[music/quasi-review] Andras Schiff in Beijing’s NCPA, his Bösendorfer, and impressions of a Beijing audience

I had the opportunity of seeing the great Andras Schiff at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing on Saturday, 8 June 2013. To know of Mr. Schiff is to know of his prowess in playing and interpreting Bach and Beethoven; in fact, the first recordings of Bach’s Preludes and Fugues I ever listened to were from the magic hands of Mr. Schiff. As officially written in the concert program, Mr. Schiff played Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, Beethoven’s Waldstein, Bartok’s sonata, and Beethoven’s Appassionata. As encores, Mr. Schiff graciously gifted us with five encores: Schumann, Chopin, and Bach.

Mr. Schiff's Bösendorfer.

Mr. Schiff’s Bösendorfer.

Being quite nerdy myself, I prepared all the scores to read along as he played. What staggered me most about Mr. Schiff’s playing was his ability to create melodic lines that sang– especially this one passage in which the melody was played entirely by his right hand’s thumb as his top four fingers played accompaniment. The thumb is the most powerful out of all our fingers, and very often, without sufficiently controlling it, it can produce very heavy-handed sounds. Coupled with this amazing technical ability, Mr. Schiff had the incredible sense of knowing what line to emphasize and what to accent, and what would gently murmur in the background or serve as an answer. His understanding of the music is first-rate, and I very much appreciated the intellectual vigor that he imparted to the performance. Everything was precise and deliberate.

Nonetheless, when Mr. Schiff played the large chordal climaxes, he excitedly stomped his feet on the ground or even more disturbing, on the pedals. Of course, I do like it when pianists show their enthusiasm but then sometimes I felt that the stomp distracted and interfered with the diffusion of the chord. Gould has his humming, I suppose Schiff has his stomping. The other issues I had with the performance may be attributed to the piano itself and perhaps even the construction of the performance hall.

This piano concert was the first one I have ever heard played on a Bösendorfer. Having grown up in the United States, I have played and listened to mostly Steinways, and so I looked forward to hearing a Bösendorfer. I had previously heard that the bass on a Bösendorfer was deep and rich– Mr. Schiff was playing Beethoven, and a grumpy composer always requires that resonant bass. While the bass did thunder, it was not clear, especially when he played in the lower register. It seemed like an endless murmur, growl, or whatever Mr. Schiff intended, but I could never pick up the individual notes very well. In Beethoven, despite a tendency towards the lush colors of Romanticism in his later works, clarity of tone is very much key, however thundering it is. The treble half of the keyboard stood in contrast with the bass, it was bright and clear, but unless coaxed a great deal, without sparkling and warmth. Because of this, Bösendorfers are suited to minutely cut pieces that requires technical precision, dexterity and a sensitive touch– exactly Mozart. Immediately after the concert, I googled Bösendorfers and found that the nearly universal opinion is that they are good for small venues and early composers, up until Mozart. That could explain why some of the Bosendorfer’s sound was so lost upon the large hall; it could not project well and it was frequently muddy.

I refuse to believe that Mr. Schiff cannot play with clarity– his Bach encore proved otherwise– the limitations of the hall and piano must have some part in the explanation. If Mr. Schiff were to return with his Bösendorfer to Alice Tully Hall for a program of Bach, I’d surely be in the front rows. Overall, Mr. Schiff gave a tolerable concert in Beijing, displaying exquisite musicianship despite the challenges of performing under those circumstances.

Besides my first time listening to a Bösendorfer in concert, this was my first concert with a mostly Chinese audience as well. Very often, the audience would not wait for the finishing silence before clapping– this is one of my biggest pet peeves. The brief moment of silence is still part of the piece, and until the artist has taken their hands off their instrument or let out a breath, you should not clap. Moreover, during the last encore, a Prelude and Fugue, someone started awkwardly clapping after the Prelude and abruptly stopped. It was quite a pity, because Mr. Schiff had phrased the cadence so much like a question that even I could not help thinking, “Was that really the end? It can’t be!”

Mr. Schiff heading back to play an encore.

Mr. Schiff heading back to play an encore.

