Piano Music - Alec Rowley

Alec Rowley

1892 - 1958
Alec Rowley was an English composer, organist, pianist, lecturer and writer on music.

📖 "Musicianship has now become a word of national importance in the music world. … What is the meaning of musicianship, and what its significance? It might be termed 'aliveness' or 'awareness.' Now this aliveness, or awareness, is the sensitive reaction to music itself as opposed to the dictatorship of mere rules and facts. It is the interest awakened through doing, and the recognition of sounds as sounds, and not of signs only. An 'awareness,' if you like, of everything that has a continuing effect, and an 'aliveness' to this continuity and source of movement in progress and music. And 'aliveness' can be obtained only by 'understanding through doing.'"
In Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Creative work at the instrument combats the dull note-to-note attitude resulting from mere paper work, by cultivating and encouraging a natural feeling for, and thinking in, phrases. This makes for spontaneity and develops natural talent."
In Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "We must do more than appreciate music. We must understand it, by doing, feeling, and listening."
In Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Theory and practice are like the two wires which carry electrical energy for light and heat. Take hold of either wire separately and it is dead. Seize both and there is activity. It is only when the two wires are placed in contact that the life or current becomes effective. And so it is with Theory and Practice. Paper work has its rightful place, but it must not be treated as a separate compartment."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Music may be compared with language. But before we can teach an appreciation of literature, we must understand the use of language. Language is the gateway to literature. Increasingly, music will be taught as a language in the sense in which we use the words language-study, and we shall keep the closest and make the earliest possible contact with the fine outpourings of thought and expression by the greatest writers. Already teaching methods and examination schemes are being revised in order that pupils may develop the power of reading and playing with understanding, and in this teaching of the language of music, we will lay the foundation of taste in the learner. A real working knowledge of language enables the reader to sift trash from literature and a practical working knowledge of music will enable a right choice to be made between what is feeble and what is good music."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Whatever we do, the pupils must be taught to think for themselves by doing, and by doing understanding, and by understanding, creating. Think for a moment of the immense change in musicality that would take place if teaching along these lines became universal. We should have a nation of musical enthusiasts, whose love of the art is creative and cultural because they know how it is done, as against the mere playing of a few pieces and the superficial knowledge perpetuated by so much so-called teaching."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Dalcroze rather cleverly remarks in 'Eurhythmics, Art and Education': 'A piano is an instrument once called pianoforte, because it was played sometimes forte and sometimes piano, but nowadays simply called piano, because it is always played fortissimo! … The piano is an admirable instrument … it expresses all harmonies, and interprets approximately the most complex polyphonics. It is the self-sufficing instrument par excellence of sensibility and the diffusion of musical knowledge." Parents are right when they advise their children to take up its study, and piano teachers render the most signal service to the musical art."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "Aimlessness is an enemy of life. Aimless practice is not practice at all."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

📖 "To be able to read well at sight should be the object and aim of all those who study music. It widens the horizon and enables the player to grasp more quickly every new work he meets with and studies. The whole world of music lies open before him. The poor sight-reader is only able to play the few pieces he has studied by slow degrees and more or less mechanically. Sight-reading teaches the player to think ahead and quickens his perception and anticipation, making him alert and alive."
Alec Rowley Practical Musicianship (1941)

"Have you ever thought what it really means to be a teacher? The great responsibility, the enormous work, the fine results you might obtain with plastic material to mould as you wish! The joy of noting growth, the interest, and expansion of someone placed in your care. This is indeed a proud calling, and needs a personal interest in every soul and life which places in one's hands. Show them all the beautiful things you can - music, interpretation, self-expression - in short, make music a great joy, the greatest, in your pupil's life."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"Children should be taught to think. Education in the best sense is not merely a putting in, but a drawing forth. … The object of all teaching should be that of creating a really well-balanced mind. A mind capable of logically deciding anything within its experience, and without hesitation."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

📖 "Teach the children to think, show them how, and how to apply thought to life and fact, and fancy, and music, and you will have a nation less influenced by the daily press, and seeking more earnestly the things that really matter: in other words a musical nation."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

