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


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.