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Hi, I'm Emma

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Clarity of thought and sound!

Clarity of thought and sound!

I was preparing the first movement of Ravel’s Sonatine and having trouble. I wanted a projected melody from the 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers of my right hand, a steady bass in the left hand, and (most difficult of all) a gentle but busy undulating semiquaver middle line accompaniment.

At the time, the middle accompaniment was very ‘clunky’ and tended to rattle! I was also straining my right hand baby finger by trying to push out the melody line.

I remember you took my right hand with your hands and we discussed what I had to do to depress the keys in order to produce a sound. I felt a lightening and an ease in my right forearm and hand.

When I played the second time, I was amazed at the difference. I had a clarity of thought and sound that I had never experienced before. Not only was the piece of music easy to play, but it sounded great! It had the lightness of touch required, a rippling sound and a vitality, and energy that was so exciting. The layers were perfectly and effortlessly clear and in proportion with one another. It also didn’t hurt. And I enjoyed playing it!

Now and again my thinking was distracted and the music lowered in standard, but I was able to organise my thoughts again and that same freshness of sound returned. I remember so clearly and so fondly the experience of forming an idea in my mind about what I wanted to do with the music next- and then carrying it out! It was so supple an interaction between mind, mechanism (body)  and musical machine (piano). I was delighted to experience such a profound change in only minutes of discussion and hands-on work.

At this point I asked you how I should go about reaching that standard again. You said (and I paraphrase): ‘perhaps just knowing that you can do it is enough’. I accepted this at the time with some hesitation!

The lesson on the whole was insightful for me, and stands in my memory to this day as one of the most exciting and refreshing experiences I have had while playing the piano.

Aonghus Joyce, BMus – Pianist, Cork School of Music, Ireland

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