classical music


Planned Improvisation

Planned Improvisation is a important part of EN Music Studio’s curriculum.

What is planned improvisation?

It refers to the planning before an improvisation session. The student and teacher may plan what the key, rhythm, articulation, ending, beginning, themes, dynamics are. The list is expansive! The more advanced the student is, the more we can plan the improvisation. The result, is a much more cohesive project, rather than free exploration.

Why is it important?

Planned improvisation requires student input. Essentially, it’s their project! By giving the student creative control, students develop their independent ear for what sounds good and/or correct. This type of creative control also allows the student to be authentic. What music concepts are they familiar with? What music concepts are they not? All this would show in the planning stages of the improvisation. Furthermore, it allows the students to explore music concepts in a meaningful way; it is incorporated into a piece of their art.

Effect on Written Piano Learning

Planned improvisation allows the student to apply standard musical concepts to their written music studies. For example, once the student has explored what double eighth notes are in their creative project, they are more likely to be able to execute the technique and rhythm in their written studies. This is because they have been able to explore the same concept in multi-modally; This is similar to the random practicing concept.

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Free Exploration

Natural Free Exploration

Children love the potential of the piano. Within minutes of having an empty piano in a space, I see children gravitate to the bench. I see them hit the same key repeatedly, observing that the pitch doesn’t change. In addition, I watch them vary their strength (usually to the upper dynamic level!), to test out the power of the piano. Even further, I observe them go up (right) and down (left) with joy, experiencing the huge range of notes.

The piano is unique, in the fact that it’s easy to make pitches. In fact, you could literally slam your fist down, and create a cluster of pitches. Compare this to using pencil crayons! Pencil crayons are easy to use; press the tip against the paper…and ta da! Colour.

Some instruments are not this easy. Have you ever tried to play the flute or trumpet before? Think back to your first time trying to blow a solid note. How did it go? For me, it was a huge mess! I mostly sputtered all over, with no discernible pitch. Those instruments add tremendous value to how our body relates to the instrument to make music. However, for a beginner, it is much harder to explore before that basic technique is achieved.

EN Music Studio truly believes free exploration is important to the student. Just like when a child learns to draw, we can not force them immediately to draw an apple or tree. They are more likely to scribble! To explore the different effects one can achieve depending on the weight of the pencil, the pencil type, and the different drawing strokes.

Piano is no different. Before we create fine art, the student needs time to explore the canvas of the piano freely. If stifled into a strict exercise only routine, piano students will view piano as an academic subject, and not as an artistic one. There is nothing wrong with the academic side of piano! The question is: what are you intending for the piano lessons to bring to the children?

 

 


Finger Mapping of Keyboard

Finger mapping of the keyboard encourages development of music theory and independence of fingers. A maze of black and white notes to beginners, EN Music Studio’s piano lessons aim to help students recognize patterns on the keyboard in a meaningful way.
Visual mapping refers to the ability to have in our memory where a particular note is on the keyboard. Sometimes, you see piano players playing with their eyes closed. They know where the notes are just by touch!

What We See?

In basic terms, a diatonic scale can be broken down into 12 semitones, or half steps. That’s the distance from one key, to it’s immediate next white or black key. This distance is equal in between each key. This is the tricky part!; visually, some people feel like it does not appear equal. You can tell that the distance is equal by the pitches heard when playing them. Every 12 semitones, you can see that the pattern of black and white notes visually repeat. The notes are also correspond, however at an octave higher or lower.

What We Feel?

Lost? This is a common feeling among piano beginners. Not only is this visually and audibly confusing to begin with, most students launch right into looking at written music too. The result is a struggle to coordinate our eyes, our ears, and our fingers.

Finger Mapping

This is why finger mapping is an important part of learning how to play piano. If the piano player has a strong ability to recognize where notes are on the keyboard by touch, they are able to focus their attention in other places.

This encourages creativity in our improvisation sessions, as students are able to recall the note they want, when they want to. With increased finger mapping, students will be able to plan phrases ahead of time in their head, and then execute it.

This also encourages written music or classic music practice. With less attention devoted to finding the right note, students are able to see larger patterns in phrases, and see smaller details like dynamics and articulation

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