📖 "It is not sufficient to play studies and pieces week after week, and then wonder why progress is slow. Sight-reading must be cultivated. This will help with solo playing enormously. Every week as much as possible of the pupil's time should be devoted to this important work. Greater fluency, and alert mind, and a quicker eye will result. But the good sight-reader looks ahead, and thinks in groups. So many read note by note instead of phrase by phrase. Don't look back (remember the fate of Lot's wife!). The good reader reads one or two bars in advance all the time. Remember then, to read in phrases and groups - not note by note, or chord by chord."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"So much is lost in the presentation of a work through lack of technique, imagination, and tonal variety. This applies to modern educational music, where the child's touch is so frequently neglected. A wrong sound is productive of a wrong impression, and atmosphere is at once destroyed. Bad sound is unsound. The modern pianoforte is capable of enormous variety and gradation of tone; witness the musical festivals, where perhaps fifty competitors play the same piece on the same instrument, each transforming that instrument into an individual, or giving it a separate character. Music reaches the mind through the ear. Therefore, play by ear."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"There is a tremendous satisfaction about making something which is experienced by almost every. The joy of painting, composing, wood-carving, writing, is felt in a wondrous degree by the creators. But the artist may also be considered a creator. He is a maker of sound. He is interpreting sounds that would be dumb did they never leave the printed page.
And so the responsibility of the soloist is a great one. He can be a maker of good sounds, or of bad ones. And every good sound has its responsive note, and every bad one its evil influence. If they would only think a little more, and not merely play notes, they would realise how great a medium they are for implanting the love or hatred of music into people's minds."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"So many people attempt pieces beyond their musical and technical capabilities. They like to feel that they are performing great works. But they do not perform them. Rather do they de-form them! If you feel you cannot play a certain piece sufficiently well in public, don't attempt it, but try something within your technical capacity. You will gain in every way. And how agonising it is to listen to a soloist struggling with something beyond his, or her, powers. The audience go away with the feeling that they have been walking the tight rope, or standing on the top of a telegraph's pole. In fact, they carry away with them an impression of insecurity."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"The outlook seems to be: -
'Oh! I'll dazzle the examiners with my playing, and trust to luck in the tests.'
This is fallacy - believe me.
The examiners are not to be bluffed, and the real musical capabilities the candidate are discovered by ear, sight, and viva voce tests.
Scales (a necessary evil) are slopped over and smudged, or jerked and rushed.
The sight test is frequently played in the wrong key, and the accidentals omitted altogether. This suggests to the examiner that the candidate has worked and slaved at the pieces, but nevertheless has a poor a faulty musical ear.
Every one of the various requirements should be digested and thoroughly studied. Nothing should be left to chance. Week by week new things should be pointed out and added by the teacher, and the tests should be taken thoroughly through, on every possible occasion. This impresses the pupil with their importance, and keeps them up to the mark."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

"Don't be late.
Don't forget your music.
Don't offer to shake hands with the examiner.
Don't imagine that a slip will cost you the examination.
Don't be too sure that a correct rendering only, will pass.
Don't forget to concentrate on the music itself.
Don't allow yourself to hurry if you feel nervous, but take a more deliberate tempo.
Don't think the examiner is out to fail you; he is just as anxious that you should pass.
Don't forgot to wash your hands before the examination. If you don't, it is always the succeeding candidate who suffers.
Don't forget to listen intently when the examiner speaks; he is not particularly keen on repeating his remarks.
Don't go in for the examination in an over confident 'just-you-hear-me' spirit; on the other hand don't think that you will fail. The former will make your playing, or singing mechanical - the latter will not allow you to do yourself justice.
Don't be under the illusion that the examiner is on the look-out for mistakes. It is a musical rendering that earns the highest marks.
Don't blame the examiner if you fail.
Don't praise him if you pass.
He is perfectly impartial, and is entirely unmoved by the result.
Don't take your pieces too fast.
Don't take your pieces too slowly.
Don't make repeats.
Don't forget to observe in sight-reading the time - and key signature.
Don't splash through everything.
Don't crawl along musically as if you have the whole day in front of you.
Don't forget to be polite and interested.
Don't explain your errors away to the examiner. He has already heard them, and hates to be reminded of it.
Don't be afraid of the examiner - he is not a god living upon air.
Don't allow your mind to wander. If you think only of the music (and the mind cannot do two things at once) it will naturally follow that you will be oblivious to external surroundings. It is lack of concentrations on the matter in hand that is responsible for nervousness.
Don't worry. If you are well prepared, there is no need to be apprehensive of the result.
Don't neglect the scales and arpeggios, and think that you will make up your marks on the pieces. Everything counts in the total.
Don't bluff the examiner - he will be down on you if you do.
Don't neglect the training of the ear. So many examinations contain tests in this important subject now.
Don't practice hard on the examination day. Just a few scales and technical exercises are enough to open out the fingers and take away any stiffness.
Don't neglect sight-reading. This is a most important branch, and is being recognised as a big test in musicianship.
Don't neglect to hear everything that will help you. Go to concerts, recitals, and lectures.
Don't keep your foot on the right pedal all the time; rather leave it alone altogether.
Don't if you fail the first time, bring again the same pieces. Change your list.
Don't work only the examination requirements. Keep the mind active by avoiding groover.
Don't forget to test your ability, and when you have been in for everything, forget all bout it, and concentrate on the only thing that matters - music itself."
From Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

