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.
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.
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.
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.