My teacher said that I can now skip Alfred’s “All-In-One” Level 1 to the very back of its repertoire. From page 89 to 140 “The Entertainer”.
Rhythm practice has truly benefited me, with that, understanding Music Theory to a Second Grade level has helped tremendously. I intend to more to the third grade, of course.
I have practiced rhythm up to 16th notes, with syncopation of both 4th and 8th notes.
My teacher said that the only thing which stands in the way of my progress, is the ability to relax my hands in playing.
How long have I been playing under the tutelage of a teacher? Over two months, now. And what a benefit it has truly been.
Therefore I must, again. Practice: “Relaxation”.
Music Theory (Grade II):
First compound time example: 6/8.
Some months back, I composed a Berceuse (French Lullaby) on Musescore:
In my experimenting with 6/8, I noticed the difference between 6/8 and 3/4 has much to do with the pulses in a bar. For 6/8 we have two beats per bar, due to 6 being able to be divided into two. Therefore, 6/8 is a compound duple.
For 6/8 we’ve the subdivision counting of 1-2-3-2-2-3. That which is bolded, is when one hears the ‘beat. Again, two beats.
The hierarchy/accent of the two beats (strong & weak) is separated into six: Strong, Weak, Weak, Medium, Weak, Weak.
Therefore, every quaver receives an accent.
Duple: Refers to two beats per measure. Simple: Means that each beat within a measure can be divided into two notes. (I.E: Two crotchets in a 2/4 bar can be divided into four quavers.)
2/2 and 2/8 are examples of simple duples. 3/4 and 3/8 are examples of simple triples. 4/4 and 4/8 are examples of a simple quadruples.
9/8 is an example of compound triple. 12/8 is an example of compound quadruple. 6/8 is an example of compound duple.
The simple, again, indicates that any beat can be divided into two notes.
All simple meters will have a 2, 3, and 4 for the top number in the signature.
As for compound meters, each beat within a bar is divided into three notes.
All compound meters will have at least one dotted note as its beat. In example of the 6/8 meter, two dotted crotches fill one bar. One can then, subdivide those two dotted crotches into six quavers to fill the bar. Thus, dividing each note by three as opposed to two.
A recap: Rhythm refers to how music fits in time. Rhythm does not consider pitch, if viewed as a separate value. Take for example, an atonal bar for a percussion instrument not capable of pitch.
Melody refers to a single line of music, and it takes into the account of both the note’s pitch and the way they are arranged in time (rhythm).
Harmony refers to several lines of music heard, or played simultaneously. The harmony is a feature is music, used to support the melody.
Pianists can play both melodic and harmonic pieces, due to their having both bass and treble at the mercy of their fingers and hands. The left is often relegated to harmony, whilst the right often leads with harmony. Especially in the beginner stages.
It is as if, the pianist accompanies themselves.
That’s why you’re all social recluses, hmmmmmm?
This week, it’s all about relaxation and nothing else.
Solidifying technique, past learning how to play anything ‘pretty’ is my key motivation here. I learn music for the wonderful journey it provides me. How it enriches my life, and introduces me to new experiences.
Therefore, I dedicate at least one hour a day to relax. And to concentrate on feeling relaxed, only.
1) Finger independence exercise: Solely to relax + mix with stress ball exercises.
2) Scales: Play extremely slow. EXTREMELY SLOW. Do not advance further, onto the next note, ’til you are confident in that you are feeling relaxed. After each note played, do a conscious body check.
3) Repertoire: Master Quadrille. Camille Saint-Saens “Royal March Of The Lion.” Mozart’s “Aria”.
Mozart’s Aria ventures into the introduction of semi-quavers… that is, semi-quavers paired with quavers. Excellent. I love Saint-Saens, just as well. Here’s the entire “Carnival Of The Animals”:
By the end of the year, I will be up to first grade repertoire. For which, I am tremendously excited. If it took me a good four months to get to first grade, that is progress indeed.
I’ll be with you all, soon, my eccentric ivory ticklers!
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.
Scales: Practice relaxation, keeping in-time to a metronome. Altering rhythm from crotches to quavers via a metronome.
Repertoire: “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.
It has been a good two months, since I began my pianistic adventure. And I have learnt much.
There is no easy way through practice. Although, one can make it more pleasant by not ‘forcing’ anything. Enjoy the process. Practice should be comfortable, yet also challenging. Also, when practicing one must focus on that and nothing else at all. The professional pianist has an altered sense of consciousness for that reason, they have the ability to tune all else out.
I have gone out and done some ‘field-work’/studies on observing pianists from The Conservatoire. All varying levels, in regard to their skill–although, all well past ‘student’ level.
When I watch pianists, I watch them intently and take notes. I care just as much about the performer, as I do the very music they are performing. Whether the pianist would like to admit it, or not… they reveal themselves through how they play. To perform in front of others, is to truly be vulnerable. And to be truly creative, is to be vulnerable. One cannot become who they must, until they allow themselves to be. The artist creates for one thing, above all else… connection.
Our desire to connect, is in direct correlation with empathy. To feel what the instrumentalist is playing…
In regard to piano, one learns the fundamentals and requirements for proper technique. Then, with the proper establishing and acquisition of that skill… one can then develop their own ‘style’ on top of that. Similar, to the draftsperson. Piano is quite the popular instrument, as elucidated from my teacher. She mentions that there is a good 50 or-so piano students, in the classical department alone… with a good 20 pianists in faculty. She mentions that the instrument is in demand due to pianists being needed. ‘Deed, they are.
And music is art. Art is art, for art’s sake. There is no intellectualizing true art. Art just is. A true artist creates to do only one thing: to touch eternity, perhaps even for a moment. Art therefore, is an act of individuation. The artist creates by themselves, and is alone for the most part… why pour hours and hours of one’s life into the act? It is not about mere financial security–I don’t believe true art can be created under conditions, such as that. The artist will create, regardless.
Art is created through some level of dissatisfaction, toward life. There must be a fine-line however, between oppression and total freedom. We create, due a desire to connect to others–and in others, we are attempting to connect to something higher. Something eternal. Art outlasts the artist, in most cases.
Similar to those of us seeking true love, one creates art to touch something beyond the beyond.
There is one parallel I have noticed between those, truly gifted in pianism. That is, the ‘top students’ I had observed. Call it a kookiness at a surface level, but one thing remains clear. They have an impressive ability to focus on the now. That is not to contend that they are safe from depressive states, or anxieties… not at all, however, my argument is formed on the basis of the way their neurology presents itself. The ability to ‘tune’ all else out, in favor for the moment.
