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A newcomer's practice log #2862702
06/25/19 05:23 PM
06/25/19 05:23 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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NY
Hi everyone,

This is my first post, and I'm thrilled to join everyone in the ABF.

The purpose of this log is to keep myself accountable (and perhaps to help other beginners down the road).

A little about me: I'm a (mostly) beginner in my mid-40s, and wish I'd started sooner, but I don't want to be in my 60s wishing that I'd begun in my 40s!
I say that I'm mostly a beginner because I tried to teach myself in high school and college, and had a handful of lessons. I was able to play Bach's Inventions in C and d minor, but very badly and without a proper grounding in technique, rhythms, etc.
So I quickly ran into a wall afterwards and gave up. I also took several semesters of music theory out of curiosity. But without a decent background in performance, much of it was pure teeth-grinding.

Decades later, I've more or less begun again from scratch. My primary goal is to play the piano enjoyably for years to come. I'd also like to to continue to improve my piano playing and better my understanding of music. But really, my goal for now is just not to quit.
I'm interested in finding a teacher, especially to improve technique, but won't be able to before August. So I'm focusing on aspects I can self-study for the time being. Here's what I've been up to so far!

App-based Learning
I spent a free trial month using Musiah. I completed 10 levels out of 13 by the skin of my teeth, not polishing many of the songs, and doing just enough to progress to the next level. Still, I've learned quite a bit in that month, and plan on returning to finish the rest of the course at some point. I think much of Musiah is pedagogically sound, and most importantly, it made me want to keep getting better and it made me think that it is possible. On the downside, Musiah teaches very little technique, and I could see that if I keep banging away at the keyboard, I might develop repetitive stress injuries.

I'm also working on a Udemy course called Piano For All. I found out about it through PW. Despite finding parts of it tedious, I like the chord-based approach, and think it's well worth the $10 I spent on it. I'm currently about 1/4 of the way through the course.

Sightreading
This is the area I'm most interested in improving in, and I've spent a lot of time reading through messages here to learn what other people have done.
I ordered Faber's sight reading series and spent the last several days going through the books at a foolish pace.I completed levels 2A, 2B, and 3A, and am currently on 3B.
I've been learning a lot from the books, but feel bored by them as the musical moments have been few and far between.
I also worry that I might burn myself out, so I'm going to scale back the intensity. The books go up to level 4.

I have volume 1 of John Kember's piano sight reading books on order, and plan on going through that series afterwards.

Additionally, I purchased a PDF version of Bach Scholar's reductions of Bach Chorales.They look to be good. Once I have a better handle on chords, I plan on going through this book as well.

Technique
My goals for technique are to play pieces with passable musicality, and more importantly, to play with minimal strain and risk of injury.
Until now, I've been going through the videos on the Piano-ology channel on YouTube. I really like them, and will try to incorporate some of the principles into my playing.
I also purchased an ebook on technique written by Graham Fitch (whom I found out about through here), and plan on going through it at some point.
This is the area I hope most to address with a teacher in the future.

Music Theory
Since much of sight reading is pattern recognition, I'd like to familiarize myself with common chord progressions and rhythmic patterns.
I have an old copy of Aldwell & Schachter's textbook on Harmony and Counterpoint. I've begun going through it and am currently on chapter 2.
More importantly, it has an appendix of keyboard exercises with various chord progressions and cadential patterns.
Before I started using this book, I went through a I-IV-V-I progression in all 12 keys in major and minor modes. Then I realized that the inversions I was using led to parallel 5ths. Oops!
Nevertheless, the exercise helped me familiarize myself with root and 1st and 2nd inversions of these chords, so I found it helpful and will continue to add more chords into the mix.

Ear Training
Nothing much yet. Just used a free iOS app called Earpeggio to practice identifying intervals. Will add chord progressions at some point.

Improvisation
Nothing yet, but I'd love to learn figured bass reading and improvisational techniques. I'm inspired by David B's videos (he's currently following the Duane Shinn course), and hope to do what he does one day!

Others
I was struggling with some rhythmic patterns from the sight reading books, and this video helped me get comfortable with triplets and eighth notes in the same piece.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp4flocUmxM

That's it for now. I'm well-aware that with a full-time job and a young child, I won't be able to maintain this kind of intensity. I expect more moderate effort in the future, but I view this as a lifelong journey, and am excited to be on it.

Last edited by opsimath; 06/25/19 05:24 PM.

Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
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Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862711
06/25/19 06:01 PM
06/25/19 06:01 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 5,152
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content

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Posts: 5,152
Welcome to PW! Good initial progress in your initial piano journey.

