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#476456 - 09/06/06 08:13 PM Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
OKay I have just secured a job playing rehearsal piano for ballet classes. I was wondering if anyone is familiar with the piano music for this?

The repertoire is Pre-Primary, Primary, Grade 1-6, Elementary, and Advanced. Like the ABRSM classical piano grades they get progressively harder as the standard of ballet increases.

At the moment I am just doing rehearsals so it's not imperative I learn everything perfectly but I am struggling with some pieces and just wanted to know if you guys could grade some of the pieces and let me know if I am right to think some of these pieces are difficult.

Finally the woman playing on all the cds I have is called Debbie Parks I believe, and she is a monster!

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#476457 - 09/06/06 10:31 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Auntie Lynn Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1157
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Boy, did you come to the right place. Which company/school are you working for...?

I have it all...and I mean all...

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#476458 - 09/06/06 10:46 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
It's a Dance Studio in wigan called Tina's Dance Studios. They teach Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and various other styles of dancing. I have only been doing it for a week though and just wanted to gauge how much time it would take me to have all the pieces ready?

I have made some obvious mistakes in some pieces today but I reckon I have most of the repertoire down. It's mainly the allegro stuff that has 'stride' style L.H.

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#476459 - 09/06/06 11:38 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
As a ballet student of many years, I have had classes with very good players, some ok and some not ok.

It's not easy to play for dance classes and I wish you the very best. Whatever tempo/beat not sure of the right word, keep it steady, especially with children and beginning students.

Every once in a while, a pianist who played for class changed the tempo and it makes it kind of tricky for students.

If my memory serves me, I think most of what was played for class was scaled down classical music, Schubert was one I think. Intermediate classes the "real thing" was played. Sorry I can't help you with music selection.

My teacher of many years uses cd's. I know you'll be a success. \:\)

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#476460 - 09/07/06 12:31 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
I wondered what happened to 'auntie lynn'?

anyway yeah it's classical but I would say more like chopin than anyone, but some sound like debussy as well.

Like I said 80% of it is playable/learnable, but some pieces seem as though sight reading or even learning them in the next few weeks will be lucky.

I understand about tempos though because the dance teacher pulled me up when I played too fast or too slow.

I odn't even know why they employ pianists when they can just play the cd!

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#476461 - 09/07/06 12:38 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
nezkeys,

Some teachers are musical and really know music, others are ok some think they know more than the accompianist.

Playing for dance class is both art and lots of patience. Hope that's spelled correctly. Most teachers do use cd's. I think schools like SAB-School of American Ballet use pianists - but you are correct, cd's are in use.

My hat's go off to the "music makers", I always thanked the pianist on the way out of class.

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#476462 - 09/07/06 01:24 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
well musdan the teacher at the studions has to get them to thank me at the curtsy/reverence etc otherwise they would probably just ignore me.

How rude! Lol!

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#476463 - 09/07/06 04:40 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
Unfortunately what you write is mostly true. I always thanked the pianist on the way out of class.

It's not easy to play for dance classes, my father wouldn't do it even when my ballet teacher of many years invited him - this was eons ago. He was the accompianist at Juilliard, so maybe he didn't want to play for classes of any kind. I don't really know.

Anyway, "my hat's off to you", and I know you will do well. \:\)

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#476464 - 09/07/06 07:13 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
pianomonster Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Omaha, NE
 Quote:
Originally posted by nezkeys79]: I wondered what happened to 'auntie lynn'?[/b]
For my opinion on this question, see the new topic entitled "a pattern i've noticed--in response to a question about a member in another thread."

