Me at the grand piano in the assembly hall. Lights on. My teacher in the dark auditorium. We’re preparing for a recital. I get more and more irritated, I’ve practised so hard and I am playing every note perfectly right, but she just goes on - “Let it go, let it go!”
I get so angry, and cursing to myself I start playing furiously, like hitting the right notes doesn’t matter anymore. To my surprise my teacher shouts with joy, and I feel like I’ve taken the leap and start to soar in the joys of surrendering to the emotionality of the music of Chopin.
Then she tells me about the mission of the musician. See yourself as a vessel, she says, open yourself up for the music that comes down from the heights and bring it down to the listeners. You as a person isn’t important here, just use your gift to bring the music to people. They need it.
I was fifteen and I just had been blessed with the most important lesson in my life.
Maybe you wonder how to pronounce my name, with the dots and all? Here we go: [Mareea Grearnloond] (with the dotted o pronounced as in “earn”). 😊
Maria Grönlund is a Swedish pianist and composer, born on the island Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Her father was a preacher and the family moved around a lot. When she was eleven they moved to Ängelholm in Skåne, and when she became an adult she moved to her home town since then - Stockholm.
Curious-minded and an eager learner she has studied and has been active in a wide variety of genres and music-related skills. The foundation was a lot of singing in the family and in church, and piano studies since the age of six, when the family inherited a big black shiny piano from her grandfather. She was fascinated by secret languages, symbols and signs and enjoyed learning to read music, which came in handy as well during choir rehearsals and performances as in her classical piano training. From playing along with friends she learned playing by ear and to play the guitar and flute, and by the age of sixteen she started her own choir and also entertained as a bar pianist at a local restaurant.
At eighteen Maria entered Malmö College of Music and went on to Royal College of music in Stockholm with Classical Piano and Jazz Singing as main subjects. During the five years that led to her Master of Fine Arts in Music Education she also studied jazz piano, bassoon, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, recorders, sound design, arranging, ear training, music theory, music history, pedagogics and teaching methods. Together with classmates she formed an a capella group of four which soon was enhanced with a four piece band. The repertoire was a mix of originals and jazz and soul classics. Maria wrote many of the arrangements, and the group toured quite extensively.
After teaching piano to 4-8 year-olds for a couple of years she got a job as a leader of the music department of an upper secondary school specialising in aesthetic subjects. Teaching and taking part in the artistic and personal development of 16-19 year-olds was something very interesting and fulfilling for Maria, as she’s about as passionate about human psychological development as she is about music. The vast opportunities to learn new things herself and the freedom in forming the education were factors that kept her in the teachers’ profession for a long time.
But there came a time when she felt it was time for her to stop concentrating on developing other people’s talents and make a carrier change. She wanted to explore what she could develop of her own artistic talents, skills and needs of expression.
Since then she’s been working on developing her own compositional voice, and participated in different projects. Some examples of projects are: building a catalog for sync licensing to media productions under the name Grobe music, releasing Indie Dance music with the duo Sounds like Friday, writing and recording string and choir arrangements, building a music tale app, accompanying singers and theatre performances, and making experimental sound design for the Royal Swedish Ballet.
The current project is going back to her roots - the heart-felt piano playing. Her solo debut album - Songs of a Sad Sailor - is in the works and planned for release in the later half of 2019, with musical influences from Òlafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Joep Beving and Poppy Ackroyd. It’s a concept album, inspired by an enticing life story she heard about when sailing to Finnish island Åland. Working with solo piano feels like coming home again, she says.