I have decided to take the plunge and upgrade to a beautiful acoustic piano. A second-hand Yamaha UX upright, which I will be practicing until… I predict, AMUS. I have named him “Alistair”. Some may call me weird, strange… and definitely I am those things. I see my piano as a breathing, organic instrument. He is made of wood, after-all and although he has most likely passed through many hands, he is as much as mine as he was the others. I will love him, and he will love me.
Alistair is polished, and dusted frequently. I treat him with care, for soon enough he will be someone else’s. Alistair, like most pianos pass through many hands. Just like a lover would…
As I play his keys, I wonder who graced them before I ever did… what became of them? Are they still pianists? Have I crossed paths with them? Has a terrible fate befallen any of them? Who are they… I’m strange like that, yes.
As for my previous keyboard, Alexander, he has been given to my Nephew who has taken an interest to music. Hopefully Alexander, serves him well.
I have also purchased a Theremin, and will name her accordingly.
I have, attempted to… through the weeks… sluice in 3 hours a day, of practice on the piano.
By way of feedback, my teacher is happy with my progress/ She mentions that my technique is excellent. For next week, I must focus on learning repertoire.
*NEW: D Major. (LH/RH) B Natural Minor. (LH/RH) B Harmonic Minor. (LH/RH)
Bb Major. (LH/RH) G Natural Minor. (LH/RH) G Harmonic Minor. (LH/RH) D Chromatic scale. (LH/RH)
Note: Currently I know up to 2 flats, and sharps for key signatures. The sevenths being raised for each minor, does not count. By the end of the year, I hope to surpass this to at least 4 flats and sharps.
This is indeed the year for piano. I’ve marked my calendar/schedule for many pianistic events to take place–specifically at The Conservatorium. I see it as wise, to sit in the front row… directly parallel to the view of the keyboard, and the performer’s hands on the keys… so that I may observe their technique.
In my observations, although sparse… (I began learning piano five months ago, and I began attending musical events, the very same) weight is never forced/sourced from the fingers. Physiologically speaking, that would be impossible. Fingers don’t have ‘muscles’(Sorry, Hanon, your exercises are outdated). The mechanic of movement, that the finger joints are capable of are by way of tendons–which, of course run up the entire course of one’s arms.
Therefore, an efficient way of playing is to never play from the fingers… but rather, through conventions of gravity. Source weight from the pivot of the wrists (whilst keeping them loose) and elbows. With a drop–and of course, the fingers will be shifting positions in a subtle push forward (for standard legato) all the while. Staccato is handled differently, where the push is inverted with the tips. Of course, these aren’t the only muscles to consider. The entire body, is used for piano.
In my sitting closest to a pianist, last performance I had attended… I could hear breathing. The fellow played for an hour, just as well… with little breaks/intermissions, and of course–he did an encore performance for his adoring crowd. Beautiful hands, intelligent playing–grace. He is one of the staff members at The Conservatorium, he looks a bit like Mr. Six from Six flags(Mr. six is cool, don’t worry) and seems to scream PIANO from his very pores.
Err… literally, he was sweating. In-fact, any pianists performing repertoire which is demanding WILL sweat profusely. This fellow was playing Bach, Liszt, Schumann, and Rachmaninov for his entire performance. He’d stop between each movement, crack his hands/fingers at his sides… brace himself for the next piece… taking note that he had no music sheets in-front of him, to speak of. He is such a lord.Lord of the keys!
Sweat pianists, sweat. I’ll smile all the while.
Note: Musicianship will be added to my learning curriculum, mid-year. I will be moved up to fourth grade Musicianship, via the AMEB standard. When I advance far enough, to AMUS, I will be sitting some tests to earn some qualifications in-relation to the theoretical conventions of music. Musicianship, or Music theory. As for my progression in playing, I foresee that this will be a more gradual progression. Eventually, when reaching past seventh grade, I will sit an exam, the very same.
After doing so, I intend to attend Music School. And perhaps, eventually, I wish to bridge into higher-education, so as to contribute to research in-relation. Although, knowing me, this is apt to change.
Why do this? Simple, because I can and I must. If I do not cease this opportunity now, I will live my life in regret. The time is now, for me!
Being a musician IS a trade skill.
Some recommended listening from my teacher: Ian Munro, Jason Gilliam, Boris Berezovsky (the pianist, not the politician).
With these recommendations, I’ve still my favorite. The Rat Stroganoff.
