Matteo Iacomelli Interviews Matteo Iacomelli about Matteo Iacomelli.
by Matteo Iacomelli
M.I: Mr. Iacomelli, how did you come in touch with music and the piano in particular?
m.i: Well, it is more than that. Passion for the arts runs deep in my family, my father and my uncle were a sculptor and a painter, my mother loves classical music and is a good teacher, as well is my aunt, besides the fact that she is passionate about the Rolling Stones. For me was natural to like something to be creative and it happened to be the piano.
M.I: So, when did you started studying the piano?
m.i: It has not been such of a clear cut, I remember learning the keys on a melodica before going to elementary school, then moving on a slightly bigger electric keyboard and finally, my parents got me an upright piano and I started officially taking lessons. I must have been 7 years old or so.
M.I: And how long did you study?
m.i: I would say that I did study 7 to 8 years very seriously, most of them with Federico Rovini, then life happened, as usually does, and I changed my field of study to Engineering, which is what did allow me to relocate to the US. But I always maintained a good relation with music, teaching while studying and after.
M.I: So you did quit and now you are back into music?
m.i: Yes and no, technically I never quit, I just pressed the pause button for a while, then, after I moved to the US, I restarted taking lessons seriously to improve my playing and my musicality. First with Dr. Gustavo Bianchi, later with Timothy Hester, both of them helped me to improve greatly.
M.I: Do you think that the pause in between is a problem?
m.i: Not really, it is actually an advantage for my teaching because gave me the opportunity to explore the learning experience as a child and as an adult. Therefore I did touch in person what changes and what works better in both stages of life and I can translate that well with my students.
M.I: About your students, what is your approach?
m.i: An easy question with a very complex answer. Each student is different and needs a different path to become proficient in playing an instrument, regardless of the instrument. I firmly believe that the first thing to do is to appreciate music, to learn how to get captured by the sound of the various instrument and to learn how to connect the sound with thoughts and emotions.
M.I: You got me confused here… what do you mean?
m.i: Some people focus on the material part of music, the use of the body, the finger on the keyboard or the bow on the strings, I believe that is secondary. Music comes from inside and once it is there, there is no way to stop it, with the right guidance the body will learn how to use the keyboard or the violin and the bow, but first you need to hear the music in your head. In the same way ancient people were telling stories to each other generation after generation, I believe that music comes from inside.
M.I: So you don’t teach how to use the piano until later on?
m.i: On the contrary, I’m very keen of getting good playing skills from the beginning because not having it would be like having the story but not knowing the words to tell it.
M.I: How does it works?
m.i. It works dividing the time between listening specific pieces, even as background music, while going from one activity or one other and here is where I need the help of the parents at home or in the car, and a regime of pieces, exercises, aural training, and theory to connect the dots between the listening and the Playing.
M.I: And… does it work?
m.i: In most cases does, and usually have a very nice collateral effect. Students get hooked up to music and they can’t let it go. Maybe, as I did, they press the pause button for a while, but once they have it burning inside, they can’t turn it off, only try to tame it, and usually not for long.
M.I: Do you have any particular expectations in terms of competitions, exams, performances, and Recitals?
m.i: I want my students to have fun and enjoy the music. Some people are born to be on stage, some people live the idea with a terrible anxiety and some people learn how to manage the fear and they do it. Music is not only for the fearless, I actually believe that can help the others even more because is a companion that will never betray you.
To answer your question, if they want to participate to competitions and exams, I’ll do my best to prepare them to win, if they want to play for themselves, I will help them to explore that too.
M.I: Do you have anything else to say to the people reading this interview?
m.i: Come to MACSA, schedule some lessons, with me or with someone else. Music is worth the effort, every single bit of it.
This self interview is liberally inspired by a similar one published by “High Fidelity” in February 1974: Glenn Gould Interview Glenn Gould about Glenn Gould. by Glenn Gould.
While I love a number of incredible interpreters, Glenn Gould will always have a special place in my heart and mostly not about his incredible pianism, but about his vision of the future and appreciation of technology