My finger independence is developing well, however again, I must learn how to relax. A lot of tension is present, and must be rectified. My teacher and I had gotten into a conversation about overworking ourselves. She stresses that at this stage, I ought not to do that. Doing so, would be musical suicide. Especially since I wish to do this, by her words “forever”.
She mentions that I must allow myself to stop, if I hit any sensation of pain. If my tendons are hurting, my body is cautioning for me stop. Now!
With chords, at this stage. I am encouraged to allow my fingers to be fixed on the chords, in playing them. That is, solid and stable playing on the keys for chords. My teacher utilizes the weight from her elbow, as if she is hammering the notes. Less effort to play is encouraged. Less energy, especially when one is going to play for up to an hour, live, in-front of an audience. In general, the pianist attempts to keep their fingers as close to the keys as possible.
It has to do with tactility, and increasing accuracy of hitting the right notes.
I am very used to over-working myself, and if pain hits. I work through it. This mind-set was ingrained into me, through conditioning. We are all taught that any issue can be solved with “WORK HARDER.” She mentions that it is a musician thing, particularly pianists, who do overwork themselves and are rather perfectionistic.
Why do I write so much about pianists? Because one day, I will be glad to call myself one. I cannot yet, for I do not believe I am afforded such a right at this current moment. However, one day, I will be able to call myself “Meryl Keioskie, the pianist”. I have the name for it, I suppose. The ‘Keioskie’ being Polish in origin (Hayo, Chopin). However, first thing is first: Practice.
The interesting thing about musicians is that, although music may be their life… outside of that main interest, they’ve other things that captivate them just as well. Whether that be writing, chess, or anything else from the arts. Mr. Kissin (I’ll be kissin’ you in a minute) for instance, a great pianist, is somewhat of a chess master and loves mathematics, as well as writing. My teacher mentions that Kissin does this, to alleviate his mind–after-all, focusing on just one thing can drive people crazy. Pianists have interesting minds too, as I’ve found. Very over-active minds, that are susceptible to more maladies of mental illness, unfortunately. I see that parallel in myself, in them, too. That is one of the main things, why I had decided to take up music in complement to my Academic career.
Stephen Hough, another pianist has mentioned that he takes long holidays away from his piano. Not to see the instrument for long periods of time, to only come back to it, refreshed. It is a marriage in-of-itself, music. One cannot be attached at the hip to a wife or husband, what a dreadful union that would be. And yet, when we see couples cavorting around… dripping all over one another, and struck by lust, we know that such a display doesn’t guarantee ‘forever’. Do they know? I don’t rightly know.
Back to piano: She stresses that recharging is just as important as practicing.
Pianists often play by themselves, and for many years, just as well. String musicians, I’ve observed are often communal and more sociable. They ought to be, as the ample string section in an orchestra is in need of their presence. In an orchestra, all sections outnumber the pianist. And yet, can easily outnumber the instrumentalist in a music college. How? The piano is versatile instrument, not just secluded to mere orchestral processions. The pianist spends a lot of time alone, therefore many of them appear to be quite introverted. In my meeting pianists, I do notice a commonality between each… although subtle. Eccentric in their nature, even those that hide it. Should one ignite their passions, which has much to do with the school of music–they are quick to prattle on and on about their enthusiasm toward music. And of course, I can listen for hours had they not be so busy. That begs the question however, to whom do I place the title of ‘pianist’ on? Those educated in the field of music, of course. But then again, there are no definites in a labels. One could be educated in any field, but still perform poorly. I have experienced such phenomena, first-handedly in my teaching drawing students. I believe one can be truly called a pianist, if they possess an extensive experience in performing, and educating themselves in the art of music. Yes, the title itself is a career in of itself. Although, as my teacher had mentioned… music doesn’t promise wealth. Not unless you are a prodigy with a handful of scholarships under your belt, and that is rare (I had mentioned a fellow, in a previous post who fits that description). The musician creates, because they must. It is the path of the artist. It is not for the prestige attached to it. I could not give a rat’s ass for that. To be a pianist, one must have dedicated an ample sum of their life’s hours to the pursuit. There is no ‘farting’ around, as I call it. To be a pianist, one either is all in… or they aren’t. Let the wistful school yard chums, who strum their guitars in attempting to woo girls with sounds, do the farting around. The ones who messily play chords they had learned from a ten minute Youtube video. Music isn’t merely for courtship sake, the true musician as I’ve observed is a damned nerd! Ask them of scale degrees, and diminished chords and they’ll prattle on about it for hours. Ask them of idle celebrity gossip, or trivial matters and their eyes will glaze over. One must take it seriously.
