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Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
#2962408 04/01/20 12:04 AM
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My daughter and us are debating recently if she should apply to "conventional" university to get a "conventional" degree or pursue piano performance in a music conservatory. She loves classical music but we really do not know if her standard of playing is good enough to be qualified for a good conservatory. Most importantly of all, if she will be able to survive if she gets accepted.

Here are her recent recordings. Your comments and advice are highly appreciated. Thank you.

Liszt Rigoletto Paraphrase
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PvQVebR7KE

Prokofiev Sonata No 6 Movement 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DRnGi_yKKk

Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos Movement 1
https://youtu.be/qwI3-keBiMk

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962416 04/01/20 12:55 AM
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She certainly has a remarkable technique and seemingly good interpretive skills; sufficient, I would think, to easily qualify her for entry into a conservatory or music school. The competition to get into such schools is pretty tough, I have read, but the more pressing question is what your daughter would do with a degree from a conservatory. I think that future plans - even tentative but realistic ones - beyond the music degree should be a major deciding factor of what course of education she should pursue.

As the current world pandemic is sadly proving, those who have gone into music primarily as a performing career are in serious straits at the moment, with their major source of income totally cut off and with no idea how the classical world will rebound after life has returned to whatever the new normal may be.

Are there local professionals in high school guidance and counselling who could be more helpful in sorting out the pros and cons of either course of action than those of us viewing videos on the Internet?

Best of luck; you have a talented daughter and I am sure you would hope that she could use her skills and talents in a practical and satisfying way.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962450 04/01/20 05:51 AM
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Your daughter is talented, and IMO she would be accepted to a good conservatory.

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962475 04/01/20 07:51 AM
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I agree with Bruce. But I think a life in music is very difficult no matter what; the key is to want it enough, and to love music without ulterior motives; i.e. not for accomplishment, admiration, a degree, the physical gratification of playing or the self-validation of success and of performing for an audience. If she loves music enough and does the best she can, she will find a way.

What does she see herself as? Does she want to be a pianist? Or more broadly, a musician, someone who plays, teaches, conducts, maybe writes? If she knows it is music, then having a solid musical education is very important, and she would really enjoy and make the most of everything she would learn at a music conservatory or a performance program in a music university: history, theory, musicianship, analysis, chamber music- things that only a well-rounded, intensive music study would offer. If she loves playing the piano but has other interests she would love to pursue, or if she can see herself doing something else while continuing to play, then private lessons with an excellent teacher would keep her on track pianistically, but she wouldn't need to limit herself to a career in music or in performance. Or she could double major: lots of universities offer dual programs. That way, if she makes enough progress and still really wants to devote herself to it afterwards, she has the option.

Lots of people who study performance end up doing other things, and some regret not having prepared themselves to be able to do other things, so I think the question of why one wants to do music is very important. If the idea of doing anything other than playing- e.g. teaching, or carving out for oneself a creative path that involves much more than performing, feels like a compromise, an unpleasant burden, then I would suggest that maybe a life in music is not a good idea. I did two degrees, but because my parents were not supportive of me doing music. Ever since graduating I've had teachers and colleagues ask me why in the world I left the option of a secure, lucrative career for music- I could tell it was those people who were a little disappointed with a life in music themselves, who would gladly leave it if they had another option. If I have one regret, it is that I wasn't able to fully commit myself to music from the beginning or have the option of traveling to attend a really good school for my bachelor, because I still always feel I have a lot of catching up to do.

I would love to share with you a truly inspiring speech which I come back to often, by one of the pianists and musicians I admire most, Jonathan Biss. It's the convocation address to the 2014 class of the Bienen School of Music. "Because there are more pathways than ever before, there are more wrong reasons for doing things than ever before. With increased possibility comes increased responsibility – responsibility to make your musical choices with absolute conviction and integrity." Maybe it can offer your daughter some insights or inspire questions about what she really wants:

https://www.music.northwestern.edu/...cation-address-jonathan-biss#about-video

All the best to her daughter in making this decision. I really enjoyed listening to her recordings! If she wants to, I trust that she can get into a good university or conservatory.



"Love has to be the starting point- love of music. It is one of my firmest convictions that love always produces some knowledge, while knowledge only rarely produces something similar to love."
Arthur Schnabel

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962507 04/01/20 09:36 AM
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Music is a business, that's a plain and simple fact. Stand alone conservatories don't put any emphasis on that. Conservatories that are part of larger universities have business schools available to students. Just taking as electives business basics such as accounting, finance, and marketing will give a music student some basic business knowledge that will serve them well. Some schools offer a music business degree that focuses on the business aspects of music but sometimes that's at the expense of the business basics.

