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Learning the piano.

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Back in the 1990s, Liz bought me a video of a live performance of Pictures at an Exhibition by ELP. While watching it I reflected that I had always wished that I could play the piano and regretted not having learned. At home we did have an old upright piano but my parents could never have been able to afford for me to have lessons. At this time though, pushing forty, the question that immediately presented itself was 'what's stopping you then?' So, I checked the small ads, bought an old Ambridge piano for £100 and found myself a piano teacher. I worked at it for around ten years and acheived a basic level of competence. I stuck with classical pieces as I find piano arrangements of pop songs to be dreadful. Once I started to be a bit more serious I bought a digital piano and sold the Ambridge on. Eventually I got to the stage where practicing was really becoming a chore, just at the point when my teacher was telling me that I really should be doing an hour a day if I wanted to keep progressing. So, sometime in the mid noughties, I called it a day. From time to time I have gone back to it and relearned some of my repertoire. Having now been retired for eight months I have now started to find time to practice again. I have gone back to some of the simpler stuff from the Anna Magdalene Notebook, a collection of learner pieces that J S Bach put together for his second wife. There are two pieces that I used to play that I have started to practice again. I also have a book of really simple arrangements of Xmas carols so I've been playing In Dulcie Jubilo, as made famous by Mike Oldfield, Just because it will soon be Xmas. I only have a small amount of talent, so I don't think that anyone will ever want to pay to hear me play. Still, for my own amusement, I'm enjoying myself.
 
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Drummer

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I have been playing for morris dancing and similar activities, which I have always done by ear - but in lockdown I put my mind to learning to read music as I could never quite grasp it.
This evening in a Zoom chat I remarked 'oh the figure starts on a low note, it is a B' just like that, but it would have been impossible a year ago. I have acquired several melodeons since diagnosis and do enjoy playing them. If the worst comes to the worst, at least I will have something to go busking with.
 

trophywench

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
I utterly love In Dulce Jubilo because it's catchy and jolly and livened up. Jose Feliciano was inspired! I also like the Steeleye Span version of Gaudete - needs to be delivered to the ear in perfectly pitched harmony (one finger in ear, anyone? - never seen monks doing that though) and if so, again gorgeous. That might be a simple tune in basic form - but dunno?

What about 'Unto us a boy is born' ? At the age of 5, I remember being sad at Sunday School because of that nasty man Herod killing all the little boys in Bethl'em in his fu-u-u-u-ury.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
As a kid I could always pick out a tune by ear but could never have taught myself to play properly, with both hands, without having lessons. Learning to play two different melodies with each hand was quite a hurdle for me. Like patting your head and rubbing your tummy times a hundred. It felt really satisfying when I had cracked it though.
 

eggyg

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 3c
When we retired 3.5 years ago Mr Eggy had “learn to play the piano” on his retirement list. Sadly it’s still on there and no nearer to even purchasing a piano/ keyboard et al. Photography takes up all his spare time, not that he has much he says! Hmmm...whatevs! Good on you, I admire musical folks, I haven’t a musical home in my body.:(
 

Anitram

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I only have a small amount of talent, so I don't think that anyone will ever want to pay to hear me play. Still, for my own amusement, I'm enjoying myself.
I'm the same, except with me it's guitar. I can play a handful of songs, all of them badly, and I'm living proof that it's a myth that all Welshmen can sing.
 

Vonny

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
ELP! Now there's a trip down memory lane. I saw them several times in the 70s and read music at uni, choosing the University of East Anglia because it had the best electro-acoustic department in the country. I can assure you that operating the large synthesizer was nowhere near as easy as Keith Emerson makes out! My main instrument was piano although I've had a stab at trumpet, flute and violin as well. Sadly I haven't played for years and the arthritis in my fingers makes in difficult, even painful, to play now. Fantastic that you are playing and make sure you keep it up :D
 

trophywench

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
Nobody was more gobsmacked than my best mate from school, after getting he college qualifications as an Infant School teacher, to discover that most schools wanted her to a) play the piano and b) be able to referee football matches. Being her though, she learned to do both properly. Still couldn't get a job doing that though so on discovering the Head of Economics and associated courses at her local Uni was her old Economics teacher at senior school - she contacted him and discussed the possibility of changing horses/courses, which paid off and the original placement she gained at a nearby senior school Economics/Business Studies, then expanded itself into IT skills too, so she adapted again and carried on expanding with the Education Millennium Project and Lord knows what else before she retired.

