Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Royal College's Piano Accompaniment Programs Have Been Renamed as Collaborative Piano Programs

Starting this summer, the Royal College of Music's Piano Accompaniment Programs will be renamed as collaborative piano, the first program in Britain to use this term for a graduate program. The change to the collaborative piano nomenclature is already up on the keyboard department website.

From a recent press release on the name change:
Students on the RCM’s robust Masters in Collaborative Piano course receive two years of training, developing a broad knowledge of the instrumental duo, chamber and song repertoire as well as being introduced to the skills needed to become a répetiteur, ballet pianist, continuo player, orchestral pianist or vocal coach.
Kudos go to Simon Lepper and the Royal College for making this name change. It will be interesting to see if other programs across Britain follow suit.  If you're interested in more information about the Royal College's collaborative piano programs, email Simon Lepper at simon dot lepper [at] rcm dot ac dot uk.

(Thanks Simon!)

Photo by Grace Kang on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Degree Programs: Anne Kissel on SUNY Fredonia's new Master of Music in Collaborative Piano

Today's submission from the ongoing series about degree programs in collaborative piano comes from Dr. Anne Kissel, who created the new Master of Music program in Collaborative Piano at SUNY Fredonia


If you are looking for a small, intensive, and supportive environment for your master's level studies in collaborative piano, I invite you to take a look at the Fredonia School of Music. Nestled among the grape vineyards south of Buffalo, New York, Fredonia is a small, primarily undergraduate institution with a large and internationally recognized music program. Our collaborative piano students have the opportunity to build a diverse skill set, playing for singers, instrumentalists, large ensembles, and opera, while exploring coursework in chamber music and song literature, diction, and opera coaching. Our studio's small size enables me as your instructor to mentor the many aspects of your development. That means sometimes sitting in on rehearsals, supporting you as you learn to build strong and respectful professional relationships, carefully monitoring your workload so that you have time to practice and grow, and extra coaching when you need it, as well as the possibility of tailoring your work to encompass your specific interests. 

Our performance faculty is exceptional, and are wonderfully supportive of our student pianists. But perhaps the greatest strength of the program is the quality of our student collaborators. Our collaborative pianists partner with our very top singers and instrumentalists, many of whom have gone on to highly successful careers as performers. Fredonia has many grads who are currently living and working in NYC, and there is an active alumni network there, which is an asset when looking for freelance employment post-graduation. 

We have a small number of assistantships and scholarships to offer, which combined with our relatively low tuition, makes for a very affordable masters degree. Our degree program is relatively new, and it boasts a small (but mighty!) group of alumni who have worked/are working as freelance accompanists in NYC, Buffalo, Fredonia, and for regional opera companies nationwide, and also one holding a teaching position at a college in China. 

I'm always happy to field your questions via email, or meet with you in person if you'd like to visit our campus. Or check out the following links:

I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Degree Programs: Rachel Fuller on the University of Auckland

A few days ago, I put out a call for students, grads, and faculty of collaborative piano programs to talk about their programs from their own perspective, and what it can offer the very large number of potential students who are interested in applying during the coming year. 

The first submission is from Rachel Fuller, who is on the faculty at the University of Auckland School of Music in New Zealand. Feel free to contact Rachel with any questions that you might have about the program. 


Here at the University of Auckland in New Zealand we are also training collaborative pianists to posess a broad range of skills and prepare them for careers in multiple areas of collaboration. 

I am very proud to head up a programme designed to progressively develop collaborative skills in our young pianists throughout their undergraduate study. At honours level (4th year) and at masters level they can specialise in collaborative piano alone or combine it with pedagogy and/or solo studies and/or chamber music.  I currently have a masters pianist focused on developing répétiteur skills as well as vocal coaching skills. I have an honours student developing the skills to become a Music Theatre M.D. and another specialises in string acoompanying. These young collaborative pianists are taking an instantly active role in the community as young professionals well before they have graduated and that to me is very exciting. Our community needs pianists who know how to collaborate with skill and knowledge.  

We welcome young pianists with a view to developing their collaborative skills.  And when you’ve finished rehearsals then the beach is just down the road! It’s a wonderful life here in Auckland. Come and see for yourself. Haere mai - Welcome.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Call for Faculty, Alumni, and Current Students of Collaborative Piano Programs: What Makes Your Program Worthwhile?

Over the last few months, I've been receiving a lot of input regarding the types of articles that readers would like on the Collaborative Piano Blog. By far, the biggest number of requests have been for recommendations for the most worthwhile collaborative piano programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

To put it bluntly, there are a lot of very fine young pianists who are interested in applying for collaborative piano programs in the coming year, but are having difficulty navigating the huge amount of information available on the internet. Finding the right school can be a career-defining choice, and if you've associated or have ever been associated with a collaborative piano program this is a great way for you get the word out, both from faculty, your current students, and alumni. I'll figure out a publishing schedule once I start receiving submissions. 

Here are some things you can write about in your submissions - these can be tailored from the point of view of faculty, current students, or past students in a program:
  • What makes/made your collaborative piano program meaningful and worthwhile in terms of your artistic development?
  • How did the specialization/generalization of the program help to build your skill set?
  • How did the size of the school of music (large or small) help to create a worthwhile experience?
  • What was it like working with faculty in your program?
  • What was it like collaborating with singers and instrumentalists in the program?
  • What kind of work is available for graduate/teaching assistantships?
  • What are some of your most memorable experiences?
  • How did your program help with getting you work in the profession?

