Sunday, March 14, 2010

So where am I at currently................

...with this learning the piano business? Well after 9 months of endeavour, I can report that all is going very well and that I have made the transition from merely a guitarist to a least some sort of keyboardist also.

What's improved?

  • Independence between the hands. I have no problem improvising a C blues over a simple walking bass. I am working now working through the other keys and more complex left hand bass patterns. I am particularly pleased that I have almost mastered a swinging shuffle version which I had no chance of doing some months ago without the right hand following the bouncing rhythm of the left.
  • I have a far clearer relative physical mind map of the notes on the instrument meaning I am not having to look down at my hands to find notes all the time but can often feel where they are. Fantastic!
  • My sight reading is improving and I am recognising groups of notes more easily because of my work on jazz and popular piano.
How have I done this?

By studying 4 genres of piano playing including:
1. Classical - the reading side of things
2. Blues - 'cos I love it!
3. Jazz - the improvisation side of things
4. Popular - the gigging side of things

The Piano Handbook: A Complete Guide for Mastering PianoMy resource of the moment is Carl Humphries "The Piano Handbook".
I have just started today to do some serious work on the first of J S Bach's Two part Inventions and the theme from the slow movement of Beethoven's Pathetique. I can sight read through the Bach piece slowly but the Beethoven is a little more challenging mainly because I am unfamiliar with the right hand be required to play some of the Bass clef notes. Hmmm! I hear the more experienced of you saying, well, keep in my mind that I am not just diving into these 2 more difficult works as I have worked through the first three John Thompson Piano Tutors, the earlier sections of Carl's book, memorised and can play up to speed the theme for Couperin's The Mysterious Barricades and I have completed additional work in three other genres of playing also. I have really valued and appreciated the efforts I made to become an accomplished sight reader on the guitar and I am keen to be so on the keyboard as well.

Blues Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series (Keyboard Instruction)My initial resource for this piano style was David Sprunger's "Blues for piano and keyboard" course which is available on-line. I have not completed all the lessons in it but worked through the first 9 or so which gave me a terrific grounding in the style teaching me a few basic licks which I have now added to through my own practise. Following the discovery of Mark Harrison's pop piano resource mentioned below, I also purchased his Blues Piano publication which is also an excellent reference. Mystified that I have not blogged about that resource. Oh well you know about it now.

The Jazz Piano BookI have been working through Mark Levine's wonderful "The Jazz Piano Book" and his equally useful accompanying text "The Jazz Theory Book". 
The Jazz Theory BookI have been concentrating on learning left hand voicings to a few of the easier jazz standards such as Tune Up, All of Me, Fly Me to the Moon and Autumn Leaves.

The Pop Piano BookThe main resource I have been using to explore this genre is Mark Harrison's "The Pop Piano Book". This is a huge book providing a complete and thorough resource of the genre and which I have mainly concentrated on the Pop Ballad style until my chops get a little more proficient and I can attempt some funk and rhythm and blues. Apart from that popular songs I have been working on include Van Morrison's Moondance, Missy Higgins' Ten Days and I am about to revisit Cocker's Feelin' Alright.

So there is always plenty to do and as you can see my studio is inundated with all my resources!

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