Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Piano à Deux – music, marriage and modern technology

February 26, 2023 Claire Waite Brown/Piano a Deux Episode 69
Piano à Deux – music, marriage and modern technology
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
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Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Piano à Deux – music, marriage and modern technology
Feb 26, 2023 Episode 69
Claire Waite Brown/Piano a Deux

Facing fears and taking risks
Robert and Linda are classical pianists who have found a unique way to combine their music with comedy, stories, and improvisations.
But the shows they devised had never been done before, and were very different to what was expected of concert pianists. So, as classical musicians, Linda and Robert were unsure of how their ideas would be received. The first time they tried out a new idea in front of an audience – including their mentor – they were nervous and afraid. It was not easy for either of them to bite the bullet and risk being ridiculed.
They found, thankfully, that their creative approach was welcomed and appreciated.
They both went out of their comfort zones, and discovered new musical identities.
Did I mention, that Robert and Linda are a married couple?
After a lengthy divorce process – 11 years – Robert found that the women he was meeting in his everyday life were much younger than he was, and was introduced to Internet dating. He was not confident on using a computer, but – in 2007 – he managed to get his profile up and it was there that he met his now wife and piano duet partner Linda.
We talk a lot on the Creativity Found podcast about the fears that surround starting or re-starting a creative endeavour, but what about looking for love later in life?
This episode explores not only how Linda and Robert lost and re-found their love of music and performing, but also how previous relationships affected their whole lives and how they worked through those troubles and concerns to find and move on with each other.

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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet

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Show Notes Transcript

Facing fears and taking risks
Robert and Linda are classical pianists who have found a unique way to combine their music with comedy, stories, and improvisations.
But the shows they devised had never been done before, and were very different to what was expected of concert pianists. So, as classical musicians, Linda and Robert were unsure of how their ideas would be received. The first time they tried out a new idea in front of an audience – including their mentor – they were nervous and afraid. It was not easy for either of them to bite the bullet and risk being ridiculed.
They found, thankfully, that their creative approach was welcomed and appreciated.
They both went out of their comfort zones, and discovered new musical identities.
Did I mention, that Robert and Linda are a married couple?
After a lengthy divorce process – 11 years – Robert found that the women he was meeting in his everyday life were much younger than he was, and was introduced to Internet dating. He was not confident on using a computer, but – in 2007 – he managed to get his profile up and it was there that he met his now wife and piano duet partner Linda.
We talk a lot on the Creativity Found podcast about the fears that surround starting or re-starting a creative endeavour, but what about looking for love later in life?
This episode explores not only how Linda and Robert lost and re-found their love of music and performing, but also how previous relationships affected their whole lives and how they worked through those troubles and concerns to find and move on with each other.

CreativityFound.co.uk
Instagram: @creativityfoundpodcast
Facebook: @creativityfoundpodcast and Creativity Found group
YouTube @creativityfoundpodcast
Pinterest: @creativityfound
Twitter: @creativityfoun

Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet

Click here to send a direct message to the show

Click here to book a 1-to-1 online chat with me to understand more about the Creativity Found Collective, the promotional and networking membership for creative small businesses.

Support the Show.

Podcast recorded with Riverside and hosted by Buzzsprout
Subscribe to the Creativity Found mailing list here
Join the Creativity Found Collective here

Claire Waite Brown:

For this episode, I'm speaking with Robert and Linda, a married couple and piano duo. They have devised a number of unique shows that mix classical and more contemporary musical pieces with interesting and sometimes amusing stories about the composers. In this episode of The creativity found podcast. However, they get to talk about themselves and the journey they have taken both together and separately, to get to where they are now performing on cruises and in concert halls as Piano a Deux, who you can hear in the background. You can hear even more from Piano a Deux in the previous episode of this podcast. So if you haven't caught that yet, please head on over once you've finished listening to this one, of course. Hello, Robert and Linda. It's so very nice to have you here. How are you?

Unknown:

We are very well thank you and it's a great pleasure to talk to you Claire. We're delighted to be here, Claire. Thank you.

