What do music theory, aural skills, and sight-reading have in common? They are all necessary skills for musicians who plan on getting above the beginner level on any instrument, and they are all expounded upon by learning the piano.
This week, we spoke to some professional musicians that do not specifically have careers that have anything to do with the piano about how having an intermediate skill set in piano-playing has helped them be better musicians.
Philadelphia-based mezzo-soprano Beatrice Osborne said that: “Although my degree and career are in vocal music, it has always been clear to me that the piano was a springboard for my musicianship. Piano is essential with academic music–when you learn piano you learn theory. Key signatures are all laid out in front of you in a way that’s more apparent than any other instrument. I am the vocalist that I am today because of the piano lessons I took until I started studying voice at the collegiate level.” Singers face a unique challenge: no matter how many scales they practice, finding the right note without a queue from another instrument is nearly impossible without a strong background in music theory and aural skills. Beatrice spoke to this: “Auditions always have a sight-reading element and sight-reading has always come naturally to me, and I credit that entirely to my experience in piano.I wouldn’t get hired for anything if I wasn’t able to read well. I may not have even gotten into college for studying music.”
Haley Parent, a New York Metropolitan area based Music Therapist for Jammin Jenn Music Therapy has a background in violin. She says that: “In Music Therapy, improvisation is an absolute necessity. In improvisation, piano is an absolute necessity. Without the piano I don’t think I would be able to improvise with my clients nearly as well as I can. As a working musician, I wish that I had learned piano first, before I had learned violin or guitar. The skills that I really struggled to learn just fell into place after I gained some knowledge of the piano.”
Cunningham’s own Rich Galassini was a brass player when he first started taking music lessons, and he said that “the piano is just really essential to having a deeper understanding of music come naturally. The trumpet has three buttons and there are eight notes in the major scale–if I had played piano I would have seen scales all right in front of me, with illustrated whole-steps and half-steps. The piano is really great to be able to actually see exactly what you’re doing. It makes sense in a way that a lot of wind instruments don’t–I think wind players have to work harder to learn the things that piano players just take for granted. It also helps with playing in an ensemble: the piano gives students a deep understanding of harmony–with any other instrument the student is typically playing or singing a single melody, but with the piano, the student can play many different parts. ”
And there you have it, musicians and music parents–piano is essential to the study of any musical art. To sign up for piano lessons, call us at 215-991-0847 or go to cunninghampiano.com/musicschool