Friday, June 20, 2014

Back to Basics

I've tried and failed now to learn three quite simple pieces, She Moves Through the Fair, Water of Tyne, and Down at the Old Bull and Bush, and it's been such hard work I've not gotten past a few bars on each of them.  So I'm leaving off the pieces until I've spent a whole lot more time with scales and arpeggios.  I was telling Chris at work about this, and he kindly pointed out that I haven't got a good ear - have to admit he's right there, he led us in some singing and he would have noticed.  

So I'm working with the scales, still C major, and now D major. I've got all the key's chords, scales and arpeggios on sheet music - an A4 page for each key, thirty or so in all. So I plan to be doing two at a time, until I get really good at one of them, so that I can play it all over the keyboard without even thinking about it, and then I'll move onto another key, always learning two at a time so that I don't get bored with it.  

And I've got a few apps for my ear.  Or rather for the bunch of synapses or whatever it is that deal with my pitch recognition, currently apparently grown from cloth. I've just bought an iphone, and can spend any idle moments listening to singing blobs, and identifying the note each of them sings.  

And there's another app with a keyboard, a bit advanced for me yet, but it's tutorial had an exercise which I've heard before, and so it's probably a well known practice drill, not until this week known to me however. I really like it. Two eighth notes in the tonic, then a quarter one key up, quarter back on the tonic, rest, two eighths, and then up one more, and back again. So in C it's C-C, D, C; C-C, E, C; et seq. I've been practising it today in C, two hands. It's good because you're getting across the octave in one hand, with the 1RH and 5LH staying on the tonic. 

Seriously thinking of investing in a lesson or two when I'm home in a month's time. I need a good teacher.  I'll probably need to shop around, find one I'm going to get on with long term, so I may as well start now, it could take a while. I need some advice on getting structure in practice, something to fill an hour - I'm just not doing the hour that I should be.  Some days only 15 - 20 mins.  

On the other hand a day never passes when I don't sit down and do at least a few scales. I need a teacher's advice on ways to measure progress, help with my day to day motivation. At the moment, it's a vague intention to be able to play all kinds of stuff in a band by the time I'm 60. But there's a mountain to climb before that, a massive one, and I could do with some milestones. 

I've also realised that I need some competence with the virtual keyboards on tablets and phones. When I tell my students I'm learning keyboards, they naturally whip out their phones and ask for a tune, so I need to learn a few one handed ditties on my iphone. This new wee scale exercise, for starters.