How does "a little bit of piano" help your expertise on violin?
Like billions of other people, I play "a little bit of piano", and even quite a bit more piano in solo jazz and ensemble jazz and commercial music contexts.
Of course, some grounding in hearing harmonic progressions comes from this (limited) piano skill, but I have had dozens of students learn to hear chord progressions, using recordings and one finger piano technique on chord roots.
I do agree that quite a high level of piano skill can help a musician efficiently experiment and test chord progressions, (in style, even), and this a great advantage to these people.
But is a few years of basic piano of any use whatsoever to an aspiring violinist?
How has it helped you?
I don't know about piano, but I played classical guitar for many years. However it was the study of musical theory that assisted me with understanding.
I think it does because you are likely to have a bigger picture of music overall vs. someone who only plays the violin. Understanding chords and harmonic progressions can definitely help any string player.
Studying harmony is great for every musician, and learning piano at the same time is great as well. Basic keyboard skills are useful to help with harmony and music theory.
I agree with Karl.
Both my kids play the violin and the piano - both Suzuki Methods. The piano teacher is glad the kids are learning to play the violin because she claims it's helping our children progress very well in their piano lessons. The violin teacher is glad the kids are learning to play piano for the same reason. I concur with Karl's post. I learned to play both piano and violin, although I always gravitated towards the violin.
Having a feel for the piano keyboard is useful because it gives the player a better sense of chords and harmony and theory generally. Why? Because it's visual. You can see your harmonies laid out in front of you. You can explore intervals and chords and progressions without the obvious, serious physical constraints of the violin. Now, a violinist with a profound command of the fingerboard may not need that, but show me a young student who has that command. I play more than a "little bit" of piano and I've found it very very helpful, and I think it would be even more useful if I were teaching violin.
When I was 5 yeas old I used to check out some of my violin melodies on our piano. I also did it sometime later as well.
Not sure that 1 in 3 persons (or more) plays the piano (billionS = at least 2 out of 7 billions people on earth) ;-) but I see several ways it can help however: rhythm, scales, notation reading, tempo, harmony (3rds, 5ths etc.). You learn all of these and you are way ahead on the learning curve.
For starters; piano skill is needed to do the college music major theory courses. At my school they decided to include keyboard harmony, piano score reading, figured bass, etc. as part of the combined theory classes. I am terrible at piano, so I got mostly C 's and went through most of my life thinking I was not good enough at theory to consider doing arranging and composing.
Studying harmony and studying piano are … different things. People often link them together because they learn them together, many good harmony students don't play piano to any extent, and lots of good pianists actually don't know a lot of harmony.
Advanced students are probably past needing to visualise a keyboard , but I cannot imagine learning any non linear instrument, without being familiar with the layout of keys on a piano keyboard. How do you get your head round the fact that there’s only a semitone between b &c and e&f and a whole tone between the others?
Similarly to Rosemary, I sometimes wonder how anyone learns to read music without at least being familiar with the piano keyboard.
To answer Graeme, I might guess that there are perhaps *some* who never have any need of piano instruction to be perfectly fine with harmony, theory, and so forth. But from what I've seen the majority are helped by it. I personally was helped tremendously -- rhythm, sight-reading, understanding harmonic cadences, pretty much all aspects of musicianship except bowing and tone production.
Playing "little bit" piano helps me in intonation.
I learned to read music when I was also learning the violin, no piano was involved (I don't remember if my teacher used a piano). I struggle to even find the A on a piano - it's pretty laughable actually! (But I can manage to play something by ear with a little bit of work, with one hand.) I used to have a teeny keyboard with the note names taped to the keys to help me when I couldn't figure out something on the violin, but that keyboard is long gone. Now, I look at a piano and am completely lost. Have considered taking a couple of lessons to get my bearings, but the violin provides plenty of fodder for learning and I'm not inclined to give up some of my precious practice time (and money) for the piano.
............….Theory is something else, and is also often required in addition. Having a piano around is helpful for that, but being able to play piano isn't really...…………
Henry raises a very interesting question: Does one need to PLAY the piano to reap the "visual-learning" benefits for theory, chords, etc.? I would have to guess that it probably does help to know where the notes are so that if you are talking about an Ab-major triad, you can quickly envision those notes on the keyboard. Can that skill be secured sufficiently, without ever having played so much as a scale or a simple tune? I guess it's possible but I think it would be harder.
I agree that for theory/harmony issues one doesn't actually have to have played the piano (learning proper hand shape and position and when to cross over/under) as long as one understands the keyboard layout. However it has been my experience that many people who don't play anything on the piano have a hard time remembering all that stuff, where playing even simple melodies like "Mary Had A Little Lamb" or "Twinkle" can give a person greater insights.
The piano gives the left hand something to do, wakes it up, as Adrian says.
Having read through the above I couldn't believe my eyes, so just to check I put "coun" in the search box, and my eyes were right: Not one person mentioned "counterpoint"! It's an important factor when I improvise on any instrument (in the case of the submentum instruments, mainly with others), but I first learned it on a keyboard. I doubt if my violin and viola improvisations would be the same without keyboard familiarity - Mind you, I did have organ lessons almost throughout High School. I think my non-improvisatory activities have benefitted from familiarity with counterpoint on the keyboard too (By the way, I am an appalling pianist and an even worse organist, and I'm not that wonderful on the other instruments either - but I know how I AIM to play).
“I struggle to even find the A on a piano.”
I think you do become a better musician if you had piano lesson with a good teacher.
David wrote, "Would I become a better violinist if I had piano lesson? I don’t think so."
“She talks about music history, theory, musicianship,etc. She also has my daughter play a lot of duets. All of these skills and knowledge help our little one become a better violinist.”
"As string players, we have a lot more opportunities in ensemble playing where one learns to play with many others (not just with one’s teacher)."
Basically, what J Ray said.
“I think it is a completely valid point that 2 hours of weekly violin lessons is better than splitting that between violin and piano if someone's goal is to be a professional violinist.”
I haven't played piano, but guitar gave me a lot of chord theory.
I think the piano can provide practice in playing the polyrhythms that one may encounter in Brahms, Dvorak, and Gershwin.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.