The Contemporary Keyboardist and Expanded
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Many and varied materials have been used for this purpose, including bone, mother-of-pearl, porcelain, tortoise-shell, silver, boxwood, cedar, ebony, pear and other rare and polished woods. At times the fronts of the naturals were beautifully carved. The English and Viennese actions arrived on the scene around and the fronts of the Viennese keys were more often ivory, like those on a modern piano. Silberman's keys used very thick ivory, 2. French and English keyboards had moulded, inverted step-like keys which used decorative box woods and sometimes the fronts were carved as well. Sometime in the s they changed to the key front shape we know to day.
Clagget in patented the idea of putting glass on keys and later the French were using porcelain. This was all an attempt to get the customer to buy the cheap end of the piano lines. In Cellulose was first made artificially from gun-cotton by A. Parkes, of Birmingham UK. Called "Parkesine", it could simulate ivory. Cellulose has been used for the key coverings on the cheaper pianos since then.
From about , the most common covering for both white and black keys has been acrylic plastic.
The keys made by Lindner for about ten years from were of plastic and hollow and tended to break. At present there is an embargo on the use of ivory for key coverings. In , Vincent suggested making a keyboard with six rows of keys to make possible the playing of any scale with the same fingering. In Obendrauf of Vienna made a pianoforte with a keyboard designed so that children could play intervals and chords with ease, but it is not known what the octave span was on his piano.
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In , John Dwight patented a seven-octave piano with a convex keyboard so the player could reach the extremes of the compass more easily. Bosanquet designed a generalised keyboard harmonium with 53 keys to the octave in General Perrot Thomson in the mid-nineteenth century and Bosanquet in the s made harmonia for scientific purposes with 72 and 80 finger keys to the octave respectively.
The dummy keyboard was in use before this time but in or thereabouts Virgil invented the Virgil practice clavier which was rather more elaborate. Pianos with pedal keyboards had also been known for some time and were made until the First World War or a little later.
Mangeot created a sensation in Paris in with a two-manual piano.
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Each hand had its own keyboard, but the keys for the left hand were reversed, making the furthest note to the left the highest pitched. Pianists could play scales and arpeggio passages with the same fingering but with the hands moving in opposite directions. In Percival patented a piano with two keyboards placed back-to-back vertically, 16 inches wide. The compass was split between the hands. Paul Janko patented Vincent's idea for a keyboard with six rows of keys in In Pleyel patented a piano with a keyboard at each end, apparently similar to that by Persson in In a two-keyboard piano was made by Steinway's factory in Hamburg, Germany.
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The two keyboards, one with the usual 88 notes, the other with only 76, The 76 note keyboard plays notes an octave above the ones on the 88 keyboard. Pressing a key on the shorter keyboard activates a mechanism inside the piano that pulls down the corresponding key on the lower keyboard, but an octave higher. The piano was rebuilt by Steinways in It can be safely said that the development of the keyboard compass has been governed by man's lack of technology, rather than man's desire for music.
In the early fourteenth-century organs, 14 keys per manual was the norm. Later improvements in the link work and trackers, such as that by Praetorius in the later fourteenth century, made it possible for the increase of the compass and pipe size without compromising the gaps between keys as on other contemporary organs with a larger compass. Early clavichords had few keys. In the roof on the nave of St.
Mary's church, Shrewsbury, built during the first half of the fifteenth century, there is a carving of a clavichord with nine keys. In the basement of a church built in at Certosa in Tavia, there is a picture of King David playing an instrument with eight keys. He plays with the right hand, and it has eight strings. The Venetian inventor Spinnette produced a four-octave harpsichord in The oldest surviving harpsichord, dated , now at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has a compass of nearly four octaves and shows the use of the short and broken octave idea.
This is to provide a range of notes greater than the compass of the keyboard. The first virginal is attributed to the harpsichord maker Ruckers Antwerp, , and had 21 naturals and an overall key width of mm from B to A. Ruckers produced some two-manual instruments with the bottom manual running from second octave C to sixth octave F and the top manual from second octave C to sixth octave C, with these last two keys coming inline with each other and tuned to the same pitch.
In other words, the top manual was tuned a fourth higher than the lower manual. Most of the Ruckers instruments from had a range of C to E. A two-manual harpsichord dated runs F to F. The Bonafines spinettino had a compass of C to E with 25 naturals. The Cristofori piano ran C to C with forty-nine notes in all. By about , some harpsichord keyboards had expanded to five octaves and one from has four and half octaves. In , Francisco Perez Mirabal was making pianos in Spain. There is a piano in Madrid said to be his and the compass runs G to G.
Burney, writing about this period many years later, said: "The ladies at that time, wearing hoops, which kept them at too great a distance from one another, had a harpsichord made by Merlin, expressly for duets with six octaves. Anton Walter, who made pianos for Mozart, used nearly five octaves.
In , Broadwood was the first to extend the keyboard range to five and a half octaves and it is possible that the company made a grand with six octaves in However, Albrecht made a square grand with five and a half octaves going from F to F. This piano is at present in Charleston Museum and dated At the Finchcocks museum in Kent, a Broadwood grand from , catalogue number 25, runs F to F see list below.
