The Playground

The Simply Music blog

Simply Music Student – Ronen

Found in: Simply Music Community

Simply Music is all about music as a lifelong companion. Not necessarily a calling or a career or a life-force, but occurring in a way that our musicality becomes an everyday friend, a natural part of how we express ourselves in the world.

Sometimes, though, a student will grab that newfound spirit and run with it until it’s something that’s truly their own.

Ronen started learning with me in a large group of 12 adults in a church hall in April 2006. From the beginning Ronen stood out as someone who had both a sharp mind for learning and an eagerness to commit to practice, as well as having an outstandingly beautiful artistic feel. Ronen had never learned the piano before, so I wanted to take him through the program right from the start and for him to have the opportunity to benefit from all the different backgrounds and learning styles of all the other students. In order to keep him adequately stimulated though, I encouraged him particularly to explore the Arrangements and Composition components of the Simply Music program. From early on Ronen started to contribute to the class little ideas of notes that sounded nice together, inspiring and impressing the other members not only with his talent, but also with his warmth, integrity and authentic modesty. One of his strengths that played out early was that he wasn’t scared of using the black notes. On the contrary, they often were his foundation, searching for the right white notes to piece them together.

Ronen has a very instinctive and physical learning and playing style, which is always a delight to watch. In class we sometimes watch him searching with his fingers over the piano to retrace the kinesthetic feel of his playing until he finds himself in familiar terrain, like a masseur searching until finding the knot in someone’s back. He may tilt his head to the side like a bird to tune in his ear better to the sounds that he is searching for, or look upwards as if in order to receive the divine music to ascend through his body, spilling out of his fingers into the piano keys.

We asked Ronen about his writing style to try to get a picture of how music occurs to him.

“It can start with a random chord, which I play either intentionally, by deciding to try it, or by coming unintentionally across a chord and finding that that sound grabs my attention – in other words, it just sounds nice. In some cases I can then hear the next chord in my head so I just need to find it on the keys. However, when I get stuck I need to wander around the keys until I find a chord which sounds good after the previous one. Later on I tend to break up the chords into single notes, which to my ears makes it sound richer and more melodic.

“The phrases of the music usually ‘form themselves’ according to the way the music develops. I can not say exactly how, but the music seems to ‘tell’ at what point a group of chords should be ended.

“About the rhythm: after I formulate the chord sequence, I sometimes come across the idea of a different rhythm which better fits a phrase or the whole piece. Again, it can come up intentionally or unintentionally (coming across a different rhythm while playing), when the new rhythm presents the harmonies better.”

As his musical vocabulary has increased over 160 lessons, and his understanding of chords, music structure and key signature has solidified, his compositions have matured to an astonishing melange of a unique complexity, yet organic perfection. I would love to think that sharing his piano playing here may lead to Ronen to finding more significant opportunities and applications to contribute his musical gifts to the world.