Integrating Extended Piano Techniques in Repertoire for Children

Luk Vaes


2012 - ...

Peyotl – or peyote – is a spiritual drug. At times the effects are accompanied by auditory effects. The Native American deification of Peyote is estimated to be around 10,000 years old – the local Huichol Indians who live in North Western Mexico still use peyote sacramentally. Coyote Oldman is a duo of Native American musicians who make peyote music. They love to experiment with and explore new sounds. 
The extensive piano repertoire in which extended techniques have been brought to fruition is still stigmatized by professional pianists and teachers. Children, on the other hand, are easy to interest in making improper sounds at their instrument. The existing repertoire with extended techniques for children is problematic, however, and consists of three issues: the few collections of pieces are often comprised of pieces written in a musical language that has little appeal to children; at best, the pieces are written with a specific pedagogical aim to teach improper techniques, but this aim rarely matches the relevant level of proper piano playing; hardly ever has the child’s biotope been taken into consideration. The Peyotl collection is devised to counter these shortcomings: each piece appeals to the child’s musical interest by incorporating tonal melodies that it can know from school or from its musical background (e.g. children’s songs, famous classical melodies) and that it can easily play; the techniques are prescribed to support the musical content rather that to dictate the type of language. Secondly, each piece focusses on particular technique, at some times using a few techniques that are related to each other. The techniques are composed with on the basis of particularly set-up pedagogical goals to teach them efficiently (hence the division of the collection in categories). Thirdly, when accessories are prescribed, they are easy to be found in the child’s personal environment (e.g. a toothbrush instead of a wire brush) so that it will not have trouble studying it independently of its parents’ help.
Composer-teacher-pianist Hans Cafmeyer and pianist-researcher Luk Vaes work together to develop new and pedagogically appropriate repertoire to teach children the use of Extended Piano Techniques. Hans Cafmeyer has over 30 years of experience teaching children to play the piano and writing pieces for that purpose. He has written more than 200 such compositions, dozens of which enjoy success in the hands of both students and teachers. Luk Vaes has carried out extensive research into the theory, history and performance practice of the techniques.

Volume 2 is being prepared.

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> peyotl videos by Hans Cafmeyer

> article by Luk Vaes in ÍMPAR: Online Journal for Artistic Research (Vol 4 No 1, 2020): peyotl: everything you always wanted to do but weren’t allowed in piano lessons (download pdf)