From Then to Now – Wrapping It All Up

Hello all!

Well, here we are. My final post of my learning project, the piano. In this post, I’m going be going over everything I’ve learned so far in my time with the piano, straight from day 0 to now!  I’ve come a long way since September, so I want to put everything I’ve learned into one blog post to close out the semester. So with that, let’s get started from the beginning!

Let’s start from the beginning of our piano journey and work to the end. Photo Credit: MFer Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Week 1: “Oh look, another musical instrument!”

Week 2: “Learning How to Sit, Among Other Things”

Week 3: “Double Trouble”

  • Beginning to play scales/pieces with both the left and right hands simultaneously
  • Begin to search for my own piano to practice at home (up until this point, I was using one of the University’s pianos in the Riddel Center’s basement)

Week 4: “Another Week, More Progress”

Week 5: “Learning to Play An Upright is Pia-No Problem!”

Week 6: “Scaling Above and Below”

  • Tragically losing my progress video for the week!
  • Finally able to play C and G Major scales up/down the piano without any major mistakes
  • Conquered the ‘complex time signature’ piece from last week

Week 7: “Contrary To What I Thought, Scales Never End!”

Week 8: “To Do Good, You Really Gotta Tri(ad)”

Week 9: “Piecing It Together”

Week 10: “One Hand At a Time”

And that leaves us to this week, our final week! So, what have I conquered since last time? Well…

I learned the piece from Week 9 in both my right and left hands well enough to play it all the way through! It was a trek (especially the middle part of the song), but I was able to fully play it through hands together. I’m super proud of that.

Not only that, but I met my goal! Or at least, the minimum that I set for my goal. The minimum was to be able to play I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1’s intro on the piano in the right hand, which I was able to accomplish. I had also said I would have liked to learn the left hand part and play them together, but it ultimately proved to be a much more difficult task than I had thought. I WAS, however, able to play them separately, which is what I did for the recording in the video and I just put it together to make the overall sound better. The video is all of the right hand, however.

So, what have I learned about online learning in the past few months? Well, let’s go over it.

1. Variety is key.

While it’s great to stick to a specific resource for learning, it’s always good to use a variety if you’re trying to learn something. It gives you multiple perspectives and teaching methods, which may help you understand better. There’s nothing wrong with having one ‘main’ learning method, but it’s also good to have different learning resources, just for that extra perspective.

2. Consult ‘offline’ resources

You don’t need to completely rely on online resources! Researching offline resources, such as an instructor or a class, is also useful for the same reason I mentioned in the first point – variety. Not only that, but having face-to-face learning sessions, where the learning can be personalized to best fit you can also be a very effective method to learning as opposed to the “one size fits all” method you have when you consult online methods.

3.  Sharing!

Since we’re learning in an online space, it makes sense to share your progress in an online space, doesn’t it? Sharing your progress can be similar to consulting offline resources, where people may be more advanced in a certain area than you can help you out through an online medium. It adds the “face-to-face” value of offline methods while still keeping it offline. Outside of this, it always other people to watch your progress with you and encourage you. It’s always easier to learn something new when you have someone encouraging you from the sidelines!

Just some of the encouragement I received over the semester. Thanks guys 🙂

This closes my learning project of EDTC300. I want to thank Katia for giving me the opportunity to learn piano after wanting to for all these years, and I’m excited to continue learning piano in the future.

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One Hand At a Time

Hey guys! We’re almost reaching the end of the EDTC300 class. It’s hard to believe we’re merely a couple weeks away from the end of the semester!

This past week I’ve been practicing the new piece I introduced last week, Canzonet. Specifically, I’ve been practicing the right and left hands separately and trying to get them a performance level that I think is acceptable. It’s been a lot more difficult than anything else I’ve played so far since I’ve started learning piano, since the rhythms switch between quarter notes, eighth notes, and even as fast as sixteenth notes which, up to speed, can be REALLY difficult. I’ve been trying my best however, and I’m getting closer and closer to what I can be happy with.

