While technology can never be a substitute for good teaching, it can be a wonderful tool if used with a little creativity and thought. To put it in context, imagine three types of instructional multimedia: 1) tutorials, which introduce concepts; 2) drill and practice programs for skill building; and 3) exploratory environments. The latter provide opportunity for exploration and discovery, for learning through experimentation. The background accompaniments from Faber Piano Adventures fall into the “exploratory environments” category, offering background orchestrations for exploring and experiencing the pieces in the Piano Adventures® method.
The orchestrations for Piano Adventures® are distinctive and unique. The accompaniments feature the instrumentation of the marching band, Baroque chamber group, jazz ensemble, chamber orchestra, etc. Students not only benefit from exposure to the sounds of these ensembles, but have the opportunity to play along. For many students, the orchestrations will be an introduction to these ensemble sounds. And, hopefully, the orchestrations will inspire many toward ensemble playing in the future.
- Rhythmic practice – Playing with a background accompaniment demands correct rhythm. Students learn to feel the meter, sense the forward musical flow of the time signature, and understand the need to “keep going.”
- Sight-reading proficiency – The digital accompaniment experience is well-suited for sight-reading. For this activity, be sure to use music that is at least one level below that of the student’s usual lesson assignment.
- Musical growth – The musical “vignettes” in this series introduce the student to a variety of musical sounds and ensembles: the marching band, chamber orchestra, jazz ensemble, rock band, etc. Exposure to these orchestrated interpretations not only makes the student more musically literate, but inspires the student to play with rhythmic vitality, forward motion, and musical expression.
Audio vs. MIDI Files
Faber Piano Adventures CDs are standard audio CDs that will play in any audio player. In addition, some of our CDs are Enhanced CDs that contains standard MIDI files for use with your computer, keyboard, or synthesizer.
A MIDI file does not contain recorded sound as does a CD; instead, it contains information on which notes were played and when they were played. When a MIDI file is accessed, it simply tells your digital instrument which notes to play and when. In other words, MIDI files provide your instrument or sound module with performance information, so a “performance” can be re-created on your own digital instrument.
The positive implications of this for teaching include easy change of tempo without a change in pitch, the ability to solo or mute out selected instruments, and easy transposition, if desired.
The drawback is that the quality of instrumental sounds and the balance between instruments vary among manufacturers and models. As a consequence, some equipment may produce a more successful orchestration blend than others. The General MIDI specification, abbreviated GM, nonetheless helps ensure that the appropriate instrument will play the appropriate part.
It is our hope that these accompaniment CDs enhance and enrich the musical adventure.