Play Piano Today With Dr. J

Posts Tagged ‘play songs today

Jeannine at Piano-JPG-sm-webWelcome would-be-piano players, pianists, musicians and music-lovers to Dr. J’s blog.  Check back often to see what my latest thoughts on playing the piano and making music are on any given day.  Enjoy.  Talk to you soon.     Dr. J

PS  See what you can have at Play Piano Today With Dr. J

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So, you are already playing the piano – you have found the joy of investing time and energy into a long-held dream – you have found the joy of sharing your music with others – you have found the joy of starting a project and seeing it through to a beautiful conclusion – you have found the joy of stress reduction and relaxation – you have found the joy of meeting other pianists and sharing your music stories with them – you have found that playing the piano creates joy.

So, now what are you doing to share the joy?   What are you doing to get more people interested in playing the piano? of experiencing the same joy as you have in playing the piano?

I am sure you – like I – have often heard the words “I always wanted to learn to play the piano.”  Well, it is time to spread the joy.  Invite these would-be piano players to your recital.  Make a YouTube video and share it with your would-be pianist friends.  Tell these would- be piano players about “Play Piano Today with Dr. J” and invite them to discover for themselves the total joy in learning to play the piano.

I have the privilege of teaching a wonderful group of adult piano and organ students on a weekly basis.  Some of my students are beginners, some are intermediate and some are advanced.  The reasons they are taking piano lessons vary.  Some of the adult piano students are taking lessons to enhance and broaden their skills, some are learning pedagogical techniques, some are studying theory and others are learning to play the piano simply for pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Each of these students brings to their piano lessons a variety of joys, challenges, needs and desires.  I have to but listen to them and to their playing to gain a wealth of information.  So, what do I learn every week from my piano students?  Patience, perseverance, fortitude, determination, discovery, happiness, pride, knowledge and wisdom.  How wonderful it is to be a teacher of piano.

Speaking from personal experience, I would much rather play for a live audience then have a recording made of my piano performance. Something about turning on a recording device puts my nerves on edge a bit.  My mind keeps turning over the fact that the recording can be heard again – and again – and again, whereas a live performance is heard once and gone.  It is but a memory in my mind.

I have, however, found the recording of my piano practice sessions at once eye or ear-opening and productive.  Oh, and did I mention, humbling?  In my undergraduate days I carried with me to nearly every practice session a cassette recorder.  I practiced in what I thought was a careful and diligent manner, then recorded my efforts hoping to match what my mind told me I had just mastered.

Often the recorded “performance” of that practice session’s goals was in reality far from the lofty piano sounds my mind had created.  That little recorder, though, did not discourage but encouraged me.  I continued practicing the piano and worked to discover more creative ways to shorten the practice time needed. Finally I heard in reality what my mind had been playing long before the fingers could create the sound on the piano.

There comes a time in your piano practice where you simply have to play the piano for the pure joy of playing, where you let go of all the technical challenges, the self-analysis, and the voice of self-control and discipline and “just play the piano.”

Too often we get caught up in the how and why’s of playing the piano that we forget to celebrate the simple pleasure and joy of creating beautiful sounds and of simply playing the piano. Every pianist, beginner or advanced, has a piece in their repertoire they can play without “working” at it.  A piece that is simpler than the current “working” repertoire or a piece learned years earlier might be the piece to just let yourself play.

Creating beautiful sounds and making music is the goal of all piano playing, so why not celebrate that joy and make sure in every practice session you reward yourself with those beautiful sounds you have worked so hard to create and just make music on the piano.

After answering the questions, “What did I do well?” and “What can I do differently?”  you must ask yourself, “How can I make changes in my piano practice and performance?”

The third question is one that is also often slighted.  Piano students are excellent at knowing what should be done better but knowing how to make changes to create better sounding music is often a mystery.

What are the root causes of piano music played poorly or with mistakes?  Incorrect notes, inaccurate rhythm, and carelessly performed cadences form the core of poorly played piano exercises and repertoire and keep a pianist from progressing.  In addition, poor fingering, sloppy pedaling, tempo variations,and little regard for dynamics and articulations exacerbate practice sessions and inevitably lead to lackluster performances.

It has been said that an incorrect note played three times simultaneously takes thirty three repetitions to correct.  It is imperative that notes be played correctly on the piano from the start.

The playing of inaccurate rhythms can undermine the effectiveness of any piano piece.  Rhythmic accuracy is attained with the same careful attention to detail as note accuracy.

Analyzing cadences away from the piano keyboard to determine the movement of the bass line and the chordal progression is a must.  Knowing the make-up of a cadence before putting it on the keyboard will help the pianist avoid a change of tempo or the playing of incorrect notes in these most difficult but most necessary parts of any piano piece.

Attack the root causes of poor performance in every practice session.  Make note accuracy, rhythmic precision and well-prepared cadences an absolute must in every practice or performance of exercises or repertoire of the piano.

The pentatonic method for learning to play songs on the piano is based on the pentatonic scale.  This musical scale has five notes to an octave and it just happens that these five notes correspond precisely to the five black keys of the piano.  With only five note choices instead of the eight in a diatonic scale or the twelve in a chromatic scale, the novice pianist is able to experience success more quickly.

Using the pentatonic method, the beginning pianist is limited to five notes only of a specific intervallic grouping. Those five notes correspond exactly to the five black keys on the piano.  These keys are easy to see and locate.  They are also arranged in two different groups.  They are arranged in a group of two black keys and a group of three black keys.  These note combinations are visually easy to recognize.

Not only are the five keys easy to recognize, but they are also tactilely comfortable for the adult beginner.  The fingers of each hand can easily cover two groups of the five different black keys.  This hand placement allows for ease in fingering. The hands can often remain in one position for a long series of notes.  Therefore, success comes more quickly for the beginning pianist because the method deals only with learning to move the fingers in a restricted note range.  The learner quickly builds technique when finger movement is limited in using the pentatonic method to play the piano.



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  • freeonlinemusiclessons: Hey nice blog. I just picked up you RSS FEEDS. Check out my new website, you’ll like it! http://freeonlinemusiclessons.com
  • bhundley1: I'm interested in your elaborating on the "fingering" aspect of practice. Are you a fan of Czerny, for instance, in terms of building up dexterity wi
  • promotionmusic: Thanks for your response. Congratulations to you on the work you are doing in the piano world.

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