• Sheikh, Rattle & Roll

3 pianos; 6 pianists; 12 hands: Jamaican Rhumba


This piece was originally arranged in October 2010 and rehearsed for the Christmas Concert of the same year.

The school that I was working in at the time had a number of great performance opportunities for various soloists and ensembles. However, I noticed that the pianists, of whom there were many, were getting overlooked and that the performance opportunities for them were slim. I wanted to do something about this and showcase the pianistic talent of the school.

As a class teacher this wasn't on the top of my remit and I definitely did not want to stand on the piano teacher's toes! However, we had a good working relationship and I asked if she would be interested in helping with the project through rehearsing the students in their individual time. She also helped decide which pianists would be suitable since she had a greater knowledge of their skills and personalities. As with all my relationships in the workplace, we worked successfully together.

Having decided on 5 pianists (I would take one part), I set to work arranging the Jamaican Rhumba. This was an important sequence of events - firstly inviting people into the project and then arranging the music (using Sibelius Software) to differentiate for each individual.

As can be seen, the arrangement is in no way totally straightforward when all the parts are together! It took a lot of commitment from both myself and the group in order to have the successful performance we did at the Christmas concert. The general impact of the rehearsals and performance was two-fold:

  1. It was a musically great experience for everyone involved. The idea of getting three pianos together was fun for the performers and audience alike and the music was sufficiently challenging that a successful performance gave a real 'buzz' amongst the pianists.

  2. However, it was also socially a great experience as the students supported and encouraged each other increasingly as time went on. This was especially encouraging to see for one student who excelled as a pianist but had very few contacts in her year group. For her, the social aspect was as important as the musical one (although she may not have realised it at the time)!

#jamaicanrhumba #piano #rehearsing #Sibelius #composing

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