en music studio


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

Take Piano Lessons With Eric

Learn More About Piano Lessons with Eric


Perspective

Piano lessons is generally based on the long term one-on-one connection between a teacher and student. Through time and music, teacher learns about the student’s unique abilities, challenges, and personality.

One of the issues that arise out of this paradigm, is the lack of different perspectives of the child’s learning. Usually, there are three perspectives: one of the teacher, one of the student, and the parents.

So at the minimum, most piano students get 3 perspectives on their musical journey. This is not too shabby! However, in a long term journey in piano, 3 perspectives are not enough to provide guidance for constant growth and change.

Why is Perspective Important?

Perspective is important because it provides context to our journey. Let’s begin discussing by challenges in music. When a student is struggling in a piece, there are several different perspectives a teacher can take in solving the issue. Is it strictly an unfamiliarity problem? Therefore, can it be solved by more practicing? What comes first? Technique or musicality? What should be practiced first? These different routes drastically lead to differences in student’s musical journeys. After all, teacher are mentors and provide their philosophy as a guide.

 

On that note, it is important to identify what the goal of the teacher is. If the teacher is aiming to cultivate composers, the perspective on what steps to take differ widely from cultivating a performer.

Even when considering the above views, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a teacher, I can not guarantee that I have the perfect idea of music. Art is open to the public’s interpretation and criticism. That being said, it is important to have other people’s opinions on their observations.

How Can We Add Perspective?

Switching teachers for student is equally disruptive. When you switch teacher, you once again have to take time to build a relationship. In our next blog, we will discuss how to add the benefit of different perspectives in piano lessons.