This is me, playing a mini grand piano at Amsterdam Centraal train station in December, 2017. It is, in fact, one of the three grand pianos I got to play whilst in Amsterdam, a city I had always wanted to go to, and that my husband and I could finally visit that year for a few days. Nowadays, public pianos are not a rare sight: you can find them dotted all over Europe in public spaces, open for anyone to play them. I think it is great to find them more and more frequently, and have the opportunity to share through them some of my love for music with no conditions.
Music has a great capacity to move, touch and heal people. However, this marvel coexists with the fact that, with only a few exceptions, most of the musicians I have met within the church —where I mainly play—, were and are male. Cafemnee, from which I have attended one workshop, made a difference because there I met other women who played various instruments, were of different levels of ability, and performed in and outside of the church setting. It was inspirational and encouraging, it helped me feel less isolated and gave me the opportunity to hear where the other women were playing and the type of things they were doing and were involved in.
That time, Millicent talked to us about what was going on in our ‘headspace’, which helped me to think beyond the mere practicalities of playing the physical instrument and how one’s thought processes can have an influence on playing. There was an opportunity to share the challenges of musicianship such as that of finding time to practice alongside employment and/or family obligations. Cafemnee provides a valuable and rare space for female musicians to come together and share their musical journey and aspirations in a relaxed and friendly environment, ending with a jam session which allowed us to work as a group. I do commend Millicent for her vision in creating this valuable forum, one that made me want to keep working at my playing and even resume the organ lessons I have let aside for some time now, due to lack of time!
Pauline Allen (pianist and organist)
Testimonial edited by ASch
Next Cafemnee workshop will take place on Sat 6th April 2019. More info here.