Ballade in A Minor

 

For better or for worse one thing that many of us have had during COVID-19 is more free time. While I have been blessed that many of my students have continued lessons online, I have also had time to expand my creative output. This piece is ideal for anyone who plays piano at the intermediate level and loves passionate music from the Romantic era.

The Ballade as a genre originated from literature; epic long poems with many lines and verses. Frederick Chopin was the first to create a musical genre with this title. My Ballade is a much shorter than his long and challenging version. It’s more similar in scope to those of Brahms and Grieg.

Continue reading

Waltzing with Kabalevsky

 

**Waltzing with Kabalevsky sheet music**

The music of Dimitry Kabalevsky has had a big influence on me both as a student and teacher. The first work of his I learned to play was The Clown, a comical and indecisive caricature of a piece that every beginner pianist will recognize. I fondly remember learning his 24th prelude from op. 38 in the first year of my undergrad. This work barrels ahead like an industrial tempest but subsides in the closing section as the sun peaks its head out. Among my other favourite Russian composers such as Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Scriabin, Kabalevksy has influenced me greatly as a composer and it’s no surprise that soon after starting this funny waltz it seemed only fair to dedicate it to him.

Continue reading

Mode 7 – A New Collection for Piano Students

 

**Mode Se7en Sheet Music**

I’d like to say I have a sizeable library of music books. From Bach to Bartok there is no shortage of things to play. Ironically, as a piano teacher I’ve come to realize that my shelves contain relatively little playable material for my students.

Over the past couple years composing for the piano has become a blossoming passion of mine. What better way to challenge myself as a budding composer as well as affordably grow my library of intermediate piano music than to write music directly for my students? Mode 7 is the result of this new revelation and I’m excited to discuss its inception here.

Continue reading

2019 Christmas Recital: Do you smell carrots?

With snow flakes dancing in the air the 2019 Christmas Recital at Harcourt United Church in Guelph kicked off with a bang. The furious Cavalry Gallop by Dimitry Kabalevsky launched out of the gate and got things rolling. It turned out to be a recital of many firsts, with four players of varying ages performing for their very first time. The budding performers played the nursery rhythm favourites Old MacDonald and Are You Sleeping?, as well as a Gavotte by Handel and Christopher Norton’s After the Battle.

Continue reading

My First Nocturne: Behind the Scenes

 

**Nocturne Sheet Music**

This year has been a rich one for me on my journey as a budding composer of piano music. I wrote many smaller works at the beginning of the year and finished a sonata in the summer. In the fall my free time has been occupied by writing in another genre, the nocturne. First pioneered by John Field and further popularized by Chopin, the nocturne is a piece for solo piano meant to be played at night. Like much of Chopin’s music it features a steady left hand with a right hand that often moves in an improvisatory way. The right hand is meant to mimic the silky smooth melody of a vocal work such as an aria. Nocturnes are normally peaceful but can become tempestuous and virtuosic at times such as in parts of Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor op. 48 no. 1.

Continue reading

My First Sonata: Behind the Scenes

 

**Sonata in E Minor Sheet Music**

I wish I could say that one morning I woke up and decided, gee I’ve never written a sonata before, let’s go and write one… In reality, my need to brush up on my harmony theory in order to help out a student is what got the creative juices flowing.

Continue reading

2019 Spring Recital

On Sunday, June 9 at Harcourt United Church, students took part in the 2019 Spring Recital. Once again audience members were treated to a variety of styles and talents. The recital kicked off with CPE Bach’s blisteringly fast Solfeggio followed by a piano arrangement of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Continue reading

Lament

Today I was feeling kinda down so I thought I’d pour my feelings into some composition. I wrote this little lament. It turned out to be a little study in counterpoint. Although I’m getting more confident in my harmony skills, counterpoint is another ballgame, one which I plan on addressing after I’m finished working through all the RCM books. Nonetheless, it was fun to use this opportunity to try writing another piece. It’s written in four voices and I keep repeating the 8 measure ditty layering one voice at a time.

Evoking Chopin’s Ghost

My experiments in the realm of harmony continue. Currently I’m about half way through the RCM 10 Harmony book at we’ve just finished the passage on V9s and 13s. To me these chords immediately make me recall Chopin, as if they were his musical fingerprint. I thought I’d take another stab at composing something simple. My tendency is often to begin with simple intentions but end up with a piece 10 pages long and hard for anyone to play. This time I restricted myself to 16 measures. I thought I’d try to write another minuet, this time in the minor mode but by the time I tried it out at the keyboard I realized it was much more like a waltz. I almost achieved my first goal as it ended up being 21 measures. It turned out a tad more difficult than I wanted it to be but oh well. I’d say it’s more like grade 3 or probably 4 RCM. Still, I’m happy with the result. It reminds me a bit of Chopin combined with some Danny Elfman. What does it remind you of?

 

Triumphant Minuet

I’ve been working my way through the RCM Harmony books. Much of the information is review but some of it is also new; I never had this amount of time to study theory in depth when I was a busy undergrad many years ago. After all this theory I thought why not try and apply it? So I sketched up this little minuet and was pleased with myself for composing something that at least resembles one of the many minuets I’ve heard or played throughout my life written by those old dead white guys.

