Friday, March 18, 2011

Toulouse, France

Apparently, there are not many French music dealers that are big enough to host a music workshop – LeCroquenotes in Toulouse
( is one of them, largely because they recently bought the shop next door and therefore have both a sheet music showroom and a little “concert” area next door, including a piano. LeCroquenotes (isn’t that a great name!) is in the heart of Toulouse, a delightfully quaint French town which also happens to be the home of Airbus Industries. Cathy Aubriet was the young, enthusiastic promoter of this workshop, which was billed as How to teach with Microjazz. Here’s Cathy:
Although I haven’t been to France on promotional visits very often, Microjazz has been on the market for so long (28 years!) that it has become quite well-known in France. A number of the teachers at the workshop were familiar with solos and duets from Microjazz and at the beginning of the workshop I was asked to sign what must have been an 1980s edition of Microjazz Duets. A number of the teachers (including their teacher) were from a local Conservatorium and were very interested to hear what publications have appeared since Microjazz. Here is the Toulouse Conservatorium teacher with one of the local teachers:
I began by describing the beginner books – Microjazz for Absolute Beginners and Microjazz for Beginners – with help from one of the teachers acting as my “student” - I played teacher accompaniments to the very easy student parts. I then played a number of pieces from the Microjazz Collections, some with the new, sparkling backing tracks that are included with the new editions. I also showed recent Youtube clips of students playing pieces from the series.

Then I went on to Microstyles, which was a new publication for the group, playing Metal Merchant and In the bag (the latter with enthusiastic help from a non-pianist in the audience) I then went on to talk about the “improvisation” books Improvise Microjazz and The Easiest Way To Improvise. These proved to be of great interest – a desire to learn how to improvise and teach improvisation seems to be universal!

Demonstrations, from me and with video clips from students, of the Concert Collections and Preludes concluded the presentation, along with references to, American Popular Piano and the websites associated with my material. I also referred to the Christopher Norton Piano Festivals, which were of interest to the French teachers as well.

I had a rich Toulouse-style lunch before the workshop (they do like duck products in this part of France!) and the town itself was delightful, with unusual churches a feature. Take a look at this for example:
The reactions to the range of material were very positive and the dealer was very happy! I hope to see my Toulouse teachers again before too long.

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