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#1544923 - 10/27/10 06:06 PM Concert pianists play "by ear?"
Bech Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/10
Posts: 851
Loc: Indiana
I'm wondering if most concert pianists can "play by ear?" Believe I've heard that some cannot. Surely most, if not all, can.

I would expect "ear playing" to be something many can do well while nearly impossible for other highly capable pianists. Of course the same for improvisational skills.

Are there concert pianists who can knock your socks off playing about any kind of music? My guess is most are so "burdened" with adding to their classical abilities they have little to no time for other types of music.

Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.

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#1544930 - 10/27/10 06:23 PM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2788
your guess is presumptuous.
Longtemps, je me suis couch� de bonne heure, but not anymore!

#1544932 - 10/27/10 06:23 PM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 21313
Loc: New York City
I can't think of any pianists who I would call incredibly good at both classical and pop/jazz. I think many consider Frederick Gulda to be a great classical pianist but I'm not sure he was considered a great jazz pianist. Keith Jarrett and Andre Previn are extremely good at both but IMO not super(say one of the top 250) at both. Cziffra could improvise incredibly but I wouold call it more like classical versions of pop.

There are quite a few professional classical pianists who can play the most difficult transcriptions by the most difficult to play jazz giants like Tatum, Waller, etc. LIke this:

Edited by pianoloverus (10/27/10 06:29 PM)

#1544936 - 10/27/10 06:27 PM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2788
and on the contrary I would like to state that there are fewer pianists who can do the reverse equally well...
Longtemps, je me suis couch� de bonne heure, but not anymore!

#1544953 - 10/27/10 06:57 PM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Bech
I'm wondering if most concert pianists can "play by ear?"
What's a "concert pianist"?
(I'm a piano teacher.)

#1545156 - 10/28/10 02:36 AM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
Victor25 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/09
Posts: 1676
Loc: The Netherlands
@pianoloverus you mean Friedrich I'm sure, and actually he was quite respected as a Jazz pianist.

I had a discussion with a collegue, it was about musicality, and what it actually meant. He said if someone isn't able to play a tune he hears, than he isn't musical. Needless to say I very much disagreed.
Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)

#1545194 - 10/28/10 03:52 AM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
The word "musicality" has quite a number of alternative meanings - I don't think any of the meanings are exactly wrong, but the result is that basically nobody knows what anyone else means when they say that word.

I do think a person who can't play (or sing) a simple tune he has just heard really is in some way not "musical". But I usually use "musical" to mean something like "able to play or sing with understanding and sensitivity to the character of the music".

If playing back the tune becomes challenging technically, then IMO your colleague's point would not be fair, because "musicality" should not be the same as "mechanical ability to press keys".

Do you think there are musical people who can't repeat the tune of a children's song from another country that they just heard for the first time?
(I'm a piano teacher.)

#1545207 - 10/28/10 04:08 AM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6651
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Thank God some of these people aren't teaching the next generation...or are they?

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

#1545366 - 10/28/10 11:31 AM Re: Concert pianists play "by ear?" [Re: Bech]
bennevis Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 7761
I'd have thought that once you've reached a certain standard, you'd be able to play by ear most tunes (I exclude unsingable atonal ones, unless you're blessed with perfect pitch) and play the right harmony in the accompaniment too. Being able to sing back what the examiner has just played is a requisite of the ABRSM exam: if you can sing it, you can play it, or write it down.
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."


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