Piano pedagogy is the study of the teaching of piano playing. Whereas the professional field of music education pertains to the teaching of music in school classrooms or group settings, piano pedagogy focuses on the teaching of musical skills to piano students on the level of the individual. This is done most often via private or semiprivate instructions, which are most commonly referred to as piano lessons. The practitioners of piano pedagogy are called piano pedagogues, or simply, piano teachers.
- 1 Professional training
- 2 Notable piano pedagogues in history
- 3 Topics of study
- 4 Venues offering instructions in piano playing
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The range of professionalism among available teachers of piano is undoubtably wide. "Competent instruction is not always assured by the number of years one has taken lessons", warned piano pedagogue and writer of numerous pedagogical books, James Bastien. The factors which affect the professional quality of a piano teacher include one's competence in musical performance, knowledge of musical genres, music history and theory, piano repertoire, experience in teaching, ability to adapt one's teaching method to students of different personalities and learning styles, education level, and so on.
Musicians without degrees in piano pedagogy
In the United States, piano lessons may often be found offered by teachers without higher education specifically focused in piano performance or piano pedagogy. Some teachers may hold degrees in another discipline in music, such as music education or another performance area (voice, orchestral instrument, etc.). Other teachers, without higher education in music, may have studied piano playing independently or have been self-taught.
Undergraduate and graduate studies in piano pedagogy
The field of piano pedagogy may be studied through academic programs which culminates to the attainment of a bachelor, master, or doctoral degree at music colleges or conservatories. The undergraduate level may require many years of prior piano studies and previous teaching experience as prerequisites for application. At the graduate level, many schools require applicants to have some teaching experience and at least a bachelor of music or equivalent experience in piano performance and/or pedagogy.
Although virtually all piano pedagogy programs include a significant portion of performance requirement, the pedagogy major may be distinct from the performance major at some schools. Some members of the latter group may have the option to take courses in the teaching of piano, but not all do.
Professional organizations in the USA
Many piano teachers hold memberships in professional organizations, to maintain their commitment to pedagogy and to network with peers and others in music. These organizations often offer teachers' workshops, conferences, mentorship programs, publications on piano pedagogy, and opportunities for scholarships, competitions, and performances for the students of members. Some prominent organizations in the United States include:
- Music Teachers National Association - MTNA (USA)
- National Federation of Music Clubs (USA)
- National Guild of Piano Teachers
- Piano Teachers Congress of New York
- Piano Teachers Federation
Professional Organizations in Canada
The main organization that offers certificates and testing curriculum in Canada is Royal Conservatory of Music. There are three levels in their certificate program; elementary, intermediate and advanced. Elementary pedagogy certificate enables teachers to teach beginners up to grade two piano, while intermediate certificate allows teachers to teach up to grade 6 piano. Advanced piano pedagogy is known as "ARCT" (Associate of Royal Conservatory of Toronto), which enables teachers to teach up to grade 10. There are also a number of theory and history examinations that accompany each certificate program which must be completed.
Notable piano pedagogues in history
- Carl Czerny (Austria, 1791–1857)
- Maria Szymanowska (Poland, 1789-1831)
- Frédéric Chopin (Poland, 1810-1849)
- Theodor Leschetizky (Poland, 1830–1915)
- Franz Liszt (Hungary, 1811-1886)
- Tobias Matthay (England, 1858–1945)
- Heinrich Neuhaus (Russia, 1888–1964)
- Dimitri Bashkirov (Russia, 1931-)
- Leila Fletcher (Canada, 1899-1988) Ontario, Mayfair Montgomery Publishing
- Neil A. Kjos (US, 1931-2009) Illinois, known for the James Bastien books
- Abby Whiteside (US, 1881-1956)
- Isidor Philipp (France 1863-1958)
- Harold Bradley (Canada 1906-1984)
Topics of study
Piano pedagogy involves the study of the teaching of the motor, intellectual, problem-solving, and artistic skills involved in playing the piano effectively. Citing the influence of Zoltán Kodály, Carl Orff, Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, Russian-American piano pedagogue at Longy School of Music, Dr. Faina Bryanskaya, advocates a holistic approach which integrates as many aspects of music-making as possible at once would result in the most effective piano teaching.
Dr. Bryanskaya argues that the foremost important task for piano teachers at the onset of a student's time of study is the introduction of a habit of listening to quality performances of “descriptive and strikingly expressive music”, as a means for "sensitizing [the student] to the meaning of music".