My teacher had mentioned that it (their mind set) can be rather ‘schizophrenic’, however not in an inherently bad way. Rather, the gifted pianist has the ability to experience several states of consciousness all at once. That is not to contend that they multi-task, rather, the inverse. Their perception is expanded in favor of focusing on, themselves playing, and those they are accompanying or leading. All micro-tasks are attached onto other tasks. Think about is, how on earth can they allow their hands–and by extension, their fingers, to do two different things all at once? They must pay attention to those separate windows of consciousness. But how do they do this? It is through their developing that state of ‘flow’, they had spent hours and hours of their lives… alone, honing and developing. Many of us don’t realize that, in watching a performer. The ultimate result of their playing, is a consequence of their ultimate failings.
Whatever it is they are attending to in the moment, is all that matters. The best of pianists, I’ve observed have that. Never mind rote memory, or practice… that does well to sharpen their communicative abilities, sure. But yes, they all, are connected implicitly to something much higher.
On stage, it reveals itself.
This manifests in behavior which would lead one, to say they (the pianist) are rather ‘mismanaged’ and scatter-brained. For example: A fellow I had the opportunity to speak with briefly, before a Chamber Showcase, exhibited this. He requested that I record him, with his phone. I happily obliged, despite my being a stranger. He wandered off to get ready for his performance, without excusing himself, and left me with his phone for an hour. Was it that he completely trusted me, or he completely forgot all else? I would say, it is the latter. He mentioned after the performance, during a brief chat that he had trouble keeping track and organizing schedules. Ultimately, I could not record the performance due to his phone being password locked–a detail, that skipped his mind. I laughed at this, afterward. They all have this endearing one-mindedness. A tad bit ‘autistic’ in nature. It is perfectly harmless. One that isn’t spawned from their intention to offend. Take note, that this young man is known as the ‘best pianist’ by his colleagues in the University. He had mentioned that he can play all repertoire, even 20th century pieces… though he had began pianism at age seven, and was near 19-20 years of age. If one would permit him, he could talk about the piano for many hours. He had cast appreciation toward my curiosity and respect toward music, when I queried him. Just as well, he was humble throughout, and I could sense that exaltation and compliments meant nothing to him. His mind suited the piano, very well.
Just as well. Each have an endearing scruffiness to them, each dressed in a functional manner. Is it eccentricity, perhaps? It is their individuality which is kept intact, yet, not to a superficial degree. The expression of this individuality is of a much higher degree, one which transcends mere physical strictures. It is elucidated through what they create, past how they appear… ultimately. Just as well, their minds exist on the very edge of this illusion we call time. To be at ease, to be in the middle. To be in no rush. Yet, perhaps to the detriment to all else.
The professor of pianism, who teaches my teacher has an air of zen to her… for lack of a better description. I had observed her and her husband (also a pianist), at times during piano performances. Not to the point of being ‘airy-fairy’, however this state in-which I had observed is one which is grounded in this reality. Again, focusing on the ‘now’ past anything else.
Ultimately, for them…
In this room, in his hall, all that matters is the piano.
I know this, for when I watch a true artist perform, I feel that time itself is of no consequence. And perhaps for a moment, I feel that eternity is near. No, it is not I, who is granted the privilege to touch eternity–it is the one who sits at the piano. The one who is at command of all 88 of its wonderful keys. The one who does not play for the sake of playing, but plays due a compulsion deep within. They must play. The piano commands them! This is a numinous underpinning, which leads one to express musicality. Musicality cannot possibly be an act. It is vulnerability… that is the pianist, to me.
One day, I too, will touch eternity.
Recap: There are three types of intervals. Major, perfect and major.
To discover what the interval is, one looks at the tonic/root of a note to determine whether it is a minor or a major. Accidentals, also help. Identifying the scale, also helps.
The root note refers to the base position chord.
The perfect interval is the same throughout both minor and major.
The basic difference between a major and minor interval, is that the minor interval is a semitone less. Three to the four of the major.
* Study up on Grade II terms. I am instructed not to look at 6/8 meters yet. * Annotation of notational values, and their rests up to semi-quavers.
*Triplets: A rhythm which plays three notes, in the space of two. Jazz music uses a lot of this convention. Firstly, we focus on crotchet triplets. A triplet is a type of tuplet, which allows one to play three notes in the time of two notes.
* Annotate 2 8Ve scales, and their relative minors: A, Bb, C, D, F, G. * Fill-in worksheet for diatonic intervals.
I had noticed a cardinal mistake shared between many pianists, at the higher level… a regret, if you will. That is, their regret is in not practicing, or establishing the fundamentals of proper technique. Pianists who are self-taught for instance, are very tense and stiff in their playing… this is opposed to the classically trained pianist. Their hands, and fingers are elegant in the way they dance across the keys. My teacher has stressed this point (technique), and so have the handful of pianists I have queried at the conservatoire. Their advice being, that proper technique paramount.
Each of their bodies intuitively adept to the needs of the keyboard, and the repertoire to which they play. Mobility is of utmost importance. Although they are fixed to sit in one position, they must pivot and move across the keyboard. And in-order to do so, they must allow their movements to be limp and graceful. That special flourish of their moving one hand from a couple of octaves, down or up in an arc-like motion is one instance of that grace.
From what I remember, here is what I keep in mind: Focus on retaining supple, wrist. Graceful gestures. Pivot from the elbow. Do not tense muscles, to an extreme degree. Do not keep shoulders in a raised/fixed position. Posture should be straight, but not rigid to the extent, that you cannot move across the extremities of the keyboard. Ensure that your knees are underneath the keyboard, and if need be… for playing heavier chords, feel free to shift your left foot backward to either lean into the keys, or lean back (both are methods of utilizing power from the feet, to play heavier chords).
A healthy amount of tension is welcomed, of course… however not to the extent that it burdens the process. Tension is painful, if employed at an extreme degree.
Right hand practice:C Major. A natural minor. A harmonic minor. G Major. E natural minor. E harmonic minor. Chromatic scale commencing on G.
Left hand practice: C Major. A natural minor. A harmonic minor. G Major. E natural minor. E harmonic minor. Chromatic scale commencing on G.
Similar and contrary motion practice:
Contrary: Mirrors the playing style for each hand exactly. C Major. A harmonic minor. G Major. E harmonic minor.
Similar: Each hand follows the separate scale model of playing, simultaneously) C Major. A natural minor. A harmonic minor. G Major. E natural minor. E harmonic minor. F Major. D Natural Minor.
