruck in Luxembourg.


You can find more of Sofya's performances on her YouTube channel.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Songs for Interval Recognition

Many students learn intervals through identifying them with a song that they know. Fortunately, there are lots of websites where teachers and students can compile useful lists of familiar songs to help them remember intervals that they need to know, in both directions.

My personal favourites are Rush's YYZ for the descending tritone and the Price is Right theme for the descending minor seventh. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Thriving Within Organizations

Part of succeeding in the musical field involves surviving and thriving as a part of an organization, whether it be a university, conservatory, ensemble, or opera company. However, becoming a new member of an organization may initially involve surviving at the very bottom of the food chain. Nicholas Bate has a list of 22 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand in the Large Organization, of which the following in particular resonated with me:
1. Be remarkably courteous at all times; but don't let anyone ever, ever mess with you.
6. Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.
16. Own your career path.
20. Lead even if leader is not in your job title. 
And above all:
22. Know that when you lose your sense of humour you are doomed. 
The goal is to perform, teach, and administrate with skill, diplomacy, and tact so that your own professionalism will allow you to rise to the top of every situation.

Emmanuel Pahud on What to Look For in a Collaborative Pianist

Flautist Emmanuel Pahud on what he looks for in potential recital partners:

Technical accomplishment, great musicianship, artistry, the ability to create musical colors are all mentioned. In short, be at the top of your art.

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Collaborative Piano Institute in Faribault, Minnesota, June 4-25, 2017

If the number of requests for information I receive are any indication, there's a sizeable demand for collaborative piano summer programs this year. Many pianists are looking to branch out and explore the art of collaboration, as well as get their feet wet with the huge amount of repertoire in the sonata/chamber music/art song/opera genres.

The Collaborative Piano Institute, headed by Artistic Director Ana Maria Otamendi, is launching this summer at Shattuck St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota, with a pretty amazing faculty list. The festival will run from June 4 to 25th. For those who are not yet Minnesota-literate, Faribault is one hour directly south of Minneapolis or 6 hours northwest of Chicago, with latitude lining up with Oshkosh and longitude with Des Moines.

The faculty list is extensive:

  • Rita Sloan
  • Kathy Kelly
  • Howard Watkins
  • Timothy Lovelace
  • Marie-France Lefebre
  • Sally O'Reilly
  • Christopher Turbessi
  • Elena Abend
  • Jennifer Olson
  • Eric Olson
  • Ana Maria Otomendi
  • Elena Lacheva
Ana Maria wrote to me earlier this week with more information:
This three-week summer program is geared exclusively toward current and potential collaborative pianists of all levels. We want to offer an intensive experience tailored to the individual needs of the student, through individual lessons, coachings, masterclasses, group classes, lectures, and performance opportunities.  
For instance, we wish to introduce students to the art of collaboration; prepare undergraduate pianists for graduate auditions; help collaborative pianists prepare for professional auditions; introduce them to a variety of topics in collaboration, and perform in recitals and masterclasses. We also offer the possibility of making pre-screening recordings if the student expresses a desire. See the Curriculum here. Several scholarships are available!

If you're interested in applying, the Early Bird deadline for those who are interested in financial assistance is March 15. Full application information is available here.

Best of luck to Ana Maria and her colleagues for a successful first year of the Collaborative Piano Institute!

Here's a video of faculty member Howard Watkins with the 6ixwire Project playing an arrangement of the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy: