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#2243104 - 03/08/14 11:41 AM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Thanks you all for your thoughts. It means a lot. And yes, the older I get the more I realize how really short life is.

As for music, I do feel like I've moved in to another sphere. I think I said that I've dropped out of the band I've been in for 20 years. Last night I went to a regular jam where they play mostly Irish, but other kinds of traditional music, too. All by ear. I've been many times in the past, but not regularly. But this time I had learned a traditional Irish tune by ear in the last couple of weeks.

What a feeling of relaxation and centeredness!

Not only was it much more an informal this-is-about-the-music and not this-is-about-us-being-a-cool-band-let's-show-off feeling than the band has become - it kind of has to be more of a free-for-all laugh , I was much more focused on hearing the music and let it flow thru me.

I also wanted to get out of the oom-pah habit. That's a great tool, perfect for contra dances, but not always best for other kinds of trad music. So I droned on I and V as open chords (what guitarists call "power chords") for much of the time I played. Sometimes I added rhythms. I listened to the guitar player, who plays very complex rhythms and picks up pieces of melody for spices, or short harmony lines. In this context even stuff I have memorized from the band was "new" and I had to kind of pick it up on the fly. I played both of the tunes I wanted to learn by ear for this project, and while I could play the melody on one I couldn't play both it and the left hand at the same time laugh On the other I tried out backing and tried to see if I could ingrain enough melody I'll actually recognize the tune the next time it's played laugh I'll look it up on youtube before the next jam and learn it, too.

I talked afterwards with my piano tech, who plays whistle and squeeze box, and they're totally in synch with what I'm learning and all of them are very supportive. I've known them for a long time, but was just never quite "there" in what I was doing about the music.

But I came away really relaxed and refreshed and feeling at home.

So it was a good week over all.

Cathy
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#2243119 - 03/08/14 12:07 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2020
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
I have to record the Chopin nocturne for the PC e-cital. Now that I played it for public twice (Phoenix piano club and community college recital), I am not motivated to play it any more. I think recording is harder than live performance. I wince at each of my mistakes.

I'm preparing two pieces for my violin recital in September. I'm a beginner (took violin only 3 years as a child) and one of my pieces is G major Bach Menuet which I played it as a child on the piano. I pulled out my old score and played the piece. I'm amazed how pretty it is. Instantly remember the sensation I felt as a kid when it transitioned to minor key. I was also glad to notice that I made tremendous progress since then.
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Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Schumann Op 12 Warum and Grillen and Mozart K 475 Fantasy C minor
Collaboration - Concerto in C for Oboe and orchestra attributed to Haydn edited by Evelyn Rosewell


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#2248419 - 03/18/14 02:57 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
carlos88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/13
Posts: 95
Loc: Colorado
I completely agree with you FarmGirl - after going through a recording process with any piece, I don't want to look at it again for months. Good luck with your recital in the fall. It's a wonderful thing to play a stringed instrument.


Currently working on:
1) Bach's Italian Concerto, third movement. Each week is 1-2 new pages of hands separate (HS), plus putting hands together for the previous week's HS. Currently page 4 HS, pages 1-3 hands together.

2) Tchaikovsky - Seasons, December - for the April recital. Picked it back up 2 weeks ago. Trying to memorize the coda and trio sections this week.

3) Liszt - Un Sospiro. Through about measure 50 this week. First of two weeks HS on the second cadenza section. Trying to memorize the first 50 measures, to be able to practice by memory, which helps with all the arpeggios and hand-over-hand sections.

This is one of the 3 main pieces that brought me back to the piano about 3 years, along with Clair de Lune and Rach. Prelude in C# minor. Of course, I didn't have a chance in heck of playing this piece then, at least beyond the initial section.

A lot has changed since then though, including the ability to play a polyrhythm of 7 or 8 against 3.


4) Copland - The Cat and the Mouse. reading the last page for the first time, working on small sections this week to make consistent and bring up to speed. Trying to memorize the middle dream section, where the cat is dreaming of the mouse, and the mouse is dreaming of the cheese.
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#2250739 - 03/22/14 11:19 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Well, last Sunday I went to a gig of the band I was in, and I had a great time in the audience smile The band sounded good with the new piano player, and she is ecstatic to have a band to play with, so I think it worked out well.

In the mean time, I've picked up another tune by ear, and transposed several, and monkeyed around with doing fills and frills on a couple more. And I've tried transposing a pop piece that I have memorized. Not only is it a process to figure out the chords in a different key, tho I know intellectually how to do that, of course they can't be played in the same inversions in a different place on the piano. So that's a challenge. Then I sang it with just the melody in Bb (it's orginally in G). It can be frustrating, but it's also highly encouraging to me.

And I'm still putting polish on my Joplin pieces, and started Weeping Willow. The big challenges there are accents and dynamics (not to mention the big RH octaves). But I think it's all coming along. So mostly I'm happy smile

Cathy
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#2251128 - 03/23/14 07:39 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 455
Loc: Midwest USA
Focus, unlike forgiveness of sin, is not forever. It has to be renewed time and time again. -Stubbie smile

I've been holding off posting on this thread because I was still getting into the swing of lessons, but I think I've settled on a routine. That said, there's a week's gap in lessons (spring break), so my teacher assigned me four pieces and some scales to work on. Thus far, all the pieces I'm working on have come from Essential Keyboard Repertoire Vol. 2.