For repertoire, I am training myself to sight-read just as well. There is no intention to ‘perfect’ absolutely every note at this point in time. Rather, rhythm and technique IS the focal point. Rhythm, must be 100% perfected as opposed to the notes themselves. In my watching the professionals and or higher tier students perform, they still get their notes wrong-–however, they always keep the rhythm of the piece intact.
A good rhythmic foundation is important in early music learning. My teacher suggests that I do subdivisions of the pieces I am playing through firstly… then, play with the metronome. Eventually, the process of subdivision will come naturally, and then I will be able to skip this step.
* New Repertoire:
Lullaby by Johannes Brahms. Canon in C Major. Quadrille. From The Top.
My teacher gave me feedback, that I am more relaxed and commends me for that. I am encouraged to practice more of this, as well as proper posture. Just as well, to play painstakingly SLOW… rather than speed up anything. If I cannot play slowly, I cannot play fast. She cites her own experience in this. I mentioned it has to do with my pride. I urged her to cut this pride down in my, so I can ‘get’ over myself.
The performing pianist will have their ass kicked many times.
For minimalism, the true beauty is found in the simplistic. To strip down the music down to its basis, past decoration or embellishments. A 20th century convention.
In many minimalistic piano pieces, we’ve a clear example of triplets in action–that is, in clear contrast to the standard set of notational values. This is an example of ‘polyrhythm’. Where one hand may be playing triplets, and the other the standard double.
Do not utilize the power from the neck. It comes from the feet.
Whilst playing I simply tell my hands, wrist, and fingers: “No tension, tension does not belong there.” It can go anywhere else it likes, however… never below the shoulders. No. My neck can suffer, I don’t care. Leave my fingers nice and loose. Like noodles.
I’ve a pygmalion cyst which needs draining in my right hand. I’ll have that seen to, next week. Simple is better, at this point. We will be spending many months perfecting technique before moving onto advanced repertoire. The flowing wrist raised slightly higher than the keys, relaxing whilst playing, and finger dexterity.
Music Theory Portion:
Worksheets: 1> Tones and semitones, and the major scale (plus relative keys). 2> Intervals. 3> Transposition.
Annotation of major keys, and their relative minors: *Also, annotation of their scales. Always begin with F# for those keys containing it, as a base of reference. All on the grand staff.
On the keyboard, If one wishes to find the relative minor to any major key, one moves from the root of the key… down three semitones to find the relative minor.
The Circle Of Fifths can assist you for better understanding.
Piano Theory Portion:
Relaxing and breathing.
Still developing technique this week. Breathing exercises are needed, so my piano instructor suggested that I read these resources:
“The Art Of Breathing” by Nanzy Zi. “The Musician’s Breath: The Role of Breathing in Human Expression ” by James Jordan, Mark Moliterno, Nova Thomas.
I’m not advancing further into advanced repertoire, ’til my technique has been fine-tuned. It may, therefore take a couple of months. However, in refining this technique… I will be ensured that the rest of my musical journey in piano, will be smoother sailing.
Repertoire Alouette & Kumbayah, and scales: * No squeezing, particularly with the left hand. * Gentle weight usage. * Circular wrist movements to help relax. Wrists must be loose, always. Long notes should allow for a generous wrist circle. * Knead the keys. * Loosen the wrists.
The left-hand will be isolated in strength exercises: * Stressball exercises for idling, and for ten minutes before playing. Fore-knuckle, closest to finger tips is the primary focus.
This week, I now had the opportunity to attend a piano and strings competition. The first time, I had ever had the wonderful privilege of experiencing pianists, and string players (violinists and a celloist) playing live. They were only meters away–playing at their best. My teacher, who was in the competition with a skillful violinist (her brother) had invited me to the event. It had went for three hours, and in that three hours… I wished for it to never end.
The acoustic piano, is a fabulously loud instrument–yet the violin, with its shrill timbre can cut through the piano at many occasions. In listening diligently, and observing the movements and sheer focus of each student musician… I had a wave of admiration surface over me.
So loud you are–yet, so soft… just as well. Piano-forte~
I adored each. On stage, they would demonstrate themselves… to command the audience to pay them attention. Yet, off stage. Meek, humble… private. Shy. Especially the pianists. Such a sensitive, and delicate collective of individuals. All with hours and hours to their name, with which they had spent with their pianos.
The dexterity of their fingers, the knotting of their brow. I found, personally… that the instrumentalists that I liked most, were those who were most emotive through their playing. Their emotion would be heard, and demonstrated through their instrument. If they were tense, one knew–if they were truly enjoying themselves, one knew just as well. Their hands knew where the keys were on the keyboard. It was as natural as walking to them. Their hands were at their command.
Some demonstrated a variety of struggle, and emotion. Some passionate at certain sections of the piece–this energy being transferred into the keys of the instrument, which would show to that room, pure emotion. The pianists, knowing their role as an accompanist to their string counterparts would glance over every now and again to see if they were guiding them appropriately. Some, I’m certain would accidentally catch my eye–and in that brief moment, I would smile. Then I would think to myself “Do not mind me, go back to your instrument. I am merely here to observe.”
I have a thing for pianists, that is no lie. The way in-which they can command the keyboard, is one I admire… and one I long for myself. Some of the men who played, were as cute as button. In their little black and white suits–their hair slicked for the occasion, yet, they had that touch of scruffiness. Had you of seen the pianist out on the street, you would not know… he would have that air of intelligence, and glazed-over eyes which would point to his mind–one of which was always ticking. That parallel was one I found endearing… one which warmed my heart.
I recall, on my way out… after thanking my teacher that I had told myself “should I come across one of the musicians who played, I will pay them a compliment”. I came across a violinist, who looked a little out of place in his environment. As if, the stage was his home that he had left momentarily. His instrument strapped around that beanpole physique of his, as he wait idly. I caught his eye and said “You were amazing up there!” He smiled, and shyly looked down–a genuine compliment he felt, and thanked me. I then pointed at him and said “Never. Stop. Playing.” Before skipping off, to tell all of the dream I had experienced. I intend to attend at least one musical event every week. Should I come across any musicians I admire, should the time and place call for it–always, will I show my gratitude and I will compliment them in genuineness. Always. I know what it is like, to spend hours and hours alone. Perfecting your craft. Honing your skill. In an empty room. Just with yourself. The blood, sweat and tears poured into that pursuit. For someone to pay you genuine confirmation, and admiration is unexpected. Sweet.