📖 "Beethoven's vitality (through his music) is amazing. It is a constant source of wonder that the Sonatas are taught - played - murdered - by candidates at examinations; rattled through at festivals; smashed topics by concert pianists; broken into fragments by students; ill-used in all manner of ways and on all kinds of pianos; maltreated by editors and analysed by countless professors - and yet are still fresh. How many works could stand the test of years in that way? Very few indeed. We don't want to hear, after a few repetitions, many a composition that appeals at once. We say, 'Oh, I'm tired of that thing.' But I venture to state that Beethoven's immense mind and the infinite something in his finest works make it impossible to really cast aside, or tire of his whole creations."
Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

📖 Selection of APHORISMS
"Everything must have thought behind it: and thoughts are negative until they are translated into action."
"It is not the one who is making the biggest splash that is having the best bath."
"You have accomplished nothing if you leave your audience in the same state of mind as they were before they heard you."
"It is hurry that kills, not pace."
"You have two hands - equalize them."
"It is up to you to make an ordinary piece sound extraordinary."
"Dullness is a terrible handicap."
"Do not play signs; play sounds."
"Think big and your outlook will be bigger; think small and you will limit your horizon."
"An uncertain performer will create an uncertain audience."
"Controlled power is the vital force of life."
"Music is an unlit fire until you light it."
"Some performers could more easily move a piano than an audience."
"Why do many pianists remind one of the charge of the heavy brigade?"
"Get into the mood of a composition."
"Get your musical thoughts in order before you begin."
"Real value is in what you learn and not in what you get."
"Let the brain dictate the pace, and not the fingers."
"Soldiers need drilling: So do your fingers."
"Keep your beat notes in focus."
"The first chords should set your mood."
"The mind may be compared with a typewriter; we are typing notes instead of letters."
"The beat marks time: Rhythm moves forward."
"The more noise you make the less people will hear you."
"The shape of the tune frequently determines the tone."
"Beauty of tone should be shaped by beauty of phrase."
"Some performers are musical announcers; they tell of events, but are not themselves the story."
"Music must have an objective: it must never remain static."
"Sentiments must come from within, and must not be imposed from without."
"The work is in the key of C major; it is the artists and poets who explore all the other keys."
"Art should have no politics."
"The think that really matters with the artist is his willingness to disobey."
"Do not fail to listen to the voice of experience."
"A think must be done very well or very badly. Mediocrity gets nowhere."
"Do not pride yourself on being conventional."
"Enjoy life: don't go through life like an undertaker."
"There are plenty of people waiting to follow one who knows the way."
"It is the obvious that is so frequently overlooked."
"What is noise to one may be beauty to another."
"Melody is a binding link that gives shape to a work."
"People are inclined to accept too much, without thinking about it."
"The student needs guidance, not coercion."
"Fear and apprehension are frequently caused by a lack of direction."
"To see the good and acknowledge the bad is the only true balanced attitude to anything."
"The poet is suspended between heaven and earth, and is privileged to see or glimpse a little of each."
"Some people have a wonderful facility for plumbing the depths of the obvious."
"Curiosity has no limitations."
"Many do not realise that silence is as important as sound."
"You can mould your audience to your thoughts."
"A bad instrument will never make a good player."
"A good player can overcome a bad instrument."
"Possibly the reason why so many British composers do not get the applause they deserve, is due to the fact that so many other British composers are sitting amongst the audience."

Alec Rowley Do's and Don'ts for Musicians. A Handbook for Teachers and Performers

Music and Books by Alec Rowley

Or Download Piano Music by Alec Rowley free on IMSLP

👉 Rowley 5 Miniature Preludes & Fugues

👉 Rowley Miniature Concerto

👉 Rowley Fantasy Studies for the 2nd Year, Op.13