Mark achieves Grade 8 Piano in Prison
After a year of study, Mark sat his grade 8 piano exam in prison, passing with Merit. Two diplomas and two degrees later, Mark is still looking for ways to stretch himself, and defy the apparent limitations of his circumstances. His latest project is developing a PhD research proposal.
When everything else was lost, music felt like the only realm of true freedom I had left. Through music, my identity could express and assert itself once more. It was a rare window to humanity.
With life seemingly slipping through my fingers, I needed to find some way of challenging myself, to find focus and purpose. Attempting to study grade 8 piano in prison seemed impossible at first, but I was determined to break down barriers and make meaningful use of the time I had
Without a keyboard in my cell, I could only squeeze 3 hours of practice in a week. I found myself playing what looked and sounded like a saloon piano from an old Western movie. Covered in errant flecks of paint, with loose panels and unevenly weighted keys, this was a seriously rugged piece of kit, with oodles of character. Even so, sitting down to play, it was like I wasn’t in prison anymore. I felt completely transported, if only for a few moments.
Chopin – Nocturne in B, Op. 32, No. 1. Nocturnes were designed to convey a dream-like state. This piece evokes Chopin’s deep longing for his Polish homeland after settling in Paris in 1830.
Beethoven – 3rd movement from Sonata in Cm, Op. 13, Grande Sonate Pathétique. This piece is developed around a simple concept, Pathos.