And yet, when you perform on stage, one only sees the refinement of that entire process. A process which had required a large portion of your life. Sheer discipline, commitment, and one which will be with you ’til you are due to expire. I do not lie when I say that the serious musician has that spark within their eye. They are always distinguishable from others in the arts, I’ve found. My Supervisor said that one can distinguish musicians from designers, in that they had more “sensitivity”. I cannot describe what I see, I however know it immediately. All I know, is that I adore it. I have a Bachelor’s degree in design, therefore I’ve been around my colleagues of design for quite some time. I never felt as if I belonged, nor did I feel as if I was welcomed. That’s the truth of it. However, these music students… When I was set to leave, I found myself standing in amongst the crowd. All of which, who were on stage… all of-which who had performed only moments earlier. Temperance… calm… acceptance. Never had I experienced this from a crowd before. I felt strangely at ease, and welcomed. Perhaps this is where I belong?
It will be a long time ’til then, but I don’t care… for I’ve got time.
It’s been a little over three months, now. I have now graduated to Grade 1 of Music Theory.
31-05-2020 is when I began my first Viola lesson(roughly three months ago). 27-07-2020 is when I began teaching myself piano (A month ago).
Viola has now been dropped, in favor for my dedicating myself to piano full-time. This week, I receive my first lesson in piano.
In this lesson, I am far more impassioned than anticipated.
1> Composing portion: My theory Instructor and I have been working on variating a theme, for a composition practice–call it practice or whatever. His tutelage has been exposing me to some excellent forms of composition: Diminution, augmentation, retrograde, doubling, and so-fourth. It’s been composed for piano in-mind, which I find quite apposite. He is my main instrument now.
Bach’s compositions in-particular, are just magnificent to observe and study. The man was an absolute genius.
With my being taught composition, in-between , I reworked the Arpeggio & Scale Berceause from my Gaspar Suite. To make it more ‘sweeter’, and ‘tender’:
Then, there is also this variation to the above. I call it “Ambien Dreams”:
2> Theory: My instructor has told me that he is confident in my completing the rest of the Music Craft Preliminary book. I have done so, and we are now moving onward to the musical text book. HELL YEAH! And now… I am finally out of Kindergarten.
I went ahead and ordered this trilogy: “The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis, 3e.” To study from, in guidance of my teacher.He is a such a damned nerd. I swear. And oh yes, I respect him. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have hired him.
I feel like Billy Madison.
Tempo Markings: Tempo markings present themselves in a range. I.E: Andante is set to a range 56-88 BPM.
Tempos are best identified through the context of the piece. Ranges often overlap–therefore, for one to identify the tempo marking, one listens to the piece.
3> Composers Spreadsheet: Charles-Valentin Alkan.
I am instructed to answer this question, in-relation to Alkan’s piece, “Alkan – Etude op.39 no.12 – Le Festin D’Esope”.
“Write brief notes on each variation. Discuss what has been altered in each variation. Always compare the variation to the original theme.“
A:1) The first variation, we’ve set to the key in G Major. The meter, duple. 2/4. Eight bars. The theme with the dynamic ‘Piano’. Often Alkan is seen to deviate away from the key, just as well. His quavers and semi-quavers having staccato rendered upon them. The tempo, Allegretto Senza Licenza Quantunque. Which means “Rather fast, without any license.” The piece is instructed to not be played in rubato. 2) Second: Both bass and treble are still marked with staccato. He introduces both tenuto and tied notes within this variation. Thence, it produced strange ‘flighty’ effect in its playing. Also, the thirty-second sextuplet flourishes are marked forte (He augmented his damned notes). 3) In this variation, he diminishes his notes. Still, he keeps to staccatto. Harmonic tension is apparent in this one, and pauses in melody with the staccato, and emphasis on bass are apparent. Also. There’s trills! 4) Staccatto still continues, especially in the bass. The four bars to the piece have within, third and sixth notes. The tension is resolved, at the end frm the first variations. 5) Octaves marching. Triplets of sixteenth octaves for both hands provide momentum while the harmony is switched between E minor and F minor. There is an impressive ascending scale in octaves throughout the two keys. 6) Continues with the theme of the march. This time, Alkan switches the key to C Major. The movement, comparably more quiet than the others before it with its marked ‘piano’. This is broken later, with the return of ‘forte’. 7) A quiet trill for the bass. In range 2. Tension is created, and syncopation occurs often. The important bar, being marked by Alkan “Pochissimo crescendo”. 8) In tonic major (I had to look this up). Also written by Alkan as ‘Maggiore’. Sweet and sustained in comparison to the former. 9) Sprightly bounces for upper registers are heard. He lifts up the range slightly. Each chord is preceded by wonderful ornamental embellishments (acciaccatura). These embellishments are not pivotal to the melody, but serve to decorate. 10) With Ostinato. the preceding variation is embelished further with ‘onstinato’ (a repetitive motif) set to a higher range. He marks it ‘Scampanatino”. 11) Still Ostinato, however now converted to thirds. Marked ‘Molto Legato’. The melody once again, is relegated to bass since variation 7. 11) Chords are supported by modculations and references from Romanticism and impressionism are accutely heard. Bass is written with very wide broken chord and arpeggios. 12) Still keeping to his conventions. He inserts a tiny acciaccatura (embelishment) within. 12) Forte and ‘trombata’ are marked on the sheet. Staccatto still retained, with a constant overlapping of bass and treble. 13) The left hand is seen to switch between sixteenth notes, and loud expansive chords of both D Minor and C Minor are played before ending in E Major. 14) Bass remains in staccato and still retains wide artpeggios. However, the key is set to C Major. 15) Octaves, Alkan! JESUS CHRIST. The treble and bass are seen to overlap constantly. And some chords are lowered by a semitone. 16) Thick chords… and loud as hell. Fortississimo (fff). 17) An explicit reference to animals are made. 18) Returns to minor key. Both hands are on bass. Pedal is marked throughout. 19) Tremelo is included. Melody is established in the first bars. Again, many chromatic scales. 20) And so, we end… with a trionfalmente fortissimo. Very loud. He wanted to end on a bang, so to speak. A crescendo leads to the final eight-bar.
I’m quite certain that I numbered these wrong… if so, ah well. In all honesty, that was a very complex piece to read. Far past my level. Ah, Europe. That is where art is.