After a brief bout, I did not clap for Waldstein, because some of it got on my nerves. My mother continued to clap along with the enthusiastic audience, and she asked me, “Why aren’t you clapping?” Later reflecting on this seemingly inconspicuous statement, I suspect that the Chinese clap because of his reputation and wanting to appear ‘knowledgeable’ about the music and performance etiquette, for the most part not considering how he had actually played. In the end, the Chinese audience showered him with over seven final rounds of applause. This was quite shocking to me as I have seen so many musicians with stellar performances in which most audiences applauded them for less than five times, sometimes without ovation– Leif Oves Andnes, Yo-yo Ma, the Emerson String Quartet, among a few. Additionally, the Chinese audience was sly; they did not give him a standing ovation for the first two encores. When Mr. Schiff returned for a third encore, I thought to myself, he probably means to keep going until he gets an ovation– which he did achieve. His fourth piece was a Bach, and after that I could have lain prostrate at his feet– I stood and clapped and screamed like a terrible fangirl when he headed to play the last Prelude and Fugue encore.

Mr. Schiff, at 59, is still hale. I hope to see him once again.

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classical music is stuffy? pshaw! classical recs for fans of pop/rock/electro/…

In my experience, people tend to think of classical music as one huge, static genre. Far from it– there is some classical music I love to death, others, meh, not so much. In a lot of ways, classical music can be very similar to the popular music that most people listen to nowadays, but it can be hard to find that particular classical music you click with.

Thus, in alphabetical order, I have listed popular genres and based on the genre, underneath I wrote some suggestions of classical music for you to listen to. Of course, being a pianist, this will be a little heavy on the piano side. If you have any suggestions for me or would like me to add a category, please let me know!

Country
In popular music, country is a genre which can encompass many idomatic sounds of the American region– but true country has a deep soul; nonetheless, it also has levity and is loose and free. Personally, I am in a mature stage of loving American composers, so this corresponding genre of classical music is very dear to my heart. Though to European ears, the American sound may be uncouth and very loud and brassy, but it is so adorable and kitschy it is hard to fight back a smile.
(1) An American in Paris, George Gershwin. A perfect summer piece to dip your toes in.
(2) Rodeo: Hoe Down, Aaron Copland. This. This piece is amazing live. If you ever get a chance to see the Philadelphia Orchestra play this, you must go. In fact, if the Philadelphia Orchestra is playing anything remotely American, just go. They are the best orchestra in the US where American music is concerned.
(3) Piano Concerto in G major, Maurice Ravel. An impressionistic composer, Michelle? Really? Yes. This piece was heavily influenced by jazz, and its presence in this concerto is whimsical and floating and altogether very beautiful.
(4) ‘American’ String Quartet, Antonin Dvorak. Dvorak composing in a field in Iowa. Best idea ever. Also one of the pieces the Emerson String Quartet played when I saw them.
(5) Excursions Suite: no 1, Samuel Barber. Every piece in the suite hearkens to some American idiom. When I listen to the first piece, I think of trains. What do you think?

Dance / Electronic
Unless you get into the really hairy avant-garde in classical music, classical music does not use much electronic elements. However, I am interpreting this genre as ‘upbeat’. Some upbeat pieces you could (theoretically) dance to.
(1) Caprice no. 24 in A minor, op. 1/24, Niccolo Paganini. Probably the most well-known piece in virtuoso violin repertoire.
(2) Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor, RV 531, Vivaldi. Love at first listen.
(3) Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig Beethoven. The third movement is definitely a head-bopping moment.

Easy Listening / New Age
A great genre for some relaxation and contemplation.
(1) Adagio for Strings (choral version), Samuel Barber. One of the seminal pieces of the twentieth century; even DJ Tiesto made a remix.
(2) Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I and II, Johann Sebastian BachGlenn Gould is the go-to pianist for Bach. His interpretations are fantastic to listen to (however, once you start playing Bach, you realize sometimes Gould is a bit crazy at times). Bach is amongst the most cerebral composers I know, and it is a pleasure to play his works, if only to get a mental workout. I also like Maurizio Pollini‘s interpretations.
(3) Dolly Suite, Gabriel Faure. A cute and light set of piano duets (four hands, one piano).

