Gray's Piano World
42 (or more) hands
The performer count was a bit controversial. In fact, I think this is a conservative count. At the end, all performers and parents were welcomed on stage to perform. At this point I think there was over 40 performers playing the piece.
Cold Cat was the name of the piece. Through music, we told the story of Cold Cat.
Cold Cat was outside at the window. She was cold. She was hungry and wanted to come inside. She knocked once, she knocked twice, she knocked three times but no one would let her in. So she moved to the next window.
Why do we do it?
To introduce new learners to the piano
Five weeks before the event, free or low cost community classes were held in locations around Reservoir. The piece was written to introduce both children and adult learners to play the piano for the first time, with options for extending those who have been learning for some time already.
To get people into piano shops
To encourage families and the broader community to enjoy time together at the local music shop. For some kids (and possibly adults too), this event is the first time they have ever touched an acoustic piano. It is a humbling moment. Local music shops are incredible places to learn about how to express your self through sound and how that sound affects those around us. It is easy to feel that one needs that unattainable sense of “talent” to step inside a music shop. This event aims to grant permission to all to walk in the door and give it a go at every stage of your own personal music journey.
To connect with other piano teachers, students and musicians
This is a non-competetive event that lends itself to learning music with friends and strangers. Thanks Mellanie Shaylor, Reservoir Neighbourhood House, Maharishi Primary School and Gray’s Piano World for getting involved and encouraging your students to take part. This year we also had Reservoir’s resident drummer, Andy Altree-Williams keeping things funky on drums.
To be a part of the Darebin Music Feast
Darebin Music Feast is when Darebin puts on a show of brilliant arts events in all pockets of the region. This was the chance for piano students of all levels to get out and get proud about being artists in our creative community.
To make music with family and friends
The piece was easy to play. It had lots of repetition. There were different parts appropriate to different stages of learning. By the end of the performance, everyone in the room knew what to expect and could get up and have a go, whether they had learnt the piece prior to the event or not. Mums, Dads, grandparents, siblings, everyone was encouraged to have a go.
Learning about Risk
The Piano Orchestra is a lesson in learning how to take risks in performance. When learning how to deal with performance anxiety, all performers need experience in a variety of performance formats to discover their strengths.
The “performance” aims to bring together some notes, a story and a few ideas into a piece of music rather than to perform a piece that is polished and ready to present to an examination board. It could all land in a heap, at any moment. As a performer, a teacher, a conductor, or a concert presenter this is a very terrifying prospect. And that is the risk we all take together.
This performance allows for mistakes, it allows for correction, it allows for a bit of silliness and fun with friends, it caters for young performers who can’t sit still. It caters for adults and young students who can. It aims to create an inclusive performance space.
Was is a success?
To be honest, it all came together much easier than I thought it would. It sounded like an enjoyable piece of music from the start. I was expecting a bit more chaos.
Is it every piano shop owner’s worst nightmare to have all pianos in the shop being played at once? Quite possibly. But Gavin Gray from Gray’s Piano World, welcomed the event with open arms. Fortunately, everyone in the room was given a scratch training course in how to be a professional pianist so all pianos were handled with care.
The greatest moment for me was just after the performance. Everyone was still on a high from such a moment of glory that they could not drag themselves away from the pianos. If they didn’t play during the performance they were playing now. They were unafraid, they were noisy, there were many smiles, so I can only assume they were having fun. There was a new found respect for the instruments in the room and an affirmation in everyone’s ability to play them.