Pianistic Portion (Alexandre):
Four weeks in. Now, I learn from a professional. She had begun playing piano at the age of five, and is now a Masters student at the Conservatoire. Watching her play on the piano, she… is natural. Her fingers like pistons, and I am in absolute awe. This was the first time I ever saw someone play, right in-front of my eyes… and I am awe-struck. Amazing… just amazing! Her hands fluid, and she, relaxed when she plays. For her, I see the piano in her soul. She is bound to it. I see that in all pianists. I love pianists. ‘Deed I do. They all have something within, which illuminates them… especially in their eyes. I want that same light in my eyes. That’s why I’m drawn to the piano.
THIS IS WHAT I HAVE LONGED FOR. I don’t care or mind how long it will take, so long as I get to even do 1/16th of what they can do… damn, that’s all I ever wanted. Yes please. For the next twenty years. HELL YEAH. I found it. Finally.
To have what they have. One day, I will.
Half an hour of practice a day, is a good start for me.
Alfred Series Practice:
1) E for the right and left hand. 2) Inverted C Major triad. 3) Middle C position. 4) Dynamics: Crescendo & Diminuendo. 5) Fermata: One holds a Fermata approximately twice the value of the note… however as a general rule, one can hold it (within reason) for as long as they like. 6) Eight notes/quavers. 7) Hanon hand exercises. 8) Dotted crotchets.
Lesson I. Piano. Basics.
*Avoid slouching. *Avoid being tense. *Avoid over-practice. *Use my Czerny and Hanon judiciously. With good judgement. * It is thoroughly important to know not just practice, but also theory as well as aural skills. If you practice incorrectly, you WILL injure yourself.
I can sight read, albeit slowly, however… I have not yet, learnt the ability to proper express these denotations on the piano.
1) Acquisition of correct hand positioning and changes, as well as fingering. C Major scale, right and left. Utilizing the relaxed dipping motion of the wrists to play. Also, with scale-playing, one brings their thumb under to move. Keep your wrist supple. Use your fingers in a relaxed fashion. And “Happy Birthday” from the Alfred’s book.
Relaxed mode first. The piano is your frieeeeennnnnd~
2) Hand position extension. For example, when one is moving from C to B with the first finger.
*Notes from the lesson:
First step, is to consciously think of my technique. Posture, fingers, hands.
+ My stool is a good distance away, and height just as well. The arm must be parallel to the floor, roughly.
+ My fingers must be curved. Due to the edges of my nail beds sticking out, I cannot play on the flats of my fingers. Therefore my fingers cannot curve completely, and I must play slightly flatter. The first knuckle however, must always be arched. The pianist plays from their feet, funnily enough. Especially when you are playing virtuosic repertoire. Ensure that your fingers don’t collapse. Practice holding a tennis ball to maintain the position. One can also rest their hand on their knee. The shape of my hand, will be more of a depressed angle. Like an arc as opposed to a ball.
+ For the middle C position, I can choose to switch between thumbs being place on the key. I choose one thumb to sit there.
+ I’m too tense when it comes to playing, I need to relax whilst playing. Relaxing my shoulders. My feet become numb, due to my being tense. One must be mindful of their relaxedness. The trick is not to try and control anything. Just allow it to be relaxed. I will meditate.
+ My finger tips must be stationary on the key. Having my wrist drip and rise with each key played. Practicing this motion between each finger. When you dip, you must come back. Keep the fingers slightly flat, however, do not collapse them. The playing motion, is a lot like a wave. The wrist is driving things. When dipping the wrist, do not over-extend it dipping… if it feels tense, then you are not doing it correctly. Never should you feel tense, or feel pain in playing.
+ Both hands must be equally as strong as one another. So practice with both.
INFO: Accoustic pianos are real beauts. One can register a different sound of playing, by how far inward your fingers are, on the keys… different effects.
Playing with collapsed fingers will damage your tendons. The pianist must pay attention to all of their muscles. Which muscles are you using, one must ask themselves in playing firstly. The pianist uses all muscles… all muscles. And they must pay attention to how they breathe. Piano is serious business. As a beginner however, I will begin with the fingers. The fingers are connected to the musculature and tendons of the neck and arms upwards. One must have a supple wrist that’s flexible, like glue-tack.
First step, is to consciously think of my technique. Posture, fingers, hands.
Fourth finger is the weakest.
For me, learning proper form and hand technique is of utmost importance before anything else on the piano. If I don’t develop the proper habits necessary to play the piano, there is no way in hell I will be able to increase speed for the jazz I intend to play.
I have also set aside a workbook for my teacher to write what I ought to practice, that is, to better keep track of my learning process toward the piano.
So far, I am familiar with: C Position: C Major chord, G7 chord, F chord. G position. G Major chord, D7 chord, C Major chord. Middle C Position.
And so, begins me watching hours and hours of pianists play:
You marry a music man. You marry their music.
On another note… I need to see some professional pianists perform live. NOW! I will ask either of my teachers, soon enough… where I may watch some perform. I will most probably be the only one in the audience, with a gargantuan grin on my face. Nodding to myself. My mouth agape in excitement. GOD DAMMIT WHERE HAS IT BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE! This brings me tremendous joy.
Written on their faces. Such hours… such solitude… SUCH MUSIC.
*Viola Portion (Gasparini):
This is the last lesson I will receive for viola. I am retiring the viola and moving onto piano full-time. Do I regret learning the viola? Not at all. It led me to piano, as a matter of fact. Through my viola instructor, I was put into contact with my new piano teacher who is already playing virtuosic repertoire. Just as well, I understand music theory at a grade I level. Although I had initially attempted to run away from the instrument, it caught up to me… and by god. I am glad that it did. I may re-visit the viola again in the future. Who knows? In the future I will purchase an acoustic piano. And I will name him Gasparini. That, I promise. I do feel guilty Gasparini, I do. Forgive me. You will be reincarnated, into a magnificent Steinway and sons. One day.
As a final ode to my Gasparini, I will leave these notes… just in-case I may decide to return to him, one day.
Tuning: *Large pegs: Larger tuning. Never go above the note, for you will put unnecessary tension on the string. The ends of the pegs are tapered–therefore, when tuning, you push in the pegs taking that into account.
*Finetuners: Just for finer adjustments, to tune the HZ of the string to finger calibrations. Often, when tuning… one string being tuned will knock others out of balance, from the tension created in the peg box.
