Stone age; bronze age; iron age. Surely the next ‘age’ to be recognised in human evolution is the ‘digital’ age. As far as music is concerned, the digital age affords seemingly endless opportunities to artists who would never have been heard without the advances in internet technology. Continue reading Digital Age
Next to one of his own compositions on YouTube, Per-Olov Kindgren writes, “Ok, I’m doing it again. Telling my life with music. Sorry. If I was a writer/author, I would write a long story. Now I have to do this instead.” I say back to him, “maybe you would write a long story if you were an author, but how much more moving that you can say it succinctly in this mute, beautiful language that is music.” Continue reading The Mute Art
For the last few days I’ve been transfixed by the videos of precocious young children playing piano music by Mozart, Haydn, Chopin, Debussy, etc, on YouTube. There are always comments under these videos remarking that the child in question is too young to understand such music, that there is a lack of expression, etc. But it seems to me that these young children do indeed understand the music and that there is hardly ever a lack of appropriate expression. Continue reading Music and Human Beings
It’s always interested me to notice that composers of film music have managed to help people tolerate dissonance in a way in which composers of concert music haven’t. Continue reading Film Music
Why is songwriting referred to as a ‘craft’ and yet the composing of a sonata, a string quartet, a symphony or even a lied is called an ‘art’? There seems to be some implication that the former is simply a skill but that the latter has more to do with creativity and expression. But surely the greatest songs, the songs that capture the thoughts and emotions that are shared by millions of people, show as much artistry as, for example, any lied by Schubert. Continue reading Songwriting and Composing
I was reading through some posts on the forum of UK Piano and there was a question from someone about the purpose of learning keys. My own pupils often ask me similar questions. And sometimes when I ask a pupil what key a piece of music is in they’ll reply by saying, for example, “two sharps”. Now what is the advantage of knowing that this music is in D major, (or possibly b minor)? Continue reading Key Sense
I’ve just been listening to a classical guitarist on YouTube, well I should say “a man playing music on a classical guitar”. His username is ‘AndanteLargo’ if anyone wants to go and listen. He’s posted some wonderful videos of himself playing Bach and music by other classical composers – and they sound glorious – but he’s also posted videos of himself playing songs by the Beatles and other bands, some folk music, some songs and themes from films, musicals, etc, etc, which all sound equally as glorious. It interests me that his performances on classical guitar seem to put all types of music on an equal footing. Continue reading Artificial Divisions in Music
What style of music should pupils be taught in private lessons and at school? I think it’s the aim of any teacher who enjoys classical music to foster an appreciation of it. But I also think a child (or adult) who likes and wants to be able to play pop music, for example, should be encouraged in their endeavour. Continue reading What style of music?
Should there be some control over who can (or cannot) set up as a private music teacher? I ‘inherit’ a lot of pupils who’ve been so badly taught by ‘teachers’ without any experience or qualifications that any musical ability that pupils may actually possess has been virtually ruined at the outset. I’m not saying that there’s a hidden genius in every child (or adult) but I think everyone who wants to play the piano (or any other instrument in fact) should be given the chance to develop to the best of their own ability. Unqualified people who start teaching just to bring in a few extra pennies should be avoided like the plague.
Is pop music more honest than contemporary ‘serious’ music in that people want to listen to it and buy it and, unlike a lot of contemporary classical music, doesn’t have to rely on subsidies and grants? Continue reading Honesty