Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Love My New Toy

This recording is good enough for government work. I will probably go back and clean it up, but I really wanted to show off my new recording device. It's a Zoom H4. As I understand there is a new version, but this one works great for me. It's a huge upgrade over my previous quality.

So here's Moonlight Sonata:

No joy

Worked a 12 hour day, so by the time I got home I was pretty tired and stressed. I did practice for 30 minutes though on both Bach and Beethoven.

Moonlight is four pages. I get through page one almost every time. The bottom of page two is where mistakes creep in. I'm probably going to have to practice each page repeatedly for a while, but that's very frustrating as it's not a particular spot that gives problems.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Perhaps tonight

Moonlight Sonata is coming along. I can play each portion, but the problem is getting it accurate all the way through.

I'm getting the piano tuned this week. I'm glad that my wife handles that and I don't have to be home. It consists of the tuner hitting one key over and over. Wash rinse repeat 88 times.

I haven't decided on my next song yet. All the previous contenders still apply and I'd add Bash's Well Tempered Clavier Prelude 1. Though I certainly won't be playing it that fast.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doing the impossible

The first few times I heard Moonlight Sonata I thought it was impossible for a single piano player to do. There were just too many notes. Well, that's not the case, and I'm very close to having a good copy to upload.

I actually performed it at a recital a couple years ago, and by performed I mean crashed and burned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation's Over

Well it's about time I put all these lessons to work. Once I really sat down and put some effort into recording it only took about 3 hours to get done. You can hear a small hesitation towards the end, but it's not terrible and I actually brought a note in an eighth too early, but unless you have the music you'd not know where.

Let's hope the next one doesn't take as long as this did.

Corpse Bride, written by Danny Elfman, arranged by Dan Coates, and played by me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goal for the weekend

If I can get Corpse Bride recorded it will be a successful weekend. Last night was a very promising practice session, so wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Cowbell?

Lesson was today and it went pretty well. Corpse bride page one was nearly flawless. the bridge and the end not so much. It was ok, I just had to go slow. In Dreams went very well, and he assisted me on the two parts I was trying to figure out how to spice up.

So, I told him that I wanted to work on one hard piece (Corpse Bride), one easy piece for improving (In Dreams), and one curriculum piece so we have something to work on week to week.

He thought that was a fine idea and suggested Styx and Blue Oyster Cult. So, I have two long pieces to work through that are both awesome. Come Sail Away and the Christopher Walken popularized Don't Fear the Reaper.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Good weekend of practice

I got good time in all weekend. If I can do a few more of those I'll have recordings very shortly. The first half of Corpse Bride went exceeding well, and really, it's more like the first 2/3rds.

I do have one problem though. I probably need to get 3 pieces going. I had too many and cut it back to two for recording purposes. One hard piece and one "easy" one. But since it's taking multiple weeks, I don't really have anything to do at practice with Larry. We went over a couple deals last week, but then settled into some chord work. I should go ahead and work on something he's given me too, and just do a new one that isn't performance quality each week. There's a large difference between good enough to progress and performance quality. The last 10% of a song takes nearly 10 times as long than the first 90%.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Here's the plan

I need to start writing more even if there is no progress as it will give me more practice motivation. I'm getting in front of the piano more lately and making some nice progress.

In the next couple weeks I ought to have a piece or two ready, but you know how life has a habit of interfering.

One of the better things I've done lately is some left hand improvisation. I've been playing In Dreams from Fellowship of the Ring. The music I have has left hand as single half notes on nearly the whole song. I started it that way. Which had me playing C,B,A,G. Larry quickly changed me to playing full chords, and it requires inversions. I put it down for a while but came back to it as I needed an easier piece. This time Larry suggested broken chords and coupled with Sudnow's dislike of thirds in left hand chords, I pulled the melody line up an octave and have been playing left hand with root, 5, root (up an octave).

I'll try to record this as an instruction piece, but it may be more trouble than it's worth.

Corpse Bride is much much better. I had a few folks over last weekend and played it for them. It had quite a few mistakes, but was obvious I could clean it up with maybe 4 hours of work or so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Still Alive

Yes, the blog is still alive. There is little progress to report though.

On the positive side, I've made a lot of progress on Corpse Bride, but not so much on most of the others. Likely, I'm just trying to play too many hard things at once. I should back off trying to do five at once and just do one hard and one easy.

