Big My Secret, played by self taught pianist Mark Fowler

This is played with wonderful fluidity and emotional depth. I have heard  recordings of this piece  played by “international pianists” on concert grand pianos, who have music degrees and been to conservatoires etc, but this completely self taught pianist playing on a digital piano plays it so much better in my opinion!

Mark Fowler only started learning piano at aged 18, and taught himself to play BY EAR!! Yes, that’s right- he couldn’t read sheet music, had no teacher and learned by himself.  At the age of 33 this is what he has achieved. This is how talented he is. Many international pianists started the traditional way at aged 5-8 with teachers, doing music degrees etc.

As someone who struggles with sheet music and sight reading, I love discovering self taught pianists- it is proof that there are many ways to learn Piano- we are often told that we HAVE to have a teacher- that we cannot learn alone; we HAVE to learn the traditional way, must do scales, must learn to read sheet music before we can play Piano- pianists like Mark Fowler show otherwise.

Where and how did you study music?

I am completely self-taught. I simply practiced on a daily basis most of the time throughout my life. I never practiced scales or traditional techniques to enhance my technique or musicality, I often played, or rather attempted difficult pieces that were beyond my level of playing, thus by practicing them I eventually improved my overall playing this way.

There is perhaps no right or wrong; that each of us can reach into ourselves, forge a connection with our pianos, and find that inspiration, let the beauty of the Piano, our hearts and music come together to find our own natural way to play. In Mark’s case his desire to just play flowed…

Big My Secret2(Big My Secret, pastels on card by EdwardianPiano)

Mark Fowler was born in the city of Peterborough, England in 1979. He started playing keyboards at a fairly young age but did not take piano seriously until 18. At 21 he bought his first piano and since then has progressed at a phenomenal rate to reach the standard of playing he is at today. Completely self taught, Mark believes his early love and passion for classical music by composers such as JS Bach, Beethoven and Mozart is what motivated and consequently drove him to learn piano by himself.

From a young age Mark could not read sheet music and so developed an innate ability to learn music by listening to it, or to play ‘by ear’ as it’s more commonly known by today. Mark is now capable of both learning music ‘by ear’ or from sheet music/score, and has a vast and constantly expanding repertoire list, most of which he knows from memory.

Mark’s website: