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September 24, 2010 musicianbelindashave

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  • 1. Mr WordPress  |  September 24, 2010 at 11:47 am

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  • 2. Joolz  |  December 18, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Hi Belinda, great blog, I am sure it is going to blossom just like your life!!

    I have a question that has always intrigued about teaching a musical instrument, I will use piano teaching as a main reference, basically I have wondered what the differences are between the teachers and pupils who learn the piano if comparing say your average pupil who goes through most of the grades and is competent and enjoys playing and pupils who at the same age end up playing astoundandly well and I don’t think it is only just down to some children being gifted it must be also how they are taught surely?
    I am never going to be a concert pianist but I can improvise freely and whilst I havent found any specific teaching method for the piano, observing my improvisation it mostly based around arpergio patterns and shifting but through feeling I don’t even think in chord progressions just the patterning with my fingers. I have a theory that if children were taught to observe and hear the arpeggio patterns and practice such patterns freely that this could be one way to free up a beginners creativity, flexibility and opportunity to fastrack in their progress. But I won’t know this until it gets tested out! Let me know what you think, Julie x

    • 3. musicianbelindashave  |  December 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for your comment. In answer to what you say, teaching of arpegios is generally recognised as part and parcel of the methodology of piano teaching hence their inclusion in the Graded system (1-8). It is the basis of chords which lends to arpegios, (essentially broken chords) on the piano and which greater knowledge of the chordal structure comes improved recognition of chordal inversions (used in improvisation) and this is usually accompanied by improving technique. I know that you know all this but I think your approach to a chordal based methodology has its roots in improvisation which is a separate skill. Improvisation CAN be learnt (or at least the basics of) but there are definitely those that can and those that can’t as far as it is concerned since it uses a different part of the brain. Improvisation is instinctive. So is interpretation. So can sight-reading be. We all have different strengths relating to different parts of our brain. It sounds to me as though you are skilled at improvising and in order to pass that knowledge on ( in the sense of teaching) it would have to be based in theory, ie, chord knowledge, I think, I’m not sure how else, since you can’t teach people to ‘feel’ something. I am not a natural improviser, certainly not on the piano, although on the recorder I find easier, (probably because it does not get confused in chords!)

      If I were to go about teaching improvising I would have to go back to basics in terms of chord structure, chord composition and inversion. Using the knowledge I have I would be able to say which chords go with which melodies and in what order, plus any embellishments to the chords to make them sound ‘jazzy’ or give extra effect. I would be able to, but it’d be an effort, and in order to improve is something which would take practise – in my case at least since it is not natural to me. My natural ability lies more in the interpretation of classical music within practising and performing; what is said behind every note and the tone that is therefore implied when playing. If you have a natural skill in improvisation it is a very enjoyable gift i would imagine. Can you imagine a way that you could teach it to people?

      You raise an interesting point but I can’t help being stuck in the view that people cannot progress further with improvisation until they have the basics of general methodology, resting on technique, theory and actual musical playing. Improvisation is taught as a separate subject but never to complete beginners, (it was a unit within my music degree for instance), because is only applicable when people have the basics under their thumb, so to speak.

      However, if you have some miracle theory, let the world know it!!!

      Bye for now,

      Bel xx


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