Andrew Furmanczyk Piano Academy :: Learn How To Play Piano
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Learning from the masters

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Learning from the masters Empty Learning from the masters

Post by jytte Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:03 pm

I'm a newbie, my foundation of theory is very basic at present. Unfortunately I didn't spend the last 10 years studying music theory, nor is it likely that I will spend the next 10 years with my nose in the music-theory-books (given my age). I am also very impatient, and I'm extremely tenacious (kinder word for stubborn). I find myself wanting to play music, that is light-years ahead of my skills, and that isn't available in one of those nice "scaled down for beginners" versions. So, being what I am, I search and search and finally find a full version of that particular music.

Now, when I look at the entire first page, it's basically Greek to me, and I know well that I'll never be able to play that. But, as this is music that I already know and love, I already have the "melody" in my head (that's my right hand right there) and I only need to figure out how to "pick the essence" and "boil down" the rest of the orchestra to make a "left hand" that I can actually play. I listen (hard) to recordings of that music, and that gives me a general idea of what is supposed to be happening in the "background", so to speak.

Then I study the sheet, one measure at a time. This is when something interesting happens. It usually begins with "what the ......" at the sight of notes that I wouldn't have thought could/should be played together, and more often than not ends with ".. ahaaa, I see", when I try some of it out on the piano. What happens is, that what I don't understand with my brain (lacking the training and theory), I can hear with my ears and understand "with my heart" (for lack of any other way of explaining that). So, piece by piece, I can put my "background" (left hand) together, and once I have it "on the piano", I can write it down easily, thus making myself an "easy-version" that I can now learn and enjoy playing.

I don't know what the old masters, like Verdi, Lehar and Puccini, would think of my approach to their music. Maybe they'll turn in their graves, or who knows, maybe they'll just be pleased that someone loves their music enough to "pick it to pieces" to be able to play it.

Anyway, that's my oddball roundabout way of practicing and learning at the moment. And apart from it being great fun, I seem to learn a lot more from this, than I do by hacking away at the "lesser" pieces.

Just thought I'd share that.



jytte
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Post by Alistair123 Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:21 pm

You word things beautifully.. I wish I could express how I feel like that. I dont need to now though because I feel the exact same way Smile

I listen to tons and tons of classical music which usually gets me in the mood for the piano. So I sit at the piano after listening to... I dunno.. say Rachmaninoff, Scriabin or something ridiculously hard like that, and want to play something as beautiful as what I've just heard.. This gets me in the wrong mind set leading to frustration :p leading to not enough practice... Bad cycle :p


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Post by jytte Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:35 pm

Yes, it's frustrating that we can't just sit down and play as beautifully as the "perfect music" that floats in our heads. But it doesn't have to be a negative that leads to a "bad cycle" as you say. Turn it into motivation instead, by deciding to conquer at least a small piece of your favorite music (preferable something not too far out of range, he he). Even the hardest pieces usually have some smaller part that can be played at some level. Just decide to go for it, and that will lead to hours and hours of hard work on the piano to "figure it out". And finally managing a tiny part of something that seemed so impossible, is SOOO rewarding, and very motivating too.
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Post by Pianoted Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:55 am

jytte wrote:...
I am also very impatient, and I'm extremely tenacious (kinder word for stubborn). I find myself wanting to play music, that is light-years ahead of my skills, and that isn't available in one of those nice "scaled down for beginners" versions.
+2 (that means me and Alistair123 are like this too.) When I started learning in the end of last April, I just wanted to sit down and play Hey Jude or Piano Man by Billy Joel. Then I saw a tutorial video on Piano Man and when the guy's hand just swept across the keybed, playing the intro, I thought to myself:

Hey, you must be joking, am I supposed to be able to do that!? That's when my inner voice said you'll have to begin with one note versions of Silent Night, Für Elise, Ode to Joy, Amazing Grace and such stuff. Maybe throw in some left hand chords. Even though my outer voice still protests against that.

