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#2633482 04/16/17 03:28 PM
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I thought I'd compile a list of things that I have accomplished and things I have yet to accomplish. The reason for this is to keep focused, and to mark my own progress. Comments are of course welcome (otherwise I would have just made this list on my Note app!). In fact, if you think my priorities are not ideal, or if there are other things I should be more focused on, please let me know!

I have been playing for about 3.5 years, taking a lesson every other week. I skipped about one of the years for a move, so a total of 2.5 years. I have been feeling that progress has been slow, but recently made some strides and I'm feeling better about it now. I completed the Alfreds Book 1 in a year, and have been working on Jazz lead sheet reading, and now on some light classical music (new genre to me).

Accomplished:
- Learned beginner sheet reading
- Practicing scales in 12 Major keys, 4 octaves, comfortably at 72 bpm (4 notes per beat) at least 4-6 days / week (which I actually like doing)
- Can play major and minor chords in every key, including major, minor and dom 7th
- Can play major chord arpeggios across 4 octaves, both hands
- Can play ii-V-I progressions in all major keys
- Playing some lead sheet music, such as Autumn Leaves, Misty, and All The Things You Are
- Improvising on the changes in Autumn Leaves (Bb)
- Working on some classical such as Moonlight Sonata (1st mvmt - took about 3 months), and Chopin's prelude in C min (only a few weeks to play comfortably)

Working on:
- Playing without looking at hands (see recently resurrected thread)
- Working on I-V-vi-IV progressions in all keys, various inversions
- Working on chord inversions with two hands across 2-3 octaves (several variations each hand)
- Improving sight reading

Goals over next year:
- Learning to identify notes by ear
- Learn to identify intervals by ear
- Learn minor scales
- Increase on-demand repertoiure (Learn to play at least a dozen songs from memory)
- Enhance comfort with keys by playing scales in Contrary Motion and other intervals (eg - C-E-D-F etc...name for this?)

Why learn from memory? So that if asked to play in front of friends, I don't have to stutter and make excuses, feeling like I've just wasted 4 years! They can be short, such as Autumn Leaves (which I do know from memory) with ability to improvise, or like the Chopin prelude, which is easy to memorize given it's just 8 bars long (with the second set repeating).


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cmb13 #2633527 04/16/17 06:31 PM
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goals are constantly evolving as new knowledge comes to hand. None the less a list is important to keep us honest and grounded. Perhaps you might add contrary motion scales or melodic minor scales as they are really good at testing the old grey matter.


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Playing your scales while listening to them musically as you practice, can be very useful for training the ear on intervals.

First thing is to audiate (basically memorize) the full sound of the scale. You want to hear the full musical effect of a major scale as a phrase, not just one note at a time. You can think of it as singing the scale in your head / ear right before you play it, so that the ear is leading the hands by saying "this is what I'm expecting to hear". This will feel clunky in the beginning but becomes natural the more you practice it.

After you've got the basic scale down, really audiate / emphasize the phrasing of the 2 minor intervals in every major scale. Over time, you'll start to hear the change between major and minor intervals quite naturally. Don't intellectualize the process, let the ear do it's job and enjoy the process. You may find that your ear already knows the sound, you just weren't paying attention before!

I do this for all kinds of scale exercises so that I'm audiating all kinds of musical effects while practicing. It helps me internalize the musical effects so that I can play them on demand, identify them in music or quickly read the effect off the sheet music.

Aside from contrary motion, I also like to do quarter notes in one hand, with 8th notes, triplets and 16th notes in the other hand. In other words, for every note I play in one hand I play 2, 3 or 4 notes in the other hand, this eventually will lead you into polyrhythms. Audiating those over time has been really useful for training the ear.

And of course audiating like this also works for arpeggios, cadences, progressions etc.

One final exercise to complete the ear training is to practice one musical effect in your daily exercises and then turn on some music and see if you can spot the effect. It can be entertaining, satisfyingly and even feel magical when you do.

So I guess if there was one thing I'd offer, it would be to audiate whatever you are practicing.


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cmb13 #2633570 04/16/17 10:49 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I'm definitely going to have to add contrary motion to my practice soon. Regarding minor scales, if one were to choose, which style would you learn first? Melodic or harmonic? Or should the be tackled concurrently?

Audiation and Polyrhythm....I just spent some time reading about these. Sound really useful, but I'm not sure if I'm ready yet! I'll give it a try though! I guess there's a hint of polyrhythm in the Moonlight Sonata with the melody over the arpeggio.



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cmb13 #2633584 04/17/17 12:16 AM
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Awesome list! I like that you started with your accomplishments.

I would start with the relative minor of whatever major scale you are practicing. So, if you are practicing C major, then you would practice A (relative/natural) minor. As far as the other minor scales, you could do parallel minor scales. Meaning they all have the same tonic, so do C major, C harmonic minor, C natural minor etc. Because, the minor scales only differ in the 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees (depending on the minor) compared to the major scale. So, it will be easier to learn and remember them since you already know your the major scales. This is from a music theory book I am writing. I changed it a little bit to fit this post...

