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Learning the piano.

C&E Guy

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
My dad used to tell a story of when he ran a Bible Class in the 50s. He asked if anyone could play the piano. A boy volunteered but he could only play with one finger!
He persevered and soon could play properly. He eventually became the stand-in church organist, and now he is retired, he earns pocket money playing at weddings and at the local crematorium.
 

MikeTurin

Well-Known Member
Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I try to learn pano. Now I am a bit stuck begause I got a tendinitis on theright hand, so I have bought a trackball for the pc and started an online course to learn to play by ear.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I'm re learning two pieces from the Anna Magdalena Notebook but I originally learned them from a book called It's Easy To Play Bach. This had slightly simplified versions of the tunes, which are relatively simple anyway. Usually it is just the occasional little trill that is missing and I've enjoyed the challenge of putting them back in. I've been really struggling with the left hand accompaniment on number 11 and couldn't work out why. It turns out that the simplified version has half a ton of notes left out so the proper version is considerably more difficult.

I'm now moving on to a piece that I don't know. Since my ability to read music is a bit basic and I don't have a teacher to keep me on the straight and narrow, I downloaded the Anna Magdalene Notebook onto my phone so that I can hear it played by a professional pianist. The next challenge is to get the effing Spotify app to play something specific rather than rock and pop songs at random. It seems determined to play random classical music rather than the downloaded album that I'm asking for. The exact procedure has to be followed to get it to play it. Go to library, click on the album, scroll up and select the first track, select play. Next click on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen and then ensure that the shuffle symbol is not highlighted and the repeat symbol is selected but not with a little 1 beside it because the 1 means it just plays the same track on repeat. After much swearing and getting random clips of Mozart and Handel played at me, I finally get it right and then snag the cable on my phones and pull out the jack plug which pauses the music. Arrrrgggghhhh!
 

Ditto

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I just want to be able to play Fur Elise. I'm gonna get a piano eventually. Mind you I'm on borrowed time, I should get a move on. :D
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I used to be able to play Fur Elise and I'll probably return to it sometime. I thought that I would do slightly simpler stuff first for now and also something new for a change.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
The Roland piano has now been adopted by my niece Zoe. Yesterday I received a bottle of 12 year old Aberlour whisky. My practicing is going really well as I can now do it several times a day and take a break when my brain gets tired. At the moment trying to sight read a new piece requires quite intense concentration so this is really useful. I feel as though I might eventually be an actually competent pianist.
 

Ditto

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Put yourself on YouTube so we can hear you when you reach virtuoso level. :D I am very envious.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I don't quite get why anyone would envy my keyboard ability. I sort of envy people who had nauseating amounts of talent. The French composer Saint-Saëns could play all of Beethoven's piano sonatas from memory when he was nine years old, it took me ten years to learn to play just the easy one. The teacher who taught piano to Franz Liszt reputedly said, I didn't actually teach him, I just used to put impossibly difficult pieces in front of him and watch him in silent amazement.
 
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NotWorriedAtAll

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I always wanted to learn to play when I was a kid and made a bee line for any piano whenever we visited people who had one and then played made up 'music' which was no doubt a dreadful racket.

By the time my parents got round to paying for lessons I wasn't able to learn in a way that suited my learning style and I managed to work my way up to grade four and then dropped it.

So when my son was born I didn't want him to be musically illiterate like me. I felt music was something we should all be able to do the same way we learned to read and speak.

So I got him onto a keyboard before he could even sit up on his own and let him move his hands along the keys and just let him discover the sounds and keys the same way he did language and reading.

He didn't have a formal lesson until he was eight and by then he was playing to concert standard. When he was nine he won a fairly prestigious piano concert in the same class as 18 year olds and then he decided he wanted to learn pipe organ and he held a concert at the Brangwyn Hall when he was 12 to raise money for the local Children's Hospice and the Air Ambulance.

He's nearly thirty now and he plays the guitar mainly and used to do some gigging at pubs and busking sometimes. When we lived in Greece he used to busk during the tourist season and at some festivals. I'm glad to say music is part of his life and always there for him. I still can't play anything properly but I sing a lot and have folders and folders of songs - I wrote songs before I realised it was a waste of time without being able to play music and so I moved on to poetry.
 

Gwynn

Well-Known Member
Wow these life stories are fascinating.

Some years ago I watched someone, in a local charismatic church, playing his keyboard and afterwards approached him saying 'that looks so easy. Will you teach me to play' and, the important bit, I will feed you. Cheeky? Yes. But he agreed.