Claire Waite Brown:

Oh, thank you. Can you start by telling me all about your current creative endeavours,

Unknown:

right, we do a number of shows which we've prepared for either land concerts or ship work. And there are six of them. They all take us on a musical journey from somewhere to somewhere else. So we're talking about a journey from one composer through the lives of other composers. A good example is from mistresses to Manhattan, we talk about the various consorts that Gabrielle forebay had, and the various affairs that Franz Liszt had. And we ended up with Gershwin in New York. In addition to that, we've got major classical recitals planned out, which we would use for UK Music societies or any venues either in the UK or abroad. Our work is divided into two camps. There's serious music, which are the normal kind of standard recitals. And then there's what one very nice lady has called a variety show. So that's how we differ from other classical musicians who tend to be either serious or they're light. And we cover the whole gamut of that the stories of the composer's lives have blossomed into something a little bit bigger. When Linda suggested to me Why don't you tell them a funny story? Anyway, so we got on to telling funny stories, which are in no way got anything to do with the music in the programme, but we create a link for them. So Robert, somehow found a tab And for telling funny stories which he didn't know he had. And I thought when we started this, I thought this can't be right. We're meant to be classical pianists. And we're now doing comedy in terms of standard, which I thought was not quite right somehow. And then we did it on the ships. And people came up to us afterwards and said, What funny story you're telling next time, we weren't really interested in the music, they were getting on to the stories. So I thought, well, we got to keep this then because it seems to work.

Claire Waite Brown:

Absolutely. Well, these things evolve. And I think it's wonderful that you started at one place. We are classical musicians, and you've evolved and taken the show, and your own journey to another place. So we'll hear a lot more about that. You've played piano for a long time. And piano has been a big part of both of your younger lives. What I would like to know though, is why and how you started playing the piano, and how your musical journey progressed, during your younger years.

Unknown:

I'll get the ball rolling. I've always played and I guess what started me off was seeing people play the piano at church. So I thought being the church pianist was, you know, the kind of high point of anyone's life really. So I kind of imitated that. We had a very rundown piano in the house. And then my parents sent me for piano lessons. What you did on the media a heck of a lot worse, actually, over the years. Because I tried playing it was impossible. I don't know what you must have done to it. Well, there was a previous incarnation of that piano, which was even worse. I don't know about that. So I don't know. How did you start telling? Well, I started at my grandmother's house, and she had an upright piano and a really old one. And I just tinkered around on it and thought I liked the idea of making music on this. And my mother and father were very supportive. Even when I was two or three years old, they played me 78 RPM, black records of classical music, things like Swan Lake and Chopin waltzes, various other things, Opera Ballet, and I got to know these tunes, they became part of my memory, I was humming them around the house and thinking that's a lovely tune. And I would even sit down at a table and spin a plate around, pretending it was a 78 rpm record. So right from the age of two or three, I was really into hearing music even before I could play it. And so I knew all these tunes by ear, when I had access to a piano, I started to say, right, let me see if I can play that tune that I've heard on the 78 RPM disc for about four years. And that started to play by ear, I really got a good start on the piano myself. And then they for my parents, family, music lessons, and so on, I guess I got off to a really good start because I took grade 12345678 and missed out grade one because my teacher thought I was too on to do great one. So I did two to eight and got distinctions in all of them. Including in grade six, I got a distinction, which merited a very important Medal from the associate board of royal Schools of Music, who said you've got the highest marks in grade six, in any instrument in any part of the ABRSM examining field this year, that was 1963 or 64. And so they gave me a lot of music books free of charge, it says gift. And so I went on then to take my diploma at the Royal College of Music at the age of 16. And I got the shock of my life when I failed it. And this was the first failure I'd ever had in my life. And it was a really big shock for a teenager to put up with my parents were very supportive. They were wonderful parents, I found out by going through another teacher that I managed to get through the grades on ABRSM very well with having very stiff wrists and stiff forearms, which when playing for a diploma at a very high standard produced to turn on the piano, which was unacceptable. And this is rather a sensitive issue because it does show that you can get very high marks and associated board exams without having the best technique. And I had a very poor technique which had been ignored by my piano teacher. So I got training in how to play a more mellow sound with looser limbs took the thing again about I think 18 months or two years later, and failed it the second time. And it took me a long time with other piano teachers, one of whom was extremely sensitive, who trained me in the best tone available. And I think probably something like six or seven years later, I eventually passed the performance diploma at the Royal College of Music. So I had my arcfm but it was a very big learning curve and very disappointing for me, made me feel very low in terms of self esteem, because as you can imagine a young person who had been so on top of his work for 10 years, suddenly failing or having to work at something which had not even been aware of was really very debasing so that I think that was my first introduction to a form of depression. When I eventually got the the exam, so that's that's my background on that one really. And failure was part of my story too. My parents weren't really, they didn't know much about music. So to be fair, I think the teachers should have actually taught me better. And by the time I got to grade seven, I just about scraped a pass mark. And then I went on to fail my grade eight, and then had a new teacher. And she was incredibly helpful, and very supportive. And eventually, I got my grade eight, but I never got a single distinction in those grade marks. So I wasn't a shining star in any way.