My rat is named after him. Hence, Ratmaninoff. When Ratmaninoff goes to the vet, they have no idea how to spell his name. One of the vets said they searched up the pianist, and listened to him for the first time. Good! More ears need to hear Rachmaninoff. I also have a pet-name for my rat, to which I call him “Rachmans“, which makes absolutely no sense, in reference to the original Rachmaninoff.
Frederic Chopin is also my favorite, and that’s mainly because Chopin was, in my opinion, hot. I gots me a thing for pianists. I won’t deny it.
Melodic minors will be explored during 4th and 5th grade theory (AMEB).
It helps to remember these sequences, by remembering that TONES rest mid-way.
Accidentals: I had trouble wrapping my head around accidentals at first, my teacher clarified this for me… thankfully!
For example, if one were adding a sharp to a Bb… this would make the note a B natural as opposed to a B#, since one would raise or lower the semitone in correspondence. Initially, I had assumed, that if one were to apply an accidental sharp to a Bb, it would lead one to play a B#–but this is not correct, especially when we are speaking in context of the piano, and how the piano keys sit. The sharp, as an accidental leads one to step up one semi-tone on the keyboard, whilst the flat has the inverse effect. As for double sharps, and flats… these would be equivalent to stepping up and down two semitones–which, would be akin to a tone (there are two semitones in one tone).
Inversions: There is total of only two inversions, for triads. Bach’s repertoire, is demonstrative of some sexy inversions. Especially in his inventions.
Minors: I asked my teacher for further clarification on the different types of minors, there are. In total, three: natural, harmonic, and melodic.
In reading a score with the key of a minor, it is played in the context of ‘harmonic minor’–therefore if a score was in A Minor, one would play the harmonic of that minor–with the seventh raised with an accidental, and not through the key signature (the key a minor has, is sourced from its major equivalent). The natural minor wasn’t introduced in the AMEB syllabus, until recently–for theoretical purposes.
The seventh of the harmonic minor, is raised in correspondence to its diatonic scale pattern.
I’ve been learning about triad chords thus far. I composed this minimalistic piece, some-time ago which makes use of triads. The piece ends on the tonic, giving it a proper conclusion (this is an unspoken rule that can be broken).
The triad chord in this piece is a Tonic Chord. It is built from F to C.
Take note, the 2nds of the Tonic chord for F Major (G), are also added to vary the melody, that is, in separation and not on the chord itself–the primary chords used in this composition, are however triads.
I may re-purpose this piece’s basic rhythm with a Median Chord, and Dominant chord to explore the possibilities further.
F-A-C (Tonic chord of F Major) I Chord. C-E-G (Median chord of F Major, is essentially the same as the Tonic chord in C Major.) III Chord. G-Bb-D (Dominant chord of F Major) V Chord.
When I advance to fourth grade theory, I will compose another piece–that is, with other chords in-mind. I also intend to compose some pieces in the minors I have learnt to play, thus far–that is, with the intention of raising the leading-tone (7th) up a semi-tone manually, through accidentals.
Note: Accidentals are called accidentals due to their only occurring, occasionally in the course of a musical composition. They are distinguishable from the key signature. Before accidentals, musicians played music, in-accordance to what their ears told them sounded good. This is known as ‘Musica Ficta’.
Etymologically speaking. Accidental is sourced from Medieval Latin–from “Accidentalis” and original Latin with “Accidentem”. It refers to something occurring outside the normal course of its intended nature. Therefore, the term accidental in the context of music is indeed very fitting.
For accidentals are characterized by both non-essential attributes, and occur outside of the expected nature of its context. In this case, the key signature.
+ Chords. Completion of ‘Chords’ in AMEB ‘Theory Of Music’. + Annotation of bass clef, up and down two leger lines. + Scale degree revision. Technical names, and qualities.
All 2 8VEs. RH, and LH. Contrary, and similar motion with both, also.
C Major A Natural Minor A Harmonic Minor
G Major E Natural Minor E Harmonic Minor
F Major D Natural Minor D Harmonic Minor
C Chromatic Scale. G Chromatic Scale. (New) D Chromatic Scale.
(New) D Major.
With scales, I exercise technical skill and use of the hands. Paying close attention to playing smooth, and even legato, with smooth tone of each note–just as well, experimenting with the movement of the tips, slightly expending force forward… and exercising the wiping motions for staccatos.
