As classical pianists, we are fortunate to have a vast, diverse, and masterfully-crafted repertoire spanning four centuries. While for professional pianists the choices are immense, the younger pianists, namely of “middle intermediate” to “early advanced” levels, have a narrower window of options. Much of the time, teachers and students are bound to the more advanced standard repertoire because of the lack of knowledge of other compositions that can fill the breach between easy and difficult works, particularly of the Romantic period.
The Puerto Rican danzas explored here, as well as many others that have been written since the mid-nineteenth century, comprise a well of versatile works that can be assigned to students of the above-mentioned levels. Exposure to a variety of repertoire enables the student to draw from multiple sources in their technical and musical approach of a composition. Working on a set of danzas could inform the way a student will approach a Chopin mazurka in the future, and vice versa. Besides diversity, these works bring forth elements that are essential in the artistic and pianistic growth of each student, such as ability to voice correctly, continuity of phrases through chordal passages, inflections of rhythmic figurations in dance-like forms, and independence of the roles for each hand. More importantly, the genre of the danza instills in the young pianist the concept of needing to interpret the engraved score, and not simply reproduce it. Certainly, all music has this attribute, but the danza would not come close to sounding authentic unless such approach is taken right away.