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Master class protocol

Posted By: Cardinal201

Master class protocol - 02/09/13 05:14 AM

It just occurred to me that I should have asked this question a lot earlier, but here it is, anyway... My kiddo is attending a master class tomorrow along with 5 other students, and his regular teacher (who will be hosting the guest teacher at her studio) has asked him to prepare 3 pieces for the class--the two pieces he recently performed at a festival and one other of his own choosing. My question (which, in some sort of mental lapse, I simply didn't think to ask the teacher) is whether the third piece should be as performance-ready as the festival pieces or if it should be more of a work-in-progress. That is, is the purpose of a master class simply to further refine/enhance pieces that are already polished or would it also be appropriate for the class to provide another level of insight into specific areas of challenge that may not yet have been overcome under the regular teacher's tutelage? Currently, my child is planning to play a piece that he has memorized but not perfected. Do you think this is a good choice? If not, he definitely has other performance-ready pieces from which to choose, so it wouldn't be too late to make a switch. I just wanted to get this forum's point of view first. Thank you in advance for your help!
Posted By: Minniemay

Re: Master class protocol - 02/09/13 05:19 AM

It's all good. So often masterclasses are just re-hashing things that really don't need attention. If there is some real work to be done, all the better. Stop worrying.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Master class protocol - 02/09/13 01:02 PM

I agree, give that master class teacher something to work for! He should mention before playing that piece that it is a work in progress.
Posted By: Overexposed

Re: Master class protocol - 02/09/13 01:47 PM

A master class is about providing a learning opportunity for the class. There has to be something to be improved. So if pieces are perfected, there is not much to learn. This takes a certain humility for the student to put themselves on the spot with a piece that needs improvement.

The classes are best when the student plays a piece fluently (with or without music) and the teacher is able to give pointers in how to improve the piece. The pieces are best selected by the teacher since the student may not be aware of which pieces have problems.

In your case, you've been told to just pick something. If the piece really is played well, no problem. Your child may get a few compliments and then it's on to the next performer...not much use to the class, but it was their choice to tell you to just pick something.
Posted By: Cardinal201

Re: Master class protocol - 02/10/13 05:05 AM

Thank you so much for your replies! The kiddo stuck with his choice for his third piece at today's master class, and all went well. The teacher's comments for him centered on taking his pieces to the next level by deliberately and thoughtfully making his own choices in expressively shaping the music, particularly when there are no markings from the composer to otherwise provide guidance. She also emphasized the basic need to play piano with his arms rather than his fingers alone, both to provide power and to avoid strain/injury.

I thought the master class teacher did a great job of engaging a diverse group of 6 students and making connections in her critiques. At one point, she showed my son (with whom she had already worked) a phrase from the sheet music of another student and asked how he thought she might shape it. He studied the unmarked phrase for a moment, and then very proudly announced, "She should play it crescendo!" This statement of hubris resulted in peals of laughter from all of us present, as the other student is 18 and has been playing for upwards of 10 years, while my son is 5 years old with 5 months of piano experience. It was all in good fun, though!
Posted By: Overexposed

Re: Master class protocol - 02/10/13 01:50 PM

Thanks for the update Cardinal201. I'm chuckling over your son's announcement that "She should play it crescendo!". Kids are such fun at age 5.

I will be meeting a 6 year old today (new student to start lessons). The story I received was that his class is having a talent show and he announced that he will play piano. This announcement from a kid who has never played piano. LOL! I look forward to meeting him.
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