I have been learning piano for roughly five months, now. Music theory, a good eight months, now. Before, I had learnt viola for a good three months–and had advanced to I grade music theory, in those three months. Viola wasn’t for me, I had found… piano, I love.
Before then, I had absolutely no knowledge of music at all. That is the truth. Therefore, I began learning music at the age of twenty-five. Music is indeed a worthy investment.
By that measure, it should take me roughly a year to advance to Grade IV music theory by AMEB standards. I am up to GRADE I repertoire for piano-work, and GRADE II for scales.
Mid-year, I will also be taking up MUSICIANSHIP by AMEB standards to learn.
Piano-work is slower to progress in-comparison, due to my desire to focus on technical skill past playing pretty things. I must strengthen my hands, and temper my fingers in-order to practice efficiently. Perhaps this will be reached by Grade III repertoire? Who knows?
Let the music journey, continue.
I try to, as much as I can… fit in allotments of music practice in-between my other responsibilities. The skill won’t acquiesce on its own. Save for the crucial element of retainment of knowledge.
For piano work–It is said that my technique has improved, through these five months of instruction. My tone has become more even, from finger to finger. Tenseness has been alleviated. I do not injure myself as much as I formerly did, with improper playing. Thank goodness.
I have made changes to the manner in-which I play, from my teacher’s instruction. To play from the kinetic energy of my elbows pivoting–the fingers, whichever one is pronated, acts in consequence to the transference of force. Finger strength is worked on primarily for the fingers to stay in a fixed and grounded position–not to draw effort from the fingers directly. Efficiency of energy transference is achieved from the fore-knuckle. Wrists must be supple, and loose to allow the hands to navigate from octave to octave on the keyboard–the groundedness and healthy tension applies only to the fixing on the fingers in the optimal position (the context of this, differs from piece to piece).
Between this, I have been filing back my nail-beds and now I can play on the flats of my fingers comfortable. I see this as a worthy trade.
Stiff playing, is attributed to sourcing weight from the fingers alone–when piano demands use of many muscles in-tandem. Stiff playing, is a big no-no.Speed, among other techniques still must be developed–this is, however in regards to the basal technique all pianists must learn to play decently.
Theory (Grade III, by AMEB standards):
This week, I had worked on:
Major & Minor scales up to four sharps and flats. Intervals (number and quality). Scale degrees and technical names. Primary chords, and first inversions.
I had taken notes, in-relation to learning these. As such, my observations:
* The tonic and root are not synonymous to one another. The root refers to the base note in a chord. * A dominant triad of a minor key must have an accidental for the leading note (scale degree 7). * Tonic chord (I), Subdominant chord (IV), and dominant chords (V) are all (1st) primary chords. One will observe their use, mostly in mainstream pop music. These chords, being the primary ones are of PRIME importance. * The circle of fifths allows one to memorize proceeding key signatures. * The mnemonic Fresh-Cherries-Grow-Down-At-East-Brunswick is often used to memorize the placing of signature flats and sharps for each key. * C Major’s Dominant (V) triad is also the Tonic (I) triad for G Major. This pattern is also applicable to proceeding key signatures–such as G Major’s Dominant triad, being D Major’s Tonic triad (D-F-A). The defining feature between each key, of course, is the signature. All is in the matter of context. * Revision of scale degree names, as per the Ionian mode: Tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, leading tone (vii). * The tonic can be numbered as either 1/8, for the pattern repeats itself when the tonic note is reached on the next range. The leading tone, is of a diminished nature–which explains the ‘circle’ above the lower-case Roman no. 7. * Augmented notes, are the inverse the diminished notes–this will be explored further in grade IV music theory. There is also mention of double Augmented, and double diminished notes–again, however, this will be explored much further on.
KnownScales (GRADE II AMEB): C Major. A Natural Minor. A Harmonic Minor. G Major. E Natural Minor. E Harmonic Minor. F Major. D Natural Minor. D Harmonic Minor.
Chromatic C scale. Chromatic G scale.
