Question and Answer session with Owethu

When did you start playing the piano?

I have been fiddling with the piano for as long as I remember. Ever since I was a child, it always fascinated me, so I would figure out, but my formal training started in 2011.

Why the piano?

I guess it was the way it sounded. I did not really understand how incredible this instrument was when I started, but when I think of it now, how incredible the range is, the emotions in which you can play them, the chord progressions and interval used for voice parts, the way it helped me with my singing, it truly is a master craft.

What is the most challenging part of playing the piano?

I believe all instruments have challenges alike, but with the piano, you can play a song from a quartet all by yourself. So the difficult part is to try and get the bass and rhythm section on your left hand, and cover the melody line on your right, all while accompanying harmonies and chords. You have to cover as many parts as possible

Who was your greatest mentor/teacher?

I have been extremely blessed to be surrounded and the tutelage of many incredible instrumentalists. My first teachers when I took formal piano and music training were Carol Howell and Gilmour Gordon, who opened my eyes and pushed my passion further, then as I progressed, more instrumentalists guided me taught me more than I could understand on my own.

Who are your music idols?

This list never ends. There a large number from different parts of the world, having different styles. Local legends like Bheki Mseleku, Moses Molelekwa, and Kyle Shepherd are one of my favorite pianists. I am also very much inspired by young musicians like Corey Henry and Jacob Collier,

Top five piano pieces/songs?

  • In no particular order;
  • Dr.Gradis – Claude Debussy
  • Closer to the Source – Bheki Mseleku
  • Giant Steps – John Coltrane
  • Biko’s Dream –  Moses Molelekwa
  • Lingus – Snarky Puppy (keyboard solo by Cory Henry)

If you could play with any pianist who would it be?

Jacob Collier. His understanding of music and rhythm and harmony is unreal. A piano virtuoso and a soulful composer.

If you could have any piano what would it be?

I’m not so picky about acoustic pianos, but I do love electric keyboards. One of my favorites is a Nord Stage3. Very accurate sounds in pianos and other instruments with perfectly weighted keys.

How do you define your teaching style?

Very relaxed. I go at the pace of the students, so no impossible expectations. I would say I’m also outside the traditional way of teaching piano. Instead of just handing pieces, we can try new styles of learning, like memory tests, ear training, theory, and non-traditional jazz and classical music.

Top 3 tips for piano students.

  • Never stop practicing. Even if it is 10 minutes a day.
  • Train your left hand as much as your right hand. The left hand is commonly not prioritized.
  • Listen to as many different genres and styles of music as possible. Every genre and instrument can be a benefit to how you play the piano.