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#1014225 - 01/14/09 08:05 AM Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Hi, I've recently taken the plunge and begun piano lessons and I am also (on my own) ploughing my way through the Alfred’s complete book1
I have a couple of questions.
As an adult learner we find it harder to find time at the piano, right? Often l(like now ) I have time on my hands but no way to actually put my hands on a keyboard………what else can I do away from the piano to speedup / complement my hands on practice?
I thought of doing theory but it’s a bit dry and without a piano at hand I can only stomach so much!
What about reading sheet music.
Which leads me to my second question……..Alfred’s book which seems to be a favourite here pushes learning to read sheet music by intervals. I have, in my very limited experience always read the notes one at a time and although I can see that initial progression is faster with the intervals will this leave me ill-equipped when things get more complicated??
Your thoughts

Peter

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#1014226 - 01/14/09 08:28 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3166
Intervals are helpful when reading music because the mind reads notes, like words, in patterns.

So a "third", which, for example, would be middle C and the E above it, is a pattern that always looks the same, i.e. in the above example, a line note followed by the line note above it. (or a space note followed by an adjacent space note)

So, the eye sees middle C, which is a line note, and registers that the next note is on the line above, and thus sees the pattern of a third, which helps to know that it is the E above C.

I would not worry about being ill-equipped when things get more complicated. Learning to read notes individually is not mutually exclusive to reading them as intervals. They are both part of the learning and reading process, and thus are complimentary.

As you learn and play, your mind will sort things out, just as it did when you learned to read English, or tie your shoes....Trust that your mind to do that...you will do fine.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1014227 - 01/14/09 08:47 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
I can see your point but when things get heavy later on can this method still be used?

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#1014228 - 01/14/09 08:55 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3166
Sure...its a component of how you read music, not a step that is left behind later.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1014229 - 01/14/09 09:51 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Any ideas on away from the piano practicing?

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#1014230 - 01/14/09 10:49 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
I do alot of work away from the piano.
I do rhythm work, I read up on theory etc.
I agree that reading by intervals is much easier and yes some theory books can be dry but sometimes we just have to do it. Or, find a book that is more bearable.

Also, you can study a peice of music you want to learn before even playing it. Look at the rhythm, tap it out, and memorize it. Look for repeating patterns in the song. Look for parts that you think my be a challenge and focus on that. write in the fingereing etc. There's lots you can do \:\)

Also, I think the more you read intervals the easier and the more intuitive it will become. After a while you will start to recognize things (like certain chords) very quickly so you will barely even have to think about it. Most accomplished pianist I know don't read note for note-its just an extra step the brian as to go through.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1014231 - 01/14/09 11:51 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3166
Great advice, Kymber.

I might add that you can super-actively listen to music in the car, or whenever.

Some ways of doing this I often do:

Count the beats as you listen; Isolate each instrument as an ensemble or orchestra plays; Pick out the notes of the melody line, and follow them up and down.

What that does for me is make me more aware of music and its construction, and more capable of counting and following the melody while playing.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1014232 - 01/14/09 12:48 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
Great advice, [/b]
Right back at ya!

I am going to try that. Although I find it hard not to get "lost" in the music.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1014233 - 01/14/09 12:55 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Nice .....
I like the idea of studying the sheet music away from the piano, Maybe I will even look at in a different way than if I had the keyboard in front of me...sort of like taking a step back.. i'll try it.....

Not sure about the listening in the car ....have you seen the drivers over here ..you need your whits about you at all times!

Pete

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#1014234 - 01/14/09 01:01 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
Piano Monkey Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/24/08
Posts: 4
Loc: New Hampshire
While away from the piano you may also want to try one of the free note reading software programs. I found this one from Jayde Musica to be pretty good.

http://www.jaydemusica.com/index.php

Kymber, I like the idea of studying a piece away from the piano. Thanks for the great tips.

Jim

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#1014235 - 01/14/09 01:37 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I grew up with yrs. of classical
lessons, and then quit in frustration
when I was in high school, over lack of
progress, and didn't play a note for
20 yrs. Yet, strangely, during those 20
yrs., when it seemed that I would never
play again (indeed, I had vowed never to
play that confounded instrument again,
and I used to deliberately abuse my
hands in unspeakable ways,
to make sure that they would never
be able to press a key again), there was
scarcely a day that went by
where I didn't think about the piano and
why I did so badly at it.

