Thanks for the informative website. I enjoy your insights. I'm a pianist with a Master's in performance. (neither degree is collaborative) As you know, most non-collaborative programs require a certain amount of chamber playing and possibly vocal accompaniment as well (or might at least offer vocal accompaniment as an assistantship, etc.) In fact, my graduate assistantship was vocal accompaniment. I'm considering a doctoral program in collaborative piano. What is the difference between pursuing a collaborative degree and simply immersing yourself in chamber and vocal music on your own while in a non-collaborative program? Is it simply that there is more chamber/vocal music that is actually required to graduate? I know that languages and other things are emphasized more, but again, some of those things can be pursued on your own if you really desire. I guess my real question is this - if I'm in a great "solo" program with a great voice and string department and I actively seek out these other musicians on my own, continue language studies, etc, what separates the collaborative program from what I'd be doing anyways? What are the main advantages? Perhaps I wouldn't get the vocal coaching training, but I'm not sure that appeals anyways. Any more insights?
First of all, thank you for such an intelligently written comment, anonymous poster! You raise some important questions about which I feel rather strongly.
Yes, it is entirely possible to amass some experience playing chamber and vocal music while in a solo piano doctoral degree. While majoring in the solo repertoire, there is nothing wrong with expanding your horizons learning and performing music in ensemble. Fifteen to twenty years ago, there was a line of thinking that if you wanted to make a career as a collaborative pianist, you should get a degree in solo piano, since faculty and administrators in universities valued a solo degree more than a collaborative one.
Times have changed since the early 90's. There are an increasing number of first-rate collaborative pianists in the music field now with degrees in that field. Taking a collaborative piano degree will give you course work essential to working in the field that you probably won't have time for in a solo degree, such as:
- Opera Repertoire classes
- Opera Coaching classes
- Opera Assistantships
- Song Repertoire classes
- Instrumental Repertoire classes
- Lyric Diction classes
- Advanced Keyboard Skills
- Pedagogy of Collaborative Piano classes
But it all depends on what you want to do after graduation. If you want to be primarily a soloist and teacher of piano that also is able to play chamber music, go ahead with the solo degree. If you want to really specialize in the art of making music with others and learn the skills and repertoire to do it at the highest level and then be able to apply and teach it, perhaps you should opt for a collaborative degree.
Note to faculty and administrators of collaborative piano programs: If you want your school's CP degree program info posted on this blog, see this post.