Recently, I have been working on duets with two of my students. I think we have all been a little surprised about how enjoyable and challenging the process has been. My students enjoyed the first duet so much, I have assigned a second one.
Why are duets beneficial? First, duets expose any flaws in rhythm and tempo, helping the performers to develop and strengthen their counting skills. When you are playing a solo, you can make many slight variations in tempo and rhythm without it adversely affecting the music. But when you are playing a duet, it becomes very important to be rhythmically precise, or else the entire piece can get thrown out of whack.
Second, duets strengthen the ability to listen to two separate parts simultaneously. I often ask my students, “Are you together?” If one of them says, “I don’t know,” I say, “Listen again.” The students must know concentrate on their own part and listen to the other part simultaneously. This is an important skill that does not come naturally to anyone, but the skill can grow with practice.
Third, duets provide a sense of togetherness. Playing piano is most often a solo endeavor, and every so often pianists can feel lonely. The beauty of duets is that the pianist is not alone. Suddenly, you are working with someone else towards a common goal. You are sharing the journey with a friend, and that makes the reward much sweeter.
I am a piano teacher who loves teaching music and discussing personality styles. I also enjoy playing music with others, whether that is chamber music, piano duets, or singing in a choir. My favorite composers are Bach and Haydn.