Monday, 21 April 2008

A Concert pianist arrives at “pianomagic”

Hi Folks

I am so excited about this post and hope some of you find this interesting

As many of you know I have learned to play the piano by ear with Mike at and over the past four years there has been some exciting times for myself and for many of the other members over there.

However, about 4 weeks ago a quite famous “Classical concert pianist” joined! Yikes a proper, for real, living, breathing, walking, talking! CLASSICAL CONCERT PIANIST…what? join pianomagic? why????

I am sooooooo excited about this guy, I wrote to him to ask him if “it was okay to write about him in this blog?” and if "he would mind if I quoted him too?”

Itzhak wrote back and said it would be a pleasure for him to feature in this blog and quote whatever I wanted to.


First, he said hello to us all:-

“Hello everybody!! I'm Itzhak Solsky, a classical concert pianist from Israel, currently living in France

Click here to read a little about one of his CDs

Why would he join pianomagic? (Heck, we’re the ‘children of the corn’ LOL)

This is why in his own words:-

“I've been teaching piano for the last 12 years or so, and I've always been frustrated by a certain gap between my ability to play and my ability to teach. You see, I started playing the piano when I was 4. I could read music very well by the time I was 5, and on the other hand, at the age of 6 I could play by ear most everything in my father's vinyl library, and most everything that came up in the radio.

Later as an adult I won international prizes and played in many countries (I still do, of course), while amusing myself and many friends in parties and other occasions, playing and singing songs - which recently I also started doing in formal, paid performances - it's simply fun :-) I make my own arrangements, of course.

BUT - with my students, I was still more or less stuck with old, 'orthodox' methods.”

Alrighty then, this is exciting I thought. Ah yes but, not as excited as our new concert pianist was becoming about his new journey:-

“Exactly 12 days ago, in the introductory part of I found the answer. I consequently did a pilot on all of my students here - 100% success!!!! Everybody was so happy to learn 'the truth' about chords, to learn to play by ear, I found myself teaching many more things that I know, but never really knew how to teach, in short - the experience was so inspiring!!”

He then goes on to say,

“I had a BIG PROBLEM with beginners – especially with beginning adults who didn’t want to necessarily major in classics, but who wanted to learn to play songs. PM solves this problem with a vengeance!!!

But now, I also take the classical experts and lead them into a little ‘adventure’ of learning to understand and figure out music from within – everybody likes it, and I’m happier – and incidentally a lot busier as a teacher! :-)

In teaching, I like very much a light-hearted, simple approach. Also, playing should sound like that. Behind that, there are a lot of things to learn – and it’s up to the teacher to make it seem [easy] to the student who simply wants to acquire an easy, fun hobby. I’ve never seen it done before as convincingly as Michael puts it, and I really like it. :-)

Michael takes music theory (which he never learned formally, but which he actually knows way better than many ‘formalists’ whom I know) and puts it under a highly critical microscope. He carefully eliminates anything which may confuse or complicate someone too early, and either dispenses with it altogether, or postpones it until a more fitting moment, when the student knows and can do more.”

I have been reading along with Itzhak for the past 4 weeks and the way he is discovering things, the way he is seeing things so quickly and so clearly, the way pianomagic has opened up his eyes to see and understand how he played, the way he loved that Mike had found the simple secrets to learn to play by ear, how Mike could teach the pure basics and get people playing by ear straight away, the depth of Mikes knowledge was quite literally blowing his mind!

The way Itzhak writes so eloquently about the discoveries he has made so quickly himself and the discoveries he is making through interaction with his students has suddenly made me aware of something bigger too! I am not ready yet to share what this is in words but, you are going to hear it in my playing over the coming months so hold on to your hats because I’m having revelations by the day!! And you my friends are going to hear it here first!

In the mean time Itzhak recorded 4 short improvs for us all to hear over at pianomagic and he has kindly said that I can post them in my blog for y’all to hear too

ENJOY – the pure MAGIC of Itzhak Solsky playing by ear!:-

1. Improv 1 {click to hear}

2. Improv 2 {click to hear}

3. Improv 3 {click to hear}

4. Improv 4 {click to hear}

One day I’m going to play this good

I like them all and hope you do too but, my favourites are 2 and 3 (or maybe number 4?) let me know if you enjoyed listening and I'll pass your comments on to Itzhak

Finally {click here listen to Itzhak speak and play} in a new audio demostration regarding classical music and chords provided at - this guy is amazing!

For more info on Itzhak and his tour dates {click here}

Take care


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The support of my online friends

Hi Folks

I am proud to be a member of two on-line piano communities. If you are new to this blog they are the forums at and that I have mentioned previously.

I have to admit to spending quite a lot of time on both forums and have found myself sitting here many a time laughing out loud, smiling, sometimes crying whilst reading and joining in with threads at these places.

