Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pianist Event, Central London

As it says on their website, ( you don't just read Pianist, you play it! Pianist contains interviews with top concert pianists, full-length features on current (piano) issues, CD and sheet music reviews, Q&As, teaching tips, readers' letters, concert highlights - basically all that one might hope to find in a leading music magazine. 
The added bonus comes in the form of 40 pages of specially selected sheet music, for beginner, intermediate and advanced pianists. A free tutorial CD comes with every issue, so that you can get to hear the pieces before playing them. Pianist is like having a piano teacher in your own home, whenever you need one!
Over the last year, I have written a series of articles for Pianist called Keyboard Class, which give tips on playing contemporary popular styles. I’ve written new pieces for these articles, as well as suggesting other pieces of mine, from Microjazz or American Popular Piano, that are in a similar style to the one featured. These articles have been very popular, providing as they do a range of different styles from the styles featured in the rest of the magazine. Pianist, with some prompting from Schott (my distributors) decided to advertise a live event, presented by me, for subscribers to the magazine. So we booked the concert hall in the basement of Schott’s central London offices and advertised the event. 
We got a very respectable number of people along, mostly keen amateur players. I started by playing some pieces:

 I then kicked off a discussion about why people might want to play popular piano styles. Social occasions, playing styles that are familiar, a desire to do something a bit freer…a number of good suggestions were made. I then demonstrated a number of simple “things you must know” in order to have some chance of being a popular (in both senses of the word) pianist.
 The audience were pleased to see that I was prepared to use some “students” (members of the audience) who enjoyed doing some chord playing with and without backing tracks. My first student hadn’t played pop styles before and I think still quite enjoyed the experience:
 My second student was very pleased that I’d referred to Someone like You (Adele) as an example of a pop piano style that was very accessible. And he was startled to find himself playing along with a heavy rock track within minutes of coming up:
 My third student was a more experienced player and she was able to use her reading skills to good effect. The event really was for, as the blurb says, beginner, intermediate and advanced players:
There was a Q & A session at the end and even some book signing. We (Pianist  and I) hope to do some other similar events around the UK in the new year, in conjunction with Roland, whose new range of digital pianos include a “Christopher Norton” button and lots of data supplied by me. 
It was great to actually meet some of the readers of the magazine and I was also very pleased not only to see the magazine’s editor, but also the publisher, all the way down from Leeds. Thanks to Pianist and Schott for making this happen – more please!

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