My Musical Life
















piano home

photo by Steven Kennedy



My first piano lesson at was at age 8 from Natalie Sherwood who, some 40 years later at the age of 84, was still teaching, walking 2 km from the Metro, morning and night, winter and summer. She advised my mother to purchase of my 1890's Schroeder which I still love and have today, of all my teachers, is she that I most respect, for her strong opinions about understanding the music and believeing what you play; and because she was a student of Konstantin Igumnov. Forty years after my first lesson she can still severely reprimanded me for my bad habits in use of pedal.

After Natalie I moved the Gnessin Junior school and Musa Denisova en route to the Moscow Conservatoire. Aged 15 I entered the classes of the lower degree with Boris Shatskis and then Eugene Malinin. I took chamber classes with another incredible lady of the keyboard, Tatiana Gaidamovich. I went back to Gnessin as assistant class master and studied for a High Diploma in Chamber Piano and Musical Therapy under Professor Rajkov.

After qualification I married and left Russia, I played chamber music as Shostakovich Trio with some success, playing in Europe and North and South America achieving some recordings. When the trio broke up I concentrated on teaching but still played occasional concerts.

In 2000 I found the music of Paul Pabst and started to research and write about him and his musical history, I discovered not only one of the greatest pianist, but a mystery. I found that there was a deliberate change in piano performance teaching about the time of the death of Tchaikovsky and that a new, non romantic method was imposed in the Conservatoire from 1897, that still survives today.

This style leaves us with a paradox - how can you play music, written for romantic performance with free rubato, separated hands and multi voices, using the non romantic, regimented method which requires perfect precision and limited rubato, perfect synchronization and ever increasing speed ?

I wonder how students, from China and eastern musical cultures that are firmly based in voices and stories, can understand and enjoy playing the western classics, if they follow the conventional style of velocity and accuracy and subjugation of voices.

When I was diagnosed with MS, I thought my performing career would end but I started play for MS and Neurological causes in Europe and North America and this led to my interst in Music and the Brain.

I now understand that

        12 Half tones are part of our neurology

        tonalities are not harmonicaly unique

        pitch height establishes tonality

        the brain achieves pleasure though limbic, motor and associative pathways

        sight and sound stimulate common neurons

        pitch and pace are integrated to provide emotional output

        all body language, if genuine, is synchronised (body, face and touche)

        you can’t fool the mirror neurons

        music and language share prosidy

        pitch pace vectors in music represent emotions

        musical memory is enhanced by linkage to images

Now my performance is different and my teaching is based on understanding the physics, neurology and psychology of music. It is possible to explain to very young children the basic principles of ; octave classes, tonal sets, transpositions and the neural pleasure of tension and resolution and they naturaly understand stories and love voices.

mu sic






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