Teaching rhythm is important for the student to be able to learn a piece accurately, but also important for students to confidently perform a practiced piece. The importance of having an internal metronome plays a huge part when teaching rhythm. Teachers should always encourage students to count out loud when practicing, or practice with a metronome to develop a steady internal beat.
Good piano playing technique involves the simultaneous understanding in both the mind and the body of the relationships between the elements of music theory, recognition of musical patterns in notation and at the fingertips, the physical landscape of the entire range of the keyboard, finger dexterity and independence, and a wide range of touch and tone production for a variety of emotional expressions. Skills in all of these areas should always be nurtured and developed for the sake of expressing oneself more effectively and naturally through the sound of the piano, so that the elements of technique would sound alive with musicality.
The modern trend of piano lessons tends to lean toward an overemphasis on learning notation, and neglects the nurturing needed for developing the creative spirit and sensitive ears which lead to expressive music-making. Studies point to the need for using multiple approaches in learning musical skills which engage both sides of the brain—the analytical and the intuitive—for students to master all aspects of playing. Therefore, teaching improvisation skills may help students take ownership of the expressive quality of the music they make, and to keep music learning and practicing alive and interesting. One way to do so is to make up stories full of different emotions through improvising, in order to reinforce concepts of music theory already introduced and to develop a wide range of touch and tone production.
Sight reading heavily depends on the students' ability to understand rhythm, and recognize musical patterns. Teaching sight reading can include teaching students to recognize intervals, scale passage patterns, note reading and the ability to internalize rhythm. The ability to have strong knowledge of different majors and minor key signatures can also help students anticipate the accidentals they should expect when sight reading.
Memorization is often needed when students want to perform a piece confidently. It gives the student ability and freedom to experience the music for all of its intricate musicality apposed to focusing on the technical of notes and rhythm. Memorization can come easy to some students, and harder for others. The most common memorization technique is mussel memory. However reliance on mussel memory alone can hinder students as they have not made the cognitive connection between every note they play, and leaves room for lots of memory slips. To have a strong foundation of memorization, students should be able to visualize everything that they play, and be able to start from any passage.
Effective memorization results from the “combination of visual, kinaesthetic, aural and analytical skills”.
- Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach (1725) by family and friends of J.S. Bach
- Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Little Preludes and Fugues, Inventions and Sinfonias, & the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach
- sonatinas by Muzio Clementi
- Album For the Young, Op. 68 (1848) by Robert Schumann
- Album For the Young, Op. 39 (1878) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- Music for Children, Op. 65 (1935) by Sergei Prokofiev
- pieces by Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Kabalevsky and Aram Khatchaturian
- Mikrokosmos, Sz. 107, BB 105 (1926–39) by Béla Bartók
Venues offering instructions in piano playing
The teaching of piano playing most often take place in the form of weekly private lessons, in which a student and a teacher have one-on-one meetings. Instructions may sometimes be offered semi-privately (one teacher meeting with a small group of two or more students) or in classes of larger groups, in other intervals of time. Piano lessons are offered in a variety of different settings, including the following:
- Studios of independent piano teachers
- Piano and music stores
- Community music schools
- Continuing education programs
- Preparatory division of music colleges or conservatories
- Music colleges or conservatories
- Bastien, James (3rd Ed. 1988) How to Teach Piano Successfully. Neil A. Kjos Music Co: San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-8497-6168-9
- University of Michigan Piano Department: Degree programs
- Ulszer, Marienne (1995). The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher. Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-871780-5
- Bryanskaya, Faina (2nd Ed. 2007). Teaching Fundamentals of Music Making: A Holistic Integrated Approach, A Handbook for Piano and Music Teachers. Brighton, MA (USA). LC 2003-552304. http://www.chipublib.org/search/details/cn/1902269
- Chappell, Sally. “Developing the complete pianist: a study of the importance of a whole-brain approach to piano teaching." Piano Journal, Winter 2000.
- Kampmeier, Valerie. "Intuitive Improvisation: A Guide for Beginners." American Music Teacher. Dec/Jan 07-08.
- Braudo, Isaiah. On the study of key board works by J. S. Bach in music schools. Washington DC: H. A. Frager & Co ISBN 0-929647-10-6
Gerig, Reginald (2nd Ed. 2007). Famous Pianists and their Technique. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34855-2
Magrath, Jane (1995). Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature. Alfred Publishing Co. ISBN 0-88284-655-8
Business skills for piano teachers and artists
Riley, Peter Jason (2002). The New Tax Guide for Artists of Every Persuasion. Limelight Editions: New York. ISBN 0-87910-966-1