In-Depth Post #3

I have been continuing to make progress on learning the piano over the past two weeks. For the past two weeks, I have been mainly focused on practicing the two songs that I have been working on as well as improving finger independence.

Two weeks ago, I had finished learning the notes for two songs: Kataware Doki and Minuet in G. At that point, I had was able to play through the entirety of both songs without reading off the sheet music. However, I felt that I wasn’t ready to move on to learning new songs yet. Although I could play each section of the songs, there were a few sections that I found really difficult such as bars 33 to 38 of Katawaer Doki (see below). These sections required me to really stretch out my fingers and move my hands around the keyboard. On bar 37, I even needed to cross my left and right hand. When practicing those challenging sections, I needed to slow down and play at a really slow tempo. I also often made mistakes and played the wrong notes. Overall, I felt there was something missing. The songs did not flow, nor did they convey many emotions.

The second page for Kataware Doki has a challenging section from bar 33 to 38.

(Bar 33 is the third bar of the third line from the top, and bar 38 is the first bar of the second line from the bottom.)

To make the songs sound more smooth and natural, I practiced both songs rigorously for the past two weeks. I practiced the songs by targeting one section at a time First, I identified the sections that I felt needed the most work. Then, I would repeatedly play just that one section. By doing this, I was able to practice and improve the most difficult sections. An example of a section that I focused on was bar 33 – 38. As previously mentioned, this section contained many finger stretches and jumps for the left hand, as well as precise and unusual note timings. I practiced this section one hand at a time, then combined both hands together. I also counted the time in my head as I practiced this section. Although it was slightly frustrating to practice this section at first, I told myself to stay patient and keep on practicing. Eventually, my finger developed memory for the section, and I was able to play it much more comfortably. Now, after two weeks of practicing, playing the two songs feel much more natural. I am able to play the challenging sections without frequent errors, and I can connect each section together more smoothly.

Generating Interest and Responding

Over the last two weeks, I had two meetings with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was on a break for the last few weeks, so we were able to have more frequent meetings. I am really grateful for his willingness to spend a lot of time mentoring me. Like before, we had our meetings via Zoom. For our meetings over the past two weeks, we mainly talked about fingering techniques and how I would improve my playing for the challenging sections in the songs.

First, we began each meeting by warming up my fingers. I played scales such as the C major scale and Dm major scale. I also practiced sight-reading by trying to read off sheet music that Aubrey shared with me. While we did the warm-up, Aubrey would tell me what I needed to work on in terms of hand posture. One piece of feedback he said was: “Try to avoid leaning your hand on your pinkie.”At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what Aubrey meant. So, I asked for clarification. I said: “Wait, sorry, could you please clarify?” Aubrey then explained that he wanted me to rotate my hands towards my thumbs more, which then made sense to me.

After warming up, Aubrey would listen to me play the section, and he would then provide feedback and suggestions on how I could practice. After listening to me play the hard sections in Kataware Doki, Aubrey suggested me to “try to put more emphasis on the higher notes.” To generate interest, I made connections with a concept that we talked about earlier. I asked him: “does this relate to leaning my hand on a certain finger?” This question then led us to have a thorough and interesting discussion about how dynamics are affected by finger pressure.

Overall, we had really productive meetings together. By the end of the second meeting, we agreed that I was ready to move on to learning a new song. I also let Aubrey know that I was going to continue to work on the two songs that I had learned so I can keep sharpening the skills that I had practiced. Here is a video of me playing Kataware Doki:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog

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The new song that we agreed to work on is from a video game that we both used to play in grade 8. The song is called Legend, and it comes from an RPG game called Deltarune. This song is at a suitable difficulty level for me to learn, and will really exercise my hand independence. I suggested this song to Aubrey because I really enjoyed its fantasy vibe. Over the next few weeks, I will begin to practice the first half of this song. I am really excited to get started!

-Mike

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