How to alter the major scale to make minor scales
Natural Minor(Relative): Lower the 3rd, 6th, 7th degrees by a half step.
Melodic Minor -Ascending: Lower the 3rd by a half step
Melodic Minor - Descending Lower the 3rd, 6th, 7th degrees -Same as Natural minor,
Harmonic Minor: Lower the 3rd and 6th by half step
Major Pentatonic: Five note scale using major scale degrees 1 2 3 5 6
Minor Pentatonic: Five note scale using scale degrees 1 b3 4 5 b7


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It's great that you have a list (I have a list too). I would add a couple of exercises to focus on improving musicality, because as we become better players it's not just what we play but how we play it that becomes difficult. Some things that spring to mind:

- Phrasing: Practice coming off correctly at the end of phrase. You can incorporate this into your scales, just imagine the notes are phrased in (say) groups of four (or groups of six, or whatever). Also practice shaping your scale so they sound musical ie pp > p > mf > f on the way up, and reverse on the way down.

- Hand independence: Practice playing one hand quiet, and the other hand loud. Experiment with different variations ie LH p, RH mf; LH mf RH ff and so on.

- Unison: With your chords, practice getting the notes exactly in unison, that is, all the notes played at exactly the same time so they sound like one voice. I would also add practice in moving thirds (i.e. CE/DF/EG/FA/GB etc as this is common in classical music.

- Staccato/Legato: Another common tool in classical music is to have one hand play legato and the other staccato. So it's good to practice your scales both staccato, and legato, but also hands together with one hand staccato, one legato. It's harder than it sounds!

I hope that's helpful. Good luck and have lots of fun :-)
cheers,
Cathryn.

Last edited by cathryn999; 04/17/17 04:40 AM.

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Kymber #2633654 04/17/17 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Kymber
Awesome list! I like that you started with your accomplishments.

I would start with the relative minor of whatever major scale you are practicing. So, if you are practicing C major, then you would practice A (relative/natural) minor. As far as the other minor scales, you could do parallel minor scales. Meaning they all have the same tonic, so do C major, C harmonic minor, C natural minor etc. Because, the minor scales only differ in the 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees (depending on the minor) compared to the major scale. So, it will be easier to learn and remember them since you already know your the major scales. This is from a music theory book I am writing. I changed it a little bit to fit this post...

How to alter the major scale to make minor scales
Natural Minor(Relative): Lower the 3rd, 6th, 7th degrees by a half step.
Melodic Minor -Ascending: Lower the 3rd by a half step
Melodic Minor - Descending Lower the 3rd, 6th, 7th degrees -Same as Natural minor,
Harmonic Minor: Lower the 3rd and 6th by half step
Major Pentatonic: Five note scale using major scale degrees 1 2 3 5 6
Minor Pentatonic: Five note scale using scale degrees 1 b3 4 5 b7


Thank you! This will certainly keep me busy for a while!


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Originally Posted by cathryn999
It's great that you have a list (I have a list too). I would add a couple of exercises to focus on improving musicality, because as we become better players it's not just what we play but how we play it that becomes difficult. Some things that spring to mind:

- Phrasing: Practice coming off correctly at the end of phrase. You can incorporate this into your scales, just imagine the notes are phrased in (say) groups of four (or groups of six, or whatever). Also practice shaping your scale so they sound musical ie pp > p > mf > f on the way up, and reverse on the way down.

- Hand independence: Practice playing one hand quiet, and the other hand loud. Experiment with different variations ie LH p, RH mf; LH mf RH ff and so on.

- Unison: With your chords, practice getting the notes exactly in unison, that is, all the notes played at exactly the same time so they sound like one voice. I would also add practice in moving thirds (i.e. CE/DF/EG/FA/GB etc as this is common in classical music.

- Staccato/Legato: Another common tool in classical music is to have one hand play legato and the other staccato. So it's good to practice your scales both staccato, and legato, but also hands together with one hand staccato, one legato. It's harder than it sounds!

I hope that's helpful. Good luck and have lots of fun :-)
cheers,
Cathryn.


Thank you! I think this is a good point, I must add phrasing into my to do list. Thirds is also on there - I guess I have to figure out how to finger these. I believe it's in the Hanon book. I haven't gotten to this yet. The other two points also (staccato, legato, and unison).

Thanks again; will modify the list as needed!

I wonder if the order in which I have learned things is unorthodox, or if it doesn't matter. For instance, I see that in the standard ABRSM syllabus, students learn some minor scales before completing other major scales, for example, whereas I learned all the major scales before any minor scales. Maybe it doesn't matter for me as an adult, just wondering...


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cmb13 #2633697 04/17/17 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Why learn from memory? So that if asked to play in front of friends, I don't have to stutter and make excuses, feeling like I've just wasted 4 years! They can be short, such as Autumn Leaves (which I do know from memory) with ability to improvise, or like the Chopin prelude, which is easy to memorize given it's just 8 bars long (with the second set repeating).