Claire Waite Brown:

And it was it music that brought you to the UK lender.

Unknown:

It was I decided at the age of 18, when you go to university that I didn't want to do anything else except music, and you couldn't do a music degree in Singapore. So I sat sat for an exam and actually did very well in that diploma exam. The examiners talked to my teacher, and they suggested that I should come to the UK and study. And we tried going the scholarship way. But that didn't work because of the demands of the Singapore government that if you get a scholarship, you need to come back and work for the government for eight years, which wasn't really what I wanted. It's a bit of an indictment on a young person's life really in order to do that. So my parents very, very kindly supported my decision. And an examiner was actually a senior lecturer at Edinburgh University, he suggested I should do the entrance for Edinburgh. And then they accepted me and all this happened in the space of five weeks when I was 18. So that was a bit of a shock to the system. But yeah,

Claire Waite Brown:

what an adventure for an 18 year old as well.

Unknown:

What actually happened was that I had a kind of transformation. I hero worship to this teacher, I met her because I was chosen to play Snow White, would you believe in a television production, and she ran the boys choir. So it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with me and the boys choir. And I really admired her so much. And I thought, This is what I want to do with my life. You know, I've got to do what she does. And she had been on a scholarship to the United Kingdom to study at the Royal College. So I got the baby to my teeth. And I thought, right, I'm going to practice all the hours that God sends. So I practised, it started at three hours, four hours. And eventually I was practising about eight, nine hours a day. And it transformed my life. And I went into the exam. And I don't know what I did, really, I can't play those pieces now. But they clearly saw something that I couldn't see. did really well in the exam. Yeah.

Claire Waite Brown:

So you both seem to be on a, albeit not a very straight road with a few kinks in it, but you're on this musical path. But I know that both of you had periods where music wasn't at the forefront of your lives where it was put to one side, or perhaps it was there, but maybe not in a very satisfactory way. So can you tell me why that was for each of you your experiences of Yes, music and no music

Unknown:

on Microsoft on this one. As a level student at the age of 1617, I clearly had to make a choice as to whether I would be a musician or not. And everybody was coming to me and saying, Do not become a concert pianist, unless there's absolutely nothing else you can do. In fact, a lot of them simply said, Don't become a concert pianist, because it's too risky. It's too competitive, you may not get anywhere, it's full of flaws. You may fall down and have to change your mind and retrain. And I thought, well, they're all saying this. And I grew up with a small community where you defer to elders. And if they said it, they were right. Now things have changed since then, I at the age of 17. thought no, you know, I keep my music for a hobby for general use in social life. But I will train in something which I can make sure I get a career and that will be in languages because I was very keen on linguistics, and studying languages. So I went to university to study French. And I actually studied Hindi as well, which is most unusual, most people don't do that. So I became fluent in French and Hindi. And I had a linguistics degree after three years, I then became a teacher because I'd always wanted to become a teacher. And I thought I can do this well, and got jobs teaching French in comprehensive schools in the early 70s. Then a kind of depression set in and for the first time, I found that working was not going to be as straightforward as I was I thought it was going to be I thought I was going to have a great deal of success to teach French in an inner city setting and it turned out to be pretty be difficult. I managed to overcome the challenges in two and a half years, but I became very stressed and tired. And my piano teacher who lived some 40 miles away in New York said, why don't you come and study music with me to relieve your stress, and do something you're really interested in and helped me out with a piano students I can't teach. So I moved to New York, and became a professional musician, as a piano teacher, and trained to become a concert pianist. But the outcome of this was not unpredictable. As I've been told five or six years earlier, the competition is very, very intense. And you will have to advertise yourself on plug yourself relentlessly in order to chase the podium that 600 other pianists in one county are chasing at the same time, not to mention the 6000 pianists in England, and the further number of 1000 all over Europe, all of whom are chasing concert platforms, which may or may not accept them. And just the idea of having to do this relentlessly set me into terms of thinking I can't cope with this, I can't deal with this competitive lifestyle, which is not something I treasure. I'm not an ambitious or competitive person, I simply want to entertain, to teach to do a good job. But competition was something I was very, very put off by, particularly competition on that scale. So I took on more piano students, which I never really wanted to do. But I did because I had to earn money. I didn't earn enough money teaching the camera privately. And then I got married to my first wife. And we had our first child. And it became important for me to find a job which had a bigger and better salary. So I went back into teaching languages, which is the very thing I'd given up some five or six years earlier, because of stress. So I find myself going around in circles, becoming more and more, shall we say, dependent on having to provide for myself and my family, and less able to do those things I really wanted to do, which was to make music. So I went into a boarding school and taught French for eight years. And that stressed me so much more than anything previous in my life. So the stress of teaching basically aren't on a 15 and a half hour day, which included putting children to bed in dormitories at night, switching off lights and getting home by one o'clock. This went on for years. And it was extremely stressful. At the end of that I had an invitation to become a music director in a church, which would relieve the stress on my family. And we moved to Oxford, where I took up a musical directorship job in a large church in the centre of Oxford. And at that point, I was subjected to a divorce petition from my wife, who blamed me for not spending enough time with her. The divorce petition rocked me so badly that I became depressed. In depression, one of the symptoms of depression is denial, you say I'm not really depressed, I can cope with this. And so I was in a very difficult position of being depressed, but not really thinking I was depressed and trying to handle it. And that was probably what happened to me in the early 90s. In the state of depression, having to face fighting a divorce, which went on for 11 years, I was thoroughly depressed, and really performing at a very low level, just earning enough money to keep going and trying to look after myself. So that's where I got to in the mid 90s.