Pride and Prejudice: Liz on Top of the World

Here’s another selection from the movie Pride and Prejudice soundtrack by Dario Marianelli. I simply love the eerie yet joyful vibe of this piece. Short yet, but packed with a few technical challenges for the player, most notably the ever changing nuances of the melody and accompaniment. It might sound repetitive but there is actually a fair bit of variation going on with each statement of the theme, meaning that the fingering must adapt quickly. It took me a while to get the hang of. Enjoy!

Pride and Prejudice: Dawn

This coming weekend I’m playing piano for a friend’s wedding. His bride asked me to play music from the film Pride and Prejudice. Here’s the first selection entitled ‘Dawn’. It’s reminds me a lot of Beethoven’s piano concertos; economical yet incredibly sensitive in its harmonies. I hope they will like it!

So Long 2018!

Photography has continued to be a stimulating and challenging hobby this year. It’s nice to indulge in something that isn’t music as much as I like it. I’m realizing that this is may become a tradition. I’ve taken a very select group of photos and put them together as a slide show accompanied by the aria and first variation of the Goldbergs which I recorded in June.

This year has been a very positive one for me. My studio has been thriving. We had our first performance in a new space because there are just too many of us! I wish everyone a safe and happy new year!

Growing Strong: The 2018 Christmas Recital

For the first time the studio needed to find a new space for its annual Christmas recital. The comfy family room area of my home was no longer able to fit everyone because we just keep on growing in size! (pun intended) Fortunately, a church well known for its rich musical community, Harcourt United Church near downtown Guelph, was happy to accommodate us in its lovely sanctuary. Students could breathe a sigh of relief and invite whomever they wished, no longer having to worry about limited space.

Continue reading

Springtime Sounds

Today students from the studio congregated to share some of the pieces they’ve been learning this spring. With summer around the corner it was an opportunity to bask in the warm glow of beautiful piano music. From Yankee Doodle to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the audience was serenaded by music from many time periods and places.

Continue reading

Sonata Deformed: An Injured Musician’s Chronicle Pt.3

These entries are written for musicians who have faced injury. Injury not only strikes our bodies but our identities too. By sharing my story I hope that other hurt musicians will feel part of an increasingly vocal community and will be motivated to seek the tools necessary to heal and flourish again at their craft. I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for every musician facing injury. Yet there is no magic wand. It’s up to you to be the expert in your own recovery process.

Disclaimer: Any information here regarding the avoidance and treatment of injury is for educational purposes only. All injuries should be assessed and treated by a qualified medical professional before attempting to solve the problem at the keyboard.

The story continues in the third instalment. If you’ve been waiting for the good news then wait no longer. For those who are just discovering this chronicle, please read part 1 and part 2.

Continue reading

Sonata Deformed: An Injured Musician’s Chronicle Pt.2

These entries are written for musicians who have faced injury. Injury not only strikes our bodies but our identities too. By sharing my story I hope that other hurt musicians will feel part of an increasingly vocal community and will be motivated to seek the tools necessary to heal and flourish again at their craft. I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for every musician facing injury. Yet there is no magic wand. It’s up to you to be the expert in your own recovery process.

Disclaimer: Any information here regarding the avoidance and treatment of injury is for educational purposes only. All injuries should be assessed and treated by a qualified medical professional before attempting to solve the problem at the keyboard.

The story of my eight year journey continues in this next instalment. If you aren’t caught up please read Part 1: Exposition.

Continue reading

Sonata Deformed: An Injured Musician’s Chronicle Pt.1

These entries are written for musicians who have faced injury. Injury not only strikes our bodies but our identities too. By sharing my story I hope that other hurt musicians will feel part of an increasingly vocal community and will be motivated to seek the tools necessary to heal and flourish again at their craft. I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for every musician facing injury. Yet there is no magic wand. It’s up to you to be the expert in your own recovery process.

Disclaimer: Any information here regarding the avoidance and treatment of injury is for educational purposes only. All injuries should be assessed and treated by a qualified medical professional before attempting to solve the problem at the keyboard.

This story is an eight year journey chronicling my personal experience as a pianist with severe injury in my hands. It begins with my life as a confident professional pianist who had the rug pulled out from under him via a debilitating injury. I suffered for many years thinking that I’d never play again, but through perseverance and the proper guidance I rebuilt my technique and am able to end the story on a positive note as I now play music I never thought possible. It’s much easier to write this from the other side of my journey. These are the words that I needed to hear when in the depths of despair and uncertainty. Perhaps you need to hear them too.

If you are an injured musician of any kind may my story be a source of hope and inspiration. I encourage dialogue about this often taboo topic so please share your stories in the comments section below.

Continue reading

2017 A Year in Pictures

As some of you may know, one of my hobbies is photography. This past year was a major period of growth and experience in this endeavour. I upgraded from a smart phone to a real-deal camera; learned about lenses and techniques; and became an Instagram addict. Photography has been a healthy balance to my music. It certainly involves a lot more walking around. To cap off 2017 I thought, what better idea than to combine the two!

Continue reading

A Very Laid Back Christmas Recital

On Sunday, December 10 2017 my studio held its very first recital in the comfort of our large walk-out basement area. With the fire roaring in the background early attendees sang Christmas carols as we broke out into a spontaneous singalong while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Continue reading