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Skill Building

Reading is taught in combination with ear training in this studio. Often students learn to read without a connection to the feeling of the rhythm or a sense of the tonal structure. Thus, the music often sounds rather mechanical and disconnected rhythmically. In this studio ear training preparation is done as much as possible before the student tackles a reading challenge. The student is then more likely to have greater success playing accurately without the distraction of making sounds that are not in congruence with the music.

Rhythmic Training
All students learn how to say rhythms in syllables, drawing from Indian solkatu and from African drumming. While the traditional counting by numbers is certainly useful structurally, rhythmic solfege allows the student to recite rhythms at performance tempo even with the most advanced compositions. Students quickly are able to read rhythms sometimes three levels higher than their playing level. They often synthesize complex rhythmic structures with ease, especially if they have Non-European backgrounds.

Younger students study solfege (i.e. “The Sound of Music”) in addition to reading. Transfer students and adults are encouraged to use solfege, but are not required. Solfege gives the student a sense of tonal organization that helps retain melodies and makes the student less reliant on finger numbers as an approach to learning their instrument. Using the voice also helps create a more lyrical tone and sense of phrasing on the piano.

Feeling the sense movement underlying a piece of music is an important part of the student’s training. Students have much more fluidity and rhythmic conviction when they have a visceral connection to it. Chris Chalfant draws from her extensive training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and dance of many cultures as part of the training. Typically, when a student does not get a rhythm, they dance the phrase to match the feeling of the rhythm and then go back to the piano with an accurate interpretation of the music.

The student is encouraged to listen to music to enhance the learning experience. Going to hear music live is especially encouraged as it gives a fuller sense of the musical experience both as listener and performer. It gives the student a context so that they are thinking beyond the lesson itself. Students are often encouraged to listen to particular pieces of music to get a sense of style and form. Students who study jazz and improvisation learn music from recordings in addition to their other studies. Attention is given to matching certain elements with precise phrasing, rhythm and articulation, and sometimes the student uses the recordings as a jumping off point for improvisation.

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For interview and scheduling contact:
info[at]; 718-748-0484
Space is limited


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