Claire Waite Brown:

That sounds really tough. What about you, Linda?

Unknown:

I think Robert story could be anybody's story. And sadly, it's not uncommon. And as you said earlier, life is a series of ups and downs. And when we're in the downs, I guess the thought is, I'm never going to get out of this, there is no way out. I'm stuck. And this is the end of my life really. And I suppose when we look back, there are those moments when you read a book, or somebody talks to you, or you go to a mentor or a coach. And somehow something happens in your head is not that the outward circumstances have changed. But what's happened is the story we're telling ourselves in our heads, that something can change. And I'm the biggest believer in the fact that we can heal and that our job in life is to actually get on that journey of healing and keep walking. Just put one foot in front of the other and say, Well, I'm two steps better than it was yesterday. Now tomorrow, I might take another step. I might go back another two, but I'm still one ahead. And we've got to keep that mindset and I guess for the Those of us who have a kind of on the other side of healing well, not nobody's perfect, nobody's got complete healing, we've all still got baggage. But we can say to someone else, you know, you can do it. And sometimes it doesn't feel like that. But we can all do it.

Claire Waite Brown:

That's a really, theory, very good point and a very positive attitude. How did you come to that? Thinking? However, have you always been able to think this positively? Or did you have some way that this has come to your understanding,

Unknown:

it was a disaster, if you like, or, you know, something very sad, I hit absolute rock bottom, I've never been that low. It was the end of a relationship, which wasn't even a relationship he was giving me maybe mixed signals. And when I knew that he was seeing somebody else at the same time, I just absolutely hit rock bottom, and I found a counsellor. And interestingly, she actually handed me over to a student of hers, which accounts they shouldn't do. But this student called Julia turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I was with Julia for 11 years. And she helped me untie a lot of knots. But one thing that happened to me was, I happened to be reading a newsletter from a missionary body that went up to China. And there was a letter from a missionary who had been out to Cambodia, and she was now dying of cancer, she had melanoma, and this letter from the missionary said, I am dying of cancer, but I am surrounded by people who loved me. And that absolutely hit me between the eyeballs, I thought, This person has nothing, whereas I've got everything compared to her. And yet, I'm not surrounded by love. I don't know who I am. I don't even know whether I love myself. And I don't feel loved. And that really was a turning point in my life. And so I started to think, right, you know, what is love me? What is love? How do I find it, and so on?

Claire Waite Brown:

Well, that leads me very neatly on to the next question, because you've both talked about not good relationships, or relationships that maybe were good and became not so good. And your relationship with each other, blossomed after you met online. But I also believe that you didn't know that you had this musical connection, and that it was going to become such an important part of your relationship. To begin with. Creativity found.co.uk is the place to go to find workshops, courses, supplies, kits, and books to help you get creative. So if you're looking for your own creativity, found experience, go have a browse to see what's on offer so far. And if you can help adults to find their new creative passion, please get in touch on social media, or through the contact details on the website. Why did you decide to join an internet dating site? How did you present yourselves on your profiles? And what were your first impressions of each other?

