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Topic: Musicianship Skills  (Read 970 times)

Offline swilliams002

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Musicianship Skills
on: September 09, 2022, 12:35:08 AM
I have studied piano for 10 years now and consider myself fairly advanced (preparing to play the Bach-Busoni Chaconne in recital, have learned Chopin's Ballade in G Minor, among other works). Recently, I have been wanting to improve as a musician overall. Even though I'm confident in my technique as a pianist, I'm most definitely not confident as a musician.

I don't know a whole lot of music theory (beyond the circle of fifths and some other basics, I'm basically clueless). Thus, I cannot really analyze the works I learn. This means I can't memorize well. I also can't improvise or compose. I'm not very good at transposing, and I can't transpose at sight. I figure this is where a lot of pianists are.

So, I was wondering: what would a good, thorough list of musicianship skills look like?
I've come up with these skills/knowledge that I need to work on:
    1. Music theory (more than just the basics)
    2. Transposing
    3. Harmonizing
    4. Composition
    5. Improvisation
    6. Ear training/sight-singing
    7. Playing by ear
But are there any skills I'm forgetting? I feel like there are. Any other skills that you consider essential to be a "complete" musician? Thanks.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #1 on: September 09, 2022, 04:23:35 AM
Music theory quite broad. Somebody who might know how to break down a Bach fugue wouldn't know where to start in analyzing any number of jazz chords.

Do sight reading and memorizing not count as musician skills? How about critical analysis? Historical knowledge? Dancing? (all things that some place consider as part of being a musician).

What even is a complete musician? I think this is dynamic as well. It's also quite contextual. Why not prioritize what is necessary for you?

I'm aware I may have misinterpreted the tone of your thread as something that could just be for fun, in which case, disregard my last question.
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Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #2 on: September 09, 2022, 05:09:49 AM
Have to agree with bel_13 here. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many days in a lifetime. Prioritise what is important to you and don't worry so much about the rest. For example, for someone who wants to be a classical concert pianist, music theory is going to be far less important than for someone who wants to be a jazz pianist. Even there, jazz theory and classical theory are quite different. Sight reading is also almost certainly more important for a session musician than for a composer.
Hope that helps.

Offline quantum

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #3 on: September 10, 2022, 09:47:11 PM
I would categorize musicianship skills into two main groups: foundation musicianship skills and advanced / specialty musicianship skills.  The foundation musicianship skills are those that all musicians, regardless of instrument or genre can benefit from.  Specialty musicianship skills are those that are specific to one's musical interests, and would further enhance one's ability in a chosen area of study. 

For example, it is not high on the priority list for every musician to be able to give a theoretical analysis on a Bach fugue.  Contrast this to, it is extremely important for every musician to be able to sing a simple melody, or perform rhythmic dictation / clapback from an auditory source. 

First focus your attention on obtaining the foundation musicianship skills.  When those skills are secured, then you can consider working on the specialty musicianship skills.


A basic list of fundamental skills may include (but not limited to):
Improvisation - most of the following should be practised using improvisation.
Singing - simple melodies, sight singing without aid of an instrument.
Keyboard - pianists generally have this covered, simple melodies, scales, chords.
Rhythm - ability to sight read rhythms and solve rhythmic puzzles such as polyrhythms.
Rhythmic clap back - ability to imitate a rhythm from an auditory source.
Rhythmic transcription - ability to notate rhythm from an auditory source.
Melodic sing back / play back - ability to imitate a melody by singing and playing on keyboard.
Melodic transcription - ability to notate a melody from an auditory source.
Two part singing - simple melodies as duos with another musician, without aid of instrument.
Ensemble singing - simple SATB pieces, managing your own part, ensemble cohesion.

Notice how there was not much theory in the above list.  The above basic skills are needed before getting too deep into theory.  These skills will be used to practice your knowledge of theoretical concepts. 

When one is established with the above skills these can be added:
Diatonic scales - all major and minor
Modes - those based on the white keys of the piano
Transposition - take the melodic portions of the list above, and transpose.
Modal change - transpose from one mode to another.  Eg. C major to C minor, F dorian to F mixolydian, G minor to G phrygian.


