Do not Fear, The Music will not Disappear

Two months really flies by when you’re having fun! And what a crazy two months it has been! However, as EDTC300 comes to a close so does my learning project, just kidding! I have enjoyed learning piano so much I plan to continue my learning for as long as I can!

This blog post is just a little overview of what I have learned throughout my learning journey!

Let’s Begin!

Where I was before starting my learning project:

  • Had a piano sitting in my house collecting dust
  • No knowledge of piano except knowing that there were white keys and black keys
  • Not tech savvy at all! Did not know how to upload my videos to Youtube (this took awhile to learn and remember!)
  • Very little confidence when it came to showing my progress to others!

Where I finished:

  • My piano no longer collects dust (my mom is very happy about this).
  • Now know there is much more to piano then the color of the keys, For example; I know the notes, key terms, how to read sheet music, how to make a beat, chords and much more that will be discussed later on in this post!
  • I can now successfully upload my short videos onto Youtube, and even crop them before posting.
  • I have gained confidence in performing, not only on the piano but overall throughout my everyday life!
  • I can now say I have grown a love for playing the piano!

Now let’s look at my progression throughout the course:

Week One: Time to dust off those old keys!

During week one, I decided on what I was going to teach myself for my learning project. When first deciding what to learn it was a toss-up between learning how to play the piano or learning how to make bread. I am very happy I decided to play piano instead!

  • Introduction post to learning project
  • Discussed why I chose piano
  • Looked broadly at possible sites I may use to help my learning
  • Making an overview of my lesson layout
  • Challenging myself to try and practice each day

Week Two: Lesson 1: Getting to know my Piano

This was the first week I started actually learning piano, and what a busy week that was! This week I focused mainly on the very basics of piano. This week was also the first week I decided to film myself playing! The big lessons this week were:

  • Posture and hand positioning
  • Learning each finger numbers
  • Learning the home position notes on the piano
  • Exploring my primary source, Flowkey
  • Learning to play with my right hand, then my left hand
  • Learning to combine those skills and play with both hands

Here is the short little video of my final results from week one!

 

Week Three: Lesson 2: Those finger stretching chords…

As you can tell by the title, lesson 2 of my learning project focused on chords! The big lessons this week were:

  • Learned my fingers are very very very small!
  • I learned the basic piano chords such as; C Major, F Major G Major, and A Minor!
  • After learning the basic chords, I incorporated my learning into short little tunes

Here is a short clip of my end result from Lesson 2!

 

Week 4: Lesson 3: There is more to piano than just making noise

This was yet another big week for learning in the McGrath residence, although my dad was a little happier because this week did not include as much noise as previous weeks! This week was based around basic terminology and technique! The big lessons this week were:

  • Crossing over and under technique to reach farther on the piano!
  • The basics to sheet music
  • Treble clef and base clef notes
  • Note value and Rhythm
  • Rest indicators on sheet music
  • Dotted notes
  • Ties

All of these terms listed above are found on the short tune I played for my final video of this week’s lesson which is shown below!

 

Week 5: Lesson 4: Repetition is Key 

What another fun week of learning lesson 4 brought! The main focus for Lesson 4 was learning the basic scales! The big lessons this week were:

  • Learning the C Major Scale
  • Learning the introduction to the black keys and incorporating them into my scales
  • Learning the G Major Scale
  • Learning the D Major Scale
  • And many other basic scales!

Below is a short clip of the D Major Scale, the highest level of scale I learned for my learning project!

 

Week 6: Lesson 5: Joining Together Through a Song

My final lesson for my learning project was learning the first half of a song! The big lessons this week were:

  • Learning the first half of “Stay” by Rihanna step by step

The video below shows the final product of the song and of my learning project!

Incorporating Social Media into my Learning Project

Throughout my journey with my learning project, I tried to post things on different social media platforms to get some feedback. I always posted each of my learning project posts to my twitter account, I put up polls to get my twitter followers opinions, and I put up progress videos on both my Facebook and Twitter account. I often didn’t get much of a reply, but oh well it was worth a shot!

Some big takeaways from my learning project:

  1. Learning projects are not meant to be intimidating! When first starting EDTC300 I was very nervous about this project, I didn’t know if I was going to find time for it or even do well in it. I quickly learned that having a say in what your learning is huge and that if I have the opportunity for my future students to do a personal learning project I will be sure to jump at the chance!
  2. Be open to suggestions, one of the biggest things that helped me throughout my learning project was having my classmates, friends and families support throughout the whole thing! Just having their reassurance or feedback helped me continue my learning and I thank all of them for that!
  3. The internet is endless! Don’t get stuck using the same sources. I got a little stuck at the beginning of my learning project, however, once I broadened my horizons I saw improvement in my learning. Turns out I was getting bored in the same structure and wanted a different visual or a different type of learning!
  4. Lastly, have fun. If I would not have enjoyed the piano lessons I am not sure what I would have done!

I would like to send a huge thank you to everyone who helped me throughout my learning project. I would also like to thank EDTC300 and Katia Hildebrandt for helping me open up to this new way of learning! It truly was a wonderful experience! To close:

Do not fear, the music will not disappear!

