A month of playing piano

Where has the time gone?

I’ve mostly kept up with the practice, managing at least an hour almost every evening (I think I’ve missed two). I’m still feeling positive about my progress though I’m certainly not as far forward as some of the people who post “progress after one month” videos on YouTube.

I’m reaching the point of needing the left and right hands to be pretty much independent now, and that has been a bit of a struggle so far. Contrary motion or similar motion doesn’t seem too bad (other than having to perform a “tuck” at different points if trying to play a scale with both hands), but having the hands do something completely different is definitely a bigger challenge.

There are also areas where a teacher or mentor might be quite useful in order to check things I’m not sure about. For example, where two notes of the same pitch are tied, the book says to play the first and hold it for the length of both, but where different pitch notes are tied they are to be played legato. It’s not clear to me at the moment however what one is supposed to do when a sequence of tied notes descending in pitch, say, includes two adjacent notes of the same pitch. Should they be treated as a single note? Or played normally (because presumably they can’t be played legato)? Quite how to use my (single) pedal could do with a few hints, too. I feel sure that on a “proper” piano, the pedals are sufficiently heavy to operate that it’s possible to rest one’s foot on the pedal, pressing when needed. But is that considered an appropriate way to do it? I certainly can’t do that with the pedal for the keyboard because it won’t support the weight of my foot, which means I either have to hold my ankle in tension to allow my foot to hover over the pedal (not comfortable for very long), or to rest my foot on the floor next to the pedal and hope I can find it when I need it (because it does seem to wander across the floor a little each time it is pressed).

Generally I’m finding I still prefer the Faber book. I really don’t know why that is. Perhaps if I’d put Alfred on the stand first at the beginning then I’d prefer that. I do still play exercises from Alfred, but I’d say I spent more of my time working on the pieces in Faber. For reference I’ve got to page 48 in Faber and 33 in Alfred though each time I practice I start from earlier in the book and work through some of the exercises I feel I’ve already got the hang of, mostly by way of warming up and reinforcing learning. YouTube is now mostly relegated to being an additional reference when I want to check how something should be played.

As well as the exercises from the two books, I’m also working on scales (one hand only) for C major, G major and D major (no sharps, one sharp and two sharps). I might well add A minor to the mix soon, and perhaps I should put a little time into trying to play C major “hands together”. One oddity I’ve noticed is that despite being very much right-handed, my left hand seems more under control than my right. My right little finger particularly seems to have a mind of its own, often “floating” in the air rather than resting on the keys when not being used. I wonder if it’s down to that finger being habitually kept out of the way of the rest of the right hand fingers because the others are so much stronger and agile whereas the left hand is somewhat “under-developed” by comparison.

I also saw it suggested that three useful pieces to learn in one’s first year of playing are Bach/Petzold’s Minuet in G major, Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1 and Bach’s Prelude in C major. I thought it would be fun to give the Minuet a try, though I’m still very much learning the right hand part. I also discovered that there are possibly five pieces by Bach that appear to be referred to as “Prelude in C major”, but in this case I’m fairly sure it’s the one from the Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846, that is intended.

I am finding that all the practice is hugely demanding in terms of concentration. If I allow my mind to wander even for the briefest interval then I tend to start making mistakes very quickly.

I think that’s about it at this point. Time to wrap up and go to do some piano practice 🙂

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