I am now learning the piano concurrently with music theory lessons. I have two instructors who teach me on a weekly basis. Theory lessons go for 1″30 minutes, piano instruction for 1 HR.
I learn both theory, and piano concurrently together. I am not strictly interested in learning piano to play pretty songs for others. Rather, I wish to understand the instrument, and of course, the theory behind it. I believe this should evince the respect I wish to extend to the instrument. Therefore, allow for the journey to be long. I have the time. Will I end up playing solo, or with others? I hope to, with the second… not so much the first. It’s not so much in my personality, I believe, to be in the lime light. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I wish to play, primarily with Jazz musicians (they’re laid-back and hilarious). If there is one thing I ought to avoid, it’s to garner a high opinion of myself. There is nothing more crippling than that, to anyone’s music journey. For me, the core basis of my motivation is expression. To express myself. Music in one’s soul has to be let out.
Therefore, I will be spending several years playing alone, before I end up accompanying others. That is for certain. I am perfectly fine with that. Let the pianistic journey begin~
God damn, I play back recordings with my teachers and I ask them a lot of damned questions. I sound like an enthusiastic child. Heuheuheuheuheuhe~
That’s because I am.
1> Music Theory:
Fugue: A contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts. Canons often occur within a Fugue. A canon is heard within, with individual instruments with their separate lines… eventually joining. However, the lines are not identical. Rather, they refer to the original theme. Still they are independent.
This is what you would title ‘Counterpoint’. I have not yet ventured into the definition of “Counterpoint”. By my first instructor’s definition, a “counterpoint” is a second melody, which accompanies the first (in a way). No theory was worked on for this week, due to the PRELIM grade of theory book being completed. I am in the process of being marked. Just as well, my trilogy set “The Musician’s Guide” arrived today. Yes… so much yes… and the piano is mentioned throughout the texts. GOOD.
I now have a basic understanding of music, and can sight-read at a slow pace. This is comparable, to how I was three months ago. I didn’t have any single clue how to read music, at all.
2> Composing on Musescore “Gaspar’s Odyssey”:
Still working on this theme. ensuring that it is being improved. A work-in-progress.
Variation 4: It has been appended.
Variation 5 onward needs to be fixed. That is, in-relation to note placing to the original theme. The theme must be adhered to, always.
1) I need a Retrograde.
2) A ‘D’ against a ‘C’ will never work. Due to the dissonant harmony. Sometimes the dissonant harmony is acceptable, in this case, it would simply not fit with the original theme.
3> Composer’s Spreadsheet. Mozart:
It’s pronounced “Moat-zart”. Like oats. I was instructed to address: “Describe what short life, Mozart led.”
Mozart is excellent study, because one can see chords. Easily. I won’t bother posting what I had written on the boy… it’s rather self-explanatory. One can find the information of his life online, easily.
Piano Portion (Alexandre):
Ah~ piano… so majestic… and so, through my teacher’s (Yoda) advice I watch pianists to get a sense of how to play. Observing their form, positioning and so-forth. I may be wrong here in my observations, so don’t take any of this seriously.
At this current moment. 1 hour and 30 minutes (sometimes two hours or more) of practice is dedicated to piano every day. Altogether, with theory, I will, on a normal day… tally-up three hours a day of practice to music. When I do practice past the two hour mark, I feel a strange ease. And then, I want to continue onward. Are my hands suffering? No. Then again, I’ve the preliminary basis of spending hours and hours typing on a computer keyboard since my early-teens. I don’t advise anyone, just starting out, as I had… to begin with 1″30 minutes, sometimes exceeding over that. It’s each to their own in reality, and to be honest.
Firstly, I wrote a long drawn out ramble on my observations of pianists. Concert-level pianists, and one virtuoso. One must observe the best, to reference from.
