The constant tapping and counting of a teacher in a music lesson seems to be a constant and never-ending tedium. How many music teachers have I heard say, “I sound like a broken record: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 during every lesson! Why can’t students just learn to count themselves?!”
The answer my friend, as the song goes, is blowin’ in the wind. Well, not just with winds but also with strings and all families of instruments when playing with the piano. Chamber music, as a genre, is impossible to groom in the public school curriculum for a variety of reasons, most of which are economic. Furthermore, chamber music cannot be found in the private studio of the local private piano instructor because his or her resources often do not support it.
However, the small music school, such as New World Music Academy, can offer easily experiences in chamber music to its students. The common problems of counting can be overcome by making students play together. This first can be exposed in semi-private and group piano lessons and then later in chamber music. We have seen students thrive musically when combined in small groups due to two simple but very important reasons; social interaction (peer group interaction) and responsibility.
The world of dance/ballet knows this scenario all too well. When small groups of dancers work together, their inter-dependence and responsibility to one another is finely tuned. If one is under-prepared, the group suffers. Therefore, there is a strong sense responsibility at the foundation of each dancer’s preparation for the rehearsal. The same should be true for musicians.
The problem with public school ensembles is that, too often, high standards are hard to enforce due to the nature of the environment. Furthermore, pianists rarely, if ever, fit into a public school music curriculum. All of this points to a need for small group, peer-to-peer interactivity in music lessons and nothing can address this need better than chamber music.
Another blog can be devoted to repertoire for late-elementary/intermediate chamber music (with piano or without) but you can get started by finding quality elementary piano trios here http://imslp.org/wiki/List_of_Compositions_for_Easy_Piano_Trio