Studying Piano Improv

2 15 19 Feature Piano

Emily McConville | February 15, 2019

Music theory and performance are often thought of as separate — you study the structures and history of music, or you master an instrument or your own voice. 

For Andrew White ’12, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago who studies how pianists practiced their instrument in the 19th century, putting the two together is “very intuitive.” 

“It has a lot to do with having a clear idea in your head of what you think music is,” he said. “If you think of music as something that’s put together in the mind of an artist, from different pieces that this artist is seeing and borrowing and remixing, then music theory and performance become a lot easier to merge.”  

White was able to make the two work in tandem at Notre Dame, where the Department of Music offers a unique blend of music performance and theory, allowing its majors to concentrate in either or both. 

His theory courses were wide-ranging, he said, while an intensive sequence of music history courses came in handy during his comprehensive exams at the University of Chicago.

“They were asking questions about music history, and I was able to draw on everything I had learned,” he said. “I’m very lucky to have had that.” 

Read more here.

 by Daily Domer Staff

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