Since I started teaching piano a couple of years ago, I’ve periodically trawled the ‘sale’ sections of the music shops in town for suitable material for beginners and intermediate players. This one — reduced to a measly €2 — has a wide range of styles in it, not all to my taste, by some very fine British composers. Now that teaching is winding down for the summer (the incredulity of some of my students when I tentatively suggested lessons in the holidays!), I’ve been going through some of the books, taking note of pieces which might appeal. Any that stand out, I mark with a tick, any that I particularly don’t like get an ‘x’. Life’s too short to teach music you don’t like! (Thankfully, the Royal Irish Academy of Music make brilliant selections for their grade exam books. I’m looking forward to the publication of the 2014 ones…)
Here are two of the pieces that stood out in ‘A Century of Piano Music’, both by C.S. Lang, a composer I know nothing about.
Wikipedia tells me he was born in New Zealand in 1891; studied with composer Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music, London; chiefly composed for and taught organ; died in 1971.
Both pieces are from a collection of fifteen easy pieces published in 1955.
I’ve just started learning this piece — Chopin’s Op. 64, No. 2 Waltz. One of my students, Elaine, wants to learn it for the RIAM Senior Certificate.
Brian Eno gave a lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy recently. I just watched it this morning and now have a small checklist of things to do / listen to, an app to download, and a workflow to get going. I read his excellent, insightful 1995 diary, ‘A Year With Swollen Appendices’ about ten years ago and have always been impressed by him.
Here’s an excellent summary of the lecture by someone who was actually there, Una Mullally.
Here are a few resources I prepared for my student, Ben, this week. This song has a lovely vocal by Frank Ocean underpinned by some juicy seventh chords in the verses. It was a good song to demonstrate chord inversions: in the chorus, the three-note chords (triads) that the right hand plays are all in 1st inversion (with the root note in the middle).
A video of me playing one of my party pieces at the Millstone the other week. A bit noisy, and the waitress (who has, tragically, abandoned us for her sunnier, native Spain) interrupted me in the middle, wondering if I was just watching myself in the iPad as I played!
On the DART into Connolly station now with my guitar, bag of music books, and music stand. Picking up a GoCar from the Rotunda and driving to Castle Leslie, where I’ll be the entertainment for a wedding later on. Once the DJ has to wind down, I’ll be on hand to keep the party going in the bar. Need to do a set list, so must do that now, but thought I’d share this rather unusual occasion with you.
Wonderful piece on realising one’s potential and making something brilliant…
(via The Guardian)
I just finished playing a set of an hour or so as part of a community day that’s happening in Rathmines today. Great fun (I’m writing this to the soulful strains of local jazz singer, Emilie Conway, who was on after me.) A lovely sunny day for it — although the glass dome of the centre was right above me as I powered through my more ‘up’ covers. And now I’m chilling out at ‘The House of Tea’ having afternoon tea, if you please…
Here’s what I played:
Englishman in New York – Sting
Imagine – John Lennon (via Herbie Hancock)
Why, Georgia? – John Mayer
The Wild Rover – trad.
Alberta – trad. (via Eric Clapton)
Trust You – moi
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Just The Two Of Us – Bill Withers
Way Down In The Hole – Tom Waits
Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
Better – Tom Baxter
Something For The Weekend – The Divine Comedy
Seven Days – Sting
I put out my tip jar (and my nifty cat) and got more tips than I do on the average night at the restaurant! I’m still trying to crack the secret of getting tips at the restaurant. I think the fact that I was very visible today helped, and also that I was more playing the role of a busker. In the restaurant I’m tucked away, out of the view of most of the tables, and it’s less common to tip a musician in a restaurant. Maybe people think the musician gets some of the service charge? (They almost certainly *don’t*…)
The tea I’m drinking is a delicious Darjeeling, recommended by the waitress (who sounds like she’s from the north). Kept warm on a little tea light burner. Lovely little cafe, this
I’m going to start recording performances from my Millstone restaurant gigs as I don’t have many examples of what I do up on the web. For the first one, I’ve done Seven Days by Sting — my longtime party piece
I’ve been a subscriber to The Irish Times for about six months now (it is delivered imperceptibly every morning, waiting for me on the front step when I come down). One of the very great things about it is the variety and scope of the writers. Reading them week after week, you get a sense of their personality (the norm now of putting the writer’s picture at the top of the article helps, too). I read a lot of international news media on the Internet, too, but it doesn’t compare to leafing through the paper over a cup of coffee, casting one’s eye over the properly full-sized pages, reading the odd thing that jumps out. For example, Michael Dervan is the grandmaster of music criticism in Ireland — towering in stature and in intellect — so I had to read twice the following charmingly Dumbledore-ish sentence in his column today:
In its lowest range [the double bass] is utterly unique, rich and soft-textured in a way that makes you smile and want to rub your tummy.
He describes the new film, A Late Quartet, too (about the complicated relationships between the members of a professional string quartet), which sounds very good. (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken?! — albeit, as it transpires, senza vibrato…)