Erik Satie

Erik Satie

We have another new piano book in the house – this time the Dover Edition of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies, Gnossiennes and Other Works for Piano.  I never realized Satie was such an interesting fellow. For example,

After years of heavy drinking, Satie died on 1 July, 1925, from cirrhosis of the liver. At the time of his death absolutely nobody else had ever entered his room in Arcueil since he had moved there twenty-seven years earlier. What his friends would discover there, after Satie’s burial at the Cimetière d’Arcueil, had the allure of the opening of the grave of Tutankhamun: apart from the dust and the cobwebs (which, among other things, made clear that Satie never composed using his piano), they discovered numerous items that included:

  • great numbers of umbrellas, some that had apparently never been used by Satie,
  • a total of four pianos: two of which were back to back, two of which sat upside-down on top of the other two
  • the portrait of Satie by Suzanne Valadon,
  • love-letters and drawings from the Valadon romance,
  • other letters from all periods of his life,
  • his collection of drawings of medieval buildings (only then did his friends see a link between Satie and certain previously anonymous, journal advertisements regarding “castles in lead” and the like),
  • other drawings and texts of autobiographical value,
  • other memorabilia from all periods of his life, amongst which were the seven velvet suits from his Velvet gentleman period. (read more)

Click here for more articles and check out the video clip of Satie and Francis Picabia jumping up and down and firing a cannon on a Paris rooftop. (reminds me of a few goofballs I’ve met over the years….)

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P Plate Piano – Inspiring Creativity

One of my goals as a teacher is for my students to discover how to express themselves through their music. Whether this means improvising their own music, or bringing their own interpretation to a piece I’ve assigned them, as long as they are engaged with the music rather than the clock I usually feel the lesson has been a success.  Of course the trick is to squeeze all of the finger technique, sightreading, rhythm studies and music theory into the 1/2 hour session and still leave time for musicmaking.

In this video, Australian pianist, teacher and blogger, Elissa Milne, describes the piece, Quick as a Flash, by Jane Sebba, from the Piano Magic Tutor Books, and has gotten me all jazzed up for teaching this week. I love the idea of taking a piece, rearranging the measures, switching tempo and meter, and coming up with an “original” composition. This same type of pianistic creativity is taught through the P Plate Piano Series.

In the meantime you can find more information about the P Plate Piano series and Elissa Milne’s teaching strategies here and here.

Arts in Scranton

Rubberball Piano & Theremin

Rubberball Piano & Theremin

Dave Guman of the Scranton Art Examiner has posted photos from our recent Rubberball Piano and Theremin recital at The Music Studio.  Dave is a local artist/photographer and supporter of the new artists here in Northeast PA.  Read Dave’s account (and see the photos) of a recent Drawing Social at the AFA gallery to see that happens when local artists join forces with musicians and dancers on a Sunday evening at a local art gallery.