April 28, 2020

The current crisis has hit all musicians alike, regardless of genre. Equally, the discussion surrounding online content should be vital for all musicians, because it may be about to define your future as an artist. From my particular corner of the musical world I can say that classical music is on the verge of dramatic change: how it is produced, how it is consumed, how it is advertised, how it is performed, how it is promoted, how it is taught and how it is financed. Musicians are on the threshold of further entering the delicate and confusing game of online content. As a composer, pianist and educator, I am nervous. Very nervous. On the edge of my seat, eyes glued to the „emergency exit“ kind of nervou...

July 7, 2018

“Is it time?”

“Not yet, we are just waiting for the final members of the public to take their seats. We have a full house. The director will say a few words about the concert series. And then over to you. I think another ten minutes.”

Another ten minutes. That is the whole first movement of the Mozart sonata. What if my playing is uneven? And there is that moment on the fourth page of the third movement. Never get it right. Always race through it and panic. It was the same in London, same in Shanghai, same in that strange cold church, and it will be the same in Hamburg. Vultures. Everyone listening to see if I make a mistake. They know the pieces better than I do. They listen to them over and over again. N...

June 9, 2018

“Is it time?”

“Not yet, there are two more before you and then you are on.”

I feel so sick. We have come all this way to Belgium. Dad drove. Time off work. What if I don’t even get through the first round? They will be so disappointed. Everyone looks to be my age. Some younger. I am never going to have time to read those books for my A levels. I am a terrible pianist. Out of my depth here. Sometimes I play beautifully, but I get too stiff and tense. And then all the processes get blocked and everything becomes disjointed. Has to go from the brain, through soul, into arms, down, through fingers, on to keys and out of piano. Brain is good. Fingers are good. Wrists are always a problem. Bad training when I wa...

June 9, 2018

“Is it time?”

“We have to leave in ten minutes – so gather your music and don’t forget your book of scales and arpeggios, like last time.”

“I don’t feel well mum. Can I skip the lesson this week?”


“But I have swimming on Thursdays, and now piano on Tuesdays, and soon I will have cross country running on Wednesdays – and anyway I have Asthma.”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“I can really feel it today mum, in my kidneys. I don’t think I can play scales.”

“Don’t be silly. Get your things, we have to leave, or else we will get stuck in traffic. We can sing that song while we’re driving. Do you remember - ‘Oranges and Lemons said the bells of….” – I can’t hear you.”

“St Clemens!”

Stupid song. What a silly nam...

June 9, 2018

“Is it time?”

“Another ten minutes sir. Don’t worry, I’ll come and get you.”

Pacing. Always pacing. I can’t play. This is impossible, nothing works. My hands feel swollen and obtuse. Maybe I practiced too much – Ha! “Such a lazy boy” – my mother’s voice. No, I never practice too much. Why am I doing this? I am not sure I enjoy being a pianist anymore. I always said – “I am not a Pianist. I am a musician. The playing of the piano doesn’t interest me. Music does.” So sickly. Terrible interview. No idea why I said that. She smelled of peaches though. Who cares? Don’t pull on that thread. Remember the therapist – stage fright is about accepting your limitations. Focus on your strengths – or did she say ignore...

October 22, 2017

“You know I was a good student. I always hear about the élite, you know the élite. They’re élite?! I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student then they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment – and I live in the White House, too. Which is really great. I think, you know what, I think we're the élites.” 

—Donald Trump 22/08/2017

Anybody can be forgiven for overlooking these 24 seconds in the hour and eighteen minutes of Trump's rally speech in Phoenix this summer, but we do so at our own peril. For anyone who has ever found themselves branded a cultural élitist, a snob, or pretentious, it is hard not to begrudgingly admire these 24 seconds of Trump: he has achieved the unthink...

October 22, 2017

-- (Den Artikel habe ich für die HfMT Zeitung zum Wintersemester 2017 geschrieben.) --

„You got some big dreams baby, but in order to dream you gotta still be asleep./When you gonna wake up.“ - So singt der vor kurzem gekrönte Nobelpreisträger Bob Dylan. Mit einem typisch scharfen Blick auf das Stereotyp, zeigt uns der Meister die andere Seite des Träumens auf. Wer träumt: schläft. Träumen und das Versprechen von etwas Besserem ist auch in der Politik nichts neues . Von „The American Dream“ über „I have a dream...“ bis zu dem beliebten Kalenderspruch „Dream BIG“  – es ist ein Wunder, dass wir überhaupt aus dem Bett kommen. Aber wovon träumen Musiker denn? Und was passiert, wenn der Traum verwirklicht wird...

October 8, 2017

Maybe I am a bit late to the party on this one, but here are 5 reasons you MUST watch this incredible 2015 film about North Korea, documenting a year in the life of a family in Pyongyang, as their daughter Zin-mi prepares to join the Korean Children's Union on the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong-il's birthday).

  1. The first objection to most documentary films is: “Yes but that is just what they want you to think, it is biased and only shows one point of view” etc. etc… This is very different.  The only way Vitaly Mansky (director) was allowed to make this, was by agreeing to only show footage approved by the North Korean government. So in many ways we see only what the North Korean government wants us...

May 13, 2017

Dealing with Stage Fright, performance pressure and musical anxiety.

February 19, 2017

About the author: From an early age I showed a prodigious talent in procrastination. It was a gift - what can I say - I was something of a "Wunderkind." There was no task too noble or mundane, that I could not defer to a later less convenient moment, that I could not half complete in the stolen seconds between other half completed tasks. Often people ask me, "Where did it all begin? - what was the defining moment?" I must admit that my past is a blur of such prolific, high profile procrastination that I find it hard to really select one defining moment on my deferred road to success. Perhaps when I was five....yes...I remember. There was Mozart, drifting nonchalantly (as only Mozart can drift) through an...

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