Piano / keyboard thread

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lancashire lass
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Piano / keyboard thread

Post by lancashire lass »

I thought I'd start a new topic following on from the any new hobbies? thread.
Not exactly a "personal diary" (like the chicken and the gardening diaries) but more like a share of any progress and if there are any piano / keyboard players around who would like to contribute and suggest ways of learning, or where to find stuff online that may be useful.
lancashire lass
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LL's progress report - keyboard and chords

Post by lancashire lass »

I meant to follow up my first post with my progress but (sigh), work got in the way. Here goes:
It's been over 3 weeks since the keyboard was delivered - after playing (as in messing around) with all the function buttons, watching lots of YouTube videos of how to access features on the keyboard (some have been useful, but some are difficult to follow - I put that down to my inexperience with a keyboard (compared to my old electronic organ which only had 6 instruments and no tempo) or lack of musical knowledge ... for example, I had no idea what an arpeggio was until I looked it up), I have more or less got a better idea of how to set up the keyboard but there is still loads to learn.
As for reading music / playing songs, my skills are definitely a bit rusty. For one, I never considered myself to be at an advanced level, more like intermediate with just enough to get by with "easy" songs for personal enjoyment (as in, playing the chords I already knew and maybe learning the odd new one for that song, but more importantly, I had to know what the song sounded like in my head first which helped to read the music and play something that it is meant to resemble) Unlike the 1970s and 1980s when I might have struggled, these days I just google search and there is no end of help online from listening to music (of course, I remember that song now) to learning more about various techniques which is proving to be very useful.
After messing around in the first week or so to become more familiar with the keyboard, and after some of the books I had ordered finally arrived, I started a structured daily practice session. It was easy when I was on annual leave because I didn't have to worry about time, but since I've started going back to work, it has made it more difficult to keep to the routine but I'm working my way through that. The recommendation is to put a half an hour practice in every day but I have to admit that it often stretched to an hour without even trying.
In addition, I also set aside a learning session about once or twice a week (might be learning how to read music beyond the basics I know already, learning about the different types of chords, or finding out more about the different functions on the keyboard - the idea is to build up my knowledge so that I can add it to my playing skills)
So - the current daily practice session consists of:
1. Playing the scales - feels like going back to school but I have noticed an improvement when playing songs as my fingers move more smoothly up and down the keyboard
2. Playing the chords I know and any new chords I have learned (preferably trying not to cheat by looking up unless I'm struggling) - some I don't even have to think about finger position and others require lots of practice so that it starts to feel natural
3. Learning a new (slightly more complicated) song in bite size portions (as in, learn just a couple of lines at a time before moving on rather than trying to learn the entire song) There's usually new chords to learn so just concentrating on a small piece at a time helps.
4. Finish off by playing a couple of songs I have already "mastered" so that I get some enjoyment out of the session, and it also helps me to see that I am making some progress.
The learning sessions are currently less structured - there's just so much to learn that I don't always know where to start or what to concentrate on first. During one of my "this looks like a nice easy song to play", I came across the E chord which up until now (since getting the keyboard) I had not learned and without even thinking about it, I played it. Obviously I must have learned it many years ago but suddenly the penny dropped. I had never really learned why chords are made up of certain keys and always just learned new ones whenever I had to. So I stopped playing and decided to try and play all the major chords without looking them up and I didn't even hesitate where my fingers landed on the keys (again, it's possible I had learned the chords before and had just forgotten) but I was aware that the keys I played matched the keys I would play when practicing the scales. Then I played all the minor chords. There it ended because the other chords were more complicated and beyond my musical understanding. So I bought a book about chords which explained everything I'd figured out for myself, and goes on to stuff I didn't know which is what I am concentrating on now.
So overall, I'm very pleased with my progress so far even though it is still early days. I'd be happy to hear from any musicians out there who might have tips and suggestions.
Mo
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Re: Piano / keyboard thread

Post by Mo »

There always is so much to learn.
I had piano lessons as a child. Learnt to read music and played lots of scales and arpeggios (except we called them broken chords). But always played the left hand from the notes, not chords. So I wouldn't know what chords to put with a melody.
I have a piano accordion and I've no idea which chords I should use to harmonise a melody.
And I never learned to play by ear, but that is what you need if you want to join in with a folk music session in a pub. I've had to pick that up, I find it easier on my recorder than the accordion.
I agree that's it's easier to play something when you know how it goes - I think it's the timing. I start playing the notes, then get a feel for the rhythm of the tune and it goes better.
And I agree about the internet. I use it a lot when learning alto lines for choir.
Dance caller. http://mo-dance-caller.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-i-do.html
Sunny Clucker enjoyed Folk music and song in mid-Cheshire
lancashire lass
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Re: Piano / keyboard thread

Post by lancashire lass »

Mo wrote: 16 Sep 2021, 13:47 I agree that's it's easier to play something when you know how it goes - I think it's the timing. I start playing the notes, then get a feel for the rhythm of the tune and it goes better.
Sometimes I just can't hear it even when I'm being very precise and mechanical with the timing (half beat, full beat and so on), but occasionally there might be a section where the sequence of notes played (even when played badly) are unmistakably familiar. For example, I couldn't even imagine what "Air on a G string" (Bach) sounded like even though I was sure I'd probably heard it before (my dad liked to listen to classical music and for some reason, marching bands when I was growing up) but then I came across a very familiar piece in the music and instantly I knew what it was and felt a lot more confident. As well as timing, I think it's the way a song is played by the musician which makes it sound easier and recognisable to the ear and I could feel myself doing the same.
But always played the left hand from the notes, not chords.
I learned to play chords (the song sheet for keyboard have it written down) and have not been very successful reading the notes. I never had piano lessons - looking back on it, I often wonder why my parents didn't encourage me when I was a child (particularly as my dad learned to play the piano when he was young - or maybe because he had lessons, it put him off making his children have to learn)
lancashire lass
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Re: Piano / keyboard thread

Post by lancashire lass »

Just a quick update of my progress (or lack of?)
Since I started going back to work (as in, to my actual place of work), it has had an impact on the time I wanted to put in for keyboard practice. I tried getting up earlier to put a quick session in but with also wanting to leave early (to miss the traffic and get to work for a parking space as well as put an hour's worth in before others turn up), that idea quickly went by the wayside. At the end of the day is not an option either - after months of working from home doing very specific tasks (obviously all computer stuff) and then going into work and expected to multi-task (between the office / dealing with people in person (and with being readily available now, being asked to do umpteen trivial things) / lab), I don't seem to be doing a good job at anything and come home feeling tired and depressed - at home I was drawing up an average 100 documents a week whereas this has dropped to about 20 and even then with the multiple disruptions, not well done either so I've had to go back and double check everything}hairout{
Anyway, I managed to put some practice in a couple of evenings but the enthusiasm had waned considerably. I think the main reason is that I didn't feel up to learning anything new and ended up doing the same routine. Over the weekend, I decided to push myself into trying some of the more "difficult" songs (even though the songs in the book are supposed to be written in an easy version) I had been eyeing the song The Entertainer (from the movie with Robert Redford) for a while but had been put off by the music score. Anyway, I tentatively (and slowly) played the keys and surprised myself at how quickly I started to pick it up made easier by the fact that I was already familiar with all the chords. I decided to see if there were any YouTube videos for a bit of inspiration and found one which is something I should be able to do with my keyboard (I still haven't mastered how to use the other features on the keyboard so all I've been doing at the moment is just playing the keys) Now if I could just work out the instruments and styles used in this clip ...^b:
phpBB [video]
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