Scales, again are where I source much of my refinement of technique.I make it a habit to practice scales, right before practicing anything else in piano-work.
“Royal March Of The Lion.” “Quadrille”
Refinements of rhythm, and articulations. I am re-visiting these pieces, due to months prior… my hands were still being strengthened and trained to play properly. Technique, always, is at the forefront of my practice, past repertoire.
*LH push in, not down when playing. *RH extension, keep grounded. *Don’t miss any stacattos! *Play bar, by bar. Not the entire piece. *Slow, and relaxed. Be quick to go slow. Fracture mistakes. Don’t play the entire piece, through.
Pianism will be delayed in progress partially, due to my PhD being due in early 2022 and my teaching drawing classes for the first portion of 2021. I am, at this stage… up to Grade I repertoire, and Grade III theory by AMEB conventions.
I will, however, always do music for the foreseeable future! It is now part of my life.
So far, I have been doing pianism since 29th of of October 2020. It has been four-five months, in my learning so far. Much has been learnt, and yet… I have barely scratched the surface.
My tone in playing scales is becoming more even. The wrists are observed to be nice and soft. However, the hand positioning needs more work. Being grounded is what I am working toward, with the fingers in-relation to being solid in their foundation. That is, the tips of the fingers are cemented into their position of the keys. No pivot occurs from the knuckle. That exerts unnecessary force. No tenseness, either. There is a fine-line to be drawn between being both tense, and applying the proper weight to the keyboard. Rather, the weight of the arm should be transfer the kinetic energy through the final joint (tip) of the fingers.
The hand moves, not the tips of the fingers. No force comes from the fingers, nor do they move. One knows they’re playing properly, if the playing feels comfortable and not over-strenuous. That is, from the tip of the fingers.
For pianists, especially at the professional grade… they are expected to play for long periods at time–and not just that! The repertoire they are expected to, at that level play, is very demanding. Physically.
Theory (GRADE III AMEB):
The pulse is what the beat is divided into–the individual instance of the notes. An indicator of the rhythm.Grouping of notes, show clearly, how many beats are in each bar.
*Time Signature And Rhythm:
With groupings, one can beam the entire quavers/semi-quavers and so-on in the bar. However, it is not typically accepted, in composing standards. The time signature can always be deduced by the notational values of the notes within each bar—and, the groupings of the notes, if applicable.
Sometimes, on the rare occasion… pieces may not end of the tonic to signify. Instead, it can be from the tonic chord. For example, if a piece written in C Major ends in either C-E-G, it is still correct… however, if it doesn’t end on the C, it’ll sound comparatively more incomplete.
Compound: Pulses are counted. Simple: Beats are counted.
+ More completion of the work-sheet, in-relation to Scale Degrees, and chords.
+ More practice of subdivision and rhythm. Via “Rhythm trainer”, and sourcing repertoire.
Grounded finger exercise: A flat and uniformed surface. Finger-tips stay stationary. The weight is pushed forward in a subtle manner. The tip stays grounded, and stays glued there. The finger-tips will feel well-worked, however not exerted. Do not move the tips. This will help build a foundational structure. One doesn’t play the piano, like a typist.
Form the bridge, and keep it steady. Never raise the shoulders, or wrists. One plays with a slight pushing forward movement, from the tips. It is very subtle. The structure of the hand, for a basis is being done right if no fingers collapse.
The primary knuckles are elevated higher than everything else, on the hand. Not on the wrists.
Intervals = Do so three minutes, three times per day.
Squeeze ball: Strengthen fingers/finger tips.
Extension of finger arc, outward so as to not hit my nails (my nail beds extend outward, to the tips of my fingers… thus I must adopt a flatter curve). The mechanic of applying weight to each key, from each finger is a subtle PUSH forward as opposed to HITTING/STRIKING the keys. Remember to utilize WEIGHT of the fingers. Drop them, don’t force them.
The publication of HANON, in regards to its finger exercises are criticized by contemporary school of piano as outdated. Many will find that the exercises within the publication, will lead to a more rigid style of playing… due to the player not employing the things aforementioned here. The force isn’t at all source from the hands.
Scales: (Grade Prelim to II scales)
Further refinement of playing. Grounded-finger playing. Between each note played, reset the position. Be quick to go slow. Verrrryyyy slow.“Push, and back.” One can see a tip of the wrist, back and forth–to utilize the force/weight produced from the upper-arm and so fourth.
