Will the Journey Continue?

My learning project was a great way for me to get back into the swing of things and play some piano. At the beginning of this journey I had big goals, that I soon realized were un realistic. Although I wanted to be able to play long elaborate pieces, my end goal was having a better understanding of how to play piano, and enjoying it.  

Looking at various videos, websites, and apps I discovered it was not as easy to learn how to play piano and read sheet music online as I thought. I did find some great tools, and resources that helped with my learning process however I found it hard not to have a set teacher, or a set place to go for questions. 

The first few weeks I really focused on note reading. I practiced drawing notes in week two, and although I did not document all of it, I continued to practice drawing notes throughout. This was a lot tougher than I thought, and definitely one of the things that looked easy as I watched someone do it, but I needed lots of practice.

Week 3 and week 4 I really tried to put my learning to the piano. To me it seemed like two totally different aspects, playing piano and reading notes. During these two weeks I realized I made an unrealistic goal and I began getting frustrated with my progress, or lack of at this point. I was still practicing as much as I could, but I still had a lot of work to go.

This is when I really decided to focus more on the enjoyment of learning the Piano and not the outcome of playing the piano. As I found fun apps to aid in my learning, and watch educational videos more for fun, I noticed I gained more of an appreciation for the piano.

I might not be able to play great, but this learning project has taught me a lot. I think it is important to be willing to change goals, and adapt learning. Although I was hesitant to admit I couldn’t reach my original goal, I was much more successful ones I tailored to my needs.

Now that I have a solid base understanding of piano I hope to continue playing for enjoyment to further my skills.

Last Week

Last week I talked about the frustration I felt and I really wanted to enjoy piano for the rest of my Learning Project. I made a goal to play a little bit of piano every time I walked by the piano. As it’s on the way to my room this is quite often, and although sometimes I would just play a few notes, I found it more enjoying to play just for fun. Without thinking about how well I’m playing I definitely found more enjoyment in playing and practicing. 

This week I discovered a few new online tools that will further aid in my learning. The first website, Piano Keyboard Guide, offered free lessons, including videos. As I went through all the lessons provided I gained a better understanding of how to play. This site went over some of the basics I had already learned, like hand positioning and note lettering. It was very helpful to have more information on the rest and pause notes that take place in piano from this source as this is something I found that I struggled on in the previous weeks. The website also got into more tough concepts like the inversion of triads which I still don’t really fully understand. 

Although sometimes not the easier to navigate I also found Zebra Keys helpful. This website offered sheet music, as well as information on keys for each piece. This helped me to explore different playing options and try out new songs.

Instead of Giving up Find Enjoyment

After sitting down for several hours over the course of the week at the piano I became easily frustrated. Piano was always something that I wanted to do so badly, but got easily frustrated when I tried to practice. Throughout week 4 and into week 5 all of this frustration came back and made me not want to play anymore. 

I am not where I want to be with my piano playing, and I found I have been mostly focusing on note reading. Although I have been watching several videos explaining how to read notes, and how they relate to piano keys, reading music and paying at the same time is a whole different ball game.

I began reflecting on this frustration and how my learning process can change to better meet my needs. I have been so focused on being able to play long elaborate pieces, that I have lost the enjoyment and that was something I needed to find again. 

I have been enjoying learning piano online as I have been able to watch several videos, with different perspectives, to help solidify my knowledge. However one aspect I have found particularly hard is the inability to ask questions, or further clarify with the instructors in the videos. I often found myself confused of a section, and when looking for answers elsewhere I easily gave up as I was never able to find the direct answer to my question. This definitely impacted the frustration I felt.

This week I decided I needed to take a step back and find my enjoyment in learning piano. Although I want to be able to play amazing pieces I know I am not at that point yet. Instead of getting 10 steps ahead of myself ,  I needed to take a few steps back and really practice and enjoy my new ability to read notes. 

On my Iphone this week,  I downloaded two apps, Virtuoso, and Piano Academy to help with my online piano learning. 

Virtuoso did not seem to be to helpful however I really enjoyed playing around with Piano Academy. The free version of this app offered some tutorials as well as songs to play on the app to practice note reading. 

The Piano Academy app really helped me gain confidence as I was able to put my note reading to test a little more in-depth. Although the notes are labelled on the app, it allowed me to see where notes are placed on the staff, as well as helped me to practice moving between notes. Although it was a very simple way to practice note reading, and piano playing together it was definitely an enjoyable aspect that took away from the frustration I was feeling. 