One doesn’t have to force anything or try so hard, I’ve noticed when observing these professionals… they allow the music to flow out of themselves. I notice from watching the Australian pianist, Jayson Gillham, specifically that he is extremely meditative… although, still pensive in playing:
His hand’s movements are more restricted as one would find from your Ligeti Etudes (oh Ligeti, you mad man), his fingers and wrists still retain their agility and flexibility. The fingers especially. Had he of been tensed, he could not have played that piece at all. Moving at that pace and speed would be near impossible–that is why relaxing and being limp whilst playing is of utmost importance. His wrists loose, and his fingers free to do what they must. He is very nervous, as one would expect… the tension is observed through his back and neck, as opposed to his hands and arms. This piece is quite short, as most etudes are. Therefore, this is forgiven. Now, Paul Carasco:
Now, he is quite relaxed in comparison to the former (then again, this piece isn’t an etude). They all balance on that line of being relaxed, however, still, they are focused… a sweet-point of consciousness attained through hours and hours of practice. Yes, each of these pieces in-which they are performing, I wouldn’t mind betting that they would have practiced for perhaps a whole year or more. They are both virtuosic pieces. Caruso closes his eyes often, to feel what he is playing. His muscles remember, through the myelin pathways built up in his brain from hours and hours of practice. He lets the music speak for itself. He, a mere conduit to that numinous spirit of music (heuheuheuhe Chopin). The wrists again, are very loose. Limp, and the fingers are able to do what they must. The seminal basis of that dipping wrist motion is seen throughout his playing. His hands, well-seasoned (no, not like a roast chicken).
Vlassenko here is far more relaxed than the former two. Still very focused. Again, they balance on that edge. Her posture is excellent. She moves her face down to look at the keys, as opposed to craning her neck (sometimes she deviates, only to return to her original posture). Also, she appears very meditative throughout. She my teacher’s teacher (Yoda’s Yoda). When my teacher plays demonstrations on my keyboard, I see Vlassenko’s technique is indeed being employed. It amazes me… that techniques of the pianist are passed down through generations. This is expected, as most of your professional pianists become teachers, and their skill is thereon passed down through their students. In a way, traces of them still will live on for generations to come. A beautiful thing.
And an oldie. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing a favorite from
my husband, Chopin. Arturo’s posture is perfect. His distance from the pedals is related to his height; His arms are parallel to the floor, his wrists and arms are loose, his shoulders aren’t tense at all. He still has what all of the others had. None are sight reading, rather, they are focusing on the keys. Occasionally they will close their eyes and look away, relying on muscle memory. And Michelangeli, just like Carasco tends to, as I observe, feel what they are playing. A very important element to the excellent pianist, I believe. To feel what they are playing. To play from the heart. This rendition is absolutely phenomenal.
They all look focused. One can be both focused and relaxed, I’ve found… something which, admittedly was foreign to me, initially. My teacher did mention that a healthy degree of tension is needed, for the performer–lest they want flop to the ground.
Now, let’s look to the BEST of the world–a virtuoso pianist:
All share one thing in common. Relax your arm’s muscles as much as possible, none have hunched shoulders. They are loose to allow mobility. NEVER RESTRICT YOUR MOVEMENT. NEVER. As Chopin said “Play how you feel”. One must grant the fingers the permission, and ability to do what they must! Also, the body never stays stiff. Never. The pianist must be allowed mobility to move around all 88 keys. All the while, working their foot on the pedal when required. As my teacher said, they play from their feet. I’ve noticed that, especially with those playing more complicated repertoire. They do. They take the source of their power, the weight they apply to the keys, right from the soles of their feet. This makes logical sense. In my switching from viola to piano… piano can be quite exhausting to play for the whole body (especially the virtuosic pieces). The instrument demands more than just the muscles of one’s hands. All of these pianists I’ve provided as examples, even if some may not be cognizant to it, appear to be aware of their bodies. How tense they are, how they are breathing. Their ability to be present is ingrained within them, from hours and hours of practice. Although focus is still there, and when they do fall into the trap of becoming tensed, this is revealed on their face. However, what appears on their face is one of focus–concentration past frustration. All instrumentalists have this look.
And one more thing they do: They make piano their life.
They are all playing on acoustic grand pianos. They are not cheap (I am aware, that they are playing recital pianos that aren’t theirs… however, I would bet they have/would have had their very own acoustics). The price of them can range from the ten thousands, onward. The price of a new car. And if I’m being honest, when I do eventually upgrade to an acoustic piano… I want one of considerable quality. Therefore, I foresee that I will be spending quite a lot on one. When one upgrades to an acoustic piano, especially those of the grand variety. THAT. IS. COMMITMENT.
