Keyboard Theory and Technic
Requirements for 2019 Festival
Preliminary note: Development of a pianist’s technic is a non-linear process and not a "one-size-fits-all", textbook process. Much like the web, mastering technic is based on a network of connections rather than on linear sequences. We learn by doing, through making connections between new information and previously learned experiences and knowledge. Nonetheless, for pedagogical purposes and for structuring the festival event, skills have been broken down into Skill Sets.
The KT&T Skills Sets and KT&T Booklet are intended to be used as a platform for "categorizing" components of technic and theory and NOT as a substitute for qualified instruction. The KT&T Skills Sets sequencing is only one suggested avenue; RAPF understands that there are many different pathways which could ultimately lead to a healthy, facile technic as long as the basic principles of coordinate motion are observed.
Do not force or cram the skills into the body. Every human body must abide by basic principles of coordinate motion to move fluently and efficiently and there must be a sufficient number of repetitions of proper execution of these motions over a period of time before a technic is automatic and solidly "owned" by the body.
Pianists will have different strengths and preferences in learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic and different degrees of kinesthetic awareness. They will have unique psychological and intellectual strengths and challenges, unique time restraints and other concerns, which will all have an impact upon the speed of development. It is not possible to rush and force these motions into the body if a pianist wishes to ultimately obtain a healthy, facile, effortless, and virtuosic technic.
RAPF KT&T Skills Sets: The important components of virtuosity start at the very first lesson. Nothing can be properly built upon an improper foundation. If the basic components of technic in the first Skill Sets are not mastered correctly, and if a pianist pushes too quickly through the different stages of mastering a healthy, effortless, and virtuosic piano technic, there will always eventually be some sort of compromise and price to pay, whether tension, fatigue, limitation in executing difficult passages, poor tone, lack of control, pain, or even possible injury.
That is why RAPF encourages entrants to choose an appropriate skills set each year. It is even possible to repeat Skills Sets in subsequent years or return to an earlier Skills Set. The KT&T requirements are meant to be fluid and flexible, reflecting the non-linear process of learning and allowing the body the time to absorb all the components of technic in a healthy, and natural manner and pace.
These Skill Sets are meant to be used as a guide. If necessary, an entrant may tweak the requirements to more closely reflect their current curriculum. For example, if a student uses a different scale fingering, or a different harmonic progression for cadences, or a different format (i.e. cadences in inversions) etc. , there will NOT be a penalty for slight variances within each skill set.
The "level" is a mere platform that allows the student to demonstrate how the components of technic are being absorbed into the brain and body. Advanced pianists with 10 or more years of piano might decide to use Skills Set A or B simply because it will afford more opportunity for analysis of technic. Even if an entrant has already learned all of the Keyboard Theory presented in the final Skills Set, it is suggested that they work through all of the Skills Sets, beginning with Set A. This will give the entrant an idea of what the adjudicator will be looking for when evaluating adherence to proper form, alignment, and mastery of fundamental motions that will afford continued progress toward mastering a coordinate, facile, fluid, brilliant, and effortless technic with beautiful tone production and control.
The "level" does not impress the adjudicator. Festival participants will most likely know many more scale keys, chords, and other aspects of theory and technic beyond those listed in a given skills set, HOWEVER, the focus should be on proper execution and mastery of each skill, with a focus on how the body is moving, not on the difficulty of skill or amount of skills mastered. For example, an entrant playing a scale 4 octaves at great speed, hands together, but with tension caused by things such as twisting at the wrist, dropping the wrist too low when thumb plays, curling the pinky, holding elbow tightly etc., will NOT impress an adjudicator more than a tension-free execution of a 1 octave scale played slowly, hands separately, using correct alignment etc. In fact, it is the latter -- a perfect execution of a the basic components of technic -- that the adjudicator will be looking for and will be addressing in the comments and evaluation.
To reiterate, RAPF does not intend for the festival KT&T Skills Sets to be used as a substitute for qualified instruction. The skills must be performed with proper alignment and execution if they are to aide in the development of a healthy, facile piano technic. Improper execution of the skills, which could occur without the guidance of an experienced teacher, (or without an active involvement of the student with regard to the correct and consistent application of the information), could result in a limited and possibly even unhealthy technic. The KT&T Skills Sets are simply a means of "categorizing" components of technic and theory and NOT a substitute for qualified instruction. If a pianist has concerns or questions regarding proper and healthy execution of the technical skills, there are experts who can offer suggestions and clarification either in person, via Skype, or at special workshops and masterclasses when traveling to different locales around the world. While these master teachers are highly sought after and are not looking to add new permanent students to their studios, they do care about helping future generations of pianists be able to play without tension, fatigue, limitation, pain, and injury so festival entrants are encouraged to ask questions as needed. Click the button below for more information.
Choose the Skills Set and specific etudes that would best allow the adjudicator to assess your current level of technic. It is possible to repeat or return to previous Skills Sets/etudes in subsequent years as needed.