Emo
Constantly listening to sad ballads? Want to cry your tears out?
(1) any Frederic Chopin– some choices: Nocturne op. 9 no. 2, Piano Sonata no. 2, Fantasie-Impromptu op. Posthumous, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor. Chopin is mindbogglingly beautiful, but many times, I cannot handle the level of emo and would rather hack away at something aggressive. However, if you are super emo, do some soul-searching in Chopin.
(2) Pour le piano: Prelude, Claude Debussy. I’ve played this before in eighth grade. Why? Because it was emo.
(3) String Quartet in G minor, op. 27, Edvard Grieg. The first movement, Un Poco Andante, Allegro Molto Ed Agitatomight be a little more hardcore emo than you bargained for, but you cannot deny the entrance as one of emo anguish. If you like heavy metal, definitely grab onto this.

Epic / Soundtrack
I love listening to the Transformers OST and the Bourne trilogy OST, and sometimes having epic music on hand while racing through bus terminals is quite fun (I have no life).
(1) Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor, op. 18, Sergei Rachmaninoff. Certainly one of the most recognized openings of all piano concertos.
(2) Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16, Edvard Grieg. Play me that beginning chord anywhere and I can recognize it immediately. This piece is iconic– it was even featured in a Li Yundi Nike commercial!
(3) Transcendental Etude, no. 4, Franz Liszt. Not ashamed to say, I first heard this in Nodame Cantabile. I also discovered that Boris Berezovsky sweats a lot (watch the video).. unsavory..
(4) Cello Concerto, op. 22, Samuel Barber. The beginning, gargle. The cello cadenza, gargle. For this concerto, my bias is Paul Tobias.

Hip Hop / R&B
This is a genre that I listen to infrequently, but nonetheless, a genre with lots of soul. And lots of bass.
(1) Julie-O (special beatbox arrangement), Mark Summers. The original is amazing, as well– as it is played by the composer himself.
(2) Libertango, Astor Piazzolla. If Yo-Yo Ma is playing it, it is automatically gold. No questions asked.
(3) Romeo and Juliet: Dance of the Knights, Sergei Prokofiev. Yes, this definitely has a lot of bass; could fit in the emo section as well.

Indie
Basically, the genre for us snobs who like saying, “I listened to them before they became popular.”
(1) Paganini Variations for two pianos, Witold Lutoslawski. Yes, I blather a lot about this piece. But still– people still do not appreciate it enough. It is also rather avant-garde, so you can brag about that too, hipsters.
(2) Tzigane, Maurice Ravel. Everyone who plays an instrument classically has a phase of liking impressionistic composers like Ravel and Debussy. I was in the phase in high school, but now I have thankfully gotten over that. Even those who profess to love Ravel oftentimes have neglected this amazing virtuoso violin piece.
(3) Simple Symphony, op. 4, Benjamin Britten. A twentieth-century composer who does not get enough love at all, even in the classical music lovers’ circles. I would have a listen to his cello concerto as well.

Pop
Catchy, catchy, catchy. Hook, hook, hook. Infectious and fun.
(1) ‘Trout’ Piano Quintet in A major, Franz Schubert. Another piece I heard at the Emerson String Quartet concert— the most well-known chamber piece. In China, one of my roommates’ ringtone was this annoying MIDI version of Trout, so boy, was I glad to stop listening to it after I moved out.
(2) Bolero, Maurice Ravel. Yes, this is used in the opening of SNSD’s Paparazzi music video (you can guess a certain someone was frowning). However, Ravel’s Bolero on its own is indescribably beautiful, though it is the same thing over and over again. Pity, Super Junior’s artistic directors should try learning from this piece.
(3) The New World Symphony, Antonin Dvorak. The last movement could go under “Epic / Soundtrack” very well, but overall, it is an amazing piece of music, filled with memorable melodies. If you have a chance, listen to the four-hands one-piano version arranged and played by Duo Crommelynck.