It's been more difficult getting piano time too. I'm just going to have to suck it up and get it done.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Update

Sorry for the lack of updates, but there isn't really that much going on.

I don't remember if I've mentioned it, and I'm too lazy to go back through all 10 posts or however many there are to see, so I'll just repeat myself. One of the changes I made to my practice style has been to build a binder of my music. In the front goes pieces that I have mastered, next are things I'm working on, and finally songs that I'll get to in the near future.

At the beginning of the month, I go through all the pieces that I have mastered just to refresh my memory on how to play them first try whenever I feel the need. That normally takes me two or three days.

Then I go through working on current songs until something calls me away. That can be frustration, family, or previous engagements.

Corpse Bride is currently in progress. It's getting close, but I bet it's another month before it's ready. Moonlight Sonata is about the same state, so I should have them both done by June.

The current piece I'm spending my time with is the very common and overplayed Pachebel's Canon in D. Despite it's overuse, I love the song, and it was the first goal song I had. I can still play the Alfred's version, though I can't remember if it's in book one or two.

This one is a Dan Coates version that my instructor still uses when he does weddings.

All that as it is, when I think of Pachebel's Canon, I always think of this:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

With a Little Help From My Friend

I don't know how many times I tried this and it got increasingly frustrating. There was no reason why I couldn't get a good recording. But over and over again it wasn't working.

Late last week I found out that my father-in-law wanted to take the kids. Perfect. Plans are ready to go. Kids are off to The Children's Museum, and I'm pumped. Lots of time to concentrate, no ambient noise, and it should be done in a couple takes. Not so fast, my friends.

Instead Sunday afternoon rolls around and the kids get back home. Jacob runs off to play with his friend Kevin, and Shannon's running around the house like a demon. I'll go ahead and entertain her with some piano, and hit the recorder just in case I get lucky. One take. The Rose. Win. I just needed my inspiration back.



And since I hadn't mentioned before, this was a special song for me. It was one of the first ones I learned that was real music, and not just a page out of Alfred's. I spent many a lunch at the music store where they let me practice because I wanted to perform it as a gift to my wife. It was our dance song at our wedding. Ironically, I'm the sentimental one when it comes to stuff like that, but she appreciated this one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SSDD

That song I promised last week? Call me a slacker. Or busy. Or a terrible piano player.

I'm not sure what to make of it myself. I got close to a good recording yesterday, but there was enough sketchyness that I'd like to improve it.

The good news is that Moonlight Sonata is sounding very nice, though it's definitely still rough on pages 3 and 4. There's a section where it does some chord runs, (see, if I was a good piano player I'd just rattle off the notes), 3 up, 1 down, and I'm working on playing them like the triplets they are rather than eighth notes. All in all though, it's one of the few things I'm generally happy with right now as I can see clear progress.

In absence of anything substantive, here's a bunny with a pancake on his head.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's the step just before progress?

I'm pretty confident I can get a recording of The Rose tonight. I played it fairly well at practice yesterday and then again last night. However, I was too busy with prior obligations to attempt a recording. Nothing special is on tonight's agenda so I fully expect to have new music for you tomorrow.

Practice was so so. I currently have the same five pieces I was working on last week and he only had minor advice for them. There wasn't much point in doing the same thing this week, so he gave me a jazz piece to look at the chords on. It looks pretty difficult to me, but the left hand chords should do me some good.

I regressed on Corpse Bride last time I attempted it. Moonlight sounded good. I haven't worked on Misty for a while now. I'm not sure what you'll hear after The Rose.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gimmie my patterns!

The title means nothing. It's just some good karma. I'm totally going to win this contest.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates, but there really hasn't been anything to say. Class was canceled last week, so I'll be making it up this week. I've attempted a few recordings but none of them were solid. Several pieces are close to finished and are worth putting the recorder on when I practice them. I could get lucky and get through it.

One of my changes to my practice plan is to have a notebook of pieces that I've enjoyed and want to keep current on. At the beginning of each month I go back and play each of them until I can get through it. Hopefully that will keep it so I can play them at a moments notice. Watermark is the only one giving me trouble, but last night it was a significantly better than on the 1st.

Part of the slow progress is the breadth of the pieces I'm practicing. I'm actively working on The Rose, Corpse Bride, Moonlight Sonata, and Misty. The good part is that I should finish them all soon and can get regular recordings up. The downside is it takes longer to complete them. However, I have heard that in many learning techniques, there's only so much progress you can make in a day before you have to sleep and let your short term memory process the skills necessary and put it in long term memory. Anecdotal, of course, but often pieces get a lot better when I come back to it a day later.

