Frequently Asked Questions About the Piano Proficiencies
The piano proficiency requirements include the demonstration of competence in a broad range of keyboard skills: specifically, sight-reading , basic keyboard technique, elementary repertoire, harmonization of melodies, transposition, ensemble playing, and accompaniment. In levels I and II, the emphasis is on harmonization of melodies, transposition, and improvisation at the keyboard. For students in the keyboard classes, there is also an emphasis on the development of sight-reading skills and basic keyboard facility. These skills are further developed in level III, but the focus is shifted somewhat to include elements of ensemble playing and accompanying.
Both harmonization and transposition are applied reinforcements of concepts introduced in the Theory and Aural Skills sequence. The emphasis on these areas in Levels I and II makes the piano proficiency sequence a valuable applied adjunct to these fundamental courses in basic musicianship. For students who normally perform a single line of music, keyboard playing provides an opportunity to experience the vertical aspects of musical organization within their own performance. This is valuable experience that can be applied to future studies in theory, score study and preparation, conducting, form and analysis. Music education students have the added practical incentive of needing piano accompaniment skills in their future careers as music teachers. Performance students whose future careers include private studio teaching also find accompaniment skills valuable.
It is recommended that students complete the Level 1 and (where required) the Level II proficiencies during the freshman year. Both parts of Level III (where required) should be completed during the sophomore year, and certainly no later than the junior year. Students who defer piano courses until late in their academic careers miss the benifits that the courses bring to their study of theory and ear-training. These students also often find that course scheduling and conflicts make it impossible to fulfil the piano requirements without delaying the completion of their degrees. Music education students, in particular, are advised that the piano proficiency sequence should be completed in a timely fashion, and most certainly, prior to taking the senior-level elementary (MUSC 425) and secondary methods (T&L400) courses. Piano proficiency is expected for many of the assignments in these courses and for the T&L 486 field observation. Successful completion of the piano proficiency sequence is a formal pre-requisite for admission to Student Teaching.
If piano is your principal instrument, register for MUSC 254 or 255 and sign up for an audition time in Rm. 204. If piano is not your principal instrument, you should simply register for Keyboard Skills I (MUSC 133). If you already have extensive piano skills, you will be given a placement audition by the piano faculty during the first week of classes.
The purpose of the audition is to assign you to the course where you will most benefit from your piano studies at UND. It is best if you are able to play a piece that you think reflects your ability to play the piano. If you do not have the piece memorized, it is fine to use your music. If you come to campus without any music and you do not have a piece memorized, you may still audition. In lieu of a prepared piece, you will be given some music to sight-read. You may also be asked to demonstrate some basic piano techniques such as scales or arpeggios. Based upon your performance in the audition, you will either be advised to continue in the keyboard class or you will be assigned to a piano studio for individual lessons. A list of students recommended for individual lessons is usually posted at the end of the first week of the fall semester.
This is a difficult question to answer without actually hearing you play, but in general terms, students who are able to play a Bach two-part invention well, or pieces at an equivalent level, are usually admitted to the lesson sequence. Some fluency in basic piano technique is also required. It is important to note that for students who are admitted to individual lessons, the repertoire, technical, and sight-reading portions of the proficiency requirements, are waived.
There are two tests for the Level I proficiency, two tests for the Level II proficiency and four tests for the Level III proficiency. The two tests for the Level I proficiency are given during midterm and finals week of the fall semester. The two tests for part 1 of the Level III piano proficiency are also given during midterm and finals week of the fall semester. The two tests for the Level II proficiency and the two tests for Level III, part 2 are given during midterm and finals week of the winter semester. Your piano teacher will give you information on how to sign up for a testing time, the dates of the tests this semester, and where the tests will occur.
You should complete the Level I proficiency tests during your first semester of piano lessons (MUSC 154 or 155), the Level II proficiency tests during your second semester of piano lessons (MUSC 154 or 155), part 1 of Level III during your third semester of piano lessons (MUSC 254 or 255), and part 2 of Level III during your fourth semester of piano lessons (MUSC 254 or 255).
Specific information on all levels of piano proficiency will be posted on the web at http://www.und.nodak.edu/instruct/knorman/protests.html
For Level 3 part 1, you perform two piano duets. Your partner and the duets you will play will be assigned to you by Dr. Gallo. Consult your piano teacher for assistance in learning the duets. At midterm, you will be expected submit a recording of your progress to Dr. Norman. This recording may be submitted either on audio tape or computer disk. By this time, you should have a good understanding of the style, character and structure of the duets. You and your partner will perform both duets for the piano faculty during final exam week. A competent performance of your duets on a piano department recital may substitute for the duet jury. Please note that the duet jury is separate from your regular piano jury.
For Level 3 part 2, you will be introduced to the art of accompanying. By the end of the semester, you will be expected to perform one instrumental and one vocal accompaniment with soloists in a jury setting. First, consult a vocalist and instrumentalist to work with throughout the semester. Then, work together on some mutually agreed upon repertoire. Choose one vocal piece and one instrumental jury piece. Have your piano teacher approve your jury choices fairly early in the semester. Make sure that your soloists are able to attend your jury. Consult your piano teacher for assistance in learning the accompaniments. At midterm, you will be expected submit a recording of your work to Dr. Norman. It may be submitted either on audio tape or computer disk and should include both of the pieces you intend to play for your final accompanying jury. Please note that: (1) all repertoire must be approved, and (2) you must submit a midterm progress tape/disk in order to perform the final accompanying jury. With prior approval of the piano department, a competent performance of your accompaniments on a music department recital may substitute for the accompanying jury. In addition, please note that your accompanying jury is separate from your regular piano jury.
No. The proficiency tests that occur during midterm and finals week are for students who are taking individual piano lessons. Your proficiency requirements will be fulfilled by successfully completing the tests, assignments, and performances that are a part of the Keyboard Skills classes. Completion of Keyboard Skills I meets the Level I proficiency requirement, Keyboard Skills II the Level II proficiency requirement, and Keyboard Skills III AND Keyboard Skills IV the Level III proficiency requirement.
While it is true that Keyboard Skills I and II address basic aspects of piano technique, much of the content focuses on musicianship skills such as harmonization of melodies, transposition, and improvisation that are rarely addressed in private piano lessons. Keyboard Skills III and IV continue these activities, but focus more on ensemble playing and accompanying, two skills that once again, are rarely addressed in private piano lessons. In addition, the keyboard skills classes take place in a "state-of-the-art" electronic piano lab where students who exceed class expectations are given opportunities to explore the many facets of the Yamaha Clavinova.
10. Who should I talk to if I have further questions about the piano proficiency requirements You should speak to Dr. Norman in Rm. 216 of Hughes Fine Arts. Consult the office hours on the door. If the question is not complicated, you may e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to include your e-mail address in the text of your query if you'd like a reply.
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