New Scales: D Major. B Natural Minor. B Harmonic Minor. Bb Major. G Natural Minor. G Harmonic Minor. Chromatic D scale.
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.
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.
Consider this a very delayed post. More or less, I sprained my left-hand from over-practicing and had to rest it for a good week or two.
By my teacher’s estimation, I should be at Grade III music theory by the end of the year. That isn’t bad at all, considering that it took me a total of five months to get up to that point. By that measure, next year… I should be well past the sixth grade of music theory. And in no-time, I should be up to aMus (Associate Of Music, Australia).
Theoretically speaking, AMus is diploma level of music in theory. Even if I don’t advance that far, in pianism… I can still surely excel in music theory, and study musicology. Although, I would always wish to use the piano as my instrument for entry. The piano has given me, much more than I could ever wish for.
This week, marks the third month I had since started learning piano. I am a couple of weeks away from Grade I repertoire.
In discussion of building muscularity for one’s fingers and wrists, it appears that I’m doing fine. My wrists pain, as well as my fourth fingers but I expect that. My teacher mentions that I ought to allow them to become stronger, on their own terms. That is, through the progression of this pianistic journey. Never force anything. Tiredness in the fingers and hands aren’t bad. It means that they’re being strengthened. Good pain is like fatigue. A tiredness. I have also taken the task of re-adjusting my posture, so that I may allow better circulation around my body… and by extension, hands. I know it’s working if my hands pleasantly tingle, after practicing scales.
More on discussion, speaking of pianists… especially concert pianists, there appears to be a lot of economizing in utilizing their energy. That is, one wants simplicity in their movements and gestures to conserve that much needed energy. When one reaches those higher grades of repertoire, it’s especially demanding. My teacher said that it can be exhausting, when one performs. Just as well, I’ve noticed some of the pianists I’ve watched ‘sweat’ whilst performing.
After they’re done, just as well. They look exhausted. Winded.
Pianists fascinate me. Your metaphorical toolbox of techniques is observed to never end. Even when you reach the higher levels, still you’ll always be learning. New repertoire introduces new meta-skills to add to one’s metaphorical toolbox. Articulations, for one, are like tools used for rendering finer detail… precision. It’s like, as my teacher said… little pockets of skill, that pianists build on top of one another to create something beautiful.
They’re like athletes in a way. Such skill goes into pianism. One ought to be disciplined. One ought to take it seriously.
My teacher likes metaphors.
I miss watching pianists perform.
Memorize all Grade II terms.
Memorize all key signatures up to five accidentals. From both sharps and flats. On both the treble and bass clefs. Then, play this on the piano is memorize it further. Annotate these key signatures in 2 8ves.
Practicing the writing of accidentals for keys must be exact, that is the ordering. Take reference of the mnemonic:’
Fresh. Cherries. Grow. Down. At. East. Brunswick.
Some further notes:
A hemiola is a type of syncopation. Syncopation is the displacing of time, in music. It’s, to put it simply… about messing with the hierarchy of beats within a piece. The displacement of normal accents of beats and/or pulses. Jazz is a genre which does this. This is comparable to, rubato. Rubato, instead… stretches time. It alters the tempo past the hierarchy of beats.
By advice, I can learn how to sight read by memorizing where all of the notes are… and also, read in thirds.
Accents In Verse (Poetry):
In verse, words are arranged in rhythm. With verse, just as one would find in music… there are both accented unaccented words.
Unaccented and accented words stress which words in verse, are to be aligned with a note.
In general, small words such as ‘and’ or ‘the’ are often unstressed or unaccented.
When words in verse are formed with more than two syllables, one will syllable of the two will often be accented.
Accents within syllables, often begin with the first portion of the word.
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS: Pui = More. Meno= Less.
I.E: Pui Forte = More Loudly.
Mosso= Movement. Refers to tempo markings, or renderings of time. I.E: Pui Mosso = More movement.
