The term “collaborative pianist” was coined in the last few decades in an attempt to question our perceptions of ensemble pianists being “accompanists” and subordinate to other musicians. Nevertheless, hierarchical ideas still dominate our understanding of the pianist’s role in ensemble settings, thus the field of collaborative piano calls for a deeper examination of its performance practices, pedagogy, and culture. In response, my ethnographic research emphasizes a sociological viewpoint and asks how social factors like race and gender have shaped the art and work field of collaborative piano playing.
Mai Miyagaki began playing the piano at the age of 3 in South Bend, Indiana. As she navigated through her childhood in the U.S. and Japan, music became an important means of communication. She returned to the U.S. in 2013 to study with Robert Shannon at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she was frequently featured in showcases. Mai performed with Oberlin Sinfonietta and Oberlin Percussion Group, and appeared in masterclasses with Martino Tirimo, Martin Katz, the St. Lawrence Quartet, and the Brentano Quartet. In addition to her Piano Performance studies, Mai majored in Sociology at Oberlin as a double degree student, which prompted her to look at issues of race and immigration in relation to higher music education. Upon graduation, she received the Faculty Award in piano accompanying and the C. Starr Prize in sociology.
Supervisor(s): Roe-Min Kok / Michael McMahon / Kyoko Hashimoto