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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In the beginning there was... a piano


What are your earliest memories made of?

Mine are very auditive. My mom was a music lover and a piano player. There was rarely a silent moment in the house. I loved it (in fact, until recently, I was uncomfortable with silence). In my childhood I thought everyone had a soundtrack to their life, based on what accompanied them in everyday activities. I was shocked to discover that in some houses, music is never heard, and even more shocked to discover that some people do not enjoy music!

Some of the melodies mom played for us when we were little:

I love Joplin! 
Never fails to put me in a great mood!

Another favorite of my mom 
(the movie Fantasia 2000 is a must see!):

Some "piano-featuring" songs that were released around the time I was born:

And here's a friend of the family
(Bogolubov, not Chopin!)

Music is a joy and an appeasement. Music is a friend and a drug... without the adverse effects! Music puts a magic spell on everything it touches, making it more enjoyable. Studies have shown, for example, that people train harder if they're listening to music.

As much as I love music, however, any attempt at formal training brought about only disappointment and frustration. I might have started to read books around the age of 4, when it came to reading music, I was at a loss. Piano lessons lasted less than a year (I got to Jingle Bells). Later, in teenage years, I regretted not learning to play an instrument properly, and the autodidact in me taught herself a few tunes on the family piano. Having a good ear certainly helped, but it's my only real asset (apart from a voice that doesn't sound too bad).

I managed to play this:
(Not half as well as this guy though!)

When I had my own children, and especially when my mom gave us her piano as she was acquiring another one, I surely hoped they would take up the piano with more enthusiasm (and talent) than me. But of course I was well aware of the pitfalls of projecting onto your kids what you've failed at, and I set my expectations really low. Luckily, aptitudes for formal music training seem to skip a generation (or maybe the girls just take after daddy - he played clarinet in high school, well enough to be sent to France one summer), and both my daughters have now been happily playing the piano for a few years. This week they will have their end of year recital... and I can't wait to hear it!

You got to start them early, they say!
R giving her first "Christmas concert".

And multiply the learning methods.
Giant piano, Glasgow, Scotland, 2005.

Music can be so much fun!
Montreal Jazz Festival, 2011.

Some progress has been made!

To honor piano music, I have assembled a selection of some of my favorites. After putting it together I realized I have way too many to put them all in one post. So what I've decided is to put mostly what qualifies as "pop" or "contemporary" piano in this post today, and to write another one with the older, more "classical" pieces in it. (That second post will come later this week.)

To begin with, here are two examples of "pop" pieces interpreted amazingly on the piano (Pink Floyd revisited):

As it turns out, a lot of good piano music has been composed in the province where I was born, Quebec. Today I am sharing some of my "coups de coeur":

1) Pierre Lapointe

A genius! The words are as beautiful as the melody, and bonus: this guy is adorable! I saw him live and fell in love with the person just as much as I had already fallen for the music.

The following ones are also incredibly talented. The lyrics are as outstanding and poetic, shiver-producing as the music. If you tell me which one is your favorite and why, maybe (I said maybe!) I will translate the words for you.

2) Dan Bigras

3) Richard Desjardins

4) Michel Rivard

5) And last but not least, Ingrid St-Pierre, the embodiment of sweetness.

So, what kind of early memories do you have?
Do they involve music?
What is your relationship with music in general and piano in particular?
Of all the music in this post, did you make a nice discovery, and do you have any favorites?


  1. No comment yet, just enjoyment here :-)

  2. I loved music from an early age, however, no one in my family played any instruments. I was forced to take piano lessons in middle school but did not enjoy that. Once on my own, I acquired a guitar from a friend from Costa Rica, and taught myself to play. Now I have six guitars, a banjo, mandolin, fiddle, several harmonicas, a piano and keyboard.

    I guess you could say I'm living the dreams my parents kept hid.

    1. Glad to hear that you made room in your life for music, fellow autodidact! :-)

  3. Enough work done today : Going down to the music room... :-))

    1. So, what did you play?

      And by that I mean: what tune(s) AND what instrument(s)?

      Did you top it off with a hit on the gong I gave you? ;-)