I am unfortunately going through a split with Sharon and have moved out back to my Dads house. It has been a mutual decision because the arguments and bickering between the two of us had just spiralled out of control these past few years and it was decided that for the sake of everyone especially the children it was best we separate.

I'm doing okay on the whole but, worry about the boys so much and the whole thing is really quite sad. The thought of dating again or meeting someone else is quite daunting and I think its going to take a while for me to find my way back to be honest.

Anyway, I find the best way for me to chill out is just to play my piano and sometimes I record myself playing, you know just let it run and forget about it. Sometimes something comes out of me and its only when I listen back I think "WOW...did I play that?"

Anyhow the other night I played 'The Way We Were' and I think it captured my feelings perfectly, its like therapy for me.

Please feel free to take a listen:-

The Way We Were {to hear click here}

What amazes me though is the support of people that I only know as user names, have never met but, somehow feel so close to. Just when I'm feeling a little sad and sorry for myself they listen to me play and chip in with words of such kindness and enthusiasm (even if they are just being kind it gives me strength somehow) if you are reading this folks you know who you are and I'd like to thank you all personally in this blog.

Its comments like these...

"Very beautiful, sensitive playing Lee"

"I was close to tears (seriously), given the song you chose and the situation around it."

"Wow... Lee...I am in awe at you talent. You played with such depth of feeling... Thank you for sharing your beautiful music."

"Wow Lee. You literally portrayed a story through the melodies and the way you played this tune."

"Lee, Thanks for sharing this. It is very moving. I don't know what you're going through"

"Holy cow, Lee - this is an example of music being a window into someone's soul. So elegant, melancholy, and beautiful. Delicate, but confident. I'm impressed with (a) your playing and (b) your willingness to express your emotions through music."

"So beautiful, so deep, so brave."

"Hi Lee, It may be your "therapy" but a gift for us"

...that mean the world to me, somehow make me stronger, makes me even more determined to get through this and to take this "piano journey" of mine wherever it wants to lead me.

To all those members who have posted and are maybe going to post in the future I dearly treasure your support and kindness so thank you once again.

The idea of this blog was to inspire fellow adult beginners like me that you can achieve your dreams! Okay, so I've had a little blip in my personal life but my DREAM carries on...

take care


Saturday, 12 April 2008

Discussing Waltz "bass chord chord" at Pianoworld with "koldo"

Hi Folks

Over at pianoworld a new member "koldo" was asking about Waltz rhythm played as "bass chord chord"

This was part of his question :-

"The question I have arises from the book "How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons", which I saw on Amazon and seemed interesting. I've got to chapter 10, in which the authors describe what they call the basic skeleton arrangement (bass-chord-chord - if playing in 3/4 time). The right hand plays the melody an octave higher than written, whilst the left hand plays both the song's chords - tightly grouped around middle C - and the bass line- which is the root of the chord played from the piano's lowest possible octave - two notes an octave apart".

Then further advice was given thus :-

"This would be the "bass-chord-chord" you mentioned (it's often characterized as "om-pah-pah"). This is common practice for 3/4 time pieces at the beginning level."

A little further on koldo asks :-

"Having read ahead it seems that it's a technique that is quickly abandoned, and that it just serves to give the student a quick grounding in navigating the whole keyboard. I'll keep at it."

To which I replied :-

"nope, its a technique and all techniques one can, will and should grow from...I use it all the time when playing waltzes"

and then I continued to play a little demonstration for him using the song "Edelweiss" from the Sound Of Music :-

Edelweiss with waltz "Oom pah pah" or "boom chuck chuck" as we call it at pianomagic {click to hear}

That was only a quick demo and a few people have commented on how much they like it so, I'm gonna work on it some more to see what I can come up with...stay tuned

take care y'all


Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Concert hall is open at Pianomagic to the general public!!

Hi Folks

Some exciting news Mike asked all of us to record something either in the public domain or something of our own creation to celebrate his birthday and 20 years of pianomagic!!!

I recorded an improvisation on my new Casio PX-320 which y'all will have heard below which fit the bill and is now proudly in the concert hall along with 19 other members and their music who joined in the task and have won themselves 2 extra months into the bargain (even though Mikey said "one"!)

Just go to the front page of pianomagic and follow the link to the "Celebration Concert" to hear all of us, Sponge Bob has been there the longest and he's the bomb but, there are many performers from new starters to old hands and everyone is finally doing it playing by ear (how kool is that?)

I submitted something else that didn't get in which was my version of "This Old Man/The Barney Theme" which you can hear below:-

To hear what a pianomagical play by ear pianist can do to This Old Man {click Here}

Take a listen to the concert I hope you all enjoy it!

take care