Unknown:

I joined an internet dating site, really, as a result of sheer frustration at having been in the company of different women, socially, really, not necessarily the relationships, but they were all something like 20 years younger than me. And I thought, you know, this is fun, but it's not going anywhere. The Minister of the church, lovely man came up to me and said, Look, Robert, you said, there's a Christian website here called Christian cafe.com. Why don't you get on that? And so I did. I got myself onto this dating website and never been on one before. I didn't know a lot about computers and was really struggling to even do the simplest things like upload information. When they asked me to upload a photo, I don't have the digging. So I do that by some miracle. It got up there. And so I had an essay about my background and what I wanted to do what I wanted to be the kind of person I wanted to meet what I was interested in, plus a photo, and I clicked Submit. And the minute I clicked submit about 300 entries came up of women who were looking for people like me, there was a woman in Peru. In Kyrgyzstan, she had children. There was one in Hawaii, and there was one in Scarborough. And then suddenly, this picture popped up three or four days later, of a Singaporean woman who lived in London, who said she was a musician, and that's where it all started. That was Linda. And interestingly enough, she didn't say that she played the piano, but she did say that she went on cruises. She's probably got quite a lot of money. For all she plays in an orchestra on a cruise ship, but I thought she can't be a piano player, because you can't have a piano player in an orchestra, she had no difficulty discovering I played the piano, because my photograph had the phone with me playing the piano. So she knew I was a pianist, but she didn't tell me. But I found out eventually, it's all really quite hilarious because I'd wanted to be married from the age of 18. And I never made it and I never made it and had become a serial data, but never able to make a long term relationship. And it took me a long time working with my counsellor Julia, to discover that, that I needed to address some of the issues I had, which were to do with my attitude towards marriage, my parents marriage, my childhood, and all those other things. But eventually, having never been married or been engaged, I was engaged with two different men in one year, I was wanting at the same time. So eventually, I got onto a dating website and was engaged to someone who had been physician to the Queen, I was totally dazzled by him. But it turned out he was depressed. And he wanted to change my name into something else, he wanted to control me from head to foot. And so I thought that this really is not for me, I ended that relationship at the beginning of 2007. And I thought, no more detail, I'm going to be single, I'm going to do something radical, like learn Italian in one month. So I went off to Italy had a lovely time in Rome. But while I was in Rome, I had this dream of a man putting his arms around me and I thought, I've got to get on the internet. Immediately when I come home, which I did. And the person I was engaged, too, turned up on the website I was looking at. So I thought, that's the end of that website. I'm not going to get back on that website. And at that very moment, chance, happenstance, Christian cafe.com popped up and I signed up on it. And about less than a week later, Robert had written to me. And it was like the last drop of water falling off a leaf. We corresponded by email. We spoke soon after, and it was hearing his voice that did it for me. Yes, a lovely, rich bass voice. And I thought here is the perfect English gentle, but the very thing I've been looking for all my life history.

Claire Waite Brown:

Oh, that's absolutely brilliant. Robert, you've touched on depression, and maybe denial and maybe not realising or not accepting that you were depressed? And it was after you got married? That I think maybe between you, you figured out that Robert had been and was still suffering with depression? Were there any particular indicators that stood out to you, Linda, in realising that, and once you were able to come to terms with it, what was the process of getting over it and getting to the happier place you are both in now,

Unknown:

I would say that I had no idea what depression was, I was very interested in psychological issues, baggage, of which I had plenty had done a huge amount of reading, I'm the queen of self help. But it came as a shock to me that mental health issues were in my very household. And when it's yourself, you think, right, I'm going to work at this. And you know, I'll deal with it. And you know, everything will be alright, which of course, it's not, it takes time. And when we first got married, our incomes dropped a huge amount. So we were scrambling around trying to find money to live, you know, discover what we were going to do with our lives, basically. And Robert actually had said, you know, he had suffered from depression. But we both assumed that it was over. And then I had the bright idea or not so bright idea that maybe, since we both played the piano, we ought to start a Piano Duo. And from then on, it was like climbing the north face of the Eiger, you don't know whether anybody's going to like it. Secondly, you don't know whether anybody will give you any money for playing the piano, let alone go out and make a career out of it. And we actually had a mentor at the time. And he said, let's face it, you're too old. And then we started to discover that in order to do anything, really, and to make a success of it is a heck of a lot of work. There's the internet, there's the marketing, of which we knew nothing. There was the music as well. And then there was kind of learning the basics of the whole lot and to see whether we could play together whether it sounded any good. And then I started to discover that not only did Robert feel very unfamiliar in this world of marketing yourself, contacting people Well, writing emails, that he was also very reluctant, because I guess when you suffer from depression your whole world closes in. And certainly reaching out to people is not on the agenda. So slowly, slowly, you know, I was trying to encourage Robert, and it became very evident that he was unable to do it, and that there was actually a fence over which he couldn't get over. And those were all the habits, which Depression had set up over the years, how many years was it 30, altogether, 30. And that's, that's a generations worth of life skills that you've lost, and particularly when the Internet is moving so fast. And if you're on the other side of the wall, saying, I'm not familiar with the internet, I don't like it, I don't want to do it, you're not onto a winner. So it's been a long and hard climb. For both of us, really, I think I ought to add that the old chestnut of not liking competition actually made me more depressed. It never never went really. And so I was in a position of building a business with this thing in the background that said, You can't do this competition thing. And so I had to overcome that. And I didn't. And the other thing, of course, was serious was that during my years of depression, I had not managed to keep up with technology, because it meant being proactive, learning new skills, I just left it and left it and left it. And so I was here starting a business, not only with an impediment of not liking reaching out to other people, but not knowing how to work a computer. And because I've been depressed, the very thing I needed, the ability and determination to learn new skills simply wasn't there. And so I had a big psychological problem, which I solved by saying Linda is good at all these things. She can use a computer, she likes people, she's happier talking to people on the phone. She does that, while I get on with the things I'm good at. Sounds pretty good innocently. But it doesn't really work when you're trying to build a business together. So we had a big problem, which Linda was very much aware of, but which I was not really aware of, it turned out that she was doing a 75% job while I was doing a 25% job. And so that set us in a difficulty, which we found it very hard to resolve. So it's called overload. But there were two things, I think that really kept me going. And I think they're really important for anyone on this journey of healing. The first is that I could see that Robert has a huge talent, he should have been a prodigy which he was he had success early on as a child, and then it kind of disappeared. And the second thing was, I began to realise that he was actually being forced to do things he might not have chosen to do. Because of this creative journey. The creative work demanded certain things of him. And that was a part of the healing. It was because what it demanded of me of trying out to do things and finding that you could do them when you thought you couldn't. It also demanded a new look at the way I actually produce sound on the piano, which was something for me, which was also very painful to face. Because all the memories of being a failure as a teenager, were coming back when Linda was saying, don't play it like this, play it like that. And I thought I am playing it like that. What's wrong with it? And she'd say, No, it's not good enough, because you're not doing this. And I thought, Yes, I am. And so we got into conflict, because I thought I was producing the right results. And they weren't good enough. And I couldn't see why they weren't good enough. But it was bringing back the failure complex, or very early in life when I've been told you're a failure as a pianist. And that made me much, much sadder than I ought to have been when Linda was only trying to improve the results I produced. And then there was the element of Why should she tell me how to play the piano when she's been through difficulties as a pianist, and so have I. So what writer she got to tell me how to play and people were saying behind our backs or even to us, Linda should accept the way Robert plays, and Robert should accept the way Linda plays changing, which is all normal for people who've got absolutely no understanding of music. It simply didn't work. And the people around us simply didn't understand the sort of problems we were going through. And it's always after the event. I always do things back to France. And we recently came across an amazing book about depression. It's by someone called Johann Hari, who is a journalist who had been through depression himself. And the book is actually called Lost connections. And I discovered, you know that what is really interesting about depression is that, because you close down, you lose your connections with people. And relationships are the very bedrock of who we are as human beings. When we lose those connections, we lose our very humanity. And that's what had happened to Robert as well. And so doing piano udder, he was forced to connect with people. And as you connect with people, not only do you learn about them, but you actually learn about yourself, it reveals who you are, your shortcomings, your strengths, your weaknesses are what people like and what they don't like. And also, you start to learn how to discern who are the people who are healthy for you to have in your life, and also, who are the people that you should lock your door to? Money isn't our greatest wealth, our friendships are our greatest wealth. And friendships are so important for our emotional and mental health. And the other thing I've learned about depression over the years is, discipline is really important. And it's the drip feed, it's the disciplined day by day work, that we're just incremental, knowing that the real gains come after a while that they don't come immediately that we have to be patient. This input of time, day by day, week by week is a way of self love. It's something that we try and do the whole time, particularly with classical music, the day by day input is really important.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yes, I'm wondering how with all of that background, and with everything you've been, through together, how you work together now, as a married couple and musical partnership, what you learn from each other? And did you come up with the idea for these shows, organically? And how did you build that? And how does that now, gel together?