I'm a year into piano lessons (and another 4 months of self-learning before that) and I am not yet to the point of Bach Inventions. smile


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862720
06/25/19 06:21 PM
06/25/19 06:21 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 476
North of Los Angeles
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Learux Offline

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The most important part in your log is trying to find the teacher you mentioned.

Good luck and most importantly have fun while you are doing it. You will fid out that progression is not linear and at times it seems that you are making very little or any

progress at all.

Don't let this discourage you. Like I said Have fun while you are learning


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862737
06/25/19 08:05 PM
06/25/19 08:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,398
Australia
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earlofmar Online content
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earlofmar  Online Content
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Australia
welcome to the forum opsimath

your enthusiasm is great, but it sounds a bit like you are falling into the same trap as I did when I started out. Learning piano/music does seem like a vast amount of problems all just needing to be tackled, and it is easy to shape one's limited practice time into nothing but exercises and must do's. This can be very unsatisfactory, as well as unproductive at the beginning because, at least for me, the mind is only capable of processing so much new stuff. There seems to be a right time to learn certain things, so do not worry if you feel you are missing something. You will start that certain something when it is necessary to do so, and with the experience you gain leading up to it, you should find it makes more sense and you lean it faster.

Allow your teacher to be your guide in all things, but get a good one. For the time being I would concentrate on learning primer or grade 1 pieces and not rushing through books. The more time you spend on the basics the more solid your foundation will be.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


13x[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2862739
06/25/19 08:12 PM
06/25/19 08:12 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,398
Australia
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earlofmar Online content
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earlofmar  Online Content
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Australia
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop


I'm a year into piano lessons (and another 4 months of self-learning before that) and I am not yet to the point of Bach Inventions. smile


and neither should you be. I wish my first, and second, teachers had slapped me over the head when I mentioned I was starting advanced pieces way before my time.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


13x[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2862810
06/26/19 01:10 AM
06/26/19 01:10 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 409
The Netherlands
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Keselo Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Welcome to PW! Good initial progress in your initial piano journey.

I'm a year into piano lessons (and another 4 months of self-learning before that) and I am not yet to the point of Bach Inventions. smile

Two and a half years myself, not even remotely close to the Inventions, though the Little Preludes do seem achievable!

Welcome to PianoWorld, I look forward to reading your future updates.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

[Linked Image]
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862820
06/26/19 01:42 AM
06/26/19 01:42 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 373
Cheshire, UK
Cheshire Chris Offline
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Cheshire Chris  Offline
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Cheshire, UK
I really would echo the views already expressed: stop trying to do 20 things at once and put the advanced pieces to one side. Get a decent method book and SLOWLY work your way through it. One or at the outside two practice pieces a week is more than sufficient. Above all, though, get a teacher. Your learning regime sounds somewhat chaotic and a teacher will provide the necessary order for you.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862868
06/26/19 05:45 AM
06/26/19 05:45 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 627
Sweden
Animisha Offline
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Animisha  Offline
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Posts: 627
Sweden
Welcome Opismath!

Originally Posted by opsimath
I could see that if I keep banging away at the keyboard, I might develop repetitive stress injuries.

As you already have a good understanding of this risk, why don't you try a video teacher until you have found one in August? For instance, Graham Fitch's course, or PCA for a very thorough introduction in piano technique, or lessons with Christie Peery. You can send videos to her and get feedback.

And yes, I wish I had started in my mid-40s. However, when I was in my mid-40s, there was so much else going on in my life.

Good luck!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862875
06/26/19 06:27 AM
06/26/19 06:27 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Sydney
terentius Offline
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terentius  Offline
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Posts: 3
Sydney
You need to learn at your own pace.

I can’t tell you what that is - although there are averages. You need to find it for yourself based on time, energy, ability etc.

I could tell you what my pace is but that would only mislead you.

The brain needs time overnight to build new pathways, it varies with individuals and you can’t rush it.

Looking at your program I’d suggest you scale back and find what’s sustainable day to day.

Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2862949
06/26/19 11:23 AM
06/26/19 11:23 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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NY
Thanks for all the responses! I agree with almost everything that's said in this thread, including the advice to slow down, to scale back the scope of my activities, and to find a teacher.

Tyrone, after those two inventions, I hit a huge block when I attempted the a minor invention, which led to giving up. I think that experience has made me want to get stronger in sight reading.

Learux, I agree that this journey would be best taken with a teacher. I'm really looking forward to finding a teacher who's good for me.

earlofmar, my plan, after finding a teacher, is to work on techniques from the ground up. Whether that means starting from the easiest grade 1 pieces or something else, I don't know, but I'd like to focus on good technique.

Keselo, thanks for your welcome. I enjoyed reading your log, which inspired me to start my own log!

