In-Depth Post #5

Two weeks have passed since my last in-depth post. Over these two weeks, I have been mainly focusing on continuing to develop my sight reading skills and practicing a new section for the song Legend. I have also spent time playing the two songs that I have learnt before, Kataware Doki and Minuet in G to practice playing at different dynamics.

Four weeks ago, I had begun to practice my sight-reading. I had realized that to progress further, I needed to improve this important skill. To practice, I found sight-reading exercises on YouTube. First, I would read over the 4 bars of sheet music, trying to visualize the fingerings in my head. After one minute, I would begin playing the music at a slow and steady tempo. The music that I played was new, and I had seen the sheet music before. So, this was a great way to train my brain to quickly process the information that was given.

For the past two weeks, I have continued to practice sight reading exercises on YouTube, and I have slightly increased the difficulty level. I would play each exercise at x1.25 instead of normal speed. This change in tempo pushed my fingers to travel more quickly around the keys. It also forced me to plan out efficient fingering positions, as poor fingering would restrict my movement speed across the keyboard. This change in tempo made the exercises much more challenging. In the beginning, I felt somewhat frustrated when I made frequent mistakes and needed to pause the video several times. However, I told myself to calm down and take my time to plan out fingering positions. I noticed that the exercises became easier when I avoided rushing and prepared the fingerings before playing. Overall, I now feel really comfortable with sight-reading notes at a basic level. I can recognize different notes much more quickly than before, and use better fingering to play the music pieces. This improvement will help me with learning new songs in the future. Below is a video that I played at x1.25 speed for my practice:

I have also worked on playing the songs that I had learned previously, Kataware Doki and Minuet in G, to work on my dynamics. Dynamics describe the volume in music. Varying the dynamics of a piece of music can add more emotion and depth. I went back to playing the songs that I practiced before, keeping in mind the dynamics of the piece. Before, I just focused on playing the correct notes. Now, I paid attention to the dynamic markings (see below) on the sheet music, and adjusted my volume throughout the piece. I noticed that this had a big impact on the feel of the song. For example, Kataware Doki felt much more emotional building up from a quiet beginning to a loud and grand ending. I will continue to work on the dynamics of these songs and keep them in mind when playing future pieces.

The common dynamic markings and their names.

The Six Thinking Hats

Over the past two weeks, I had another quick meeting with my mentor, Aubrey. For the meeting, we went over the song that I am currently working on, Legend. During our discussion, I used the idea of the six thinking hats. This method helped Aubrey and I achieve parallel thinking. We were able to focus in the same direction as we shared out our thoughts and fully explore ideas without the need to outshine each other.

The White Hat

First, Aubrey and I reviewed what I had practiced so far. I started by playing the first half of the song while Aubrey listened. Afterwards, Aubrey provided me with feedback.

“Wait a second, what note are you playing in bar 8?” asked Aubrey.

“Wait, which note in that bar?” I replied.

“Uh… The last note of the bar. The one in the middle. The G.”

“Oh, that one. Right. Did I play it correctly?” I said, pressing down on the G key on my keyboard to confirm with Aubrey.

“Yeah. It should be G sharp, not G. Remember the sharps carry over from the bar.”

“Oh yeah… Okay, got it. Thanks. So even though the note looks like a G, it’s actually a G sharp?”

“Yup.”

In this conversation, we used the white hat to talk about hard facts and information. We talked about how sharps work and how it affects an entire bar.

 

The Red Hat

Then, Aubrey and I continued to talk about my progress with learning the song so far.

“So, what do you think?” asked Aubrey.

“Uh, well, I thought that last section there was pretty hard. I feel like I can’t play that part well enough, especially at a fast tempo.” I replied.

“Yeah, I think, I think it’s pretty hard to play that part fast. Just take it slow for now. Like, you don’t need to rush through any of the sections. Just practice it slowly at first and it will probably get easier once you’re familiar with the music.”

Here, we allowed ourselves to offer ideas based only on our emotions and intuition. When we stated that the section was hard, we did not use facts or logic to back it up.

 

The Black Hat

Then, we went over the fingerings for the next section.

“Yo dude, do you think this is too much for the next few weeks? I don’t know if I should do this last section.” I asked.

“Don’t worry. This section is mostly the same as the last section that you did. Just practice through it slowly.”

I used my black hat here and addressed my concerns with Aubrey to ensure that our plan moving forwards was a doable one.

 

The Yellow Hat

We continued our discussion.

“Yeah, after this section, the rest should be easy. I checked out the last part, and it didn’t look too bad.” I said.

“Yup. You just need to get through the second last part. Just practice! You should be able to play it after a while.” Said Aubrey.

Aubrey and I used our yellow hats to point out the positives in the situation. We both contributed ideas to answer why something should work.

 

The Green Hat

Then, I thought of an interesting idea.

“Wait hold up. Since I have an electric piano, why don’t I try playing the song with an electronic sound? I can switch the tone to like a 16-bit retro thing. That’ll make it sound close to the original.” I suggested.

“Oh yeah, you have an electronic piano. Yeah sure, you can experiment around with the different tones and find one that sounds cool. You don’t need to use the default one. You can even switch up the tone halfway through a song or something to change up the feel.”

We used the green hat in this conversation. We thought creatively and generated ideas for adding interest to my music.

 

The Blue Hat

Finally, we wrapped up the meeting.

“Alright nice, so basically, I should keep on practicing the previous sections, keeping in mind the stuff we talked about like the sharps thing. And yeah, I’ll work on the next sections for our next meeting.” I summarized.

“Yup! Sounds good. And if have any questions just message me. I’ll try to respond when I have time.”

“Cool, thanks.”

The blue hat was used here to put together the summary. We talked about what we went over the meeting and our plans for the next meeting.

 

Overall, I have made lots of progress over the past two weeks. I am looking forward to learning the last section for Legend and putting it all together. Here is a video of me playing a section of Legend that I have previously learned:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog

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Thanks for reading my blog post! Stayed tuned…

-Mike

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