Archive for : January, 2015

Mixed competition feelings

The 10th Madetoja Piano Competition is going on, and yours truly has been in the team of the work-study staff for four days in a row now. This is the first piano competition that I attended and not participated playing myself. Totally different experience! I enjoyed listening as much as I could take, and I listened to most, from the 17+ group. Finland has got quite some talent and dedication! And that’s a joy πŸ™‚

Somehow my mind was almost constantly working as well, I kept getting new ideas, insights and conclusions… some about music, and some quite not, unless one thinks that we all are interconnected one way or another.


  1. Music. First and foremost, it’s been lots and lots of pleasure listening. Being in the hall with all these amazing musicians and the rest of the audience. The walls of the school have been filled with radiating energy and everyone seemed to be in rather high spirits. Love the feeling!Β 

Now, a particular point: hearing different people performing the same sheet music, which happened at least 5 times in the group of 17+, is an amazing highlighting for how personality shapes the performance.

Another thought we were discussing with a colleague – how interesting it is that out of all the music performed none was written by a woman, and most contestants in the beginning were ladies. I don’t think I’ve ever performed a compotision written by a lady… except my own! Not because I didn’t want to. It’s because there probably are close to none, at least in the traditional classical repertoire. So, in a way, in our classical world, the music is by far of manly origin. What does this mean? Not sure if there is a ready answer at this point… πŸ™‚ so more like a note to myself.

  1. Competition. In sports men and women usually do not mix. Here it seems like psychophysiology is out of the game – when in fact it still matters, even if no one speaks about it. The more I was listening, the more I was feeling that competition is… a manly thing to do (what is this men-women topic anyway? :D and it kept coming πŸ™‚) Somehow it just seems that men, disregardless of their age, feel more natural when competing. Of course, this could be just a coincidence, but out of 30 initial participants 11 were men… (if I interpreted all the names from the catalogue right… well, at least nine for sure ))) And what’s the situation in the third final round? Five guys and one lady! My gut feeling is that one of the guys will take the first prize. (edit as of February 1, 2015: now the results of the final round are in, and the first three prizes went to guys). At least this time, the men seemed better prepared in general. Last competition, a man also won. Another coincidence? πŸ˜‰ Perhaps.
  2. Meetings. Events like this are definitely a cool meeting point! Old acuqintances, new connections, and just a pleasant relaxed chatting. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything more accomodating than feeling connected with those others who share your passion? Even if it is just for a moment, but of a nice, real, high-quality connection of warmth and good vibes πŸ™‚
  3. Atmosphere. The most valuable aspect for me at this point. Ever thought why people are performing? When you go on stage, what are you after? When you listen, why do you prefer certain compositions and performers? It has become clearer than ever for me now, after a marathon of listening. The level of technical preparedness matters, yes. Having a voice of one’s own is an asset, too! And still. All the performings were the same length – 20 min first round, 30 min second. And some felt like they will never end and there was a lot of labor… some seemed a bit shy, some a bit too insisting, and some went so easy and pleasing, disregarding the level of technicalities and music complexity… and there were two people whose performance were so heart-warming I feel like I will remember them forever.

I could not keep myself from sitting there with a smile and wishing it continues for the rest of the day. These two musicians definitely made the week for me… πŸ˜‰ One is a lady, and another one is a man. Man passes on, the lady’s competition is over at the second round. One can, of course, argue that many factors matter and in any case, only 6 out of 12 could go on to the finals. If I was deciding, I would choose her, too. Because of that precious atmosphere she can create. Technique will come sooner or later… and that inner state of warmth, and coziness, and confidence, that makes you feel at home on the balcony on a concert hall after four days of working and listening? I find that so precious, just that would be enough for me to let the girl move on. Of course, the judges have their own criteria, and we’re all humans, after all… πŸ™‚

I am happy to have shared this experience. Especially just before my upcoming gig at BeatCon πŸ˜‰ travelling ahead and… let’s see what the conference brings!

One of the things our org-team has been doing most of the time – smiling πŸ™‚

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Sibelius vs MuseScore

There is an awesomely exciting side to being a classically trained musician. We learn to read and perform sheet music and write down notation ourselves. The latter sometimes needs special practice, and well, it’s just one of those cases – when there is a will, there is a way πŸ™‚

It so happened that, ever since the musicians agreed on certain ways for musical notation, it’s stayed pretty much the same for some centuries now. New elements develop all the time, and there are always (and endless!) questions about the interpretation of the known written music… like how silent is that ”silent” mark in the score, and how fast is Allegro in Baroque compared to modern compositions… and still the musical language is pretty much homogeneous for all written music of the world. Plus, we also know a few Italian and, occasionally, German and French words here and there thanks to the internationally accepted descriptions inserted into the musical texts of the past and modern works.

This exciting side comes handy at the time when I decide to notate my own creations. The first sheet music I made was song lines for the singers, to which I would improvise on the piano (yes, I also have songs in store!). Finally, last year, when we were working on a mezzo-soprano and piano song with one of my colleagues, she suggested that it would be easier for her to practice if I wrote out the piano part. I happily realized that it was easier than I thought because by then I pretty much settled with the music piece and there was very little improvisation, everything had found its place. So I typed it withΒ Sibelius.

SibeliusΒ isΒ amazing for studying purposes in particular. It’s indeed highly intuitive, and there is a lot of support on the web. It has convenient shortcuts. The downside at this point is that I want to be able to work anywhere with my own computers… this made me wonder about available freeware, which I could use for the time being (my love is still with Sibelius!) After a bit of googling, we found out about MuseScore, compared both programs and now I am testing the latter πŸ™‚ Here is the comparison chart.

So far for a freeware it’s pretty good, and my first impression is – let’s go for it! Naturally, I started with the track simplest for notation, and this is how the default settings are:

If Our Souls sample



Looking forward to finding out how this gets finalized ;)

Majestic winter masterclass

Back from my second piano masterclass with Konstantin Bogino. It was great.

I’ve been wandering a bit off track recently. Then here I come… and life is simple.

With one of myΒ musical pieces, I have been wandering already for two years πŸ˜€ That masterpiece of four pages we got through with in some ten minutes. I went off with the feeling how much I know what to do with it. And with the other music as well. And that feeling is so worth it!

I am so grateful. For meeting people like Konstantin who are happy to share what they know and with whom together we find the ways to speak a language we both understand. And who are just people like you and me, they know it and enjoy it. We walk the same ground. Love that feeling. And we just work together and have a good time. And there is one more thing. They smile a lot πŸ˜‰

And a few photos. Day one looked like this:


That day I also met my friend from the previous masterclass πŸ™‚ The blue and red stickers remain a mystery to me ever since πŸ˜‰


One of the mornings our cat went out with me:


It snowed, snowed, and snowed…


…until everything around became like this πŸ˜‰


The car ride home was frost and sunshine, a day of delight, quoting a grand Russian poet Pushkin πŸ™‚

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