(video below is me playing through it in the right hand)

My plan for the next little bit is to focus mainly on Canzonet until I can play it fairly well hands together. After that, I plan to finally purely focus on my goal of I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1 that I set in my first learning project blog post. Thankfully, I set my goal to only be able to play the right hand part fluently, as I don’t think, at my skill level, I’d be able to play it fluently with both hands at the same time. However, I am changing my goal a tiny bit – I am going to learn the right hand part AND the left hand part separately, so I can play them both rather nicely. Then, using the magic of modern technology, I’m going to put an audio clip of the two together, so we can get a feel of what it would sound like IF I could actually play it hands together. It’s an unfortunate compromise, but one that I feel like I’m going to have to make for the sake of having it sound the best it can sound.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week where I’ll (hopefully) play Canzonet hands together!

Piecing It Together

Hello everyone! As we draw closer to the end of the semester, the way I start practicing the piano is also going to change a little bit. I need to start working on my goal, after all!

It’s time to truly start to become… a pianist! Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) Flickr via Compfight cc

This week has been more theory work than actually playing the piano. While I have been practicing the triads from last week a bit more, I have spent a lot of time working on a piece of music that I believe is called Canzonet, though I’m not completely certain since the copy I have has the top half of the title missing. It’s quite a different piece than any of the small excerpts I’ve been playing so far, since not only does the fingering change quite often, but the notes themselves are rather peculiar in key, with both flats and sharps intertwined. It’s quite nice sounding, at least from what I’ve been able to play through so far.

The piece I’m learning this week!

The little numbers written above the notes are the fingerings for that specific note. I mentioned fingerings for the first time in my second week blog post, but am just realizing I never really went into what that meant. Basically what it boils down to is the thumb is finger 1, index is finger 2, middle is finger 3, ring is finger 4, and pinkie is finger 5. The numbers on the page dictate which finger you’re supposed to use to play each note. So, for example, the first two notes of the piece are played with the thumb and then the ring finger.

That sums up what I’ve been doing this past week. Since it’s mostly been theory, I’m going to be saving a video for next week for when I’ll be able to hopefully play the piece with at least one hand. After that, I’m going to start working seriously at playing my goal piece.

Until next week!

To Do Good, You Really Gotta Tri(ad)

Jesse here, back again with another title that just makes you wanna tell me to stop!

Please, just tell me pia-NO. Image from Pixabay.com

This week, my focus was on chords! Specifically, Triads. Chords themselves aren’t entirely new to me, as I was playing chords in the Radiohead song I played in last weeks learning project video. The triads that I’ve been looking at, however, are a little different. The chords I played last week were chords that were played among both hands, whereas the triads I looked at this week are three note chords played with one hand. They’re a little tricky, especially once you start getting into scales with many sharps or flats in them, since you have to position your hand a little awkwardly, but they aren’t too bad once you get used to them.

I’ve been working on these triads in a few different keys, specifically C Major and D Major. There’s also G Major, but its triads are the exact same as C Major just because of how triads are built. As musictheory.net puts it, a triad is built up of the root, a third, and a fifth. In my case, I am doing major triads, which ends up being built with a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. This might sound like random jargon if you don’t know what this means, so if you’re curious about it, I would recommend reading this small post on musical intervals. If you have no prior experience to music it may be a little daunting, but I just recommend reading it if you do want to know what all of this talk means.

Triads is really all I’ve worked on this week, so with that, I’m going to sign off. Next week, I hope to learn a part of a new piece of music, so look forward to that. See you next week!

Contrary To What I Thought, Scales Never End!

(Video at the bottom of post!)

Welcome to yet another week of my piano learning escapade! This week is going to be a little weird. In my blog post, I’m going to leave all of my writing to just this past week, but in the video following this post, I will be talking about this week AND the past week (since I lost my video footage for what should have been the video in my last weeks blog post).

So this week is a little slower than the last. Last week, I had pretty big breakthroughs in being able to play two scales and a difficult piece rather fluently, this week was all about a new different way to play scales – Contrary Motion.