She sold the piano she bought and still never used the whistle either so I expect that went in the dustbin.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Digital pianos have come down massively in price since I bought mine. It is a Roland, the second most basic one in the range and it cost about £900 back in the mid nineties. One like that would cost about £300 now and just over £1,000 will get you a Yamaha Clavinova.
 

nonethewiser

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
We had old piano in hall as kids, mainly unused & ended up with woodworm so ended up on tip.

Digital pianos have come down massively in price since I bought mine. It is a Roland, the second most basic one in the range and it cost about £900 back in the mid nineties. One like that would cost about £300 now and just over £1,000 will get you a Yamaha Clavinova.

That's cheap, can you plug earphones into them so you can practice without disturbing anyone. Learnt guitar years back but no longer play, always fancied learning piano, that & saxophone.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Thinking about my earlier post about digital pianos being much cheaper nowadays and also about being newly retired and having had a recent injection of disposable income I started to wonder about maybe getting a nicer piano. Sensible me says that there is nothing wrong with the Roland. It does the job but it looks like an electronic keyboard. Searching the internet has lead to a new discovery, hybrid pianos. These are a lot less interesting than they sound, basically a digital piano in a case that makes it look like an acoustic, either an upright or a baby grand. Anyway, after looking at new Clavinovas I decided to look on Ebay and found a really nice one, won the auction and got it for half the price of a new one. It is only a short distance away and I'm off to collect it tomorrow. Putting out feelers to find a good home for the Roland, price being a bottle of posh whisky.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I now have my 'new' piano installed. It has a much nicer action than the Roland and looks like a real piano rather than an electronic keyboard. I should add here that my Roland is a really basic one and that Roland do make more up market pianos too.

I have now got to the point where Bach's minuet in G is at the polishing stage. This means that I can play it, but it needs lots of practice so that I can play it without any hesitations or missed notes. Relearning pieces that I used to play is easier than learning something new so I have decided to tackle Bach's fugue in C major BWV 953. This is a fairly simple Fugue in an easy key, but it is a fugue and it is possible that I have bitten off more than I can chew. Still, I now have all the time that I need to practice so we'll see.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
We had old piano in hall as kids, mainly unused & ended up with woodworm so ended up on tip.



That's cheap, can you plug earphones into them so you can practice without disturbing anyone. Learnt guitar years back but no longer play, always fancied learning piano, that & saxophone.
Late reply I know but I misread the part about headphones as a statement when it is actually a question. Yes, digital pianos have headphone sockets so you can practice badly without disturbing the peace. They also have a volume control so that you can practice quietly.
 

Chris Hobson

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Vonny said "Sadly I haven't played for years and the arthritis in my fingers makes in difficult, even painful, to play now."

What you need is a Theremin.
 

mikeyB

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
I’m just crossing off an item on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to be able to play bagpipes, so I’ve invested £25 for a chanter (that’s the business end of the pipes) which I am assiduously learning to play. That’s how every piper starts out.

The difficulty is that the chanter is a reed instrument, and though it is internal you have to blow with just the right pressure. When fitted to the full pipe set, of course, the blowing just fills the bag and your left elbow does the work. It takes several months to master the chanter, and learn a few tunes, and about year before embarking on a full set of pipes, which range from £400 to three grand(!).

That’s when the neighbours start to object.:D
 

Sally71

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Parent
Glad I don't live near you then @mikeyB! :D Bagpipes played well are not unpleasant to listen to, but played badly they sound like a cat being strangled:eek:
Presumably though everyone has to go through that phase before they learn to play them well! Will be an achievement if you learn to do it though, have fun!
(Violins and oboes sound pretty awful too when you’re a beginner I think!)
 

Ditto

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Can somebody tell me about a piano teacher I had at 18. I was given an old upright, rubbish with plonky keys at the end, but found a teacher who had a fabulous baby grand in her parlour. She was a bit of an ol' dragon and I only did a few lessons before giving up though I'd always hankered to play the piano, so did my Mum back in the day that I didn't know then. It must run in families!

Anyway I thought I'd be doing 'chopsticks' like the kiddies do I believe. Instead she had me doing all this crossing your hands over stuff and then when I played that bit she wouldn't believe I'd never played before and started shouting at me. Good grief. That was only about my third lesson. I gave up even though I'd paid well in advance. It wasn't worth the trauma. Should I have been doing that crossing hands over stuff at such an early stage? I've always wondered.

I envy you Chris Hobson. :)
 
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