Why Music Camp?
Hello to everyone reading this blog. This is my first blog post ever! And surely not my last.
You probably all wonder why a concert pianist who won these international piano competitions, travels and performs all around the world would be interested in creating an international music/piano camp?
The answer is quite simple actually. Let’s go back in time, to when I was 15 years old.
At that time, my ONLY serious ambition was to be a fighter pilot for the French Army (yes, I was born and raised in France). I had a knack for Math and Physics. Back then, I thought that I would graduate from high school, go to pilot school for becoming a pilot, commence to the army and my life was complete! My fate/future was sealed (by me) and I couldn’t wait to become a “Top Gun” type of guy. I was physically fit, perfect eye sight (25/20), and LOVED competition, and excelled as soon as any challenge, no matter how small or large presented itself.
So here I am at 15, convinced that my life was a straight line to piloting those jets!
I forgot to mention that at that time, I played the piano (and I am using “play”, NOT practice purposefully) around two to three hours per week! I was NOT really what one would call the perfect piano student! I did not know much about Classical Music. I always LOVED Classical music for as far as I remember. Classical Music always made me dream. I loved the power of the orchestra, and it always took my breath away when I was listening to it. At the Conservatory where I was a young student, and because I was an excellent student (in the sense that I aced two tests per year (instead of one required per year), it was a tradition that best students were offered a LP (Yep! at that time it was LPs, CDs did not exist yet). I remember picking “Pictures at an exhibition” from M. Mussorgsky/Ravel (I will come back in another blog of how oblivious I was to the slash between Mussorgsky and Ravel). I remember listening to it (I was around 13 then), and while listening to the whole piece I was mesmerized by how vivid the images were passing in front of my eyes. I could picture everything that my own mind would create. I remember crying and laughing all while conducting alone, for an invisible orchestra. I remember feeling exhausted at the end of the piece after listening to “The Great Gate of Kiev”. Retrospectively, these were probably my first very deep “teenager” emotions I remember having. I also clearly remember saying to myself in the most conquering way: “I will play that piece!” I didn’t know how close I would be one day to actually do it and even record it.
But I digress, back to my “life” when I was 15. At that time, Classical Music existed in my life, but was not an important part of my daily practice life. Then one of my best music friend told me that I should go with him for almost a month to a music camp and enjoy playing music with lots of different instruments. He also added that there would be an orchestra composed mainly by the music students, concerts and so much more! The camp is held in an Abbey about 150 miles from Paris (where I resided), and I thought: “Why not”? Convincing my parents was pretty easy as they have always been very supportive of my music career. So here I am, about to enter a world that would change my perspective on how i saw life, and how i lived my own.
My first Music/Piano camp experience:
First I was fascinated to be in contact with so many young musicians (about 100) who all had such a strong passion for music. I didn’t even know they existed and there were so many!
Second, I received instructions every day, and practiced every single day too (no Sunday or days off). But here is the kicker: I LOVED it! I, who almost never practiced, went from a maximum of three hours a week to four hours a day. I was craving it! When I did not practice I spent my time listening to free masterclasses offered every day by all the teachers. I learned so much. I learned new repertoire, new piano techniques. About piano techniques, I realized that because everyone is different, teacher DO teach differently each students. While listening to the music lessons I was actively wondering if this advice would help me or was relevant to me. After dinner time, we attended teacher’s rehearsals preparing for the final performances given at the end of the camp, or I was socializing with these literally 100 young musicians. I was totally fascinated and immersed in a world I didn’t know existed.
Third, I felt very quick improvements in my piano playing, and my peers were always there to support me, or give me their comments. It was a very nurturing environment and to me, a complete dream.
Fourth, I was walking around this huge Abbey. There were always people practicing everywhere, all the time, in their bedrooms, outside (if weather permitted of course), in the classrooms, in the practice rooms. It felt as if the Abbey itself, its walls, its roof, every room were breathing, living, singing Classical Music. I felt transported in another world. I loved it but was totally unaware how those moments were in fact changing my life, my future, the fate I drew for myself.
The camp ended with magnificent concerts from the teachers, culminating with a concerto with full orchestra. I will always remember this final closing concert. It was my first experience ever to hear a whole orchestra performing so close to me. I knew everyone in the orchestra too (as they were the students of the camp), which was creating an even bigger connection between me and the music.
The camp ended, everyone left in the morning, we said our goodbyes. My parents picked me up a little later in the afternoon. So I had to wait for them for some 5 or 6 hours at the Abbey. The most dramatic wait of my life! I walked the building, this gorgeous Abbey, and I felt completely empty, as if I was left in the middle of a desert. No music, no sound, NOTHING! A very dreadful silence filled this place. It was as if the place became a ghost town. I remember looking at the sky and sobbing. Sobbing like teenagers can do. I sobbed and sobbed, I wanted the music back, I wanted this immense joy I felt deep in me back. I couldn’t imagine all of this past month filled with joy and fascination of this new world to just be a “moment” of my life
This camp had changed my life forever, and this was probably one of the happiest and saddest day of my life too!
I came back to my house, and couldn’t stop living, breathing, eating, sleeping Classical music, couldn’t stop listening to Classical music 24/7. My life had taken a complete 180 degree turn. I didn’t want to be a pilot anymore. I was listening to Classical music on the main National Classical radio relentlessly, checking programs, recording non-stop all the pieces I didn’t know (which were hundreds and hundreds of them), falling asleep with my headphones on, waking up at 3 or 4am realizing I fell asleep. Waking up the next morning, and first thing I thought about was listening, listening, listening to Classical music. I so wanted to go back to this place where I felt so deeply touched by the words of music. That place where all the dreams, all the hopes, and all the beauty of life can be expressed freely.
I became an avid practicer. I went from 3 hours a week to 6 hours a day! I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I ONLY wanted to practice and listen to Classical music. I became a bulimic and totally addicted to those beautiful melodic lines, gorgeous colors, textures. Every time I heard Classical music I felt projected back in time during my first Music/Piano Camp where I felt all these deep and amazing emotions.
So I think it would come as no surprises of why I want to organize Music and Piano Camps. It is simply because I truly believe in the power of Classical music and the effect it can have on us human. This effect is even stronger stronger on younger children. I want to offer to young musicians the same chance I had to participate and try to connect with their deep emotions. Teenagers have lots of trouble with deep emotions, their body changes, their concept of relationship changes, everything changes. Classical Music is such a powerful way to reach your inner emotions and learn to express them in a very positive and organized way. The effect Classical Music can have on youngster will never change. Sending them to Music Camps is one of the best service parents can do to help their children.
I never thought about those camps as a competition to become a young professional. True, some might become professional musicians after all, but my goal remains to give them a chance to truly and fully enjoy the depth of their emotions through Classical Music.
I hope you liked my first blog post, and please feel free to comment on it or share your thoughts. I will be always happy to read them.
Have a wonderful week.
To learn more about what the International Music camp in Paris and Brugges offers read this: Brochure France and Belgium 2023
and : Register Today!