This thing kinda sucks

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
piano.jpg


Well IT doesn't suck, but I sure do.

A couple of recent threads in a few areas got me thinking about the ruts I've been in and going to get guitar lessons. I may still do that, but I think there are some academic things I can do on my own first. One of them is learning to read music... like really learning it and practicing it so that I can sight read. I can play in time and all, but I don't actually understand rhythm in the academic sense either. I have a little bit of music theory understanding, but it's mostly just scratching the surface.

A couple of times in my life I've taken piano lessons, but only briefly. The first time was when I was 20, I think. There weren't any guitar teachers in my small town who knew music theory, so I went to a piano teacher. I wasn't a very good student, I developed a crappy attitude, and I quit after a couple of months.

About 9 years ago I did the same, but with a different piano teacher (I'm halfway across the country now). We kinda skipped over the first steps and went into exercises to read music. I plodded my way through a few Minecraft songs. I actually put in the effort this time and practiced, but the more I played the more it fired up my tendonitis and thus made playing guitar harder. So I quit. Again.

A few days ago I uncovered the DP and started poking at it. I started going through all those "menial lessons for boneheads" that I skipped with the last teacher, and my tendonitis flared right up. So I go onto the Youtubes and look up "proper hand posture piano", and the first hit was a rather appealing lady who showed me I've been doing it all wrong. Terrible technique that I used in front of the last in-person piano tutor and she said nothing about it.

So far so good! I've been machinating through the first sets of the handful of lesson books I have and either I'm remembering it or picking it up lots faster than expected. There's a little fatigue and awkwardness but no tendonitis yet. My left hand has way more talent than my right.

I've also been hammering some flashcards at http://musicards.net/ and pretty much memorized the notes on treble and clef staffs on sight within a few hours. In the past I struggled massively with that. I expected to come back today and have to start over but I've still got it.


I don't know how long this motivation will last, but I intend to ride it as long as I can. At the very least I hope to learn to read music and maybe pick up some more theory. If I end up being able to play the piano also, I won't mind.
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,304
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Think how long it took as a child to learn to read books without having to sound out the letters in order to figure out the words. Now you don't even notice yourself reading the words. It just flows into your brain as if someone was saying the words to you. OK, maybe you notice having to put on the reading glasses.

Really good musicians with years of sheet music reading "see" the music like we see the written word.
Symphonic composers can look across the entire giant sheet that covers all of the music parts in the symphony and hear the whole thing in their head just by looking at the multiple staffs.

My mother is a great piano player and she doesn't have to consciously think at all to immediately "see" 10 notes at a bunch across the bass and treble clef. Pretty astounding to me. After several years of classical guitar I can stumble through a classical guitar chart at slow speed on first play, and read with facility once I've practiced it a bunch. But sight reading at full speed? Not gonna happen....I'd have to put more years of work in for that. I can sight read simpler pieces on clarinet or melody/vocal lines on guitar, but that's so much easier because it's one note at a time. Like reading a kindergarten early reading book vs. a grown up, proper book.
 

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
Well, @cometazzi , I'm right there with you although I did learn to read in band and from previous lessons, my guitar reading is terrible. I'm working on it every day but it's slow going. There's no short cut to anywhere worth going...


It sure is a LOT easier doing this on the piano. I did pick up a guitar this morning and tried to play along with the same exercises and I've realized my large deficits note location knowledge of the fretboard.

Maybe the exercises (with the guitar) will help with that too. Get two birds stoned at once!
 

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
Think how long it took as a child to learn to read books without having to sound out the letters in order to figure out the words. Now you don't even notice yourself reading the words. It just flows into your brain as if someone was saying the words to you. OK, maybe you notice having to put on the reading glasses.

Really good musicians with years of sheet music reading "see" the music like we see the written word.
Symphonic composers can look across the entire giant sheet that covers all of the music parts in the symphony and hear the whole thing in their head just by looking at the multiple staffs.

My mother is a great piano player and she doesn't have to consciously think at all to immediately "see" 10 notes at a bunch across the bass and treble clef. Pretty astounding to me. After several years of classical guitar I can stumble through a classical guitar chart at slow speed on first play, and read with facility once I've practiced it a bunch. But sight reading at full speed? Not gonna happen....I'd have to put more years of work in for that. I can sight read simpler pieces on clarinet or melody/vocal lines on guitar, but that's so much easier because it's one note at a time. Like reading a kindergarten early reading book vs. a grown up, proper book.

