Parents, we all want our children to develop into wonderful musicians and sensitive artists. Isn't this why we are all working so hard at our instruments? We may be missing an important element of study. Practicing and performing with piano. Why is this so important? There are many reasons and benefits to playing with piano. I will list several here in this article.
1. When a composer writes a piece, he or she has a complete idea of how the music should sound. As a violinist or cellist, we are only playing a single line of this entire piece. When you build a house, it has many different systems that work together to make it a complete place to live. Of course, we need a carpenter to build the structure, but then we need people who specialize in the areas like heating and air-conditioning, electrical, plumbing and even design to furnish your home.
The composers idea of the music also has many systems that work together to make the piece complete. These include Rhythm, harmony, melody, articulation, texture, dynamics, and phrasing. When your child learns a new piece, they are ONLY playing the MELODY! All of the other components of the piece are in the accompaniment, whether that accompaniment was originally written for piano, or perhaps in the case of a concerto, originally written for an orchestra, and then "reduced" to a piano accompaniment.
If you were building a new home, and you made sure to install the best furnace and AC unit, but there was no electrical wiring connected to them to make them work, your home would be very uncomfortable.
Making sure that your child plays their piece with the piano ensures that they understand how ALL of the elements of music work together to make a complete piece.
2. As musicians, we have a tendency to allow "technical issues" to get in the way of "musical integrity." When we only play on our own, it is easy to allow these musical mistakes to go unchecked. As soon as we put the piece together with the piano, suddenly it is very clear that we are taking liberty with the rhythm, tempo, intonation, or some other aspect of the music.
3. Music is meant to be played as a collaborative effort. Performing with the piano part helps your child learn how to "give and take" when to step out and be a soloist, and when to be part of the ensemble.
4. Interpretation. As Suzuki students, we learn our pieces from the reference recording. But as we mature and develop as musicians, we want to start to incorporate our own ideas about how the music should be interpreted. During this phase of your child's development as a musician, it is important to work together with other great musicians. We learn so much from each other which ultimately helps us to be able to make good musical choices on our own. Having the input of your your pianist/music coach in addition to your teacher is great opportunity to learn even more information about a piece. I know that in my own teaching, I can get very focused on the technical aspects of the piece and not spend as much time on the musical elements. When my students work together with the pianist, they focus much more on the musical details in the piece.
There is a natural tendency to think that once we have "passed" a piece in our lesson, that we are finished with this piece, and we will continue to review and polish it at home and in group class. But the reality is that we haven't even begun to work on that piece until we have put it together with the piano. We all take advantage of performing with piano the one or two pieces a year that we are going to perform on a solo recital, but actually, we should rehearse every piece we learn before considering that study to be complete.
We are so fortunate in our school to have an amazing pianist/coach on our staff. Have you and your child had the experience of a coaching with Melissa Zindel? If you have not, I highly recommend that you do so. You will be amazed at how motivating it can be for your child, knowing that he or she will have an opportunity to put their music together with a collaborator. There is no level at which this type of work is not relevant. Even by the Minuets in book one, we can benefit from working with the piano. You can schedule a coaching with Melissa online at wsste.com/piano