Tag Archives: Leo Brouwer

Free Classical Guitar Recital

Years ago, when Lothian Region was still in existence, the Lothian Region Guitar Ensemble used to enjoy rehearsal weekends in Biggar or West Linton, preparing for concerts. One of the promising young players involved was Adam Brown. Now an even more accomplished performer, Adam is to give a free recital on Fri 5 November at 1:10 in Edinburgh’s  St. Cecilia’s Hall (map here). Here is the programme:

Antonio Lauro: Virgilio
Alfonso Montes: Preludio de Adios
Leo Brouwer: Cuban Landscape with Bells
Fred Hand: Missing Her
Barrios: Julia Florida; Waltz No. 4
Jimmy Van Heusen: Like Someone In Love
Lorenz Hart: My Romance
George Shearing: Lullaby of Birdland

You can visit Adam’s website here, where there are links to some YouTube performances.

Mirror Neurons

I first came across the idea of mirror neurons in February 2001. How do I know this with such certainty? Because I wrote to New Scientist about the article concerned. The notion has featured recently as several pupils are playing pieces with a moto perpetuo right hand pattern. Here are three examples of such pieces currently being studied by pupils:

Ana Vidovic playing Etude No. 1 by Heitor Villa Lobos:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/DbtRa3JFf0I?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Ben Kearsely playing West Coast* by Helen Sanderson:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/FYCxNgebF5c?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peo Kindgren playing Estudio No. 6 by Leo Brouwer:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/36_X-bojjUY?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] 

The essential thing in learning such pieces is to master the right hand pattern, by playing it without any distractions from the left hand. The hope in so doing is that the pattern will soon run on auto-pilot. That way, pupils will not be distracted when the left hand re-enters**. As such patterns are soon memorised, pupils are free to look away from the music and I ask them to look at my right hand while they continue to play the pattern. It may be my imagination but, almost without exception, pupils seem to relax the hand and play in a more economical way than might normally be the case. Could mirror neurons be at work here?

* I would describe this piece as the single most successful teaching piece I know

** An interesting half-way stage between playing without left hand and including the left hand is to introduce an unchanging chord shape which descends one fret-at-a-time. This way the hands can begin to come together in a way which falls somewhere between having no left hand involvement and having very varied (and therefore distracting) left hand content. A diminished 7th chord shape serves this purpose very well and, in fact features in the Villa Lobos Etude(from 0:41 to 1:17 on the Ana Vidovic video above)

I should also point out that some doubt has been cast on the theory of mirror neurons.

Further links on the topic of mirror neurons:

Wikipedia article

V. S Ramachandran 

 And here are two short videos on the topic:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XzMqPYfeA-s?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/xmEsGQ3JmKg?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

And more generally – Sergio della Sala on neuroscience and learning about learning.

La Toccata de Pasquini

I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like YouTube. Almost everyone I know has confessed, at some time or another, to having been sucked into a vortex of fascination and losing (track of) time. Can young musicians actually learn much from watching videos? I’d contend that the answer is a resounding, yes!

They can hear how an unknown piece sounds; see how the hands move; hear how changes in tempo and dynamics can help to shape a piece; notice how the accenting of some notes and the subduing of others can result in solo music having several simultaneous layers and sounding more like ensemble music. There is also encouragement to be had in, for example, being spurred on by seeing someone younger than oneself turn in a commanding performance, or someone older making heavy weather of something you’d found quite straightforward.

One thing I have lately found YouTube nudging me towards is comparing various interpretations of the same piece, thanks to the related videos box to the right of the screen. While looking for Leo Browuer‘s Estudio Sencillo No. 1, a piece played by many S3/S4 pupils, I stumbled upon an explosive performance by Wang Yameng of the 3rd movement of Browuer’s Sonata, written in 1990 for Julian Bream. The movement, entitled La Toccata de Pasquini could, I feel, only have been written by a guitarist.

Before long, I had watched ten performances, resulting in a heightened awareness of differences in technique; interpretation; performance spirit; posture; ergonomics of hand movements; quality of film and sound recording; location; lighting. Strictly speaking, these are not in any order, but the top three impressed me the most. What also appeals to me about this situation is the democracy of it. The grace and favour of promoters, agents, publishers is not required. All you need to do is learn the piece, film it and post it.

Wang Yameng [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/SI9YaHGhXg4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Costas Cotsiolis [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/juhfMkPMnEo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Chaconne Klaverenga [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/cGlcOi0DVtM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Carlo Marchione [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3_hERDYeIYk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Oman Kaminsky [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3Y-gG7i1Esw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Ali Jorge Arango [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/hfwG39dXEeQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Roman Viazovskiy [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ie5O9l7UkNQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Dušan Oravec [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/jUmk2RvntUk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Nemanja Ostojic [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/aoTxOVQy9pw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Diego Barber [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/B3pwGhuvEqc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]