I do want to put a quick plug in for a fantastic piece of music I heard this weekend. I found a Dutch band called Within Temptation on Pandora while on the Lacuna Coil channel. After picking up a few of their albums, I noticed that the CD/DVD combo of Black Symphony has 38 reviews, and 28 are 5 star and 4 more are 4 star. It's absolutely that good. Listen to some of the clips either on Amazon or on the WT site I listed above. If you appreciate it in the least, get Black Symphony. The live performance backed by an orchestra is an absolutely incredible musical work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chugging along

The songs I'm cleaning up are all more complex than what I've posted previously, and I really haven't been working on any of the easier stuff. I was going to attempt to record The Rose last night, but I don't think I would have gotten a quality take and we've had a bug going around the house so I figured rest was a better idea than frustration.

Instead I downloaded some Sarah Vaughan and listened to her and Billie Holliday.

The idea was that I wanted to hear Misty over and over again so I could get a good listen to a professional rendition, but I love hearing old recordings like those. Theres just a feel that you can't get from modern studio music.

So all in all it was a good evening spent. I should get to record something tonight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here's a way to make your teacher nervous

Go in and tell him about this wonderful new method of learning. It will make him even more nervous during a recession.

So, I came across The Sudnow Method of learning piano, and I must say that I'm quite impressed. I'm picking it up quickly and it's helping me with theory as well. I'm sure it made Larry nervous, but after working through some of the details and how I plan on using it, I think his mood improved. I know to a certain degree, he likes to employ a lot of the methods him self.

Warning: Technical detail to follow
Warning 2: I've had hardly any formal theory training, so most of this is interpretation and if you feel I'm wrong, I probably am.

Most (all?) modern pop/country/folk/non-classical (fwiw, classical isn't stuff written pre 1930. It's in movies all the time. See: Elfman, Williams, Zimmer) is written in a chord progression played by an instrument(s) and a melody line that is sung or during parts of the song soloed by an instrument. Different forms of music generally have different chord progressions. Floating around recently has been the 'all pop music sounds alike' youtube clip which features the ever popular I, V, vi, IV. So you take those chords, couple it with a rhythm, add a melody line and bam. Instant hit.

So, in it's basic form the Sudnow method is a jazz piano chord progression where you play two notes in teh left hand, root and either 5th, 7th, or octive. On the right hand you add a melody note on the top with the 3rd, and assorted other notes of the chord depending on certain rules.

What I like about it is that I'm learning to play left hand accompaniment without reading. I'm not playing an F, A, C and a Bb, I'm playing an Fm7. It's helping with other pieces such as Corpse Bride as well. It's not nearly as hard to read one staff and a chord as it is to read two staffs.

So, Misty isn't too far down the road to performance, and I think ya'll will like the sound.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

H00ray?

Oh! I'm so excited. I get to put Musette up!

Ok, not really. None of my computers have a firewire port and that apparently is the only way I can get good video off the camera. It seems a trivial thing but publishing video of the playing is significantly better than just sound. Maybe I'm just dictating myself.

Next up is The Rose I suppose. Piano class is tomorrow and I'm debating whether or not to have my teacher evaluate a method I have been reading about. It's kind of a long post. You Piano World folk will recognize it, but I'll tell more about it later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't you hate it when you go to bed unsatisfied?

So it's 11:30 and I should have been asleep an hour and a half ago. Instead I'm going to write and be up far longer.

I got two good playthroughs of Musette, but the camera was absolutely brutal. The whole thing is quite embarrassing really. I've got to figure out a way either to get good sound by itself or transfer the video better.

Since I was able to get through this song, simple as it is, twice with not too terribly much stress, I'm just going to give it another go tomorrow when I have more time. I'm very tempted to go audio only. Our video camera doesn't have any Vista drivers and what I probably need is a firewire cable instead of USB.

Anyway. practice was extraordinarily good tonight. Well over two hours of playing and it was all enjoyable. The Rose is going to be the next recorded piece behind Musette and it is very close to ready.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Not quite back in the swing of things...

I did get a short practice session in yesterday.  Just enough to realize that I have a lot of work to do.  Even worse, due to some inspiration from the Piano World forums, I have a new song to learn.

