France is a notoriously difficult market for writers of educational music like myself – methods in English are a non-non, there is no nationwide piano teacher organisation and there are no piano examination boards. You are trying to promote supplementary material to a fragmented audience.
Nonetheless, individual music dealers are occasionally prepared to promote events from time to time and I found myself, courtesy of Eurostar, in Paris on a cold, clear day, trying to interest Parisians in Microjazz. My French-speaking Schott representative, Sabine Vranckx, was there, along with store managers Laura Mahé-Barichard and Philippe Lacroix. Here are Philippe and Sabine:
The store was Woodbrass, right next to the Paris Conservatoire. It’s a large store, with all instruments represented as well as sheet music. A mailing was done to promote the event and I ended up with about 12 people (and various people passing by stopping to listen as well) who were given a complete product presentation on Microjazz and all things Boosey & Hawkes. Copies of the Guide to Microjazz were given away as a further inducement. You can see one in the hands of one of the participants:
What was interesting was that there were relatively few piano teachers present and indeed a number of audience members didn’t play the piano at all! I was relying on people liking the pieces (which I think they did) and I also got the audience to clap and even sing, which they seemed to enjoy. Video clips of children playing my pieces were also well received. I covered from Absolute Beginners through to the Preludes and was warmly applauded for my efforts!
I got three people to come and play with me (none of them piano players) and, as always, I found that they did quite well playing by ear. Here is one of my “helpers” playing a duet with me:
I do hope to do more in France and we are looking into something which involves a French equivalent of Pianist magazine and perhaps Roland France combining forces to try to reach piano teachers more directly. This was a good start and taught me that there are lots of ways of presenting my material, to pianists and non-pianists alike.