Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Staccato Induced Health Problem

  I'm not a doctor, nor a "brain scientist" as a friend of mine calls them, but I think today's attempt at staccato may have caused an aneurysm. It's my first time trying [staccato] and while I found the actual technique pretty natural, between the speed of the song, the alternating between hands every single note, and trying to read the sheet music at the same time, I'm confident I lost at least a year off my life from the stress. I'm not sure if my sweating was from the intense mental effort or the light bulb that was in my face lighting me up like a man caught in a prison breakout, but I'm guessing it was probably a combination of the two.
  Despite the trouble it has given me, I'm eager to tackle this new challenge. Not that I didn't have enough of them, but hey, what's one more?

My new nemesis.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Slow Reading and Miscellaneous Chatter

  I decided to remove that horribly addictive phone game "Candy Crush" that my friend Bill got me hooked on and replace it with a sheet music reading app, which is sort of a digital version of flash cards that I can use without needing help from someone else. I thought it would be a lot more productive than trying to make digital candy disappear from my phone. Now I can feel like I'm making progress in those situations where I'm stuck doing nothing, such as waiting in the doctor's office or - let's be honest - when there's downtime in the restroom.

  After a very short time of practicing this method, I can already  see an improvement. That's not saying a lot as I went from reading 5 notes a minute to a blazing fast 15 notes a minute. Watch out, Nashville Symphony, I'm coming for you.

  I've not had a class in three weeks and I was already feeling a bit of withdrawal in that first week so you can imagine how antsy I am feeling now. I should have used this time to catch up on writing but the trials of real life have been getting in the way of that more than I would like. At last things seems to be settling down and, assuming I didn't just jinx myself, maybe I can get back on track this week. I'm exceptionally excited for Wednesday

  The hunt for a replacement instrument is still ongoing. My instructor turned me on to a place called Nashville Piano Rescue, which is where she got the piano we use in class. I've browsed around a bit and they have some pretty nice prices. Getting an actual piano seemed overkill to me initially, but with the prices of keyboards, and just the wonderful richness in sound that a piano has vs keyboard, I'm starting to lean towards a small upright.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Piano Class 4: Hottest Class Ever

  (Class Date: 6/26/13)

 Without a doubt the hottest class I've ever been to, and I don't mean 'sexy' hot. High summer and a dead A/C unit at the studio had the building nice and toasty by the afternoon. And yet while I was sitting there jamming away I couldn't help but feel slightly I was really into playing and was just tearing it up so much that sweat was pouring down my face and plastering my hair to my forehead. I was like a guitar player when they are in the middle of a solo under the lights and they make that constipation face. You know the one:

  I like to think I wouldn't make such faces, but I'm pretty confident mine would be even worse.
  I may have even swayed in my seat about. Admittedly that could have been from the onset of heat stroke. It's all a bit fuzzy now...

  As my impatience to learn the musical building blocks increases, it feels like I get to learn it less and less. That isn't actually the case at all, I just perceive it that way. Well, that and the fact I lost my music theory book that I like to read at home. This class we finally dipped the tiniest bit of our toes into the waters of music theory. A little discussion on chord building, which wasn't really in the itinerary but Ariel is great about filling us in on things when we have questions. It was short but sweet.
  Our new-to-reading-music minds were introduced (finally) to the grand staff. Up until now our book had, for some reason, not put notes on ledger lines but instead had them floating in space. I don't know if you've tried to read music like that, but when notes start jumping around and you don't have any lines for guidance, things get a bit confusing.
  And then finally onward to glorious Middle C.

*Angel chorus sound effect*
  Middle C (or, well, C in general) had become my lifeline and guide to finding everything on the piano at this point, before the location of the keys had become more firmly implanted into my brain. It's also how I quickly discovered that my practice keyboard at home wasn't cutting it.
  I have an old 61 key Yamaha from when I was a teenager and failed to learn (or even start to learn) playing the instrument. Thanks to the shortened length of the keyboard, practicing on it had gotten me used to thinking of Middle C as "Slightly to the Left of the Middle C" since it's about half a foot to the left of where it should be. This would throw me off when I'd learn a song, go to class to play on the piano, and then continually mess up because my eyes and hands were used to looking for the notes/chords I wanted at different locations. It was a good instrument to start with but I've quickly arrived at the point where I want something a bit better. Something full size, weighted, and with normal width keys. The Yamaha's keys are slightly more narrow than a regular piano and playing chords where I need to press between two sharp/flats always causes my finger to accidentally play one of them. As such I've had to come up with some really strange hand poses to play the chords. It looks like I'm trying to do shadow puppets. The way I'm having to play them is a bit of a bad habit born out of necessity but in my short time playing, it's already become exceptionally hard to break those habits and I don't want to wait so long that they are too deeply embedded into my muscle memory that I cannot get them out.

  The (seemingly impossible) hunt for a quality yet not ridiculously expensive 88 key device has begun, and my luck thus far as been exceptionally poor.