Although, I do take note of the difference between their surface personas. Some can be foppish, some can be egotistical, some can be very deeply secure. Yet, each have this l’ émanation. They each have something similar that I will one day come to understand. At this point, I am certain that I myself have that just as well. Whatever it is.
At best I can describe it as such: That eccentricity. Yes, you are all a bunch of wonderful weirdos.
It is still, early days in my introducing myself to the musical climate. Six months prior, had you of asked me of anything I had written since then… I wouldn’t a clue. So much has been learnt, and yet, so much still is yet to be learnt.
Again. I want to do this for the rest of my life.
My teacher said, that at my age (26) it is very much possible that I can still be a soloist and even then… reach “the heights.” She speaks of someone she knew, who was 17 when he first began learning piano. And he was in the biggest piano competition in the world: The Tchaikovsky competition. He had only been learning for six years. Another instance is that Tchaikovsky himself had a late start in music himself, at the age of 22 to 23 in-fact. Similarly, Ryo Fukui began at the age of 23 in piano. Six years later, he began as a jazz pianist touring world wide. It is never too late. Although there is a lot of elitism presented in music, one cannot deny the opportunity and resources we are all granted. The elitism is produced through culture’s history, and of course, a plethora of young prodigies. Although they can mechanically present a complicated piece to a technically proficient degree, they still lack that finesse of emotion which is produced through a life-time of experience. Similarly, a great poet or writer cannot make another weep, unless he himself has been through a similar pain. Music, is an extension of communicating that which is beyond the beyond. Perhaps to an ethereal degree. By my teacher’s words, It is very possible for me to solo, eventually. And one day, I hope to look back on these little scrawlings in five to six years and see what I have become. By then, I will be 30-31 years of age.
The soul of the artist. When I seek to watch you each perform, that is what I am there to see, ultimately. Nevermind the pretty notes. What is it, you want others to understand that you yourself cannot ever hope to communicate through the binds of constructivist language systems?
Main Objective For Myself:
First thing’s first relax. Pain equals stop. In one day of playing through pain, you undo years and years or months and months of work. It is possible, that practicing can over-write muscle memory in a bad way. Just as well, injuries can become permanent.
It doesn’t matter if you have difficulty with something.
Work how you can do it, not why you can’t.
Rhythm practice with a metronome:
Crotchets firstly with one hand. Counting 1-2-3-4.
Then, add the second hand in unison.
Then Subdivide with 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, with a metronome. My teacher recommends that I practice by abruptly changing the speed of the metronome, to simulate that of an environment where I am playing with others.
An odd thing I have decided to do is sync a metronome app at 4/4 time, with 80 BPM through headphones. Then, I sync my beats to my footsteps in the format of crotchets.
Then, after feeling ‘comfortable’ I set it to 40 BPM and walk at the same pace… taking note that I am walking in quavers as opposed to crotchets. Two steps taken, with every second resembling the ‘and’ in subdivision.
With practice there should never be any pain.
A bit on chords:
The fifth in any chord, isn’t of any importance and can be omitted. For example, in a G7 chord, the ‘D’ is often omitted. So long as the tonic is preserved, with the 3rd (tells you whether the chord is a minor or major), and the seventh which names the chord.
Chords will become more complicated with time. The 13th is the highest chord, one is capable of getting up to. 13ths are usually Jazz chords, and such chords are often spread across the band playing. For example, the bass player may take the root of the chord being played with the pianist filling in the gaps of the chord.
