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#2191501 - 12/02/13 03:43 PM Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series)
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 137
Hello all,

I thought I'd start a thread documenting my progress with piano study, starting from Book 1 of the Adult John Thompson series. The idea is to share with others my progress and stumbling blocks along the way, so as to help others who may be struggling with same. Also I thought it a great way to look back months down the line and see how far I've come.

I started Nov. 1st, 2013. I'm a 35 year old male musician who has a background playing in rock bands, primarily as a drummer but also doing keyboard sequencing. I'm studying with a great teacher, doing weekly private lessons. I've had four lessons so far, and I practice between 15-30 minutes per day consistently. I have covered the Intro section of the first JT Adult Book 1 in 4 weeks time, where you learn to read notes and rhythm. Am glad to have started the Main section this week, where both hands will start playing together, and you start to learn to recognize patterns in music reading,very fun stuff.

I will try to add weekly or bi-weekly updates with progress and also questions for you guys who are always so helpful. So far I've found lessons and learning to be quite fun. I find that consistent practice is key in moving forward. I had very brief stints of lessons on and off a few times when I was younger but besides that have relied on my ear to write songs and play piano. However, this time around I wanted to really have proper instruction, start from scratch and work my way up consistently.

Will keep you posted, thanks so much!

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#2191507 - 12/02/13 03:56 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
ElleC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/13
Posts: 248
Loc: NJ, USA
Welcome to the forum John and looking forward to hearing about your progress. Do share some recordings on our monthly piano bar when you're up for it...no pressure of course!

We are about the same age and just started my piano journey in January. Almost a year now with a teacher...you'd be surprised at how much you can learn in a year's time.
_________________________
Adult beginner since January 2013. My only regret is that I didn't learn sooner.

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#2191567 - 12/02/13 06:55 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 137
Thanks ElleC! Glad to connect with someone in a similar age & piano journey. Would love to hear more about where you're at since the year you started:) Also have you been using a methodical approach & specific guide book? Best Regards.

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#2191625 - 12/02/13 09:53 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
ElleC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/13
Posts: 248
Loc: NJ, USA
Like you I started out with the Adult JT book. I found it excruciatingly boring...I think my teacher picked up on that so after the 3rd lesson, she decided to forgo the method book. Since then, we just pick songs from classical to contemporary and she teaches me the techniques and theory as we go through them. In 10 months, I want to say that I've been able to play some early intermediate pieces. To date, I can play a bunch of songs by JSB from Anna Magdalena's notebook, a couple of Chopin, working on my 9th Burgmuller op 100 and a couple of new age songs. I've participated in 2 live recitals and also online here at ABF. I don't intend to take exams to see exactly what level I'm playing....to me, what I've managed to accomplish so far is enough to know that I'm heading the right direction. It's been a fun journey so far...playing the piano really brings a lot of self fulfillment. I'm sure you'll find that out yourself.

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#2191735 - 12/03/13 04:18 AM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1369
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: johnbarnesiii
I find that consistent practice is key in moving forward.


Absolutely! If you're not moving forward, then you're regressing with a complex discipline like playing the piano; there's no such thing as stagnation.

The best of luck to you.

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#2191812 - 12/03/13 10:00 AM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: ElleC]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
ElleC, I have read your post, here:

subject: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series)

Like you I started out with the Adult JT book. I found it excruciatingly boring...I think my teacher picked up on that so after the 3rd lesson, she decided to forgo the method book. Since then, we just pick songs from classical to contemporary and she teaches me the techniques and theory as we go through them. In 10 months, I want to say that I've been able to play some early intermediate pieces. To date, I can play a bunch of songs by JSB from Anna Magdalena's notebook, a couple of Chopin, working on my 9th Burgmuller op 100 and a couple of new age songs. I've participated in 2 live recitals and also online here at ABF. I don't intend to take exams to see exactly what level I'm playing....to me, what I've managed to accomplish so far is enough to know that I'm heading the right direction. It's been a fun journey so far...playing the piano really brings a lot of self fulfillment. I'm sure you'll find that out yourself.


______

I don't know if what you referred to as Adult JT is the same thing as the John Thompson modern Course for the Piano published in 1905 - as I recall - long before most of the piano players in Piano World forum were born, including me at 64 years of age.



When you say - referring to the original poster -: Like you I started out with the Adult JT book. I found it excruciatingly boring...I think my teacher picked up on that so after the 3rd lesson, she decided to forgo the method book.

I say: Any student of any subject who finds their study excruciatingly boring would cause any teacher to act with dispatch to prevent a loss of a potentially enthusiastic piano player based on their interest as a student and the potential loss of income as a professional piano teacher.

Your teacher is a very wise teacher.