1) Left hand pizzicato (fourth finger). Flick the pinkie, and use the whole hand. 2) Harmonics(fourth finger): doubling the hertz, also known as the oscillations. I.E: With lightly applying your fourth finger to halfway of the string, one doubles the frequency of the string’s base note. I.E: 440 HZ of the A (A4) string to 880 (A5) HZ. “When the instrument rings, it is telling you. That’s the correct note.” 3) A on the D string (fourth finger). 4) Playing at 120 BPM.
I love each of my instruments. I name each for them… for they are to be respected.
And so the learning continues, in-between my other duties.
A new interval: Minor Third. There are 1.5 tones between the notes, within the interval minor third. Therefore, there are 3 semitones between notes. This is comparable to the Major Third. With 2 tones between the notes. Therein, there are 3 tones between the notes. A Major Third, is one semitones less in comparison.
This is demonstrated, very clearly on the piano .
I am now familiar with 5/12 of the standard intervals: Major third, major fourth, perfect fifth, perfect octave and minor third.
* Music Craft Preliminary Lessons 24.1 and 24.2.
* Annotation, and revision of F Major scale with chords.
* Annotation, and revision of treble, alto, and bass clef.
* Composer spreadsheet: Giachino Rossini, and an extended question to Johann Christian Bach (Violin Partita).
* Musescore composition sheet: Variation 2 (augmented rhythm), and 3 (C Major and 4/4 metre). + For advice. Keep with one idea. If one is doubling all of the notes in a variation–one must follow through, and keep that consistency. Therefore. Double all of the notes. The audience expects one to stick to that convention. We are fine tuned to seek out patterns. For an augmented rhythm, one relies on the notational value. Augmented rhythms are increased, in their note value. This is in comparison to diminution… which does the inverse. Harmony will be added underneath these variations, later.
* Practice conducting to a 4/4 meter to better acquaint self with rhythm:
Speaking of conductors. God damn, that’s a hot conductor.
This week, my instructor has agreed to give me a brief introduction into piano work. That is, technique, to ensure that I am not wading into misinformed territory. He however urges, that I gather tutelage under a more experienced instructor. As a refresher however… by his instruction: the pianist plays with their fingers, but the strength is sourced from their wrist. The wrist should not be tensed in any manner–nor should the arms be led to move. Take tension off of the fingers, so that you can play fast notes. Flexing one’s fingers leads to flexing the forearm, which is the incorrect way to play. All weight should be applied to the keys. Head straight. One moves from the core. The knees are just slightly under the keyboard. Ensure, that, if you’re moving forward. Tilt from the core. When you’re looking at the keyboard–look down with your face. This will create magnificent double chins. It is said, that the more double chins a pianist has… the faster their hands can move (Note: not really. I’m joking.).
Pianists and their double-chins. Heueheuheuheue~ SOOOOHHH CUTTTTEEEE~~~~
My instructor has given me contact of a colleague of his, who is pursuing a Masters degree in piano. They are Yoda, and I’m a damned Jedi.I will be gathering her tutelage, next week on Saturday. I look forward to it.
Here is the layout for my learning this week: 1) G position. 2) Sharps. 3) G Major and D 7 chords. 4) Inverted C chord (from the G position). 5) Using the damper foot pedal. I am now up to page 70 of Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course, Level One.
*I now spend one hour to two hours practicing on piano. Viola is now pursued, at 30 minutes, each day.
*In the first lesson, for my piano teacher, next week we will explore: Posture details, basic notes, sight-reading, scales for technique and some repertoire. As well, as the discussion of short and long term goals. I have also issued her, a workbook that she will write in, from week-to-week.
Ultimately, once I have acquired all of the basic and intermediate skills of piano, then we will delve into exploring more complex and detailed repertoire–as well as concepts. A solid basis in pianistic knowledge, and technique will be built firstly… before anything else. Speaking with my family, and my supervisor. I had asked him during the last meeting we had together, “Why did you say I would suit piano?” He said, and I paraphrase “Because you have long, beautiful fingers.” My Father says the same, of my fingers. I’ve also heard mentions of the years, of my having piano fingers from people. As for my sister, she mentioned that piano would suit me better, past viola. I asked her, “why?” She said it was an elegant instrument, and that I was elegant. HEUHEUHEUHEUHE~
Plus, if you were to ask me… for my personal opinion, I am more suited to the piano due to my double chins. I have four of them, to be exact.
THEREFORE, I MUST BE PIANIST. PIANISTIC JOURNEY, AWAITS! MY DOUBLE CHINS DEMAND IT.
Revise what was learnt last week, and pages .31 to .33 in Stephen Chin’s “My First Pieces”.
Three months into this musical journey, here is an update to my progress.
Piano (Alexandre) has been adopted as my primary instrument, and will have more time invested into practice as well as lessons. I will take to practicing piano for many hours a day, in comparison the the viola. Viola (Gaspar), has been relegated now, to an accompaniment instrument. I choose to still learn the instrument, due to it allowing me the ability to appreciate the world of strings.
Between these two instruments, music theory is still being learned with diligence.
+ I now possess the ability to sight read from the treble, alto, and bass clefs… albeit slowly, I had not possessed the ability to do anything of the such, three months prior.
Music is truly a beautiful thing. Everyone should have music in their life. For me, although it has been a short time. My life has been made infinitely better with music in it. I want to do this for the rest of my life.
31-05-2020 is when I began my first Viola lesson.(A little under three months ago) 27-08-2020 is when I began teaching myself piano. (A little under two weeks ago)
In one year, I have the intention to be able to sight read three clefs (Alto, bass and treble). In one year, I have the intention to read, and surpass all literature related to both the viola and piano. In five years time, I have the intention of being able to play both instruments to a reasonable level. By my early thirties, I have the intention to attend the Conservatoire for music education.
I have now moved onto PT II of Kindergarten of theory. By my estimation, another month or two and I will surpass this to the first grade. The Musician’s Guide To Theory & Analysis trilogy is what I will be moving onto, past the Music Craft series. In total, we have six grades. By that measure, if it took me a total of four months to surpass Kindergarten, it should take me the span of an additional six or eight months to surpass fourth grade and so-on. The intention is to understand music theory, like the back of my hand.
It matters not when one begins. Time will always march forward, regardless.
There are hard days. Of course. That’s par for the course in relation to real life, no? In stating that, I view practice and study as something routine. Akin to brushing one’s teeth, or the like. Do it. When I hit walls. I apply patience. There is no rush. There is no urgency. This is the rest of my life.
+Memorize and annotate F Major scale. “When writing scales, one never doubles a note. For instance, in the F Major scale. The ‘A’ would be sharpened, however one would not apply a sharp. Instead, the proceeding B is flattened, due to it being an enharmonic to the A (one does not double a note). One cannot mix flats and sharps in a single key.”