Words such as ‘Pianissimo’ and ‘Fortissimo’ which denotate dynamic changes are original words such as ‘Piano’ and ‘Forte’, rendered by the superlative ‘issimo’. The Italian ‘issimo’ renders the original meaning of the words–soft and loud, to very of each.
Issimo= A superlative, which means ‘very’. Adding another ‘iss’ before Issimo renders it further to ‘Very-very’.
Pianississimo: ppp. Fortississimo: fff.
D.C Al fine: Play from the head upon repeat, and cease playthrough ’til ‘Fine’.
2 8ve, begin from the end at stop at the beginning: C Major. A Natural Minor. A Harmonic Minor. G Major. E Natural Minor. E Harmonic Minor.
RH: 123,1234,123,123 LH: For the next octave, the 4th finger comes over.
For scales, I will be focusing on learning every single key and their respective minors. My teacher mentioned that she plays scales every practice, and in doing a play-through it takes her 20 minutes to play through all scales up to the eighth grade. Eventually, I will be doing this for the rest of my pianistic journey too. Always, will the pianist need to play scales. Always.
Articulations for ‘Quadrille.’
For articulations, I have been taught a new technique. One the last note of a mini-slur, as a staccato. A mini-slur comprises of three notes of less in a slurred together. The pianist plays the last note of the mini-slur, generally as a staccato.
Staccatos take gentle movements of both finger and the wrist. A see-saw motion.
Staccatos ought to be crisp, and sharp when heard by the ear. The key is swiped with a gentle movement.
I am again, encouraged to go slow. To be fluid in my movements, and not clunky. That is, to move with a combination of fingers and wrists. Never should the fingers be doing all of the work. Never.
And remember, the weight distribution of the fingers. It is subtle. It is slight. As if performing surgery, in a weird way… errrrrrr.
Dynamics for ‘Royal March Of The Lion.
Mozart’s ‘Aria’. Note: Transcribed from an Operatic piece, there is a bar where one plays different parts. I.E: Holding down a note, then adding to that note like a mini-canon except with fingers.
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.
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 have since Advanced to Second Grade Theory.This post is from two weeks ago.
The pygmalion cyst on my right wrist cannot be removed, until early October… therefore, I must exercise caution in practicing at all times.
Many thanks to my teacher. She has the ability to simplify complex concepts of music, down to more simplified conventions. Much of her knowledge is what I’d describe as “cheat-sheets” for my process of learning music theory, to a sufficient standard.
1> Revision of intervals.
2> Tones, semitones & scales.
3> Manual Transposition. Note: One can only transpose from minor to minor, and major to major. Prior knowledge of both keys, and scale degrees help tremendously with on transposing. Transposition is of use for the composer–especially for certain instruments, such as the Alto-Saxophone. The piano is already finely calibrated, therefore basic transposition can be done with considerable ease.
The intervallic pattern, in-which I am abiding to is from the ionian/diatonic scale. Whole-Whole-Half-Whole-Whole-Whole-Half. There are many more patterns or modes for me to explore, however I will save that for when I advance to University level.
Relative/Parallel minor scales:
There are three known minor scales, and these are: Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic. At the moment, I only know of ‘Natural‘ and ‘Harmonic‘.
*Natural minors, retain the corresponding key signature to their relative major.
*Harmonic minors, also retain the corresponding key signature–however, the seventh (leading tone) is raised a semi-tone.
On the keyboard… should one wish to find the enharmonic minor equivalent, to a major… one starts from the tonic of that key, and steps backward (toward the bass) three semitones. As an example, C Major is the enharmonic major equivalent to A Minor.
A natural minor: The key signature is “no flats or sharps”. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A. A harmonic minor: One raises the seventh, with is the ‘G’. Sharpening it. A-B-C-D-E-F-G#-A.
My intention is to soon enough, memorize every major and minor key with absolute ease. That is, in correspondence to the keyboard. Possessing knowledge of keys is of utmost importance, I believe… especially when one plays scales, and one wishes to transpose a piece from one key to the other.
