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piano majors being secluded

Posted By: LWpianistin

piano majors being secluded - 09/13/05 04:08 AM

In my second year as a music major, I have come to notice one thing: piano majors are often forgotten, it seems, or at least separated from the instrumentalists and vocalists. Up until last semester, some other music majors still thought I was a vocal major!! :rolleyes: Also, I have noticed that piano majors seem to be in the practice rooms ALL THE TIME. I tend to practice for 3 hours a day, which I feel isn't enough. The instrumentalists will practice for an hour or so, and the vocalists will practice for about 1/2 an hour. So, why is it that the hardest working group of musicians are often the ones left out of the loop? There is the obvious answer that unless they know another instrument, pianists aren't in Wind Symphony or the equivalent. But is there any other reason we are secluded from the rest?
Posted By: Suz

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/13/05 05:20 AM

I wouldn't call the other musicians less hard working! I can (or I could) practice my piano for 3 straight hours, no problem. If I tried to do that on my viola, I would be in AGONY. Having said that, I can't believe the other guys only practice an hour a day. Maybe they break it up? Or practice elsewhere--they are a lot more portable than pianos, you know! smile

I think you answered your own question about pianists in seclusion.
Posted By: Kreisler

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/13/05 05:49 AM

We like it that way. laugh
Posted By: Max W

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/13/05 03:04 PM

I will be doing all my practise in my flat when I go to a conservatoire/uni - taking my digital in my car so I know I can get at least a couple of hours in.
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/13/05 11:48 PM

I also have a digital in my room. I do realise that it's a lot easier for piaists to practice for longer periods of time, if they have the time in the first place :p I play some double bass, and after 1/2 an hour my fingers hurt. I just don't understand why it seems that pianists tend to practice more.
Posted By: pianojerome

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 12:08 AM

Why do pianists practice more?

The answer is obvious.

The piano is a FAR SUPERIOR instrument to ALL other instruments, and we pianists are FAR SUPERIOR to ALL other instrumentalists.


laugh
Posted By: pianojerome

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 12:10 AM

Seriously, though, singers can't sing for 8 hours every day, because they'll lose their voice.

Wind players can't play for 8 hours every day, because they'll bust their chops.
Posted By: SinspawnAmmes

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 01:05 AM

Truth.
Posted By: -Frycek

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 01:32 AM

Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Why do pianists practice more?

The answer is obvious.

The piano is a FAR SUPERIOR instrument to ALL other instruments, and we pianists are FAR SUPERIOR to ALL other instrumentalists.


laugh
Sam, I just LOVE the way you think!
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 01:55 AM

I must agree, Sam, that I love the first answer you gave! Although, I do know that other musicians aren't able to practice as often as pianists, even if they do break it up. It's just strange to be our own little world, especially in college. I like to think it's because we're special....in a good way. smile
Posted By: pianojerome

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 02:43 AM

The piano is also a much more practical instrument.

As David Barber writes, playing the piano in one's home "ensures the early departure of unwanted guests."

(Barber. A Musician's Dictionary. 53.)
Posted By: Contrapunctus

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 08:44 PM

I think that pianists practice more because there is more to learning music on their instrument than other instruments. After all, piano music has TWO cleffs!
Kreisler, are you still going to USC? I've seen pianists from USC perform. They're usually very good.
Posted By: M.L. O'Donnell

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 09:00 PM

I am a pianist, organist, and vocalist. I studied all 3 at college and have done so through the years. Here is my thought. To play the piano or organ, I have to have an instrument in front of me to play. This would be true with any instrumentalists. But, with voice, I sing wherever or whenever I choose. My instrument is always with me. I don't think is has anything to do with who is the best musician.
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 10:53 PM

I never meant it to seem as if pianists are the best musicians. My dad went to Indiana for theory and double bass, and he is an excellent musician. It just seems that a lot more of the pianists take themselves and their studies more seriously than the other music majors at my school. Key word there: seems. I was just wondering if it's like that at other places.
Posted By: pianomad

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 11:26 PM

Setting aside the fact that pianists can play their instruments a lot longer than other instrumentalists and vocalists can play theirs before fatigue sets in, I think that most young pianists in school practice longer than other instrumentalists because they haven't learned how to practice most efficiently. They haven't needed to. When I was in school, I spent long hours daily confined in a practice room and accomplished a fraction of what I do presently in a shorter amount of time. As I get older, I grow more impatient with time wasted at my instrument.
Posted By: poulencfan

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 11:27 PM

It gets lonely playing piano. You practice alone all day and you perform alone for the most part. There aren't a lot of opportunities for ensemble playing.

