Monday, 21 September 2015

Durham Amateur Pianists is closing

After a fun-filled few years in Durham, Liz is moving (again....) to pastures new. Whilst current members will stay in touch, the formal group will cease to exist as of November 2015. Any curious pianists in the area are strongly recommended to contact the excellent groups Let's Play The Piano Newcastle and Gateshead Piano Workshop.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Piano residential course

A few of our members have tried piano summer schools/residential courses; I have just been on my first one! A short review is below:

After a few years of looking at music summer school listings, I took the plunge and tried a residential music course in Somerset. The provider, Jackdaws Music Educational Trust, runs one day and weekend courses for adult participants as well as educational projects in-house and in local schools.

The course I decided to try was 'The Pianist Within' with Elena Riu, faculty professor at Trinity Laban and creator and collaborator of many genre-bending releases (to judge from her online bio).

There were 9 of us on the course and it was a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Indeed I met one fellow pianist at Frome station whilst waiting for a taxi! I had a B&B in Great Elm, a short walk from Jackdaws and the village was really nice. We even had a day of summer on the Saturday. I also realised I knew one of the other pianists
- it's a very small world...

The format of the course was masterclass-style, with yoga/relaxation sessions as well. The yoga sessions were not asana-based, but a series of breathing and relaxation movements suited to all attendees.

Friday evening's session was an intro-icebreaker-short play where each person had 15 minutes of play/tuition, followed by a relaxing yoga session then supper (we were all ravenous at that point!). Saturday was more formal, with about 30 minutes per person with 2 yoga sessions and an afternoon break. After a shorter morning session on Sunday we had an afternoon concert which was a really nice end to the weekend. The 9 pianists were at a variety of levels (piano and confidence) but worked really well together. The range of repertoire was really interesting - lots of more modern repertoire, Latin American composers.

Another attendee who had been to Jackdaws before warned me about the food. The catering is superb! I could get used to fresh cakes and three course meals....

By the time I got back on the train (with 2 fellow musicians travelling the same direction) my brain - and notebook - were full of tips and new ideas. I now need to rewrite/organise my notes, but I have a lot of ideas with which to move forward. Roll on the next course!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Poetry for practice - 'Poco a poco'

Courtesy of a friend from the Ottawa Piano Group:

Poco a Poco  ~ Betsy Sholl

Yellow practice books with their stammer names,
Buxtehude, Beethoven. And clumped notes,
dense thickets, weeds stuck to a fence,

fingers or vines – burr-tangle of stop-start,
try harder, hack through, and always
at the same place: blocked,

as if somebody at a gate or just the gate
said, “No. Not you.” Some stupid password:
boy, blanket, battery, Bach. Stupid keys

stupid fingers bang till the strings tremble,
then toss the book. But the notes don't shake loose.
Notes or birds, flashing past, out of reach,

calling “So long, sucker.” Sucker
with stuck mouth, stuck piano. Or girl
making a splintery ruin. So much racket

there's a stillness after. A bird calls.
Not pretty, but it gets an answer.
So, there's try again – like tiptoe then,

finger by key, ear bent close, careful
not to disturb, like words whisper-sung,
slow, one at a time before a phrase comes,

notes before music, one hand before two,
till – poco a poco – finger peck
at seeds, first a few, then a flock

as outside sparrows back and forth
yard to yard don't hesitate a second
flying through holes in the neighbour's fence.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Poetry and Piano Music concert

A few group members performed in a concert on 4th October, organised by Gateshead Piano workshop. Myself included! Equally exciting and scary.... I've written a little review which is available here.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Piano groups in the media

The forthcoming issue of Pianist Magazine, issue 79, will include a feature article on amateur piano groups including how to start your own! Liz contributed information to the article regarding Durham Amateur Pianists and also Ottawa Piano Group. More information on the new issue is available here.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

New links page

A new links page has been added to the site to act as a mini directory of music groups in the region.