Repertoire isn’t of the utmost importance to me, at this stage in my pianistic progress. More or less, I am intending to spend a good year in solidifying technique. The emphasis with playing repertoire, is to slowly, but surely learn technique in each piece… so as to solidify technique.
Rhythm, and subdivision must also be practiced.
This piece, in-which I am learning has the first tuplet to play, in-which I am firstly introduced to. Just as well, between both hands, the rhythm is different. Learning the delicate process of playing staccato and legato per hand, is still something I am indeed working on.
Begin studying musicianship (theory with an aural component).
Advance to 5th Grade Theory (AMEB).
Advance to 2nd Grade Repertoire (AMEB).
Memorizing all 24 keys (major and minors).
Objective for this week: Practice staccatos: Brush the keys, with the tips of fingers–the flicking motion is utilized by the fore knuckle dragging toward you, the player.
Reduce tension for both hands. Equilibrate weight distributed between both.More flexibility.
Right hand: Skims the keys, as opposed to ‘sinking’ into them. Left hand: Too ‘Rigid’, has lost discernible flexibility. Heavier then the right, due to it being over-strengthened.
Move your thumb over, as you play the next note–not straight away. It ruins the legato.
I must work on both hands, to ensure that the weight/heaviness of both are even and equilibrated. To resolve this, I am told to play very slowly and to sink into the bottom of the keys. Slowly, evenly to build up muscle-memory. Play slowly, and connect each note, slowly. All the while go playfully slow. The fore-knuckles of the finger, at the very tips is where the fingers curve.
I can now play past the black keys, as opposed to keeping at the edge–due to surpassing ‘beginners‘ status.
Technique is of utmost importance.
Misc. Notes: Piano lunchtime concerts will be held again this April at The Conservatorium… and for that, I am excited. With these, I have also booked in advanced for Mahler, Eroica (Ero-ih-ca) of Beethoven, and a Jazz showcase. As well, there is also an oncoming competition for piano being spread across Australia, in a few cities–due to unforeseen circumstances, who knows if audiences could watch? I hope so. I miss watching pianists, live. ‘Deed I do.
There is also a Tchaikovsky concert coming up, sometime in April.
(1 8ve Single) C Major A Minor A Harmonic Minor G Major E Minor E Harmonic Minor F Major D Minor (The same fingering as C Major) D Harmonic Minor (The same fingering as C Major) C & G Major Chromatic scales.
(1/2 8ve Contrary Motion) C Major A Minor A Harmonic Minor G Major E Minor E Harmonic Minor
(1/2 8ve Similar Motion) C Major A Minor A Harmonic Minor G Major E Minor E Harmonic Minor
+Staccato scales. +Gently Separate 4th and 5th fingers(Ensure that you’re not playing two notes, at once). +Move/shift weight whilst playing, for energy efficiency.
“Light Blue”: Hand position changes, and rhythm changes with triplets.
Czerny opus 599 & 299 (what many students practice from, at The Conservatorium).
In review for the new year, here are some objectives of what I plan to achieve this year with pianism and music in general. That is, between other obligations of mine… ’til the closing of this year:
Memorize, and learn all 24 keys before the end of the year.
Advance to second grade repertoire on piano.
Advance to fifth grade theory.
In-between this, I’ve the intention of expanding more of my skillset in musicality, finger control, finger strength and so-fourth. I first began studying music some six months ago. Pianism was then studied three months after that. The journey has been a tremendous one, that I will indeed continue for many years to come. Progress may be delayed slightly, due to my PhD being due in early 2022. However, again, it doesn’t matter. The progress is of the utmost importance.
From my experience, when I first started taking lessons under my piano teacher… I was instructed to always practice scales–even she, at her level still practices with scales. I’ve found, in my practicing scales… they are perhaps the most beneficial way to acquire technical skill on the piano, past a sole reliance on repertoire. Many of the fundamental, and underlying skills (there are a lot of meta-skills–think, skills within skills, that a pianist must learn) can be acquired through scales.
Repertoire however, is still important for learning more micro-skills… just as well as articulation, rhythm, hand positions, different fingering, and so-fourth.
Scales have assisted in my becoming familiar with all 88 keys of the piano. Just as well: the amount of weight I ought to apply to register a better quality of sound (no thumping all the time); Finger independence, with finger switching; The position of hands on the keyboard, as well as the elevation of wrists above the keys–and my observation that the forearm, and wrists ought to be utilized past the fingers themselves. The fingers move to a minute degree, however, ‘power’ should not be sourced by the fingers alone.
