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Its a funny thing but I can play a tune in my head by ear and improvise on the fly, but when I put a piece of sheet music on the stand, even a simple tune, it takes me ages to get it. And I mean ages! And because I've gotten despondent and taken up single line instruments my left hand reading is really below par! I know the treble clef by heart but the bass still eludes me. Of course I could continue to improvise, make stuff up in the right hand and then figure out the LH part, I'm obviously missing out if I don't learn to read properly. I need to just knuckle down, put my headphones on and work through the damn book I'm using. (Barratt Classic Piano Course book 1
-I've been on that book for like ever)
The other area that has always eluded me is hand independence. If I could play with the left hand as well as I can the right I'd be well away.
I might look on YouTube for hand independence exercises and such...

Last edited by LarryShone; 04/17/21 04:23 PM.

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You can think of the bass clef as an extended treble clef. It just keeps going

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I’m a beginner, but might be able to suggest some things.
Don’t be too hard on yourself!
You can read/play right hand and improvise on the fly. Nice!
So, when you tackle a new piece, start with the left hand.
Add the right hand when you are comfortable with a phrase or section, but matching the speed of your left.
Your idea of independence exercises is a good one.
Strengthen both your hand/fingers, but don’t push too much. Take your time to avoid injury.

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Thanks guys. Now the other big stumbling block is motivation. Since lockdown we've all become kind of lazy. Well not lazy so much, too comfortable, sat on the couch, watching TV. The piano is in the next room, the kitchen, but I still find it difficult to get off my butt and sit at the piano. (With headphones of course).
Oh hum

Last edited by LarryShone; 04/17/21 05:16 PM.

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LarryShone - Just enjoy the process and motivation will take care of itself. Balance your practice so half of it is productive progress and the other half isn't very structured at all. Mix book learning each time with improvising. Goof off on the keys a bit. You can adjust the balance over time to best suit your needs. Have some goals in mind and head towards them - daily. Stop wasting time with TV, texting, etc.

Life is good. You get to play your keyboard!

Not so hard, is it?

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Now its funny but after typing this I sat at the piano for the first time in weeks and had a little play, improvving and looking up blues chords, did a bit from the book and even played a little of Dvorak's New World symphony, coming up with a simple LH accompaniment that sounded good.(I would like to find the actual sheet music for that piece)
It was fun, and like it always does, it made me smile.

Last edited by LarryShone; 04/17/21 06:34 PM.

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LarryShone - That's perfect : )

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The TV can be a problem not because I'm glued to the set but the other people at home are watching during the day at a high volume. I still practice an hour a day but only in the evening or during the time the TV is not on.

Being able to play by ear is a mixed blessing. Learning to read takes time. The past year my piano teacher got her students to go through Classical & Jazz pieces out of books arranged for easy piano. The easiest pieces are the 1-liner where the L & R alternate playing 1 note at a time, no overlapping notes. Next are the pieces with 1 line on top and 1 at the bottom (2 notes at a time).

Some people including myself would learn difficult pieces a few measures at a time and sections memorized before playing them through. This is relying on memory and not reading. Learning to get good at reading is a gradual process. Just need to keep reading new pieces consistently for a while.

Good luck...

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Being able to play by ear is a mixed blessing.

That may be true, but [b]not[/b] being able to play by ear is unmixed bad luck. There is really nothing good about it. I wish I could play by ear, but I cannot, and I can never learn this, because my musical ear is not good enough.
So all I can do is practise, practise, practise. Fortunately, I enjoy practising very much. Now that is one unmixed blessing! cool


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Originally Posted by LarryShone
[...]too comfortable, sat on the couch, watching TV. The piano is in the next room, the kitchen, but I still find it difficult to get off my butt and sit at the piano.

I'd say that you have identified the problem. Now I may be wrong, but something tells me that you're not going to improve your piano reading skills by sitting on the couch and watching TV ...

As I say, I could be wrong, but ...