Rock / Heavy Metal
For those of who love a good head-banging with strong rhythms. Bitches love Shostakovich! Heh.
(1) String Quartet no. 8 in C minor, op. 110, Dmitri Shostakovich. The allegro molto (second movement) is an absolute thriller. You can never go wrong with the Emerson String Quartet.
(2) Piano Trio no. 2 in E minor, op. 67, Dmitri Shostakovich. This trio’s melody was actually based on the previous string quartet’s melody. However, this arrangement is so amazing that it deserves to be mentioned. The allegretto (fourth movement) starts off ‘slow’, but once you reach the climax, grip the seat because you probably will not survive.
(3) Cello Sonata, op. 8, Zoltan Kodaly. I recently got into cello, but I really must listen to more Kodaly. His name is so fun not to.
(4) Firebird Suite, Sergei Prokofiev. The first time I heard this was in sixth grade– our teacher had chosen a snippet of it to be played in our band concert– and I fell in love immediately. Plus, there is this awesome Disney Fantasia movie to go along with it. Fetch me some tissues.

http://vimeo.com/38695275

[kpop] Michelle reacts to Kids React to K-Pop

TheFineBros is a comedy channel on YouTube, and their most watched segments are “Kids React To…” and yesterday, it was revealed to be kpop.

They watched SNSD’s “Gee“, Super Junior’s “Bonamona“, and 2NE1’s “I AM THE BEST“. Right from the get-go, this video attracted haters, and I have got to say, some of it was sort of justified.

Some comments made by the kids that especially struck me:

#1: I can’t understand this. Why do people listen to it if they can’t understand it?

It’s like watching subtitled movies, eating Mexican food, listening to Bach. You may not understand the language, you may not know how to cook Mexican, you may have no idea what the heck a semidemiquaver is, but you can enjoy it nonetheless.

#2: What is up with my generation?! How can people listen to such horrible music?!

This was just mainly one kid. He was so effusive and exaggerated about asserting what crap kpop is, and how he hates his generation. Fine, rag on the music being crap, but not on people of your generation! They like what they like, you hate what you hate. Fair?

#3: omg they’re just imitating Pussycat Dolls! … (think for a minute) Lady Gaga!

Eye-roll. I feel like nowadays when anybody ever does anything crazy, it is always compared to Lady Gaga or is imitating Lady Gaga. I remember reading some YouTube comments for Dev’s “In the Dark“– amazing track, by the way– and comment after comment was like, “She’s crazy. Like Lady Gaga!” Probably you can pull out any popular electropop nowadays and you will see some “Reminds me of Lady Gaga” out there. Though I think Lady Gaga is an inspiration, I think it is a little early for her to be influencing performers that have already been performing for much longer or around same time frame as she has. Plus, everyone wants to be different– that’s their selling point. What you don’t get with Gaga is what you do get with 2NE1, with Dev, etc. Rather than just seeing something nutty and labelling it as Gaga-esque, you need to consider if the nutty is in Gaga-style. I think most of us can agree that 2NE1-nutty is not Gaga-nutty.

#4: “What language are they singing in?” — “Chinese.” “Japanese.” (a billion years later) “Korean!”

I recognize the fact that none of them are East Asian and thus may not have much exposure to Korean. Chinese is increasingly taught in more schools in the United States, China is seen increasingly as an antagonistic rival to the US and garnering more media coverage, and Japanese has long enjoyed a cult status in Hollywood, like Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls, Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill” and lots of popular dubbed anime like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z. To be honest, I did not learn what Korean BBQ was until my senior year of high school (!).

Nonetheless, I sort of hit my head on the keyboard when so many of the kids failed to identify that it was Korean.

Now reclining in my Throne as Queen of Pretension, I have to say, those older kids were being pretty pretentious. They were trying to make very strong judgments from mal-formed opinions.

However, I only said that the anger directed toward this video is “sort of” justified.