Scales/arpeggios. I'm doing RH and LH major scales, plus major third arpeggios. For practice purposes, I wrote note names on slips of paper and put those in an envelope. I draw one out and do the RH scale and arpeggio, then the LH scale and arpeggio. This randomizes the order I practice them in and makes me focus on what I'm doing--doing them in a certain order doesn't get baked in.

Kuhnau, Prelude. RH broken chords--practice as blocked chords to get the fingering, hand-shape, and sound settled. Then add in LH chords (these are blocked chords), still doing the RH as blocked chords. When I get comfortable with that, I'll switch to the as-written broken chords in the right hand. Getting smooth triplets and acceptable tempo: still to come.

Bach, Prelude (from Six Little Preludes). First order of business was practicing the LH mordents. Got a ways to go there. I've settled on fingering for the piece, and played it through HT yesterday and today.

Scarlatti, Sonata in Aria Style. I had made a stab at this one about a year ago, on my own, so after a few times through it, it doesn't feel too awkward. One thing has me scratching my head, though. I looked at the score for this at IMSLP, and that score has a LH Bb (dotted eighth quarter note) in m. 20 as a second voice an octave below the tenor voice (Bb A Bb as eighth notes). In the Ess. Key. Rep. book, that measure has only the tenor Bb A Bb notes, but the suggested numbering is what you would expect if you were playing the tenor Bb and the dotted eighth quarter Bb an octave below with 1 and 5. So my dilemna is which version to play. It sounds better to me with the octave Bb's, but my teacher will probably say play it as written in the book--but is the book in error? This piece is one where I can see myself spending a fair amount of time working on expression.

Mozart, Menuet in F Major, K. 6. I don't think this one is going to make it onto my permanent repertoire list, but it's probably a good exercise. So far, I've concentrated on m. 1-4 to get the pattern down, and added in m. 5-10 to bring in the RH staccato notes.


Plenty to keep me busy.


Edited by Stubbie (03/24/14 02:09 PM)
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#2251146 - 03/23/14 08:38 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2436
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
With Joplin out of the way I have rushed headlong into my Tchaikovsky pieces with a renewed vigour. I have three pieces done for the Album for the Young and am finishing the Album Leaf. Next week is the last week of the quarter so I'll take that off. Hopefully I'll have recorded Album Leaf by then.

When I get back to the piano on April 5 I should be starting the Rachmaninoff Prelude and the Chopin Ballade alongside my regular fare.

It's been a quiet year for me on this thread as I've been mostly restoring my recently learnt and forgotten pieces. I'm almost finished that work now and am comfortable leaving many of the pieces another year (apart from the odd run through occasionally).
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#2253905 - 03/29/14 01:01 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I'll reiterate what I said on the Joplin comments thread.

I've been focusing on focusing when I'm practising, and I think it's made a world of difference.

But I've never really focused on how to focus when I'm performing smile So I think that's the next, additional, step. To learn to intentionally focus more often when I'm performing. Not that I haven't been aware of doing that when I gig, but it's much more hit or miss than when I'm practicing, and I think it would be rewarding to be in that groove with more consistency than I have been. It's such fun when I am - like being at one with the universe laugh

It's much easier when I'm playing with a band, because there is such synergy between the other musicians and the dancers (or audience when we were doing that kind of performance), and that interaction lifts me. It's much harder for me doing solo gigs, I think because the thought that "it's about me! Yikes!" is distracting. So I think that's one clue - to make the solo less that distracting "deer in the headlights" and more about music, so that the communication is more in evidence.

And actually, since I'm having trouble articulating what it is about solo that I would like to have happen, that in itself is a clue as to what's not quite there, eh?

I think being non-distracted with the "yikes! I'm on!" is likely to be a bigger change than just something about performing piano smile

So here we go -

Cathy
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#2254087 - 03/29/14 11:29 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Ok, so you guys are going to have to put up with me working on this smile But here we go -

I went back to the Musician's Way web sites to find some insight. The big thing here is to not read all of it at once - not to plunge in and be overwhelmed. Always such a temptation.

But I didn't. And one take away that I got was the "practice performing" one that I often forget. I do try to practice looking up and around, but the whole performance - no, I don't do that. I don't practice the approach, the deep breath, the focusing before starting, etc.


So one thing that occurs to me is that I need to keep a performance practice and performance itself note. I have all my repertoire in a loose leaf notebook and make notes about tempos, accents, interpretations, chord progressions, etc. But as I've said before, performing itself is a skill. So it might help to keep aware of that separately. So I have 3 new sheets in my notebook - performance practice - gigs, performance practice - recording, and performance - gig reviews. So those notes should help me pinpoint what I do, and what might help it be easier.

Another take away was that in order to perform one needs to know why one is doing it laugh With a band that was easy for me. But the only reason I had articulated for the solo work was to have a back up if the band ever went away. Not a very positive motivator, huh.

So I wondered how I could have the same motivations for solo work that I have for band. And what kind of things do I love about other peoples' solo work? Three things came to mind - one of my real motivators in piano was the old Shakey's Pizza Parlors that had live ragtime performances while you ate. I loved it. It made me happy. And I love background piano bar stuff while I'm eating out and talking with friends (hi, WiseBuff and spouse! Thursday night was perfect!) So the positive motivators for solo work are to make people cheery or calm and peaceful. I can do that. And the last is the sense of community. That's why I think the Farmers Mkt would be fun. And for that matter, that's what the pizza parlors and piano bar are about. So those are my positive motivators and things to remember as I start a gig - that's what it's about.

