Archive for June, 2011

Piano Practice Progress

I have been using an app on my iPad called Music Journal to record my piano practice times, to identify what songs i’m neglecting and to make notes of my playing during the practice session.

I feel it’s making sure that I am doing my share of practice every day and helps identifies my weaknesses that I can work on the following practice sessions.

My playlist of songs indicating how recently i’ve played them.

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Piano Sightreading

After starting to learn to read music on piano from my lessons and seeing some friends sightread various songs, I’ve realized that it is by far the best way to learn to play a song the fastest way possible without requiring the need to analyze the music for ages to decipher what the melody and chords are in the piece and how things fit together like I’ve been doing lately.

I’ve also realized that sightreading isn’t as easy as it sounds. After thinking about it for a while I came up with an analogy for sightreading which really helped me understand what is involved in performing the task.

It’s essentially like touch typing on PCs. That is a difficult enough task for most that use a computer. However, sightreading on piano is like reading 2 different lines of text at once and typing them out at the same time on each hand. But it gets more complicated than that, because, you also have to type at the correct timing and hold the keys down for the right amount of time.

Fortunately music isn’t totally random (I hope it isn’t!!) so the music being played can be simplified into recurring patterns. I guess that would be like typing words instead of typing individual letters.

So thinking about it in that way, even if you can touch type, it seems incredibly difficult to acquire this skill to play anything that you have the sheet music for.

Anyways, I’m now currently working on this as a goal to allow myself to play any song I have the music sheet for. I’m still in the early stages of learning to read music for piano, but so far can sightread the right hand melody part of music with a bit of trouble at times. I can’t really play both hands even at a slow pace as i’m still trying to identify the notes, but the reading exercises my teacher has given me are quite good at training me to overcome that gradually.

Hybrid Rainbow jam session

Over the easter break I did a few jam sessions with a guitar playing friend of mine. This is one of the songs we played.

For this one, it didn’t take very long to learn the chords, and I managed to play them in time quite reasonably after about 4-5 tries. I’ve learnt a lot from the jam session.

I found that counting was really important to keeping the parts in sync. Just playing by ear results in getting lost in the song and unable to recover quickly if you miss a note.

Also check out my friend’s cover of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmF5xPNJYy4

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhiBbz1c7C4[/youtube]

Tiny Boat after jam session practice

Over the easter break I did a few jam sessions with a guitar playing friend of mine. One of the songs we work on was Tiny Boat.

It took me a while to learn the chords (too many minor 7th chords!) and to figure out when to play them as we had no band score to work from for this particular song. I eventually managed to play it once without mistakes, but missed out on recording it! 🙁

Instead, this is just some after jam practice I did the day before perfecting it. The timing is quite a bit off in this take.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxRwasPIf90[/youtube]

Dark Blue

This is one of my favorite pieces in the Simply Music piano method.

It is a jazz piece composed by Neil Moore from the Level 4 repertoire and is quite different from the other songs I’ve learnt. It sounds more atmospheric and uses the damper pedal quite a lot to mix all the notes together.

I’ve been learning piano for about 2 years.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEs1s1E6I04[/youtube]

願いが叶う場所 Negai ga kanau basho

This is my third self-taught song. I learnt this song from the visual novel game and anime Clannad by using the song as practice for sightreading the right hand which went well. I figured I should try learn the left hand part as well and after a weekend and a few days after work of practice I managed to play it both hands!

This is recorded using my new Zoom Q3HD camera that I received in the mail yesterday.

The video looks bad compared to my digital camera but the sound quality is great! Next time I’ll try recording during the day time when there is more light and see if it’s any better.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G198iryHt5s[/youtube]

ef – Regained Time (Piano and Violin Jam session)

I really like this song from the visual novel game called “ef – the latter tale”, so with another friend who plays violin at my drawing club, we attempted to play it with limited success.

I figured out the chords from the music sheet and arranged my own basic accompaniment with my friend sightreading the melody on violin.

I totally messed up the chords in some parts! lol! In my opinion it sounded like a disaster as I messed it up, but it’s all for fun! 😀

We did re-record a few more times, but we got worse the more we retook. orz.

This is my 2nd time trying to play piano with other people. I have to say it’s rather challenging. Need to build up my experience.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oRXe94vuH0[/youtube]

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – You

After making some progress by learning to play Tsubasa wo Kudasai, I decided to focus back on the “You” song that I could only play the intro part from.

I’ve been working on this song for a while and now can play most of it apart from one part which I have a lot of trouble with that involves a lot of fast high notes that are written on ledger lines.

Anyways, I’m liking how it sounds now, it’s definitely is a step forward from my initial “You” intro videos and sounds more complete.

Again, I have been learning piano for almost 1.5 years.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-aYMNAtfqM[/youtube]

Tsubasa wo Kudasai

So far with my music studies, apart from the Simply music songs, I’ve only really managed to learn the intro to the Higurashi – You song that I self taught myself. Another self-taught song that I worked on recently is Tsubasa wo kudasai.

It seems to be a popular song in Japan and is used in the anime K-on and is the ending song of the Evangelion 2.0 movie. I wanted to play it on piano because of the catchy melody.

At the time, I still couldn’t read music sheets so I worked on memorizing the right hand melody, figured out the chords to put into the left hand and improvised playing them as arpeggios (I’ve since learnt that this is called making an arrangement of a song). I had to work with my piano teacher to fix up my selection of chords but thanks her I am now able to play it both hands!

When I managed to learn this song, I’d been playing for almost 1 and a half years with Simply Music piano lessons.

I based this arrangement from the music sheet available below under “K-ON! - Tsubasa o Kudasai” at: http://josh.agarrado.net/music/anime/

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqtKI62UbAw[/youtube]

KORG microPiano

When in Japan last year, on 28th December, I bought a KORG microPiano after trying one out at Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara. I gave it a go for few times and giving it some thought for a few days, I decided to buy it.

I was after a portable digital piano that I could take with me when I wanted to practice away from home or to do an informal jam session with friends.

It cost me 27500 yen, (about $300AU) so it was quite decently priced for it’s specs. I actually like the piano sound of this over my other two digital piano sounds.

Since there was a lack of reviews on the microPiano anywhere at the time, I recorded some videos of me playing various songs on it. It seems these videos have increased my youtube views quite a bit.

Alma mater blues by Neil Moore on KORG microPiano
I was testing the electric piano sound in the MicroPiano.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34pRgH_G6-A[/youtube]

Canon chord progression on KORG microPiano
My Japanese friend taught me this chord progression while I was in Japan. He transposed the chord progression to C for me when he was teaching it to me.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2AhZwYHQjU[/youtube]

Deep River on KORG microPiano
The song is Deep River by Neil Moore that I learnt from the Simply Music piano method.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7cNHaNHQbk[/youtube]

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