Yes. Once upon a time when I lived in a larger city, I'd take a bus to work every day. Usually I'd stand up (because it was packed) but there was an older guy, usually nicely dressed with Yanni-like hair (this was early 90s). He was always sitting (must've gotten on way early) and was regularly reading musical scores as if he were reading a paperback novel. Just zooming through and flipping pages. Occasionally, he'd have blank ledger sheets on a clipboard and would be furiously writing notes onto it straight out of his head.

17-year-old-me saw that and was just staggered. I don't know if I have enough time left in my life to get to that point, but when I say 'sight reading', that's kinda my goalpost. Maybe being able to recognize and instantly connect funny dots to ten-finger chords and passages like your mother does.

Something I'm noticing that I'm doing that I'm going to have to work on: Sometimes when I play through something I can kinda get the 'gist' of the melody, and subsequent times through I'm actually playing it by ear instead of reading the page. Gotta stop that.

Strangely, I don't remember learning how to read text. I only remember reading things, starting with cereal boxes, street signs and billboards from around age 5. Mom even says I could read at an impressive level for my age by time I entered Kindergarten. I would guess that loads of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and other PBS programs were to credit for that.
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,304
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Take Japanese and you'll quickly remember how hard it is to learn to read any new symbol system.

As another analogy-- if you're a guitar teacher and you've forgotten how hard it is to play guitar, play switch handed. You'll still be way better than a total newbie, because you know what you're supposed to do, but it will still feel very awkward. A good reminder of what a beginning student is facing.

I had a clarinet teacher who would make me transpose on the fly. For example, read a chart written for flute (a C instrument) and transpose everything up a whole step to compensate for my Bb instrument. I was like, "Dude, I can barely keep up without transposing!" He was able to transpose any interval you could name, such as from a viola clef to clarinet, at full speed, without missing a beat.

He had a music degree from Peabody Conservatory and being able to transpose on the fly is a requirement....
 

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
Take Japanese and you'll quickly remember how hard it is to learn to read any new symbol system.

As another analogy-- if you're a guitar teacher and you've forgotten how hard it is to play guitar, play switch handed. You'll still be way better than a total newbie, because you know what you're supposed to do, but it will still feel very awkward. A good reminder of what a beginning student is facing.

I had a clarinet teacher who would make me transpose on the fly. For example, read a chart written for flute (a C instrument) and transpose everything up a whole step to compensate for my Bb instrument. I was like, "Dude, I can barely keep up without transposing!" He was able to transpose any interval you could name, such as from a viola clef to clarinet, at full speed, without missing a beat.

He had a music degree from Peabody Conservatory and being able to transpose on the fly is a requirement....

Yikes! Though I question if transposing on the fly like that ever comes up anywhere? I.e., in an orchestra arrangement, are you ever given charts that are not in the right key and for the instrument you are playing?

You're right about Japanese. I got pretty far with Katakana and Hiragana, and started to see the patterns. Kanji? NOPE.

I wasn't trying to do any toe-waving about being able to read at an early age, btw. Obviously I wasn't reading the Silmarillion or anything, (and I wouldn't say I'm in any top-level literacy echelons now).
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,304
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Yikes! Though I question if transposing on the fly like that ever comes up anywhere? I.e., in an orchestra arrangement, are you ever given charts that are not in the right key and for the instrument you are playing?

You're right about Japanese. I got pretty far with Katakana and Hiragana, and started to see the patterns. Kanji? NOPE.

I wasn't trying to do any toe-waving about being able to read at an early age, btw. Obviously I wasn't reading the Silmarillion or anything, (and I wouldn't say I'm in any top-level literacy echelons now).
Transposing actually comes up a lot. Violin, viola, cello all use different clefs but sometimes you'll want to play the other's part. Or maybe a performance calls for an A clarinet but all you have is a Bb clarinet As another example that has come up for me I have a RealBook Bb instrument edition so when I want to play it on guitar and be in the correct key I have to transpose on the fly down a whole step. Maybe you're an alto sax player and a guy hands you a C-instrument chart, say for piano, so you need to transpose down a minor 3rd because you play an Eb horn. Or maybe you want to double the bass line on guitar so you need to read bass clef to know what the line is.

