Christopher Seed, credited with making the world’s first left-handed piano for southpaws, is in Kochi as the examiner from the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, London.
On Friday, he evaluated the performance of music students at the Kalabhavan Academy, an approved international examination centre for ABRSM that conducts graded music examinations.
On his first visit to India, the 13th country he’s setting foot in this year, the celebrated left-handed pianist and music composer says he divides his time between evaluating students’ music performance besides composing and performing music.
Early this year, he toured Germany, Switzerland and the Far East performing for three months and as he goes back after a month-long tour of the State conducting music examinations, he will have a music composing tour.
Mr. Seed confesses to thoroughly enjoying his role as an examiner as it helps him see divergent approaches to playing music in different countries. “The students here are polite and conduct themselves well in examinations, which is a holistic exercise,” he says.
The exams range from Grade-I to the fairly advanced Grade-VIII and comprise theory as well as practical where students’ knowledge of keys, dynamics of play, ability to comprehend a musical piece not known to them, impromptu playing skills and aural abilities are tested.
A graduate of the Royal School of Music, Mr. Seed offered his first professional concert at St. John’s Smith Square, London, in 1990 and went on to give solo recitals at several festivals.
In 1997, he hogged the limelight by commissioning Dutch firm Poletti and Tuinman Fortepiano Makers to build the world’s first left-handed piano as a mirror image of the 19th century fortepiano.
Being a lefty, he had difficulty playing the conventional piano, as the melody would be submerged by the accompanying piece.
So he reversed the keys with high notes on the left moving down in pitch to the right. The lid of the light-weight left-handed piano opens from the opposite side and the pedals are reversed, too. Its popularity and acceptance has been such that German piano making giant Blüthner has begun making it now.
The pianist also plays the violin, cello, clarinet and saxophone. He’s never been exposed to Indian music, but the other day in Kochi Mr. Seed met a music therapist and picked up some useful lessons on the ragas. “There should be more musical interaction between the West and the East,” he says.