Alan Duncan

Collaborative piano. Coach. Music theory & Audition recording

My approach to preparation

Posted at — Dec 16, 2022

One of the great wonders of music is that it makes sense both through the microscope and through the wide-angle lens. This is how I approach preparing a piece. What is the overall landscape of the piece? What is its overall structure? What mood, sense, and meaning does it convey to the listener? These questions fill the wide-angle frame. But to realize and overall vision, requires the musician to train the microscope on the smallest detail so that when each the myriad details are reassembled, the result is faithful to the intent of the whole. This is how I prepare and how I encourage others to approach the craft of music-making.

If we’re working together and you have similar goals, you can start with my advice about preparing for rehearsals. To extend those ideas a bit, consider spending time with at least the piano score so that you have a more comprehensive idea of how the parts work together to comprise the whole. If the parts are rhythmically-challenging, then playing along with a well-executed accompaniment track is often helpful. We use this sparingly because it can be musically-confining; but you will find that the collaboration becomes much more natural with a few sessions of this sort of over-preparation.