So I started practice this evening with some of that in mind, and made some notes, and maybe over the long run it'll make a difference.

Cathy
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#2254642 - 03/31/14 03:10 AM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: jotur]
SwissMS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 818
Loc: Switzerland
Jotur/Cathy, I like your thoughts about what motivates you to perform. I also like the idea of touching people with the music that I play, and making them happy. It is all about sharing.

The Musician's Way is a great resource as well. I have the book on my phone and read excerpts on my way to and from my lesson. I pick up something new each time.

The past week I have been focussed on changing aspects of my technique, and that will continue this week. I Think I have finally discovered the missing element in my running passages and will continue to work on it this week. I have been trying to decide the best way to utlilze this thread, and I think I will start posting the goals for the week after my Monday lesson. That way, maybe I can remember what my teacher told me to do!

ABRSM pieces: I clearly under estimated these, particularly Peruanita. It is an interesting mix of Latin rhythms, staccato, non-legato, and legato playing. I need one more week at ultraslow before bringing to tempo. The other two will get a baseline recording this week. I need to focus on relaxing non playing fingers.

Tchaikowsky "March: My "Lark" is not frisky enough. So, I will refine the interpretation and re-record. I also need to assure a steady tempo in the 32nd note sections with the 64th note ornaments. The left hand must stay even and at tempo. I need to record again.

Kuhlau Sonatina: I have made the mistake (again) of practicing this too fast, and it is coming apart. Now that I am changing how I approach running passages, I need to rebuild it. The fast Alberti base in the Rondo is getting better, but I still need to focus on increasing tempo while staying even. I will do short sections LH only to get the feel of faster.

Venetian Boat Song: This, along with the Kuhlau are my June recital pieces. I need to focus on slow practice and accuracy of this. I want it perfect in the recital!


Edited by SwissMS (03/31/14 11:19 AM)
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European Piano Party July 4, 2015 in Switzerland!

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#2254969 - 03/31/14 06:17 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2436
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Interesting thoughts on performance, Cathy and Doris. I don't think of sharing music when I'm performing. I try to immerse myself in the music as an escape from the audience.

I do pretty much the same thing when I'm performing as when I go through my repertoire at weekends, which is concentrate on what I'm playing or about to play. I try to shape each phrase as I want it before I play it and worry not about what I've already played. Practise and recording are the opposite, listening to what's gone and how I've done, not worrying so much about the next phrase.

I'd like the recording to be more like performance but the permanence is a stress inducing game changer. I rely on the fact/hope that I've done enough performance rehearsal that muscle memory carries much of the load.

I'm about to take a week's break from piano and start analysing and preparing the material I've planned for the rest of the year. I've spent the first quarter working more on restoring past glories and less on new material. Much of the coming week will be how to reorganise my practise schedule as I'm about to start the Chopin Ballade I need to accommodate a greater workload on the one piece. My current practise schedule doesn't really allow for this.

I have most of last year's pieces back in my fingers now but still have some 2012 pieces that are being stubborn. It was the extra workload of Mendelssohn and Grieg recitals that threw me a little, if not my newness back at the piano, but if I manage my themed recital work better and try to keep this year's material simmering I may be able to tackle those in the first quarter of 2015.

I recently started my week on Saturdays instead of Mondays to give the new week's material a kick start in time available. It's helped the pieces noticeably but it's reduced the time I devote to repertoire so I'm going to start on Sundays as a compromise and see how I do.

I've still to record the Tchaikovsky Album Leaf. I may try this during the week but I think it might benefit more from a few days off.
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#2256759 - 04/04/14 12:39 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 252
Hi Everyone,

Its been awhile since I last posted. Here is what I'm working on:

Rach 3/2-Have not done much on this piece. Currently memorizing bars 1-9 HT.

Tchai Nocturne 10/1: I love this piece but it is really giving me trouble. Itís the notes and my brain. I havenít memorized it but perhaps I need to as Iím always hitting wrong notes or losing my place in the score. Itís very frustrating.

Ballade: Perhaps Iíll post about this in the ballade thread.

Moonlight 3-My practicing of this is currently focused on Alberti patterns. I take all the configurations and go through them, trying to keep my fingers even. Yikes it is so difficult! Even the Ďtrillí part of the alberti is difficult to keep even. And every new group of notes changes things up and can make it more or less challenging. I think it will take significant time for me to get this kind of control over my fingers. However I am enjoying the practice.

Scriabin Prelude Op. 11 No. 9óThis is a one-pager. Had to redistribute some of the notes from one hand to the other in order to be able to reach the chords and bring out the melody and make it legato. Actually there are 8 places where I redistribute notes (as a trial). Getting my brain to compute the redistribution when I read the score will be tricky.

Grieg Op 12, No 1 Arietta-Another miniature piece (1 page). Last week I worked on the notes. This week Iíll work on the musical aspects. Iím enjoying the study of these shorter pieces.

Happy practicing! smile

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#2257266 - 04/05/14 04:42 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
SwissMS - I think I saw your post about how your technique works in your runs. It is always interesting to bring one's curiosity to practice so you get those aha! moments. Good for you. I need to remember those times.

Richard - yes, I think after this week it reaffirms for me that the performance should be more like practice rather than the other way around smile The listening, the curiosity, the awareness, the focus/centeredness. That's what works for me. Rather than practicing playing thru the "yikes! I'm on stage" I'm better off practicing never getting to that stage - stay in the music.

