In an episode of NPR's "Piano Jazz" with host Marian McPartland, guest Teddy Wilson explains that concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz would often perform Robert Schumann's composition "Träumerei" in his recitals. "Träumerei" ("Dreaming") is from "Kinderszenen"cenes from Childhood"), and Schumann composed it about childhood and for young pianists. Horowitz often took pieces that other players would turn their noses up to and turned them into masterpieces, and such was the case with "Träumerei". Hearing this convinced me that it was worthwhile to learn "John Thompson's Modern Course For The Piano The Second Grade Book". The goal for this project was to record every piece in the book with no mistakes, good interpretation (like Horowitz), and at its recommended tempo. What I initially thought would only take a few weeks ended up taking over a year. At the end there were hundreds of recordings and hours of outtakes. Throughout this process, the mechanical nature of playing classical music was brought to mind, where the bare minimum is to play all the correct notes at the correct time—a process that can be very frustrating. Often, I began playing a piece very slowly and increased the tempo incrementally by two bpm at a time. I probably played the song Jocularity, for example, several hundred times. And even though I ended up performing the piece at a decent tempo with decent phrasing, there are still a few moments where I dragged the rhythm or pressed the keys too strongly or too softly. In a way, this is the inverse of the process used by composer Conlon Nancarrow, who composed music for mechanical player pianos. Through a tedious process of measuring and punching slots into piano rolls, he constructed extremely detailed and complex musical experiments. These were often beyond the capability of any single human pianist. Conlon devoted time to create instructions to be executed by a machine, but me and anyone else who has ever learned to read sheet music devoted time to mechanically translated instructions into actions. This is along the lines of a project by artist Christo Allegra, who created a set of one-hundred drawings by acting as a human printer. For each drawing, he plotted over two-hundred nodes and lines in silver ink on black paper by following commands from a computer he programmed. Later, at an exhibition of his drawings, he asked visitors to choose their favorite drawings out of the set. Their choices assigned aesthetic value into work that was generated through a strict procedural framework. This piano project is similar, but instead of creating drawings, I have created audio recordings. We both produced work with our hands by following strict instructions, which has a high probability for error, variation, and aesthetics. This set of recordings should be considered a process instead of an end result. Ideally, it would be listened to from beginning to end so that some sense of progression can be noticed, though some recordings may stand out as favorites. In between each track there are hours, days, and sometimes months where I practiced piano, went to school, worked on other projects, and simply did other things. Even with all this multi-tasking, I never forgot that I had to complete my John Thompson project. 2009
01 Into the Alps.mp3                                                                    
02 Old Yonder Rock Recliner.mp3                                                         
03 Top O' My Thumb.mp3                                                                  
04 Minuet.mp3                                                                           
05 'Round The Village.mp3                                                               
06 Country Gardens.mp3                                                                  
07 Dance of the Hours.mp3                                                               
08 Christmas Carol.mp3                                                                  
09 Distant Bells.mp3                                                                    
10 Etude.mp3                                                                            
11 Bill Grogan's Goat.mp3                                                               
12 In Church.mp3                                                                        
13 A Frolic In Velocity.mp3                                                             
14 Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.mp3                                                    
15 Reverie.mp3                                                                          
16 Puck.mp3                                                                             
17 Prelude in A Major.mp3                                                               
18 Starlight Waltz.mp3                                                                  
19 Journey In the Artic.mp3                                                             
20 The Sky Pilot.mp3                                                                    
21 Hide and Seek.mp3                                                                    
22 The Gypsy Camp.mp3                                                                   
23 Minuet from _Don Juan_.mp3                                                           
24 A Little Polish Dance.mp3                                                            
25 The Hare and the Hounds.mp3                                                          
26 Off We Go.mp3                                                                        
27 Dark Eyes.mp3                                                                        
28 Etude.mp3                                                                            
29 Romanze.mp3                                                                          
30 Scherzino.mp3                                                                        
31 Theme from Liebestraume.mp3                                                          
32 A Little Slavonic Rhapsody.mp3                                                       
33 Hallelujah Chorus.mp3                                                                
34 Skipping Through The Forest.mp3                                                      
35 Etude.mp3                                                                            
36 Etude.mp3                                                                            
37 Hinkey Dinky _Parley Voo_.mp3                                                        
38 Deep River.mp3                                                                       
39 Moths.mp3                                                                            
40 Grandpa Jonathan.mp3                                                                 
41 Habanera from _Carmen_.mp3                                                           
42 The Bee and the Clover.mp3                                                           
43 A Trial Flight.mp3                                                                   
44 The Trill.mp3                                                                        
45 The Nightengale and teh Cuckoo.mp3                                                   
46 Two Guitars.mp3                                                                      
47 Song of the Birds.mp3                                                                
48 Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman.mp3                                                 
49 Theme From Gypsy Rhondo.mp3                                                          
50 March of the Gnomes.mp3                                                              
51 A Viennese Melody.mp3                                                                
52 Jocularity.mp3                                                                       
Richard Caceres - John Thompson's Modern Course For The Piano The Second Grade Book.pdf