A tonic triad, is a three-note chord… that is, one stacked in thirds. The arpeggiated variant notwithstanding. The triad is built on the tonic, also known as “scale degree 1”. The ‘dominant’ is the technical name of the scale degree (5).
A tonic triad example, from C Major would be: C-E-G. (I chord.) A dominant triad example, from C Major would be: G-B-D.(V chord.)
From scale degree V, of the dominant triad we begin building up the chord–whereas the tonic begins from scale degree I.
Different chords from a particular major, are named in accordance to where the ‘root’ of the triad begins.
I won’t be venturing further, than those two at the moment… as the inclusion of other chords, as I’ve seen involve ‘diminished’ variants. One of which, I am not up to as of yet.
*I asked question of hand-positioning and pianists. That is, if one were to hypothetically have a group of pianists sight-read a single piece… would each play differently, in accordance to their hand size/shape? No pianist is created equally. I’ve seen many different pianists. The stereotype in regard to their personality, may have some kind of truth (introspective and ridiculously intelligent) however, the stereotype of a pianist looking one single way (physically) is not at all applicable. Although, again… there is a strange subconscious parallel, that I can see within the pianist past other instrumentalists. One numinous, one subconscious. I can identify them to other instrumentalists, perhaps immediately. I don’t know how I can, but one day I will find out as to why I have that ability.
My teacher confirmed that “yes”, if not written on the piece, all would play intuitively–in accordance to their hands, and the way they move across the keys. Being a pianist for a huge sum of their lives… the student pianist, for example, would be very familiar with their hands and the way they work. Hours and hours practice, grants the pianist this ability to intuitively know where their hands ought to be placed whilst playing a piece through. Just as well, the pianist will often do a preliminary reading of a piece before playing. The first note, from the last note assists them in deciding where they will ultimately begin the piece, and end it. All of this, strategically goes hand-in-hand (yes, pun) with muscular strength, adroitness of the muscles and so-fourth of the hands. Looseness allows pianists to move across the keyboard, freely. A lack of experience, or being taught the improper technique will result in stiff playing. One can identify the inexperienced pianist, who is still at the beginner stage. You observe many on Youtube, for instance who… although, they are able to play high-level pieces, think Chopin, they had skipped pivotal training to develop that fluidity in their hands and fingers. Their playing, and the sound of their playing… by extension sounds flat, and without emotion–completely antithetical to Chopin. Chopin was all about emotion (play how you feel), and a pianist cannot express themselves to a sufficient standard, lest they are skilled enough to do so. Skipping over preliminary technique training, is dangerous for each pianist. One must always develop their technique, before investing into ‘pretty’ pieces. Pianism comprises considerable meta-skills, those of which, need to be built incrementally. That is why, I told my teacher that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for me to master the preliminary skills necessary. I don’t care if I am on preliminary repertoire for a year, so long as my hands develop the adroitness necessary for that period of time, to ensure that for the future… I can indeed play complex pieces. My intention, is to one day play Chopin’s oeuvre to a commendable standard. Would my journey end there, when I reach that point? Of course not, but I do believe that Chopin’s oeuvre is a goal that will sustain me for the five or-so years to come.
With pianism, just as well I am studying music theory. I believe theory informs the practice, and allows for the instrumentalist to appreciate music.
With all of the concert-level pianists I’ve had the opportunity of watching live, so far… They had one thing in common: Their hands were limber and adroit. Their wrists would be loose, which would allow them to execute a graceful, and fluid movement from key to key with all ten of their voices (fingers). Although there would be marked differences, and styles to which each would play… the same thing was apparent throughout. The musculature of the finer muscles within their hands were very well-developed.
I intend to watch more pianists in-person, and I intend to observe them closely. I have had the opportunity to watch pianists perform live, now, three times. Next week after this post, I am attending a concert with a fellow playing 24 of Chopin’s etudes. I thought to myself “HELL YEAH! CHOPIN! HELL YEAH! PIANISTS!” I had been wishing for this, for a long time. Always had I wanted to see a pianist perform Chopin in front of my very own eyes.
Pianists are my favorite. Ya’ll are nerds.
