I ended a busy year with two days of classes at the Yehudi Menuhin School last week, teaching on the Overseas Masters Winter Piano Academy. I love giving these classes and have done so on several previous occasions (in 2012 and 2014; the academy runs every other year). Malaysian pianist Bobby Chen organises the whole event, which lasts 10 days and involves around 30 young Malaysian students (and a few from Singapore and Vietnam too), who have been selected and invited to participate in an amazing mélange of classes and events.
These include individual piano lessons given in the form of open master classes (with many expert teachers), conducting, composition and improvisation classes, many concerts and lectures featuring visiting artists, sight-seeing trips to London and my contribution, which was to deliver piano technique, sight-reading and memorisation classes. All classes take place at the world-renowned school and pupils stay on campus. The academy finishes with a concert in the beautiful concert hall, featuring every student.
I thoroughly enjoy working with these pupils (some of whom are pictured with me above); they range in age from 9 years old to postgraduate music students, and are all Grade 8 level and beyond. I offer several workshops for presentation at music educational institutions, but this particular one is, (piano technique, sight-reading and memorisation), is always the most popular.
During the classes (I taught seven students per class, and four classes in all), a young Malaysian student, Jessica Cho, kindly gave me a recording of her own piano compositions (which also included works by three other leading Malaysian women composers; the CD compilation (entitled Interweaves) is apparently the first recording featuring entirely female Malaysian composers). I have a real interest in Twenty-first century music (particularly by women composers), and always like to highlight new work.
On listening, the music made an impression and I felt this style, connecting Western and Eastern music, is one which resonates with me (and might interest anyone who enjoys Contemporary classical music).
The Five Little Pieces for Piano were written in 2010, and are a set of strongly contrasting miniatures (all one page in length), with a concise structure, and inspired by Hungarian composer Gyürgy Kurtág’s Játékok. To obtain the score, you can contact Jessica here. These pieces would make an interesting choice for advanced students searching for a fresh Contemporary style. You can click on the link below to hear them:
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.