I like the John Thompson Modern Course for the Piano because most of the pieces are awesome to play, the technique learned in each piece is great, and the sound of the pieces are great, but as a beginner piano player who cannot afford a teacher, the ability to play the piano at my age and to try to learn classical music, my standard is that I will do anything to learn to play the piano.
I just completed the first book which is supposed to be a year 1 level of play and I am just reviewing the pieces to play them all at performance level - meaning I am taking the pieces to an appropriate level of play for a beginner of my experience.

I think the piece called The Birthday Cake is a very, very moving piece and probably my favourite from the first book, but there are others, too, like Stepping Stones, The Knight and the Lady, Air from Mozart. But more than that the first 2 pieces in the book are called Music Land and respectively, Patterns. I worried about those 2 pieces because no matter how smoothly I played them there seemed to be something missing when my ears listened to me play the pieces. And then after a little thought I realized that as a piano player, that it is me that makes the difference in any piece I play, because even as a beginner piano player where we are playing a simple scale, it is all about how you play it that makes it different - and not the notes - or the note values - or the tempo alone that make a difference, it is your ears listening and your brain doing the magic.

I can't imagine anyone saying that something is boring to learn-to-play or to play but yet I read posts like that all the time. So I guess it is how piano players look at their journey regardless of their age or level of play.

cheers,

3D03JT



Edited by Michael_99 (12/03/13 10:02 AM)

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#2191842 - 12/03/13 11:12 AM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
ElleC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/13
Posts: 248
Loc: NJ, USA
Michael_99,

It's the John Thompson's Adult Piano Course: Book 1. It's a green book. Anyway, when I say excruciatingly boring, I was referring to the structured method of learning the piano. Not necessarily the songs in the book. You can make any song (regardless of difficulty)sound very musical depending on how you are as a piano player. I just don't think I would've progressed as fast had my teacher not switch around her method of teaching to accomodate my style of learning. And I am learning as much as I can with piano, just doing it a little differently. While the structured method works well for some and the JT book is wonderful for that, it just didn't work for me.

Cheers back!

-Michelle
_________________________
Adult beginner since January 2013. My only regret is that I didn't learn sooner.

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#2192444 - 12/04/13 02:08 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: johnbarnesiii]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 365
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
The best way to document your progress in piano study is also one of the best ways to progress.

Daily practice sheets where:
1. you write what you wish to acheive, on what (best stick to small sections), and in how much time

2. you write down the results after your time is up for that section

and

3. You write down what you will do tomorrow.

Basically, have a plan. A written plan.

Forrest
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque, Prelude & Menuet
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2192709 - 12/04/13 11:37 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: woodog]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Bowling Green, I have read your post, here:

subject: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series)

The best way to document your progress in piano study is also one of the best ways to progress.

Daily practice sheets where:
1. you write what you wish to acheive, on what (best stick to small sections), and in how much time

2. you write down the results after your time is up for that section

and

3. You write down what you will do tomorrow.

Basically, have a plan. A written plan.

______


I happen to love the John Thompson modern course, but that is not the reason I am posting.

Anything about practicing is about time - and time is about what prevents you from practicing. So to me, before I can get up a practice time - because playing the piano is first on my list - except going to the bank to get money to live on, going to the doctor about my cancer in remission, and getting food at the grocery store and buying a bus pass, buying my meds once a month, cooking, eating, washing dishes (shaving cleaning), posting on Piano World and going to the local university once a week to listen to a cencert. From there - is the practice time and I am good for about an hour to 2 hours a day "average" except from getting tired and stopping and I do daily walks to keep fit, prevent me from getting fat sitting at the piano day after day - currently okay a 170 pounds, raking leaves, shovel snow and cut grass, and pay gas and electricity, internet, and phone bills once a month, sleeping roughly 8 hours a day to be a wake enough to play the piano. That is it.

I say the "average person" on the planet could grab 1 - 2 hours a daily at max. I would be interested to know what or how other people do it if it is more than that a day even as a piano teacher. Because when you think how how get up and carry on life for the 24 hours for 365 days - it is interesting about time management and what you can and cannot do in a day/night.

I mean I would like to play 4 hours every day but I am not there yet. I am hoping to in a year or 2, but who really know if I can do it!

I mean you can have a list of things to do - that is cool - but it is the regular practice at the piano learning a piece to performance level - meaning you have learned a piece well-played without mistakes and musical at your level of piano experience. So regardless of any pieces you play, and regardless of your level of play, you have to have some pieces you can play without mistakes and be musical before you begin to play or practice any scales, etc - I don't mean memorizing, just reading and playing the piece by reading the notes on the music stand.

cheers,

3D04TM





Edited by Michael_99 (12/04/13 11:57 PM)

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#2192872 - 12/05/13 10:02 AM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: Michael_99]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 365
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Bowling Green, I have read your post, here:



Anything about practicing is about time - and time is about what prevents you from practicing...
(snipped... a list of things that have to be done away from the house) ....

and then ... cooking, eating, washing dishes (shaving cleaning), posting on Piano World ... do daily walks to keep fit, prevent me from getting fat sitting at the piano day after day - currently okay a 170 pounds, raking leaves, shovel snow and cut grass, and pay gas and electricity, internet, and phone bills once a month, sleeping roughly 8 hours a day...