One of the things I've thought more about this week is the goals. I was getting way too jaded about the gigs, so I thought about why I'm really doing them now. I finally wrote in pencil on a card at the front of the set list "I'm glad I've got a gig" because really, right now I need the money laugh Worked for me. And I think I needed to just refresh my whole attitude anyway.

So one of the ways I got a little more excited was to call the Farmers Market. Unfortunately they have only acoustic music and no real piano frown . But they gave me the number of the Artists Mkt in the same building, and I called them. I sent them 3 mp3s of stuff I've done in the ABF quarterly recitals (yea ABF!), and you know, I really can play the piano laugh That helped a lot. I don't know when I might hear from them, but they're booked until June, so at least if I can play I have a little time to get my act together.

The other big idea that kept turning up in Musicians Way was - accessible repertoire. I swear sometimes I think none of the pieces I play are accessible to me :\ And the ones I've picked up because they're easy/simple I still foul up. But I had a gig this morning, and reviewed it afterwards, and there are several things I've known for a long time that I think I'll finally address:

1. The intros to the old big band pieces are always iffy. They tend to be sophisticated, sometimes not in the same key as the piece, sometimes with only an echo of the familiar piece. And I nearly always forget them. So I need to make up intros that make sense to me and integrate better.

2. I sometimes get ahead of myself when I'm playing a piece I can do some improvising/variations on. So I need to play it simply first to get centered.

3. I sometimes start too fast laugh I bet nobody else ever does that, huh? I think for me I need to remember that the beat and the swing works better than a fast tempo. It's music, make it toe-tapping.

So I think in all it was a good week - sort of got a little kick-start that gave me some fun/interest/ability to focus again. I'll continue the play-by-ear stuff and paying attention/listening to chord progressions because I really believe that will help in being easy about what comes next and faking things if I need to. I'll identify the pieces I can pretty much always count on so I have a few "accessible" pieces for back ups at a gig if something I've planned turns out to be something I really don't want to tackle at the minute laugh

And I am still more than impressed with you folks who play a repertoire of classical music. Way to go.

Cathy
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#2261167 - 04/13/14 06:21 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Ok, sigh. I had a gig today. And it just reinforced that I need a repertoire I can play even when I'm completely distracted. It was, as usual, at a retirement home. So the first person who sits down to "listen" is a boy, about 11 years old I'd say, who wants to talk, one, when I'm playing, and two, instead of me playing. Who wudda thunk? but then, there is *always* something like that. So I need a lot more tunes I can play while I'm figuring out how to deal with that. Or anything else. I wanted to pay attention, but I really wasn't there to talk to him at the expense of playing tunes the residents knew. But it was distracting to try to be polite, to say the least. And I played like it was distracting, too, sigh.
So I just sat down to make a list to completely revamp my repertoire yet again. I don't think I have to play *only* tunes I can play while I'm distracted, but I sure think I need a lot more of them in the mix so I have them there. Daisy, any one?

On the other hand, the playing by ear session went really well. I picked up several tunes (the melody) at tempo, and on tunes I knew I could vary the left hand some. So I was really pleased with that. And I absolutely think it helps in other repertoire - it's amazing how much more often I recognize, in some way other than just muscle/visual memory, what it is I'm playing. A slog, but a good one!

So that "accessible repertoire" meme from Musicians Way is setting in smile

Cathy
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#2261638 - 04/14/14 03:26 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: jotur]
SwissMS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 818
Loc: Switzerland
Jotur/Cathy I cannot imagine trying to play while someone is trying to talk to me. That is a real challenge! Congratulations on your playing by ear success. That is something I would like to work on as well. I can pick out a melody, but that is about it!

I had a piano party on Saturday, and today was the "post mortem" with my teacher. She was actually pleased with my playing, and didn't even catch my "fake through" in a spot that I had an attack of fuzzy memory. So, the Tchaikovsky and the Mendelssohn pieces go into repertoire maintenance mode. So this week's goals are as follows:

ABRSM pieces: These just need a little more finessing and need to be played cold as a set several times a day. I will perform these for the first time at another piano party on April 26.

Technical work: I need to start sitting down throughout the day and play a scale or arpeggio cold, at speed. I need to find the weak spots now, while I still have time to fix them before the exam.

New Kuhlau Piece, Sonatina in A minor 88 3: When I chose the first Kuhlau Sonatina (20 1) I played, it was to prepare for this one, which I love. This week I am listening to recordings with the score, and starting in on the the running passages in the first movement. Those are going to be the challenge. I am also starting on the Burlesco, first page only.

Diabelli Duet: Very slow play assuring adequate preparation is built in and accuracy is maintained.

Kuhlau 20 1: I am trying staccato work on the the running passages to improve evenness. I have done a baseline recording, and they still need work! I will probably submit the first movement for the quarterly recital, if I am happy with the runs.

Sightreading: I am doing 30 minutes per day, and it is getting better, but I am not up to Grade 5 standard yet. Keep working!
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#2261667 - 04/14/14 05:17 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2436
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I have been inconstant in my postings here. This week was mostly wrapping up the Tchaikovsky piece and sliding gently into the first five of the new workload for the rest of the year.

