If you learn classical you can play anything! - Myth or reality? ... true or false?

Discuss the pros and cons of various "methods" with other teachers

Postby Tranquillo » Fri May 16, 2008 8:54 pm

This classic myth, (ignore the pun) ... has been going on for ages. Many musicains claim "If you can learn classical, you can play anything" ...

To an extent this is believable. "Classical" or western traditional art music is technically challenging and in terms of interpreting, there is a complexity.

However, pop musicains although arrangements are simple and repetitive, it attracts the mainstream public. The audience of a pop concert would realitate differently to one in a classical audience. A person could then question weather the interpretation is harder...

Classical today is seen as the 'superior' or 'serious' style of music ... In the piano education world what would one say about the idea of "if you learn classical you can play anything"
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat May 17, 2008 8:27 am

There is challenging music in any genre. You can learn to play piano using music from any genre, although you'll probably get the best training in classical. If you don't like classical music, but like popular or jazz, perhaps taking lessons in those genres will motivate you to practice more. I don't think classical necessarily fully prepares one to play jazz piano for example, although with classical training, one can learn jazz piano much more quickly.

Of course, we call it "classical" for a reason. This is music which has withstood the test of time in many cultures, over many generations and through many changes in styles and tastes. I fully suspect that, someday, we'll find some small amount of popular music will come to be considered "classical". I would agree that classical music offers a wider range of challenges to both the player and listener. Although some would dispute this, I think that a knowledge of classical music also helps one to appreciate other genre better and more fully.

This is a good question. Thanks for posing it. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sat May 17, 2008 5:14 pm

I think that certain genres require different kinds of training. As I understand it, jazz requires extensive skill and knowledge and is "classical" in its own right, which is different from those a classically trained musician might have. I once sat in on an African drumming lesson and gained a high respect. A classical concert soloist may need different skills than either of the above. A member of an orchestra cannot play freely and respond to the other musicians in the way a jazz musician can, etc. It's not the genre, but the skills and knowledge in the genre.

The other part involves showmanship. How do you woo the public? What does the public expect?

Recently in another forum people were asked to name their favourite music. One mentioned a "rock" group and provided the link. This group definitely kept the public engaged, but what was surprising was the range of styles of their music. One had a vocalist flavour, almost classical, before going off into something more lively which sounded Latin American. Another had orchestral music and a gentle love song. Next there was music with an ethnic flavour, and then there was the ear jarring (to me) clang of electric guitars.

But underneath this broad variety of genres you could sense musicianship, a strong (classical?, classical plus?) training in the performers. They were masters of their craft. That must have helped them embrace so many genres.




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Postby Stretto » Mon May 19, 2008 8:01 pm

Becibu wrote:This classic myth, (ignore the pun) ... has been going on for ages. Many musicains claim "If you can learn classical, you can play anything" ...

It's interesting that you would bring up this subject. In a music dept. in college with my first semester of private instruction from one of the piano professors, I had been assigned all classical music. I neively asked my instructor, "at what point will we add some pop music and other kinds of music?" His reply was, "first learn to play classical and then you can play pop". So I didn't realize going into the music degree program that with some exceptions, almost strictly classical music was studied. (Except for Modern music - so at what point did Modern music become accepted as classical?)

One thing with classical is I think a person could get by without the necessity of even understanding chords, chord structure, chord progressions. How sad to play all that music and never understand how it is made up. Also, with classical one may never learn or have a necessity to gain ability with improvisation.

One interesting thing on the subject, I live close enough to Branson, Mo. that I have been to several of the country/western music shows there and I was suprised when they introduce the band members, in the shows I've been to the band members almost all had music degrees.




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Postby Tranquillo » Mon May 19, 2008 11:07 pm

Stretto wrote:
Becibu wrote:This classic myth, (ignore the pun) ... has been going on for ages. Many musicains claim "If you can learn classical, you can play anything" ...


One thing with classical is I think a person could get by without the necessity of even understanding chords, chord structure, chord progressions. How sad to play all that music and never understand how it is made up. Also, with classical one may never learn or have a necessity to gain ability with improvisation.

I think the point you make on improsation has two ways of looking at it. Often, when we think improvisation, we think Jazz Improvisation, spontaneously making a melody.

However, classical composers, have always improvised. As a young child Mozart used to improvise as a game he played with other musicians. Candenzas were left for the performer to show his/her techical abilities.

Also, what you say about chord progessions and structure, often in pop music the chords also known as "guitar chords" are left up above, allowing the performer to "fill in." I think the thing that comes to question is the approach, playing classical has the traditional approach of learning how to read and reading the notes on the page. There are pop pianists I know that cant read that well, so that is the other side od looking at it. At the same time there are classical pianists that cannot fill in all that well. It is the way one is orientated I guess ... I wouldnt say a personal trained classically is really not understanding chords and structure. Argeggios and scales appear all the time in classical AND in pop, understanding theory in classical and applying that to the pieces played allows for an understanding.
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