Monday, July 8, 2013

Piano Class 2: The Alphabet is Hard

  (Class Date: 6/12/13)

  I was anticipating having to learn some sort of mnemonic device for the piano tuning, such as my favorite one (despite the cringe-worthy grammar) for standard guitar tuning, Elephants And Dogs Got Big Ears. Somehow I've made it all these years without realizing that the keys just went in order from A to G. It seems obvious now that I know, but I suppose I never gave it any thought until recently. It makes all those keyboards I've seen with stickers with the notes all along the keys seem slightly silly, though it's still probably a quicker way to learn than my current method, which I'll cover shortly.

  Sadly the most notable thing I learned this class was how hard it was for my brain to instantly recognize what letters are adjacent to one another without running through the song we all learn as children. I don't know if that speaks to the Alphabet Song not being the best method to learn in the long run, or just a failure with my mind, but I can tell you my brain has a miniature meltdown anytime I need to instantly remember "what comes before G?" without singing to myself.

  The book that I am studying from groups keys in two sections. The C-D-E group and the F-G-A-B group. It didn't really come up in class if that was a common method to think of them to help with memorization, but it's probably a lot more efficient than my ridiculous method where I ended up using mnemonic devices after all.
  C is my go-to key which I use to find all other keys. This has made me start thinking of it as the 'first' key.  Going up the piano, D is next which I think of as "D for 'divide'" as it divides the two black keys from each other. And then E for 'ends' because it ends the group of three keys. That's semi-logical, but then next group, all I have is F for 'first' because it is the first key before the group of three black keys. After that, I'm just "uh...and then comes... *sings Alphabet Song*.. G! And H...wait no, it starts over so A...B..."
  This can't be efficient. You'd think I would simply think, "D is after C, E is after D" and so on since I've been doing that my whole life, but no.

  An interesting thing I noticed during this week of practice is that, as I was working on learning a song that was not yet skilled enough to play, I had a moment of clarity where I could just 'see' all the keys without issue. I knew where all the keys were without thinking about it. I felt like a genius...and then just as quickly, that was gone and I almost couldn't make sense of any of the keys even when finding them from C. And I suddenly became completely unable to play even the smallest part of the song I'd been trying to learn all night which I'd been doing decently well on prior to my brain shutting down. I think I was at the point where I'd been messing around so much I sort of went cross-eyed. It felt like those time when you're looking at a word and it suddenly seems foreign to you.
  I decided to call it a night.

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