An example of triplets:
Here is a composition I wrote, as an experiment for use of triplets. Also, whilst being very minimalistic, Ala de Phillip Glass (20th Century):
Simple triple (3/4) in meter. At the 1:00 Mark, one can hear quaver triplets contrast against regular triplets. The triplets being reserved mostly for Bass. There is also an experiment with 8va and 8vb in the first section of bars. Especially with the simple arpeggiated chord being played. The piece is played in a slur-like manner. No staccatos. Tempo changes are observed, so a merciful use of semi-quavers can end the piece. With notes, I attempted to add many consonant combinations as opposed to dissonant harmonies.
I’ve found that rhythm is very important in giving music that discernibility. Notes appear to be secondary in hierarchy. Many pianists, I’ve observed so far in my watching their performances, even those considered ‘prodigies’ have played the wrong notes, in their playing–however, they exhibit exceptional ear training from years and years of conditioning, in that they retain the rhythm of the piece at all costs. The moment one’s rhythm crumbles, it is implicitly noticeable. One can feel it.
I need to practice more: Rhythm.
What defines each grade level, is rhythm. At this point in time, playing wrong notes do not matter. It is the rhythm. Therefore, the intention is to keep on time and to keep the rhythm as your number one priority to learn.
For technique, my tenseness of hands and playing through pain was discouraged.
*For slurs, one relies on wrist movements as well.
*For staccatos, one doesn’t hold the key. They tap the key, to ‘summon’ the sound out of it.
Practice relaxation, keeping in-time to a metronome. Altering rhythm from crotches to quavers via a metronome.
“From The Top”; “Quadrille”.; “Lullaby”. Perfect the articulations, and rhythm.
So, why do I learn piano again? It is not for validation. Although one could argue, “why make your journey public?” Why not? And then again, no one will read it anyway. How do I feel toward that? Quite liberated. Had you of seen me five years prior, I assumed I couldn’t say anything without people paying me attention. I was deathly afraid of attention, I value of hermetic state, very much so. The truth is, however, everyone is far too invested in their own phenomena to care for anyone else’s journey–unless, they are observing it through their own lens of reality, in correspondence to their very own journey. A subconscious process.
I write, ultimately to hold myself accountable and a means of release. I have kept many journals over the years, in processing phenomena and life’s intricacies around me. Only to dispose of such writings, after I had seemingly moved onto the next ‘phase’ of my life. Slowly, I am coming to the realization that there isn’t anything outside of ‘now’. The abstraction of the ‘future’ and the ‘past’ is born, merely from the mind, when truthfully as per our prisons of flesh… always, will we be rooted to the ‘present’.
Who do I write to then? Myself, of course.
We are all in consequence to time. We are all afraid of the present, due to it revealing unto ourselves the harsh reality that it is truthfully… all that there is in-relation to our earthly mortality. That moments, as fleeting as they are… are limited in our incarnations.
I contend there is much more. Al di la, as I call it. Beyond the beyond. Some call it ‘god’, I call it original source consciousness. Everyone is a consequence of it. Thus, what have we to fear except our minds.
Therefore, as a wise transcendentalist once said “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Which, in mentioning that quote, despite it being plastered over kitsch and cheap merchandise in a gift shops across the world–it still holds weight.
Ultimately, I pursue learning for the thrill of it. Because it is fascinating. Not to be measured up against anyone else, or be seen as superior. I care not for accolades, I care not for awards, I care not for validation by others. I will admit, my foibles. Initially the game of reality and its petty game of comparison interested me. My cleaving away from this mentality, has much to do with my rejection of assigning myself to any collective consciousness. Always, will I be on the fringes. Always will I be an outsider, looking in. Yet, all at once… I am part of what is unfolding in-front of me. To think for myself, is what I desire to do, above all else.
Rather would I suffer loneliness, and rejection than to ever bind myself to any indoctrination. I am here to learn.
One’s motivation ought not to stem from validation, but from the love of learning itself. To know. To experience, and to be captivated… knowing that such captivation cannot possibly last forever.
At the helm of the moment. To surrender to all that which exists. Now.