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New YouTube Channel

It’s all the rage! Despite there being MILLIONS of youtube channels out there , very few are the best quality. Over the next few weeks I’m going to post some truly great stuff for you to reference. First of all Mariana Palacios. Her new channel looks into how to make a start (and a CAREER!) as a pianist in the world of dance. From the very beginnings. I will mix that with my Art of Class videos which take the whole concept of music and dance into the professional world. So for now. Enjoy Mariana’s BRILLIANT first  video !

Series 4 of The Crown Netflix

I hope this strange headline catches your eye!

My dear friend Robert Long (whose scores I sell on this site) has struck gold!. His music has been chosen for the Princess Diana ballet scene in Episode 3 of the new Series of The Crown. Starring Olivia Coleman and Helena Bonham Carter.

Best of Luck!

Mariana and Karen’s final chat

As always I ask each contributor where they see themselves in 10 years time. As ever Mariana has a joyful answer:


Well, I don’t really know… That’s for me impossible to say. I’m a very curious person and I love to learn and to discover new things. So maybe playing ballet classes in a great company in New York, or building a farm in Spain, or dancing folk dances in Thailandia??? 🙂 Who knows!

More from Karen and Mariana

Here we talk more about film and cultural histories in this second part of our interview:

Mariana:Moving image on film gives you a very wide range of possibilities. You can experiment with any kind of connection or even disconnection between music and moving images. But I have to mention that I find similarities in terms of dynamics and energy. In my point of view music and dance for film have to be related, connected, “moving” in the same direction, as they do it in the studio. There has to be a dialogue between them, even if the dialogue is abstract or wants to create disconnections or distortion. There has to be something in common between moving images and music that makes them to stay together, and creating a symbiosis.

Karen: Yes! I call that Universal Truth. The dimension and proportion of all Art can be Mathematical (that’s why I use Vetruvian Man as my logo) but most importantly it contains an emotional truth.

Karen: On another subject,I find musicians who come from the north (perhaps Scandinavian as opposed to Mediterranean )  have a unique sensibility of sound and music. Is there a cultural connection with folk music and nature that you bring into your compositions/improvisations? Or is it something else that you are maybe not aware of? I know you have experience of both!

Mariana: Yes?! You do too?

I’d say that I have found musicians that come from the south with also a unique sensibility of sound and music. And actually, I’m not sure what to answer to this question because I’m from Spain and I’ve been living 10 years in Sweden, haha! I think all of us we have different sensibilities and ways to approach to music and sound. Maybe I have found some differences between some music styles between the south and the north. For example, the soft, air, spacious, melancholic jazz from Scandinavia. I haven’t heard this style almost never in south musicians… Also, choir music is pretty special in the north, or I should say in Scandinavia. Folk music is amazing in Sweden, so many  beautiful melodies and harmonies. Maybe the fact that singing is more in the culture here gives more sound sensibility to musicians.

Karen: Yes. I spent a summer in Riga and Tallin and was astonished at the a cappella singing history and performance here. The ability to harness the inner ear so precisely. A great road to improvisation!

Mariana Palacios Music & Dance

Mariana Palacios chats to The Art of Class

I had the joy of interviewing Mariana this week and below you can read our ideas over the next few days:

Karen : I am intrigued by your capacity to work with film AND dance image as a musician. Do you see differences between music for Moving Image on film and music for Moving Image in the studio?

Mariana:That’s a very interesting question. I have a lot of thoughts about it. I hope I can put them in order, haha! Yes, I think that there are a lot of differences between the music for moving image in the film or in the studio. Definitely, I don’t create music for the films in the same way as I do it in the studio. In my films I’m totally free to create and to relate my music with moving image in the way that I want. In films, music and moving image are more related to a concept, to a 10-15 story that evolves and creates a whole artistic piece. Maybe playing for contemporary advance classes, or for improvisation classes, could give me the same wide space to create. If dancers in the studio, for example, start to create movement from a feeling, or from something visual, or from something abstract, maybe this could give a different approach and more diversity into my music.

Karen: So the live experience is different?

Mariana:Nowadays, I’m playing a lot for ballet classes for students, and this is for me a very different approach of how I create music in the studio. Rules are precise and the students need the support from my music, so I definitely approach in a very concrete way. I adapt and follow the teacher’s indications, and then I play to support the students and the teacher, and of course, give them inspiration and create a good flow with the music.