I've spent the last quarter recovering forgotten pieces and finishing a few others from last year. I still have some recovery work to do but the rest of this year will be spent on fifteen pieces, instead of twenty, some new, some already started and some from time past when I was a lesser pianist.

The fifteen include the Chopin Ballad in G min, Clementi Sonata in F# min and Rachmaninoff Prelude in C#min but while I'm waiting for Carl on the latter I'll be tackling sections of Saint-SaŽns Danse Macabre, the Cramer transcription - I'm not up for the Liszt one.

Valencia, the Ballad is in my Group 3 so it'll be another week before I start it. I'll be starting with the Presto, M208. Have I told you that yet? I've lost track of our conversations! If I'm to get through the piece at this sitting, a big ask without a teacher (and not easy with one!), I'm going to have to start at the hardest part and I think this is it in overall terms.

But this week I've to get started on polishing my next ABF Recital piece and easing into my second practise group.
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Richard

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#2261789 - 04/14/14 09:31 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: zrtf90]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 252
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Valencia, the Ballad is in my Group 3 so it'll be another week before I start it. I'll be starting with the Presto, M208. Have I told you that yet? I've lost track of our conversations! If I'm to get through the piece at this sitting, a big ask without a teacher (and not easy with one!), I'm going to have to start at the hardest part and I think this is it in overall terms.


This sounds great Richard...look forward to working through the piece with you. smile

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#2262186 - 04/15/14 02:52 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
The dept. of irony report: I just got a call from the recreation director at my gig Sunday, and I got rave reviews laugh Reminds me of the time a band I put together was so bad, according to the owner, that we didn't even get our free meal. But that was the gig we got the most tips for laugh

SwissMS - playing cold is something I try to do fairly often, too. You folks who are in the "recital of the month" club impress me laugh

Cathy
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#2264575 - 04/20/14 01:53 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I felt much better about the gig this week. However, I don't think I, objectively, played any better that I did the week before. So I've decided that the way I feel has absolutely nothing to do with how the gig actually went laugh

There were a couple of concepts this week that essentially said the same thing that I think are important. When I was a kid I was one of those folks who could learn something just long enough for the test, and not any longer laugh A couple of blogs addressed this. I think it was Robert Bork that talked about research in to whether performance reflects long-term learning. He says, not always. That often using good practice for long-term learning does *not* result in good short term performance. Long term learning is enhanced by "interleaved practice" - practising a variety of different skills for short amounts of time, rather one skill for a long time. Then the Bullet Proof Musician addressed the same issue - reporting on a study of how well different strategies resulted in long-term learning. People who studied for, say, 3 hours, and then were tested quite soon on recall, did well at recall. But people who studied a short time and then tested 3 times in a short time, didn't do well on recall. But - a week later, the folks who studied shorter but tested more did better. The conclusion: practicing studying and practicing recall have different results, and are different things. And one thing you want to have if you perform a lot is good recall.

So practicing "cold", as SwissMS does, is a good thing. Along with interleaved practice, so that the recall is reinforced.

The by ear has been fun, too. I went to an invited session and didn't take my keyboard because it was a pain to load it after a long day at work. But the host had a virginal! So the string players tuned down to it so I could play. What fun! Virginals and harpsichords and pianofortes encourage a whole different kind of accompaniment - baroque stuff. I love it.

And there is one old-time tune that's played often at the regular session that I like, but I can never get it started. Once it's started I can play it. So I tried to figure out a way to remember how it starts, and I think I'm finally there. I sang the first two measures a lot, and counted with them so I knew it was two measures laugh , and then I also play them with my right hand a lot when I'm not at the keyboard, and remember the melody starts with my index finger on F#. So I think that's working. Success!

Good week.

Cathy
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#2264913 - 04/21/14 11:02 AM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2436
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm still undecided as to which piece to submit for the ABF Recital. I'm working on two, one for ABF #34 (Chopin) and one for #35 (Schubert) but the former is not sounding as well as the latter so I'm thinking of switching. This will give me an advantage for August (ABF #35) but it's making life difficult right now.

I started my third group yesterday. Most of the time went on the Chopin Ballade. There are two other pieces in the group that are new to me, Bach's Gigue in Eb from his French Suite and Haydn's English Sonata which I investigated in the Classical Sonata Analysis thread in December 2012. The more familiar pieces are Scarlatti's Kp. 159 from last year needing development and easy tempo and some extracts from Danse Macabre (Cramer's transcription) until Carl is ready to start the Rachmaninoff Prelude.

Good Friday and Easter Monday are Public Holidays in the UK but not here in Ireland. I've maintained the tradition and taken them off every year since I've been here. Today's another long one at the piano. Same amount of practise, of course (brain limited), but more time on existing repertoire and work away from the piano. Every little helps.
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Richard

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#2264914 - 04/21/14 11:02 AM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
aTallGuyNH Offline
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Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 509
Thanks for sharing your continuing journey Cathy.

For me I've been poking along as always, not focusing -- at least not in the sense of having a plan of attack. I am focusing in the sense of just working on two things: Against All Odds, and improvising, mostly in C, B, Db, and F.

My sense of rhythm is still horrendous. While playing our church's Yamaha keyboard the other day, I discovered that I am unable to count to the number four along with the metronome when playing, at all.

However, if I add in the auto-generated drums, suddenly I have something musical in my ears. There is a pulse to it that got my toes tapping and body swaying a little bit, vs. a completely sterile marking of time. I didn't apply it to Against All Odds yet, but it suddenly made my improv sound like it could (with practice and further development) turn into something I could submit to a recital.

