Thursday, May 10, 2007

Next stop Carnegie Hall!

I know I should be saving this for Monday for the Makeover Monday update, but I can’t wait to reveal that I have nailed my piano piece! Actually I pretty much had it down on Monday evening, a shock to me I can tell you.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the most demanding classical masterpiece – rather a simple, 16 bar Minuet in G by Johann Sebastian Bach – think ‘Baby Einstein’ music and you’ve pretty much got it. Still, I read the music and have been practicing so that I can play it without stumbling or hesitating.

To give you an idea of how much of a challenge this is for me. I can play the piano pretty well. I can listen to a melody and sit down and replicate it, adding my own harmonizing chords with the left hand. While this to any (non musical) passerby may sound good, I am never satisfied with it. I want to be able to play properly, but I’m lazy and impatient, and I just hate reading the music.

The Treble Clef music (played by the right hand, the one that looks like a squiggly ‘g’), is always easy for me to read and very easy to play right off. It’s reading the Bass Clef music (the one that looks like a backwards ‘c’ and is played by the left hand) that stumps me, and as for coordinating this with the right hand? Well, lets just say it’s always been quicker for me to ‘sound it out’ myself and come up with something which is ‘close enough’, but never good enough, hence my quest to Maestro-dom!

Determined to do this right – I sat down and played the right hand piece first – very easy. I then cheated, got my pen out and wrote the letter of each left hand note beside the music. This meant I didn’t have to mentally go through the F.A.C.E, and E.G.B.D.F (Every Good Boy Deserves Football) acronyms in order to identify the notes! It worked and stopped me from getting frustrated and abandoning it.

My husband returned last night, and proud of my accomplishment, I played the piece for him. His reaction was underwhelming to say the least – not being a classical music aficionado he didn’t recognize the ‘tune’ and therefore did not feel qualified to say if it was good or not! You would think this could have worked in my favour in that he would not have noticed the bum notes that may or may not have crept in as I was playing, but no. I explained to him that, for me, reading this music and playing it, is like reading two sentences of a book and speaking them, all at the same time – he still didn’t get it, and just gave me that sympathetic ‘whatever makes you happy, dear’ look.

Oh well, I’m pretty chuffed with it, and inspired to try something more challenging next time. My ultimate goal is to be able to sight read any piece of music and play - like a proper musician. This however will definitely be a long term goal!

13 comments:

Deborah said...

Wow Annie - good for you! We had to sell DH's Steinway grand piano to move back to Ireland and I have to say even though the thing took up the entire house, I miss having music in the house!

I always struggle with bass clef too. When I was in music school we had to tenor and alto clef as well... *SIGH* I just wanted to sing for goodness sakes! ;-)

Anyways, sounds like you have a great ear and a unique talent. When will you be putting up sound bytes?! :-)

Megan (Velveteen Mind) said...

To celebrate your accomplishment, I've entered you in a contest! Come visit me and see...
Everyday Mother's Day Giveaway

Annie said...

Thanks Megan! I just checked it out - that is very sweet of you.

Deborah - first of all, drooling here at the thought of a Steinway Grand! I have to make do with my Yamaha Electronic Piano for now - it's pretty good, and gives a fairly authentic sound, and the feel of the keys is like a piano - but it's definitely not the same. We don't have the room (nor the funds) to get a real one right now, but someday we will. Secondly - sound bytes? It's achievement enough for now that in this blogging world I can type, and successfully post my drivel most days :D A challenge for another day maybe.

Smiling Mom said...

Yeay! I'm so happy for you. That's Great. You should be proud.

Brillig said...

Your hubby's response is similar to what my hubby's response would have been. haha.

Hubby surprised me one year with a baby grand piano for christmas. Yeah, normally his gifts don't exceed $20, no matter what the occasion, so I was totally and completely shocked. He knew that I loved to play the piano--what he didn't know was how BADLY I play the piano!!! Hahaha. I try to practice every day, just so that the gift isn't wholly wasted on me!

The Good Woman said...

Annie - I am completely astonished. I can barely find the time to blog, let alone pursue other creative passions. Jane Austen would no doubt have considered you accomplished. I consider you inspirational. What a fantastic lesson in determination. And tomorrow I'm going to dust off my easel.

Annie said...

Thanks for your kind comments!

Just so you all know, there was bribery involved in me getting a few minutes here and there to work at that piece (and really it was most elementary so it didn't take much time at all - we'll see how it goes trying something more difficult).

I have an 'alternative' set of priorities here, too, you may say, in that while I practiced this, no laundry or dishes were done! Blogging and more interesting things come first, always before housework at any rate!

Brillig - send your hubs over for a word with mine! He did GOOD! If we were to have a Baby Grand - we'd need a new house too - hmmm - now there's a thought ;-)

Flamenco Mom said...

Annie, great job! I can only imagine how tough it is for you to get practice time in. And, of course, more of a reaction from DH would have been great. But sometimes non-musical types don't respond to music the way we would want.

My husband often tells me that (before we met) he would play for his family, and they were less than enthused. He's the only musical one in his family. His mother to this day STILL talks while he's playing--though I'm not going to be the one to tell her not to!

Shauna said...

CONGRATS! That's awesome! Great to achieve your goal BEFORE monday. Pat yourself on the back and play the tune again!

Worker Mommy said...

Yay for you ! My dad was able to play piano but I honestly think I don't have a musical bone in my body.
I can appreciate music but I can't play it and I certainly can't sing it!

Congrats!

moodswingingmommy said...

Way to go, Annie, and ahead of schedule,too!

I don't like that bass clef either.

My husband would have reacted the same way as well.

Cursed Tea said...

Dear Annie

I am a classical bass player (you'll find no reference to it on my blogs - I like to keep my work out of them for fear my colleagues may read too much into it) and I'm impressed at your perseverence with the piano. However I wanted to warn you about bass clef - you said the lines were EGBDF - they are not. Here is bass clef (starting from the bottom up):
spaces: A.C.E.G.B
lines: G.B.D.F.A
I would recommend making up some kind of acronym to go with it - I get my students so do this - the crazier the better you are much more likely to remember it.
Also if you want to learn to read bass clef proficiantly I would recommend never writing the notes above - it just slows down the learning experience.

Sorry - I hope you don't mind the "lesson". Keep it up!! and by the way I am very impressed with your ability to play a tune you hear and add chords - that's a real talent!!!

Best Wishes
Kirsty

Annie said...

Thank you Kristy! This is exactly what I need to stop me taking the lazy route! I know the placement of the notes is different - but I just applied the treble clef acronym and I find the E, and start from there - I know, route of all my problems probably lol!

Thank you very much for your advice - I will earnestly persevere without writing in the notes :-) You have no idea how 'hard' this will be for me lol!