I've found an ok solution for this. I keep my PDF scores on my smartphone. It has a 5.5" screen so depending on the scores staff spacing, I can read 2 or 3 lines at a time in landscape mode. Yeah, I have to squint but it's passable for playing things on a minute's notice. And in an informal setting, no one is going to dock you for slight pauses to flick your finger to scroll up -- especially if you hold the pedal down while doing this so the music doesn't just stop.

Last edited by MossySF; 04/17/17 12:18 PM.
MossySF #2633710 04/17/17 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by MossySF

I've found an ok solution for this. I keep my PDF scores on my smartphone. It has a 5.5" screen so depending on the scores staff spacing, I can read 2 or 3 lines at a time in landscape mode. Yeah, I have to squint but it's passable for playing things on a minute's notice. And in an informal setting, no one is going to dock you for slight pauses to flick your finger to scroll up -- especially if you hold the pedal down while doing this so the music doesn't just stop.


Actually funny you should say! I have all my music files neatly arranged in folders (Jazz, Classical, Lessons, Etc) on a dropbox folder, so I too can access them. Haven't tried using a phone though, because of the screen size. Just looking at it now, though, my iPhone 7 plus does show an entire page almost big enough to see; big enough to use if I mostly know it anyway.

I've toyed with using an ipad a while ago but not lately. Might try again.

Last edited by cmb13; 04/17/17 12:47 PM.

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cmb13 #2634163 04/18/17 05:21 PM
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Can anyone suggest a series of chords (cadences?) to play after ending my scales / arpeggios? I currently end with a V-I but would like to make it a little more fun / interesting and educational at the same time. IV-V-I? Anything better?


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I - IV - V - I is common,

I - II - V - I is nice, I - II6 - V - VI, IV - V - I

Play around with cadence patterns that sound good to you and experiment with chord voicings and choice of top 'melody' notes.


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Originally Posted by cmb13
Can anyone suggest a series of chords (cadences?) to play after ending my scales / arpeggios? I currently end with a V-I but would like to make it a little more fun....

I believe that an exam board (? RCM) requires the candidate to play some kind of chordal cadential close after playing a scale. Despite having done ten music exams as a student, I've never had to do that, but in the interests of artistic research wink , I went to the piano to try out various ways to round off a scale, to find the most satisfying series of chords.

My conclusion: iib - Ic - V(7) - I (major scale/arpeggio). So, in C major, you play D-C-B-C as a 'melody' (on the top notes) after finishing the scale on the tonic C, as if you were continuing an 'unfinished scale'.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
My conclusion: iib - Ic - V(7)


What do the b and c mean?



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b = first inversion, c = second inversion. (a = root position, but it's not normally written in).

Therefore, in C major, the bass notes for the extended cadence iib - Ic - V - I would be F - G - G - C. BTW, Ic - V - I is a cadence particularly favoured by Mendelssohn grin.

I've been listening to a lot of Mendelssohn (including Elijah) over Easter, for some reason.......


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Thanks!



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cmb13 #2634232 04/18/17 10:21 PM
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Looking forward to trying these suggestions!


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cmb13 #2635470 04/22/17 06:12 PM
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Working on contrary motion scales. Tougher than expected; got C, G, D, A; E is easiest b/c black and white keys are mirror image. F is tough b/c of fingering. Haven't worked on this with the flat scales yet.


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cmb13 #2671710 08/31/17 04:43 AM
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About four months have gone by since starting this thread so I thought I'd update it just so I can keep track of my progress. I've embraced some of the challenges here but not all of them. For anyone interested here is the update.

Accomplished:
- Improving sheet reading
- Scales in 12 Major keys, 4 octaves,
- Added contrary motion
- Major and minor chords in every key, including major, minor and dom 7th
- Arpeggios across 4 octaves, both hands - major chords
- Added minor arpeggios - working on them now
- Added diminished arpeggios
- Can play ii-V-I progressions in all major keys
- Playing some lead sheet music
- Improvising on the changes in Lead Sheets (not much work here lately)
- Added to limited classical repertoire
- Moonlight Sonata (1st mvmt), Chopin Prelude C min, E min, Bach WTC Prelude C maj, Mendelssohn Venetian Boat Song, Fur Elise (just starting)


Working on:
- Playing without looking at hands as much (slowly improving)
- Working on I-V-vi-IV progressions in all keys, various inversions (haven't touched lately)
- Working on chord inversions with two hands across 2-3 octaves (several variations each hand)
- Improving form, smoother playing, better dynamics, reduced tension

Goals over next year:
- Learn minor scales (higher priority)
- Learning to identify notes by ear (time permitting)
- Learn to identify intervals by ear (time permitting)
- Increase on-demand repertoire (Learn to play at least a dozen songs from memory)


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Originally Posted by cmb13
Moonlight Sonata (1st mvmt), Chopin Prelude C min, E min, Bach WTC Prelude C maj, Mendelssohn Venetian Boat Song, Fur Elise (just starting)

These are not beginner pieces, if you want to do them justice rather than just playing the notes. Do you have a teacher?

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