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Musings of Musicians : Elena Piccione

Dear Music Lovers !!!!

In this “Musings of a Musician" series we are going to take interviews of creative musicians across the world.

Today we are going to take an interview of Elena Piccione.

Elena Piccione
Classical Pianist
Elena Piccione is an Italian classical pianist. A child prodigy, she gave her first piano recital at the age of 12 and completed her Master’s degree in Piano Performance at the age of 18. Her path is all but conventional: she decided at a very young age to take part in as few competitions as possible and instead work her way through a huge part of the core piano repertoire, taking time to study philosophy, literature, psychology, pedagogy, languages and completely analyse and review her piano technique. Recently, she founded BMS, her own piano studio in Bologna, where she teaches music to people of any age and professional field.

Before we start our interview, could you tell our readers about your journey as a musician? We want to know how a young girl of 7 started her musical career and what inspired her.

Actually I wanted to start playing trumpet when I was 5, as I had watched the Walt Disney film, “The Aristocats” and fallen in love with Scat Cat, playing the trumpet romantically by the window on a starry night.

Then, at the age of 7, I started playing piano and I fell in love with classical music, which was always present in my home. So, yes. Basically, I was inspired by a stray cat.

The field of Music is a JOURNEY and a never-ending one. Which milestones in your journey were the most memorable for you? Or, let us put this question differently: Tell us about those moments when you felt, “Yes, music is the only creative field in which I belong!”

I wouldn’t say music is the only creative field in which I belong, although it is a field in which I operate comfortably.

However, I was 11 when I decided that I wanted to be a “professional musician”. Since then, I have dedicated every single day to my personal growth.

To me, it’s always been very logical the fact that music is just an extension of life.

In order to play every tone with meaning and consciousness, you need to have a refined intellect, a high level of culture and be in total control of your body and emotions.

Contrary to popular belief, this takes a lot of time away from the instrument. This time can be devoted to reading, studying (yourself and the world) and meditation practices.

In order to play every tone with meaning and consciousness, you need to have a refined intellect, a high level of culture and be in total control of your body and emotions.

For most musicians, we can say that, “It runs in the family". Is it the same in your case? Which family member has played a greater role in shaping your musical career? 

Little Elena

I’m the first musician in the family. However, my father is a classical music lover.

He used to play any kind of classical music; at home, in his office or in the car, from Beethoven’s symphonies to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and make comments about movements and sections, much as a masterclass teacher would do.

Sometimes, he would stick to a few bars and ask me, “What does this mean?”

Sometimes, he would help me follow the part of one instrument for the whole movement in a Beethoven’s symphony or Bach’s Concerto. I recall these moments with joy, you know?

My parents never drove me from competition to competition; instead, they focused on the importance of developing a healthy mind, body and approach to life and music.

I will always be thankful for that.

What do you think of competitions? Have you ever taken part in any? Are they useful?

Yes, I have and I have even won a couple but I tell you, I’m not a big fan of them.

I think the role competitions have in our current times is definitely overrated.

From the “career” point of view, in the 70’s, winning an international competition like Chopin or Tchaikovsky would mean having the doors of the most prestigious world venues open. One right competition won was enough to assure you a certain level of career, popularity and prestige.

Nowadays, the world has totally changed. The market has changed. Career profiles have changed. Winning a competition is not enough anymore and it’s not even a guarantee of quality, as more often than not, the winner isn’t the most creative, innovative candidate but the least disliked.

We must move on! We must think of new ways to help future generations bloom and make this world a better place.

The goal of pedagogy should not be producing competition winners but better human beings and, consequently, musicians! Yet, a great majority of professors still seem particularly keen on preparing their students for competitions.

I personally disagree. Competitions tend to produce conformed competitors, not musicians. You are supposed to be a musician, not an athlete.

You can draw inspiration from other people but competing with them, or worse, trying to be them, is unhealthy and quite stupid.

The only “competition” is that with yourself, not with others.

Don’t try to imitate or be someone else but instead, find your own path and be the best version of yourself.

Don’t try to imitate or be someone else but instead, find your own path and be the best version of yourself.

Apart from music, are there any other creative fields in which you are interested ?

Of course! Creativity manifests itself in many ways, it has no limit. I’m interested in all creative fields, from art to business and science.

You can learn and draw inspiration from any kind of creative people. Highly creative people in the business field, for instance, have a lot in common with highly creative musicians, writers, film directors, mathematicians or interdisciplinary artists.

And how not to mention martial artists? I think every aspiring musician would benefit from practicing some Tai Chi or Qigong.

A musician always aspires to develop her unique style and technique. Yet, there must be some musician whom the young Elena wanted to imitate in her childhood days. Who was that musician and what exactly you wanted to imitate in him?

As I mentioned before, my father is a classical music lover. He had a lot of LPs of orchestral music and very few ones of piano music. So I drew inspiration more from the first one than to the latter one.

I started to listen to pianists only later, from CDs attached to music journals, when I was already grown up. But my mind was already full of orchestral music, which I was trying to imitate, when I was a small kid.

A Writer and a musician are doing similar kind of work as one gives words to emotions while the other gives a sound or a tune to the emotions. Which literary masters you admire most? At present, which book you are reading ?

Currently I’m reading some articles about the neuroscience of music, but I am an insatiable reader of ancient Western and Eastern philosophy books. The last book I read was Tao Te Ching.

Music must have taken you to the most exotic places on the earth. Which countries you have traveled to and which one is your next destination? Why traveling is important in the development of one’s art, in this case music ?

I traveled most Europe, all across the United States and Asia, especially China. My next destination is Poland and China again, this summer.

Traveling is important because it pushes you out of your comfort zone, it opens your mind. You meet new people with a different mentality, who can help you see the world from a different perspective. Sometimes, they give you life lessons you had never thought about. Sometimes, it’s the other way round.

We all tend to think that the grass is always greener on the other side and we all know this isn’t always the case.

Traveling helps you to resize what you have idealized and to have a more realistic perspective towards the country where you live.

There is no perfect country. Each country has its own national diseases. It doesn’t matter where we come from, what lifestyle we lead, whether we eat insects or lobsters.

We all have a heart that beats for the same reasons: to be serene, happy, to love and be loved, to be free.

Traveling helps you to see human beings, instead of “people”. And you play for human beings, not for people.

We all have a heart that beats for the same reasons: to be serene, happy, to love and be loved, to be free.

Tell us about your recent project and your experience in it so far.

I recently opened my own piano studio. I have students of all ages and professional fields, from primary school kids to lawyers and businesspeople.

The core idea is that music training, in addition to developing a wonderful taste for beauty and art (isn’t this what we all yearn for, after all?), teaches you skills which can then be applied to any area of life.

You learn how to control your mind, your body and your emotions. Cultivating skills like, among the others, self-discipline, focus for extended periods of time, time management, consistency, perseverance, flexibility, strategical thinking develop a mindset that can be applied to achieve any goal, from personal life to business.

What advice you would like to give to young musicians who have started their journey in music field recently ?

Don’t compete with anyone but yourself. Know yourself.

Be patient. Be disciplined. Be happy.

Enjoy the journey!

Elena's YouTube Videos

Elena's social media and contact links :

This article is designed by

Mariam Bughadze
Mariam is a violinist and a miniature artist from Georgia.

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