What Can I Play?

I just read a great article about having pieces "at the ready" to play. It spells out my experience as a classical pianist so well - the tendency to consider time at the piano as work; constantly working to get music up to performance level before performing it and moving on in favor something new. When I am continually learning new pieces, it is easy to feel as if I have nothing to play. Mastery happens just before performance and then gives way to the challenge of learning new music. Yet Andrew Eales argues that we should always have three pieces mastered and ready to play without music, at a moment's notice. And why shouldn't we?

Instead of being relegated to playing the first few pages of Fur Elise that I learned in junior high, or improvising a chord progression, why shouldn't I have a mini arsenal of enjoyable, challenging classical repertoire that I can proudly show off as I enjoy the fruit of my labor: seeing the pleasure on the faces of those I share it with?

As I take steps toward recording a classical CD this year, one of my goals is to develop a handful of pieces that I can play beautifully, skillfully, and without music. You can hold me to it! The next time you see me by a piano ask, "What can you play?"

2 comments

  • Stuart Jennings

    Stuart Jennings

    Cori, this occurred to me as well, not just with singing, but at your Latin music house gathering. In the days before TV and radio, house gatherings centered on music would have been a main form of entertainment, and musicians (singers and instrumentalists) would have easily had their standby's ready to perform at any time. I do have one "ready" so this post is a challenge to get at least two more ready as well!

    Cori, this occurred to me as well, not just with singing, but at your Latin music house gathering. In the days before TV and radio, house gatherings centered on music would have been a main form of entertainment, and musicians (singers and instrumentalists) would have easily had their standby's ready to perform at any time. I do have one "ready" so this post is a challenge to get at least two more ready as well!

  • Cori Belle, pianist

    Cori Belle, pianist

    That is so true! We have so many instant entertainment options now that compete with live music-making and the discipline of practicing. It is interesting, though, how house concerts are becoming more and more popular. There is a desire to connect on a more intimate level with the music-makers - I think that is exciting!

    That is so true! We have so many instant entertainment options now that compete with live music-making and the discipline of practicing. It is interesting, though, how house concerts are becoming more and more popular. There is a desire to connect on a more intimate level with the music-makers - I think that is exciting!

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