What is Contrary Motion, you might ask? Well, it’s basically the opposite of how I had learned to play scales previously, which is in what is called Parallel Motion. In Parallel Motion, you play the same note in both hands one octave apart, either up or down the keyboard. So for example, in C Major, you would play C, D, E, etc. etc. in both hands at the same time all the way up the scale, and then all the way down. In Parallel Motion, you use the same fingers on both hands to play. This will make it so you’ll play C on the thumb in the same octave, and then in the right hand, you will play the next note up with your second finger (which would be a D), and in the left hand, you will play the next note DOWN with your second finger (which would be a B). This leads to a very different, but nice sound. It’s also rather simplistic to play!

Example of Contrary Motion. By Memoryboy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Outside of scales, I’ve started to delve into learning actual pieces of music! At the very least, small excerpts of music. I decided to try and learn the intro to “Everything In It’s Right Place” by Radiohead, which has a piano part that I am particularly fond of. I found a video on YouTube that used a program called Synthesia, and while the rhythms aren’t correct in the video, the chords are and that’s really all that matters to me, since I already know the rhythm. I’ve not completely finished learning the song yet, I’m still working on getting in my head, but it’s coming along and I should hopefully have it a lot better by next week.

This is all for this week. Hopefully next week I’ll have much more progress to report on.

See you guys soon!

Scaling Above and Below

EDIT: I’m sorry this update is so late! Last week I was having multiple tech issues on my computer. Sadly, to fix these issues, I had to revert my computer to a state before I had recorded the learning project videos for this week, so sadly, I have lost the video. I am REALLY sorry about this, and I promise that I will cover everything from this post and the next in my next post. Apologies!

QUICK NOTE: I do have a video to go along with this post, I’ve just been having some technical difficulties today and wasn’t able to get it completed in time. I will have it up as soon as possible and added in to the end of this post. Sorry about that!

I̶ ̶h̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶t̶l̶e̶s̶.̶

Here we are on week 8 of the EDTC300 class. We are officially PAST the half way point! That means we are half way to finals! Scary!

So how’s my progress with the piano going? It’s going great! This week, I passed a huge road block of mine that I’ve been having the past couple weeks – playing hands together, but fluently!

The last learning project video I did had me playing a song at the end that I did do hands together. However, what you don’t see is the thirty other takes I did before finally getting that one that was half-decent. However, these past few days, I have FINALLY been able to smoothly play both C and G Major Scales up and down the piano with both hands at the same time – hence the title!

Even bigger, perhaps, is that I’ve finally conquered a harder-than-simple song with complex time signatures, with hands together! And it sounded good! It feels great to finally be able to play with my hands together without feeling like I’m fumbling about the piano. It’s been a block of mine the past little while, and it’s awesome to finally be past it.

The aforementioned piece of music.

While this week was pretty big for me in terms of what I learned, that’s really all there is to the past week. However, I feel like this week will open me up to MUCH deeper learning in the weeks to come. I gotta start working on my goal, after all!

Until next week!

 

Learning to Play An Upright is Pia-No Problem!

I already apologize for the title. I’m groaning just as much as you are its also not factually correct because im not learning on an upright piano but who cares.

 

Even though last week I said I’d be making more weekly videos to showcase my progress rather than doing long-winded blog posts, this week ended up being kind of a slow learning week. The summary of what I’ve learned in the past week can be summed up pretty quickly, so this might be a pretty short blog post. Apologies!

Anyway, the past week has been spent refining scales. We have added the G Major Scale to our arsenal, and it’s practically just the same as the C Major Scale, just starting at a different note and hitting one black key at the end rather than hitting all white keys. I also learned the C Minor Scale, which is quite a bit different to play than the C and G Major Scales, but is still fundamentally the same fingering wise. I can’t really confirm it at this point, but my gut feeling is that it’s going to be the same way all the way through, with the scales all being kind of the exact same.

G Major Scale up and down. By Midway (Using Sibelius) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Outside of scales, we also worked on a new piece. It’s an odd piece, because it’s in what is known as a complex time signature. Complex time signatures are counted differently than normal time signatures like 4/4, so it’s rather odd to play, especially as some of the timings in the piece between the left and right hand are rather odd and off-beat. Separately, it’s not too hard of a piece and actually rather fun, but together is a real struggle. I want to at least play most of it hands together by next week, so hopefully I can fulfill that goal of mine.

