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My child (12) takes both piano and classical singing lessons, independently. I have noticed that her song sheets sometimes also contain the accompaniment line, which she may be capable of playing. The idea came to head that maybe she could try to sing classical with self-accompaniment, although this seems not very typical.

The both teachers know about each other but they seem not very cooperative with each other.

However if I ask directly the piano teacher to teach the child to play these accompaniment lines, she probably will do this, assuming they are inside the current player's capabilities. Up to now, she has learned one such song ("Gruss" by Mendelssohn). It sounds completely fine, although it looks rather demanding.

Should I show more active initiative trying to integrate piano and singing or should I stay aside, allowing both teachers to continue their direction independently? Obviously I would prefer to have something integrated; otherwise it may make more sense to drop one direction leaving more time for the other.

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    I don't share your conclusion. Your child is 12, I don't think there is any reason to drop either one, he does not need to "specialize" yet. It can be awkward to get your kid's teachers to cooperate, but in general unless you have a degree in music teaching and one in instrumental performance, stay aside and let them do their job. Nobody forbids you to gently encourage your kid to "put the pieces together" and try to accompany herself. She may very well have some good fun from it - ASSUMING she is good enough to read and play the accompainment. If she is not, you have other fish to fry anyway. – Some Dude On The Interwebs Jul 5 '15 at 15:51
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    Agreed with SomeDude here - the child is young - let them make music and enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it and experience what they must. Goals are good, but there is a fine line between your goals and your child's goals. The goals in this question are not those of your child, but yours. Is your child interested in both? What are your child's goals? If your child wants to do both at the same time, great. If they want to do a funk arrangement of the piece, great. If they want to scat over the original music, great. They are only limited by their imagination and your presupposed goals. – jjmusicnotes Jul 5 '15 at 16:33
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    I think an operatic singing teacher would object to singing in an operatic style while seated. However there's no harm in singing while playing for fun. – slim Jul 6 '15 at 12:00
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    @SomeDudeOnTheInterwebs Oh, I agree completely; they are morons until they are not. I'm absolutely not saying a child shouldn't have structure / guidance, I was merely making the point that adults should not live through their kids and/or impose needless aspirations on them. Children need substantial amounts of structure, but you have to make sure you're giving them the right kind of structure. – jjmusicnotes Jul 6 '15 at 15:32
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    @Josiah That sounds fantastic; you managed to get me excited about Wagner, which hasn't happened in some time. I also agree with Somedude; see my other comment. :) – jjmusicnotes Jul 6 '15 at 15:34
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Probably 95% of students who take lessons don't end up performing professionally. Music will be something they do for themselves and their friends, and good accompanists are rare in many areas. If she wants to be able to sing with an accompanist with any frequency, her options are to marry one (my wife's choice) or be able to accompany herself. Of course music is still a great thing to learn, but the reality is that singers really need to be able to accompany themselves once they no longer take lessons if they are to continue practicing and performing.

My wife teaches both voice and piano. One of her projects even for beginners is to have them play a reduced version of the accompaniment independent of singing. This has all kinds of benefits, especially a deeper knowledge of how harmony and melody intertwine. The more advanced students play accompaniments for each other. Even though they don't perform classical voice literature while accompanying themselves, they can practice that way.

As far as dropping one, all the music programs at university level that I'm aware of require piano lessons for all voice students. Singers who can't play piano at a high level will find themselves handicapped, especially if they ever teach music.

Singing opera while seated is probably not going to fly, but there is a big world out there, and many teachers will at some point introduce musical theater or pop music into lessons. Those are great genres to play accompaniments in performance. If your daughter's voice teacher doesn't get to those genres, at some point she'll probably want to learn some on her own.

Finally, remember that as long as practicing is getting done, there's no rule against practicing anything you want "on your own time." If the teachers don't want to teach a particular song, it's ok to learn it as long as you use good technique and learn it correctly. Even at university level, much of the learning is self-directed, getting feedback on pieces you learn mostly on your own. If her teachers are open to hearing pieces she's learned and giving feedback once a month, that may be an option.

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Two issues here. I wouldn't try to combine the piano and singing lessons into one. There are of course overlapping musical skills, but a completely different set of techniques.

A serious singer would never choose to perform sitting down, with the restriction of breathing that entails. But this ain't Carnegie Hall, and she won't always be belting out full-throttle operatic stuff. Of course she can play while she sings, as long as both are sufficiently fluent. Plus point - a single musical concept. Minus point - a single musical concept! It's good to bounce your performance off another musician.

  • +1 for not combining the lessons, if time allows. i also agree that a serious vocalist prefers to avoid sitting...if the child is to be a more serious vocalist than pianist, and has access to a digital piano, should they not consider standing and playing? this might come at the expense of some leverage, but they might not be accompanying with much power anyway. admittedly, there is a learning curve for pedaling - especially multiple pedals - but i've been doing it for years and have found it manageable. their piano might not have a third/sostenuto pedal anyway... – aeroNotAuto Jul 8 '15 at 18:04
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I would not recommend it as a mainstream practice, especially for a child. I do accompany myself occasionally and enjoy it very much, but learning a piece to perform in this way takes much, much longer. A child will learn faster focusing on one thing at a time.

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