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#1978926 - 10/26/12 02:14 PM Help clarifying my goals.
nicolakirwan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 37
Loc: midwest
Hi!

I was hoping I might find a little help on here. I've played piano on and off for several years--never anything particularly advanced and eventually I started doing more things with the keyboard and guitar chords instead of formal study. I've always liked piano, but I consider my main "instrument" to be classical voice, which I'm studying now.

I always find myself wanting to return to piano lessons, but feel that I rarely get anywhere because I'm not really sure where I'm going (which as an adult, will provide the impetus to be dedicated). What I really need right now is to become a better musician overall--strengthen my ear and gain a solid understanding of theory. I realized that previous piano lessons didn't really do that because much more emphasis was placed on technique and conquering new pieces.

So I guess my question is whether there's a particular approach to piano that *isn't* particularly performance oriented, but more oriented toward overall musicianship and how all the pieces fit together. Does that question even make sense? The best analogy I can think of is that one could learn to harmonize, learn intervals, etc through singing without really focusing on vocal technique per se. I'm sure the same can be done with piano, but are there particular method books or other resources that take such an approach?

Thank you.
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#1978962 - 10/26/12 03:58 PM Re: Help clarifying my goals. [Re: nicolakirwan]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
Hi nicolakirwan,

I think many piano teachers could come up with a curriculum to suit your needs -- you just need to be upfront about what you are looking to get out of lessons when you meet with prospective teachers.

I'm good friends with a few voice teachers in town, so they often send me their students to learn a bit of piano, theory and general musicianship. I do teach these students repertoire, but I try to teach it in a way that relates to their voice studies. For example, we might talk about how to phrase a melody, and I'll ask how they would sing it, and how we can transfer that same phrasing to the piano.

I spend lots of time on theory and ear training -- more than I would with my other piano students. And again, I try to incorporate the voice into these activities. When I do something like melody playbacks, I'll have the student sing it back first, and then play it back.

You may be able to find a voice coach who teaches piano, and will have a good understanding of what you are looking to get out of piano lessons.

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#1978970 - 10/26/12 04:10 PM Re: Help clarifying my goals. [Re: LadyChen]
nicolakirwan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 37
Loc: midwest
Thanks for your perspective. I like my voice teacher, but he doesn't play piano. I think a part of my issue in finding a good fit with teachers previously has been that I haven't been sure how exactly to phrase my goals. After doing more research, it seems like it's along the lines of what non-piano music majors have to acquire by way of keyboard proficiency, though it would seem that I am "proficient" at this point. I just don't think my piano skills are as functional as would be helpful.

I will try looking up piano teachers who teach voice as well.


Edited by nicolakirwan (10/26/12 04:13 PM)
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#1978976 - 10/26/12 04:15 PM Re: Help clarifying my goals. [Re: nicolakirwan]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
When I say 'voice coach', I don't mean a voice teacher. Coaches are often professional collaborative pianists who specialize in vocal repertoire, and many of them are also piano teachers (since we have to do EVERYTHING in order to make a living these days).

In any case, I think your original post is quite clear about what your goals are, so you may consider sharing some of those thoughts when interviewing teachers. Or if the teacher is open to email communication, you could send your initial inquiries that way, since sometimes it's easier to write your thoughts than it is to express them verbally.

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#1978997 - 10/26/12 04:44 PM Re: Help clarifying my goals. [Re: nicolakirwan]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11730
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: nicolakirwan
What I really need right now is to become a better musician overall--strengthen my ear and gain a solid understanding of theory. I realized that previous piano lessons didn't really do that because much more emphasis was placed on technique and conquering new pieces.

So I guess my question is whether there's a particular approach to piano that *isn't* particularly performance oriented, but more oriented toward overall musicianship and how all the pieces fit together.

Piano lessons can be geared toward different purposes. In one kind, the main goal is to make a piece sound good. So the teacher takes piece X, breaks down how you should play it and what technique you should use, maybe with demonstrations, listening to recordings of various interpretations etc. You end up playing a convincing piece but this doesn't go toward the kinds of goals you mentioned.

There are piano teachers who incorporate theory into their lessons. It can be as simple as being aware of chord qualities and how they resolve and like to move, but I think you're looking for more than that. Some teachers will help a student approach a piece by analyzing its overall structure, understanding its form and where it's going. There is understand the genre, and period, and maybe something about the composer and his aims. John v.D. Brooke has mentioned several times about having his students follow contrapunctal lines in pieces such as fugues.

I wonder, when asking about this and looking for a teacher, whether it would be called musicianship?

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