Masterclass at Coach House Pianos – meet the tutor & host

by The Cross-Eyed Pianist

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Dr Michael Low, pianist and pedagogue, leads a masterclass for advance adult pianists at Coach House Pianos London showroom on 1 June. Ahead of the event, get to know Michael, and your host, Frances Wilson AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist…..


Who is your favourite composer for the piano?

There are quite a few! Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert and Rachmaninoff.

If you have to be one piece of music, you would be…

Either Brahms Opus 5 or Brahms Opus 15.

How do you feel about your upcoming masterclass at Coach House Pianos?

A mixture of excitement and nervousness.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your teenage self?

I would put my arm around his shoulder and tell him not to be so harsh on himself. It is okay to doubt yourself from time to time, but someone somewhere believes in you always. Keep going and everything will make sense eventually.

Who is your greatest teacher in your musical journey?

Life itself.

You watch a lot of movies, name the most enjoyable movie portrayal of a pianist (Drum roll)…

It is a three-way tie between Colm Feore as Glenn Gould, Geoffrey Rush as David Helfgott and Michael Douglas as Liberace.

And the performance(s) that annoys you most are:

The Oscar goes to JK Simmons as Terence Fletcher in Whiplash closely followed by Sir John Gielgud as Cyrill Smith (Helfgott’s teacher at RCM) in Shine.

Using one word, describe the interpretation of the following pianists:

1: Barenboim: Prolific

2: Berman: Powerful

3: Biss: Bohemian

4: Bolet: Virtuoso

5: Brendel: Classical

6: Buniatishvilli: Salacious

Name one pianist dead or alive you will travel to the ends of the earth to hear in concert.

Vladimir Horowitz

If you have to be the title of a book…

All God’s Children Are Lost, But Only A Few Can Play The Piano.

Steak of Sushi?

That would depend on who the chef is…

And finally, If I wasn’t a pianist, I’d be…

PGA Golfer


What is your earliest memory of the piano?

Hearing my paternal grandfather playing Methodist hymns and bits of Beethoven and Haydn on the upright piano in the front room (used only on Sundays) of his home.

Your favourite composers for piano?

An impossible question! But I adore the music of Schubert, Debussy, Beethoven, Liszt and Messiaen. Especially Schubert’s D899 Impromptus, which have been with me since I was about 13….

Most memorable concert experience?

There have been a few – Evgeny Kissin at the Proms in 1997, when he played the longest series of encores in the Proms’ history.

Steven Osborne playing Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jesus at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, without an interval. An epic, musical journey.

My students’ concerts.

What advice would you give to your teenage musician self?

Be yourself, trust your musical instincts, and don’t compare yourself to others. It took me a long time to become a self-confident musician (a 25-year absence from the piano didn’t help) and I’m grateful for the support and encouragement from a variety of teachers, including Penelope Roskell and Graham Fitch.

And what advice would you give to people returning to the piano, or thinking of taking it up later in life?

Do it! It’s never too late! And it’s so rewarding.

Why the pen-name The Cross-Eyed Pianist?

When I was thinking about starting this blog, I wanted a catchy title for it. Originally, I thought of The Naked Pianist (at the time Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef was popular), but I thought it might attract the ‘wrong’ kind of readers! I am genuinely cross-eyed, and also a pianist.

How did you and Michael get to know one another?

Initially, through our mutual teacher Graham Fitch. We met for lunch in China Town – must be 10 years ago! – and never stopped talking. Although we live on different continents (Michael lives in South Africa) we keep in regular touch via the wonders of modern technology. A shared outlook on music, music teaching, and life in general, and mutual respect, is, I think the basis of our friendship.

What are you most looking forward to at the masterclass with Michael at Coach House Pianos?

The opportunity to hear a variety of repertoire and learn from Michael’s wisdom and experience. And to meet fellow pianists and enjoy plenty of “piano chat”!

Steak or sushi?

Both. Especially if my son (a chef) is cooking!

Join Michael and Frances at Coach House Pianos sumptuous London showroom on Saturday 1 June. Observer places still available – book here

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