'What to write in my methodic paper?' I asked my piano teacher in the conservatorium, Thom Janssen. I had no idea what to write for my methodic paper. Methodic is about 'how to teach', in my case 'how to teach others playing piano, playing music.'
Especially your own vision, 'vooral eigen visie', he said in Dutch.
Actually he said many more things, but I forgot all of them and only remember his last sentence. I couldn't believe my ears at that time. Am I allowed to have my own vision....I wondered..
The methodic paper I mentioned above was finished around April 2007 and I became oficially a 'teaching musician'. 'Docerend musicus' in Dutch, it's equal to Bachelor of Music.
Around that time I still found many things difficult to understand. Things were contradictory and I hadn't found myself at peace with many things.
Exam or no exam for the students? Music is personal, why would someone want to be "judged" by an examiner especially while he/she is still searching.
Technique, what is it? Which pieces to explore in the lessons? My favorites or the students' favorites? Which "method" to follow? They are all so different!
I told myself, I only wanted to talk about things I understood but there were so many things I didn't understand... For instance I never mentioned the word 'technique' because I didn't understand what it meant.
However, after more than 15 years now, I understand many things better and I need to speak it clearly too because it helps my students to work with me. Remind me to do this..
Playing piano, especially solo piano music, needs some personall vision. Why especially solo piano? Because it's solo, at the end you have to do it alone. it's your music when you play it. It's my music when I play it.
A piece by Mozart is never only by Mozart. It's always by Mozart and by you; or by Mozart and by me.
What's your vision? What's my vision? How do we learn, be inspired and enjoy learning and playing continuosly?
From my students, I've been learning a lot for more than 15 years now. Also from my Pianoclub Amsterdam which I've been a member for more than 10 years until 2018.
I've been also supported by the lectures/ recordings / buletins of EPTA (European Piano Teacher Associations) especially at the beginning after my graduation and recently too.
I feel "saved" by Marietta Petkova, by her lessons; by her deeply musical, natural, intuitive, intellectually & emotionally integrated musicianship, and simply by her as she is. She's basically been teaching me what to listen to, how to breath in the music, how to think about music, what playing music means, all those very crucial things..
I feel heard by my listeners in the concerts I gave in het Huis van de Wijk Buitenveldert, in the piano shop van Kerkwijk, in the piano events such as Piano Promenade, Rondje Piano Schagen; as well as in my covid-proof concerts, my children concerts for all ages, and many more..
How we are being listened to is so important. In turn, I ask myself too: how am I listening to my students? To myself? To my loved ones?
Recently, I also enjoy a lot the interaction with many piano teachers, players, basically all kinds of piano lovers I know online from some facebook piano groups, youtube, instagram - sometimes I even see them as my "new piano club" since I miss my (ex) piano club too from time to time..But how about my students? How to provide a kind of a pianoclub for them since I enjoyed and learned so much from it?
Playing piano, playing music is a multifacet activity. It's short term and long term at the same time. It's enjoyable and it can be demanding too. It's social, it's personal. It's right-brain and left-brain activity simultaneously.
We need to be very specific while studying, while playing; yet it's also very related to broader aspects in life. It's 'here and now' yet it brings us to another time and many places too. It's physical and psychological, and by all means spiritual too. It's enriching life, it's enlightening us. Wow!
Specifically, a piece of music can tell a story about the sea, can illustrate the sea, or can even 'be the sea itself'.
Yet you do it your way, another pianist does it his/her way.
And we can only play as ourselves.
What are the considerations? What are the priorities?
Clarity is more important than speed!
How to prepare ourselves before playing, especially playing for others? I often remind myself and my students to be in the music before playing. Concretely, to be in the rhythm and character of the piece before playing it, just like what a conductor does. Be there at the first place and then play. However, at other times, to listen intensely to the silence/the surrounding before playing is also a great preparation, as if the ears are being prepared to get ready. A small singing bowl has helped me too, read it here. Eventually, one breath can take us to be competely ready. And at other times, I forgot again and just sit and immediately play and stumble ;)
Breathing, 'telling a story'; listening, hearing and responding; they are way more important than dry "finger exercises" and "accuracy". However, aren't they completing each other too?
What's the difference between studying and sharing/playing/the so-called performing? There are so many phases starting from reading the music sheet, studying & understanding what's in it, practicing, getting inspired, getting frustrated, practicing again, playing for others in various possible events, letting the music grow and mature, etc. etc.
We can choose or combine various roles in playing a piece, e.g. a conductor, a singer, a diva!, a drummer, a cello player, a flute player, a violist, a film director, an orchestra, a string quartet, a story teller, a guide, a mimic, a magician! And many more..
What is your vision? What is my vision?
Everybody who is playing needs to have some kind of a vision about what he/she is doing, generally about music (& life), and specifically related to the piece/song he/she is playing.
And it's quite a life-long process, don't you think?