Saturday, May 12, 2012

The End

This class really challenged my sight reading and piano playing skills. It was really difficult, but I can say that I walked away with a lot more knowledge and a better understanding of how I learn. I have never considered myself a good piano player, I still don't, but at least I can say I'm not completely hopeless. I did my best in this class and got a lot out of it.

April - May 2012

In the last month and a half, we have gone over many different kinds of practice types. I developed my own way of reading rhythm, which is the most difficult for me. I also learned how to get better at getting better! Basically, learning how to teach myself and how to apply others' teachings correctly and effectively.

Repetition. Repetition is my key to learning how to read music. I found that I became slightly dependent on the sheet music, whether that be bad or good. I have always found that I rely on my ability to memorize, which does nothing for my sight reading. I guess something worked because even if I have the music memorized, having the music in front of me was a comfort rather than a hindrance.

The hardest song for me would have to have been playing Oleo with the chords. I say this because it has a funky rhythm that throws me off if I'm not honing in on the rhythms meticulously. This was a good challenge for me though. I need to stop being afraid of rhythm.

This song has a basic chord structure that we have been learning this semester. The melody is quick and on the off beats usually which makes it tricky.

During the B section, we would solo over the chords D7, G7, C7, and F7 respectively before returning to the A section to end the song.

This is how I learned the melody line...

I learned the rhythm of the melody line by writing it out by hand first, then writing the beat numbers over the notes. For example:
1 +(and) 2 + 3 + 4 + would represent 8th notes.

The other two songs we ended the semester with included I Got Rhythm and Lester Leaps In.

I Got Rhythm has a pushed feeling melody line that progresses up from F to G to Bb to C and back down the same way. The fingering for the last part of the melody line was difficult at first.

The chord progression is simple and similar to most of the pieces we're practicing.

The bass line is 8th notes:

Bb  Ab  G  Db  C  Gb  F  B  Bb

This plays over the melody line and the chords until the B section when the bass plays the 1 and 5 over the respective chords D7, G7, C7, and F7.

The last song we got was Lester Leaps In.

This song is simple with an up beat melody line over a Bb chord until the B section which follows the chord progression of the other two songs.

My practice routine was the same for most of the pieces with difficult rhythms and for the ones with simpler rhythms, I played them with my classmates multiple times, trading around the chords, melodies, and bass lines.

My practice group was with Michael and Bernie and I practiced outside of the group with Collin, Bobby, Brent, and Matt.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Practice, practice, practice.

For this class, I have developed a kind of practice schedule I don't usually stick too the way I have been. I spend on average an hour on the piano every 2-3 days, sometimes shorter and in spurts. I can't believe how much better my coordination is getting on the piano as well as how quickly I jump online to look up a chord name I don't recognize opposed to simplifying it.

No joke, this class is kicking my butt, I just found that I have a C in it, but I'm hoping some extra hard work will pay off in the next five and a half weeks before the semester ends. My sight reading is getting easier in the sense that I know I can do it, so I am not as quick to throw in the towel.

I haven't been keeping up with the blog like I usually do, but here is the last few weeks.

February - March 2012

I did pretty terribly on my first assessment in this class and had to re-take it because I wasn't prepared for it, but some new things I learned are:

  1. I CAN play it if I put my mind to it. Just try, don't give up.
  2. Start training your ear to use fixed DO as in fixed solfeggio. 
  3. Jazz is HARD, but makes me feel like I can play way better :)
So let's start with the solfege stuff. Going up chromatically, the scale would be:

C   C#   D   D#   E   F   F#   G   G#   A   A#   B   C
do  di    re   ri    mi  fa   fi    sol    si    la   li      ti   do

Going down, it would be:

C   B   Bb   A   Ab  G   Gb  F   E   Eb   D    Db   C
do  ti    te    la    le    sol  se   fa  mi  me   re    ra   do

The difference between fixed and movable Do is that you never have to think about what key you will be in with fixed because Re will always be D. 

Here was my 12 bar solo I wrote in solfege over the chord progression to Sonnymoon for Two:

This particular song has been my favorite so far because I feel like I hear the chord progression everywhere! 

I had a really good time writing this solo out, but originally didn't write out the melody in fixed solfege. 

You can see the difference between the fixed syllables and the movable ones on the bottom line. 

Anyway, I have been focusing on rhythms because that is the hardest subject for me, and I am thinking of starting to go through my old theory workbook again..... after I'm done ear training..... after I am done trying to hear the difference between different EQed frequencies..... after I'm done practicing..... AHHHHH! This summer I want to really get down to business so that I can really better myself as a performer.

Here is the second piece I wrote out the solfeggio for:

This piece was a pain in my ass, but I got myself to get the two hands down which nearly killed me.

My left hand is illiterate.

Some of the new stuff we've been working on includes Impressions by John Coltrane, So What by Miles Davis, and Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock. These are examples of modal pieces which is a whole other world in itself. UGH

Maiden Voyage has a crazy looking rhythm that I definitely did not understand until we spent like 2 class periods playing the rhythm non-stop. 

I practiced this at the expense of my lower floor neighbors by basically stomping my foot while I loudly counted the rhythm after I broke it down on paper. Why is this so hard for my head to grasp??

X   x   X   x   x   X   x   x   x   x   x   X   x   X   X   X
 1     +    2    +   3    +    4   +   1   +   2     +   3     +      4      +

This is basically how I figured it out. I broke down the rhythm into a language I can understand faster and now, I am understanding tied and dotted notes quicker than I was before. 

Impressions was my favorite because it was the most abstract and once I got it, I couldn't stop hearing it and singing it and playing it. Damn catchy tunes. 

Once I got So What, I realized how simple it really is yet can be perceived as complex. I like this one too because I really had to practice to get my fingering and chord voicings correct and fluidly able to switch back and forth. 

Here is my latest solo for the latest assessment which I scored a B+ on. It is over a D dorian progression and low and behold.....



I like this class because it is pushing me to work pretty hard on my piano skills, which I have wanted to improve for a while now, just never had the time or motivation. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We Don't Riff. We Don't Improv. We Solo.

Basically, this is my favorite class besides 307 this semester because it's really fun! I am already learning how to play music better and how to practice better and sing better. It's pretty awesome.


This blog is going to cover the first 3 weeks of this class.

The first day, we all learned to play Sonnymoon for Two by Sonny Rollins.

This is my favorite piece so far because I really like the chord progression and the voicings have helped me play one of the songs for my 307 band.

We also worked on a lot of theory that I haven't had the chance to work on since I transferred here last year, which was really nice. I like theory a lot and I am excited for the independent group study that will hopefully get set up for next year.

Here's a terrible video from my Mac that I took this recent class period of some of us practicing.

Don't mind the gum and awful expression on my face, I was pretty tired! Other than that, we all did a really good job that day and practiced both songs and looked at one of the new ones we will get soon. And I go flat at one point. Oops.

Here are some pictures of my notes from the last few classes as well...


I am not quite sure what to put in this blog except pictures of my notes and videos of our practices... As the semester goes on, I think I will get the hang of blogging about the practicing and concepts.