Piano Class: Starting on a High Note

Believe it or not, I didn’t have the most traditional musical background when I entered college as a music education major. I have always loved to sing and dabbled in piano since I was a little kid, but I mostly learned by ear in lieu of reading sheet music. Needless to say, the prospect of taking voice lessons, two years of piano, and learning a crash course on practically every other instrument seemed a bit daunting to a freshman-year Logan.

To my relief, I have been in the best of hands with the music faculty since my very first day. I had the privilege of starting piano with Dr. Carleen Graff before she retired and have continued with Dr. Adam Mayon, who has since taken on the role of coordinator of piano and collaborative piano. Relearning proper technique and how to read sheet music was tedious at first, but piano quickly became one of my favorite instruments to play.

Although important, piano class is far more than simply learning scales. In addition to reading sheet music, we also learn how to read lead-sheet notation, which shows shorthand symbols for chords and is incredibly practical and applicable in the “real world” of music. We collaborate with classmates to learn and perform duets, accompany ourselves as we sing, explore composition and improvisation, and learn a variety of repertoire – from essential pieces by major composers to “pop” songs that we suggest ourselves!

Learning to play piano has improved my performance and understanding in other music classes as well. Outside of piano class, my skills have helped me better understand music theory, learn repertoire for University Chorale and my voice lessons, and have fun playing my favorite contemporary songs in my free time. Studying piano has also made me a better performance partner with my collaborative pianist, Dr. Mayon, now that I can understand the structure, symbols, and cues written in his part as compared with mine.

While all music education students have a primary instrument and learn the basics of the rest, functional piano skills are absolutely vital to becoming any kind of music teacher. I will be using these skills on a daily basis, whether I am leading vocal warm-ups, accompanying an ensemble, teaching music theory, or simply learning a piece myself. Taking four semesters of piano is only the beginning of my playing journey, but it has already made me feel far more prepared for my first teaching job postgraduation and has made me fall even more in love with the path I chose to pursue.

The Music Department is currently conducting a fundraiser called “Push-ups for PSU Piano,” where music, theatre, and dance faculty and staff will perform one repetition of any exercise starting with the letter “p” for every dollar donated! “All donations will go toward a brand-new Music Makers Classroom for PSU music students, which includes technologically-advanced digital keyboards, up-to-date laptops, piano teaching cameras, and more. This classroom will ultimately prepare our students for performing and teaching in an environment that continues to emphasize online media and interactive tools. Additional funds will be allocated to the renovation of our beautiful 9-foot Steinway grand piano in the Silver Center for the Arts’ Smith Recital Hall.”

Being a member of the MTD family and making music with the students and staff has made the greatest impact on my life. We would all be incredibly grateful for any form of support you are able to offer young musicians and our education here at Plymouth State!

Please visit https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/PSUPIANO or text PSUPIANO to 71777 to donate!

Logan Cormier ’22 is a junior music education (K-12) major with a minor in psychology from Fitchburg, MA. On campus, Logan serves as the treasurer of PSU’s chapter of NAfME, the National Association for Music Education, as well as an orientation leader. Logan is also a staff member of Plymouth Parks & Recreation’s “A+ After-School Program,, where she works with students in grades K–4. Her hobbies include movie marathons with her family, making music with her friends, and trying every flavor of ice cream ever invented.