+ Composer excel spreadsheet: Franz Liszt, Johann Christian Bach.
Notes from last week:
*If you add an interval and inversion together, for scale degrees. It will always equal nine. From G to C, to C to G. You can have an unlimited amount of chords. Scale degrees 1,3 and 5th equals the Chord I due to using the 1st as the root. For example, in G Major, “G,B,D” would be considered chord I.
Semibrieve rest: It’s to be used in a whole bar of silence, regardless of time signature. You don’t play anything the entire bar.
Legato: Notes are to be conducted smoothly to one another. A slur is different. With legato, the notes are connected.
Slur: You play multiple notes on the one bow/breath (in the case of a stringed instrument). Pianos can’t slur as string instruments can, therefore, one can only play legato. Often the two terms are interchanged however, I’ve found.
I’ve received feedback from viola.
These are my problem areas, which I will isolate and work on:
Now, patience. Working on these problem areas. And refining them, before moving onto anything massive. Good technique is of crucial importance.
Just as well, if I falter in one bar–I do not repeat the entire section, if others are adequate. I focus on that ONE BAR. Effectively practicing. The brain will follow, what you tell it to do. Like a dog.
Yes, yes. Build that myelin pathway.
* Hitting the other strings: The angle at which I bow, is the issue. Each string represents a different plane. This is an issue which should alleviate with time, eventually. I had begun bowing 2-3 weeks ago.
* Bow is prone to jump, and buckle: This is due to a lack of speed, and need to pronate my index finger, so as to apply more weight.
* Intonation: At times my fingers don’t stretch correctly. Just as well, sometimes my notes aren’t in tune. Fingers must be pressed down (of the left), to touch the finger board.
Practice: Open string long bows, from frog to tip back and fourth. Focusing on registering a nice sound, and also practicing with a straight bow which is parallel to the bridge.
Practice every line, from the current page and backwards. Focusing on tone production, and intonation.
I will isolate my problem areas, and work on them, during the week.My main issue is relaxing. I must relax whilst bowing as much as possible.
It has been a good two-three weeks, since I have first began teaching myself the piano. I have spent nearly 1-2 hours a day practicing, and studying the instrument. So far, in regard to tracking my progress, I am up to the 50th page of Alfred’s Basic Adult All-In-One Piano course (level one). I have taken very careful measures to ensure that I am guiding myself properly, ’til I am due to gain tutelage under an instructor… which, by my estimation will be very soon. I don’t believe learning piano, in my lonesome would do well for habit-forming.
One year of ill-informed practice is detrimental, all-in-all.
This is what I focused on learning, for this week: Simple triple metre (3/4 dotted minim). Dynamics: Forte, Moderate Forte, and Piano. Chord Symbols: F, G7, and C. Slurs & Legato. Ties. A for the left and right hand. F major chord. The G position.
Before then,I have also ordered the following books to assist me further, on my pianistic journey: The complete book of scales, chords, Arpeggios and cadences, Alfred’s basic all-in-one piano course, Faber piano adventures, Improve your sight-reading! Piano, Level 1, Carl Czerny studies, Friederich Burgmuller studies.
I have also, within the trunk of my piano bench… a wonderful Hanon manual, on pianistic exercises that I will take to doing, after I surpass the first Alfred piano course book.
Truth be, I have ordered more literature on piano than I have, the viola… and I am much further along on the piano–than I am on the viola (even though I have been learning the viola for two months). The viola, or any string instrument, as I have noticed does present a steeper learning curve. For me, the piano, I believe, is more familiar to me due to my already possessing the ability to touch-type on the computer. Playing the piano, in comparison to playing the viola does not tire me out as much. Plus, I will admit it. I love the piano more. I had initially wanted to play the piano, before viola… but had decided to run away from the instrument, due to an odd turn of events. Therein, the instrument proceeded to stalk me–as if the world were beckoning me to play the damned thing. I would see signs out in public. Advertising plastered on media all over the house. A grand piano sitting in the Mall, calling to me. Absolutely everywhere, did the black and white mammoth stalk me. But me, being stubborn said “No. You’ll never get me to touch the piano, for as long as I live!”
Well guess what… even my viola instructor led me to piano. He said, and I paraphrase “If you want to be a good composer, you must get a piano.” It was then there, I gave in and ordered my Korg B2SP digital piano.
The first instrument I wanted to play was the bass guitar. It was in 2019, near the conclusion of that year, that I was intending to take up an instrument… I recall my PhD supervisor, an instrumentalist himself, did say something strange to me. He said: “Actually, I see you playing piano.” I now know why… He said other interesting things, such as his being able to tell musicians a part from the design students at the College he taught at, before crossing paths with me. I said, “how can you tell the musicians apart?” And he replied, “they have a certain sensitivity.”
And it is a sensitivity I love. It is a sensitivity I want for my own. I see it within their eyes.
I will not quit the viola. No, rather, the viola will act as an accompaniment to my primary instrument.
Additionally, I love learning three clefs all at once. The treble and bass, with the alto. Music theory is a damned blast to learn. Honestly. Although it is early days,Music in my life has made it infinitely better. Infinitely.
I will, in the future order more literature. I came across this one: “Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns”
AND THESE! “Contemporary Counterpoint: Theory & Application (Music Theory: Counterpoint)” “The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony Bk/Online Audio Paperback “
YES! What a beautiful time we live in. We are blessed…
First, thing’s first. I need to learn at least three grades of theory before I can better understand the higher levels of theory. The circumstances allow it. I have all the time. I have no other obligations. I will.
Franz Liszt study “What is a Rhapsody?”
Known for his ability to improvise, the Rhapsody suits the virtuoso Liszt indeed. A Rhapsody, in music terms is a work of one movement that is described as free-flowing in its contrasts of moods and tonality. It is spontaneous in its inspiration, and this sense of improvisation does well to flavor its lenience. A free-form piece, which leads one to feel. The moods, within the piece are composed to contrast with one another. A demonstration of duality, or diametric opposing forces. From loud to soft. Rhapsodies could be considered very Programmatic in their inclination, due to their being inspired by poetry. However, Rhapsodies are known to be accompanying pieces in musical forms–therefore, this would exclude them from the designation of being Programmatic altogether. Your Rhapsody is, to put it simply a lot like a more articulated and refined version of improvisation from your Baroque era. Liszt was known to improvise a lot of what he played, during performance. Much-like his romantique contemporaries, he believed in playing how he felt. “Play how you feel.” –An ode to Chopin, both a friend and rival of his.
