-by Harry the Piano
Every musician who counts live performance as one of their prime sources of income will tell you a similar tale of 2020. Of course musicians are not alone in that, many of us have struggled in many different ways but the story right across the sector of the arts has been uniformly challenging. For almost all musicians the live stage has been replaced by the home studio or the home classroom, transmitted via zoom through the lens of the computer camera as we virtually perform or teach.
In all of the ways that the music industry has had to hibernate and re-invent a way to survive from within our own four walls, the one indispensable tool has been our home studio instruments and my choice of the Kawai ES920 digital piano has been unsurpassable. From recording backings for virtual operatic concerts with soloists from Covent Garden and the English National Opera to cabaret arrangements for West End singers performing virtual galas, it has been a reliable and ever-versatile tool with its beautifully realistic action and stunning piano sample. It was also featured in the award-winning BBC Radio 4 series ‘Now Wash Your Hands‘ where the original song ‘Waving Through The Window‘ was also featured on the stations pick of the week programme.
Its ability to record backings that one can play along with and broadcast to one’s students has also proved invaluable. Many years ago, as I was first developing my personal approach to performing: – improvising in the styles of any requested composer – I was asked to come and lecture (and subsequently give workshops and masterclasses) at one of the U.K.’s great charitable institutions: Christ Hospital School. It was there that I first began to develop my personal approach to spreading the gospel of improvising in all styles to all musicians both from young students up to seasoned classical professionals. This became a major part of my career and I have now taught and lectured in over fifty of the U.K.’s most prominent music schools as well as presenting my ideas and approach to the U.K.’s governing body for music teachers: the MTA (Music Teacher’s Association).
With the restrictions that have been in place, travelling around in person has obviously not been an option but broadcasting from my home studio really has saved the day for me. I now have a wide ranging roster of private students from school pupils right through to several professional Composers for production music libraries and even a Hallé orchestra principal that I teach to improvise. Such a high level of professional and demanding musicians require an output from home (even in these days of zoom) of a high quality sound and having the tools and versatility such as my wonderful Kawai keyboard provides and on which I spend so many hours on a daily basis is a huge boon. I simply could not have survived in the music business without it.
About the author
Lauded by Jonathan Ross as ‘The best damn pianist in the civilised world’, Harry’s extraordinary talent has taken him worldwide with solo cabaret shows in the Albert Hall, Moulin Rouge and festival appearances from Barbados to Adelaide as well as headlining on the maiden voyage of QM2 alongside Dame Shirley Bassey and The Opera Babes. Resident pianist for five years on the Big Breakfast (Channel 4), he then musically directed BBC TV shows for several years and is now a regular on The Now Show (BBC Radio 4), Friday Night Is Music Night (BBC Radio 2) and the go-to improvisor for In Tune (BBC Radio 3) amongst other things where presenter Iain Burnside noted ‘You can’t be a pianist and not be a fan’. His ability to play any tune in any style on request has led to over 3 million hits on YouTube and appearances with everyone from Simply Red to David Bowie and Andrea Bocelli to Charlotte Church.
‘His phenomenal talent, charm and wit are a delight’ – Stephen Fry.
‘Spellbinding. Uncanny. Genius.’ – (Times. Independent. Guardian.)
For more about Harry the Piano, visit www.harrythepiano.com