How to send your submissions

Please submit your submissions to collaborativepiano [at] gmail dot com in the body of an email, with all formatting (including hyperlinks) already done.  Please do not send PDF, Word, or Pages files, as these take forever to transfer the formatting to html. 

Please DO send the following:
  • hyperlinked text to relevant pages on your university website, YouTube videos about your program, or your own website
  • images
  • honest, first-person language about what the program means to you
  • multiple submissions if you've attended more than one program and would like to talk about all of them
  • links to your own current projects/employment if you're a student or alumni
Please DO NOT:
  • put me on your university's mailing list
  • get Marketing to do your submissions
  • send press releases
  • send submissions about non-collaborative piano programs
  • send negative information about programs you've attended
A huge thanks to the folks who suggested this idea and I look forward to posting lots of submissions over the coming weeks and months!

(Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Type Out IPA Symbols with TypeIt

For those of us in the voice teaching and vocal coaching business, knowing the International Phonetic Alphabet is an essential part of understanding, talking about, and imparting the correct sounds of any language. But when we're at the computer, we often need a much wider set of symbols beyond the standard Mac and Windows shortcuts. Enter TypeIt, a handy site that allows you to quickly type out phonetic symbols in IPA! This is a godsend for those of us who need to type out IPA for class work, research, vocal pedagogy, or examining. Just type out the correct sequence of symbols that you need, cut and paste, and you're in business. On my voice exam routes last month in Alberta, PEI, and Nova Scotia, I always had a browser tab with TypeIt open, and this allowed me to quickly add the correct IPA symbols to my exam commentary for the benefit of students and teachers.

The default TypeIt page goes to the IPA English set. However, in the voice biz we're going to need English, French, Italian, and German at the very least. Therefore, I recommend that you bookmark the full IPA symbol set, with symbols across every language and easily accessible keyboard shortcuts (hover over a symbol to see it).

So the next time you're trying to win an online flame war about the correct German pronunciation of "nicht", you can easily enter either [nɪçt] or [niʃt] and prove your case.*


* The former is correct, in spite of several famous singers utilizing the latter (probably regional) pronunciation, particularly Wunderlich. A more reasonable explanation lies in the fact that idiomatic speakers aren't linguists, and that the pure vowels of the IPA don't always correspond to the exact vowels spoken by people of a specific region. For example, three North American pronouncing "back" will insist that they're saying the purest vowel, even though a Rochesterian will pronounce it [bek], a Hamiltonian the much darker [bɑk], and most other North Americans [bæk] (Southerners will even diphthongize or even triphthongize the vowel). Such are the vagaries of phonetic linguistics in the field of lyric diction.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

On the Road in June: Alberta, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick

For three weeks very June, I go out examining for The Royal Conservatory's Certificate Program. Over the years I've had a chance to hear a huge number of students of all ages all over North America playing exams at every level. It's always a pleasure to support so many young musicians on their road to success in whatever form that might take, musical or otherwise, and this year was no exception.

I've done lots of traveling before, but this was the first time that I've worked in five provinces in one month. Starting out the month finishing up my teaching in Oakville and Toronto, the first week of my trip saw me visiting Lloydminster, Edmonton, and Drayton Valley in Alberta. The next week I travelled to Charlottetown, PEI for a single day of voice exams, then on to Moncton, New Brunswick. A last-minute cancellation had me re-routed to Halifax and New Glasgow (instead of St. John), and then back to my original route with a week in Fredericton. All in the span of three weeks!

Needless to say, I'm ready for a few weeks of downtime when I get back to Oakville tomorrow. The second week of July I'll be coaching at The Royal Conservatory's High School Vocal Performance Intensive while preparing for my talk on technology in the studio the RCM's Summer Summit 2018.

Here are some pictures from my trip so far:

The view from one of my walks on a break in Edmonton.

So I travel to one of the most picturesque places in Canada and the only
picture I take is at Cow's Creamery.

This is my second time in Halifax this year. What a fantastic city to visit!

The exam room in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. 

Dinner by the water in Pictou was worth the half-hour drive. 

The exam room at Christ Church in Fredericton. That's a lovely vintage
Baldwin in the sanctuary. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Finally, a Collaborative Piano Entry on Wikipedia

It took quite a while for someone to start it, but there is now a Collaborative Piano entry on Wikipedia. Here's the short and succinct description of the field:
Collaborative piano is a discipline of music that combines piano performance, accompaniment, and music pedagogy.
Short, but to the point. The description is attributed to a 2014 incarnation of the NYU Collaborative Piano page. The entry has a US-only list of schools, a pretty good source list, and a rather short music festivals list.

Friends, now is the time for you to get to work and collaboratively expand the scope of this article! Add more depth and detail, add some more relevant schools and festivals, expand the range of resources to include periodicals, dissertations, and websites, create a talk page, get the discussion going, and give this profession the exposure it needs. To give you an idea of what it could become, take a look at the well-developed piano pedagogy page.

Here are some quick Wikipedia resources for those keen on editing but who haven't yet got the Wiki skills: