So far my in depth project is moving along quite nicely. Jiwon and I have come a long way from when we last met up. We ran through the songs many times and we got a recording of it so enjoy a video of Jiwon and I singing and playing “Someone to Lava”
One of the other songs that we are playing we are still figuring out what we are going to do for particular parts of the song, but other than that, we are continuing to practice. The other song, we need to continue to work on it and continue to practice together.
Here is a video of my first song that I learnt, it is pretty bad video quality recording, but I re recorded it at least 60 times because I couldn’t get a good one. Even this one is still a little choppy at the end but I had already spent way too long on trying to get a good recording. Next time I think I should be less picky. The piano part is fairly simple, but for my first song I thought it was a good choice just to get into the swing of things.
During my mentor meeting, I tried to ask a series of questions based on what I wanted to find out. One of the questions that I asked her was, “What kinds of things do you need to do in order to play successfully with someone else?” I had some ideas in mind from what I had experienced from practising with Jiwon. She said some things that I had already read about when researching this. Such as, know your part like the back of your hand, be ready to follow the other person when you are accompanist, and others concepts such as why it is important to know how to transpose on the spot. She also said something that I kind of knew but never really thought about too much while accompanying Jiwon, know the person you are accompanying part’s like the back of your hand as well as your own. I never really thought about this when accompanying Jiwon because I was trying to focus on my part and make sure I played it all correctly. I think this is a step that comes later on in the process of learning a new song because you need to know your part before you can start learning other peoples parts. This is a step I still am continuing to work on. Another question I asked my mentor that is more subjective based on the experiences that you have had was “What are the main similarities and differences between being the person who is the accompanist versus the person being accompanied?” I have my thoughts and opinions to this question and there is some overlap between my opinions and my mentors opinions. My mentor said the main difference isa hat you have to follow the person you are accompanying where as if you were the person who is being accompanied you get to lead. The main similarity that my mentor thought of was that you should always know the other persons part as well as your own, whether you are the accompanist of the person being accompanied. These ideas were very similar to my own so I referred back to the first chapter of Edward De Bono’s book, “How to Agree”.
New points of view that I developed from discussing with my mentor was more on the theory side of being a piano accompanist. It is necessary that piano accompanists can transpose keys on the spot and I realized the importance of this when I was accompanying Jiwon. There was a miscommunication and I practiced it in a different key than Jiwon practiced it in. I haven’t yet learned how to transpose at sight (this also comes with a lot of practice from transposing, which I haven’t gotten to experience yet) so I couldn’t switch keys to the key Jiwon new it in. In the end we figured out the chords that she needed to play to be in the same key with me, and it didn’t take too long as we just used the chords I was playing on piano and she played the same ones on ukulele. As a piano accompanist your job is to make life easier for the person you are accompanying, I probably would have been fired if that was a real job and I didn’t know how to transpose. This is an important skill for me to further develop and continue to practice.
My mentors values are about this project are collaborative to mine. She wants to teach me anything I need to know about how to be a good piano accompanist and she wants to help me with my piano parts. This is super collaborative to mine because I want to learn about anything I need to know to be a good piano accompanist, I am not super sure about what all these things may be, this is where my mentor steps in and helps me think of all the things I might need to know. I would also like to learn my piano parts as quick but as well as I can so that I can accompany Jiwon successfully. My mentor and I are pretty much on the same page about my goals for this project.
As Edward De Bono states in his book, it is good to clarify by repeating back to them what you understood. I used this technique with my mentor, and I found that it does help to do this because sometimes you are missing key information that they said. This really helps in the overall information gained from mentoring sessions.
I am continuing to work on my sight reading skills. At the moment they are needing quite a bit of work. I asked my mentor how would you describe sight reading to a person who has no musical background at all. I asked her this out of pure interest because sometimes I have troubles explaining topics, when I explain ideas or concepts it makes total sense in my head but then after I am done, I realize that no one understood what I was saying, so I was curious how she would phrase things. Unfortunately I forgot to record her this session so I can’t quote her exactly but she said something along the lines of: So there are these things called notes and they represent various tones and pitches and duration on the page. These pages are called sheet music. When it is a persons first time looking at this sheet music, their first time playing through the song is referred to as sight reading.
To explain a concept to a person who has no knowledge of the subject is a lot harder than to explain a concept to a person who is equal level to you and even people who know more than you. Which is why a lot of people say that you don’t truly understand a topic unless you can explain it to anyone, no matter their knowledge level about that particular topic.
Originally I had thought that a multiple choice question would have been kind of silly, as if I already knew the answer but I was testing her. Then I realized, multiple choice questions aren’t necessarily like the ones on tests. I realized I ask people multiple choice questions all the time. I asked her: “Is the easiest way for you to learn music by listening to it, by watching tutorials on it, or by having sheet music and continually practicing it?” This wasn’t really useful for the development of my piano skills but it is interesting to see how different people learn differently. She said that, “I learn best with having sheet music and hours of practice, while listening to the piece I am playing does help me, ultimately, practice makes perfect.”
I am excited to see how accompanying Jiwon will play out, so far it has gone fairly well. I am also super excited to start learning my next song because it is one of my favourite songs ever. I find that it helps a lot to learn a song when you already known the tune of it. Until next time!