******I asked my teacher when it would be viable for me to purchase an acoustic, she stated around the third grade level (Chameleon Boogie is an example). A decent quality up-right piano, or baby grand would be worth investing in. Alexandre (my digital piano), however is fine for practice ’til then. Even when I do get myself an acoustic. I, still will play Alexandre. My teacher stated that the difference between an acoustic and digital piano, has to do with a larger range of dynamics–as well as an ease of expressing articulations. In her opinion, the acoustic is better… and if you were to ask me for my opinion. Of course an acoustic is bloody better! What do pianists, during recitals perform on? Acoustic.
A note on pianists: When one watches performers perform, they don’t consciously take into account the hours and hours each instrumentalist would have had to spend alone… practicing, honing their craft. There is a lot of discipline. There is a lot of blood. There is a lot of tears. Disappointments. Too many to count. To reach such heights and levels speaks to the character of the individual, and that is where my respect comes from… and uhhh, that explains why I think some of the dudes are hot. What? It isn’t appearances alone. Also, you’re damned kooky. All of you serious pianists. Low-key eccentrics with workaholic tendencies. The serious pianists I’ve crossed paths with, are all wickedly intelligent and especially driven. Their off-kilter sense of being is refreshing, as hell. That transcends mere appearance! And yes… I think organists are hot too, with their three clefs. No matter how awkward, and potentially religious ya’ll are~ Ya’ll are hot. No, I am not joking. I will be DAMNED to hide it any longer! Artists man… artists.
Drilling from 29-08-2020 to 05-09-2020:
My wrists are stiff from years and years of drawing tensely. By nature, just as well, I am an anxiety-ridden person. Interestingly enough, I noticed, after practicing for 1″30 Minutes, that my wrists eased up… becoming near loose and gummy as my teacher described. Her instruction of the dipping wrist motion was what helped.
I will need to make some adjustments should I wish to learn how to play the piano, with no faults. Will I be strict? Hell yeah. I believe if you want something, you ought to makes sacrifices. I will do it:
- Quit sugar. This means ALL sugars, such as carbohydrates and fruit past lemons/limes. All sugar will be nixed.
- Return to 24-HR intermittent fasting.
- Breathe from the diaphragm. So that, not only can you hear, but also so you can hear.
- Play the piano more. Eventually, when the instrument becomes familiar, I won’t be as tense.
- Quit caffeine, except for tea.
- Watch and listen to piano music/videos every day.
DRILLS–Technique first (Repertoire C Major scale for LH and RH and ‘Happy Birthday’ in Middle-C position):
* Curved fingers in an arc. I have nail-beds which stick out, therefore I adopt a flatter position of curving, so that my fingers can rest on their flats. So long as the third joint to the tip of the finger is bent, it is perfectly fine.
* Limp wrists, relaxed arms and shoulders with wrist dips in practicing the C-Major scale for both hands. Finger-switching is observed often in scales, so practicing an agility in this is crucial.
* Ensure that fingers do not collapse, and you are not playing too tightly or flatly.
* GO SLOW before speeding up. You ought to fine-tune all of the incremental features within building up that profile of skill. Piano, is largely muscle memory. Patience saves time. I intend to venture into Jazz repertoire eventually, therefore, ensuring my technique is sound will allow me to speed up when the occasion arises.
Elegance is what you are looking for. As if your hands are a ballet dancer.
In a nutshell, this week is all about the acquisition of the curved position and playing with the dipping wrist motion, as well as developing an adroitness in finger switching, and developing an agility with scales. Damn, she’s a good teacher. The piano, as I’ve found really does lead one to reflect on bodily awareness. It amazes me, I had not initially known this, ’til my teacher, from my first lesson had opened my eyes to this realization. Therefore, I will further look after the body. FOR PIANO! I have been a Vegan for an entire year, I take strictly cold showers, and had quit caffeine some two months ago–although I still drink green tea. Just as well… admittedly, I am a sugar addict, and that doesn’t bode me well in becoming very over-stimulated by that.
Therefore, that will go.
Don’t skip practice. Heuheuheuheuheuhe~