Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If I was a music teacher...

Yesterday, I went to watch a master class, where a guest lecture will meet local young pianists and guides them based on his/her performance.

The guest pianist touch on piano itself gave a different kind of tone. That made me realize how experience makes you know the strengths and weakness of the piano; where to touch the keys, how lightly to touch, how to produce muffled sound, rich sound....

What I do differently from the way piano teachers are teaching is by writing stories to some famous pieces, which gives a learner- the guidance about what the piece is expecting, what was the motive of the composer behind the chords or the notes. Without knowing the path, how can someone know the way. And that too this kind of addressing should be  done when the piece is given. I think it will really help.

For example, when Haydn's sonata in E minor was given to my son, and later after six months progressed, the teacher asked him to come up with a storyline, then while performing think about presenting the story to the audience. He panicked. He couldn't think of anything. He was like the same tune is playing over and over, so if this piece is between a good and bad guy, the same scenario is going to happen again and again. He was like I don't know how to write a story, what is there to think when same melody is repeating.

Even though he watched Phantom of the Opera, he couldn't relate how even though same tune is played out, the story line moves, different scenarios will be played. The story doesn't stall, or the same scene won't repeat, because the same melody is played again and again.

So I write a story for him: this is between an alien and a human. I have to use alien to make the story interesting for him. You know how boys like aliens. Ha!


Don't chase me, don't chase me don't chase me
I'm pleading you 
I'm requesting you go away
Go away
Go away to your world .
Don't come near me 
I don't need you
I don't want you
Stop chasing me
Stop harassing me
I have nothing to do with you
I'm a free bird who wants to fly happily.
Don't chain me up in your shackles
I'm a free soul who wants to enjoy the colors of the world
I want it love peacefully with my fellow beings who are like me
Who love me, understand me, connect with me
Who like me have dreams of bright future
We are humans you know.
You're from a different world, you're an alien
Who has nothing to do with humans so stop chasing me.
Our every act looks strange to us, you are just curious for now, you ll get bored later.
So stop chasing me
Stop harassing me
Stop following me

Go away don't come close to me
Look at your hands and at your body 
I don't fit in your world
I plead you
Show mercy, aww it pains don't touch me go away please go away don't follow me I hate you I despise you you're torturing me. Is anybody there to save me, help help help anybody there our there help help hellllllppppppp

What do you want from me, stop chasing me please I don't belong to you listen to me stop chasing me, I want to go home 
No, I don't need your spaceship, no I don't want to get in, let. E go let me go let me go to my home
let me go, I'll be your friend but I won't come with you 
Oh my god you have your friends there are all over me there are coming closer to me, don't come close to me I'm going to jump off the cliff, I swear I'm going to jump, don't come close to me. I'll throw the rocks at you I'll hurt you, I'll scream I'll spoil your space ship, don't dare to come close

Pleads them to let her go 

You should listen to the first movement of Haydn Sonata in E minor. You literally feel like someone is haunting you, and they are coming from all the directions- inching closer and closer with increasing force. No where to escape, other than plead for their mercy. Such a great piece!!

The other thing I change in Classical music is the brochure. No layman can understand what any piece is trying to convey. Instead of just mentioning the song and the composer, to generate interest, they should inform of what to hear, what to notice, what's the neat or odd thing about the piece and basically, what to look for and how it is different compare to other pieces by the same composer. Whenever I hear a piece in recitals, other than the one my kids are playing, I cannot connect or appreciate them, unless something very catchy or captures you forcefully, like Gillock's Fountain in the Rain. Whenever I sit in these group classes, the same thing happens; I don't appreciate the piece, but once the instructor plays few parts, and expresses about what kind of sound should come, what we are trying to project ...that's when I'm like-oh, I should've tried to hear with that particular thought. Now, you understand- a little bit of explanation about the piece should be given to the audience.

Some of the key things from what I remember from yesterday's master class are:

How to gaze to the heavenly body when you have to project a slant line shooting to the sky and inching towards high pitch.

How to stress on chords which suddenly appear out of nowhere, showing the contrast in the piece in which it was written. 

How to muffle the sound. How to generate a light touch to give the sound of water splashing.

How and why to show contrast if the same melody repeats.

How and why to sway your body based on the flow of the music. 

How and why to take pauses in between the piece, and make the audience get interested by playing a guessing game. 

How to play the secondary notes skillfully to make the audience sway to the other sounds the piece is producing where the main melody by default captures everybody's ears.

It is really tough to teach kids or to anybody when you really don't feel the music, when you don't understand what's happening in the music.


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