Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Lincolnshire Poacher LH takes shape... With a digression on sight reading

This afternoon I managed to get a go on this Yamaha Arius. "Authentic sound and natural touch," apparently. First time I've had a go on a digital piano, apart from a quick shot on the ones in Biggars.

Played a few scales, and then got back to The Poacher LH.

First thing I noticed, playing high up the keys as I do, they seemed to be ever so slightly closer together, which made me liable to, say, play A and hit G# enough for it to sound slightly. Maybe the keys weren't too close together, but on an old acoustic, the fingers slide between the ebony, whereas they will rub on the plastic of a digital? I've never played a modern acoustic, with plastic keys, and I'm keen to see how that feels.

The sound was nothing like an acoustic. Kind of dull, lacking... the plumpness of a real piano. And the action, no, no, no. An acoustic has a kind of rocking sensation to the keys, probably something to do with the hammer action. It's quite a subtle thing, but even to an early stage learner like me, there's a world of difference.

So I'm glad I've got the Kemble, and can usually get access to a work-horse grand somewhere. Glad too that I found this out about digitals now. I won't be tempted to buy one, ever, but I suppose I need to learn to play on them.

And it's limitations didn't stop a good practice hour. I didn't count the number of times I played The Poacher LH, but I got the time down to less than a minute:

Which was the goal of the session, and took about an hour, maybe a little less. I hope my bass clef sight reading is improving, that's what's slowing me down - I'm only getting graually quick enough because I'm memorizing it, I've got most of the shape of it in my head now. And I think that's how I'm going to have to do things in future, memorize both hands and then put them together. Which is fine because being a fluent sight reader is no doubt an admirable achievement, and I need to be much quicker than I am, but I don't think being able to sit down and play something I don't know just from the sheet is something I'll ever need or want to do.

In fact, if I recall rightly, in Play It Again, Rusbridger gave an account of a conversation he had with Simon Russell Beale, an enthusiastic piano learner, in which they agreed that learning to sight read as school choirboys had made memorization more difficult, and held them back as pianists. And that, mind, from people who wanted to play classical, whereas I just want folk and blues.