Diversifying Our Piano Students
By Michael Power
Chamber Music is one the most intimate forms of musical collaboration. The repertoire is broad and the skills required to execute it are varied and often specific to the specialisation of the instrumentalists.
The traditional role of the pianist over time has developed to be either in the absolute foreground or in the shadows of the background. In other words, pianists have worked to perform as soloists or, in its ugliest term perhaps, the hired help. Last century, much work was committed to illustrating the accompanist as a pianist with specific skill and integrity to both the music and the partner musician. Notable pianists such as Gerald Moore went on to create literature that outlined the trade-specific skills required of an accompanist.
In more recent years, much work has been done to shift the language away from ‘accompanist’ to include terms such as ‘associate artist’, or the use of ‘collaborative pianist’ or even ‘pianist’, and to establish a new etiquette to include the pianist as part of the ensemble. With online literature such as the Collaborative Piano Blog and Chamber Music Journal, a greater awareness of this trend, with pianists taking bows at equal points with associate artists and a change in name, is becoming of greater importance.
“The term collaborative piano is an Americanism that is gradually becoming acceptable in Australia. At first, when hearing it spoken by an American musician, I felt an aversion, which was quite misplaced. Upon reflection, the term encompasses far more the true engagement undertaken by pianists who choose to work primarily with instrumentalists or singers. The role is one of collaboration, not merely accompanying, and I feel the use of a terminology that aptly describes the role is beneficial in raising the profile, giving more credibility and raising the standard of performance to the discipline. I am proud that I am a pianist - one who spends a great deal of time in collaboration with other musicians. In other words, I am a collaborative pianist."
DR JEANELL CARRIGAN
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN COLLABORATIVE PIANO
SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC
How does it look in the practice room?
Teaching students the necessary skills for collaborating with peers and fellow musicians is some of our most exciting work. READ ON >>