Another very common situation is the chart is out of the singer's vocal range so suddenly you need to play it down a couple of whole steps. Quick: transpose!

My clarinet teacher had me playing in a big clarinet band with every size of clarinet, some of which I had never seen before. We were playing string chamber music so he was handing me viola and violin charts and expecting me to transpose on the fly. "Dude, how about I just record you guys and sit this one out?"

Behold: the contrabass clarinet--
1648766675806.png
 

BrazHog

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 24, 2019
Posts
277
Location
CA, USA
A few days ago I uncovered the DP and started poking at it. I started going through all those "menial lessons for boneheads" that I skipped with the last teacher, and my tendonitis flared right up. So I go onto the Youtubes and look up "proper hand posture piano", and the first hit was a rather appealing lady who showed me I've been doing it all wrong. Terrible technique that I used in front of the last in-person piano tutor and she said nothing about it.

"Get a teacher," they said...

I guess the ones who teach music college will have gone through a modicum of assessment of their skills. But for private lessons? Meet Mrs. Tendinitis, your new instructor.
 

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
"Get a teacher," they said...

I guess the ones who teach music college will have gone through a modicum of assessment of their skills. But for private lessons? Meet Mrs. Tendinitis, your new instructor.

I guess that like with anything, if you can play an instrument to some level, you can probably give lessons for money. Quality of lessons are immaterial?

As I noted above, in the early 90s I went to every guitar teacher in my small area and they were all great guitarists that I knew from seeing in live bands all over the valley. Great guys, incredible players, two of them taught lessons for a living, but none of them knew any music theory.
 

Timbresmith1

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Posts
3,352
Location
Central TX
Well, @cometazzi , I'm right there with you although I did learn to read in band and from previous lessons, my guitar reading is terrible. I'm working on it every day but it's slow going. There's no short cut to anywhere worth going...
Don’t feel bad. Guitar music notation is a mess. Iirc, it is written an octave away from where it sounds in order to fit it into treble clef.
 

Dana

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
2,025
Location
Ashland, Ma
I've been learning piano as well. Been a great experience and nice change from guitar.

I like to keep reminding myself that I managed to read English which has 26 letters, and music has only 12 notes. So that's less than half.
 

teletail

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Aug 25, 2019
Posts
3,546
Age
72
Location
West By God Virginia
I’d be interested in seeing the proper posture video. I’m about to start piano lessons myself. Waiting for my new teacher to recover from the flu.
 

cometazzi

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Posts
1,938
Location
Wisconsin, Das Land von Käse und Bier
I've been learning piano as well. Been a great experience and nice change from guitar.

I like to keep reminding myself that I managed to read English which has 26 letters, and music has only 12 notes. So that's less than half.

But the English alphabet doesn't have sharps or flats, and the letters don't change shape to indicate how long they last.

Also, it's really hard to read or speak multiple letters at the same time (unless you're dr0nk).

I’d be interested in seeing the proper posture video. I’m about to start piano lessons myself. Waiting for my new teacher to recover from the flu.



That was the video I found that explained holding the wrists up high, curling the fingers and the 'bubble' under your hand. I was doing crap like this:

1650469492590.png

with my wrist lower than the keyboard and cocked backwards, fingers splaying out to the sides. Like guitar strings, you actually want to push the keys straight down with your fingertips (from a curled finger), not mash them with the flats of your fingermeats.

It should have been obvious, but I didn't know any better. Also, I've lived with chronic pain and discomfort for so long I've kinda been trained to ignore my body's feedback, so there's that (not good, I know).

I still got some pain and fatigue using the right technique, but it was just the "not used to doing this" thing. Much of it was in my upper forearms from lifting up fingers that weren't playing notes at the time. Once I learned to rest them on the keys (without pressing the key down) that went away. Having a weighted keyboard actually helps. Now I can practice for a couple of hours before I get fatigued, but it's a 'good' fatigue.

The part I'm still working on is the chair height to keyboard height, and chair distance from keyboard ergonomics. I'm having the same issue with computer keyboards as well.

(as a side note, I'm also starting to wonder if my 'tendonitis issues' are actually in my shoulders, but that's a different discussion)
 




New Posts

Top