So, I'll start to focus on that as well.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2264961 - 04/21/14 01:22 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: aTallGuyNH]
SwissMS Offline
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Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 818
Loc: Switzerland
I am getting ready for yet another piano party on Saturday. We couldn't get all the adult students together for last weekend, and it would have been quite a house full, so the other half are coming Saturday. This will be my debut of my ABRSM pieces. It is funny, I thought that these were easy pieces, and they are technically. However, musically they are a challenge. Although my teacher considers them passable for the exam, they are not passable to her! So this week's focus is putting more finesse into these little pieces. The Scarlatti (Sonata in G Minor) needs much more grounded phrasing, and clearer thirds. The Romantic piece, (The Sun is Setting), needs more left hand shaping, and the modern piece (La Peruanita), needs a left hand that sounds like a Latin waltz played on a guitar. So, that will be my focus this week!
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European Piano Party July 4, 2015 in Switzerland!

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#2264986 - 04/21/14 03:17 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Richard - congrats on being ahead of the game for the May recital. The ABF recitals are places where I've been known to use the "just long enough for the test" way too often laugh

aTallGuyNH - I think it's good that you're improvising in more than one key. How do you approach that? Do you play the scale first, or a set of cadences? Or just visualize the key? Are you using both hands? Block chords in root position, or inversions? I ask because I've done some transposing of easy tunes and I'm looking for ideas of how to do it without just plunging in and panicking.

SwissMS - have a good time at your piano party. I think if I had had to do the musicality work you're doing when I first started I would have quit laugh Fortunately for me when I re-started I was just doing oom-pahs, but since it was dance music, it was music for me from the beginning! It's been a long process to have that happen for melodies, especially at dance tempos. But I'm still working at it!

Have a good week, everyone.

Cathy
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#2264995 - 04/21/14 03:54 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: jotur]
aTallGuyNH Offline
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Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 509
Originally Posted By: jotur
aTallGuyNH - I think it's good that you're improvising in more than one key. How do you approach that? Do you play the scale first, or a set of cadences? Or just visualize the key? Are you using both hands? Block chords in root position, or inversions? I ask because I've done some transposing of easy tunes and I'm looking for ideas of how to do it without just plunging in and panicking.


I just know the keys, and those are the four easiest ones (actually five, I neglected to mention G for some reason). I play the scale very briefly just to get my bearings.

Mostly block chords, although I'm experimenting with doing more. I'm not very dextrous, so it'll take same time to get less awkward with it.

I've graduated beyond just major/minor 5ths, which gets terribly dull pretty quickly. So it's mostly everything else -- 7ths, 6ths, 2nds, and 4ths, probably in that order of preference. 9ths are also fun, but 11ths are a bit beyond the limit of what I can keep in mind as options while playing (very slowly mind you).

Whether they are inverted or not is random, mostly because I'm playing chords that are in the key with only a general sense of what I'm doing musically. Meaning, I'll play the chord, and only if I pause and look at it will I be able to work backwards to identify it by name.

That's not the case 100% though, I can play them deliberately. For instance, it's a nice ending (a bit hackneyed, but easy to remember) to go from 4th to 2nd (or vice versa) to 5th of the key. Inverting those variously can make it more interesting.

Yes, both hands... I'm often hitting something in the left other than the root of the chord, which I learned from a steady diet of Billy Joel songs. Sometimes I'm doing it by design, and others it's just dumb luck that it sounds nice with my meanderings in the right hand.

When I hit a real clunker (i.e. my fingers cooperated, but the chord just didn't fit the context), I cringe and move on. I really should stop and analyze what were the last couple chords though and see what it was about the progression that made it not work. I've usually forgotten already by then though. Maybe I could try an overhead camera shot to record and then go back.

I've started modulating lately, which is a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge to make it not sound terribly jarring. Even more challenging is to have it sound more "Oooh, that was nice!" than "Hmmm, that was a bit awkward".

Re: transposing tunes, that would be much tougher to me. I've done it for three songs now to learn them fully, but it's always by actually writing it out. I transposed a hymn the other day, but it was going from Bb to B, with very limited accidentals, so it was relatively easy. That was just to experiment with it. To learn it to completion I'll need to get it done up right in MuseScore. Otherwise I'm tripped up completely by the fact that this natural is now a sharp and that flat is now a natural.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2265022 - 04/21/14 05:16 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2436
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Cathy, I'm not sure this book is still in print but you might get a used one cheaply.

Keyboard Proficiency, Louise Guhl

It expects you quite early on to sight read simple music, five finger stuff, initially in unison, and play it in several keys. I found it to be a very useful book. It's intended for music majors that play other instruments or have had lessons on piano but want to progress further in reading, playing by ear, harmonising, transposing and improvising.

It's designed to cover one academic year under class instruction but I took longer on my own. No-one noticed. smile

Once you learn to read intervallically transposition is just a step further on, adding or removing one accidental at a time at the outset.
_______________________

I never got benefit from practising the scales of the keys I was about to play in because I never read scales. I have always maintained that to become familiar with a key it's best to learn a piece or two in that key that you read rather than memorise.
_________________________
Richard

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#2265032 - 04/21/14 05:52 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Thanks, mr. Tall smile I haven't gotten in to 6ths during improv yet, tho I use 7ths a lot. But it's fascinating to read what you are doing. I know what you mean about "just doing" and not being able to articulate what you're doing - our bodies know more than we do sometimes. I'll think about some of what you're doing - I am more often noodling with a tune I know and doing inversions of chords in the right hand with little runs and stuff in between. I have been pleased to find II-V cadences in the noodling that aren't necessarily there in the original tune, tho. As for modulations laugh I sometimes just go up chromatically, and sometimes just go to the 5th of the key I'm currently in, so I don't do anything very sophisticated there. But I have a couple of tunes I try it on.

