April 2017 MTNA e-Journal

MTNA recently presented the fourth MTNA e-Journal Article of the Year. We are taking this opportunity to present to you again the first two articles to receive this recognition.

Non-Traditional Notation And Techniques In Student Piano Repertoire
By Kevin Richmond

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the premiere performance of George Crumb’s Five Pieces for Piano, his first piece incorporating direct string manipulation and a milestone in the genre of extended techniques. In 1912, 50 years before Five Pieces for Piano, Henry Cowell was exploring unconventional sounds and techniques, and devising symbols to notate them. These American innovations have since developed into an entirely new language with its own vocabulary. Pianists today, from the very beginner to the artist-level performer, can enjoy a vast repertoire of non-traditional notation and techniques from composers worldwide. This article encompasses non-traditional notation and playing techniques in student piano repertoire and includes the areas of auxiliary sounds, indeterminacy, inside-the-piano techniques, tone clusters, sympathetic vibrations and unmeasured notation. Each of these subject areas is introduced by illustrating notational tendencies in artist-level literature, then continue by comparing these to all levels of student repertoire—beginning, intermediate and advanced. [Read More]


Colorful Illustrations In Piano Method Books: A Pilot Project Investigating Eye Focus
By Gilles Comeau

Over the years, the presence of pictures in North American piano method books have become very common: from the simple black and white sketches in the early 20th century to the more modern graphic and high-quality color printing, pictures appear on almost every page. There is no doubt that these pictures are very attractive and appealing to young students. However, we know nothing about the effects these decorative illustrations might have on children who are learning to read music. Using eye-tracking technology, this research pilot project investigates if the presence of colorful illustrations is attracting a learner’s attention while previewing a score or when playing a piece for the first time. Data analysis indicates that illustrations are drawing the student’s eyes away from the musical score, particularly during the preview period, but also during the performance of the piece. [Read More]