Friday, February 22, 2008

Where are we so far?

Where are we so far on this piano learning thing? To review:

  • About a month ago, my daughter started piano lessons. Her method book, as best as I can tell, is the piano equivalent of the old Dick & Jane books. In fact, it appears they came out about the same time, and were illustrated by the same people.
  • It took me about 1 week to go through that book. It's most difficult piece was something about a train, complete with a repetitive left-hand chord that was supposed to sound like the rhythmic clacking of a train in motion. Oh, and a dissonant right-hand note pairing that was supposed to be the train's whistle. I had to play this a lot to get it right. My life LOVED this.
  • The following weekend (that would be about three weeks ago today), I went out and got my own method book, the Alfred's All in One Piano Book.

And now, after a couple of weeks of almost daily practice on this, I am a little more than 1/2 way through it, page-wise. Maybe more. It's about 144 pages long. I'm in the 80's somewhere. At this point in the book, we have learned maybe three chords. One of them requires the use of one of those dreaded black keys. I had some difficulty with that transition, especially with my right (dominant) hand. I'm sufficiently satisfied with it now to move forward, but I do so in hopes of continuous improvement.

In the meantime, my repertoire consists mainly of snippets of pieces only my 60-something in-laws would recognize. "Oh, is that All Night Mary Ann?" ("Why, yes it is, how on earth could you possibly have known that?") And if you give me a few minutes, I can muster up a rousing version of When the Saints go Marching In... with melodies on either hand, mind you (albeit not at the same time... THAT would be something.)

What I am working on right now is Blow the Man Down. I had spent about four days on a piece that preceded it, Lavender's Blue. I felt good about overcoming some early difficulties with it, and boldly plowed forward. My first few attempts at Blow the Man Down sounded like I had never touched a piano before. It was truly a back-to-square-one experience for me. I am thisclose to doing it well enough to move on and try the next thing (Lone Star Waltz), but nowhere near good enough to put it to bed permanently.

Oh, and I bet my father-in-law that, by May 1, I will have a version of Scott Joplin's The Entertainer ready for public consumption. Boy, do I talk a big game.

Jillian, our six year old daughter, is about 2/3 of the way through her Schaum book. I think she'll have it done mid-March or so. She consistently complains that it is too easy, so once in awhile, I will catch her playing pieces out of my book. For example, She likes my version of Happy Birthday much better than the one her teacher gave her. Which is funny, because tomorrow is my dad's birthday, and we think it would be need to send him a video of this. I'll post it here if we can pull it off.

Next time, a word about Landfill Pianos. Maybe even a picture.

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