Because look, they’re kids.

still have a soft spot for Mr. Frodo ^^

They’re airheads, but they’re children. I remember that age I was an airhead too. I loved Lord of the Rings and started calling everyone names from Lord of the Rings. I thought Daniel Radcliffe was the coolest boy on the planet because he played Harry Potter, even though he wasn’t good-looking or anything. I fawned over my battle prowess in Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and petted myself as the strongest trainer there was even though the time I spent with a GameBoy was negligible. I thought George W. Bush should win the 2000 election. Heck, I even thought Bush should win the 2004 election, because John Kerry came across as creepy to me. I even wrote a stellar essay on why George Bush should win– which got me an A for the semester. But did I really know anything in-depth about the issues? About the war? About tax programs? Not at all. I just thought Kerry was a good-for-nothing-flip-flopper. Unless you are a prodigy, which very few of us are, it is really hard for us to absorb so much information at young ages and actually know how to process and understand it. So a lot of what we ‘understand’ as young children are just sound-bites like “flip-flopper” and half-formed opinions we regurgitate from our parents or custodians.

Second, they’re American kids. Especially for the Caucasians who probably do not speak a second language at home, they will probably never need to know any other language other than English for their entire lives. As diverse as America is, our language is extremely insular, due to the fact that English is the lingua franca or common language of the modern world today. One can pretty much get by in the industrialized world just knowing English.

Of course, I am not saying that these traits should be encouraged– because airheads don’t contribute much to the economy, it is personally enriching to know other languages– but we should all recognize that as preteens, we were all once know-it-all airheads and allow a little more leeway for these children when criticizing things like this video. We should not be “Imma stab you with a fork” but rather, putting it in simple and gentle terms why they are mistaken in their views.

I also am skeptical that if they were raised in a more culturally-aware environment they would turn out to be great global children-citizens, because children will be children, and so children will be airheads about some things or the other. They might not say something like All Asians Look Alike again but they might say something else just as politically incorrect. No one is born with a politically-correct compass within them; it is something we learn as we grow.

Though the video was exasperating for those aforementioned comments, a good half of them said they would listen to kpop again, and they said it looked very “future-y”. Taken in good humor, it was genuinely funny and entertaining to watch. Also, don’t tell me that none of y’all haven’t ever had a moment where you’re watching kpop and thinking, “what in the world are they doing?!”

Jaejoong the alien. I still don't like this hairstyle of his.. !

I guess some people had beef with the fact that some kids looked down on Korean artists for not creating their own music. America prides itself on originality, and I believe it does hold true in much more cases compared to kpop. Gaga, Britney, Beyonce, Katy, they all hold much more singing and producing credits than do BoA, Hyori, Rain, Se7en. So even if  the American stars’ contributions were negligible, the US perpetuates a (facade of) self-production culture that South Korea does not perpetuate.

In the end, I renounce all claims to judge their opinions, for I can also remember my phase when I had a vendetta against Asian pop stars. My mother always used to read the entertainment sections in Chinese newspapers and while she read them I would prance around her, pointing at grainy pictures printed in the paper, saying that these Asian people had weird hair and their fashion sense belonged to aliens. Nowadays, I’m just like, “Hey look, Jaejoong is in the news.”

[musings] music lessons; plumbing the depths of the inner soul

I recently started taking piano lessons again, and after every lesson, I would come out, clutching my heart, furiously thinking about what was said to me in my lesson. Accusations that I had no substance, no tension, no aggression, no confidence, nothing. Faults that I knew subconsciously existed, but were brought to the surface even as I touched the piano, that my piano instructor could see into the depths of my soul so clearly that it was excruciating.

One lesson, I got told that I was a good student simply because I did not take everything “personally.” I was a little surprised. I took everything very personally, piano would sometimes consume my thoughts more than every other class put together.

Perhaps it was the way I channeled to these personal affronts. Instead of moping, I worked to improve, I wanted to banish these comments. I never felt like these faults were something that I could never overcome. At one point, I was absolutely terrified of lessons, but still, I forced myself to practice. I forced myself to accept the fact that my piano instructor would always see these sides of me I never showed anyone, sometimes not even to my family. This petulant, uneven-tempered person who screams whenever she makes a mistake when practicing alone. This person who loves aggressive, brooding atmospheres with very decided opinions against Mozart and Chopin. In lessons, I am a flurry of sighs, but I force myself after a mistake or comment is tendered, to immediately attempt to correct it– no brooding, just pretend that everything is all right, that all that matters is the physical touch between the piano and me. My soul has nothing to do with it. Rationality of mind can fix everything.

