100 tips for working with pianists #5: Don’t side with the pianist against the class


tchaikovsky.jpgSome teachers reach a point of exasperation with an unruly class where they say something like “You’re wasting my time, and Miss X’s. Your behaviour is an insult to her beautiful music”. They probably mean well, and perhaps intend it as a compliment to the pianist - but it's actually excruciating to be put in this position if you're the one at the piano, so try to avoid this tactic at all costs.

For one thing, it focuses the entire class’s attention on the pianist, which is uncomfortable and embarrassing. It also forces the pianist to agree with you publicly in a situation where it would be unprofessional for them to say what they really think (and personally, I've never, ever agreed with a teacher who's said that a class is wasting my time - for one thing, I'm getting paid, so it makes no difference to me if the dancers do class, or make paper aeroplanes and sing Oasis hits for an hour and a half - I was booked to be there anyway).

But more crucially, it undermines the role of the pianist, which is not to support you in a community policing project, but - at least in the best of times - to support and play with the dancers as equal collaborators and partners in this wonderful art form. If that's the kind of pianist you want (and it's probably the kind you would have wanted as a dancer) you have to be very careful not to turn the dancers and pianist against each other for the sake of a bit of peace and quiet.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on June 5, 2007 12:18 PM.

100 tips for working with pianists #4: Make eye-contact possible was the previous entry in this blog.

100 tips for working with pianists #6: Cover mistakes gracefully is the next entry in this blog.

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