It has been two weeks since my last In-Depth post. Over these two weeks, I have mainly focused on practicing my sight-reading skill. I have also worked on playing a new song, Legend, that comes from a video game called Deltarune.
While I was practicing the new song two weeks ago, I realized that I needed to work on note reading. Often I would need to spend a lot of time reading specific notes from the sheet music, especially the notes above and below the staff (see image below). To practice playing the music more effectively, I decided to improve my note-reading skills. I had already done some note-reading practise with my mentor in the past, but not too much. To practice, I used a few YouTube videos that contained many sight-reading exercises for beginners.
The notes above and below the staff were difficult to read.
I would begin each exercise by reading the phrase(4 bars). Then, I would think of the fingering positions in my head. It is important to have proper fingering for playing pieces, as bad fingerings can make playing certain sections much more difficult. After a minute or so of preparing, I would begin to play the 4 bars at a slow tempo. I found these exercises to be surprisingly difficult. Not only did I have to read all of the notes in a short amount of time, but I also had to coordinate my left hand with my right hand. In addition, some notes were sharps or flats(black keys), which were harder to play.
After two weeks of dedicated practicing, I felt much more comfortable with playing the exercises. My sight-reading has definitely improved. Now, my brain is able to process the information on the sheet music more quickly. The time that I have spent on improving my sight reading will definitely help me with learning new songs effectively. Below is one of the videos that I used for my practice.
Listening and Asking Questions
Over the past two weeks, I met once with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was really busy over the past two weeks, as he was going back to school in the US. Still, we had time to have a meeting. I am really thankful that he was willing to spend time to have a meeting even though he was really busy. For our meeting, we first reviewed the song that I had learned before, Kataware Doki. I have continued to practice the song over the past two weeks to keep my playing skills sharp. After playing through the entire song, Aubrey provided me with feedback. I made sure to listen attentively, knowing that I would gain valuable knowledge from Aubrey’s advice. One suggestion Aubrey made was: “try to connect your notes more. Basically, you want to make your piece flow. It should all be connected.” To probe further and to make sure that I was following what was said, I asked: “Wait, so basically you want to avoid doing staccato?” I knew from previous knowledge that playing staccato meant playing short and sudden notes. From this question, Aubrey elaborated on the subject. He confirmed that staccato should be avoided unless specified by the piece, and he explained that there were even different types of staccato. By asking a question after listening intently, I was able to gain a far better understanding of connecting notes and the use of staccato.
Afterwards, we talked about the new song that I was working on, Legend. Over the past two weeks, I spend lots of time practicing the first section of the song. This song was unlike the songs that I played before. It had many tricky fingerings that took me a lot of practicing to become comfortable with. From our last meeting, Aubrey had given me the fingerings for the entire first section. One of the section’s fingering particularly confused me. (See image below). To me, it felt much more natural to play with fingers 1 and 5 instead of 2 and 5. My fingers felt really stretched out and uncomfortable with the 2 and 5 fingering.
Each number corresponds to a different finger.
I was itching to ask Aubrey about this fingering, so after playing through the first section during the meeting, I asked Aubrey: “Wait, why is the fingering for the last notes on bar 8 2 and 5? Could it be 1 and 5 instead?” This was a fishing question. I was more open-ended and I did not know what Aubrey’s answer would be. He responded with: “Oh, wait. Are you playing G or G sharp? Remember, the sharps carry over.” This explanation helped me clear up my confusion. I had thought one of the notes was a G, but it was a G sharp instead. So, the reason the fingering felt wrong was that I was playing the incorrect note. Another question that I asked Aubrey as we talked about fingering is: “why is it important for us to learn fingering for the piano?” I wanted to understand the importance of learning about fingering. Aubrey said it was a fundamental skill that pianist all need to work on. Without proper fingering, it would be impossible to play songs smoothly. This was an important piece of knowledge that I had gained from being curious and asking questions.
Overall, a lot of progress was made from our meeting this week. For the next few weeks, we decided to continue working on the next section of Legend and to continue practicing sight-reading exercises. Here is a video of me playing a section of Legend that I have learnt so far:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog)
The next section of Legend looks challenging, so I am sure it will be an interesting experience to learn and practice. I am really enjoying learning this song so far, and I am really excited to continue to work on it! Stay tuned…