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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Martin, Pianist

Find Your Ease, Love Your Music, Tell Your Story (July 14, 2021)

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Remember when you first discovered music and began to learn piano? Remember the sheer joy that came with discovering you could make music? I do. I remember my first piano recital. My mother got my hair done in a poofy hairdo (arghhh!); I had lopsided horn-rimmed glasses 🤓and a fluffy pink dress (which I loved)! My mother said when I curtsied, I pulled the skirt up all the way to my ears to form a circle, much to the amusement of the audience. I loved to play the piano. Not only did I devour the pieces that my teacher gave me, but I loved to improvise my own songs. Making music gave me joy and a means of self expression. I also loved learning the music of the great composers and finding a way to make the music on the page come to life. This love of music carried me through elementary, junior high, and high school years and on to college and graduate school. It took the form not only of piano, but band (french horn), choir, jazz band, collaborating, and composing. Somewhere along the way I felt the calling to become a piano teacher, to share that love of music with others in both the university setting and in my private home studio. I am grateful to have had the privilege of being in that profession for many years. Another calling is performing; I love performing solo piano as well as collaborating. Through the years, I have performed many recitals: degree recitals, faculty recitals (both solo and collaborative), concerto performances, jazz concerts, and gigs. I have worked through many issues in this process to find ease and freedom in my own playing. In this blog I will share some of what I've learned, whether it be musical thoughts, interpretation, technical solutions, or whatever else comes to mind.

So, back to my first question: Do you remember when you first began to discover music and the piano? As you began to advance and perform, perhaps working on a music degree, or maybe simply performing on recitals as you grew older, did you sometimes find it difficult to relax and just play the way you knew you could, and to remember that joy you had as a child? You are not alone. Many of us deal with that. There are many resources I could point you to, such as books and approaches to playing the piano, but for now, I'd like to share a few thoughts that may be helpful: 1. Music is a gift. If we remember how fortunate we are to make music, then it is a joy. 2. Think of music as a beautiful or exciting gift you are sharing with your audience, rather than something you are merely performing for them. 3. Don't forget to breathe and find the ease in your playing. When you find ease, your musical expression opens up. 4. Tell a story through the music. Absorb and attempt to understand the music, then communicate that to your audience.

Those are all the thoughts for now. Enjoy your music making this week, and until next time...keep on playing!

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