Studio Class

The continuation of musical performance throughout history is rooted in pedagogy. From the original Gregorian chants all the way to Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra – all music needs to be passed down through teachings of dictation from composers and musical styles and interpretations from the performing musicians. The earliest examples of written music we have today have come from the church. In the church, the reading and performance of music was taught to be used for religious purposes. But as time passed and music began entering the public realm of entertainment, instruments, musical notation, and performance styles developed. There were always teachers that informed up and coming music students about the current styles and techniques of their given era. Today in the contemporary conservatory, the teachings are formally passed down by teachers to students in their respective studios. Each studio has a teacher and a number of students ranging from five to fifteen on average. Students have individual lessons with their studio teacher. But every so often the studio comes together to have masterclass, technique class, studio class, scale class, or even seminars led by their teachers or members of the studio assigned to lead a class by the teacher. In the following examples you will hear students having individual lessons with their teacher, two students practicing scales and arpeggios together, a composition seminar class discussing modern playing techniques for piano, a cello studio practicing the elusive skill of shifting quietly between notes in a scale, and a piano masterclass in which a student performs in front of the class and the teacher offers constructive criticism. In private lessons, students work one-on-one with their respective teachers going over anything from etudes, which are designed to improve technique, to solo works. Teachers and students usually have a close bond. The best teachers know exactly what to say to encourage improvement. In these personal settings, teachers can give examples and recommend techniques that cannot always be given in group settings. However, that does not deplete the value of group technique classes. When working in groups with the studio teacher and peers, students can learn to be more critical of themselves and the playing of their instrument in general, gaining the knowledge to give advice to their peers. Group classes also help show the importance of intonation. In addition to practicing shifts, students also practice scales with their peers. When working with someone else, poor intonation becomes extremely obvious. While working one-on-one or in small groups is valuable, seminars also have great importance and give students new perspectives. Being in a studio creates camaraderie and creates an environment where students learn effectively, giving music the opportunity to grow and change as it did in the past.