We struck up an instant friendship that has lasted for over 30 years. I taught him how to teach me and within a few months I was also playing my keyboard at the church using my own method based of guitar chords.

However, some years on I visited a huge Baptist church just down the road and saw their magnificent pipe organ. I cheekily asked the Pastor if I could play it (knowing that I hadn't a clue about pipe organs). He said yes and within a few months I was playing it at some of their services.

I have always loved pipe organs.

Unfortunately, due to pandemic restrictions, the church has been closed. But worse I am told the pipe organ is now broken and is in need of some serious repair.

I have learned so much and enjoyed every bit. A few of my compositions have been sung in the chuches too. A wonderful journey.
 

trophywench

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
That just reminded me of Jo Brand learning to play a pipe organ - anyone remember that TV series where people had a go at doing different things they'd always fancied? Others included Frank Skinner learning the banjo and 'Birds of a Feather' singing Rule Britannia with Leslie Garratt at Proms in the Park I think it was. There was another such series with ordinary people, one chap who conducted a famous orchestra wasn't famous, just a bloke who happened to catch the same train as me every weekday (no idea of his actual job or his name - though may have been Pete?) so we passed the time of day with each other like you do in such circumstances. The other regulars in that little group, were just as gobsmacked as me seeing him on telly, cos he hadn't told any of the chaps either!
 

Gwynn

Well-Known Member
When I was about 7 (sixty years ago - ish) I took up the violin. I hated its screechy noise. Everyone has to go through it I guess.

Well I tried. Then my wonderful, patient teacher died and was replaced by someone what had zero patience and zero tolerance. I gave up in an instant.

Ok I wasn't the ideal student. I never practiced. I couldn't stand the sound. Now, with the keyboard and pipe organ, you couldn't keep me off. 8 Hrs a day practice on the keyboard. 3 Hrs each time on the pipe organ. Less on the organ because it is so much harder work. I never realised, until I started to play, that you have to balance yourself constantly so that you can play the pedals as well as the keys. So, for me, there was no rest. Good exercise. I was probably doing it all wrong, but it worked.

I think the world had a lucky escape from my awful violin noise. Imagine if I had continued!

I have a cut down picture of the 'peace organ' l, if I can work out how to get it into this message....
 

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mikeyB

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
It's all very well for you standard instrument learners. The Scottish chanter and full bagpipes use a pentatonic scale, so reading music is rather different. It's a like a different dialect in language. That's why it's difficult to blend bagpipes with, say, a standard orchestra. They don't C eye to eye. ;)
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
I like pipe organs too. I had a go at playing one at a National Trust property in Devon. I hadn't practiced for a while but it still sounded great. Nowadays when old organs break down they can have a digital organ inserted where the keyboard is and the speakers placed behind the pipes. Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed St Paul's Cathedral, was less keen. He described the organ there as 'a kist of whistles'.
 

trophywench

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 1
Well - depends greatly on the organist I'd say, having spent my childhood Sunday afternoons at the Methodist Church Sunday school and all sorts of events in the church itself even if only once a year participating in two services per Sunday for a fortnight in May celebrating the S school Anniversary. An event my sister and I both looked forward to actually, cos we each got a new 'best' summer dress to wear first for this event. Had to be kept utterly pristine for that fortnight, so taken off each time we returned home and No Way could it be worn anywhere else until after the final Sunday afternoon performance - or the new white socks either.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
This is funny. I am now taking a stab at the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition. My piano has a choice of four voices, Grand Piano, Electric Piano, Pipe Organ and Strings. The left hand part has a lot of eighths played on the black keys which I of course play with my thumb and little finger. The problem is that my middle finger keeps catching the buttons and changing the sound as I'm playing. I'm not sure how to stop it from happening, I might have to make a little cover for the controls. Slight black mark for Yamaha for putting the buttons in such a daft place.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Yes but when playing an eighth with your thumb and little finger the middle three fingers have to be somewhere. I have started to play the black notes closer to the end and that seems to solve the problem mostly.
 

Chris Hobson

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Relationship to Diabetes
Type 2
Well, I've finally got the first piece in the Anna Magdalene Notebook to the polishing stage. If anyone wants to look it up it is Minuet in F Major catalogue number BWV Anh 113. There are quite a few versions on YouTube, I would post a link but I always end up screwing it up and posting the wrong video. I also ended up watching a several videos of random people doing virtuoso performances on a piano in what looks like a railway station or shopping mall. They left me feeling sick as a chocolate frog in a desert.
 
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