As a pianist, economizing the use of energy throughout your playing is paramount. Especially since, there is more demanding repertoire to be learnt–and some pieces can extend over thirty minutes. With extensive octave leaps, and articulations… Rachmaninoff, I’ve heard is some of the most difficult repertoire to play. His, and of course… 20th century pieces.
LH & RH separate: C Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) G Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) F Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) Chromatic G Major & C Major (1 8ve)
Contrary motion both LH & RH: C Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) G Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) F Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve)
Relative motion both LH & RH: C Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) A Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) G Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) E Harmonic Minor (1 8ve & 2 8ve) F Major (1 8ve & 2 8ve)
Skachka – Bi 15 from Dvadtstat Chetire Legkiye p’esi Op. 39. Note: Micro-slurs. Dynamics. Piano. Forte. Articulated notes. Hands higher up on the keyboard.
Light blue from Piano Grooves I: Note: F Major. Dynamics. Deviations from key.
A little hush-song No. 5 from First Year Pieces: Note: Compound time signature. Dynamics. New Rhythm Pattern.
Some more practice composing:
The tonic is ‘Eb’, with the piece finishing on Eb–I made it more uniform by starting with Eb, also. Just a test really, with rhythm, articulations, and the sostenuto pedal. A piece truly doesn’t feel complete, unless one finishes a piece with the tonic… it appears to be an implicit rule within many compositions. The bass–or the left hand of the pianist with the triads reveals the time signature, also.
I was told that I had a big improvement from last week.
For my contrary motions, I’ve learnt a nice circle motion for technique.
I’ve got tension from trying to keep myself relaxed, funnily enough. It must be the ‘level-up’ variant from the original tension I possessed, for the tension isn’t as bad as before.
Keep going. It’s been over two months. Keep going. My wrists hurt, my fingers hurt.
Some things I ought to do: *I need to keep my fingers more curved. And strengthen my fingers with squeeze ball exercises.
What I need is good strength, in a good curved position. Focus on squeezing with the fingers. The strength of the pianist comes from the feet. This is where it is sourced from–and the energy is channeled from the base of the feet, to the spine… and finally, to the hands.
Always have a flat curve with fingers. ‘Horizon Fingers’, or a ‘Dome’ in my case, due to my protruding nail beds.
Right: Middle finger needs more work, to strengthen it. Left: All fingers.
This is needed (finger strength, at the fore-knuckles and a good curve), so that efficiency for energy can be established… otherwise the pianist will restrict blood flow to their fingers. The piano demands a lot of physical strength!
Sometimes pianists don’t play notes. Sometimes the finger doesn’t hit the key right, with enough weight. I do recall my asking some pianists “Did you miss any notes.” To which they were quick to admit. Even a prodigy, I had observed, admitted that he did miss some in a Liszt piece. That is what I am afraid of. However, I shouldn’t be afraid of it. Every pianist does it. My tension is sourced from this anxiety.
I want to hit every note. However, I shouldn’t be concerned with that.
Music Theory (Grade II):
Tenuto: Hold down the note for it complete, and total value. It is an emphasis on a separate note, that it must be played as its notational value.
Accent: Is sort of like adding forte to a single note, as opposed to a whole bar/measure.
Interestingly enough for 6/8 versus 3/4, the correct grouping for crotchets, being three per bar is only applicable to a 3/4 bar-except! If the 6/8 bar is a hemiola.
The accents are grouped differently, within a hemiola.
The 6/8 meter, by default, does not work that way.
Now, pulses and beats. Pulses are often found in compound meters–although simple meters do have pulses, they are only apparent through subdivision. Pulses are known by compound meters, for that reason.
Annotation of treble and bass clefs in all known key signatures, at 2 8Ves.
Practice the difference between the clefs. Bass and Treble. Always read the clef.
Memorization of Grade II terms and definitions:
*Mezzo is pronounced: Metzo. Mezzo-forte means ‘Moderately loud’. One plays at a standard volume for that bar.
*When there is a hyphen between two dynamics on a bar, this signifies that one play that second dynamic when one repeats a piece. I.E: Mf-p.
Two different forms:
Binary: Two part sections.
Basic Ternary: Three part sections. A section and B section. The pattern goes as follows: A-B-A.