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Animisha
That may be true, but not being able to play by ear is unmixed bad luck. There is really nothing good about it. I wish I could play by ear, but I cannot, and I can never learn this, because my musical ear is not good enough.


Animisha, would you mind to elaborate? Why is that you can never learn this skill?

Why am I asking? Because I know some people that claim the same and they have a classic piano formation in common. But it is hard to me to believe it. A different understanding of "playing by ear", perhaps? I don't think so.

I will assume "playing by ear" is listening to a song and being able to reproduce the melodic line on an instrument without a score. A step above, being able to reproduce a non complex piece, not verbatim, without the score. Eventually, being able to harmonize it and play a personal version of it. Or make an improvisation over the song. I believe the former is within the reach of any piano player and the next steps also as a result of a systematic study. Just like a classic player starts with simple pieces and progresses towards complex, challenging pieces: it takes a lot of practice and experience, only a different learning path that may be followed in parallel with the classic studies.

So I wonder to which point that not being able to playing by ear is a self-fulfilling prophecy because of a limitation you impose to yourself.

BTW, others that feel or think the same please chime in.

PS: when playing by ear and improvisation subjects arise, it is hard to me to not think of Gabriela Montero. smile But I am pretty sure, even if she has an extra amount of gift to help, most of that came from a LOT of study and practice. From the time I practiced archery, from a champion: "the more I practice, the luckier I am" smile


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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Being able to play by ear is a mixed blessing. Learning to read takes time. The past year my piano teacher got her students to go through Classical & Jazz pieces out of books arranged for easy piano. The easiest pieces are the 1-liner where the L & R alternate playing 1 note at a time, no overlapping notes. Next are the pieces with 1 line on top and 1 at the bottom (2 notes at a time).
Good luck...

I've seen those easy piano books, a good beginner goal should be 200 pages in a day, which is the entire one of these books. Ignore perfect rhythm, just play the notes in the right order.

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Last edited by EinLudov; 04/18/21 08:32 AM.
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Downloaded a sight-reading app to my phone recently call "Piano Sight". You repeat a set of randomly generated notes so you get better at reading. The version I got lets you listen to the playback but not interactive to the point of tracking your mistakes. Nonetheless better than nothing.

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What I really need is a separate sound prooofed room so I can use my tablet to play youtube videos while playing along on piano. I can't do that at the moment because the piano is in one room, and the TV is next door. Its fine if you're just playing because I can plug in headphones, but you can't do that while watching something on youtube at the same time. I wish I hadn't sold that little audio mixer I had years ago...


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Originally Posted by EVC2017
Originally Posted by Animisha
That may be true, but not being able to play by ear is unmixed bad luck. There is really nothing good about it. I wish I could play by ear, but I cannot, and I can never learn this, because my musical ear is not good enough.

Animisha, would you mind to elaborate? Why is that you can never learn this skill?

Why am I asking? Because I know some people that claim the same and they have a classic piano formation in common. But it is hard to me to believe it. A different understanding of "playing by ear", perhaps? I don't think so.

I will assume "playing by ear" is listening to a song and being able to reproduce the melodic line on an instrument without a score. A step above, being able to reproduce a non complex piece, not verbatim, without the score. Eventually, being able to harmonize it and play a personal version of it. Or make an improvisation over the song. I believe the former is within the reach of any piano player and the next steps also as a result of a systematic study. Just like a classic player starts with simple pieces and progresses towards complex, challenging pieces: it takes a lot of practice and experience, only a different learning path that may be followed in parallel with the classic studies.

So I wonder to which point that not being able to playing by ear is a self-fulfilling prophecy because of a limitation you impose to yourself.

