Sam Slane’s independent study on piano theory

Sam Slane at the Big room piano – photo by Jack Ballenger ’20

Students are allowed to take six courses with one block assigned for free or third Form study hall. Most students have been confined to six classes, which guarantees students a certain amount of free time and time to catch up to their busy schedules.

     Fifth Former Sam Slane has managed to fit in a seventh class, an independent study—an option little known to many students.

     “I had already taken a software programming independent study in my sophomore year,” Slane said, “and I wanted to do a science independent study this year. I looked at the advanced science classes, and most of the stuff I wanted to learn was already being covered. I ended up doing piano instead.”

     Sam has been learning piano theory for thirteen years.

     An independent study requires the approval of your advisor, college counselor, the upper school head, and the teacher teaching the course. The student submits an idea or aim for the course, the objective is to be out of the scope of Haverford’s standard courses.

     Slane hoped to “learn more in depth about the musical pieces…and improve my all-around piano skills.”

     “You have to put a lot of work in at home. That’s the point of independent studies.”

Sam Slane ’21

     Slane’s study goes into depth with each piece he learns; the composer’s motive for the piece, reasons for certain artistic choices, and in-depth analysis of the chords.

     Slane not only studies pieces, he also hones specific skills such as sight reading, hand and wrist technique, and various other piano skills.  Sam attends his piano independent study during D-Block and studies with Conservatory teacher Ms. Anna Kopansky.

     “You have to put a lot of work in at home,” Slane said. “That’s the point of independent studies.”