Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Learning to Play The Piano: Managing the Levels of Complexity

I am ashamed to say that I abandoned Maria back in September.  I'll catch up with her later as bass clef practice.  I literally dusted off the keyboard yesterday and got back to working through the PSP software, picking up on the theory lessons, and working with 3/4 time, practising a waltz.  It was gratifying to see that there was, after two months, an intuitive connexion between the note values and their places on the staff - some of them, anyway.  It is like riding a bike, forsooth.

There's a whole load of mental processing involved here. There's the note's position on the staff, which relates to its position on the keyboard. That note has its letter-value, within its octave.  And then there's the length.  And the wee number to signify a finger.   The keyboard has the letter-values for each note, and I've been getting my head into cross-referencing them with the notes on the staff.  And I'm getting quite good at finding the notes whilst looking at the music, being a good typist.

But I've noticed that good pianists spend a lot of the time looking at the keyboard, which suggests there's a cognitive link between the sound of the note and its position in that black-and-white pattern.  Of course, on a real piano, there are no letter-values.  So, tonight, I taped over the letter-values on the keyboard, and I'm going to see if I can work on visual/spatial awareness to link the positions of the notes on the staff, with their positions on the keyboard, ignoring the e-g-b-d-f, etc, for now. In other words, I'm cutting out a level of processing, the letter-values, which I can come back to later.