And now…back to your regularly scheduled programming! After several weeks of neglecting the Monday Mailbag posting, here’s hoping the rest of the summer will go better as far as keeping up with it! I have a slew of questions to post, so I may even stick some in on other days, too. 🙂
As a piano student, I was never introduced to recordings of professional pianist and rarely encouraged to attend live recitals. My question for you is: do you have a running list of great pianists that you encourage your students to listen to on CD or watch videos of their performances? If so, are there ones that are most interesting to the younger beginners (age 7-9)? I would appreciate any help you could give with this as I think it might be motivating for students to hear someone other than myself play – and of course much more convenient than trying to attend a live performance.
This question is especially relevant in our day of YouTube videos where anyone can stick a camera on the end of the piano and record themselves pounding out the notes of Claire de Lune with a television in the background and a toddler improvising in the lower register. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I think it is helpful to guide our students to excellent performers and performances, which can provide real inspiration (rather than perpetuate unskilled, unmusical playing). You can also download the free YouTube Performance Evaluation to use as a tool to encourage your students to listen critically and assess the quality of a performance.
This especially hit home for me a couple weeks ago as I was planning out each day of our Kick-it-up-a-Notch! piano camp and discovered just how atrociously some of the beloved great piano works can be performed. But I digress. 🙂 I don’t have a formal list of pianists that I recommend to my students, but I think it’s a great idea! Maybe we can all work together to compile such a list! I do, however, have some pianists that I turn to repeatedly when looking for a performance of a particular piece. Every performance is so nuanced, though; it’s not always guaranteed that I’ll like a particular pianist’s interpretation of a piece.
A couple favorites for younger students are:
- The 5 Browns – Here’s one that my students and I especially love: Scenes from West Side Story
- Jarrod Radnich – This is a relatively new find, but we’ve already watched it a ton! So virtuosic, but incredibly fun: Pirates of the Caribbean
Here are a few of my personal favorite pianists:
- Van Cliburn
- Valentina Lisitsa
- Murray Perahia
- Rafal Blechacz
- Jon Kimura Parker
There are so many other great pianists out there, too! I’d love to know what some of your favorites are. When looking up a performance, what pianists do you automatically turn to for recordings? Do you have a list of favorite performers and/or performances that you recommend to students?
Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!