Wow 3 weeks have gone by so quickly! To start off, I am completely finished learning my 1st song, and Jiwon and I met up on the weekend to decide the 3 songs that we are going to be playing at the Montessori during Spring break, as well as the songs that we will be performing at in depth night so that both can get a hang of our parts before we come together to practice. We practiced the songs a little bit but since I didn’t know my part well enough yet to accompany her it was mostly just discussing the songs we should choose based on our audience. The songs we are going to be playing at the Montessori are going to be more challenging for me than the first song I learnt because it is not a piano song so the sheet music isn’t as accurate, or there is no sheet music. This means I have to learn off of tutorials, which isn’t so bad, it is just more difficult than sheet music. I have learnt my part better now, but I am not at the point yet where I could accompany her, I will continue to work on it until I reach this point so that we can start practising together. I am continuing to strengthen my sight reading skills, the songs that Jiwon and I are doing are helping me with this a lot since I am not as familiar with these songs as I was the first song I chose to learn.
How I was interesting when meeting with my mentor:
One of the points that really stuck with me from Edward de Bono’s book “How to Have a Beautiful Mind” was he said to suggest something that you know is completely wrong to provoke a discussion. I said to my mentor, “What if you played this piece with your feet instead of your hands?” The first thing she responded with was a chuckle and she said, “What would be used to press the pedals then.” I responded with “Your hands of course!” She decided to go along with the idea and she said “Ok so you would be doing a handstand while playing the piano keys with your feet.” I said “Exactly!” She then responded with, “How would your toes reach all the notes that are needed, hands can spread wider than toes can?” In all honesty, I didn’t really have an answer to this question, I knew she was right. In order to keep this interesting conversation going I said, “Well how do you know? Maybe humans cannot do this but what about an animal?” This is where I brought a connection in from when I went to the Hawaii zoo. I said “How about an elephant, their feet/paws are so big that they could probably cover at least an octave.” I knew what she was thinking, an elephant could never play the piano. So I said, “An elephant playing piano, now that would be interesting.” Which is what De Bono suggests to do. Although here I didn’t really need to explain why that would be interesting, but I did anyway. I said, “Can you imagine a piano bench strong enough to hold the elephants weight while the elephant just sits there playing beautiful music?” This was the end of our crazy but interesting conversation, and I must say it did make for a memorable time.
Another interesting conversation my mentor and I had was “What if everyone could play the piano brilliantly? Would that then be considered average? What would above average be?” This discussion went on for longer than the other one did so I won’t quote our whole discussion. Basically, what we agreed on, using Edward de Bono’s how to agree, was that if everyone could play the piano the standards would be raised. It would be out of the normal to not be able to play piano so then more attention will be directed towards the people who cannot play piano where as now more or the attention is directed towards the piano who can play the piano excellently. This would completely flip everything. We couldn’t decide on an exact answer to the question, “If this scenario did happen and everyone was a brilliant piano player, would it be considered better to also be a brilliant piano player or would it be better to not be able to play piano and be different?” I would like to continue discussing this question in my next session with my mentor.
How I responded to my mentor:
While she was teaching me some theory lessons and breaking the music I was playing into different parts, I got a little confused. I also wondered why it was necessary to do this activity. In the end it actually was helpful to complete breaking my music into parts, not only to be able to practice in separate parts but to also know where to breath. When I was confused I got her to pause for a second so I could repeat back to her the content I understood and got her to repeat a little slower the content I didn’t understand. Turns out this actually helped a lot more than just going home and trying to figure it out myself. I find that when I don’t understand something, I will ask a few questions, but I will also go home and try and make sense of it myself. Reading de Bono’s advice to ask for clarification was helpful for me, not only can I use this during In-Depth but I can also use it during everyday life when I don’t understand something.
Another thing I did in order to respond to my mentor was take our conversation about music theory one step further in order to support the point she and I had made. After she was finished explaining everything she asked if I understood. Instead of just nodding yes I asked her if she could write me a sample question so that I can practice answering it. She wrote me 2 questions, one was simple and one was complex. It took about 3 minutes for me to answer to more complex question but in the end I got it.
I shared a personal story with my mentor in response to her question. She had asked if I had any experience recording. I responded with not professionally, but, last year during a self directed project I was working on creating covers of songs. In the end I put them together to create an album, in order to record the album I used Tori’s Uncle’s recording equipment to record my album. I told her how long each song took and approximately how long I practiced each song for. After this she asked me something that was very exciting. When I was showing her the first song I learnt on piano, I also sang with it. She says she really likes my voice and would like to use it in her upcoming album if I could learn her songs in time. I think that would be a really cool opportunity and experience for me.
As for modifying ideas and making them more acceptable for myself, originally, she had suggested that I break the song into 2 halves and learn one of them first, then the other. I know that I am a bad sight reader so I thought it would be easier for myself to learn smaller chunks. I split the song into 8 pieces and am continuing to practice them each so that eventually I can piece them together and have a whole song. So far, this is working better for me because of smaller sections to practice and focus on, and less to sight read all at once. As the year goes on and I get better at sight reading, I may be able to decrease the amount of sections I need to split the song into.
I have improved my sight reading and fluidity and phrasing of music since the beginning of the project, but I am still a beginner. I hope to continue to improve on these skills as this project plays out. I can’t wait to see whats in store for me throughout the course of this project!