There’s not much else that happened this week, so I’ll end this post here. Hopefully this next week will be a lot more fulfilling and I can maybe start working towards my end-goal of playing I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1’s intro! (That I talked about in my first learning project blog post!)

Another Week, More Progress

Another update on my piano learning escapade – I finally bought my own keyboard!

Over the weekend I purchased a used Samson Graphite 49 keyboard, a 49-key USB keyboard that I can just plug into my computer to emulate a piano. A keyboard like the Samson, however, does not actually make sound by itself – all it does is emulate the keys being pressed on a keyboard. To rectify this, I use a program called Addictive Keys that I got for free with the purchase of some audio hardware. It has a Grand Piano plugin built into it, so if I load it into a Digital Audio Workplace program (a DAW) and plug in my keyboard, I can use my keyboard to play sounds through the Addictive Keys program! It’s super neat.

As for my actual playing progress, I will let the video do most of the talking. Since I actually have a keyboard at home now, I can finally record progress videos instead of having to completely write about everything I learned in excruciating detail. Very convenient!

Double Trouble

Another week, another update on learning the piano.

This past week I’ve focused on a couple different things, but the biggest thing I focused on was a huge hurdle to pass – playing with both hands at the same time!

Playing piano with two hands can look easy, but it’s actually REALLY difficult! Photo Credit: robertDouglass Flickr via Compfight cc

I don’t have a video to show my progress this week – sadly – but I actually played through an entire small piece today with both hands, and I did pretty well! I played it at about half the speed you normally would, but I still think I did pretty well. Learning to play with your hands apart is one thing, but putting them together is really difficult. I used a video I found on YouTube to build some more technique with playing both of the hands together. It took me about an hour of straight practice to get the piece at the point I did.  Well worth it though.

The other thing I mainly focused on was playing the C Major scale up and down the piano through two different octaves. Basically, that means I played from the C note up the piano to two C notes away.  This sounds not too hard, but the difficult part is the fingering.

C Major Scale with a guitar fingerings under it. By Sluffs (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Each of the notes of the major scale have a different finger associated with them. These fingerings are different for your right and left hand, so playing the C Major scale with two hands at once is… a little frustrating, to say the least. Doing different things with different fingers all at the same time is complicated, but is INCREDIBLY satisfying to finally pull off.

Moving on from what I’ve learned the past week, a common thread between my posts have been my lack of my own keyboard at my house to practice with. However, this will be changing soon! I found a used keyboard that I will be picking up this weekend, so I’ll finally have a way to practice on my own. I’ll also easily be able to make progress videos as I’ll be able to set up a camera and a microphone in more convenient places to record. It’ll be great!

Looking forward to next week!

Learning How to Sit, Among Other Things

A new week, a new progress report on my piano learning journey!

This past week has been the bulk of my learning so far. In the past week, I’ve learned proper sitting posture, finger numbering, and the proper fingering to play scales up and down the piano.

For posture, I learned it mainly from my music class at the University, but to brush up, I used this video on YouTube that I found to be a lot more in-depth at explaining the proper piano posture and why it’s important to be sitting with good posture.

(apologies for the poor camera angle on the video, it was the best I could do!)

The above video shows my most recent progress in playing as of this week. I can play the given piece rather well (in my humble opinion), though there are some flaws with my technique. Especially noticeable when I’m using my left hand (the second half of the video that’s in the lower register) is that I am using too much of my wrist to push the keys down, when I should be mainly using my fingers. Using the wrist like I do makes it a lot “louder” and is more “accented”, which, when playing the piece I am, isn’t the feeling that I should be trying to go for. Other than that,  my technique isn’t horrible and I feel like the fact that I can play this is a miracle in itself, especially after such little time.

Regardless, the progress I’ve made over the past week has been quite nice. I still have yet to purchase my own keyboard, so I still am limited in  how much I can actually practice per week, but I am working on finding one soon, as it will help me practice SO much more than I already can.

Until next week!