You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
After some deliberation, I’ve decided to leave this original post on my timeline as a celebration of an extraordinary and very much loved person, my wonderful piano teacher, Clemens Leske Snr.
When two well-loved friends and colleagues rang me out of the blue to tell me that he had passed because they knew how much he meant to me, I was honestly just overwhelmed with memories and thoughts, and much love.
We’ve since found out that it was ANOTHER Clemens Leske who sadly passed this week, who was ALSO living in Sydney having hailed from Adelaide. “Our” Clemens Leske Snr is very much still with us, as his students are fondly saying at present!
So what I wrote today, and what I mean with full heart, and that I was so glad to be able to reflect upon today:
“A teacher of such gentle compassion and musical excellence who had a profound effect upon me, and the teacher and person I would become. A mentor I loved with all my heart, trusted, and respected, because I knew that my skills and self were safe under his care, and that he would ask the absolute best from me without damaging my love of music + learning. When I saw him at the Gala Concert at Elder Hall in 2015, I was overwhelmed but unsurprised at the sheer number of friends, past students, and colleagues who came to celebrate himself and his wife, Beryl Kimber. So utterly different! She was bursting with exuberance, colour, and WORDS!, and he the very quiet and reserved one. But such a special love between them.
I had him as a Single Studies scholarship student during high school between the ages of 15 to 17; the ages where you are the MOST annoyingly smart-arse, impressionable, fragile, and skeptical. He quietly and simply loved + taught me, exactly as I needed, and I flourished musically and as a person. I fell in love with sounds, performance, rigour, and excellence. I practised as easily and as naturally as if I were just breathing. I loved playing completely and won the Don Maynard Music Prize for Year 12 Music under his tutelage.
To sit in the same room as him was to share space with someone who taught without pride or ego, just pure gentleness, fierce and unrelenting excellence, and overwhelming love. It is a light that I carry with me daily when I teach. My heart overflows today.”
…and still does, with joy.
Bach meets New Orleans. Little bit of a musical amuse-bouche! 😉
I have been playing the piano a lot recently, and it feels totally new even though I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old. I sat down and started playing on the first day of my school holidays, just because I could, and have found myself drawn back each day, just because there was no expectation.
The old discipline is there, the technique, the mathematical precision. That old rigour is something I stretch into so easily and willingly.
But there is a new, tiny breath of life…something that resonates within my very self. In my words, the unspoken, that arrives right through my fingertips through the keys…
I’m playing like it’s a conversation, listening and responding, hearing new nuances, creating new understanding.
I can feel myself navigating the corners of each piece, wanting to find the right colour, having an absolute sound in my ears that I want to create.
I am shaping phrases the way I look for words, like a language that I am practising, like allowing each note to be held and then slip through my fingers like cool beads, like water, translucent and free.
I can feel the smooth solidness of the keys underneath my fingertips, and there is no anxiety, shame, fear, sadness, or grief…just pure communication. A thread of consciousness.
In all the exploring and discovery, the messiness is beautiful to me. Because I have an intimate understanding of it. Like me, I know exactly where I am heading, and if not, that I will get there through navigating exactly this moment.
In the last few weeks, I have travelled through more beautiful sounds and perfect silences than in all my university years. I didn’t have the maturity or the courage to ask for the boundaries to allow this love to flourish. And now, as I sit with this conversation between myself + the piano, my mind and my creation, everything seems so new. With this new conversation, there is a “small shy truth” that arrives, to nestle in my heart. A new flower in the middle of the concrete desert. How did it take this long for me to have this conversation?
I’ve been working toward this for so many years…I have delighted, I have skinned my knees, I have played and rehearsed for countless hours, but why do I feel such freedom now?
It’s because this conversation is through the momentum generated purely by me. Time flows, and time also paradoxically stands still. I am not afraid of the challenges, I am not afraid of the imperfections…I can see what they will become with great insight and practise.
This is my conversation now.
I am joyful.