Listening and focusing

There are numerous considerations when playing the piano. Elements requiring attention include co-ordination, notes, fingering, rhythm, pedalling, colour, sound, and so on. The list is endless, and the success of all  important technical and musical issues depends on how carefully we listen and focus on what we are doing. It’s too easy to play with closed ears, that is,…

Valerie Tryon in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

My nineteenth Classical Conversation is with British concert pianist Valerie Tryon. Valerie now resides in Ancaster in Ontario, Canada, but was visiting the UK to record a disc with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra when I caught up with her in London last week. Valerie’s career as a concert pianist began while she was still a child….

Pulse Perfection

Over the past few weeks I have been coaching several Grade 8 and diploma candidates; pianists who have come to me to play through  their set pieces and other aspects of their respective exams. It’s the time of year for cramming, studying and practising way beyond the norm in order to achieve that coveted high…

Steven Osborne in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

The eighteenth interview in my Classical Conversations Series is with British concert pianist, Steven Osborne. We met for a chat during rehearsals for the Midsummer Music Festival held a few weeks ago in Latimer, Buckinghamshire, where Steven was giving chamber music recitals. Steven is one of Britain’s foremost musicians, renowned for his idiomatic approach to a wide…

What can musicians learn from Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory?

Watching Andy Murray soar to victory at this year’s Wimbledon was as much a lesson in superlative tennis playing as it was in mental and psychological preparation and willpower. It’s true of course, that many of the top tennis players in the world play fantastically well, so what distinguishes the winner from the runner-up? Especially…

Piano Talk with Noriko Ogawa: Part 1

Japanese concert pianist has already been kind enough to take part in my Classical Conversations Series and you can enjoy the interview here. However, we decided to meet again and chat more about several subjects. In Part 1 of this two part interview which was filmed at Steinway Hall in London, we talk about the best…

The Yellow Lounge with Valentina Lisitsa in Paris

Nothing invigorates the soul like a trip to the wonderfully romantic city of Paris. It’s always a good idea to take time out from our daily routines and do something completely different, but the main reason for my three-day trip last week was to visit friend and the first pianist I interviewed as part of my Classical…

Guest Post: Are you all fingers and thumbs?

Piano summer schools are a great way to enjoy an intense learning experience and there are a fair few to choose from around the UK and abroad too. So in my guest post today,  concert pianist and teacher Christine Stevenson talks about the Walsall Piano Summer School, where she has been coaching for many years. Over to Christine….

Peter Donohoe in conversation Melanie Spanswick

Today’s guest in my Classical Conversations Series is British pianist Peter Donohoe. In the years since his unprecedented success as Silver Medal winner of the 1982 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Peter has built an extraordinary world-wide  career, encompassing a huge repertoire and over forty years’ experience as a pianist, as well as continually exploring…

Celebrating 200 years of Wagner via Liszt

This week has been full of Wagner (1813-1883) celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth (on May 22nd). So I felt compelled to share in the celebratory spirit especially for a composer of such gargantuan importance. Love him or hate him, Wagner made his beliefs heard, whether they be musical or political. His music is decadent to…