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#476465 - 09/07/06 11:30 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Auntie Lynn Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1157
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Now, sports fans, I NEVER give advice even when asked; however, for somebody “in the biz” I might make an exception. Lemme tell you how I did it. Over the years I have constructed a data base of thousands upon thousands of tried and true tunes from Adam to Zemlinsky - all committed to memory - thus, available instantly. The base starts off
with the usual plies, tendus, tendus from fifth, degagees, ronds de jambes, adages, frappes,
grand battements, grand allegros - you get the picture. I recently did a major overhaul which took me weeks, but added a mega-ton of great new stuff to the existing base. I keep it all on disc and on hard drive. I have a vast three-ring Hello Kitty binder which holds the playout. Got into the biz through my daughter who was, in the parlance of the business, The Golden Child. She had every possible success as a ballerina. Your success in this craft will be determined by your ability to frame the movement sequence creatively. Your ability to think on your feet/seat is critical as I myself work with the best in the business. Additionally, I go to extreme lengths to stay healthy. I am the top weightlifter at my gym. I get all the shots. I am considered by my principals to be almost completely reliable, personable and high energy. I don’t bawl and cry about carpal tunnel wrist
nonsense, back pains, etc. etc. Who cares... The demand for my services has astonished even me. BTW, don’t tell anybody I said this, but teachers HATE cd’s - they are a pain.

I don’t have a heckuva lotta time to hang out at this site, but if it helps somebody get going on the job, I am always happy to help. Curiously, I just received today two volumes of Bournonville from (ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaa) Dance Books UK!!!

Good luck!

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#476466 - 09/08/06 09:51 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
Auntie Lynn,

Teachers use cd's for the most part because it's gotten expensinve to have live music. Schools that train dancers from beginning to the professional level have the "real thing" as far as I know - I'm not really sure, but maybe they use cd's for the very young students. I've gotten use to it and one of the good things is that the tempo/beat never changes. By the way, not all teachers hate cd's.

As far as being a member of a company, it takes a lot more than "your ability to frame the movement sequence creatively....". Dance and music are both creative arts and, my words fail me but, feeling for what you do, musicality, hard work, luck, working for choreographers of many styles and I guess fellow piano forum members can add to the this list - left out surviving the audition process and politics within a given company etc..

I think somewhere I've mentioned that I've never danced professionaly but have done workshops - some things are universal and come with the territory. My teacher and many friends have kept me up on all the in's and out's of the business and it ain't easy. True of all the arts lots of hard work. A few years ago, waiting for a green light on the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue, directly across the street from Carnegie Hall, a tourist ask "how do I get to Carnegie Hall", and a young man answered, "pracice, practice, practice and that's no guarantee".

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#476467 - 09/08/06 11:05 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Almost all the ballet studios I've been in (courtesy of my own daughter) had very scripted live accompaniment for classes. The same music for each exercise, day in and day out.

The Royal Academy of Dance requires specific music for their examinations and classes--and they send it out at the beginning of each exam year.

And from my experience (as an observer and as an accompanist), most dance teachers prefer live accompaniment because they can be out with their students and not hovering over their CD player. You have a lot more flexibility (which is important for dancers ;\) ) over starts and stops.

I've never accompanied or observed a class where the accompanist was given free rein to improvise or just pick a piece to play. It sounds like fun, though, for the dancers and the pianist.

And BTW, curtsies/bows to the teacher and the accompanist are required in most classical ballet studios. I've never seen dancers bow to a CD, though! \:\)

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#476468 - 09/08/06 12:01 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
Nina,

Thanks - I'm happy to learn that schools that train dancers from the very young to the professional level use accompianist. Nothing can take the place of live music.

It's the smaller studios that use cd's and there are advantages and disadvantages to their use. My teacher uses cd's and has for quite some time, she can't afford to pay an accompianist. So I guess it depends.

Glad to learn that curtsies/bows to the teacher and accompianist still happen. I remember it being the part of every class, I always stopped by the accompianist and thanked him/her in any case. It's not easy to play for dance classes. \:\)

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#476469 - 09/08/06 12:08 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
Yeah she said its just annoying pressing the pause button in between songs. But in that case why hasnt she just emplyed someone to press a button!

yeah I presumed that they have to do the curtsy as it is in the piano score. With the smaller ones she says something like "Now we have a pianist today. Does anyone know the name of the pianist? We are all going to say thank you to him or something" or something like that.