Richard - thanks, I'll look in to the book. I've been transposing stuff I play by ear, so paying attention to the chord progressions in each key. My mother used to transpose hymns the way you're talking about, reading intervallically. I'm actually a pretty good sight-reader, and I suspect that would come fairly straight-forwardly if I put some work in to it. At the moment I'm working on hearing what I want to do, rather than reading it, hence the easy tunes I can pick out the melodies on. And being familiar with what I'm hearing in different keys. I play often in D, G, C, A, and F, and pretty much I find the progressions from one key to another. But Bb, Eb, Ab - old big band horn tunes laugh - I'm not as fluent at. And I'd like to be able to take a basic old melody and put some of the more sophisticated cadences with it. I'm sure it'll come some day -

Cathy
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#2265826 - 04/23/14 12:42 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
carlos88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/13
Posts: 95
Loc: Colorado
I wish you all good luck with your upcoming performances.

What does a Virginal sound like Cathy? I've read that it sounds kind of flute-like sometimes.


I haven't reported for a while, but still mainly working on the same pieces: Bach Italian Concerto,
Liszt Un Sospiro
Copland Scherzo Humoresque

The Tchaikovsky has dropped off, to be replaced by the next Debussy step on the long road to learning all of his solo piano pieces - D'un Cahier D'esquisses. It's easy to fall instantly in love with the main theme, and there are parts of it which seem like slightly rough precursors to the Voiles and The Girl with the Flaxen Hair preludes.


I have enough data points now to know that trying to learn 2 big new pieces above my current level is 1 too many - it's been a mistake trying to take on the Bach and Liszt at the same time. With 90-120 minutes of practice time per night, I end up starving either one of the big pieces or the set of smaller pieces, or existing pieces.

The Bach definitely won't be ready for the May recital. The Liszt has a slight chance, but small sections, like measures 34-37, are taking me a long time to get up to speed accurately. The piece is divided up into showy hand-over-hand sections, runs, and arpeggios. I thought the hand-over-hand sections would be the hardest, but no, it's the wretched arpeggios with chords thrown in.
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#2267726 - 04/27/14 12:40 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
So, the takeaway this week from Mus Way et al is - "Begin moderately" - laugh , a piece of advice I suspect many of us could use. Of course, we all know that, but it's so easy to start too fast and then laugh because I know I'm just going to have to hang on.

Another piece of advice Klickstein had was to share your journey with others - FOYD FTW!

I have a gig this coming Tuesday - the new one I picked up earlier this month. The one at 10:30 in the morning. It turns out I *can* play at 10:30 morning, which was a pleasant surprise to me. They apparently want to sing more. So I'm taking the lyrics to about 4 songs. Up until about 5 seconds ago I was pretty stressed out about this laugh and you were going to hear all my musings trying to figure out why. But I just went back to the little 3x5 cards I've made out with reminders to help me focus. I was going to use the "I'm glad I have a gig" one - sort of the motivator of last resort, but then I saw the one that says "Collaborate!" and thought, oh yeah, that would work and it's much more positive. So that's on top of the pile of 3x5 cards I use for a set list.

I'm also trying to be more thorough about the "practice performing" part. I did a run-through yesterday, and made a point of remembering to read the notes I have written on the tune cards - I forgot to last time laugh . Like the one on "There is a Tavern in the Town" that says "this is in C". Good reminder. And the one that says "play this straight at least once before doing any honky-tonk." Little things, you know?

I've been trying out the interleaved practice, too, but it's probably too soon to assess how effective it's been. I've been using it on those pesky octaves in ragtime, and also on transposing tunes I know to different keys. I can't really put Original Rags in to my repertoire until I can handle the octaves in the right hand comfortably, not to say reliably, and I do a version of Tennessee Waltz in 3 different keys and I don't know I've ever gotten thru it without blowing a cadence somewhere. It's silly.

carlos88 - a virginal (or, a virginals, believe it or not) sounds to me sort of like a harpsichord but it's even softer yet. There is a mellow, kind of round, tone to them that might remind some folks of flutes.

SwissMS - congrats on the latest piano party I read about in the AOTW thread! How nice it is to have a piano cohort, all along the spectrum of skills. I love going to the one in Denver, and having WiseBuff and Jim visit here and play and go to a piano/singers cantina.

Cathy


Edited by jotur (04/27/14 01:16 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling, sigh
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#2267737 - 04/27/14 01:10 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
casinitaly Offline


Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5249
Loc: Italy
Ciao tutti, I haven't been around this thread for a while - maybe because I was not doing so well with focus?

The last few weeks have seen a shift in my practice efforts. Somehow the "slow.down" message has finally sunk in deeply enough to start to be effective. I've also started doing some early morning practice (from 8-8.30) with the headphones, and that seems to be a good time of day for my brain to work on challenges. Who knew? I've never tested it like that before!

