As pianists, we have to spend many hours practising alone, developing our skills and learning repertoire. However performing duets gives us the opportunity to meet and play with other musicians. Below are some of the key benefits to be gained:
1. Developing a strong sense of rhythm
One of the most important skills when playing in an ensemble of any kind is to have a strong sense of rhythm. Duet partners need to be able to keep a steady beat so that they are always in time with each other. They also need to listen carefully when the tempo changes to ensure they stay together.
2. Improving aural skills
Duet playing is all about listening to the other pianist. Not only do we have to ensure we are keeping in time with each other, but we also need to listen to the balance of the music, making sure the melody is able to sing over the accompaniment.
3. Simple pieces can sound more complicated
With four hands at the piano instead of two, it’s possible to play a lot more notes at the same time. Music can have bigger chords adding more interest to the harmonies and fairly simple melodies can be filled out with more complex accompaniments.
4. Increasing the dynamic range
Balancing the sound with another player and bringing out melodies encourages a greater range of dynamics in our playing. At times we will have to play very quietly to ensure we don’t drown out the melody, while there will be other opportunities to use a stronger dynamic for important aspects of the music.
5. Practising keeping going even if there is a small slip
Often musicians find it difficult to keep going if they make a mistake. However, in duets it’s important to keep going, otherwise the music can come to a halt.
6. Meeting other musicians
Playing duets provides excellent opportunities to meet and spend time with other pianists, making learning the piano a much more sociable experience.
If you don’t already play duets, why not start to look for a piano duet partner and meet up to try some pieces out together? You are sure to have a lot of fun making music together and you are bound to notice an increase in confidence in your own piano playing.