20 May 2004


Overheard misconception about keyboard players:

Musicians who can play two keyboards at once are extremely skilled.

Students learning the pipe organ have to play on two to five manuals (keyboards) plus pedals, which consist of generally an octave or more played with their feet. Simultaneously. Hand independence is one of the first things a student practices, and although it is continually developed, it should be learned with confidence within a few years (although IANAPT, I am not a piano teacher).

Finger independence is another aspect of skill, and one that is probably more difficult to learn than hand independence (try tapping two-against-three with separate hands, then try with just your fourth and fifth fingers on one hand). Many keyboard pieces by Bach contain three or four separate melodies played simultaneously. Although they are difficult pieces, they are not unplayable by even mediocre pianists.

Am I taking this too far out of context? W/R/T pop music, Duran Duran's keyboard player early on used a two octave keyboard with a flat surface instead of keys. Depech Mode couldn't even play their early music after they recorded it (all studio work). Should pop musicians be judged by a different standard? Folk musicians are, but then no one generally ever accuses them of virtuosity.

Next up: The misconception that it is very easy to tune a piano. This will be dispelled as I tell the long and arduous tale of how the contra Bb string on my Charles Walter piano recently broke, and of the painful experience I had (am having) getting it replaced and tuned.

[ posted by sstrader on 20 May 2004 at 1:11:47 AM in Music ]