Yet, where is the place for emotion and where is the place for rationality? When do I lose myself in emotion and when I do calmly check myself and say that I need to continue the line and not accent the downbeat? Where does my soul belong in the mechanical transaction between the keyboard and my fingers?

my repertoire I prepared this past semester:

Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue, E major, Book I
*I am sorry I  could not find a better version, I like Maurizio Pollini’s the best, if you ever chance by it.

Johann Brahms, Hungarian Dances (one piano, four hands), no. 4 and no. 15
*
Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky play a tad slower in the beginning than I do.

[music] all Bach keyboard pieces should be played on harpsichord, not piano– a comparison.

I just started to play the harpsichord this past year, and though I initially disliked the harpsichord because I was unfamiliar with how to play it, the harpsichord has led me to a greater understanding of baroque keyboard pieces. So much so that I feel every pianist should play on the harpsichord a few times, especially when preparing baroque repertoire.

a typical harpsichord

Perhaps the most superficial difference is the respective sound of each instrument. In the harpsichord, the strings are plucked. In the piano, the strings are struck by a hammer. Therefore, the harpsichord notes are sustained for a lesser period of time and sound more detached. It is a common error to assume that the harpsichord cannot sustain at all–once you press the key, the note dissipates almost immediately–which is false. If I press the key for longer than I should be, I can still hear it. In fact, the length of the notes is one of the ways in which harpsichord players create the illusion of dynamics.

Another obvious difference is the presence of two keyboards in the harpsichord, one on top of each other, as contrasted with the one set of keys in the piano. However, despite the two keyboards, the range of the harpsichord keyboard is smaller, around 4-5 octaves, while the modern piano has 7 octaves. Well, then, what is the purpose of the two keyboards? As I mentioned before, harpsichord players create an illusion of dynamics by varying note lengths, and also from switching from playing the lower keyboard to the higher keyboard, vice versa. Generally, the lower keyboard is louder, and the higher one is softer. Aside from these two volumes, the harpsichord cannot vary in dynamics, no matter how gently or determinedly one presses the keys. Whereas in the piano, all one needs is a softer touch for a quieter sound, etc.

The physical keys of the harpsichord are slimmer than those of the piano. Also, the touch of a harpsichord takes some getting used to:

The harpsichord feels “crunchy.” This is because in depressing the key you must overcome the resistance the plectrum is exerting against the string. You can *feel* when the plectrum passes by the string. — Martha Beth

I play very close to the inside of the keys, where you can reach the sharp and flat keys without moving your fingers upwards, but just sideways. If that sounds weird to you, it probably is. I play piano all the wrong ways, apparently. If you have taken any physics at all, you know that more force is exerted if you are further away from the center of lever. So, since there is resistance, playing on the inside is not good, because I have to exert more finger power to press the key. Therefore, especially for my left hand, I always underestimate the leverage needed, so this usually results in (a) the note doesn’t sound at all (b) I press the note, but a millisecond late and with a huge accent. However, despite this initial resistance, the harpsichord keys are less heavy than the piano keys, so it is easy to play ornamental items like trills and mordents.

Actually, let me correct that last statement: it is fun to play ornamental items like trills and mordents. This insight I gained has helped me understand the virtuosity intended in Bach’s music–not only are you supposed to be in total control and trill like it requires no effort, but you are supposed to have fun doing it. It is not Bach if you do not have a bit of pride.

