In the Meet Our Musicians series, Jellynote introduces you to the creators behind the sheet music on our platform. Discover their musical style and get to know them!
Gilles Mayzaud speaks with animation and passion about a variety of musical styles. From the Black Eyed Peas to Baroque, with some Anime and video game music thrown in there for good measure to, he’s heard, played and taught it all. He has a particular penchant for movie theme songs including Amélie and Pride and Prejudice. This diverse array of music is what I first noticed as I perused his YouTube channel “lecahierdupianiste”, which is full of his piano tutorials on a variety of different songs.
➤ Inspired by Gilles? Check out our list of songs from movie soundtracks to learn on the piano.
This love and appreciation of all kinds of music took shape during his masters in musicology, during which he studied many different styles, beginning with the renaissance and ending with more contemporary music.
“Rock, jazz, metal, Baroque. I am absolutely open to everything,” he says, before adding with a grin, “there are styles I don’t like but I don’t want to say…”
His chameleonic adaption to music suits him equally well as a teacher.
“You’re there to be a teacher. You’re not there to impose your own choices and styles on your student. If there’s someone who likes country, it’s your job to teach them country music. I think that as a teacher, you have to try to detach yourself from your own tastes in music.”Gilles Mayzaud, on being a music teacher
Brushing his hair out of his face as he says this, he looks almost Byronic. He is definitely the kind of teacher you want. His love of music is so infectious; I find myself regretting quitting the piano after grade 1.
That said, he is not a pushover in his lessons. Gilles is strict about the fundamentals of piano learning.
“There are two essential things,” he explains to me, “you need to be able to sight read and you need a metronome.”
➤ Yes, you heard the metronome… read how this tick tock tool is not so outdated after all.
He is equally cautious about cutting corners.
“You never learn a foreign language without understanding the text. It’s the exact same with music. You can’t build a strong foundation if you don’t have an understanding of music theory. When you begin to play the piano, you have to tackle all the methods at the same point. Some students never learn the theory and they can’t progress pass a certain level. It takes them six months to learn a small part of music because they don’t have the necessary skills!”
Nowadays, with the rise of the Internet, beginner musicians can find themselves bombarded with online courses promising them a super-quick and easy way of mastering the piano in a few months.
“If you want to gain traction on the Internet, you have to tell people that the piano isn’t difficult. This isn’t true.”Gilles Mayzaud laments about the false promises of Internet crash courses
Gilles is wary of these same courses as they don’t provide the necessary one on one contact for beginners. His classes, by contrast, involve lots of one on one attention between student and teacher.
He is completely against cutting corners, which is why he always insists on his students warming up properly before each session. Why? Because, according to him, it’s by making your fingers stronger and more flexible that you can start to play more technical pieces. The stronger your finger muscles, the fewer mistakes you’ll mistake.
“I find it so strange that we warm-up with all our physical activities, dance, sport…any form of exercise, but people forget to warm up before practise!”.
According to Gilles, this is especially present in the French conservatoires where he trained.
“I think this is because we are a very traditionalist country,” he tells me, “we struggle with changes, everything that is new. Therefore, we think that if something’s not broken, why fix it.”.
➤ Applying to a conservatoire? Check out our article on how to ace the audition!
As I tell Gilles about my own fraught relationship with learning the clarinet, 4 years previously, he quickly tells me:
“It’s never too late to start learning!”
He tells me about his 70-year-old student, who is progressing much quicker than his younger students who don’t apply themselves.
“He was a bit afraid, at first. But frankly, it’s only a matter of hard work. Routine, hard work.”
Ah, maybe not. Transcribing this interview was hard enough.