Suggested listenings: Barber adagio for strings. Chopin Grande Valse Brilliante. Strauss Radetzky March. Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 1. Satie Gymnopedies. Debussy La Mer. Bach Well Tempered Clavier BK 1. Purcell Fairy Queen — Semi opera. Haydn Surprise Symphony.
And: Lieder, string quartets, oratorios, masses, tone poems, dance suites, transcriptions, madrigals, piano trios, fantasies, sonatas, duets.
PIANISTIC PORTION: (3 Hours)
Scale Exercises: C Major, A natural minor, A harmonic minor, G Major, E natural minor, E harmonic minor. (1 Hour, 30 minutes per hand)
Contrary motion: C Major. A harmonic minor. (30 minutes. Both hands.)
REPERTOIRE: Blow The Man Down. (1 Hour. Both hands.)
I often practice my scales with a metronome.
Between each set. I take a good five to ten minute break. Or, even before then… should I feel tensed, I rise from the piano, and walk around for a bit. Then come back. Breaks in-between are of the utmost importance.
In two weeks time, I will be advancing to new scales. I must commend scales, above all other manner of practice through my experience. Scales, and the playing of them is perhaps where most of my acquisition of skill comes from. My teacher, still to this day plays scales when she practices/warms-up. I know, that I will always be practicing scales, for the rest of my pianistic journey.I love scales…
I enjoy listening to how each tone sounds… and I enjoy how they free-up and loosen my fingers/hands. They are tremendous!
For the repertoire I will be practicing, I must take into account:
The hierarchy of beats. A 3/4 (simple triple) meter in a standard piece has the hierarchy of: Strong-weak-weak. Chopin’s pieces, being various Polish dances set to triple time do not follow this rule, for instance. This is in accordance to cultural conventions.
In playing, I was advised to bounce my fingers whilst playing the chords, to allow a more ‘graceful’ movement of snapping from one chord to the other. I will be taught how to snap properly, later on. I am discouraged to do so, in a ‘mechanical’ or ‘abrupt” manner. Pianists must have grace, in their movements. Also, I must practice moving my left-hand around, whilst the right-hand is playing at the same time. The wrist must be kept flexible. Never should I lift my shoulders. The wrists should be the only part lifted/elevated above the keys..
*My shoulders appear slouched inwards, they should be held back.
For my hands, I’m becoming more familiar with them. As my being double-jointed, I can use this to my advantage… however, I have paid extra care to keeping my fingers bent at all times. Luckily, this habit appears solidified. I have realized in playing for the past month, by instruction of my teacher that the pianist need not exert so much ‘force’ on the keys. Rather, the natural weight of the fingers and gravity itself should allow one to register a decent sound. Especially at these earlier stages, when one is expected to play in mezzo-forte.I am perfecting a motion of caressing the keys with my fingers, so as to attain that beautiful fluidity of fingers I had observed in my watching the few pianists I have so far. My hands are quite small (they are the size of a child’s), but luckily, my fingers are quite long–therefore, I must approach playing the piano differently to those who are lucky enough to have larger hands.
I will be purchasing an up-right acoustic piano when I reach third grade repertoire. For frame of reference, fourth grade piano repertoire is Bach’s inventions.
My teacher suspects that it will take me a year or two to master the basics to a sufficient standard. From thereon, my own barrier is muscular strength of my hands. She said, that after one has the basics down-pat, the rest of the repertoire to follow should come seamlessly in-comparison.
You must have a good, and solid foundation in technique. Otherwise, one will find themselves… whilst practicing intermediate pieces, still ironing-out bad habits. A big no-no.
I have done some more thinking in planning out practice for pianism, efficiently. I intend to graduate from three hours of practice, to four for six out of six days in each week.
As well as piano-work, I will be studying music theory for one to two hours daily. Even on Sundays. Music theory, I suspect I will master quicker than pianism… I am quite good with theoretical concepts. As for my hand-and-eye coordination, that is a significant caveat, indeed.
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.