No one has answered my question though about the difficuly of some of these pieces. I thought aunti lynn would?

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#476470 - 09/08/06 12:15 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1201
nezkeys - guess you are right, sorry I can't help you. \:\(

I'm afraid that Aunti Lynn wouldn't be much of a help, where she's concerned, it's "much ado about nothing".

Hopefully someone will be able to come to your rescue. Maybe it comes with experience and knowing what the teacher wants. \:\)

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#476471 - 09/08/06 12:53 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
The difficulty of the pieces is really incidental. None of them are super-hard (I'm talking about class pieces, not ballet accompaniment for a performance). I'm talking about the RAD music.

Here is a link to their music section: Royal Academy of Dance music

What's the most important is a steady, strong beat (much more rhythmic than you might play as a soloist) and little rubato except perhaps at the very end of the piece. If you miss some notes here or there, or simplify it a bit, it doesn't matter. If you get the rhythm messed up, or are playing too fast or too slow then that is a big problem.

The music must primarily support the class--one of the dance instructors I worked with referred to the piano as the "canvas" and the dancers as the "paint."

EDIT: I just read in the site I posted above that there are "non-syllabus" classes where the pianist is expected to provide music. I guess my experience has all been in "syllabus" classes.

I'd go in prepared with something in some of the typical time signatures: 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, cut time should do it, I'd think--except they'll be talking about it in dance terms: polka, tango, waltz, etc.

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#476472 - 09/08/06 01:17 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Pianolina Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/06
Posts: 204
nezkeys, sorry I can't help you either. I just wanted to respond to this:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
I've never accompanied or observed a class where the accompanist was given free rein to improvise or just pick a piece to play. It sounds like fun, though, for the dancers and the pianist.
[/b]
I take a recreational ballet class (although a fairly formal and demanding one) where we do have this situation. The teacher normally names the exercise, marks it (both for us and the pianist, I suppose) and requests a rhythm (and occasionally a request for an extra little bridge or something). The pianist chooses the piece.

I don't know how it is for the pianist, but you're right, it is fun for the dancers. Some of them change the texture and the mood of the music to match different parts of the exercise, all the while keeping the beat very clear and steady. It's fun to listen to as well \:\) .

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#476473 - 09/08/06 07:59 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
bukopaudan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 506
Loc: USA
I, being a former dancer and am hopefully going to be returning soon, recommend that you just try as best as you can. Honestly, the students aren't going to penalize you, especially if they're beginners.

I agree with what they said above--just keep a steady beat as to not confuse the dancers and pay attention to the dance as well as the music. Though I understand that it's hard to do that. I give hats off to all pianists who are accompanists. I was an accompanist myself last year for a choir--it's hard work!

Good luck to you.
_________________________
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -Leonard Bernstein

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#476474 - 09/09/06 11:11 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
Thanks for your replies but I kind of already know that keeping the rhythym seems the most important part. She doesnt seem to be bothered about any wrong notes so long as I start at the right tempo and maintain it.

I was just looking for feedback on whether some of the pieces are hard. I am struggling with some of the faster pieces and anything that has a vamp L.H with large jumps in like waltzes.

As I said before I have only had the sheet music (pre-primary/primary/grades1-6/elementary) for a week now and been to only 2 classes. I think I am doing fine since there are 58 pieces on just the elementary section.

Can someone please look at the sheet music or better still listen to the debbie parks playing them and let me know. I'll put them up on my savefile soon and create a topic with them on.

Thanks for your help.

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#476475 - 09/09/06 11:30 AM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Sorry, I have no clue what music the Imperial Society uses, and have no access to their syllabi or to the Debbie Parks CD.

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#476476 - 09/12/06 12:31 PM Re: Imperial Classical Ballet - Piano Accompaniment
nezkeys79 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Greater Manchester, United Kin...
nina I can copy then send you the cd if you want?

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