The word etymologically speaking, derives from Greek poetry–epic poetry. Just as well, further on it means “Songs stitched together”.
Liszt is regarded to be perhaps, the greatest pianist of all time. Even professional pianists, have trouble playing his pieces. If a pianist can play liszt’s pieces to a sufficient degree, that is a damned good pianist.
Despite Liszt’s extensive Oeuvre, I still prefer Chopin. Chopin played from the heart. And no amount of skill, or adroitness on the piano could ever compare to that. A musician, I believe should always, past skill, play from the heart. If one cannot feel, or love… then what is the point? One can easily forget what music truly is about, past the technicalities of it. Sure, the technicalities and procurement of skill can do well to lead one to sharpen their means of communicating certain emotions… but ultimately, the implication of emotion is often tied to how the instrumentalist feels. That will always permeate through their instrument. A very numinous thing, absolutely.
That is most probably why I love Jazz. The level of improvisation, and complexity within it is moving. There are hours of skill behind it, but little refinement with recordings. Often, Jazz musicians are comfortable with the first rendition. The first time. Therein, little editing leaves those little intricacies of humanity–all things flawed, all things unplanned there to be observed. What we find familiar, and relatable is what moves us ultimately… and that which is unfamiliar, could be familiar just as well. And yet, we fickle creatures are known to run from those dark enchantments. Never to entertain any possibility. Never to challenge one’s self.
I care not to dazzle anyone with procurement of skill, or technical prowess. I only care to demonstrate how I feel, and to allow others the opportunity to understand that.
I have now moved onto Part II of Kindergarten-level theory, after Kindergarten–I will thereon move onto a trilogy of university textbooks for more practice. My teacher had made mention, that he could easily teach me how to get to fourth-grade viola in a good two years. In-between, I study piano diligently. I love both instruments. Each has a different personality. Alexandre is more contemplative and pensive, whilst Gaspar is more passionate and sweeter.
Pianistic (Alexandre) portion (Week II):
This week, I focused on learning… 1)The C Major Chord, for the left and right hand. (C-E-G). *Playing compositions “Brother John” and “Here’s a happy song.”
2) Introduction of the B for both the left and right hand. (The fifth finger is shifted from the C to the B).
3) The G7 chord (the simplified version, with the omission of the fifth of the chord). As written in the book (Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course), they instruct you to play “B-F-G” as opposed to “G-B-D-F” (they can be arranged in any order). G is the root note, to the chord.
For now, I will focus on learning the basic method firstly.
They instruct you to play from the C Major chord, to the basic fifth-less. So, switching positions with the 5th finger from the C key to the B key when changing from a C Major chord to a G7 chord.
*Playing composition “Mary Ann”.
3) Playing tied notes. One of the simplest ways, to denote an extension of time is through tying notes. It is akin to the convention of, addition, within mathematics. One sight-reads the notes, by their added value–hence, playing that note for the denoted duration.
*Playing compositions “Going Home” and “Merrily We Roll Along.”
Synopsis: The introduction of the B note, and the G7 chord.
Note: I am still exercising my fingers, mainly my fifth and fourths.
Here is some inspiration. Ryo Fukui entered into the music scene fairly late. He began learning how to play the accordion at the age of 18, only then on, to start teaching himself the piano at the age of 22. There upon, he became a Jazz pianist. Although, I do at times feel disheartened that I had not started the venture of music earlier, I am grateful that at least, I get to… A lot of people, are unfortunate to never create any kind of art, for the sum of their entire lives. Instead of music, I began expressing myself through the modality of drawing since the age of 7, due to growing up just above the poverty line (music is an expensive endeavor). My being a researcher, drawing teacher, and eventual PhD graduate is what grants me the opportunity to study music at the age of 25. It lead me here. Therefore, drawing is what I have to thank for my finally having the opportunity to do music.
It is for that reason, although times may get difficult I try my very best to never miss a day of practice. As much as physical constraints can allow me to. What matters, is that I do it every day. Even when days are dismal. Every. Single. day.
Where do I hope it’ll lead? I have no perceivable destination. All I know is that I must.
Next week, I focus on slurs, 3/4 time.
To be fair though, he gives some damned good advice.
More pianistic inspiration.
Viola (Gaspar) portion:
Bowing with my Gaspar.
I am instructed this week to: + Bow the D Major notes. D,E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D. The open strings of both A, and D on the viola give way to these notes from first finger to third. + I must continue keeping with the metronome, just as well. + My sound production, and quality must be worked on. I am not using enough of my bow, and I am skimming. I must add more weight to the bow, in-order to produce a good sound. My instructor also criticized that I like to add extra notes, during my playing (I do that subconsciously).
Sound quality refers to quality of sound, whilst sound production refers to how one makes noise. Sound quality is increased, via the care one takes in applying weight and speed to the bow. Intonation (finger placing) is also key.
My instructor has faith in me, that he will be able to push me through four grades viola in two years. Therein, after that, it should take another two or-so years to get up to University standard.
Who knows? By then, I may just enter the conservatoire with piano instead. It remains to be seen.
One thing is elementary. I do not stop doing this. This is my life now.
Theory and section:
There is no heavy theory this week, as I am learning of that through the piano book and have completed the first preliminary AMEB music craft book. That asides, I have spent time notating the Treble clef, Bass clef, and Alto clef from memory. I use all three clefs, between piano and viola.
My Own Compositions (Gaspar Suite):
The suite is named after my Viola (Gasparini). It is a whole collection, of compositional practice. The collection could be considered programmatic, although I will admit that the suite was created purely through emotional impulse, and experiments. It is my first venture into composition. Hence, it’ll be rough around the edges. It is with that, that I hope to improve with each piece/variation added into the suite. So far, there is a total of 18/100 in the collection. I am inspired, by emotion to create above all else. Callings of the heart, so-to-speak.That is why I am doing music. To express myself.
With that, I went off and created more compositions to add to my Gaspar suite. Here is one, called “A Visage Like The Moon.”
I had decided, which-ever instrument I master faster in a span of a year or two. Piano versus, viola, I will adopt that one as my main instrument and then take up a sibling instrument. I.E: Violin to viola, and another keyboard to accompany the piano. I had thought of the organ (the organ has music sheets with two bass clefs). As for what genre I would pursue. Jazz on piano, romanticism on viola. The race is on, between the two.
As for how long? As long as it takes. Time is of no issue.