I’ve started listening to Jeremy Denk’s memoir, ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’. He writes beautifully about music and it’s fascinating to hear his reminiscences about his musical education and his life’s journey.
We’re also back to school! Students were a bit thin on the ground as, it being just a two day week at the end of the Christmas holidays, many of them were still away with families in exotic locations. It was good to see the half dozen or so that I did. Elongated breaks meant I could chat with fellow teachers without the usual feeling of rushing off to collect a child from their classroom to bring them down to the music block for their lesson. (Something I’m going to try this year is asking each student to go and tell the next one to come down to me. They’ll hopefully enjoy the responsibility and it’ll give me a valuable few minutes to make notes and get ready for the next lesson.)
I’m excited by the prospect of teaching more pieces by Robert Schumann this term. The ‘Little Study’ from his Album for the Young is on the Royal Irish Academy of Music Grade 3 syllabus this year. I’ve been applying the Whole Beat Metronome Practice to Schumann’s music with very satisfying results (namely, it renders the pieces actually playable). I’m also working on his second Op. 28 Romance with a Grade 8 student and both pieces require a sustained melody be foregrounded against an undulating texture. I’ve been studying Penelope Roskell’s authoritative book ‘The Complete Pianist’ and gleaning some helpful insights that I will be able to use with my students.