Frances Wilson AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist talks to the Things Musicians Don’t Talk About, “an online platform and a couple of musicians who have had enough with the silence surrounding topics that affect all of us“.

Listen here:

Do take a look at the Things Musicians Don’t Talk About site

Looking forward, not back…..

2022 is a rather significant year for this site as it marks the 10th birthday of the Meet the Artist interview series. Originally inspired by the Proust Questionnaire in Vanity Fair magazine, Meet the Artist has grown from interviews with musician friends and colleagues to a highly respected and very popular “compendium of surprising, insightful and inspiring thoughts from a wide range of artists”, including pianists Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Ivo Pogorelich, Benjamin Grosvenor and Alice Sara Ott, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, composers Nitin Sawhney, John Rutter, Cheryl Frances Hoad and Jennifer Higdon, singers Roderick Williams and Jennifer Johnston, and many more, both established, internationally-renowned musicians and composers as well as young and emerging artists. Prog rock legend Rick Wakeman even makes an appearance!

I have been astonished by the popularity of the series (so much so that in 2017, it relocated from this site it to its own dedicated website) and am grateful to everyone who has taken part. The interviews are remarkably insightful, offering advice to aspiring musicians and giving audiences and others a unique glimpse “beyond the notes”, as it were, into the working and creative life of musicians and composers.

People ask me how I find the motivation and inspiration to continue writing this blog, and it’s true that it takes up a lot of time and effort (for which I receive no payment beyond the occasional donation). As my interest in the piano waned this year, due to the soul-sapping, dis-motivating effect of the lockdown, I did wonder whether there was any point in continuing to write this blog, but it seems I can always find music- or piano-related things to write about. Articles by others, conversations with musicians friends and colleagues, online exchanges, and my listening habits all feed the creative muse, and so while the muse demands nourishment, and I remain interested in writing, this site will continue. I am also very appreciative of the community which has built up around this site, and which has, in some instances, led me to forge significant connections and friendships in real life.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads, comments upon, shares and contributes to this site.

Warm wishes for the festive season and the new year.

Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist


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In this wide-ranging conversation Frances Wilson (AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist) talks to pianist, recording artist and teacher Eleonor Bindman about the world of the amateur pianist, the pleasures and frustrations of being an amateur pianist, how teaching adult amateurs presents interesting unique challenges for teacher and pupil alike, and much, much more…..


A big thank you to every one who reads, comments upon and contributes to this site (which celebrated its 10th birthday in July).

Some further thoughts on this strange year and how music and musicians have coped on my sister site ArtMuseLondon

Most read post of 2020:

On Being A Pianist

Most visited page of 2020:

Courses for Pianists

Most popular guest post of 2020:

“He was not like other men” – Chopin as seen by his contemporaries (by Walter Witt)

Most read post on repertoire

Liszt’s Sonetto del Petrarca 104

Most read post on piano technique

Mysteries of the sustain pedal

Best wishes for 2021.

Frances

The Cross-Eyed Pianist

I really didn’t expect to be writing this post…

When I started this blog in the summer of 2010, I did so without any expectation that it would be anything other than a place where I could write about the music I was listening to on CD and in concerts, the piano music I was learning and my experiences as a piano teacher. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to read my musical ramblings! But read they did, and some readers left comments and so conversations and a sense of community developed across the internet.

Ten years ago, blogging was still a relatively new form of writing/journalism; today it is almost de rigueur to have a blog, and some have become very well known, often independent voices which provide a refreshing, sometimes non-mainstream, perspective. For many of us who blog, it is simply a way of sharing a passion – whether it is music, food, cycling or knitting – and a means to connect with other likeminded people.

My passion is classical music, and particularly the piano – the instrument, its literature and the exigencies of being perhaps the most solitary of musicians, a pianist. When I first started writing this blog, I had been playing the piano seriously for about four years, having returned to the instrument after an absence of some 20 years. Part of the motivation behind the blog was to share my experiences as an “adult returner”, the pleasures and frustrations, what it felt like to take lessons again as an adult, performing (in both exam and public settings), connecting with other pianists, attending piano courses, and more. Often after a piano lesson, I would rush home to write down what had happened, giving me an important opportunity to revisit the nuts and bolts of the lesson, and distill and share the knowledge with others. I also charted my progress through three performance diplomas via this site, an action which a concert pianist friend of mine described as “very brave”, whereas I just saw it as a way of sharing my learning outcomes in the hope that others might find my experiences helpful, and maybe even inspiring.

As the blog has evolved – and I have always felt that a blog needs to offer plenty of variety and regularly updated content – I have found myself drawn further into the world of British classical music (again, a place I never expected to be!), and in the last five years in particular, with my reputation more established, I realised that this was where I’d always wanted to be. I feel comfortable in the presence of other musicians, whether professional, student or amateur, music professionals, and fellow bloggers, reviewers and journalists in a way I never felt in my previous career, and I welcome and appreciate the opportunities the blog has given me to attend concerts, CD launches, music courses and many other events.

Launching the Meet the Artist interview series in 2012 has given an extraordinary insight into the creative lives of musicians and composers, offering a glimpse beyond the concert platform and the notes on the score into the day-to-day lives of these remarkable people, and debunking some of the traditional preconceptions surrounding classical music and musicians. The interviews are fascinating, honest (sometimes painfully so), entertaining and inspiring.

But for me the most gratifying aspect of blogging is the connections I have made and the wonderful interactions and conversations that regularly take place via this site and also on social media (where I probably spend far too much time!). I’ve made friends through this blog, in both the virtual and real worlds, and I really value these connections which have seemed even more significant during these long months of lockdown.

Just as a concert is not a concert without an audience, this blog would be nothing without its readers, of whom there are now some 25,000 per month (a figure which continually amazes me). So I must first thank everyone who reads, shares and comments on the articles contained here.

A huge debt of gratitude must also go to musicians and composers, not only those who have taken part in the Meet the Artist series, but also those whose music I have heard in concert and on disc, who engage in this remarkable activity in a profession which is tough, competitive and precarious (and never more so than now).

I would also like to thank all those people who contribute guest articles to the site. Your contributions keep the site fresh and give readers an opportunity to hear different voices and opinions.

Whether I will still be writing this blog in another 10 years’, or even 5 years’ time, remains to be seen, but while it continues to interest me to do so, and while there is the inspiration and motivation, I will keep writing.

 

Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist

 

 

No Dead Guys is the blog of American pianist and writer Rhonda Rizzo, and is dedicated to new piano music, living composers, and thoughts on the intersection of music and life.

Frances Wilson, AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist, talks about her work as a publicist and how her love of music, concert-going and admin has informed her role.


I’ve always enjoyed admin – when I worked in publishing back in the 1990s I was an executive PA – and I like using my organisational skills. Working as a publicist allows me to utilise these skills to ensure material is produced on time, deadlines are met etc. In fact, it sits well with being a musician, since this is also a role which requires organisational skills such as forward planning and time management.

I also wanted to learn more about another aspect of the music industry. I’m a keen concert-goer and have always been alert to the presentational aspects of concert-giving – from advertising material to programme notes to how musicians behave on stage or engage with audiences. I enjoy drawing on my experience as an audience member to inform my publicity work, and regard this as a strength.

Read the full interview here


Find out more about Frances Wilson’s publicity services and client testimonials here

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Frances Wilson (photo by James Eppy)