Here are some things I’ve been saying to my students as I work with them on their duets for the upcoming recital:
It doesn’t matter whether you play your piece perfect unless you play together with your duet partner.
Since you’re the advanced player, you have to try to follow and lead.
You won’t play your duet well, unless you’re nice to each other.
You have to learn your part really well and know it really well because your partner is not going to be able to compensate for all your mistakes like I do.
Can you try to listen to the other person and try to synchronize with each other?
If you make a mistake, don’t try to fix it then, don’t stop and don’t repeat it. The most important thing is to stay with the beat.
When you perform and make a mistake, this is the only time you pretend that you didn’t.
I know you get anxious about getting that entrance right, but you have to keep the cool inside so that you’re still keeping the beat.
You’re pushing your partner. Don’t rush. Don’t push. And don’t get pushed around.
Unless you hear that down beat in your heart, you won’t be able to get that syncopated note right.
When in doubt, the advanced player has to accommodate.
Even though you’re playing a harder part, you have to make your duet partner shine because she’s playing the melody.
At the end, take your hands off the piano together and then bow together.
Cue your partner the entrance by giving a little nod or nudge.
When your hands or fingers overlap with the other person, you have to move a little to make room for the other person.
When you practice, you might get frustrated because your partner is not as ready as you are. You have to know that it’s not your fault and try to help your partner.
The things we learn from piano lessons!
All in all, it’s been super fun to work on duets with the students. All of them have done duets with me but this is the first time where everyone is asked to do two duets with two different students. The “advanced parts” aren’t always played by students who are at advanced levels. I have late beginners and early intermediates doing that part and it took a lot of faith in my part to give them those parts. I definitely had moments when I thought, “Oh, no…this is not going to work.”
But kids are amazing. They have so far all stepped up their games. When I talk to them about attitudes that will smooth their rehearsal with their partners and the things they need to prepare, they seriously listen to me because they don’t want to let their duet partners down. It has also been so wonderful to watch certain students who have not always been strong solo players blossom in duets settings.