Unknown:

I think what we do really is we both have different skills, Linda has a very visionary way of having wonderful ideas. She says, why can't we do this, this would work wonderfully. I don't have that so easily. It doesn't come to be readily to say something like this will work really well. Or why couldn't we do that? I just go along with what happens to me. So I still think I have to work at imagination. It's not something which is very strong in me. But it's very strong in Linda. So what happens in practice, is Linda will have an idea about a show or a way of doing a show or people we could approach to do a concert. And I will say yes, let's go along with that. So we then get a practice schedule together. And we discipline ourselves to practice pieces of music that are needed for that kind of thing, even if we don't have a concert coming up with them in. So we've just practised recently. For instance, the Rachmaninoff suite number two for two pianos, knowing that we don't have a concert venue to do that in as such, although we could do, but it's not in the diary, but we've still done it. So we practice things, even though we don't know, we're going to perform straightaway. And of course, we practice things which we know are in the diary for two or three months time, we've disciplined ourselves to practice things starting a year before we actually need to do them, which is something I would never have done, I would never have had the self discipline to think I need to start practising this early. We've learned the discipline of CO opting the best practice of work, which hopefully will equip us to do the job well. And it all comes down to discipline and planning in advance. I'd like to add two things to that which are imagination and fear for a very long time. And as you can see, Robert still says, I'm not a visionary. I don't have the bright ideas. And I don't have the imagination. But what was really interesting is that we talk about our dreams. You know, we ask each other in the morning, did you have a dream last night and it became very evident to me that Roberts dreams were really from a fantasy, whereas mine were really quite boring. And I started to think, well, actually, it's not true that he hasn't gotten imagination. It's just there lurking somewhere in the subconscious. And what you've got to do is to bring it out. And so I'm convinced that everybody has any imagination, even if you think you don't, and then the next thing I want to bring up is fear. Fear is a big thing in all our lives. And we tell ourselves all sorts of stories, or we did as children. And then as an adult, we take those stories. And we still think we're back where we were 510 20 years ago. And we think we can't do it, or what if so and so says that what if so and so thinks that thing about me. And what kept us from moving forward at the beginning was my fears, I'd been trained to, you know, down to a tee that as a classical musician, you have to play Beethoven, sharper Mozart, Rachmaninoff. And you have to play it a certain way you are trained to within an inch of your life, that that is how you win competitions. And so I live with that Edie fix, in my mind for so many years, that although I had a lot of ideas, it took me a long time to say you're allowed to do that you're allowed to tell jokes during the concert. And you can even bring in jokes that have nothing to do with music, that have actually much more to do with life. And then suddenly, I began to realise that what we do creatively is to do with life, it to do with our life, that each one of us is unique. And what we need to do is find the courage to say, I've got something different to say, nobody's ever done it before. But I'm going to do it anyway, and stand up and be counted and say, Look, this is something different, you know, I'm allowed to do this, that that's the first permission before we even get it out there. And when Linda says, we're allowed to do this, I've never had any hangups whatsoever about playing music in any possible way or style. I just play it the way I feel it. I also have a way of inventing and improvising comic music on the piano, which would never go down well, in a piano competition setting, or indeed, in the music college. But I've had no hang ups about that at all. We choose our moments carefully. We obviously don't do it when we don't think it will be suitable. But it can be very suitable.

Claire Waite Brown:

And once you've come to this understanding that we can do this, I can do this, we can do this. What about finding the audience and taking it out and showing it to other people? How have you done that? How has it been received? How did you feel about sharing this new creation with other people?

