Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Three Ways to Play Piano

My learning of piano was revolutionized by the tri-fold learning method of Dave Clark in Brandon, Florida.  For 30 years, he has been using the method of teaching by Notes, Chord Symbols, and Ear with great success.  I have continued in his foot steps teaching this approach.  So, what makes it work?

First, the three ways bring a great variety of music to the musician’s fingertips.  Some music is only available completely notated or in lead sheet form.  Some music is not written down!  No matter which camp it’s in, you can play it with one (or maybe all?)of  the three ways. 

Second, the three ways give to the musician incredible versatility.  The above reason is one, the ability to add to the music according to taste is another.  The list goes on.

Third, the three ways reinforce and enhance each other.  Simple as that!  You can see this in a myriad of ways.  To name one, when you know chords well, you will quickly spot them in notated music, seeing recurring patterns, and read much, MUCH faster.

Fourth, when you have three ways to play, each tapping into different neurological, motor, and aural functions, each having their access to certain genres, one  of the ways is bound to stick with you!  Mr. Clark has noticed this from keeping in touch with his students over the years.

By the way, the musician who plays tuba is just as likely to prophet by learning all three ways.  Granted, the tuba, like most instruments, does not in obvious ways give the ability for playing harmony which is needed for the chord symbol approach. Yet if a tuba player learned a bit of the chord symbol style on the piano, it would enhance his reading and by ear skills. 

Mr. Clark wrote Piano Companion, a book which guides the student to advanced playing in all three ways.  I use it with intermediate to advanced and older students.

Because this is so basic and special to my teaching method, and kind of revolutionary in the piano pedagogy community, I’m sure I will write on it more in the future.

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