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Offline lelle

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #4 on: September 11, 2022, 09:25:11 PM
Have to agree with bel_13 here. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many days in a lifetime. Prioritise what is important to you and don't worry so much about the rest. For example, for someone who wants to be a classical concert pianist, music theory is going to be far less important than for someone who wants to be a jazz pianist. Even there, jazz theory and classical theory are quite different. Sight reading is also almost certainly more important for a session musician than for a composer.
Hope that helps.

I have to disagree with this. You can tell when a classical pianist doesn't understand their theory well becasue it will reflect (poorly) in their playing. Or to say it the other way around - a pianist who really understands their theory will have many more interpretative tools at their disposal and will likely play better for it.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #5 on: September 11, 2022, 10:57:58 PM
I have to disagree with this. You can tell when a classical pianist doesn't understand their theory well becasue it will reflect (poorly) in their playing. Or to say it the other way around - a pianist who really understands their theory will have many more interpretative tools at their disposal and will likely play better for it.

Iím not saying itís not important, just that that itís more important for a jazz pianist. A classical pianist who doesnít know much theory can still play because they have every note written for them. A jazz pianist, on the other hand, canít do anything if they donít know at least a bit of theory. How could you read a lead sheet, for example, if you donít know what the chord symbols mean? How could you improvise a solo if you donít know the appropriate scales?

Offline swilliams002

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #6 on: September 13, 2022, 06:43:09 PM
I would categorize musicianship skills into two main groups: foundation musicianship skills and advanced / specialty musicianship skills.  The foundation musicianship skills are those that all musicians, regardless of instrument or genre can benefit from.  Specialty musicianship skills are those that are specific to one's musical interests, and would further enhance one's ability in a chosen area of study. 

For example, it is not high on the priority list for every musician to be able to give a theoretical analysis on a Bach fugue.  Contrast this to, it is extremely important for every musician to be able to sing a simple melody, or perform rhythmic dictation / clapback from an auditory source. 

First focus your attention on obtaining the foundation musicianship skills.  When those skills are secured, then you can consider working on the specialty musicianship skills.


A basic list of fundamental skills may include (but not limited to):
Improvisation - most of the following should be practised using improvisation.
Singing - simple melodies, sight singing without aid of an instrument.
Keyboard - pianists generally have this covered, simple melodies, scales, chords.
Rhythm - ability to sight read rhythms and solve rhythmic puzzles such as polyrhythms.
Rhythmic clap back - ability to imitate a rhythm from an auditory source.
Rhythmic transcription - ability to notate rhythm from an auditory source.
Melodic sing back / play back - ability to imitate a melody by singing and playing on keyboard.
Melodic transcription - ability to notate a melody from an auditory source.
Two part singing - simple melodies as duos with another musician, without aid of instrument.
Ensemble singing - simple SATB pieces, managing your own part, ensemble cohesion.

Notice how there was not much theory in the above list.  The above basic skills are needed before getting too deep into theory.  These skills will be used to practice your knowledge of theoretical concepts. 

When one is established with the above skills these can be added:
Diatonic scales - all major and minor
Modes - those based on the white keys of the piano
Transposition - take the melodic portions of the list above, and transpose.
Modal change - transpose from one mode to another.  Eg. C major to C minor, F dorian to F mixolydian, G minor to G phrygian.
Thank you, this definitely helps.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Musicianship Skills
Reply #7 on: September 14, 2022, 12:08:49 AM
For the types of music I play, there are other aspects of musicianship.

First and foremost, knowing your place and fitting into an ensemble.  A lot of the stuff above I agree with, but it tends to be solo focused.  Don't step on the root and fifth if the bass is already there. 

Part of doing that requires knowledge of the subtle variations present in different styles of music.  Phrasing, articulation, and even rhythm are different and you'll be expected to know and perform them, - or be EXTREMELY adept at listening to the more experienced members and instantly adjusting.  Viennese waltz?  Beat two is not where the sheet says.  Etc.

And somewhat peripherally, but part of the package, is getting along with the other humans you make music with.  Showing up on time, prepared, sober, and ready to laugh at dumb jokes goes a long way here.

Tim
 

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