When I finally restarted as an adult, with
big hopes of making a better showing
the second time around, I still could not
make major progress, and I ended up
quitting "for good" again, numerous times
(5 yrs., 3 yrs., 1 yr., etc.). As recently
as 2006, I quit for several months vowing
to never play that exasperating instrument
again. And again, during those times
away from playing, there was scarcely
a day that went by when I did not think
about why I did so badly at the piano.

But today I am playing better than I
ever have in my life. I've gone from
a hopeless piano case to playing big-time,
concert pianist-level pieces, pieces
that conventional wisdom says I cannot play in
any way shape or form with the kind of
below-average ability that I have.
I have found that each time that I
quit for long periods, the time away
from the piano has been beneficial overall,
because during those absences I was able
to consider why I played so badly, and
each time I started again I was able
to put that consideration into use.

Therefore, I believe that any time away
from the piano is best used to consider why
you're having problems with playing.

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#1014236 - 01/15/09 10:24 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
gyro ......you seem to have a love hate relationship with the piano. Maybe you love it because it is a challenge that keeps defeating you !
Try to love the music and forget the challenge, that way you get the pleasure without the pain....just an idea
I think that many of us here are hooked on the challenge as much as the music......or is it just me?

The time away from the piano I had in mind was more the few hours when i'm sitting in front of my computer at work without anything to do ......no not lazy just an IT administrator that has learnt "if it aint broke leave it alone!!"
just looking for a way to use this time effectivly to learn the piano faster...(the challenge!)

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#1014237 - 01/15/09 12:02 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
BobH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 30
Loc: Delaware
In my time away from the piano I spend quite a bit of time on this forum. Right now I am on my lunch hour learning from the people here.

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#1014238 - 01/15/09 12:24 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
petex, that time sitting at the computer can be put to good use by beginning to learn how to improvise. If your work situation permits, try taking a theme or a snippet from a tune that you like and hum something which would complete it or hum something which is a variation on it.

When people ask about improvising, I advise them that some of their best work can be done away from the piano. Looks like you have a built-in way to do this.

If we believe that playing music is essentially about self-expression, then it's never too early to begin.

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#1014239 - 01/15/09 12:36 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
i'm not sure i'm at the improvising level yet....still trying to following the trail of dots on the page. I will give it ago when teach leads me down this road!
Bob.. yes this forum is a great educational and motivational tool for exploring ideas. I still need to do the practicing though!!

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#1014240 - 01/15/09 02:41 PM Re: Learning away from the piano
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Please don't wait until you're lead down the improvising road. Very few teachers are even capable of doing it themselves.

The issue is, What is the purpose of making music? Most music instruction teaches people to imitate. I suggest that it would be better if you studied, in order to learn from and then used the knowledge for self-expression.

What has become traditional music instruction is in fact an aberration in the history or making music. Approximately 1200 years ago, the Imperial Chinese wrote rules for the music which would be played at court. Primacy was given to the song; within the song, primacy was given to melody; and the soloist was expected to improvise. Expected.

Contemporary music instruction is, I believe, actually derived from the requirements for managing large symphony orchestras. It may help to recall that up thru the Baroque period, orchestrations could include a cadenza - soloist improvises here.

Of course it's necessary to study. The issue is, What is the purpose of studying? The answer to that question depends on what you believe is the purpose of making music.

You have an opportunity to begin expressing yourself, even while you are learning the basics. What do you believe is the purpose of making music? This question might be better expressed as, Why do you want to learn to play the piano?

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#1014241 - 01/16/09 07:27 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Interesting ideas .....i suppose it will stem from why you want to make music.........if you had never heard music then it would probably never cross your mind to make music, so it stands to reason that we have been inspired by what we have heard. So, When first learning the piano I aspire to play the things that inspired me in the first place......once I begin to fulfill that dream I may want to add my own interpretation to the Music and then, I may decide to make my own ......but for now i have enough on my plate learning to play the fabulous music already written.........

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#1014242 - 01/16/09 11:30 AM Re: Learning away from the piano
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Ok, understood.

You know what you want to do and you have a plan for doing it. Nobody can do any better than that. All the best.

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