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Learning music/piano

 
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 10:49 am
I remember the ice cold fear as I crossed the St. Nicholas Grade School stage to play "Falling Waters", a piece that started with a rolling arpegio and then some crashing chords.... plain, bald, fear.
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panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 10:52 am
Right osso, a fear that clouded the brain and filled the chair-scraping audience with a room full of aliens.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 12:43 pm
You're welcome, Craven. Someday, you'll wonder that you had trouble with the clefs... sort of like knowing which is the keyboard & which is the mouse. Wink Likely you'll bypass my level of "expertise" quickly.

As for recitals -- just the word sends a chill down my back.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 09:35 pm
I spent another 40 minutes or so on my keyboard and by now I can read the notes I've been working on (c-g) without the finger numbers.

I don't always do so fast enough for a set of quarter notes I am unfamiliar with but I think that will come.

I learned another easy song; Buzzing Bees (supposed to be a German folk song).

I'm finding the mix between note learning and ear learning helpful.
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colorbook
 
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Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 10:03 pm
It sounds like you are progressing rather well for a beginner Cool
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 10:06 pm
Dunno, even those one-handed songs sound terrible.

I still can't read fast enough to play any combination of quarter notes that I haven't memorized.

I also mess up on G a lot because I have what feels like a lame pinky, when it gets called into action it usually strikes F instead.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 10:13 pm
You'll get it. Piano practice may be restraining, in that impatience has no, or close to no, use. But it also works...

I envy you the sight/feel/ear learning at the same time. I have a so-called tin ear (plus a tin nose and tin eyes) but think I would have been better at it if I'd been made to identify what sound I was hearing, if only in some childish game.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 10:19 pm
This is a thin book with a sense of place, and, to me, useful in understanding pianos.

A Piano Shop on the Left Bank
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colorbook
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2005 10:42 pm
I was headed to the library tomorrow, I'll see if they have that book. It sounds like a good read, thanks Osso.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2005 01:47 am
Weak pinkie? Uh-oh. I am wondering about your wrists. It sounds like you may be dropping them if your pinkie is weak. It is really important for your wrists to be in line with the keyboard and level with your elbow... or slightly lower than your elbow... while your hands & fingers then drop below your wrist. Of course, this has to feel like a comfortable, relaxed position with good back & leg posture. (Feet always square & flat on the floor.) Nothing should feel forced. Your position will come from the entire lower arm, but the wrist shouldn't "break" and the fingers should be completely mobile and wiggly.

Lifting your wrists (another way of putting this is not allowing them to bend) puts your hand in the right position so that your pinkie and all your fingers can be strong and extend fully. It gives your fingers the freedom to be strong since they "hang" from your elbows via your wrists. It is also important to curl your fingers. At first you may want to exaggerate the curl (which would be the only time you'd feel less than relaxed). Just don't play with flat fingers. Tell those fingers you mean business! The position is not the same hand position as you would use on a computer keyboard where your wrists are dropped & probably resting on a pad. It may be that you'll need to be sure your piano keyboard is at the correct height, or else raise your seat so that you can approach your piano with the correct position. Piano stools are made to be raised or lowered for this reason.

To strengthen all your fingers, & especially your pinkie, I hope that you will consider doing scales, Craven. Nothing is better for strengthening your fingers and developing a good strong touch. Scales require that every finger to do their job and that's part of why they're important.

Start with the left hand, first octave of middle C. Thumb on mid.C, pointer on D, middle finger on E, then, sneak your thumb underneath the middle finger & play F with your thumb. Continue GABC with your 2,3,4,5 fingers... and return exactly the same way, but this time lifting the third finger across the thumb, (and continuing 3,2,1). Go slowly, make sure you hit every note clearly & try to make each note sound exactly the same. (Boring, yes.)

You can also practice a scale without your piano keyboard. Any old table will do. The point is to get your hands and fingers totally set in the correct pattern of movement, 'cause it will be used over & over.

After you've done about ten octaves, up and back, and assuming you feel confident with them... here are some variations so you don't get bored. Play quietly up & loudly back (Can your keyboard allow different levels of sound?) Play every other note loud or soft. Play your octaves with different rhythms. Swing it with short, long, short, long, short, long as you go up, and then long, short, long, short, long, short, coming home.

There are scales for every single note, including all the sharps and flats, but just practice with C for now. Playing a song in any key is always easier after you've played a few scales in that key. It is much easier to hear and play the right notes. (That's the other really good reason to do scales.)