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962899 04/02/20 10:40 AM
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@Bruce, Hakki, Rania, and Steve, thank you for taking time to listen to the videos. Really appreciate your comments. It seems like doing a dual degree course (likely to be liberal arts / music combination) is a good fit for her as of now, provided she is able to get accepted by the university/conservatory, and that she is able to cope with the pressure. She still has time to make up her mind by the end of the year. Any recommendation for such course combination in the States and Europe?

I managed to find some of her older recordings, about 1 - 2 years back, which the links are attached below. Hope you enjoy it.

Haydn - Hob XVI No 52 in E flat major Movement 1
https://youtu.be/eLrTfRnI2qc

Johannes Brahms - Capriccio in C Op 76 No 8
https://youtu.be/8WnmKSeoN38

Maurice Ravel - Alborada Del Gracioso No 4 from Miroir
https://youtu.be/zfl0lJz73J4

Shostakovich - Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major Movement 1
https://youtu.be/0IaNk0yAYSc

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2962915 04/02/20 11:28 AM
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Thank you for the new recordings.

It would be pity for such talented pianist like your daughter not to follow some sort of degree in music, alongside with another degree maybe.

Our member Can Cakmur (PW name: CanCakmur) has followed a career in Germany.
Maybe you can contact him for advice.

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Hakki #2963220 04/03/20 09:00 AM
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Hi Hakki, thank you for your kind words and introducing Can Cakmur. I must admit that I am inactive in this forum although I joined as member about two years ago. Did a quick search of Can and realise he is a famous pianist! Not sure if he has the time for my daughter. Appreciate your suggestion anyway!

Below are the two articles she wrote about 3 years ago. Have fun reading if you have the time.

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2963222 04/03/20 09:03 AM
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You Need to Hear These Pianists!

Here are 4 pianists that I absolutely adore and have on more than one occasion affected me deeply.

Andras Schiff

Sir Andras Schiff is one of the most widely acclaimed “geniuses” (a word should not be thrown around recklessly unless its the truth) of the keyboard. His knowledge of music is simply astounding as seen in masterclasses that he holds worldwide. In every masterclass, he would make interconnections between not only the specific piece in question, but also with other compositions by the composer and his contemporaries. Take for example, did you know that the famous Schubert Impromptu Op. 142 No. 3 in Bb major has strong inklings of Beethoven’s 7th and 9th symphonies? Every piece he brings up as an example, whether symphony, lied (a song), string quartets etc, he is able to demonstrate them (sometimes hand separately even) as if he himself had spent his whole life internalizing them, proving his phenomenal memory. Still, the most incredible thing about Andras Schiff is his unprecedented skill of hearing; far past the level of being able to pick up wrong notes (of course students privileged to have lessons with him seldom commit these “low level” mistakes) but rather microscopic nuances of sound in the realms of style. I for one can never dream to differentiate a “Viennese” sound from a “German” sound.

Some useful links:

Masterclass at Juilliard

https://www.medici.tv/en/masterclas...mp;utm_campaign=20171020_andras%20schiff

Masterclasses at the Royal College of Music

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85KJkpbh_us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzTdpTHIgkc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agN-B5kgzB0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdqiQ9VQxrE

Interview on Bach

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhDFq_MrOcE

Documentary on Schubert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4R-qf6E7XI

Actually do a quick search on YouTube and most of the gold can be found. His rendition of Bach (not surprising as he plays Bach as his “morning ritual” every day for about an hour) and Schubert must be listened to. The ease the music is drawn out with his fingers that ‘float’ about the keyboard never ceases to amaze me; yet the sound produced is never airy-fairy and but has an unprecedented amount of spirituality.