Unknown:

Well, the first time we actually allowed Robert to go on the stage and tell a joke, it was frightening. Because Robert said the book just to be classical pianists, we can't go on and tell a joke, oh, they're going to you know, we'll never work again, you know, all that sort of thing, which I was thinking as well. And then the first time we did a classical recital, where we had, well, it was our mentor, and I come on the stage with a cigarette. Before we play this, and Robert plays while I'm turning around and so on. And I thought Angela is going to absolutely hate this, she's gonna slam us down. And you must never do that again, you know, you will never play on another platform again. And we just bit the bullet and did it. And she absolutely loved it. And she said, Do you know what? You have no competition, because what you're doing is unique. And that was astounding. I'll just add something to that. As I said earlier, when we got into telling jokes and stories in the middle of our recitals, people come up to us repeatedly and say, What are you going to tell us next time. But the first time I told a funny story on a ship show, somebody heckled me from back and said, If you go on telly any more of these jokes, you'll never see another cruise ship. And the fact that hasn't come through on the contrary, but what's been really interesting, if I may say is that I had not realised it but the creative work has certainly given me an identity, which was different from who I was before. I knew I could play the piano, but I didn't think I was a visionary or you know that we could create shows that were unique to us. And it certainly given Robert a new identity as well. Yeah. Yeah, because I I'm now aware that I can combine into musical performances not just serious, good, classical music of high integrity, but also have permission to do improvisations, comedy and music, funny stories, links between Linda and me, which refer to our marriage either fictional or non fictional, which entertain the audience at the same time. And so we've built up a way of performing which has certainly been welcomed as different and appealing, which neither of us would ever have considered possible before under the old school, which said you don't do that. You just give recycles and the word of that well known advert it's it's reaching people Classical music might not otherwise reach. So for someone who's totally unfamiliar with classical music, it kind of gives them a way in, which is delightful on people's people. They always tell us fun for them. Yeah, I always tell us that they said, We liked the way you tell a story, you linked the composer's together, you tell us about them, you tell us about yourselves. It's so much more interesting than just listening to someone say, I'm now going to pay a piece by Sebelius and then they play it. And then I'm now going to pay another piece by surveying this play that that's kind of is dull. And people notice that we're much more entertaining. Yes, another offshoot, which I hadn't expected was, we are working a lot at the music itself to try and reach excellence. And that does something to you, it humbles you because you realise that you have to work hard, it also makes you go deeper, not just into the music, but by going deeper into the music, you go deeper into yourself. And that's been astonishing.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, I can completely see how this approach is really opening doors for you and for your audience, as well. And in so many beneficial ways that is really exciting. What about plans for the future?

Unknown:

Well, a couple of years ago, we kind of started to have this vision, if you like about reaching out to people, and we thought, we've got to encourage people who have been hurting, who've had depression, or who have had challenges in their lives, and who may be on a creative journey, who may not be to try and say yes, you know, you can heal and you can do something new as well. And then, astonishingly, something happened with the house I lived in. In London, we weren't given a licence for a house of multiple occupation. So we suddenly realised that if we went to live there, we would have the opportunity to welcome people to offer hospitality to offer talks, seminars, discussions, and we could do very, very small concerts. And that's a way of bringing people together of reaching out to people of sharing them our story if they want to hear it. And then also, we've got a big plan about doing the Rachmaninoff suite for two pianos, we want to do more than two pianos, which is really exciting. It's an impossible dream, if you like, but then if you don't dream, you'll never get anywhere. So you have to reach for the moon, and then you might find the stars.

Claire Waite Brown:

That sounds wonderful, very thoughtful and helpful. So yeah, that's really, really super. How can people connect with you?

Unknown:

via our website? We just piano eider.com. Yes, we do have an Instagram, but we haven't been too good about keeping up to date with that is coming on. Yeah, we still have to work a lot at Bing right up to date with the technology. So for particularly, I need to keep on working at that to advance my skills. With that. I do update the website, which is something I never jumped on be able to do a few years ago. So I do that and make sure that everything's up to date on

Claire Waite Brown:

Aviles. Now. That's brilliant. Thank you so much. It's been so lovely to hear both of your stories today, both separate stories. And again, the stories are Thank you very much.

Unknown:

Thank you, Claire. It's been delightful to be with you. Thank you.

Claire Waite Brown:

You're welcome. Thanks so much for listening to creativity found. If your podcast app has the facility, please leave a rating and review to help other people find us on Instagram and Facebook follow at creativity found podcast and on Pinterest look for at creativity found. And finally, don't forget to check out creativity found.co.uk The website connecting adults who wants to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them tap into their creativity.

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