Granted, it's been done more than , but I still like it.  Here is jnick's version.  

So, currently in the queue is:
Theme from Corpse Bride 
An arrangement of Mozart Symphony No. 40 
Misty
Moonlight Sonata
Musette
Hallelujah

This back better improve quickly.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sports related injury.

Well, it was a treadmill anyway.  An old back injury flared up cutting my practice time out likely for a few days.  Saturday was taken completely by guests.

I've got to get back on the keyboard.  It's killing me.  I've been listening to tons of piano music as if I can absorb it all by osmosis.

In reality though there's little progress.  I've got a few pieces that are nearing completion.  Corpse Bride was getting closer, but then Friday I was terrible at it again.  That happens unfortunately.  Also picked up an old jazz book and will be running through that too.  Hopefully the back will behave and I can get something recorded soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mozart

I asked for another piece to work alongside Corpse Bride as that one is slow going.  I specified I'd like it easier.  My teacher awarded me a piano arrangement of Mozart's Syphony No. 40.  This version is much more complex, but you should recognize the melody.

Corpse Bride progressed quite well surprisingly.  That's one of the more interesting things about learning.  Struggle, struggle, struggle, HUGE BREAKTHROUGH.  It must just take a while for the brain to organize itself in a way to process the technique to doing it properly.

So, I'm still at a loss to what the next recorded piece is, but I'm working on those two plus Musette and The Rose.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Maybe things are slowing down

Even though I got Watermark up last weekend, I've been crazy busy.  Work has been killer, scheduled activities worse, and fatherhood took up most of the rest of the free time.

Work should slow down a little as we got the major problem solved.  I'm trying to schedule more activies (Rock Band Party 5.5 and VI are on the board), but we're taking a break from them after this weekend.  Fatherhood, well, that never ends.

All that was written to say that I haven't had much time to work on new music prep.  Corpse Bride is one of the harder pieces I've tackled, but mostly I think it's because it's in an unfamiliar key (sorta).  I think it's actually written in C (no flats) or B flat (1 flat) -can't recall exactly-, but there are accidentals all over the place and I've not played on the black keys quite so often before.  The bass line is a little tricky, but it's similiar to The Rose and Watermark, so it's not too terrible.  It also looks like the second half isn't as bad as the first.  The problem is I'm less than 25% done.

Anyway, pieces I'll be trying to post in the next few weeks will be Musette, The Rose, or I might put up Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata with errors.  

That's the update.  Piano class later.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Enya has lots of voices. I needed only one.

Interesting fact about Enya's music: She doesn't use a choir. It's her voice recorded in multiple tracks, so she's harmonizing with herself.

I didn't need to do that, since I had Shannon. She wasn't quite as melodic as my missing copy, but I'm sure I'll enjoy this recording for a long time.

It's a little rough at the end, but not badly improvised in my opinion.

Enjoy.

video

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So sad

Surprisingly I got a good recording of Watermark yesterday. Surprising not in the fact that I could get it done, but that I had time to do it. Wednesdays are generally busy and we had in Jacob getting to visit a friend that lives far enough away he needs an escort.

So without further ado, here's the song..... ER WAIT THE MICROPHONE WAS ON MUTE. Gah. And that's not really the sad part. The recording was good, but I probably would have redone it if not for one fantastic detail. My little girl was singing accompaniment. Now, I've lost that moment in time.

So sad.

But here's a picture that will make me happy:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back to normal

Piano class went very well today. He was impressed with my Watermark performance, which really just means he didn't see my horrible attempts at recording it last night.

That one should be retired as far as class is concerned. We worked on the first two lines of Claire de Lune and he gave me the music from the theme to The Corpse Bride. The composer Danny Elfmann, has done a lot of work with Tim Burton specifically and a lot of work with Hollywood period. Check out his filmography on the link. It's a pretty impressive list.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Anna Magdalena Bach

Anna Magdalena Wilcke became Johann Sebatian Bach's second wife on September 22, 1701.  She came from a musical family and was influential in Bach's compositions both as an inspiration and transcriber.  It's suggested that she also composed a few of his pieces, though, it's undetermined on how accurate those suggestions are.

She's relevent to this discussion because of two notebooks that Bach presented to her as gifts.  The 1725 book started with two pieces by Johann, and then was filled with Anna's collection from other composers of the time.  Musette has an unknown composer, but guesses are that it was one of Bach's sons or Anna Magdalena herself.