Murray Perahia

Murray Perahia is another giant in classical music. His interpretations are always heavily supported by immense knowledge, that of harmony and history. As he said so himself when he won the Leeds International Piano Competition, that his manner of playing will not change regardless of the audience and environment (whether he is playing for his teacher or for a concert audience). He is on the same calibre as Andras Schiff, rather like Mozart and Beethoven, who cannot be compared. The thing that strikes me more and more as I listen to his playing and interviews, is in fact how “balanced” he is. For example, in an interview (Murray Perahia on his thoughts and feelings about music) he brought up how the heart and mind are forever interconnected in music. He mentions that he plays not only as a soloist, but also frequently as a chamber musician and even conducts. His taste in music is also wide; he likes not only classical music but also jazz and improvisatory music. This variety in an individual (and especially in a musician) is extremely important and increasingly difficult to find today, and Murray Perahia is one such individual. Being a very well balanced musician, there is no one specific composer that he “specialises” in, but I feel that he has, (if not the best) one of the best interpretations of Bach. His performances of Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann are amazing too. It is also worth listening to some of his earlier recordings (do a quick search on YouTube) such as during the Leeds Piano Competition and observe where his manner of playing changes as time passes (how he his physical demonstrations become more subdued) and where it remains the same (his integrity and faithfulness to the music for example)

Some useful links:

Masterclass at Juilliard

https://www.medici.tv/en/masterclasses/master-class-murray-perahia/

Interview: Murray Perahia on his thoughts and feelings about music

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/interview/2563-6

Murray Perahia plays Bach French Suites (one of my favourite recordings)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRjWLBVMFZ6wuHLh2aSMKQEI43ocSYpDi

Leeds International Piano Competition 1972

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XmFYjrl9Oo&t=781s



Shai Wosner

Moving on to the younger generation of pianists, Shai Wosner is probably not a name that you have heard very often. However, the reason why I included him as one of the must-hear pianists is his unsurpassed interpretation of Schubert (and by that I mean my absolute favourite, without a doubt). Schubert is probably one of the most difficult composers to master and I myself feel a reluctance to touch his works, though I listen to recordings of Schubert a great deal. This is because all of his music are “spiritual” and requires a lot of maturity and personal experience to master. It is tough to describe the music of Schubert but Andras Schiff does encompass most of the characteristics of the music in the documentary on Schubert linked above. To me, the most outstanding characteristic of his music is the element of timelessness and the way it encompasses both joy and sadness. Shai Wosner also did some interviews on Schubert which are absolutely fantastic (the links are below) and really worth watching.

Some useful links:

Shai Wosner Talks Schubert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKaqyNWx-yc

Schubert’s Last Sonatas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQpIoLxQhNY

Shai Wosner on Schubert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpwRbvnd26k

All of his Schubert recordings can be found online at Spotify.



Kate Liu

Kate Liu is 23 years old and a Singaporean born pianist, best known for winning the bronze medal at the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland and the best performance of the Mazurka prize. As with Shai Wosner, the reason why she is another must-hear is her interpretation of Chopin which is the best I have heard so far (I’m in the “Kate-Liu-should-have-won-the-competition” camp) . The fact that Kate Liu is able to reach such a high level of artistry at the young age of 23 is scary. It is worth mentioning that age should not matter in artistic attainment, a 23 year old can achieve a higher level of artistry than an 80 year old, just that more often than not it is the other way round due to the fact that the latter has more personal experience and maturity than the former. However, as with everything, there are exceptions. Just look at the way she plays; the way her head is always “in the clouds” while spinning endless musical lines beneath her fingers. The spirit of Chopin sure lives in her.


Some useful links (some of my favourites from the Chopin Competition):

Kate Liu plays Chopin Ballade in F minor, Op. 52

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMSwmDK-sTM

Kate Liu plays Sonata in B minor, Op. 58

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6cv_rOpeO8

Kate Liu plays Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 No. 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFlIvrEZ3nU

Kate Liu plays Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat major, Op. 22

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO6k_ipgEsI

Kate Liu plays Fantasy in F minor Op. 49

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TDx8ygZDaA

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2963223 04/03/20 09:05 AM
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Are you a Musician?


It is difficult to pinpoint the exact definition of a “musician”. Is someone who plays soft background jazz at a restaurant a “musician”? Must a “musician” be someone in a cool rock band? Or does a virtuoso with a fancy tailcoat or tuxedo basking in the spotlight come to mind instead? Is a musician simply someone who learns or play an instrument? I shall hereby give a possible suggestion (credits to my piano teacher Ms Lena Ching) of the meaning of a “musician”:

A musician is someone who is in the (1) right relationship with music, and is someone who seeks to (2) respond correctly to the music (3) for a lifetime.

1. Right Relationship

Why the choice of the word “relationship”? Well, because it is literally, a relationship. Like in a romantic, family or any relationship really, there are two parties. Both parties are equally important in this relationship. However, in the relationship between a musician and music, there is no give and take on both ends, only one - which is the musician. Music does not “give” you something in return, rather it is the process of the musician giving to music that he or she receive something in return; a lifetime of spiritual fulfillment, for example.

