Simply Music

It’s been a while since I last posted. Lately I’ve been fairly occupied with work as well as some new hobbies that have been taking up quite a bit of my free time. One of those hobbies is music. A while back, I mentioned that I was self-teaching myself the piano and guitar. Well although for a while I kinda neglected it, I have started to concentrate on it recently by starting piano lessons with the goal of becoming able to play anime and video game songs like you often see people play on youtube. So far I’ve taken lessons for 6 months now and am quite enjoying it.

yamaha piano

It took a while to find a teacher for piano. There were suprisingly quite a few teachers a reasonable distance away from me, although it seems that most of them didn’t do hours after work or during weekends which made it very difficult for me to find a teacher. Fortunately out of recommendation from  another teacher, I managed to find a teacher who lives close by and could do lessons on weekends or in the evening. It seemed that all of the teachers close to where I live all teach based on a piano method called Simply Music.

A quick google of this piano method didn’t really bring up much information, but from reading up on it on the website and from a few Youtube videos, it looked like it was some new breakthrough piano method that seemed to promise that you’d be playing songs with both hands from your first lesson.

Of course I was skeptical about it, but given that I finally found a piano teacher, I decided to give it a go and was quite impressed with it. It seems that the piano method teaches you songs by using patterns to help you remember the songs, and gets you playing from both hands as advertised. The reading music process is delayed until later on in the Simply Music program and emphasis is put on technique built up from playing the songs in the playlist.

 

The songs that you play are not childish and keep you motivated to practise because they actually sound good. The songs come cover many genres and although it seems almost every single song you learn has a reason why it’s in the playlist that you play. Some songs are finger exercises, while others focus on other skills like timing and coordination.

When learning with this piano method, I find that it can feel kinda slow to progress. It seems to move forward slowly which actually isn’t a bad thing. When I was self teaching myself, I would try to learn heaps of things and then end up bumping a brick wall where I couldn’t progress because it was too hard. But with the piano method, I have yet to hit a brick wall as it seems that everything is introduced just when I’m about ready to move forward.

Currently I am nearing the end of the level 2 booklet and accompaniment exercise (chords) book can currently play about 20-30 songs and have made about 2 compositions from playing around with the piano. I still haven’t started to learn to read music yet though, so I am a bit frustrated that although I can play some songs on piano, I can’t play the songs I want to play.

I have learnt bits of some songs from my limited note reading skills and from various song tutorials on YouTube, but I haven’t been up to the stage where I can learn an entire songs myself playing both hands.

At the moment it is either playing a portion of a song I like with both hands, or playing just the melody on the right hand.

I have been making some recording of songs that I have played on piano, and plan to make another set of newer recordings when I get the time. You can download the old recordings from here which were recorded about when I had 2 months of piano lessons.

I’ve also very recently renewed my interest in guitar and bought a cheap crappy electric guitar and amp to practice on. Since I don’t have the time to take more lessons, I decided to self teach myself the guitar. I have a couple of books I bought that teach the bare basics of playing a guitar including pages showing the notes on the fretboard, some simple basic chords and how to play scales.

One of those books also comes with a DVD that covers everything in the book. I’ve got a friend at work who is currently learning guitar with a teacher, so I often chat to him to get tips on how to progress in my self-teaching of the guitar. I so far have decided to just concentrate on picking notes on the fret and to leave chords later on. I’m currently aiming at playing the melody of piano songs that don’t use chords on the guitar so I can get used to the location of notes on the fretboard.

Last weekend, I was experimenting with playing the “Last Regrets” melody from the visual novel game Kanon on the guitar and piano and was quite impressed with the result. I still think that I need more work at the guitar at the moment, but I am happy that I can now play some music on it.

I should be receiving an adapter to hook my electric guitar to my PC so I’ll try recording direct to the PC and put it up on my blog when it arrives.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, apart from getting an electric guitar, I replaced my Kawai piano keyboard with a Yamaha DGX-630 digital piano (cost me $1600AU) and I also bought a Casio CDP-100 digital piano ($300AU) that I got cheap on ebay. 🙂

I find the Yamaha has superior sound over the Casio, but the Casio has better feeling weighted keys. I hope that I can use my current setup to not only simply play anime songs and video game songs, but also create my own music using the piano, guitar and software synthesizers. Then I can look at perhaps making my own game and compose my own music for it. Well thats the goal at least.

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