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H.B.P.H.D.: True Confession

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True Confession: In the past, I have suffered from HBPHD:  Happy Birthday Public Humiliation Disorder.  I have been asked to play Happy Birthday in public settings only to be totally humiliated by not knowing what to do without a piece of music in front of me.  NO MORE!

I am committed this year to not letting that happen to your student.  Perhaps HBPHD has happened to your child already.  For this, please accept my apologies as their teacher.

Here’s a Musical Fun Fact:

Bach was considered a social musician.  Yes, he was.  In Bach’s time, musicians were viewed as craftspeople able to create music for any occasion. They were not seen as stage performers.  Before the days printed music became widely available, musicians improvised, arranged, and composed their own music.

Bach and his father and his father were what I would call community musicians, people who created music for weddings, and church services, and such.  Bach trained his students to accompany singers and other instrumentalists, and they learned how to change keys quickly to accommodate others.

Keyboard musicians were social musicians, not soloists in recitals, which is what keyboard musicians became in the 19th century with the rise of public concerts.

If Bach Improvised, arranged, and composed, why shouldn’t we?

As a teen, I played around with Elton John and chord improvisation in order to accompany myself.  I went on to study voice in college, and it was imperative that I learned to at least improvise a good bass line so that I could practice in the university vocal studios.

Why did you sign your child up for piano lessons?  In 21 years, I have not had one parent tell me that their goal for their child was to become a Concert Pianist.  But rather, most parents not only want their child to not only read music, but to be able to play for their own enjoyment and for the joy of others.

This autumn you may hear your student trying to sound out basic tunes or playing around with chord progressions to folk or well-known pop pieces. Even the youngest pianists will start on their quest of “Piano Playing for Pleasure.”  I realize for some this will be easy and enjoyable, but for others it will be excruciatingly uncomfortable.

In September, you will hear your students figuring out melodies by ear.  This will be followed by playing harmonies.  Know that I am learning, too.  I have just completed yet another on-line course in playing chords and reading lead sheets.  But together, we will learn, we grow, and we can become social musicians.

Before you send me an email:

I will in no-way be abandoning the goal of reading and interpreting music; your child will have the benefit of a Classical Music education and exploring improvisation and/or composition.  For some, exploring various genres of music is in order.  For others, we will go deeper into their passion of Classical music.  For yet others, well, we will work diligently at the basics in technic and theory so that someday playing the Classics and playing a good lead sheet (improvisation at it’s most fun) will become seamless.

Guess who will be playing Happy Birthday at the next family gathering?  Your student.

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