Hi EVC2017 and thank you for asking!
My musical ear is not good enough. It is a bit hard to confess on this forum, but for instance I may be able to hear if two pitches are a half or a whole step apart - but it is hard and not without occasional mistakes, and beyond that, I am lost. I have tried ear training apps, but my results don't improve. So, sadly, I won't ever be able to play by ear... Fortunately, there is a lot of beautiful music that has scores. smile


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Originally Posted by LarryShone
What I really need is a separate sound prooofed room so I can use my tablet to play youtube videos while playing along on piano. I can't do that at the moment because the piano is in one room, and the TV is next door. Its fine if you're just playing because I can plug in headphones, but you can't do that while watching something on youtube at the same time. I wish I hadn't sold that little audio mixer I had years ago...

Hmmm... Do you have a laptop? Because all you need to do is connect your dp to a laptop, get some software that plays the pianosounds, for instance garageband for macbook, and play the YT videos simultaneously with your piano playing. Connect your headphones to your laptop and you will hear both.


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Yea those apps work. The advantage to using the big easy classic books is that you will be playing from tailored works of musically organized composers. There is an undercurrent to human produced music that you pick up. This is different from simply learning the mechanical aspect of reading.

Learning typing via random letters awh8gpq2ahdgha;a4gh, is different from typing "Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one." You pick up on the syntax and flow of a language from a well developed user.

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Originally Posted by Animisha
Hi EVC2017 and thank you for asking!
My musical ear is not good enough. It is a bit hard to confess on this forum, but for instance I may be able to hear if two pitches are a half or a whole step apart - but it is hard and not without occasional mistakes, and beyond that, I am lost. I have tried ear training apps, but my results don't improve. So, sadly, I won't ever be able to play by ear... Fortunately, there is a lot of beautiful music that has scores. smile

I wouldn't say that's problematic. I have a good ear and can tell you that intervals (including minor and major seconds) can be very confusing within a musical context.
Have you tried functional ear training?
Also, try playing by ear, even very simple songs (not pieces). It's fine to make mistakes. It takes years to develop. Ear training apps are not enough, and for some are completely redundant. I intend to write a post about it here soon, detailing my experience with it.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
My musical ear is not good enough. It is a bit hard to confess on this forum, but for instance I may be able to hear if two pitches are a half or a whole step apart - but it is hard and not without occasional mistakes, and beyond that, I am lost. I have tried ear training apps, but my results don't improve. So, sadly, I won't ever be able to play by ear... Fortunately, there is a lot of beautiful music that has scores. smile
Have you taken the test for amusia?
http://tonedeaftest.com/

If you pass this test you can absolutely train your ear to recognise intervals and melodies and it's just a question of using the right approach.

Most ear training apps consist of drills where you just test yourself repeatedly without really teaching you first. It's like trying to learn a language by repeatedly taking tests. No wonder you can't get it. First, you need to recognise the intervals in context. The usual approach is to learn them as the first notes of well known tunes, like the perfect fifth in the Star Wars theme or the major third of Vivaldi's Spring. The more different contexts you learn the better. Have different tunes for ascending and descending. Sing the well known melodies to have a clear idea of the interval in your mind. Then start doing the interval testing in a pairwise fashion to learn to distinguish each interval from every other interval, but at first only with the smaller intervals like seconds and thirds. When you're good at those you add larger ones gradually.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Have you taken the test for amusia?
http://tonedeaftest.com/

If you pass this test you can absolutely train your ear to recognise intervals and melodies and it's just a question of using the right approach.

Final score was 100%, but really, the test is too easy.

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Most ear training apps consist of drills where you just test yourself repeatedly without really teaching you first. It's like trying to learn a language by repeatedly taking tests. No wonder you can't get it.

That is true!

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
First, you need to recognise the intervals in context. The usual approach is to learn them as the first notes of well known tunes, like the perfect fifth in the Star Wars theme or the major third of Vivaldi's Spring. The more different contexts you learn the better. Have different tunes for ascending and descending. Sing the well known melodies to have a clear idea of the interval in your mind. Then start doing the interval testing in a pairwise fashion to learn to distinguish each interval from every other interval, but at first only with the smaller intervals like seconds and thirds. When you're good at those you add larger ones gradually.

Thank you, great advice. smile


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