My teacher had mentioned, that it should take me a good five years to get up to University level for both piano-work and music theory. It’ll beno trouble.
HELL YEAAAAAHHH! GIVE ME PIANO ALL DAY OF THE WEEK!
Music Theory Portion:
This week, for Music Theory. My teacher introduced me to theRenaissance period.
*For that, some listening from the likes of these composers was suggested: Thomas Tallis. Willam Byrd. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Guillaume Dufay. Carlo Gesualdo. Orlando Delassus.
Some music forms/styles from this era are: * Chanson. * Motet. * Madrigal. * Mass. * Early Operas. * Sacred Choir music.
We’ve also these instruments, to name a few: * Viol. * Lyre. * Harpsichord. * Tambourine. * Shawm. * Voice. * Organ. Some notes, worth to mention after this era had ended: * Use of church modes became less common. * Integration of polyphony, as opposed to monody.
Polyphony refers to multiple voices. Monody refers to a single vocal. * Counterpoint: When two or more musical lines (or voices) are observed in a composition.
* Variety in range, rhythm, harmony, notation, and instruments.
* Music as a vehicle for personal expression (as opposed to its being used, exclusively for religious convention.)Romanticism is when this convention came to full bloom.
Baroque means “Bizzare”. Heuheuheuheuhe. * The anacrusis is an incomplete bar, it isn’t an actual bar. It isn’t Bar #1.
Transposition: Minor goes to minor, and major goes to major due to the different quality of sound. Just as well… one must have a thorough knowledge of each key before transposition. I’ve done transposition with my Gaspar Suite, here’s an example… although, however, other elements within the composition was changed as opposed to just the key:
Chapter 1 of Theory:
Whole Tones And Semitones On The Keyboard: *Half steps (semitones) are located between any two adjacent keys on the piano, no matter the colour. Semitones can move up or down.
*A semitone can also lie between two white keys: Notes E-F and B-C.
*A whole tone constitutes of two semitones.
*Clefs indicate where the half steps are located on the staff.
*Accidentals alter a given note, moving it up or down a semitone. Natural accidentals render a note to be neither flat nor sharp, hence a white key would be a note with a natural accidental.
Enharmonic Equivalents: Different notated pitches can be en-harmonically equivalent. When looking at the keyboard, of a piano… the black keys, being placed upon two white keys can be named two different ways: Sharp for the right, and sharp to the left. Despite each note, if played in separation… sounding exactly the same on the piano. This is known as enharmonic equivalence.
*More of a complexity arises for the B-C key, and E-F key. Should the ‘C’ key be flattened in notation, one would more play the adjacent ‘B’, due to lowering that C by a semitone. The B, therefore can also be known as C flat. C, in relation to the B key… can also be known as B sharp.
For the E-F, it would be the same as the B-C keys. E flat, and E sharp.
Then, we complicate things further with Double Flats and Double Sharps: Double flats, are equivalent to a wholetone.
This is merely the basic form of enharmonic equivalents. There are far more examples out there, which I’ve yet to touch upon.
For 1″30 Hour to 3 Hour sessions.
RELAX. RELAX. RELAX.
Don’t worry about messing up, that’s part of the learning-curve.
My left hand is still comparably weak and uncoordinated to the right. It requires more attention, and practice. I have improved in some areas, however, I need to practice relaxing more.
If something is painful, stop and figure out a different way. You don’t want tendinitis. YOU DON’T WANT TENDINITIS.
+ Meditate first.Trust your hands. Whatever comes out, comes out. No-one will care.
1> Strengthening left hand with stress ball exercises. Gently is the key here. Do not overdo things. 2> Continue finger-independence exercises for both hands. Focus on the left. 3> C Major, A natural minor and A harmonic scales practice. 4> Practicing more of Alouette and Kumbayah. 5> Practice keeping quavers even. 6> Practice subdivision to the metronome. When you have mastered the exact time, then you can do Rubato.
The most important thing, is to relax.
Always allow your weight (gravity) to play the note, with a strong curve. The first knuckle is very important.