The A and B section are both different to one another. One can also render the A section for the last part (the second A), to be A-prime if needed. However, the variation is slight.
If the A section repeats itself, at the end, the form is ternary.
Now, into the territory of themes.
Note:Thematic material means, the theme, basically.
Abstract/pure music does not tell a story. For example, many of Mozart’s sonatas do not tell a specific story. There is no context.
There is thematic material in all music. The melody can demonstrate the theme, for instance. If one were to listen to a the first bars to a quadrille, for instance… a theme sets the ‘sound’ to put it crudely. Which permeates throughout the entire piece.
Note: A light motif, refers to the specific character or feeling within a narrative. However, from movement to movement within the piece, it reoccurs. Unlike Saint-Saenz’s “The Carnival Of The Animals.” Light motifs are found, most often in Operas.
This week, I focus on Dynamicsand articulations.
Saint-Saenz’s Carnival Of The Animals ‘Lions’. Dynamics, needs to be refined.
+ Piano + Mezzo-Forte + Mezzo-Piano + Forte
To make it louder, apply more force/weight. Not tension.
Mozart’s ‘Aria’. Needs to be learnt. The introduction of Semi-quavers and dotted quavers. The subdivision count can either be [Ti]kati[Ti]kati… or One-E-And-A-Two-E-And-A-Three-E-And-A-Four-E… and so forth.
Haydn’s Quadrille. Needs to be mastered more so. Especially the hand movement, in the middle of the bar.
*New scale: Chromatic scales, C Major and G Major.
The refinement of curved fingers, finger strengthening, and keeping the wrists raised above the keys as the default position will be the focus. Eventually, this will be allow the wrists to drive the fingers for playing. I cannot advance to more complicated repertoire, unless I do this.
When one is playing chords, or intervals… and holding them. One lifts up, not down with the hand. You must allow your hands that mobility to move across the keys, however, they must be grounded upon the keys… just as well.
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 will take five years to get good. Are you ready?” Hell yeah! PIANO ME UP!
My former viola/theory teacher has been relieved of his position due to his inconsistency in teaching. Although, I do not deny that he led me to much of the basis of what I now know… I am certain I would have learnt much more, from another teacher who had better suited me.
I have somewhere I must go, at the end of it all. I will not let anything get in my way.I am willing to pay whatever cost is necessary, for a good teacher. Money, time, resources… it matters not. All I ask for, is respect, understanding, and patience. That is my decision justified.
The Composers spreadsheet will still be worked on. As will the Musescore composition. Theory, however is my main priority, as is Pianowork.
Chapter I: Pitch And Class. * Letter names. * The piano keyboard. * Enharmonic equivalents. * Double flats and sharps. * Clefs. * Naming registers. * Ledger lines. * Style periods.
By the end of this chapter I should know: 1> How a staff and clef work together for identifying pitches. 2> How the pitches and pitch classes differ. 3> What the function of a C-clef, accidental, and ledger line are. 4> How the piano’s white and black keys assist an individual to determine whole and half steps. 5> Which white-key pairs of note form half-steps with no addition of accidentals. 6> At least two different guidelines for notating ledger lines, note heads, and stems. 7> How octave numbers are assigned. What the octave number for middle C is. 8> Identifying a melody from the anthology set which includes ledge lines. Therein, identifying all of its pitches and octave numbers.
Within the publication, there are a total of 40 chapters. This publication will teach me, all I am required to know as a pianist (at the basic University level). It is required that I know, at least a fourth grade level of theory before ever thinking of stepping foot inside of a University. I believe I am capable of learning up to this level. Even surpassing it. I’ve the time, and the resources. So, I will. I begin at Chapter I, and my studying of its content. And should the process of finding another tutor be prolonged, I foresee that my learning from each chapter will be drawn-out over extensive periods of time, as opposed to rushing through concepts. I will understand everything to sufficient level, and I will welcome mistakes as part of the process… it matters not, for I’ve somewhere to go.
2 Hour practice, daily ’til the next lesson for next Saturday. We will be learning a bit of dynamics next week. Here is my set of drilling:
1> Finger independence exercises. 2> Perfect the C-Major scale. 3> Subdivision and dotted crotchet notes
This week my teacher was quite happy with how I had progressed, therefore, we moved onto new repertoire for this week.
*Finger Independence Exercises:
Specifically, for the left hand. Moving each finger individually, whilst maintaining the curved position. I take to doing this drill for ten minutes, in each hand as a warm-up. The ring finger for both hands need especial attention, due to the three last fingers (5, 4 and 3 on right) being bound by a tendon.