Next blog, we talk about how music supports anatomy and choreography. Enjoy!


Final part of interview with Robert Long

I like to ask musicians their vision and I see people in their ascendency , horizon and comfortable place with life. Robert is sincerely in a comfortable place with himself!

Karen: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Robert:In ten years? Since I’m now 67, I hope I’m still on the right side of the grass in ten years. I’ve been playing part time only, and post covid 19, I may be retired completely. I will try to continue promoting my online music sales and currently some of my selections are being carried by a music sync licensing company; this involves music for films, videos, ads, etc. I may devote more of my attention in this direction, but we’ll see as time goes by.

Karen: Ah, I think music is not an art we retire from. It’s something we retain lifelong. And in your final words on the matter….

     Play it again……!

more wise words

Continuing my conversation with Robert Long, guest on my blog this week.

Karen: I heard an interview with Dion DiMucci last week who said that musical talent is like finding gold in a river. Very rare. Are there young players coming through that you rate?

Robert: I am confident that there are many wonderful young players with plenty of talent. However, the word “talent” can be a bit deceptive, especially with something as multi faceted as music and music performance. A good music improviser may not have the sight reading skills needed for printed music. The excellent sight reader may be a bit uncomfortable trying to pull something out of thin air if the printed music won’t suffice. The pianist with a blistering tempo may not be amenable to tempos that need to be pulled back for the dance students. Is the excellent performer a good accompanist as well?

KAREN: Yes,it is always difficult for musicians who don’t work in this realm to quite grasp these matters. Often a great technical player just doesn’t ‘see’ inside movement. Or perhaps it’s a form of Synesthesia?

Robert Long Interview

This week I’ve been speaking to Robert Long whose printed music is available on the website. His knowledge of the art is boundless and has some great insight into our profession. Over the next few days you shall hear his thoughts.

Karen: Ive noticed in all the decades Ive been playing that the basic format of Ballet class has not essentially changed. I know you too have been playing for a long time in dance studios. Have you changed your musical approach or methodology in Class?

Robert:As the years went by, I was working more for syllabus classes and less for open classes, so there was not a lot of change in methodology for me. For what little open work I was doing, I found I was a bit more willing and less afraid of improvising on the spot, if I couldn’t think of a suitable piece to play.  I also began to bring lists of selections categorized under headings such as 3/4 adagio, grand allegro waltz, 4/4 moderate, etc. Beyond that, I just hoped for the best.

Karen: I think that is why Scottish Ballet teamed up with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland now 14 years back! Too many musicians were ‘hoping for the best’ and could really be in the firing line if their music was not completely right for Class. The Piano for Dance Masters course addressed that. I’ve worked tirelessly to create a model where young musicians can learn a methodology whilst keeping their Musical Instincts alive!

Margot Fonteyn in her dressing room. Ballet Class may not have changed radically but the choreography certainly has!

This week’s final interview

It has been wonderful sharing insights with Kim SoHyun this week. Here is our final chat:

Karen: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
So Hyun: Ten years from now, I’d still be in my mid-30s (I’m in my mid-20s)…
I’m trying a lot right now. 
Studying midi, modern dance music, and film scoring by myself. 
I will still study and work at the same time, but my ultimate goal is to compose a ballet work.
I want to be a director myself, just as musicians produced ballet works in the early days of classical ballet.
Karen: Perhaps a new stable akin to 21C Diaghilev! Where Music, Dance, Art and Design join forces to become a sum greater than its parts.
Diaghilev with Igor Stravinsky

continuing my interview with SoHyun, Toronto

Karen: Bringing your musical skills to the dance studio is a unique experience. How do you personally link the dance structures with your music?

So Hyun:Actually, I started ballet first as a hobby before I became a ballet pianist.I personally experienced which music moves my body by dancing myself.
Many ballet-class music keeps the beat right and uses accents to all down beats. I think this is important to strengthen the basics, but it didn’t move my body.
For me the most important element of all is melody. 
The emotionally expressive melody always makes the body move. Sitting in front of the piano in the dance studio, I apply this exactly to the dancers.
Karen: This is so interesting! I started my youtube Channel ‘The Art of Class’ devoting 7 short lectures of  six minutes to the use of downbeat/backbeat and melody. These pertain to LIFT and LINE