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#1204765 - 05/23/09 05:48 PM want to loosen up at the piano
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Hi everyone! This is my first post here. Got some questions and some observations and generally want to chat about piano.

I'll introduce myself a little first? I'm in my thirties, Scottish, learned classical piano as a kid (to Grade 8, then did a diploma). At some point toward the end of my piano-lessons-time my teacher declared it was time I learned to improvise, that there was no such thing as a wrong note, and that I should play something. Well, sorry, but all those years of trying to play the right notes had an effect on me, and I never could really 'loosen up.' What I did learn was harmony, and I can harmonise given a melody and chords. Give me enough time and I'll work out my own chords, but I like mucking about with the 'Hits for Buskers' series.

Well, eventually I grew up, left home, did all the usual stuff, and what can I say? Went for many years without practicing my Hanon exercises.

I have a piano again now, and my interest in playing is revived. So partly I'm re-learning pieces I used to be able to play, but I would really like to get somewhere with the improvising that always eluded me.

I've taken up guitar (electric) and after just about 2 months could improvise quite happily on that. So this whole new world opened up to me (it's called 'blues') and I got myself this book - Blues Piano by Mark Harrison - which I've been learning from. All this theory and scales and techniques, and I love it, and how did I ever manage to play piano for so long without finding out about it???? Now I've nowhere near exhausted the book, but I'm still no-where closer to improvising. Plus, this is mainly fast-and-furious, and I would just like to be able to amble by, like what Sam does in Casablanca. And also, it would be cool to be able to do some jazz, and some rock, and generally be able to entertain people.

So, my question: where do I go from here? I've been lurking a bit here and noticed the Rockschool stuff mentioned, also a Jazz Piano book. Mark Harrison has a load of other books, and then there are loads more by other authors, but of the same Hal Leonard series. What would people here recommend?

Is there anything that will help me improvise? What I did on guitar was play up and down a blues scale with backing track till I felt comfortable, and then just choose a few notes to jam from. Does anyone find this works on piano too, or are there other techniques? I appreciate that there's more than one way to skin a cat, but I'd just like to hear from other people that have gone through a similar process.

Er - this is a rather long post, can you cope with some more?

Just a couple of observations I've had while trying to play blues - was wondering if anyone else had the same thing. First, the separation of the left and right hands - that I learned when I was 7 and had pretty much mastered by the time I was 8 - I've had to re-learn it all over again. Talk about autopilot for the left hand! It's just utterly maddening to have to go sooooo ssslllooowww through a single bar, that isn't really all that difficult, except that my right hand keeps trying to change at the same time as my left. dammit.

Also, having the minor third and then the major third in the same bar, in the same beat, one in the left, the other in the right - this just totally confuses my fingers. Even when I *know* what I want to play - I can hear it - my fingers just refuse to obey. They want to know - major or minor? - I can't have both.

OK, I think I've probably said enough for one night. Any thoughts?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1204773 - 05/23/09 06:02 PM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: ten left thumbs]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5283
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Welcome, ten -

There's a thread a little further down this forum called "How do you lose compulsion for full notation?" which didn't get a lot of traffic but had some good ideas (I'll admit, some of them from me smile ) But I suspect you've got a good start with at least the technical skills to do some improvising. Some of us are still learning those, too. Any way, check out the other thread and maybe something there will hit the nail for you. Otherwise, there are others who will chime in here with ideas I think.

Cathy
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#1204800 - 05/23/09 07:17 PM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: jotur]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Thanks Cathy, I'd browsed there a bit, and will check some of the things out.

Couple of questions: piano magic, is that: http://www.piano-magic.co.uk/news.html? Doesn't look right.

Edit: no, it must be this one:
http://www.pianomagic.com/PMMOcourse/whatispm.html

ABF - adult beginners forum? How do I get from there to the Autumn leaves thread? Can't seem to find my way about.


Edited by ten left thumbs (05/23/09 07:24 PM)
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1204809 - 05/23/09 07:38 PM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: ten left thumbs]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5283
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Yes, pianomagic is the pianomagic.com link: http://www.pianomagic.com/

ABF is, yes, the adult beginners forum, although if you listen to the recital that's stickied at the top you'll find that our range of music varies widely.

The Autumn Leaves thread has fallen off the front page (at least, with my preference of 35 threads/page it has). I think the easiest way to get there from the first page of the ABF forum is to click on the "Important Topics" thread near the top, scroll down to "Study Groups", and click on the "jazz" link.

Sorry about the cryptic information. Hope you find something that's interesting.

Cathy
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#1204989 - 05/24/09 07:45 AM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: jotur]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Thanks Cathy, I think I'm getting somewhere now. Jazz study group sounds about right. Had a quick look on pianomagic - not to my taste.

The things I've found with playing blues (the separation of the left and right hands, and confusion over 3rds) does anyone else feel the same? The other thing I have trouble with is tremolos between the hands - just now sure what I'm doing.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1205217 - 05/24/09 06:45 PM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: ten left thumbs]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 351
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

The things I've found with playing blues (the separation of the left and right hands, and confusion over 3rds) does anyone else feel the same?


Do you mean the clashes of the minor and major third? Like Eb in Cmajor? For some reason the sonority of the blues scales seems to work despite the dissonance but the most natural way to treat the blues scale during a regular 12 bar blues is to emphasize the non dissonant notes over each chord and build the phrases around those.
In a C major blues the most obvious notes to use would be G, C, Bb over the first C7 chord and when the chord changes to F7 you'd hover around C Eb F instead.
The A minor blues scale or pentatonic scale works really well in a Cmajor blues on a C7 chord, just as D minor works well over F7 and E minor over G7. G minor blues scale works OK over C7 as well if you omit the F or treat it with care. I think this is a pretty good basic approach to jazz as I see it; to get familiar with what upper chord structures and scales that fits certain chords and progressions.


Edited by KlinkKlonk (05/24/09 06:50 PM)

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#1206048 - 05/26/09 11:00 AM Re: want to loosen up at the piano [Re: KlinkKlonk]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Thanks Klinkklonk I will try playing around with those notes.

But, yes, what I was meaning was when trying to follow the notes on the page, I consistently make mistakes with the 3rds. If I'm in G, for example, it's the constant flicker between Bb and B the confuses my fingers. One bar it's B. Next bar it's Bb. Next I get a grace note (Bb to B) and then I get a B in the left hand and a Bb in the right.

My head and my ear take in the fact that it's blues, and that's what it's about. But me fingers, just, don't! That's all.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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