'Daily Life' Blog Post Archive
Playing the piano to elephants

Playing the piano to elephants

On Saturday there was a lovely article in The Guardian about Paul Barton, a man who plays the piano to elephants at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. The elephants have often been overworked or mistreated before they come to the sanctuary, but it seems that they...

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Disappearing piano tuners

Disappearing piano tuners

There was an article in The Guardian this week about the dwindling number of highly-trained piano tuners in Australia. Not only is the pool of piano tuners getting smaller, it is in danger of not being replenished because there aren't enough training courses in this...

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The impact of coronavirus on upcoming concerts

The coronavirus situation is constantly changing. Many people's plans have already been impacted by it, even though in Scotland, where I live, there are just a few cases at the moment. In the past few days I've had several worried concert promoters on the phone about...

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The impact of Brexit on musicians

Everyone sees Brexit through their own lens. This is mine. When I was small, playing the piano was my favourite thing. I had heard that Mozart and Schubert came from Austria. Bach and Beethoven and Schumann came from Germany. Debussy and Ravel came from France. And so...

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Bits of information needed to track down classical music

At a new year party I had an interesting chat with a young man who  likes music and likes to listen to it at university along with his friends. He himself likes classical music among other kinds. Many of his friends are not familiar with the world of classical music,...

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Thoughts at the end of the year

I haven't written much on my blog recently, for two reasons: 1. My website was hacked (aargh), and I have been struggling to deal with the technical issues that resulted. 2. I have been working on a new book. More of that in the new year! As we come to the end of the...

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More on hand sizes

A little while ago I wrote about my sudden insight that most printed fingering in the scores of piano pieces was probably devised by men, and for male pianists. Yesterday I had some follow-up to that from a doctor who had done some further reading about male and...

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NYO Dress Code – then and now

NYO Dress Code – then and now

The marvellous National Youth Orchestra Prom concert with Nicola Benedetti last week has set me reminiscing about my time in the NYO (in the photo, I have long fair hair and am just to the left of the middle of the group, playing 2nd violin.) Watching the NYO Prom on...

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‘They would have been x years old today’

It was my father's birthday yesterday. He's no longer with us, but of course we think about him each year on his birthday, and we always say, 'He would have been [x years old] today.' My dad reached the age of 91, as far as I know the greatest age that any member of...

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New technology

The other day I gave a copy of one of my own CDs as a gift to some young musicians. They thanked me politely, but I caught them eyeing the CD with a certain blankness. Suddenly a thought occurred to me and I said, '...Don't tell me you haven't got CD players!' They...

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Fake news

There's so much talk about 'fake news' at the moment. Most of us are gradually getting better at spotting it. Fake news often seems to be accompanied by a certain style of presentation, which we often see in public speaking. Smiles that don't arise from the inside. An...

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Musicians studying across Europe

Musicians studying across Europe

I've just returned from a week in Germany, on the jury of the Joseph Joachim Chamber Music Competition in Weimar (see photo of the splendid Music Conservatory where it all happened). There were groups from most corners of the world. Many of them were living proof of...

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40 years of women in mixed Cambridge colleges

40 years of women in mixed Cambridge colleges

Last weekend I was at a dinner in Christ's College, Cambridge to celebrate 40 years of women in the college (founded 1505). Women have only been allowed to study at the University of Cambridge since 1869, when Girton College was founded. Newnham followed in 1872, but...

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The intonation of public speaking

I seem to have turned into the kind of person who stops what they're doing in the afternoon in order to tune into live Parliamentary debates about Brexit. Last week I spent several afternoons listening to politicians giving speeches, scripted and unscripted. Being a...

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