Saturday, 29 September 2012
Wot, no scales?
More about the cast of characters today. I suppose you're always attached to your first pupil. Amelie wasn't my first pupil really but I think she was one of the first to take the piano seriously enough to make spectacular progress. There was just one problem - well, two problems, really but linked. If Amelie got anything wrong or couldn't understand something or couldn't master something quickly enough, she'd cry. Then, there was nothing more you could do that day. Looking back, it was probably frustration. The encouraging thing was that when she came back the following week, she'd have mastered the point in question. Except scales. She's always refused to do scales - and that's a problem, I think. YOU NEED TO BE FLEXIBLE as a teacher and I've had to find ways around that, for instance by choosing music like famous Mozart's C Major piano sonata that features a lot of scales in an attractive format. Amelie plays the whole of that sonata very well now. Of course, you can't do exams if you don't do scales and Amelie was always a little too nervous to do exams anyway. However, from time to time, we'd work through some exam pieces just so I could get a general idea of how she was getting on compared with others of roughly the same level. Not obsessive comparisons, just a general idea. I think I'll always remember her performances of two pieces from grade 4 ABRSM. Many of my pupils have played them and done a good job of it but her interpretation of them haunts me still. First, this beautiful Valse Lente by Vaughan Williams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uglOvSOnUBo Then there's this Waltz by Kabalevsky where the hands have to be very independent to play the parts where the hands move widely apart at the beginning and the end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uglOvSOnUBo It's all too easy to rush these passages and create a clumsy effect but Amelie was always so graceful. In fact, graceful is probably the best way to describe her playing.