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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
It was the dress rehearsal on the eve of my cousin’s wedding. We all gathered in the chapel to go over the ceremony. As the professional musician in the family I am sometimes the go-to person for these sorts of things. Happy to help out, all I asked was that there was a working piano there. I was assured there was…
You know that feeling when you’re practicing a piece of music and no matter how many times you go over a passage it never seems to improve? I can hear you nodding.
Every so often a student will email me the day of their lesson and admit that they haven’t practiced since I last saw them. Perhaps they were sick or just too busy; whatever their reason they sometimes ask not to have a lesson because it would simply be a waste of time. Here you’ll discover that this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Here’s a Thursday morning improvisation on one of our public pianos here in Guelph, Ontario. Every September, 12 pianos are placed outside various establishments throughout the downtown core. The project is called Happy Making and it invites residents to indulge their creativity in a public space.
Welcome to the third instalment of this series. Here we are demystifying, decoding, and deconstructing just what those crazy-looking musical scores mean. If you’ve always wondered how musicians can make sense of all those hieroglyphics then you’ve come to the right place. If you’re just coming aboard then please check out the first two articles: Movement 1 and Movement 2.
Today I’d like to share with you some exceptionally sublime keyboard music by J.S. Bach. If you are having “one of those days” then take two minutes and give it a listen. It will purify your psyche and nourish your spirit.
Onwards to the second installment of What Does a Musical Score Mean? If you are here for the first time and wish to view the first article which starts at the very beginning you can check it out here. For everyone else we are going to build on what you’ve learned. If you need a quick review, go to What Does a Musical Score Mean? First Movement and scroll to the bottom for a summary.
Here’s a short quiz for anyone who uses their hands at a keyboard regularly. Be it the musical kind or one attached to a monitor, how you move has a big influence on your physical health over the long term. These basic concepts are a great way to start taking better care of your hands!
In the third and final installment of Playing with Presence, a blog series that explores current techniques that can help stressed-out musical folk get back in tune, I’ll discuss a technique called Biofeedback Therapy.
Playing with Presence is a three part series geared towards pianists and those with sedentary jobs. Its aim is to cultivate awareness of the body, establishing a calmer and healthier approach to playing and working. Today’s entry will examine the Alexander Technique.
For a summary of this lesson skim to the bottom
This is a new blog series meant to educate anyone who has ever marvelled at how some people can read music. What does it mean? Why is it organized the way it is? What do pianists see when they look at their scores? My goal is to make sheet music more understandable and less intimidating. I’m confident you will find it’s as easy as ‘do, re, mi!’
Playing with Presence is a series of three short blog articles presenting techniques that can help people bring their awareness back to the present moment. They’re based on my work with some amazing teachers who helped me recover from performance injury. Whether you are a stressed-out pianist or simply someone who works at the computer a lot, these exercises are effective tools for slowing down the rushing mind and fostering a calmer work ethic.
Well, Mr. Maus, it’s finally arrived!
What is Improvising?
To improvise means to make music up on the spot and can be intimidating for beginner musician and seasoned professional alike. While all the great composers were known for their abilities as skilled improvisers, the tradition of classical music really doesn’t give us the space to explore it today.