26. Do you teach in-depth theory, composition or improvisation?

I will explain everything one topic at a time :).

Theory.

Yes, I cover LOTS of theory in my tutorials:

  1. All the piano-related theory that a beginner should know is covered in the Course for Beginners and in the Scale Course: musical notation (explained in a progressive fun manner), modes and tonalities, intervals, chords, the Circle of Fifths etc. etc.
  2. I also have many tutorials focused on theory and music history only (you can find them on the Complete List of Tutorials, under the Piano Theory Category); still, all of them are closely related to the art of piano playing.
  3. In all my tutorials dedicated to specific pieces I make a thorough analysis of the genre and the style of the composer, the form (macro- and micro-structures, from movements to phrases and motifs), the layout of the musical text, the tonal plan (harmonic analysis), the rhythmical formulas – and I also share many other important theoretical details that will help you to have a holistic, super-detailed understanding of the piece you’re about to learn! ūüėČ

However, I do not teach in-depth theory on its own – and on PCA you will not find step-by-step courses on subjects such as solfeggio, harmony or polyphony (counterpoint). In our country, they are taught by musicology experts, not by piano teachers.

Composition.

No, I do not teach composition :).

PianoCareerAcademy.com is focused on ALL the aspects of professional piano playing. I have a Masters degree in piano performance and teaching (which means that I am a professional pianist and teacher, not a composer). Many people nowadays think that all musicians can do anything music-related (play any instrument, compose etc.) Рbut the reality is very different. Mastering an instrument at a professional Conservatoire level is an enormous task that takes at least 18 years of extremely serious practice Рand in the Russian piano school everything is very specialized: a piano teacher teaches piano, a composition teacher teaches composition, a theory teacher teaches solfeggio and harmony, and so on. Otherwise, if one person would try to teach ALL these things (as it often happens nowadays in the Western world) Рhis/her level of expertise would be rather shallow! They would know a little of everything Рinstead of knowing one art (such as piano playing) in depth Рand teaching it in depth (as I do in my tutorials). Yes, there ARE performers/teachers who are also composers (Liszt and Chopin are wonderful examples! LOL) Рbut Conservatoire-level piano teachers usually do not teach composition (unless they are licensed composers as well).

However, if you wish to study composition and you’re wondering if PCA can be helpful for you – it also depends on your current level:

Are you a beginner or an experienced piano player?

If you are experienced and you want to learn professional composition Рthen, as I mentioned above, our program is not suitable for you.

If you are a beginner Рyou have to know one fundamental thing:

It’s impossible to compose without learning how to play¬†at least¬†one musical instrument¬†– and without learning¬†at least¬†the¬†basics of musical theory! This includes studying pieces by great composers – because otherwise, you will be simply trying to re-invent the wheel ūüôā . Professional composition students study in-depth theory and harmony, musical history, musical analysis, stylistics etc. – without that, their work would be amateurish at best. I’m mentioning this because sometimes I get emails from beginners who wish to learn how to compose, but without learning how to play properly, or without studying pieces by other composers LOL – which is, naturally, a very naive approach ūüėÄ .

Think of it this way. In order to become a doctor, one has to major in at least a few other fields (because being a doctor is VERY difficult, and the person needs LOTS of knowledge). Being a doctor is a top-level multi-functional skill Рand it needs to be based on other skills (chemistry, biology, physics etc.).

The same can be said about being a¬†composer¬†– it’s a top-level skill that needs to be based on many other ones.

Therefore, first you need to learn how to play piano correctly and professionally Рand you also need to know theory very well.

Luckily, you can do so by following our step-by-step¬†Course for Beginners¬†based on Nikolaev’s¬†Russian School of Piano Playing – and our¬†Scale Course.

Then (or simultaneously), you can also study composition by taking lessons from a professional composer.

Improvisation.

PCA is focused on classical piano and the¬†professional principles of the Russian piano school. Most of my tutorials are dedicated to¬†specific pieces¬†by pre-classical, classical and romantic composers, and to many other important piano topics – and I don’t have detailed tutorials about improvisation.

Actually, I have only one article about improvisation. You can read its first half on PianoCareer.com (Awakening Our Creativity: Mastering the Art of Piano Improvisation) Рand the entire article is available for our PCA members.

So if¬†improvisation¬†is your main objective and you want to study it in-depth, then I’m afraid I cannot help you.