Artist/Educator Archive Interview - Graham Scott
e regularly feature the personal experiences and insights of a noted artist/educator on various aspects of piano performance and education. You may not always agree with the opinions expressed, but we think you will find them interesting and informative. The opinions offered here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent those of the West Mesa Music Teachers Association, its officers, or members. (We have attorneys, too!). At the end of the interview, you'll find hypertext links to the interviewee's e-mail and Web sites (where available), so you can learn more if you're interested. Except where otherwise noted, the interviewer is Dr. John Zeigler.
Ed. Note: I interviewed Mr. Scott again in February of 2005. The 2005 interview of Mr. Scott embodies different questions and topics. I commend it to you as well.
PEP: What made you go into music?
There was no conscious decision! Music chose me; I didn't choose it. I started with the trumpet at 5 because of a breathing problem I had when young, then the violin at 8 (which I couldn't play in tune!) And then the piano at 13.
PEP: Who was the most influential person in your years as a student of the piano and why?
My Polish piano teacher, Ryszard Bakst. A very demanding chap. He seemed to know how to make me work hard; the prospect of turning up at a lesson under-prepared was petrifying. I think he had great musical taste and a very good concept of sound.
PEP: What do you enjoy most about making music?
No single thing, but many things. The challenge to play better each time. Finding new repertoire. The emotional content....the list is endless.
PEP: Is there a"best" way or "method" to learn to play? Any that should be avoided?
No! Most certainly not! We are all different and have our individual ways - even just from a purely technical standpoint. What might be a good approach for one might be impractical for another. That is not to say you can just do your own thing; bad habits can arise out of this.
PEP: What "deficiency" in training or technique do you most often find in students of the piano?
Many, depending on the level of the student. Not spending enough time to establish a secure fingering is quite common.
PEP: What would you advise students and teachers of the piano to avoid?
Make good repertoire choices. Don't pick things that are way too hard.
PEP: What advice would you give to students of the piano?
Practice slowly. Once you have chosen a piece to play, practice what you find difficult within the piece rather than what you find easy.
PEP: How do you motivate yourself to do the long hours of practice necessary to be a successful performer?
The first ten minutes of practice is never much fun, but afterwards I can go for hours. Performing the piece in public is always sufficient motivation.
PEP: Can you give us your reflections upon music as a career? Specifically, what do you like most about performing and what do you dislike most?
Hard work as a career but completely without monotony. As a soloist, a bit of a lonely life, although playing chamber music with other musicians is much fun. I think I like the challenge of improving from one concert to the next and looking at interpretation with a fresh outlook. The things I dislike the most are practical things like time wasted at the airport, not being able to find a piano to practice on when I want one, differing quality of instrument that you perform on, poor acoustics ....
PEP: What does it take to be a "successful" musician or music educator?
Total absorption in music!
PEP: What are your views on competitions and what should teachers and students expect from that experience?
An excellent incentive to practice. Something concrete to prepare for. Don't take the result too seriously as opinions differ widely. Music is not so black and white - it is an art, not a sport. Don't become complacent if you win. Enjoy the benefits of winning.
PEP: How do you deal with pre-performance "jitters" and what is your pre-concert routine?
Just a couple of minutes of silence thinking about the first few minutes of the piece is all it normally takes. (I hate listening to the overture on the PA in the dressing room!)
PEP: What was your most memorable performing experience and why?
Many! Probably London debut at Wigmore Hall at 21. Remember being extremely frightened by the whole event. Didn't really enjoy it that much. Have since played in the hall seven times and always enjoy playing there.
PEP: When you teach a master class, what do you hope to accomplish and what general messages, if any, do you offer to all those in attendance?
I think it is better to get just a few key points over than to cram the student with too much. Every circumstance is so unique that it is hard to say what these points might be.
PEP: Do you have a favorite pianist(s) and, if so, what attracts you to that person's performances?
I mainly listen to orchestral music and not much piano music. I have many pianists who I like in different repertoire: Gilels, Perahia, Zimmerman, Lupu and "old school" - Schnabel, Cortot ...
PEP: What can we do as musicians to interest more people, children in particular, in good music?
Present it in an accessible manner.
You can address E-mail to Mr. Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at http://www.grahamscott.co.uk.
Last updated: 01/30/15