I have been convinced for many years that piano performance has changed from the style of its glory days in the early 20th Century, to that of the brilliant perfectionists of the keyboard that so impress us today. When I heard a recording from 1895 of a forgotten pianist called Paul Pabst I realised just how much has changed and how much we have lost..
This realization coincided with my diagnosis of MS and my first reaction was to try an emulate this forgotten genius, I recorded his piano paraphrases of Tchaikovsky Operas, his piano Concerto in E -flat and his beautiful Piano Trio for his lifelong friend Anton Rubinstein. I climbed these mountains of notes just to prove I was not giving in to my MS.
However, I soon found a better way to use my music to fight MS. I started to play for awareness and fundraising and gradually became more involved in the world of the neurological societies and associations, this eventually led to the European Brain Council.
A chance remark that the Council had not featured music in its brain awareness activities resulted in my commitment to “do something”. The “something” is my book, which grew from interest through fascination to obsession! The brain is truly remarkable and my journey of discovery has left me with a new teaching method and a template for performance that gives pleasure to both pianist and the audience.
Trying to classify and connect over one thousand scientific papers into a simple, logical, functional musical pathway through the brain was a huge challenge. Now I have finished, the biggest compliment I get is “Oh I knew that ” or “is it that simple”, because at one level it is hugely complex and it will take years to map the precise location and biochemical processes that allow our brains to function musically, but at another, the functional level we simply witness the effect of music. So by concentrating on the elements and individual attributes of music and the brains identified functions, I have discovered how to Play the Pathways of my Brain.