All three of these books present a very highly organized and efficient approach to teaching preschoolers. While the teacher should read the teacher's manuals carefully so as to understand the philosophy of the books and how to teach the musical concepts presented, we strongly recommend them for teachers of pre-schoolers.
Although no book or set of books is right for all students, these books are pedagogically very sound, with exceptionally well-done teacher's manuals that provide great support for the teacher. The Contemporary Piano Method , subtitled "A Comprehensive and Balanced Approach to Keyboard Study", is designed to be a complete course ranging from the elementary stages through the upper intermediate levels and beyond. Piano methods vary considerably in approach. Some consist largely of repertoire and leave the teacher free to apply his or her own way of explaining technical fundamentals such as hand position and note reading; others put the teacher in a virtual strait jacket, rigidly prescribing practically every word and movement at every step of the way.
The Brandman books seem to aim at a compromise: the Junior Primer, for example, includes a seven-page supplement called Guide Notes for the Teacher--essentially footnotes to selected pages of the Primer giving amplifications and suggestions plus fourteen duet parts for the simpler student pieces--but use of the supplemental materials is optional. Brandman lives and teaches in Australia. Beginning with Book 1, however, Dexter disappears and we are presented with a thorough, no-nonsense approach that moves along at a pace some might find a bit daunting. This single volume begins with "meeting a piano for the first time" with photos of a working piano action , basic posture and hand position, and proceeds all the way through reading, time values, transposition, legato and staccato, hand crossings, phrasing, dynamics, ornaments, terminology, accidentals, the chromatic scale, and all the major scales, chords and key signatures.
Often it seems as if new concepts are presented rapid-fire before the student has time to digest the old ones, but it should be noted that there are a number of supplementary materials designed to be used with the basic course: a Companion Workbook for Book 1 is available, and The Contemporary Piano Method on Video features the author demonstrating technique, reading and transposition skills, clapping techniques for rhythm, and a system of using different colors for note values.
In addition, finger technique, reading, transposition and improvisation can be augmented with several other volumes entitled Daily Dexter Flexers, Dexter's Easy Piano Pieces, Hot Trax and It's Easy to Improvise, all designed to interact with the basic course; Book 1 itself has a single page of teacher guide notes at the end.
We can also report here that Book 1 will, like Book 2, be divided into two volumes in its next edition. Another volume, Teacher's Handbook, is unfortunately no longer available; it would seem highly valuable in a course which interweaves so many skills, and we hope for its return.go here
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The overall intent, then, is to allow the teacher considerable leeway in the amount of time spent on each concept, depending on the degree of experience and aptitude of the student. One of the fundamental elements underlying the entire method is the teaching of note reading by interval recognition instead of letter names applied to lines and spaces, an approach pioneered in this country by Frances Clark. It facilitates reading by allowing the brain and eye to skip the mental detour involved in thinking of letter names, and develops a procedure essential to quick sight reading and especially transposition.
Brandman is definitely of the school that believes piano students should be able not merely to play learned pieces well, but to sight read, transpose, and improvise.
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The Contemporary Piano Method offers ample exercise in all these skills. Books 2A and 2B continue to stress the interval method of reading "through encouraging the student to view sections as larger recognizable units"; minor scales and four-note chords are introduced as well, along with more difficult exercises such as double notes and skips, and more advanced repertoire.
The Contemporary Keyboardist And Expanded
Brandman is also a great believer in the power of associating different elements of a skill or concept with colors, and this learning technique appears throughout the course. We must admit, however, to being a bit put off by the use of rhythm diagrams "to be coloured in"; such activity seems more suited to the primer stage and is not too likely to appeal to the average American teenager. It might also be noted that British Commonwealth terms like "crotchet" quarter note and "semiquaver" 16th are standard fare, in case these terms are unfamiliar to you.
Books 3 and 4 take the student into advanced levels which include asymmetrical meters; ninth, eleventh, thirteenth and added-tone chords; scales in thirds, sixths and tenths; modes, polychords and panchromaticism; and repertoire which reaches the level of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the easier Chopin etudes, and encompasses a number of different styles including jazz.
Many of the compositions are the author's own. Margaret Brandman has also published a comprehensive course in theory and ear training, complete with workbooks and cassettes, as well as much additional repertoire, CD's and other materials. Her web site www. The Contemporary Piano Method is endorsed by no less an authority than Maurice Hinson and is as complete a piano course as you'll find anywhere; we find it admirable and stimulating, but it makes great demands on both teacher and student.
Is it possible that Australians expect more from their students than we do? Maybe we could learn something from them. The K. Music Assignment Journal can be a useful tool for organizing and helping a student with daily practice. It can also help organize a teacher in getting precise data from their students on how their daily practice day goes. In addition to serving as an organizational tool, it goes beyond that and provides some elements of a concise reference work.
There are some very good and worthwhile ideas in these pages.