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Mozart Sonata in C – Parallel Key Modulation

While I was working on the Mozart C major Sonata, two bars caught my attention. In my experience, often, a bar on it’s own does not generate a meaningful feeling. However, two bars, when placed next to each other, can have a profound aesthetic that the chords alone did not achieve.

You can hear the moment I’m talking about at 1:54. These chords are based off the same root, but have different modes. The first harmony is a G major chord, and the second harmony is a G minor chord. The first harmony is the end of a cadence, signalling an end of a section. The second harmony begins the next section, forging forward with a different mood.

Parallel Key Modulations

The G major section ends on a cheery note, flaunting it’s scale in flying runs. The G minor section retains this acrobatic attack, making me wonder more about how a change of mode can be used.  After doing some research online, I found that music theorists call this parallel key modulations. The following video gives instructions on the variety of ways you can modulate using parallel key modulations.

I love the effect that the parallel key modulation has! I am looking forward to exploring it further the next session I play and incorporating it into my own tunes.

Eric

 

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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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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.