Don't know if piano attracts more solitary people to it or if it creates them.

The older I get, the more interesting duets and two-piano pieces look because I get tired of the solitude.
Posted By: pianomad

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 11:49 PM

Quote
Originally posted by poulencfan:
[QB] It gets lonely playing piano. You practice alone all day and you perform alone for the most part. There aren't a lot of opportunities for ensemble playing.

I beg to differ. Ensemble opportunities for pianists abound, at least in larger markets. Ensemble playing is where it's at, in my opinion, and pianists need to explore that avenue more, to avoid the self-imposed seclusion that plagues most students.

As a student, I really disliked collaborative playing, but now it's the only music I want to play. I'm through with solo repertoire, abundant as it may be.
Posted By: poulencfan

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/14/05 11:54 PM

Pianomad, you're probably right, but when you're a student in a competitive school and flogged if you don't practice 6 hours+ a day (6 hours daily was required of piano majors at IU when I was there), it's hard to find the time and energy to explore other opportunities.
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/15/05 12:21 AM

I must say that I would LOVE to play in ensembles, but at my school, which is a small, unknown college, with a smaller music department, the only opportunity I have to play in such a setting is Jazz Band, and as much as I like jazz, I want to concentrate on "classical" music. So, I have no opportunity to play in an ensemble while at this school. I haven't even accompanied anyone before, and I have to somehow do that this year. I don't really mind being alone to practice, and being in the university choir helps some feelings of isolation.
Posted By: opus119

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/15/05 02:31 AM

LW - surely there is a lone violinist, flute player or clarinet player - or maybe a vocalist you could accompany. Not to mention, get another pianist and do four-hand... there are so many great works for four-hands. Mozart, Faure, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel, Mendelssohn, Bizet - that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's so much fun to practice with someone who is *on the same page*, as they say.
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/15/05 04:05 AM

Thanks for the ideas, opus119. I have found another piano student who wants to work on duet and duo-piano literature. We actually have a goal for our Senior Recital, or maybe even Junior Recital: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, duo-piano. It will be quite a challenge, I think, but a fun one, even if we don't have it ready for a recital. smile I'm sure I'll find someone to accompany soon, since I need it for credit!
Posted By: kcoul058

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/18/05 08:42 AM

Yeah, i was going to ask if you didn't have a mandatory duets class for a year or two.. we have two here, and they're great! This semester, six pairs of us are going to do a few each of the 21 hungarian dances by Brahms, and then perform them in order. Should be fun!
Posted By: BruceD

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/18/05 01:00 PM

Quote
Originally posted by kcoul058:
Yeah, i was going to ask if you didn't have a mandatory duets class for a year or two.. we have two here, and they're great! This semester, six pairs of us are going to do a few each of the 21 hungarian dances by Brahms, and then perform them in order. Should be fun!
Indeed, you should find the Brahms fun to play. I performed a few of them with a duet partner at Summer School a couple of summers ago and enjoyed them very much.

Regards,
Posted By: pianomad

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 02:30 AM

Quote
Originally posted by poulencfan:
Pianomad, you're probably right, but when you're a student in a competitive school and flogged if you don't practice 6 hours+ a day (6 hours daily was required of piano majors at IU when I was there), it's hard to find the time and energy to explore other opportunities.
Maybe I've forgotten what it's like to be young, full of stamina. All I know is it's usually impossible for me to practice more than 2 or 3 hours daily, even generously broken up over the course of the day. (There are the rare times I'm up all night in a fevered trance playing until the sun comes up; but I'm in an altered state then, sort of my way of speaking in tongues...) What usually happens is I get mentally exhausted and actually bored; the longer I play the less focus I have, and thus each additional minute spent at the keyboard becomes less productive. Instead of trying to fill a time quota, I make very clear goals for myself each time I sit at the piano. I can't imagine 6 hours of focused practice every day.
Posted By: divadeb

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 03:13 PM

Weighing in as a singer...

