I do not remember starting piano lessons although there are two dusty certificates somewhere in a box of papers to prove I passed my grade 1 and 2 piano examinations and for many years I spent hours at the piano learning, arranging and composing music.
The years of piano lessons with Mr. Roberts at the Lyceum on a Saturday morning was by far the longest period of formal instrumental training I ever had. Even during this time I was performing with bands as a percussionist but my parents found it very difficult to source a tutor for these instruments and it was much more straightforward to have piano lessons. After the initial foray into the first grades my piano teacher and I had a good discussion as to what I wanted from the piano and we decided to play music. Guided by Mr. Roberts we said goodbye to the exam syllabus and hello to Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Debussy, Bartok…
I studied percussion at College and continued to use the piano as a prop for arranging and composition until I found that the music was coming to me so fast that I did not have time to try it out at the keyboard and I had to trust my memory for chords, intervals and melodies. This freedom from the instrument allowed me to think of different ways to approach these musical building blocks as well as writing with more consideration for the actual instrument that would be performing the music.
I now use whatever method is the most useful to compose, ideas still arrive and I often jot them down in my music sketch book, sometimes the studio is more appropriate for creating the sounds required and I have returned to the piano. No longer afraid it will make the music sound too pianistic, it is now just another tool for the creation of music and sometimes it is fun to play as well.
Traditional Christmas is an easy collection of music arranged and composed for piano or keyboard especially with the beginner in mind.
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© Peter R. Birkby 2017