* The pianist is expected to sit in the middle, and they lean from their core when they’re required to reach the extremities of the piano.
* Look at the last chord, or note to a scale. That is how you will know if it is either a minor or major.
* When I play with my thumb, particularly on the left hand. Sometimes I draw my hand at the edge of the keyboard. It’s a terrible practice that will lead to tendinitis. So rectify it now!
Feedback: Alouette requires even, and steady quavers between all sections.
Let’s master the technique first! Of dexterity and control. Work on the left hand, it won’t work on itself. And always play in a relaxed state. No tension.
Slow down! Anyone can play fast, but it takes control to slow down and be accurate/relax.
I will know that I’m past the stage of a beginner, playing-wise after a year or two. Preliminary Grade 1 pieces, would be considered intermediate.
It’s a matter of quality for practice, not quantity. Sometimes it will feel as if you’re not progressing, in acquisition of skill… this is normal, just keep pushing through. There will be learning curves which crop up, here and there often. Slow down, reflect and focus on problems incrementally. Pianists tend to have more knowledge in melody, and harmony due to their learning two clef at once–also our Organist buddies, too.Pianists are often, through stereotype seen to be loners or introverted compared to other instrumentalists.
Thank-you Melchiorblade7, of whom, I found in the comment section one one of Quantum Of Conscience‘s videos on Youtube.
Any pianists I come across who appear approachable, and willing to speak of their experience of skill acquisition… I like to question. Pianists are my favorite. When Kobe-2020 pisses off, I will go out and attend piano recitals, and if I may… question the hell out of the pianists. Get ready for me, you social shut-ins! I questioned this fellow, who has (and continues to) uploaded his pianistic progression through the years. He had said that he practiced consistently on the piano for five years, although he possessed that preliminary basis of practice years prior… he had not began practicing seriously, until that five year period. The intervals of his practice deliberate, steady, and focused for the second year.
Two years out of five. He practiced for 4 hours a day, for 5/6 days a week for the first two years. The remaining three years, with that acquisition of skill as a basis… practice was then decreased to smaller intervals… from 1-2 hours a day for 5/6 days a week. For this year, he mentioned that he increased his practice to 3 hours, for six days per week.
Technical exercises of: Scales and arpeggios, he encourages greatly. “Etudes” are musical studies which an instrumentalist practices to focus on a particular technique.
Funnily enough, his routine and his applying an organized and structured practice regime, mirrors how I do tend to do things. So, I hope to be near, or over his level in five years. He advises to take a break in-between sessions of practicing, especially if you are feeling tired or unfocused. Practicing, whilst in either of these states does terribly, for one tends to learn bad habits in forcing their way through the endeavor. He recommends to do scale work. Start slow, and focus on it deliberately. Increase the speed, gradually. Do not play fast. Arpeggios are wonderful exercises. His advice mirroring my piano teacher’s as well.
He recommends an etude from the sexy Frederich Chopin: “Chopin’s Etude No. 1 Op. 10”, and scale exercises of any kind. I have acquired the repertoire associated, and will take to practicing this when I’ve advanced a couple of grade levels in pianism (the Chopin). My teacher had also mentioned that Chopin’s repertoire is more suited to the advanced intermediate player, or beginner student. Just as well, she mentioned that when I reach that level, I ought to begin with Chopin’s Op. 25, with both No. 1 and 2.
Some Of My Favorites From The Chopin: “Nocturne in E-flat major Op. 9 No. 2”. “Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 “Heroic Polonaise” “Polonaise in C sharp minor Op. 26 No. 1” “Waltz in F minor Op. 70 No. 2” “Grande Valse Brillante Op. 18”
These are essentially… the late intermediate level for me in a couple of years. HELL YEAH.
For the supple wrist, and independent finger dexterity!
I’m already doing all of this. HELL YEAH!
Whatever it is I admire in each of you. Whatever it is I see in each of you. One day, I will have it for myself. It doesn’t matter if it takes five years. Ten years. Twenty years. I will get there.
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.