Here's the best recording of it I can find.  It's a simple piece, but technically challenging.  There is a nice mix of stacatto left hand with right hand legato.  There are also big jumps on both hands.  If you browse through some of the other you tube clips you'll see a lot of pausing while people sight out the jumps.  

Friday, January 23, 2009

Night Song is finally complete. It's not perfect, but it's good enough to keep me from pissing myself off further. At the very end where there's a delay, that's called panic. I couldn't find the keys to hit that proper CEGC chord.

Ah well. I'll take it out on Watermark. Next in the pipeline is that or an Anna Magdelena Bach piece called Musette. I'll give you the low down on that when I can't get the next piece up in a reasonable amount of time.


video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Longest lesson that didn't amount to much

Last week my piano lesson was cancelled since Larry got a flat tire and couldn't make it back home in time.  No big deal as he just planned on making it up this week, and we nearly always run 15 to twenty minutes long every week anyway.

This week I made the mistake of asking if I should be practicing scales each week.  His answer was "Absolutely" followed up by a 30 minute diatribe, er monologue, on technique practice.

He's correct, of course, but he could have shortened the lecture by 25 minutes and I would have understood.  

On the positive side, he was very impressed with Watermark finding only a few flaws (bring out the melody more; read the music so I don't get lost.. shocking, I know.)

He didn't give me a new piece, but suggested I start work on Clair de Lune.  Yikes.  Even if I start, don't look for that posted on here for months.

The frustrating part

Got quite a bit of practice in last night, but very little progress.  It's really frustrating to know all the parts of the song, but be unable to put the whole thing together.  It's especially frustrating in an easy song like Night Song.

Watermark presents another problem.  The left hand is an over an octave run.  There's only 4 or 5 variations but they are hard to jump to without looking.  Worse, the whole song is very easy to memorize.  So, instead of looking at the music, I look at my hands.  This is not a good way to get better.  Yes, when it comes to performance you're supposed to have it memorized, but for this point in my development I should still be reading.  For recording purposes, I should definitely be using the music as a notecard at the very least.

Anyway, we'll see what my teacher says today.  I think he'll be pretty surprised at my progress on Watermark as I haven't been the most dilligent worker up until lately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thanks for all the reads

I'm happy to see that people are reading the blog.  It certainly encourages me to get to the keyboard and get some more material performed.  

I lied about my next piece not being Watermark.  It might be after all.  I've been trying to record either it or a tune called Night Song, which is really just an excercise, but it sounds nice and complicated.  Both are at about the same point so I'll just record until I can get one of them completed and then post.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tumbalalaika - Win

First, I apologize for the video quality. I didn't do anything different from the last one (exception: more lighting), but this has a wierd video glitch at the top and some audio popping. So weird.

Anyway. Success! I haven't yet decided my next piece. It won't be Watermark. I am very excited with how this is going though. I hope you're enjoying following along.


video

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recording Challenges

Recording Tumbalalaika presents a challenge.  It's a dance.  That means it should properly be played with a lot of energy and volume.  The only time I get good recording time is when the kids are asleep.  While Jacob wouldn't wake up before 5am if you blew a megaphone in his ear, Shannon isn't such a heavy sleeper.  No amount of personal pride in a job well done is worth waking her.

She does like hearing me play, while Jacob couldn't care less.  I'll just have to take advantage when the boy is out playing with his friends and hope Shannon doesn't decide to sing along.  Though, in all reality, it would probably make the recording better.

My choice of recordings are from a library I've been putting together of songs that I have learned over the last 4 years that I think are interesting enough (and that I've enjoyed enough) to want to perform.  Both Scarborough Fair and Tumbalalaika are from very early in my lessons, but played well they are still performance worthy in my opinion.

I'm trying to decide what will come next.  I have more older pieces, but my current class project is Enya's Watermark which is coming along much faster than I expected.  It's amazing what consistent practice will do for you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tumbalalaika

Translation:

A young lad stands, and he thinks
Thinks and thinks a whole night
Whom to take and not to shame
Whom to take and not to shame


Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika
Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika
Tumbalalaika, strum balalaika
Tumbalalaika, may we be happy

Girl, girl, I want to ask of you
What can grow, grow without rain?
What can burn and never end?
What can yearn, cry without tears?