At the moment, I have taken to focusing on the ring finger with this exercise: I lay all five fingers on a surface, in playing position. Then, I lift up and down each, playing especial attention to the fourth finger in an isolated and relaxed way. Going slowly to ensure that it is being learnt the dexterity, the second and third demonstrate. My goal is to eventually work up to the point of lifting the ring finger up to a height, similar to the others.
Relaxation whilst engaging in these exercises is of the utmost importance. Pianism is both mental and physical in its pursuit. If one does not force anything, and allows for the natural flow of playing to just be… more progress in practicing is achieved–and with little effort.
*Perfecting the C-Major scale:
Slow even practice, for a smooth legato.
*Subdivision, and counting for the dotted crotchet:
+ Focus on matching the rhythm to the pitches. + Dynamics are of lesser importance (at this stage) + Relax-Relax-Relax-Relax.
Courtesy Of The “Alfred’s All-In-One Course for Adults on Piano“. My teacher mentioned that it’s a better publication to the Faber “Adult Piano All-In-One piano course“, due to the more challenging repertoire. She however commended the Dictionary section in the back, which I’ve stuck on here for my reference and other passerby’s.
Dotted Minim: 3 beats. Dotted Crotchet: 1 and a half beats. (Half of the crotchet’s value is added to the note).
Dictionary section from Adult Piano Adventures 1,by the Faber couple. All credit goes to them.
Legato, as my teacher mentioned is when one makes a smooth progression from one key to the other holding it… as it were. Slur and legato, on a piano are interchangeable–however, on a viola, the playing style is very different. She also mentioned, that within compositions and phrases of music, patterns appear to repeat themselves. Rag-time also has more of an apparent usage of syncopation. I will come to learn syncopation, eventually.
******She also introduced some compositional forms and styles to me. By the name of: Through-composing (A relatively continuous, non-sectional, non-repetitive piece), and Ternary-Form (Consisting of an opening scene of A, and the following section B–only to then repeat itself).
Through-composing is often used to Lieder (German art songs). An example she provided was ‘Erlkonig’ by Schubert. Each character within the piece has their own thematic material (child and father). The music itself, has no standard form–like Ternary as one hears.
Ternary, in that case would be, if one were to provide an example… “Alouette”. A three-part form, where the first and third section are either alike or the same. Rondeau pieces also tend to follow this pattern. Fugues, by my teacher’s definition could also be considered ‘through-composed’–however, this is debatable from theorist to theorist.
*Practicing the repertoire of:
Alouette, Kum-ba-Yah, and Lavender’s Blue.
Additional notes for the week: My Metronome, as said by my piano teacher is slightly out of sync… poor thing may have been dropped. I have purchased a new one. One of a much higher quality, made in Germany. A good pianist, needs a good metronome.
*My teacher also mentioned that a chord can only be defined as such, if it is three or more notes/tones played together in succession or separately. An arpeggiated chord, played as a melody would be a broken chord… your standard chord is played as a harmony is your block chord.
I love piano… I love it.It’s all I talk about, and it drives my family nuts. The pianists, the hands, the keys… the intervals… the harmony… the articulations… all of it. It is all I had ever longed for. All I will gladly carry with me, for the life long journey which it prognosticates.
Sure, I am very much happy with my Academic career (at the moment) and the release that drawing may afford me from time to time… but piano feels like the missing piece, so-to-speak that I have been searching for my entire life. I assumed it was true love that I had longed for all of my life–but the piano. Playing, albeit I am still very much a beginner, just seems to dissipate that longing. Hours I can spend with him (Alexandre). Hours. My teacher mentioned something amazing today, that there are piano oeuvre which exists for one hand or no hands… compositions which are written for the physically handicapped. For instance: Maurice Ravel, of French impressionism wrote “Piano Concerto For The Left Hand” for an Austrian pianist, who lost his arm during WWI.
She also said, that not all pianists are ambidextrous and that this is a myth. This was in reference to a question I had asked, in relation to whether or not truly experienced pianists were equally balanced in each hand for means of control and strength. She said, by her experience, and through observation of her colleagues “Yes.” This then led into my question of ambidexterity. Further on that tangent, she said that the skill of piano is very different to other demands of the hands. A specific skill.
Love it, and it shall love you. What else is there?