Cheshire Chris, I'm actually not working on any pieces at the moment, advanced or not. For now, I'm working on aspects of musicianship that I can self-study until starting instruction with a teacher.

Animisha, thanks for the recommendations. Do you (or anyone else reading this) have experience with Christie Peery's course, or Hugh Sung's for that matter? I wasn't able to find out much about it when I did a search a few weeks ago, and had the impression that her feedback was rather perfunctory, along the lines of "Good job! Keep it up!" The course seems like a good deal, especially with the frequent promotions that artistworks has, but it seems to hinge on the quality of the feedback. Thanks also for the PCA recommendation, which I'd also read about here while I was an anonymous lurker. One poster who had subscribed said that the videos he found most helpful were on her free YouTube channel, but if anyone has experience with this course, I'd be grateful for any insight.

terentius, I agree with you that my current pace is unsustainable. My primary goal, as stated before, isn't to make rapid progress. It is simply to not quit. If I am still playing and enjoying the piano in some capacity a month, 3 months, 6 months, a year from now, even if it means spending only 15 minutes a day, I'll consider myself successful at each of those points.


Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863001
06/26/19 01:59 PM
06/26/19 01:59 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 16
Miami, FL. USA
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Henri2106 Offline
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Miami, FL. USA
HI, just a quick note about sight reading. Be sure this becomes a very important part of your learning and practice routine. There are a few pieces I work on very hard over a long period, but most of the pleasure I have from playing the piano is the ability to sit down and try out new pieces all the time. It both breaks the practice routine and is usually also a very good exercise in your rhythm, fingering, articulation and tone areas. Of course, there are many pieces that are too hard for me to sight read and play even half decently, but it has opened a whole world of great music to me. As far as I know, nothing beats reading lots and lots to become a good reader... best of luck!


Henri in Miami, FL
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863122
06/26/19 07:36 PM
06/26/19 07:36 PM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,101
Moscow, Russia
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Online content
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Your enthusiasm is very inspiring! I wish you all the best!

Of the activities I'd probably focus on ear training and theory until working with a teacher.

Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863155
06/26/19 10:47 PM
06/26/19 10:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 4
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stem_pianist Offline
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Originally Posted by opsimath
I'm a (mostly) beginner in my mid-40s, and wish I'd started sooner, but I don't want to be in my 60s wishing that I'd begun in my 40s!


Nice. Reminds me of - "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now".

Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863182
06/27/19 01:04 AM
06/27/19 01:04 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 627
Sweden
Animisha Offline
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Animisha  Offline
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Posts: 627
Sweden
Originally Posted by opsimath

Animisha, thanks for the recommendations. Do you (or anyone else reading this) have experience with Christie Peery's course, or Hugh Sung's for that matter? I wasn't able to find out much about it when I did a search a few weeks ago, and had the impression that her feedback was rather perfunctory, along the lines of "Good job! Keep it up!" The course seems like a good deal, especially with the frequent promotions that artistworks has, but it seems to hinge on the quality of the feedback. Thanks also for the PCA recommendation, which I'd also read about here while I was an anonymous lurker. One poster who had subscribed said that the videos he found most helpful were on her free YouTube channel, but if anyone has experience with this course, I'd be grateful for any insight.

Yes, I have with both. PCA is the most thorough step-by-step teaching, starting with pieces for one finger with one repeating note. All material is provided, but you cannot get feedback from the teacher on your videos. I certainly don't agree that the best is on the free YouTube channel - that are just snippets.
Christie Peery starts her beginner's course with eight pieces that she explains step by step (score provided), plus a number of exercises that I am not so sure about. The feedback is short but good - sometimes she just writes, sometimes she makes a video to explain something. She is friendly and critical, requiring sometimes that you make a new video because of some detail that needs to be fixed.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863242
06/27/19 09:30 AM
06/27/19 09:30 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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opsimath  Offline OP
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Iaroslav, thanks for the good wishes and the advice!

stem_pianist, that's a great quote.

Animisha, many thanks for the response! Both courses sound great.I'll strongly consider subscribing to one of them, probably after an upcoming trip for work.


Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863247
06/27/19 10:32 AM
06/27/19 10:32 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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NY
Oh, and thanks Henri for the encouragement. I'm hoping that deliberate sight reading practice will help me explore the literature with ease in the future. One day!

Last edited by opsimath; 06/27/19 10:33 AM.

Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863254
06/27/19 11:24 AM
06/27/19 11:24 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,546
Pennsylvania
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dmd Offline
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Pennsylvania
Originally Posted by opsimath
... I'm inspired by David B's videos (he's currently following the Duane Shinn course), and hope to do what he does one day!....


