I realized the other day that I hadn’t really written very much about playing the piano. The lack of posts however don’t reflect a lack of activity. With the installation
(b/c that’s what it seemed like) of our grand in September, I’ve certainly had every incentive to play. So, I try to practice every day that I can.
What’s a normal practice? There are really three parts to each practice.
My piano teacher has me going through two books. The first is a book of scales, chords, and arpeggios that I started earlier this year. These are used for a) warming up and b) learning different key signatures. I think a lot of people complain about scales, but I don’t mind doing them and enjoy rolling through them to get started. I’ve picked up a new key about every other week and now am almost all the way around the all the keys. Only two to go!
“Practice is the best of all instructors” — Publilius Syrus (Roman author, 1st century B.C.)
The next part is a “classic” instruction book (Alfred’s). It’s set up in what seems to me a pretty straightforward way – easy keys and pieces first, adding in more complicated keys and mechanics as we progress. Many of the later songs seem to build on the earlier ones. I finished part 1 earlier this year and am now on part 2. I have to say there are a lot of songs in here I don’t really like, but I recognize that learning rhythms (let’s just say I’m rhythmically challenged and leave it at that…) and styles I wouldn’t gravitate towards makes me a better player. And isn’t that the whole point? Sometimes I really get stuck on a piece and I get frustrated by slower progress. Currently, Mr. Scott Joplin is kicking my butt.
“Practice?! We're talkin’ 'bout practice! Not the game! But, we’re talkin’ 'bout practice, man… Practice!” — Allen Iverson
Lastly, I get to finish up with my favorite part, which is running through pieces in my “repertoire” (such as it is…) – typically these are “easy” arrangements of classical pieces – Beethoven is heavily represented and my favorite piece right now is “DerLeiermann” from Schubert. There is also a smattering of a few pieces from the first Alfred’s book that I liked enough to want to keep around. This month, I’m subbing in some simple Christmas arrangements, as well.
So – it’s about 2/3 “work at it” time and 1/3 playing for fun most practices. Sometimes I get that "Ohh… I'll never be any good at this!" feeling, but I can tell by looking back at the pieces I thought were "really hard" from earlier times, that I'm improving. Just not fast enough!!!
“There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” –Johann Sebastian Bach
Uh huh — thanks JB – just for that, I think I’m leaving you out of the repertoire for a while.
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