Faster Is Not Always Better

Article by Joseph Ferretti patience

When it comes to learning something like a fugue from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, students often want to get all of the notes learned as fast as possible. Yet to realize the intended effect of independent voices or lines that are all equally and expressively singing takes a lot of control, finesse, awareness, patience, and focus. There are some approaches using digital tools that may keep students on track and a bit less likely to skip steps along the way. The “gradus ad Parnassum” for successful mastery of a fugue can be laid out in digital tools such as CADENZA™, as these tools feature the ability to create structured and divided tasks.

To begin establishing a strong foundation, it pays to learn each individual voice really well. It can be very difficult to get piano students to patiently complete this task: they have gotten used to playing full textures of music. But, a fluent and expressive grasp of each line will inform the process of putting all voices together, encouraging and buoying students to ask and answer questions along the way, such as: Now that I have these other notes to play, how can I still get the tenor to sound like it did when I was playing only that line? Is the subject projecting enough? Does the alto voice sound musical and phrased in this particular moment? The list of added benefits that stem from truly knowing each individual voice goes on and on.

Use of a digital tool such asCADENZA™ can allow teachers to:

1) Lay out and assign the steps over a desired succession of time.  A task is broken into smaller tasks, allowing students to see the structure of their learning process and check of the steps as they achieve them.

2) Assign videotaping or recording of work to be a part of the learning process, which could be for feedback from the teacher, or for the student’s own enhancement of awareness.

3) Attach links to other sites and resources that enhance awareness of the composer, type of piece, applicable theoretical concepts, and more.

4) Allow students to reflect or keep a journal on the process, which can illuminate progress level and facilitate understanding of the overall lessons the teacher is aiming to impart.

 

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