I took this screen record of the Piano Academy app:

After a nice refreshing week of continuing my piano learning I have decided that I want to focus more on enjoying putting music to the piano, and be less focused on the complexity of the pieces I play. 

Piano With Animoto

This week for EDCT 300 I reviewed the App/ website Animoto which allowed me to create quick, easy videos from saved media on my devices.

This week while I continued my piano journey I documented some aspects to used to create a video. I later used the website Animoto to put it all together into this video.

This week I stepped out of my comfort zone and recorded a few of the pieces I was practicing. Although this was something scary for me, I thought it was important to record the progress I am making as well as not be afraid to make mistakes. I made mistakes throughout the recordings and it reminded me that not everyone is perfect and to keep practicing.

Watching this youtube video helped me feel more confident in my note reading ability and gave me the motivation to record my practices.

I hope to create video documentation of more of my piano learning process.

Thankful for My Old Piano Books

Last week I practiced writing notes with the hopes that it will make it easier to read notes. I mentioned in my last blog post, I was able to read most of the notes for the song Happy Birthday. This week I wanted to take the sheet music to the piano and practice playing, starting with Happy Birthday  as I already  had reviewed the notes. Hoping this meant it would go smoothly.

Before I began playing I watched a quick 9 and a half minute video to show which key represented each note. As I watched the video I sat at my piano and labelled the piano keys with sticky notes. I don’t remember a lot from playing piano as a kid, but I do remember my teacher doing something similar to assist in learning to read music. 

The video talked about using mnemonics to help with memorizing notes. This is a strategy that I defiantly think will help me, but also something to keep in mind in the classroom. Sometimes memorization can be easier when there is something to trigger the information, like a mnemonic. The video uses the saying “ every good boy does fine” to remember the line note order E, G, B, D F. This can be transferred into the classroom in any subject area that requires memorization, and can allow creativity as students create their own mnemonics.

After I labelled my piano notes I attempted to play the Happy Birthday a few times. Although it wasn’t horrible I was not happy with how it sounded. I resulted to my old beginner piano books my mom had kept stored away.

After a few hours of practicing the same simple songs, I set a goal to challenge myself to a more difficult song next week.

Notes are Tricky

This week I started looking at sheet music, and familiarizing myself with the main concept of reading sheet music. A fellow classmate , Celine, gave me the advice to check out a website with sheet music. I found lots of great music on this site that gave me motivation to practice my note reading and writing. Celine also mentioned that writing sheet music helps to familiarize yourself with the notes seen. I took her advice and printed 20 pieces of blank sheet music. I found a few videos explaining sheet music, and some basic techniques to reading and drawing music. I started with just drawing notes on the sheets I had printed. The lines however were WAY to small and it was extremely frustrating.

I resulted to flipping the page over and drawing my own lines. I practiced drawing notes up and down the scale. Although it looks easy, I found it difficult to make my notes perfect and they often were not circle. I referred to a site https://takelessons.com/blog/reading-piano-notes/ with an article How to Read Sheet Music in 5 Easy Steps which guided me as I labelled the notes I had drawn. 

After I practiced drawing and labelling my own notes a few times, I printed off a sheet from the site I started this week’s journey on and began labeling the notes. It was a breeze at first but I came across some notes that I had never seen before and totally stumped me. Although I was able to read most of the Happy Birthday song I haven’t tried to play it. That will be next week’s journey. 

My Second Piano Journey

I have always loved the piano. When I was younger I took lessons, however, at a young age, the want to be able to play piano was not the same as wanting to practice for. I was pulled out of lessons and the piano I begged my parents for began collecting dust. Everyone once in a while we would have a visitor who would play it, and every time I wished I was able to.

I thought this learning project would be a great time to pick up where I left off and learn to play some songs. As I sat down on the piano bench I quickly realized I remembered next to nothing and found a beginner piano lesson video on YouTube.

 As I watched this extremely helpful video I soon decided that not only did I want to play I wanted to learn how to read music as well. I continued to watch the second video and found them both very informative, and gave me a great positive start on my learning.

As I continue to learn I hope to lean on other online resources, including free places to get sheet music, and other videos explaining the piano playing process.