For the right hand, you'll start with the pinkie on the C below middle C, and continue 4,3,2,1, then lift your middle finger up and over the thumb & continue, 3,2,1. Return down the scale the same way, 1,2,3, 1,2,3,4,5. Your thumb goes under your third finger.

When you get comfy with each hand separately playing the scale, then you'll want to play them together. It's really good practice to get yourself thinking with two hands with scales (which are sort of mindless) because eventually you will be playing songs with two hands.

(Maybe I'm telling you stuff you already know and your piano lessons have already got your doing scales? I hope so. Otherwise, please start. Five or ten minutes of scales during your practice will be so good for you. You'll thank me in five years.)

Here's an interesting website that describes the body stress of piano playing: http://www.musicandhealth.co.uk/stress.html
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panzade
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2005 08:24 am
I was wondering what the pinky is for. It don't do much. In 40,000 years it might disappear. In the meantime I'm doing guitar excercises to strengthen it's agility.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Jan, 2005 12:30 am
Piffka,

I do not have the option right now for good posture with the piano. I'll explain and maybe post some pictures later.

Thanks for the information about scales, I'll need to digest it when I have time but since I haven't seen anything about them so far in my course I'm sure I'll find it useful.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 06:46 pm
piffka,

I haven't had much time for piano (have only done one quick session since my last post) but have a few developments.

I am using an old laptop stand that I had left at a friend's house now, and the position of the keyboard is better (before getting the stand my keyboard was about 8 inches too high).

I also was introduced to scales by the program (when it introduced a,b,c) and they are as helpful as you described. I will have to do them extensively before I continue as I now can't count on the key I am supposed to hit being under my fingers (with a, b, and c I now have to move my hand).

The finger numbers are also important again, as you predicted and I have turned them on to learn the pieces where I will have to move my hand.

At this stage it seems most of my motor progress will start all over again, I had subconsiously learned 5 = G then G = pinkie and now I have to start all over again and relearn my motor skills.

Should be interesting, this is the biggest step forward so far.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 08:41 pm
Hi Craven,
I wondered what had happened with your music. You sounded a little mysterious with the comment about "not having an option for good posture." Over the last couple of weeks I've imagined a lot of things. Very Happy

I did drag out our old keyboard to remind myself of the difference between it and the regular piano. Ah yes. There is no way to make changes in the tone or loudness by how you touch the keys, so when I advised you to do that with the scales... well, nevermind. If you ever to switch to a piano (which was originally named piano-forte which translates soft-loud), then you will see what I mean.

I'm glad you've had an opportunity to do some scales. One good thing about them is you can get out of the key of C all the time, and still feel confident with what you're doing. Getting to hear minor keys was always fun for me. Scales will also get you away from thinking 5 = G. However, five will always = pinkie... you do know that, right? Wink

I did remember what I enjoyed the most about that keyboard -- all those different kinds of tones. I'm not sure how I'd use them musically, I guess they could be used if I were putting on a play. Some of my favorites are church bells, pipe organ, glass harmonica and harpsichord for music, and for just fooling around there are the weird sounds -- a motorcycle, an airplane, "cosmic sounds" and some other stuff. They are fun to play with. I think that the harpsichord might be the most accurate musically since a harpsichord also does not allow you to change a note's tone by how hard or sharply you press down on the key. Though a harpsichord looks something like a little piano, the tones are made by plucking not striking the strings.

Anyway, glad to hear you haven't stopped. I hope you find time to enjoy yourself with your music. That's the important thing.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 11:31 pm
Piffka wrote:
Hi Craven,
I wondered what had happened with your music. You sounded a little mysterious with the comment about "not having an option for good posture." Over the last couple of weeks I've imagined a lot of things. Very Happy


LOL, I meant to take a picture and show you. I had had my keyboard on top of the drawer that holds my computer keyboard. So with a couple of inches of the drawer walls and a couple of inches of key board it was way too high.

Quote:
I did drag out our old keyboard to remind myself of the difference between it and the regular piano. Ah yes. There is no way to make changes in the tone or loudness by how you touch the keys, so when I advised you to do that with the scales... well, nevermind. If you ever to switch to a piano (which was originally named piano-forte which translates soft-loud), then you will see what I mean.


On my keyboard I can make it play soft or louder depending on the stroke. But my setup isn't perfect, my sound card renders MIDI very slowly and very quietly.

With the software synth for MIDI I get at least a .1 second delay and it's a pain.

This setup certainly isn't optimal but I think I can learn the basics and pickup the rest later.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Feb, 2005 12:20 am
Quick update: I haven't played since the last time. Things have been crazy.
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Feb, 2005 12:24 am
can you take a picture of your set-up (keyboard and equip)?
TIA
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