Darren Day

Piano Teacher and composer

United Kingdom

Author

About

Darren Day is a skilled and versatile music professional with over 25 years experience. He has worked as a Piano teacher in schools and music centres across Northern Ireland since graduating with a upper second class honours degree from UUJ in 1994. Darren was a founder member of NIA, and founded the New Irish Chamber Choir for which he often composed and was involved in many large scale events including Radio and Television broadcasts. Although no longer part of NIA, Darren often collaborates with professional soloists for recitals, concerts and weddings within many stylistic genres: from Opera and Musical theatre to Jazz, Cabaret, Pop, Classical and High Art repertoire. Darren is a prolific composer, published under ‘Pianoforte Publishing’ and loves hearing of teachers and students from all over the world using his music. Darren is also an Examiner for Trinity College London having travelled throughout the U.K. and to India.

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

I think I could sum it up in these three words. Music is Life. Our lives can be chaotic, calm, exciting and exhausting and music has the power to speak into every aspect of life we experience.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Certainly in terms of music having the ability to transport us, to elevate us outside of ourselves.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

A teacher. I already of course teach one to one but I know I would have gone into full time classroom teaching

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

I think many orchestras and musicians are finding ways to connect effectively through social media platforms and online recitals and concerts, and this in itself is an opportunity to connect with a wider audience.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I think it certainly helps to always be open to new ideas. You only need to look at someone like Jacob Collier, multi instrumentalist whose music embraces many genres to see an incredible creativity he generates and how effectively he connects with his growing audience. Or the skill and passion of Tim Topham (Topmusic.co) who began with educational blogs to encourage Piano teachers and ended up growing a global community of teachers and world class educators full of resources and content to inspire. To be honest though, I am also fearful. As a Northern Irish musician to see Arts projects underfunded, theatres closed, concerts restricted, cuts in music in education. There can be no escaping that we and our children will all suffer from this due the Government’s seeming lack of concern.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I know many Classical musicians who are exemplary players but would panic at the thought of improvising. Yet, I find there is such a freedom and joy that comes from being creative and often this arises out of an improvisation. Sometimes, I hear the melody or the chords before I compose, at other times I experiment with the music to see where it takes me.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Sometimes inspiration comes from something I watched, read or simply when surrounded by nature. The sea is a powerful force with a myriad of faces and I am lucky to have a holiday home right by the sea which I find therapeutic and also an inspiration to write from. It is difficult to choose a favourite so I will tell you of two pieces. The Romantically inspired ‘Etude in A minor’ was written through a lesson with a Beginner where the first three notes were used in an aural game I was making up for them and the rest flowed in my head and after their lesson I sat down and started playing what I was hearing. But a favourite of mine is a little piece called ‘Hope Awakens’ which I wrote from home towards the end of Lockdown after several zoom lessons! I always loved Sinding’s ‘Rustle of Spring’ and I wanted to write my own piece full of flowing RH semiquavers with a simple but elegant LH melody that weaves and turns and (hopefully!) awakens a sense of beauty, hope and determination.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I would introduce some of my students to Classical music without them realising. When they hear and have the opportunity to play a recognisable piece (through TV/Film), it’s a great way to capture their interest. Then it becomes natural to explore, more music either by this composer or in a similar period. I also compiled ‘Go Listen’ sheets with several boxes filled with several pieces from a variety of genres and some students use these very successfully to explore more music. Also, I have found it useful at times to show students the harmonic connections between some Classical pieces and ‘Pop’ songs as a way to bridge the gap they sometimes have between their ‘cool’ music and some of the Classical giants.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

I actually don’t think I do! I do write music for students and consider style and educational aspects in that writing but the more advanced pieces, I think I am writing from my perspective on life and what am feeling or trying to convey.

What projects are coming up?

I was very fortunate during lockdown to be able to write more and actually connect with other musicians who recorded some of my music from their homes. This has led to more collaborations with new performers which is exciting for me, and I am currently in the early stages with a children’s author looking at the prospect of composing music for a new musical.