Pianist Awadagin Pratt Hosts Master Class

Awadagin Pratt performs for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during the White House Music Series Evening of Classical Music concert, in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 4, 2009.(Photo: Samantha Appleton, The White House)
Awadagin Pratt performs for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during the White House Music Series Evening of Classical Music concert, in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 4, 2009.(Photo: Samantha Appleton, The White House)

Earlier, I discussed the hand problems of Robert Schumann and the potential causes of said problems in a tongue-in-cheek blog about becoming a concert pianist.

However, if you, or someone you know, REALLY wants to be a professional pianist, my next suggestion is actually a serious one: a master class with concert pianist Awadagin Pratt.

My first encounter with him was at a conference some years ago. He quietly walked in carrying a stool that, for most of us, would make a nice footrest. Pratt is a big man, so when he sat down, only 13 1/2 inches off the floor, it was as though he wanted to be eye-to-eye with the Steinway he was about to tame.  He then proceeded to blow us all away, especially since we were within a few feet of the piano.

When Pratt does a master class, his low-key demeanor changes as he begins trying to communicate verbally what his students need to understand musically.

For me, the preparation of a piece is as fascinating as the piece itself, as you begin to delve into the composers intentions. A quote by Schumann may be the best way to characterize what Pratt and others attempt to accomplish in a master class.

“Endeavour to play easy pieces well and beautifully; that is better than to play difficult pieces indifferently well. When you play, never mind who listens to you. Play always as if in the presence of a master.”

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