Hans Cafmeyer’s PEYOTL
Following on one of the insights from the doctoral research – that very little repertoire with extended techniques has been tailored to children’s training – I embarked on a project with composer Hans Cafmeyer.
Hans had already produced a large number of succesful children’s pieces, and taught youngsters for decades.
Traditionally, pieces with extended techniques are either aesthetically suitable mostly for grown-ups and made simpler on a technical level, or they are very much about freedom (e.g. Kurtág’s Játékok). The aim of the peyotl project was therefore to develop repertoire that caters to children by taking into account what they enjoy playing as well as the pedagogical issues that arise from teaching the combination of proper piano playing and extended techniques.
The positioning of the relevant techniques in the larger training schedule was carefully considered so that the student’s level of mastering the proper skills would not clash with what it takes to e.g. learn to find an overtone on a string inside of the piano. A progressive approach entailed identifying different levels of difficulty for each technique, and ordering those levels into a pedagogically workable sequence.
Extended techniques include different types of clusters, string glissandi, muted strings, resonance filtering, percussion, even prepared piano. Most of the pieces can be played on an upright piano as well as on a grand. (And not just those with keyboard extended techniques!)
Children’s songs or well-known classical music thems were used as basic materials. When accessories are needed, care is taken that the young student can be self-sufficient, e.g. with folded paper instead of rubber wedges.
Currently, one volume of solo pieces is finished. It comprises 11 pieces:
- four corners (percussion)
- reco-reco (percussion)
- are you sleeping? (muted strings, pizzicato)
- someone’s knocking (percussion)
- black (resonance filtering)
- circus (black-to-white glissando)
- syn-co-pa-tion (string chorus glissando)
- song (phalanx clusters)
- big ben (multiple fingers on a single key)
- waves (horizontal fist clusters)
- roller coaster (string glissandi, string cluster, resonance filtering)