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As you can tell from the title of this, my very first blog post, I enjoy watching television. I also enjoy movies, and I feel like so much inspiration for my music is gained from this simple pleasure that so many people refer to as "being lazy," shunned as the worst experience for a human-being to engage in by the very people who hourly feed their raging Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Instagram/Pinterest/YouTube/Blogger/MySpace addictions. Most of you are probably thinking, "What sophisticated films or television shows does he watch? He's a classical musician, so he must be into all of those "deep" documentaries and independent films...and other weird stuff." The sad truth is that I'm very easily pleased, and I find wit, charm, and revelation in even the simplest of movies, and this translates into imagery that I use for my music.
Was it embarrassing for me to try to describe "Avatar" to a woman in her 60's who was trying to create a magical touch in the passage of her Debussy piece, because it reminded me of the plant life on Pandora? Sure. I didn't even want to try to describe what it must be like to ride on an ikran, or give a run-down of the spiritual underpinnings of the sacred Na'vi tree - Eywa. Was it humiliating when I described what it must feel like to fly on a broomstick and live in the magical world presented by J.K. Rowling in the "Harry Potter" series to help my 14-year-old student achieve sparkling textures and fleeting dynamics (who kindly TRIED to understand where I was coming from)? Oh yeah. You know you've really hit rock bottom when your studentS (yes, plural) who are 11-years-old look at you like you're a total loser.
Having said this, I can't help but feel that the greatest composers and musicians in history found inspiration through even the simplest of things, and given the technology we have today, we can access vast libraries of knowledge from a tiny little device we put in our pocket. What a blessing to have this at our disposal! I have never been to Switzerland, Japan, Madagascar, China, or Australia, but I can zoom in to basically any street in the world and take a virtual tour of any of these countries from my piano bench. I can access the photos of the greatest photographers, capturing the most majestic images on earth in an instant. I can hear the greatest compositions, played by some of the greatest pianists in history who passed away long ago, while working out, walking to class, or driving to lunch. With this enormous well of knowledge, how could one ever lack in ideas for innovation, creativity, and possibility?
I have had numerous examples of enlightenment in my life from wonderful musical teachers, namely Susan Duehlmeier, Sergei Babayan, and Logan Skelton. Perhaps the greatest source of enlightenment comes from my wife, Lindsey, who knows my playing better than any of those previously mentioned, as she hears me practice daily, and who is my ever-patient (or should I say "long-suffering," emphasis onsuffering) audience. On the days where I become discouraged, run out of ideas, or am just plain sick of the pieces I am working on, any of these four individuals always have just the right thing to say. They are "doctors" (yes, my geek side coming out again, over-analyzing everything in a philosophical or metaphorical light) that can heal musical problems, catalysts for success. Having been trained by these four geniuses who each have such astounding and truly different ideas to offer, I feel I have a responsibility to share this knowledge with those who have not had the amazing opportunity to study with teachers like this. I envy those who studied with Chopin, Beethoven, Neuhaus, Schnabel, and many others. However, I can get a rich and rewarding experience by hearing of their experiences with such dynamic and electrifying human beings.
It is my hope that through this blog, my readers can gain insight into the great lessons I've learned from my mentors and musical heroes. Along with my feeble attempts to be clever and entertaining, I hope to use this blog as a type of online journal, documenting discoveries as I practice, teach, and perform. I also plan to post emails (anonymously, of course) that I receive from various students around the globe that have asked questions regarding various techniques and musical concepts from my free online piano series on YouTube, "Josh Wright Piano TV," along with my responses on how to aid and fix the technical or musical problems they are inquiring about. In posting these, I hope readers can gain insight and solutions to problems they encounter on their own musical journeys. Certainly, there will be many revelations given to me by Lindsey (soon to be "Dr. Wright"), and thus I (not-so-soon to be "Dr. Wright") have named the blog, "The Piano Doctors." Now, I could say "Let the musical healing begin!" but that would just be too loser-ish, so I'll just leave it at that.