What to play when you can hardly play anything.

CAM01461I could equally well have titled this “What to play when you can hardly say anything”.

The first I heard about what happened in Paris on Friday 13th November, 2015, was on Saturday morning, from a Cuban artist living there, who wrote to reassure family and friends that he was alright.  He was painting, his way of being at peace in the middle of it all.
As my way of being at peace at the moment is writing this book, I thought it would be a good moment to share something to play when you hardly know how to.  So, for anyone who wants a wordless way of expressing what you feel:
I´d suggest that you first do whatever you usually do to calm yourself, and focus – a sip of water, two or three deep breaths, a long sigh “aaah”: and then press with your right foot the sustain pedal – and keep it down.  Then just pick out individual notes, very slowly – listening deeply to the sound of each.  Allow a soundscape to build up.  Close your eyes, if you feel happy to do this, and bring your visual sense into play – a misty landscape, perhaps.  All sounds are welcome.
When you feel you´ve had enough, let the sound die away, and release the pedal.
This is do-it-yourself relaxation music: the kind of little extra that you might find time to slip in to your bedtime routine, or substituting for something else that you do to unwind and get in touch with your quiet Self.
This is dedicated to my friend Sue, and the music is what I came up with when I heard of the loss of her grandson, Lewis.

Getting back on the horse – they say you should, when you´ve fallen off

Completing a first draft led me to neglect my blog.  But it turns out that flow feeds in in multiple ways.

This week it´s been  great to have a new student.  Combining piano, and English (I´m here in Spain, where learning English  is more of a psychological trauma than a language).  Apart from the pleasure of getting to know someone new, (competent and busy engineer with a family) it´s always good to be reminded of basic facts.  Like, no-one is an absolute beginner.  There´s always a desire to play, usually showing in childhood: and often a block – in this case, finding it hard to understand written music.  There´s a starting point – something he or she can already play, or would like to.  And lots of things to get right first off: how to sit well, how to hold yourself – ok guys, I didn´t mean that – and I´ve covered it in my book, and that´s reassuring for me.
It encourages me to hope that people will find it easy to access the resources in the audiobook in the same way as when I´m sitting next to them at the piano.  You remember a tune you picked out once?  Ok, let´s hear it.  What key is it in?  How can we identify this? Listen for the key note / construct the scale: or check out which scale has the same notes in in the scale table.  You want to play something to go with it in the left hand? Let´s see what chords naturally occur in that key.  How I´m longing to be able to bring out this audiobook as a multimedia experience where you can just click on links!  I´m battling to make it linear and sequential, when it really needs to be four dimensional!