International concert pianist, Decca recording artist, performed as a soloist with over 100 orchestras (Gewandhaus, London Philharmonic, etc).

My approach to piano teaching tries to be focussed “ inside the music ”. It places the stress on the importance of immersing oneself within the score to discover the emotional meanings left to us by the composer. It is fundamental to be aware about states of mind, expressive attitudes, dramaturgy and rhetoric. In the last 15 years I had the opportunity to teach to some hundreds of students, both in regular courses in Italian State Conservatories and in several master classes in many countries. Each student has a different character: I like to encourage each pupil to become aware of his/her own individuality, rather than expecting them to emulate a utopic external model.
The lesson shouldn't just turn into a series of instructions given indiscriminately by the teacher, but should maintain a constant interaction with the sensitivity of the pupil. For this reason I often ask the pianists questions, prompting them to become aware of their conception of the piece, and helping them to express this in the best way. In addition, I like to make use of metaphors of a photographic and narrative kind: often during the lesson we speak of the “depth of field” between the theme and the accompaniment, of the “focusing” of a given melodic contour, of the temporal and spatial distance of the themes. The piano is, in fact, also a time machine, as it can “set” a theme in the present, the past or the future, also defining the context in which it appears (reality, dream, memory, hope, illusion). I also try to stimulate the timbral imagination of the pupils (and listeners), by encouraging them to evoke the sounds of other instruments or of nature and identifying a precise technical gesture that allows them to obtain the idea of sound they have in mind. Finally, there are references to gestures and body language, which can often help us to communicate things that are even apparently impossible at the keyboard. This is the case, for instance, in the handling of rests: these too can be in crescendo or diminuendo, accelerando or rallentando. The gesture, moreover, allows us to give the listener a foretaste of a given affective state or timbral effect. Such aspects may seem superfluous, and yet they prove extremely important in immersing oneself in the music and communicating it in the best way.
Much importance is also given to the “problem solving” strategies, starting with a “how to practice” method. Most of the students which I met did not have any clear idea about practicing, and I noticed how much they could improve their playing by being more aware of their mental strategies to overcome many technical and musical problems.
I believe that every teacher should respect the right of the pupil, after having acquired the basic skills, to gain different didactic experiences, precisely to find their own personal dimension through exposure to other approaches and points of view. I get seriously worried when I notice a student attempting to emulate or rely excessively on the teacher. The aim of a lesson, moreover, shouldn't be to produce a clone, but, on the contrary, to stimulate the search for artistic results that are authentic and, why not, innovative and not too predictable. Nor do I like the authoritative approach that some teachers of the old school adopted: instead, I try to relate with the students like a sort of older brother, with whom they can discover together aspects of a composition or of making music that are still unexplored. It is stimulating to see how a piano performance can be radically transformed within the space of just a few minutes of lesson, and to discover how at times it is sufficient to become more aware of the state of mind to elicit, in order to reveal artistic potentials that perhaps have still remained dormant. After all, piano lessons also serve this purpose: to help students find, through an external perspective, the great artist that lies within them.
The greatest satisfaction for me, as a teacher, is to see the enthusiasm of a pupil who discovers something alone that not even I had noticed. Musical culture and art are not, in any case, a patrimony to be possessed, but something that already belongs to everyone. I very much like the metaphor used by French writer Daniel Pennac, who considers teachers as “vectors of culture”, as fuses that are lit by the beauty of music and who contaminate the pupils with their enthusiasm.
“In the absence of the idea of possession” – says Pennac – “we are beyond the principle of sharing: all that I learn, all that I discover, if I like it and I find it moving, then I choose to pass it on to you so that it can fascinate and enrich you too.”

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