Teaching Private Piano Lessons Using Video Game Piano Transcriptions

Teaching Private Piano Lessons Using Video Game Piano Transcriptions

Academic Year:
2017 - 2018 (June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018)
Funding Requested:
$6,000.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
This Faculty Development Fund proposal would allow for a pilot year of teaching piano lessons using video game music. It’s the practical application of an ongoing research project I’m involved with studying video game music piano collections. Since the 1980s, there has been a tradition, especially in Japan but also in the United States, of publishing piano arrangements of video game music. Virtually no scholarly or serious study has occurred of these works. Many of these arrangements are based on a long forgotten piano method by Ferdinand Beyer and often contain pedagogic comments, written in Japanese, that I’m in the midst of exploring courtesy of a research grant from SMTD. As I study these scores, I feel the next step for this project is to test their pedagogic value in a lesson setting. This FDF funding would allow me to teach a small cohort of students in weekly one-on-one piano lessons using these game music collections as the vehicle of musical study instead of traditional canonic Western repertoire. The students will receive lessons both Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 and the project will culminate in a studio recital performance. This project aims to understand how using video game music as a vehicle for piano study allows for novel teaching innovations and how this repertoire affects the student experience. The project updates and diversifies the curriculum by exploring primarily Japanese repertoire. Further, it reaches out to non-SMTD students who may be interested in serious music study but not in the canonic repertoire or standard performance traditions.
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
4 undergraduate students
Additional Supporters:
<p>Stanford Olsen, solsn@umich.edu Mark Clague, claguem@umich.edu Melody Racine, red@umich.edu</p>
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:
To examine how studying piano using video game piano transcriptions is different from traditional classical repertoire. To reach out to students who are (primarily) non-SMTD to see if this repertoire makes the idea of one-on-one piano lessons of interest. To perform this repertoire in front of live audiences. To have a master performer of this repertoire come to work with my students and to give a presentation to the SMTD student body in various forms (piano majors, entrepreneurs). To find more of this repertoire and learn more about the history of its pedagogy.
Project Achievements:
The project was in my mind a total success. It gave me hands on experience teaching this repertoire and of the challenges and different activities that repertoire like this brings about. For instance, I had several students who wanted to work on repertoire that was not published; they had to complete ear training/ notation exercises to transcribe the arrangements to play them, something not at all typical in traditional, classical piano study. My most proud accomplishment was to take a student who had never had a piano lesson in his life and have him perform a 3 minute, memorized piece of intermediate difficulty in the final recital, as well as a duet with another student in our first recital. To see someone go from that pure beginner level to an intermediate level was incredible. The recitals were well attended and attracted a lot of attention from various areas of the U, UMMA hosted one and the recital played by guest artist, Dr. Martin Leung, who specializes in this music, had some audience members who traveled over one hundred miles to see him perform. This is the power of working with music that has a broad contemporary appeal. I think for the SMTD overall, students found the idea of becoming known in repertoire that is not in the traditional classical route was liberating and exciting for some students as they consider their own teaching and performing careers. I think the impact remains somewhat to be seen in the future, but for some areas that might best be described as recalcitrant when it comes to newer music and ideas, this put some cracks in the glass ceiling of what repertoire is worthy of study.
Continuation:
Yes. One student has one semester of school left, Fall 2019, and I allowed him to continue to have lessons with me weekly on video game piano repertoire. Because he's the only remaining student, he's planning to record himself performing and create a YouTube channel as documentation of his work and to share it with others. I'm also continuing to research the history and pedagogy of these, and if I can locate funding, plan to travel to Japan in the summer to conduct interviews and learn more about this history of these works. Hopefully this will culminate in a book about the history of these works and perhaps a series of educational/tutorial videos.
Dissemination:
The public performances and having a guest master teacher on campus were two very successful ways of having the SMTD interact with this material last year as I was in the midst of the research. A number of pianists found the exploration of this different repertoire to be very engaging beyond their traditional classical study. As I've said, I'm working on a book regarding the history and pedagogy of these works (already have a table of contents drafted!) and am also hoping to create some educational videos about the repertoire as well.
Advice to your Colleagues:
The main difficulty I found with the project was that it added 6 hours of teaching to my weekly load, which was a lot. However, the students I was working with were always very enthusiastic and so their energy gave me energy for these early morning and late night hours. I'd say that my experience as a teacher and having been a student studying piano in a similar way, but with different repertoire, was a tremendous help in knowing how to manage a piano studio and what was needed and expected.