Thus, it is may be harmful to constantly preoccupy yourself with the amount of give and take in this relationship. A thought such as “if I practice 4 hours a day from now on, my skills will be twice as good as they are now” is dangerous in the long-run.

The formation of expectation in itself is a foundational crack a relationship. Unlike expectation in other areas like your schoolwork, your personal goals etc. having expectations in relationships is not always healthy. If your goal for learning the piano is the pleasure it can give you, then more often than not, you will be sorely disappointed. This is because your mind is so goal-oriented that you may instantly be discouraged by the setbacks along this journey, or even, why your 4 hour long practice session seemingly yielded no improvement. Let go of that expectation, because when you do not expect anything from the relationship, you would start to appreciate many more things that will come along the way. Imagine if your significant other turning out to be a gold-digger; your relationship most probably would not last.

The point I am making here is that motive does matter in a relationship, even with a seemingly non-physical thing like music. What you must be regularly asking yourself is: are you learning music because you really enjoy it? Or are you doing so because of duty or pressure (the most common source being parents)?


2. Responding Correctly

“Response” is something that ties in with “relationship”. If you are in a right relationship, you will respond to it. Response can be measured in several ways. When someone is performing on stage, “response” can obviously suggest how the performer reacts to the music, his or her body language and facial expression being one of the most important measurements. Is the response a reflection of the music he or she is playing? Is the response over the top or non-existent (both being equally unfavourable)? Behind the scenes, a response can refer to how much the musician weighs the relationship in his or her heart. This translates to physical and emotional investment into the relationship, as mentioned before.


3. Over a Lifetime

As with any relationship, one hopes that it can be long-lasting. The same goes with a musical relationship. Many start learning a musical instrument when they are barely the age of 5, but how many of those people do you see persevere to the age of 70? Time spent, no matter where, if with a purpose and whole-hearted dedication, will yield results. One cannot expect oneself to reach the summit of artistry in 5 years of learning the piano or unlock all the secrets of piano playing by watching a tutorial on YouTube; for there is never an end-goal in music (or rather any aspect of art). Patience is another key value that musicians need to have. It is this lifetime journey that is so fulfilling, encompassing all the triumphs and setbacks along the way.


In conclusion, anyone can be a musician; a concert pianist, a band member or the person who plays background music in a French restaurant, if they are in a right relationship with music and are seeking to respond well to the music over a lifetime. Again there are many factors that constitute a right relationship and it is up to your own judgement for what those factors are. Thus it is not really accurate to adhere to the common stereotype that musicians are single pringles; in fact they are in the most rewarding relationship ever known.

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2968211 04/18/20 02:27 AM
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Thank you for sharing the other links and the articles. This is very fine playing and musicianship. If being a musician is what she really wants, I really think she will find a way for herself (I am starting to wonder if the doubt is more hers or yours:)). But if this is her true wish, then I think support is the greatest thing that you can give her.

Her biographies of the pianists she admires and the article she wrote about "are you a musician" are also revealing- they show someone who sees and wants music more holistically. I really liked her comparison to a relationship where, if you enter with expectations, you will be disappointed. These expectations are for me the most dangerous thing when a young person decides to study performance: the success of the stage, a life of concertizing. Because most are indeed often disappointed, and things like teaching, which is meant to be a joy, are done like a chore, something that's unfortunately "unavoidable". If your daughter does not have those expectations (sometimes it's hard to see the line between her own thoughts and those of her teacher in her writing:)), then I think she deserves all encouragement to pursue music as a career, whatever she ends up doing with it! That also does not preclude the option of doing two things, again, if it's what she really wants and if she is up for the great effort it will cost.

To answer your question, I only know a few people who have done double-degrees in Oberlin (at the conservatory and the university). But there must be many more places.

What does her own teacher recommend, by the way? I think she is the one who can give the best judgment and advice, also with regards to where to go.


"Love has to be the starting point- love of music. It is one of my firmest convictions that love always produces some knowledge, while knowledge only rarely produces something similar to love."
Arthur Schnabel

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2968290 04/18/20 10:03 AM
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Hi Rania, thank you so much for your advice. It is very obvious to us that she has the inclination for music. However, she just wants to learn as much as she can but really does not know what she can do with music for living in the future. Being a concert pianist is out of question as there are so many good ones around. Pursuing a teaching career is not her passion for now also - may be time will change her mind. This is the reason we are discussing the double degrees option. She will be able to make her choice later.

