I had the great pleasure of giving master classes and workshops recently in Germany. The town of Gelsenkirchen (around a thirty minute drive from Düsseldorf) provided the backdrop for a weekend of intensive piano playing. Seven students had signed up for coaching over a period of two days which culminated in a little concert late Sunday afternoon. The classes were held at the Grillo-Gymnasium, although the pupils came from various schools in Gelsenkirchen. I also taught a further six students towards the end of my visit who were all pupils at this particular school.
Our venue, the school hall, housed a large Yamaha grand piano. A small audience was present during each class, which grew substantially for the concert, perhaps indicating the interest and demand for piano classes within this area. You can see us in action by clicking on the video link below, which shows short excerpts of a few classes.
I was invited to be involved in this venture by Kery Felske, a singer, who works tirelessly promoting and organising artistic events in Gelsenkirchen and beyond. This concept is very much a community project; many of these students are self-taught or have occasional piano lessons. With this in mind, it’s quite an achievement to play at all, especially after such little preparation and practical help.
We worked on many different aspects of piano playing from the pupil’s chosen pieces (everything from pop tunes to a Chopin Waltz), to exercises and scales (and as will be evident from the video, some pupils had never played scales before). Each student had two individual lessons albeit in public and in English (this is a bilingual school), followed by several opportunities to practice in between lessons in the practice rooms provided. This was all quite a challenge for the pupils, and one which they met beautifully. There is no doubt that everyone had improved considerably from the first lesson to the concert performance, but sadly you will have to take my word on this, as the film doesn’t include any concert clips!
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.