Methodology is intuition reconstructed in tranquility. – Paul Lazarsfeld
Throughout my journey as a musician, I have found written music to be the clearest way to understand the mechanics of what I hear when the notes begin to play. It allows for a musician to visually dissect the multiple layers of audible poetry embedded in a song, and then recreate the composer’s intentions in his or her own voice.
I like to think of written music as the road map by which we navigate our course through melody and harmony. Without musical notation, we are left with only imitable sounds at best.
I teach students to play the piano via written music. For students wishing to play the instrument by sight or by ear, I cannot say I am your teacher. However, if you’ve always wanted to make sense of the black squiggles and dots draped over innumerable lines of sheer confusion, I hold the key to unlocking your understanding.
Piano is unique in that the instrumentalist must quickly read and digest multiple layers of notes in order to play a piece. The pianist is essentially both the conductor and orchestra, having every symphonic instrument represented below his or her fingertips. The eighty-eight key instrument provides a pianist with as much opportunity as it does challenge. The trick is in learning how those eighty-eight keys fit together to create an infinite number of tunes.
My approach is simple. Based on the Alfred technique, my methodology hinges on melodic intervals, or the distance between notes and the various shapes they form – not the notes themselves. Once the note names are learned, we depart quickly from relentless memorization. Instead, we begin to see the notes in relation to others rather than individual spots on a page.
In other words, we learn to identify patterns. And once we recognize them, the instrument is ours for the taking.