A discussion is intensifying on Facebook’s “The Art of Piano Pedagogy” about teaching technique as a separate sphere of learning, versus an inseparable part of the total music-making process. I tend to embrace a style of teaching that fuses all ingredients together.
This bias does not rule out quality time I assign students to practice scales and arpeggios in all keys around the Circle of Fifths. These experiences are NOT isolated from the pieces a pupil studies. In fact they are interwoven into any number of compositions from various historic eras. And these are not regarded as pedantic exercises to be drilled relentlessly by a task master. (They are a panoply of geographies that require adjustments of hands, wrists, elbows and fingers)
Scales in various articulations, for example, are springboards to shape phrases, create beautiful dynamic contrasts, and explore a variety of groupings that the pupil will encounter in the piano literature. They feed in and out of his repertoire.
Having said that, I demonstrate in this video how a five-finger position piece such as “Circle Dance” by Ferdinand Beyer, is the very springboard to teach phrase shaping, nuance, dynamic contrast, in an INTEGRATED physical, affective, and cognitive learning environment. (Notice the flexible wrist, in particular, and rolling motions)
Students of all levels and ages can grow technique and musicianship together in a happy blend in the course of their piano studies.
“Circle Dance” in Duet with Fritz, age 8