(things that occur in the house and, presumably, near a piano)
...

I would be interested to know what or how other people do it if it is more than that a day even as a piano teacher...

Because when you think how how get up and carry on life for the 24 hours for 365 days - it is interesting about time management and what you can and cannot do in a day/night.

I mean I would like to play 4 hours every day but I am not there yet. I am hoping to in a year or 2, but who really know if I can do it!

I mean you can have a list of things to do - that is cool - ...

3D04TM



Glad you think it's cool! It's also smart. I've had tons of lessons from different instructors (6 to date, 7 if you include myself, and way more if you include derulux, BobPickle, Morodiene, Zrt90, Berhnahrd, Richard Kant, Graham Fitch and others).

I've learned that the secret is tiny fragments of time interspersed with strategic breaks...

I practice about 2 to three hours a day, but I'm not concerned with the total time.. sometimes it's an hour, sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes an hour and 3 minutes...

I can focus for 15 minutes max. That's about it. Really. I know me better than anyone. Now that I'm paying attention to me, learning is better.

SLEEP. THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DETERMINANT OF QUALITY OF LIFE, LEARNING, EVERYTHING.

That being said.... today started at 5:20 a.m. as it always does.

I write the following not to bore you, but to show how tiny bits of work, strategically placed and faithfully attended to, works (for me, of course)

Coffee! Then... dazed and confused, covered in sleep dirt, head to the piano

5 minutes, measures 76 - 83 of Bach Prelude that I'm working on. R.H. only, using technique from Bernhard and Chang (chord attack to acquire technique) - feeling and exploring each group, feeling the weight of the arm in the fingers, breathing deeply and feeling the chest expand.

break - ~3 minutes stretches (I have an extensive background in the martial arts... I know how to stretch)

5 minutes - same measures, l.h. only, different approaches, still slowly and easily since I'm not really warmed up.

break - start breakfast... 1/4 cup steel cut oats, 3/4 cup water, bit of salt, turn burner on LOW, place the lid on and forget about it.

5 minutes - 83 - 87, same prelude, R.H. only w/ metronome... the displaced rhythms caused me grief last night, so I stopped due to inability to focus and left a note to resume this morning. success @ dotted crochet = mm 70.

break, 5 pushups, downward dog and table poses (2xeach)

5 minutes, Beethoven, learn (by the 7 repetition method) measures 133 - 138. I will not remember this tomorrow, but I will relearn it then.

5 min - review Beethoven h.t. quarter note = 60, measures 89 - 133. Note lapses in memory or 'hesitation tension' and mark those measures (nailed it!)

it's about 6:30 a.m. at this point. Break... take a shower, shave... breakfast is done now... eat.

5 min... first section of Joplin, play through h.s. once (pay attention to let l.h. 'close' after each octave stretch and open at the chord only when playing). then h.t. 2x through...

Suit up for a rainy 30 minute bicycle ride to work.

------------------------

that's 30 minutes of FOCUSED practice, fixing coffee, exercising a little (more exercise - ~ 1 hour - just getting to and from work by bicycle) grooming, etc.


There will be another practice session at lunch ~ 20 minutes, and then tonight several 10 minute sessions broken by sweeping, washing dishes, preparing dinner, dealing with the chickens, brushing the cat, etc.


The point is... we are so used to structuring our lives by blocking off time to do something, when it's proven that the best way to learn is to break up periods of heavy focus with periods of less-intense focused activity (mopping the floor, for example, of cleaning leaves out of one bush in the front yard).

I used to fret because I would sit for LONG stretches of time and pound away, frustrated that the ability to play was so elusive.

Now I do the best I can for a short period, make it a point to forget (this is important, paradoxically), sleep well, and watch in amazement how the ability to play improves as if by magic.

I end this post by reiterating a wise statement I read somewhere (it's the TRUTH)

The plural of anecdote isn't data.

Forrest
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque, Prelude & Menuet
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2192917 - 12/05/13 12:06 PM Re: Documenting My Progress From Scratch (John Thompson series) [Re: woodog]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
woodog,

Your response was brilliantly written, lots of great details, and a pleasure to read not to mention reassuring and instructive. Thank you very for taking the time to make your post. It will benefit many in Piano World.

3D5WD

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