Voice majors generally practice solo exercises and/or lit for an hour or less a day. Undergrads will be required to do 1-2 hrs additional ensemble singing a day and grads will be doing considerably more solo/ensemble singing in rehearsal for opera workshops, main stage opera productions etc. Almost all will be singing elsewhere as well...church jobs, community opera. Bear in mind, with singers, they're putting additional miles on an instrument we all use (and mis-use) every day, in speaking. It's also an instrument that gets sick and tired along with the musician, so the singer has to be smart and not use it too much when it is in poor condition. I learned to do a lot of music learning and "practicing" in my head. Sitting by myself, thinking through the notes, rhythms and words. Saves wear and tear. If I had been learning piano lit, I would have been playing during that process of learning...the beginning stages, the memorization stage...but in singing, it was neither necessary nor desirable to do that part of it out loud. For a singer, writing the words (in many languages)of their songs and roles over and over again to hammer them into the brain is one form of "practice" that you will never hear, but takes hours, and is just as much a part of being an accomplished performer as practicing scales and arpeggios.

On the other hand...it's tempting to answer the question, "Why don't singers practice more?" with this, "because we don't need to."

wink laugh
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 03:59 PM

Quote
Originally posted by kcoul058:
Yeah, i was going to ask if you didn't have a mandatory duets class for a year or two.. we have two here, and they're great! This semester, six pairs of us are going to do a few each of the 21 hungarian dances by Brahms, and then perform them in order. Should be fun!
yes, we do have a mandatory duet class, duo-piano class, and accompanying class, all a semester long. I haven't had the chance to take any of them yet. Right now I'm taking Piano Literature. It's really fun!
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 04:05 PM

Quote
Originally posted by divadeb:
Weighing in as a singer...

Voice majors generally practice solo exercises and/or lit for an hour or less a day. Undergrads will be required to do 1-2 hrs additional ensemble singing a day and grads will be doing considerably more solo/ensemble singing in rehearsal for opera workshops, main stage opera productions etc. Almost all will be singing elsewhere as well...church jobs, community opera. Bear in mind, with singers, they're putting additional miles on an instrument we all use (and mis-use) every day, in speaking. It's also an instrument that gets sick and tired along with the musician, so the singer has to be smart and not use it too much when it is in poor condition. I learned to do a lot of music learning and "practicing" in my head. Sitting by myself, thinking through the notes, rhythms and words. Saves wear and tear. If I had been learning piano lit, I would have been playing during that process of learning...the beginning stages, the memorization stage...but in singing, it was neither necessary nor desirable to do that part of it out loud. For a singer, writing the words (in many languages)of their songs and roles over and over again to hammer them into the brain is one form of "practice" that you will never hear, but takes hours, and is just as much a part of being an accomplished performer as practicing scales and arpeggios.

On the other hand...it's tempting to answer the question, "Why don't singers practice more?" with this, "because we don't need to."

wink laugh
I do understand that diction is VERY important. Perhaps singers don't practice as much because it doesn't take them as long to learn their music? I am currently working on three - four pieces, whereas some vocalists are working on up to six. I mean, one staff with one note at a time compared to two staves with up to 10 notes at a time...
Posted By: divadeb

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 10:07 PM

"one staff with one note at a time compared to two staves with up to 10 notes at a time..."

Nah...it's not that at all. Singersdon't just learn the line they sing. They have to hear the harmonies and know them, know the accompaniment well, even in a solo song with piano accompaniment. If they're learning a role in an opera, they learn everyone's part, not just their own, in addition to learning where to go on stage and what to do when they get there. There really isn't a direct comparison between the "difficulty" involved in the tasks. They're both hard. Most singers can't play the piano to solo performance standards, most non-singers can't do what singers do and don't want to. They require totally different sets of skills.
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/19/05 10:27 PM

Of course they do. I admire singers and their talent. Wow. I never thought about the accompaniment. A slightly non-related question: Why do singers often work on the same songs at the same time? A lot of my friends who are vocal majors are working on EXACTLY the same stuff. Why?
Posted By: divadeb

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/20/05 12:20 AM

I don't know! :-)

If they are undergrads (are they?) there may be some required repertoire that they have to learn in your school's program. I tend to assign very varied rep for my students, as that is what I was used to in school. We were always working hard to find some unique cycles for recitals because we all ended up going to each other's performances. I would imagine if everyone's doing the same stuff it's a "teacher thing". Where do you go to school? Are all those singers in the same studio? Maybe somebody needs to buy their teacher some new books wink
Posted By: LWpianistin

Re: piano majors being secluded - 09/20/05 02:09 AM

haha. I go to Longwood University, a small school, with a very small music department. There are three voice studios here, and, come to think of it, all of them are in the same studio. Odd. It must be a teacher thing. I think it also depends on what they are working on in diction.
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