This week I will be "closing out" 3 little pieces - a gavotte, a march and a scherzo. They've been important mostly for drilling the new habit into my routine.

I've had a good deal of time off with Easter and other local festivities, and I've taken this time to work on some of the duets I'm going to be playing in Lisbon.

One is Diabelli Op 54 N1, a 2 movement (Andante and Rondo) which I will play with SwissMS.
Another is a Schubert March I'll play with PatH.
These two are by far the most complicated duets I've ever tried - but they are great fun.

Both have LOTS of small sections and I've been working through them very methodically - section by section, getting the fingerings straight, not worrying about the timing so much as just making sure my hands know where to go - I am really pleased with how this is working out and how much more secure I feel with what I'm supposed to be doing so early on in studying the pieces. (Yes, I know, I know, I should have gotten to this point a lot earlier, but what can I say....better late than never!)

I am doing 2 other duets - very sweet simple pieces (one of which I've played before) with PaperClip. One is Fra Le Rose (V. Billi) and though I know the primo part I'm also studying the secondo so that if someone else wants to try sight reading at the party I will be ableto switch to the secondo. The other is Chinese Fireworks, which Paperclip has been learning and the primo part I'm taking is only right hand.

I've also been working at brushing up pieces I really like but "let go", because I realize I really don't have any repertoire.
I believe I'm also ready with my May e-cital piece.... which I learned a little while ago but never recorded...so new to you but not so new for me smile


I have read back a few pages trying to get a feel for what's been going on and I'm really impressed with what everyone is doing!
_________________________
XVIII-XXXV
Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#2268246 - 04/28/14 03:01 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: casinitaly]
SwissMS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 818
Loc: Switzerland
Welcome back to the thread, CasinItaly! It sounds like you have had a real breakthrough on your practice methods, and you are gaining momentum in your new pieces faster!

I had a great lesson today that set the FOYD this week for me. I played my three ABRSM pieces, and two of them were deemed a "pass", but still need more finessing for a higher score. The third, well, it still needs slow play until the choreography is natural and independent in both hands. Each hand has different rhythm, with a very shaped waltz rhythm in the the left and samba rhythm in the right. So my goal this week is to get the choreography to the relaxed state, so I don't have to think about it. Then next week I will bring it up to tempo. The goal for all three pieces is to record, critique, record, critique, repeat, until they sound good to me.

Kuhlau Sonatina 20 1: This has been deemed "much better", but I still need to continue to work on evenness in the runs in the 1st movement and the Rondo. I still have not reached a "pass" on this!

Repertoire: I am not sure what I will play for the June recital, so the Tchaikovsky "March", Mendelssohn "Venetian Boat Song" and Debussy "Arabesque" need to be played for my teacher this week so we can decide. So these need some focussed time.

Sight-reading: I am working on grade 5 sight reading now, and will continue with 30 minutes a day. I figure I will be nervous in the exam, so being able to read at a grade higher should be a plus.
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European Piano Party July 4, 2015 in Switzerland!

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#2270557 - 05/03/14 01:38 PM Re: FOYD - Focus On Your Domain [Re: Saranoya]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Welcome back, cas - I love reading about how people are approaching their music, and the insights and aha! moments. SwissMS - the "natural" choreography fits right in with the theme of my past week's FOYD, which is -

ease and options. All of the reading/blogs this week seemed to relate to this. One cellist said that, in order to do the tricky/hard/scary parts that we already know with ease and options we don't really need more repetitive practice - we need to deliberately distract ourselves when we practice those, and, as one of his teachers once said, practice wrong! laugh He suggested deliberately doing something like rolling your head in a circle when the tricky part came, so that you were thinking about how that felt, instead of getting tense and worried (and practice the passage while rolling your head in a circle). His teacher suggested practicing in lots of different variations (which we know helps, but summed up by him as "practice wrong!") so that when we were performing we had options.

It all made perfect sense to me. As an application, at the end of the break in one tune I forgot the ending, per ususal, and found my right-hand (rather than my left hand) trying to play a little riff that obviously I had heard in my head before. So I stumbled thru it, keeping the rhythm and at least finishing on a correct note, and when I got home I thought, oh! an improv that could lead to a nice variation so that the tune isn't so repetitive! So I sat down and worked out a right hand riff derived, at some remove, from the fumbling. And I fumbled a little more coherently at the next gig laugh And then, in my head, I heard a new intro, which was a combination of two second endings from the piece, and sat down and put that together, so that now the intro presages parts of the tune, rather than just repeats a straight-forward part. Voila! I'll try it at this afternoon's gig.

Whoops, hit submit instead of preview :\

The "sing along" gig went really well - always a wonder of wonders, eh? So I'm going to play twice there in May. That'll keep my repertoire up and expanded, huh. I did a lot of prep work for that gig, including dividing my repertoire up in to things that were just introductory with no singing, things I didn't have the words to but they might know and could sing, things I had brought printed words to, and a couple of things for finale that they wouldn't sing. I think at least subliminally that helped a lot - sort of good overall prep for being familiar/remembering which tunes I was going to play (I can remember the tunes once I start playing, the problem is remembering which tunes I can play laugh , hence the 3x5 cards).

I also ended up using a card that said "easy swing it" as my reminder. That one seems to work really well - it gets me in to the music and the groove, a feeling rather than a tempo. So I think I'll always have that card along.

Cathy


Edited by jotur (05/03/14 01:53 PM)
Edit Reason: 3rd time's charm?
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