If you are going to go without a teacher, I would suggest you get going with the Duane Shinn course immediately. If you wait, you will get skilled to the point where you will not wish to do that course in a step-by-step manner as is suggested by Duane Shinn.

You said you are inspired by David B's videos …. well, it sounds like you have the discipline and desire you need to be successful doing that course. Get after it.


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863432
06/27/19 10:22 PM
06/27/19 10:22 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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opsimath  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2019
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NY
Sight reading update
I completed book 3B of Faber's sight reading series today. It has been light on chord progressions, but I've learned and strengthened a lot of other things from the books, including rhythm (16th notes, ties, triplets.), reading ledger notes, and chromatic fingerings. And the exercises continue to become more musical, thankfully.

Out of curiosity, I opened the Bach chorale reductions again, and found the grade 1-2 pieces noticeably easier to play than before starting the Faber series. So I may begin to incorporate a few of these into my day as time allows. I certainly appreciate the musicality of these snippets, which does wonders for my motivation. Grade 3-4 reductions don't seem like a huge jump, either, only adding passing tones.
[img]https://imgur.com/a/YCSosY8[/img]

Also, other beginners interested in sight reading may find inspiration in the experiences of posters in this thread. I certainly have.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...r-sight-reading-secrets.html#Post1064841

Quote
I started playing from scratch two years ago and now I can sight-read anything (slowly) and intermediate-level pieces at a decent tempo.


Quote
Sight- reading popular music...I have a classical piano background... to intermediate level...Years after I stopped lessons I wanted to learn how I could read, fake, lead sheets to be able to improv big band, etc...A year later with an excellent teacher to guide me... basic theory lessons to read lead sheets, fake, learning all my major and minor chords, plus extended chords...I came away able to sight read better and faster, popular sheet music, as a result of this training...plus now I could read basic lead, fake sheets and improv too...All practice , practice ,practice... a labor of love for me all these years...To challenge yourself to reading higher and higher levels of sight reading... with a goal ...is another way ... I use this method even now at 67 years old and loving piano more than ever...My passion...Sandy B


Don, the Duane Shinn course seems wonderful and it has done wonders for David B. For various reasons, though, given my interest in classical music, my plan to find a teacher in the near future, the rather high cost of the course, and the total single-minded commitment it seems to require, I don't think it's the right course for me. But I'm so impressed by the arrangements and improvisations I've seen from David B's videos. I'm currently reading Jan Swofford's biography of Beethoven, and the author underscores the connection between Beethoven's improvisational powers and his compositions. When I have a better grasp of the music theory fundamentals, I'd love to delve into improvisation, not least in order to better understand Beethoven's music.

Last edited by opsimath; 06/27/19 10:29 PM.

Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2863433
06/27/19 10:28 PM
06/27/19 10:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 5,152
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content

5000 Post Club Member

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Posts: 5,152
Originally Posted by opsimath
Don, the Duane Shinn course seems wonderful and it has done wonders for David B. For various reasons, though, given my interest in classical music, my plan to find a teacher in the near future, the rather high cost of the course, and the total single-minded commitment it seems to require, I don't think it's the right course for me. But I'm so impressed by the arrangements and improvisations I've seen from David B's videos. I'm currently reading Jan Swofford's biography of Beethoven, and the author underscores the connection between Beethoven's improvisational powers and his compositions. When I have a better grasp of the music theory fundamentals, I'd love to delve into improvisation, not least in order to better understand Beethoven's music.

I would tend to agree that while the Duane Shinn course seems to be a wonderful course for those who can stick with it, and David B is just killing it with the course, as a chord piano course, it doesn't seem to be the right course for classical piano - at least not for the Baroque and Classical periods smile


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: A newcomer's practice log [Re: opsimath] #2866418
07/05/19 09:04 PM
07/05/19 09:04 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 13
NY
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opsimath Offline OP
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opsimath  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2019
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NY
Music theory update

I have now gone through the basic I-V or V7-I progressions below in all 12 keys in major and minor modes.
As long as I don't try to do too much at once, I find it pretty enjoyable to do these exercises, which are found in the appendix of the Aldwell & Schachter textbook.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


A tip from the Piano For All course that I found incredibly helpful for these is that the first and fifth of a root chord have the same key color, except when the root is B or Bb.
For example, in the root triad for a G major chord, the first and fifth -- G and D -- are both white keys.
The root triad for an Ab major chord are Ab-C-Eb. Ab and Eb are both black.

The exceptions to this rule are Bb and B.
The root triad for a Bb major chord is Bb-D-F. Bb is black and F is white.
The root triad for a B major chord is B-D#-F#. B is white and F# is black.


Number of months I've been playing the piano: **
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