Friday, October 10, 2008

Two Important Projects for the Collaborative Piano Field

In multiple conversations over the last while, I've heard of two projects important to the field of collaborative piano that have yet to be realized.  These are potentially career-making activities for the people that would like to spearhead these initiatives and no, I'm not volunteering myself for either of them.

1.  A Wikipedia entry on Collaborative Piano.  There is currently a lameass short entry on Accompaniment, of which here is an excerpt on how it relates to the piano:
An accompanist is one who plays an accompaniment. A number of classical pianists have become famous as accompanists rather than soloists; the best known example is probably Gerald Moore, well known as a Lieder accompanist. In some American schools, the title collaborative pianist (or collaborative artist) is replacing the title accompanist.
Um, hello?  This is 2008, people.  That paragraph is practically a footnote.  It would be great to be able to access an entry on collaborative piano, being able to read about 1) what it is, 2) why Sam Sanders invented the term, 3) the development of the field through the late 19th and early 20th century, 4) who are the current top pianists and teachers in the field, 5) how people work as collaborative pianists.  In the true spirit of the wiki, any potential article wouldn't just be the work of one person, but the contributions of the entire community over time.

2.  A permanent online forum for collaborative pianists.  No, the Collaborative Piano Blog is not a forum but a blog, and primarily a publishing vehicle.  A forum is more of a decentralized medium in which members can forge connections, discuss issues, and post various types of content.  After the 2008 MTNA Conference, which featured the work of collaborative pianists (I missed the conference but heard all about it from several sources), there was a widespread desire to continue the conversation among those in the field, and utilizing technology and the internet to achieve this goal may be the way to go. Facebook, perhaps?  Several groups have sprouted up (most notably People for the Ethical Treatment of Accompanists, now with over 2200 members), but there remain some serious questions about the validity and privacy of Facebook for the depth of discussion that needs to take place, so it doesn't just become a common place for bitching and humorous anecdotes.  

One possibility for such a group might be custom social network service such as Ning, currently a growing vehicle for academic-minded groups, many of which wish to retain their privacy. Whoever would start up such a group would need to 1) be either a graduate student, recognized pianist in the field, or faculty member for a collaborative piano program, 2) make decisions regarding the customizations for the community (ie. private vs. public, invitation-only vs. open to anyone), 3) have some startup funds for the roughly $20-30 per month needed to create a fully optimized ad-free environment on Ning, 4) already have at least some connections to students, professionals, and well-recognized authorities in the field, and 5) be able to lead by example in creating an environment where important issues can be discussed. 


Once again, I'm not volunteering myself for either of these projects, although I would be more than glad to market them once things were started up in a proper way and looked viable. However, in the spirit of the new economy, these aren't projects that one need apply for, but the kind that require someone with the courage to begin and the grit to fully implement over time. The ones to benefit will be not only people throughout the entire music field but those who come after us, who will be able to rely on trusted online guideposts to assist them as they embark on future careers.

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas both, Chris! I'm not volunteering myself either. But....
    1. Wikipedia. You're right. As it stands, not even a joke. But I think any additions might benefit by those doing the adding having a sense of who else is too. Avoids reduplicating effort.
    2. Group. Wouldn't the easiest be just to have someone set up a forum? Lean, mean, and the basics.
    3. Further re 2, might it not be possible to persuade either the people at PianoStreet or PianoWorld to start a section "Collaborative Piano"?

    I like #3 especially -- since I just thought it up!