Why Learning Classical Pieces Is Important for Contemporary Pianists


There’s often a misconception that classical music is a realm separate from other genres, something relegated to a bygone era or an academic exercise. Many pianists focusing on contemporary styles might question the relevance of delving into works by composers like Bach, Mozart, or Chopin. However, the value of learning classical pieces is immeasurable, even for those interested in modern music. This is true for individuals of all ages, including those who take private piano lessons for adults.

The Foundations of Technique

Classical pieces, especially those from the Baroque and Classical periods, often demand a level of technical mastery that serves as a valuable educational tool. Whether it’s the ornate, intricate fingerwork required by a Bach fugue or the dynamic control called for in a Beethoven sonata, classical works often serve as mini-masterclasses in technique. Learning and mastering these pieces not only broadens your technical repertoire but also prepares you for the advanced skills often required in contemporary compositions.

The Language of Music Theory

There’s a saying that music theory was ‘invented’ by breaking down what composers had already done. This is notably true for classical music, which serves as a treasure trove of theory in action. Learning classical pieces helps one understand chord progressions, scale relationships, modulation, and a host of other concepts that are invaluable for a well-rounded understanding of music. With a sound theory basis, a pianist finds it easier to improvise, arrange, or even compose in any style, including contemporary genres.

Emotional Expression and Dynamics

Classical music offers a range of emotions and dynamic shifts often unmatched in other genres. Learning to navigate these subtleties not only enhances your interpretive skills but also gives you the tools to imbue your contemporary pieces with greater emotional depth. Understanding the ways classical composers used dynamics, tempo, and phrasing to evoke feelings can enrich your own playing, regardless of the genre.

Versatility and Adaptability

Being competent in classical pieces builds versatility, enabling you to adapt to a wider array of musical situations. This is especially important for those pursuing a career in music. Whether you’re interested in session work, live performances, or teaching, the adaptability gained from understanding classical music will make you more marketable and versatile in your skills. This can also be a selling point if you are considering private piano lessons for adults, as being a well-rounded player can make learning new contemporary pieces far more accessible.


Learning classical pieces is an enriching experience that contributes vastly to a pianist’s skill set. From technical mastery and music theory to emotional expression and professional adaptability, the benefits are manifold. While the allure of contemporary music can be compelling, the foundational aspects of classical music serve as building blocks for any pianist, no matter their preferred style. The divide between classical and contemporary isn’t so much a chasm as it is a spectrum, and traversing it can make you a more complete musician.

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