Theses Doctoral

Becoming Collaborative Pianists: Student Experiences in Graduate Programs

Fang, Siyi

Accompanist is the old term. Collaborative pianist is the new one. Accompanist implies a mostly subservient role, whereas collaborative pianist gestures toward a more equitable relationship between the soloist and pianist, no longer a mere follower. Degree programs that prepare collaborative piano skills are growing rapidly in higher education since their inception five decades ago, encouraging a wider range of pianists to pursue an intentional career path. Becoming a seasoned collaborative pianist takes time, however. Little empirical research has investigated the preparation process. What is it like for collaborative piano majors to accumulate collaborative skills and practical knowledge? How is collaboration defined and experienced, and how helpful do students find their programs? Without understanding student experiences, the artistic well-being of collaborative pianists is at stake, and so is the field’s own ability to do its work.

This qualitative study examines lived experiences of collaborative piano students in conservatory and university degree programs. As researcher, I conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews exploring topics including, but not limited to, professional identity, attitudes and dispositions, competencies and skills, struggles and challenges, power dynamics as well as teamwork with four recent graduates in the United States. It seems that issues of professionalization, an unclear definition of “collaboration,” and a lack of student agency are central to all lived experiences. An examination of these phenomena would contribute to the growth of the field, empowering its ability to do its job more efficiently and sustainably.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Allsup, Randall Everett
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2024