You probably all wonder why a Concert Pianist who won these International Piano Competitions, travels and performs all around the world would be interested in creating an international Music/Piano Camp?
The answer is quite simple actually. Let’s go back in time, like when I was 15 years old.
At that time, my ONLY serious ambition was to be a fighter pilot for the French Army (yes, I was born and raised in France). I had a knack in Math and Physic. I then thought that I would graduate from High School, go to school for becoming a pilot, then the army, and that was it! My fate/future was sealed (by me) and I couldn’t wait to become a “Top Gun” type of guy. I was physically fit, perfect eye sight (25/20), and LOVED competition, excelled as soon as challenges (regardless of its form) presented itself.
So here I am at 15, convinced that my life was a straight line to piloting those jets!
I forgot to mention that at that time, I played the piano (and I am using “play”, NOT practice purposefully) around two to three hours per week! I was NOT really what one would call the perfect piano student! I did not know much about Classical Music. I always LOVED classical music for as far as I remember. Classical Music always made me dream. I loved the power of the orchestra, and it always took my breath away when I was listening to it. At the Conservatory where I was a young student, and because I was an excellent student (in the sense that I aced two tests per year (instead of one required per year), it was a tradition that best students were offered a LP (Yep! at that time it was LPs, CDs did not exist yet). I remember picking “Pictures at an exhibition” from M. Mussorgsky/Ravel (I will come back in another blog of how oblivious I was to the slash between Mussorgsky and Ravel). I remember listening to it (I was around 13 then), and while listening to the whole piece I was mesmerized by how vivid the images were passing in front of my eyes. I could picture everything that my own mind would create. I remember crying, laughing, while conducting (all by myself, in the air, in front of a whole invisible orchestra). I remember feeling exhausted at the end of the piece after listening to “The Great Gate of Kiev”. Retrospectively, these were probably my first very deep “teenager” emotions I remember having. I also clearly remember saying to myself in the most conquering way: “I will play that piece!” I didn’t know how close I would be one day to actually do it and even record it.
But I digress, back to my “life” when I was 15. At that time, Classical Music existed in my life, but was not an important part of my daily practice life. Then one of my best music friend told me that I should go with him for almost a month to a music camp and enjoy playing music with lots of different instruments. He added that there is an orchestra (composed mainly by the music students), concerts etc. The camp is held in an Abbey about 150 miles from Paris (where I resided), and I thought: “Why not”? Convincing my parents was pretty easy as they have always been very supportive of my music career. So here I go to a world that I have NO idea is going to totally change my life, change it to a complete 180 degree!
My first Music/Piano camp experience:
- First I was fascinated to be in contact with so many young musicians (about 100) who all had such a strong passion for music. I didn’t even know they existed and there were so many!
- Second, I received instructions every day, and practiced every single day too (no Sunday or days off). But here is the kicker: I LOVED it! I, who never practiced, went from 3 hours (max) a week to three to four hours every day. I was craving it! When I did not practice I spent my time listening to free masterclasses offered every day by all the teachers. I learned so much. I learned new repertoire, new piano techniques. About piano techniques, I realized that because everyone is different, teacher DO teach differently each students. While listening to the music lessons I was actively wondering if this advice would help me or was relevant to me. After dinner time, we attended teacher’s rehearsals preparing for the final performances given at the end of the camp, or I was socializing with these literally 100 young musicians. I was totally fascinated and immersed in a world I didn’t know existed.
= Third, I felt very quick improvements in my piano playing, and my peers were always there to support me, or give me their comments. It was a very nurturing environment and to me, a complete dream.
= Fourth and end of the blog next week! please come back to read the end of it.