However, the most important insight of all that I gained was about the sound. When you play a Bach on the piano, one has to manually and deliberately make sure every note is separate. To do this, one has to lift hands or fingers after every detached note. At first, I thought that ubiquitous practice was unnecessarily cumbersome, and I had no idea why I needed to use this technique. Yet, on the harpsichord, without any special hand movements, each note is plucked and already sounds detached. This automatic default of sorts helps the player to grasp the instrumentation that existed in Bach’s time. In this way, the player then can more finely imitate this sound on the piano. Also, as I said before, the harpsichord cannot vary in volume–so when playing on the same keyboard, the left and right hands are the same volume. This equality of voices is crucial in Bach, especially in his fugues, in which I always struggled in the piano to make all of the lines heard and the voices clear. Another implication of this invariability in volume is you must pay more attention to articulation–articulation in Bach, for me, was always a huge pain, because it was so intricate, and I would always get lazy and maybe group a few slurs together.

If the world were perfect and harpsichords were as half as ubiquitous as pianos, then most, if not all, baroque pieces written for harpsichord, would be played on harpsichord. The harpsichord is what Bach wrote for, not the piano. Bach’s vision comes through truest and most naturally on the harpsichord. So if you’re serious about piano and your baroque repertoire, make sure to play on a harpsichord a few times in your life. If you’re in conservatory and haven’t touched one yet, what are you doing?! Go!

—-

Extra: listen for yourself! compare these two renditions of Scarlatti’s Sonata K141–

[lifestyle/kpop] proposed New Year’s Resolutions 2011 for SHINee.. and me

For those of you who have already seen the New Year pass, Happy 2011! For those of us still stuck in 2010.. let’s get busy thinking about our resolutions–
SHINee’s resolutions:
  1. Onew
    –find something other than chicken for SHINee World to obsess over. Like a new girlfriend.
    –star in ‘Rock of Ages’ in Boston so I can come see you
  2. Jonghyun
    keep dating! hwaiting!
    –control your wailing during live performances. You have a unique timbre, but that doesn’t mean that everything you do is good-sounding all the time.
    –we’ve seen your muscled back and huge biceps in Lucifer.. now.. what about those abs?!
  3. Key
    –work with a better vocal coach, because in live performances, your voice rasps too much when it needs to be smooth
    –please do a real cover of Ke$ha. You are perfect for Tik Tok.
    –for SHINee’s debut in Japan, please also come up with a kickass, wtf hairstyle like you did for Lucifer. Absolutely shocking, absolutely genius, and oddly, very couture.
  4. Minho
    –stop looking absolutely gorgeous in one photo and then a complete dork with big ears in the next
    –strangle SM to let you have credits for the rap you write
    show those abs more and force other members to do ab exercises with you
  5. Taemin
    –work on increasing range and inflection on singing voice
    –argue with the hair stylists for another hairstyle other than a bowl cut
    –practice in front of the mirror obsessively to learn the best way to unleash Sex-Taemin, not Awkward-Sex-Taemin
Michelle’s Resolutions:
  1. Wake up at 9:00AM or earlier every day.
    Michelle woke up at 12:02PM today. This must change, because I like eating food, so I like breakfast.
  2. Sleep by 12:00AM or earlier every day.
    Michelle slept at 2:10AM last night playing Professor Layton.
  3. Learn elementary Korean.
    My brain is going into an intellectual black hole when I watch kdramas and listen to kpop, so I need to recoup some of that brainpower by actually applying myself and learning Korean. I really hate this, because I look like such a fangirl, but what I’m concerned with is a dead brain, not a dead heart..
  4. Play piano everyday, for at least an hour.
    Heck yes Michelle is going to master a Bach’s Prelude and Fugue, and hopefully one Chopin etude.
  5. Apply to a bajillion scholarships and internships.
    So I won’t be a total failure and money drain in my parents’ eyes.
  6. Practice my tai chi sequence at least two times every day.
    I admit, this is more like ‘Michelle needs to move around other than fidgeting in her sleep.’
  7. Finish my 2010 reading list, and the whole box set of Roald Dahl I gave my brother for Christmas.
    Okay, I’ve come to terms that I will not be able to finish by 2010. So, I’ll just pretend it was a 2010-January 2011 reading list. OKAY!

Thank you for reading my blog this year, and I hope that I will continue to merit your support.

Likewise, I hope you had a great 2010. If you didn’t, well, there’s always 2011 to go save up money to see SHINee live, right? To meet the billionaire of your dreams who will fly SHINee in to perform at your wedding? Correct.