Actually my way of working out more sophisticated versions of my favorite songs was a little different from yours. I don't try so much playing by ear, don't see myself being very good at that. I find MIDI-files, with maybe eight instruments, play them, try to work out which ones I can throw out and which are essential for the melody and chords. Occasionally I study tutorial videos for particular songs. Was very happy when I could play the start of the intro of Michelle and Let it Be, the Beatles songs.
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Post by jytte Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:14 am

I'm not a huge Beatles fan, but I really like the older ones too. By the way i have a version of "obladi oblada" on my page (and a fingering-version is in tonight's bundle of uploads). It's listed in the '5's, but being a pop song, you can just play the chords (marked) solid, and let the keyboard do the rhytms, sounds real cool, so "if you wanna have some fun, sing obladiblada" ha ha ha. It's really not that hard, and a lot of fun to play!
Michelle, Hey Jude and When I'm Sixty-four are on my list as well, to be added very soon.

I do think we need to play the very simple stuff, because that's the only way we can practice playing rhythmically and fluently, and work our way up. But that doesn't mean we can't have a go at the more difficult stuff in between.

I had just started playing my very first pieces (the Ode to Joy stuff), when I threw myself into Bach's "Jesu bleibet meine freude". No way I could play that, but I love that tune so much, I just had to try. So I started practicing just the right hand, then got to the point where I could play that in my sleep, and started on the left hand (separately) as well. It was a big day for me when I could finally put the two hands together. The songs that we really really love, whatever their degree of difficulty, are great motivators, and if we work on them long enough, we'll get there eventually.

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Post by Pitch Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:23 pm

Due to this I started playing piano ago again. I heard Comptine d'une autre été; L'apres Midi and just had to play that but never thought I could. I changed my mindset and 3 weeks later I played it without an error. That feeling can't be described by words, it doesn't have to be, because I'm under the impression you know exactly what I mean.

My problem is that I have ADD. I have medicine now and that helps, but there are tons and tons of songs that I can play half way through which leads to irritation, until the moment I started to create things myself. The 2nd song began with the thought of what I found very hard in some songs that I stopped learning and that formed the base to create a new song. And you know? I learned it so much faster.

I can't listen to classical music for long periods of time, because my attention span is too short and my mind drifts of. I just don't expect of myself to be able to sit down and play. I can't do that and I know and accepted that of myself.

Through the manner described above I think I will be able to over time, but I didn't set it as a goal, because that will bring negative thoughts and loss of pleasure.

What I'm trying to say is to not judge yourself by what you can't do, but try to set short term goals and work your way up. To use a favourite quote of mine, it is not the goal that matters, but the journey towards it.

I must admit that I couldn't read through the whole text here above due to the before mentioned reason, but I think I got the main topic that is discussed and I thought that I had something to add in the way I experienced it. Every person is unique though and you need to find the way that works for you and, most important of all, brings the most pleasure.


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Post by jytte Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:21 pm

That's exactly right Pitch, whatever works for us and makes us enjoy playing, is the right way Smile

Oh, and by the way, you're not the only one who gets sidetracked and don't always finish things. I don't have ADD, but I DO have a stack of songs that I never really "finished" learning, because I got interested in some other piece. And we're not the only ones I'm sure. But, does it matter? We are under no obligation to play a certain "pensum" (hmm, that word is wrong, but at the moment I can't for the life of me remember the correct English word) of songs, and hurrah for that, as long as we're having fun.
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Post by Pianoted Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:56 pm

Pensum (Danish:) syllabus, curriculum, task assignment. That's right, nobody has assigned us a list of songs we are obliged to play.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pensum

That was the language pensum of the evening!

Agree with you guys, everyone has to find his or her own way. Except the government comes up with some official list of songs all piano students must play, if not done the punishment (pensum?) will be jail sentence.Sad

But not even the EU would be so authorative, even though they like to control most aspects of our lives. Cool
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Post by rbacl Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:27 pm

Heh- like everyone has to play the same note, and no fair playing a note someone doesn't know yet.

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