Foolish lad, why do you have to ask?
A stone can grow, grow without rain
Love can burn and never end
A heart can yearn, cry without tears

What is higher than a house?
What is swifter than a mouse?
What is deeper than a well?
What is bitter, more bitter than gall?

A chimney is higher than a house
A cat is swifter than a mouse
The Torah is deeper than a well
Death is bitter, more bitter than gall


Tumbalalaika is a Russian Jewish Folk song.  There's a really good performance on youtube here.  Sadly, the end is cut off.  I'd really like to know how old this song is, but I'm sure it goes way back.  There were Jews settling in across the Caucases as early as the 7th century.  By the 1400's their was a large presence in Western Russian and were granted settlement rights from the Lithuanians.  At least that's what this guys says.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Scarborough Fair - For real this time

There's a slight error in the first stanza and one right towards the end, but it's not catastrophic and will certainly pass for a first piece. I'll also plan better lighting next time, though I'm not entirely sure how to accomplish it if I'm recording at night.

Enjoy.


video

Economics and Rock Band

I don't know how much random commenting I'll do, but I did see some relevence with this Freakonmics interview with Alex Rigopulos.  Alex is the co-founder of Harmonix, the creators of Rock Band and the previous incarnation of Guitar Hero.  It's unfortunate that Freakonics gives the headline to Guitar Hero, but that's a story best left to a different blog.

I love Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  In fact, for the second year running I hosted a Rock Band party for New Years and for the second time running stayed up until the sun rose with my brother and sister-in-law.  However, one of the issues I run into is that when ever Rock Band becomes too difficult, I see no reason to practice it when I have a piano in the other room.  I think the theory that it leads to studying a real instrument is convincing.  If I can ever figure out a way to have a 3 piece band with keyboard, bass, and drums, Eight Arms of Terror will become a reality.

In an unrelated argument that my brother and I had on the aforementioned Rock Band Party V, most of the critics I found feel Gerard Butler sings in falsetto in Phantom of the Opera.  However, there is some disagreement, and it probably can't be settled definitively without a direct comment from his voice trainer, him, or a scale.  Regardless, I'd say Don is right, though I could be persuaded back to the other side with some evidence.


Certainly not surprising

I could have recorded Scarborough Fair yesterday, but two kids running around aren't exactly conducive to a good sound environment.  The good news is that I got several good runthroughs of the song so confidence is high.

My piano teacher called though.  Apparently there's been someone in his neighborhood swiping checks.  I mail mine to him, but I think I was late enough that it shouldn't have arrived yet.  How easy is it to cash a check that doesn't have your name on it?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

OOps

Er sorry about that. If I can keep at it, this blog should do wonders for my practice time and performance.

Scarborough Fair

My first attempt at a quality recording didn't go so well. I say that, but I guess on the whole it was a positive. While I only came away with one decent recording of Scarborough Fair, I could tell that I'm trying a lot harder when I'm putting something together for presentation.

So, if I can keep with this .. oh look something shiny!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome!

Welcome to Certainly Not Presto.  This is going to be a catalog of my attempts at learning piano, and the pace, so far, has dictated the blog title.

As a quick intro, I started playing a 5 years ago.  I had a small background in music with a few years in junior high band playing the trombone.  It certainly helped because I had had some theory, rhythm, and reading the music of course.  It let me get right into learning to play rather than learning to read.

My initial goal was to play Pachebel's Canon in D.  Two years later I played it at a recital.  Well, I thought I had anyway.  It was actually an easy arrangement of "The Canon" as my first teacher would have called it.  Since then I've gotten a couple more versions, and I really need to polish my most recent.

The next year I had a more ambitious goal with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  It took me a year, but I learned it and felt pretty comfortable playing it with minor errors.  Unfortunately, playing it with pressure isn't the same as playing it for yourself and that recital didn't go so well.  But, I collected myself and finished it.  After that I left my teacher as I was in a rut and was neither adding to my library, nor making significant progress.  

Shortly thereafter I hired a new guy and he's been fantastic for my development.  I've gotten inspired again and have done well over the last 6 months.

My plan here is to share my progress for those that are interested, and by doing so build expectations such that I have short term goals as well as long term.

I should be able to host files up on youtube or podbean or whatever so that you can hear the pieces that I have learned.

I hope you enjoy taking this journey, even though it's pace is Certainly Not Presto.

edit:  One thing I should do is not assume my readers are familiar with music I reference.