Also, thank you for the link of Jonathan Biss. Very inspiring speech. My daughter said she had heard his masterclass before and was really impressed by his knowledge. She said it would be so cool to be able to study with Jonathan Biss! :))

Below is another article she wrote on competition at 15. Have fun reading!

Re: Recent Recordings - Music Conservatories
Rhapsodyinblue #2968291 04/18/20 10:06 AM
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On Piano Competitions

What is it that makes a piano competition, or any competition rather, so alluring and seductive? Is it the yearning to perform, to showcase? Or is it the adrenaline rush, that steroid jab that makes your heart thrash against your rib-cage? Is it the sense of satisfaction, self-glorification triumph, when your hand closes around the plaque bearing your name, your title? Undeniably, these thoughts resonate within not only myself, but countless others. Why shouldn’t they? But these are not the sole reasons, for me at least, that makes piano competitions alluring. As cliche as it sounds, the paramount reason why I enjoy joining a piano competition, is the process. It always has been. To me, whatever winnings and fulfillment I receive will be nothing if the days, weeks, months leading up to the competition amounted to nothing. If there was no improvement, not only of the repertoire I would be presenting, but of my personality, my musicianship and most importantly my love for music, I see no point in a competition. Certainly, days before a piano competition intensify in terms of the amount of time I spent thinking, practicing and going for lessons. And it was not easy. What you want to take you must give. I spend hours figuring out how to bring dreary, note-filled pieces of paper to life, and so I had to give it mine.


Time was the easiest to give up, simply because it was a concomitant of my demands. Most of my June holidays was spent alone in the practice room. Time given up for 4-5 piano lessons a week became natural. But what made things not so simple, was the psychological and emotional I had to relinquish. Being branded as “the most unteachable student”, as well as many other austere titles by my piano teacher during the last lesson a day before the competition, was more than a blow. It was more than a pinch of the ego, more than just the spilling of tears. But deep down, I knew she wanted my heart to harden, to stiffen up, and not be drowned by my exuberance and self-contentment of the results of my acceptance as one of the 5 finalists. It was the one of the most selfless acts I had been a recipient of. But, why should I go through all this trauma? Why should I give so much to revive something created so long ago? Why should I suffer? This was the question I asked myself, after every low, every criticism, every self-doubt. And it was a question whose answer became increasingly obvious as time passed. Because suffering is love, and love is suffering. The two go hand in hand. This is by no means, a statement of sadism, but rather the only “moral” I was certain about when all the others seemed distant and nebulous. If music is what I love, I would suffer for it. And if I suffered, it was because I love it. To suffer for something I loved, was a blessing. This was a logic so simple that guided me through so much complexity. It gave me a sense of purpose, of reason whenever I fell, because that belief always dwarfs and supersedes self-doubt, dejectedness and frustration. How many 4 year olds have you heard on television, slurring, “When I grow up I want to be a concert pianist, because I love to play the piano”. I personally am particularly frustrated when the term “love” is so easily showered around like confetti. Love, especially for something intangible, is not as easy as a four year old claims to be. However, if you do something with a sense of purpose, with a grounded reason you will certainly not stray far.


So right before I was about to perform during the finals, I was not scared. Sure, my heart was pounding rapidly, that adrenaline yearning for release was pumping through my veins, but I simply was not afraid. Because I was going to perform, not for anyone, not even myself, but for the music. I had to admit, my performance during the finals was one of the best I had produced thus far. I had never been so engaged and concentrated in something before. It was the first time my presence was not remembered as a blur of excitement, or fear. Not once did platitudes such as “This is your time to shine!”, “Prove you are worth it!” cross my mind music was, is and never will be about the glory of the performer.


The more you give yourself to it and not to thoughts like these, the better off your musical journey will be. Your musical journey is never-ending and limitless. What I reminisced most about piano competitions was not only that time on stage when I gave myself to the music, but also the times off-stage, practicing, being reprimanded and most importantly, seeing myself grow. So think past the prize and sense of satisfaction on stage, but rather think about what keeps you doing whatever you are doing.


Do you have the same urge to join a competition if there were to be no winners? Do your fingers still ache for the keyboard when there will be no lesson that week? Most importantly, do you live for the moment, or are you in for the whole ride?


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