I have made quite a bit of progress in the first few weeks of in depth. I have answered the question I had, “What is the easiest way for me to learn new music? Tutorials, having the sheet music in front of me, listening to the song over and over again until it is in my head, or just continuing to practice regularly?” I am pretty sure that the answer for learning new piano songs is having the sheet music in front of me and practicing regularly. Having sheet music is definitely A LOT easier than having to listen to a tutorial over and over. Tutorials are good for when you are confused or are struggling, sheet music is good to actually learn the piece. What I find interesting is that this is different from singing. I find that listening to the song on repeat when I am trying to learn a song for singing helps me more than having the sheet music. Having the sheet music is useful I guess when I am trying to pick out my harmonies, and for lyrics. Ultimately, to get the melody in my head, I would listen to the song many times.
My first song is coming along quite nicely and I have chosen multiple songs that I want to learn in the future. I have found good sheet music for those songs as well. (Finding good sheet music is more challenging than it sounds, some pieces are in weird keys, and don’t have transposable versions online. Some pieces are too hard to play and I need to find easier sheet music. Some pieces are the opposite and are too easy to play and I need to find harder sheet music. There are many other complications that go into finding the perfect sheet music.) I am currently learning Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. This song was a good choice for the first song because it isn’t super duper hard but it also isn’t super duper easy. I am working on finding a perfect song for my second song choice. I want to learn something from the musical Hamilton since we did a project about that in Socials and it is a fantastic musical!!
[P.S. Sorry for the red scribbles in the photo but there are some school photos/family photos that I don’t really want to be on the internet….]
I have been sick this past week, so it was harder to find time to practice piano
because whenever I focused on the sheet music, I felt dizzy. I managed to get a little bit of practice in but not as much as I would have liked to. Meeting with my mentor didn’t take too long as I didn’t have much to ask her for this lesson. I asked her about how to use the pedal when playing piano. She wrote in pedal markings for me and explained to me why the markings go where the do [because of chord changed]. She taught me where I should be releasing and putting the pedal back on. Hold the pedal until the 1st note of the next bar and then do a quick exchange to the next note. This is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I tried it after she explained it to me and what I got was a lot of mud. (If you don’t release the pedal at the right time, the notes that you previously played while holding the pedal will mush with the notes that you are playing and you get music that sounds very mushy and not good.) I have quite a bit of practice to do with the pedal.
She suggested that a good way to learn music was to learn the left and right hand separately then after you know both parts put them together. I remember that my old piano teacher used to tell me that as well. I ran into a slight problem trying to do this. I had originally thought that I didn’t need to play the melody because when I am being accompanied the accompanist usually doesn’t play the melody since I am singing or playing it. Regularly this wouldn’t be a problem but my fingers don’t spread wide enough to reach all the notes that need to be played smoothly [I am mostly playing arpeggios for this song, so it is just a matter of making them smooth]. Another problem is that my left and right hand don’t like to do different things, so I have to train them and practice a lot to make this song sound good. So I practiced for 20 minutes making them play different things. I am glad I chose a fairly simple song for my first song so that I can get used to playing and resolve the problems I have.
I didn’t really find the need to disagree or differ with my mentor during this meeting as it was more of a lesson where she was teaching me things instead of a discussion. I introduced her to the project and what I was planning on doing. She asked me the question, “Why piano accompaniment?”. Since she knows that I sing, play the violin, and like to act, she was wondering if I was planning on continuing music as a career. I explained to her why I thought piano accompaniment would be a neat project for me to discover this year. The question about being a professional musician got me thinking, I have no clue what I want to do as my job. She told me about one of her old students who now is going to university for music. She told me that her old student, when she was my age, always new that she wanted to become a professional musician. She had auditioned for the next star when she was around 15. It was interesting to hear how this girl had followed out her dreams of becoming a musician.
As I said in my first post about in depth, my mentor travels to Taiwan and does concerts there. She was explaining to me how draining but awesome performing live in concerts of 1000 plus people were. I always thought about how much energy people like Demi Lovato and 1 Direction etc. put into the night of their concerts. Now I can kind of get a feel for what they have to do.
As to how I differed with my mentor. My opinions weren’t very different. The piece of advice she gave to me about learning left hand and then right hand does help but sometimes if the left and right hand aren’t that complicated it helps me to learn them faster if I just learn them at the same time and go slowly. Going back to the information she told me about using the pedal. I didn’t have a different opinion but my old piano teacher did. I don’t know whether if it is just that I was younger back then so it was easier for me to use the pedal the way that my old piano teacher taught me, or which was is the ‘correct’ way, or if there even is a correct way, or maybe it is just personal preference. This reminded me about the chapter in “How to Have a Beautiful Mind” because it was explaining sometimes there is a correct answer, sometimes there isn’t a correct answer and it is just personal preference or experience. I will continue on practicing to see which opinion I like better. The way that I like better I will talk about with my mentor the next time we meet to see what she thinks.
I am excited to see how this project will unfold itself. So far I haven’t run into any rode bumps that aren’t fixable with practice. I am curious to see where February will take me with this project.