 

Advertisements

Lesson 5: Joining Together Through a Song

Another busy week of my learning project has come and gone again! At the end of last week’s learning project, I said I would be focusing on the pedals this week, however, due to time I decided to skip right to learn a song for my last week before wrapping it all up next week! This week I decided to put a poll up on my twitter account, to see what everyone wanted me to play.

twitter poll

After reviewing the results, the obvious winner was “Let it Be” by the Beatles. I was very excited to begin learning how to play the beginner version of this song, however, when I went to start I realized the song did not focus on all the important skills I have been learning throughout my learning project. I rethought my song choice and decided I would learn “Stay” by Rihanna instead. I have always loved this song and was very excited to start my learning!

This song incorporates most of the lessons I have been focusing on throughout my progression through my learning project and I am excited to put it all together into one song! Understanding, that the original song is quite long and challenging even at the beginner level I focused my learning on the first half of the song and hope to continue learning the song after this class is finished!

IMG_0617

For this last lesson of my learning project I have switched up my learning process a little bit, instead of following tutorials using many different resources I have used in the past, I decided to get the sheet music from Flowkey and teach myself, now that I am able to read the different notes and understand what each note means, thanks to Lesson 3! I did, however, use some other resources such as youtube tutorials to help me with the rhythm and flow of the song, one resource that was super helpful can be found here!

Now let’s get to the learning!

This type of learning that I decided to do for my learning project this week was hard, in the sense that I could not just follow along, I had to find my way of learning, a true self-learning! I decided to break up my learning step by step. I first started doing each hand separately. Below is a video of the right hand!

The left hand is made up of chords that were introduced in Lesson 2. I decided not to videotape this hand, just because it is very boring to listen to alone!

Once I perfected both hands separately, I decided to then break up the song into two parts. By breaking up the song I was able to focus on a section by section which allowed me to practice short increments at a time! This really helped me learn muscle memory that allowed me to play through the finger transitions easily. I used skills that were learned in Lesson 3. The videos below are the two sections I divided the song into! Check it out!

Above is the first section of the song!

Above is the second section of the song!

Once I felt comfortable with each section and the finger transitions I was able to put it all together, this is where it got really tricky! Although the video is just short of a minute, it is a lot longer than all the other exercises I have been doing throughout my learning project! As mentioned in Lesson 4 repetition was truly key here! It took much practice throughout the week to get where I finished today. I noticed that doing short sessions of practice helped me the most to keep me relaxed while learning. Playing an instrument is supposed to be relaxing and good for the soul when I was stressed, I was never successful!

I took the video below half way through the week on my progress. It is a little choppy, but was a huge improvement from where I started! Check it out!

The final video posted below is my final results of learning the first half of the song “Stay.” It is not perfect, however, through many hours of practice and hard work I have to say I am pretty proud of how it turned out! I still need to work on my fluidity, but mentioned previously throughout my learning project posts, that will take time! Check out the video below and let me know how I did!

To conclude, it has been a very busy week on the piano. I am happy about my improvement not only from this week but from my whole learning project journey! Stay tuned next week for my wrap up post when I do a full circle from where I started to where I am now!

 

Lesson 4: Repitition is Key

Another busy week at the piano has flown by! This weeks focus was learning elementary scales and learning the black keys, which I then learned some intermediate scales! Keep reading to see how I did!

Let’s begin with the basics:

To start, I want to explain to my reader what a scale is; a scale is a series of notes that are played one after another to make a melody. A more in-depth definition of what a scale is can be found here. I have to say after learning a lot of scales throughout the week, I think they are my favorite thing to play! I love fluidity in piano and that is exactly what scales are!

This week I have decided to take a step away from my primary source, Flowkey. To successfully learn, I must broaden my horizons and find more resources that will help me with my learning. This week my primary source will be Piano Scales, which is exactly what it says, teaches you piano scales. I really enjoyed this website because it gives you both the sheet music, pictures, and tips to enhance my learning. This website also helped me with finger transitions as mentioned in Lesson 2 of my learning project. I also use different websites for the learning of the black keys, but that will be discussed later on in this post!

Lesson 4 1

lesson 4 2

 

 

 

 

 

Now that’s enough background information, let’s get to the learning!

I started this weeks lesson by learning the most basic scales in the piano repertoire. Starting with C Major that does not use any black keys.

C major scale

The hardest part about learning this scale was not the notes, but the transitions. It took me awhile to get my fingers comfortable moving across the piano as you can see in the video above! I used the technique over and under crosses that I learned in Lesson 3 of my learning project! Having that new skill helped me a lot this week! After continuing to practice what fingers did what and went where the rest of the scales I learned was much easier!

After learning the C Major scale it was time to move onto learning the black keys so I could learn the more intermediate scales. To learn the black keys and their names I used the resource key-notes. This resource was very helpful to understand the very basics of the black notes. After knowing the basics I resorted to various different videos that I found on YouTube.

Here is a quick video that taught me to read black notes, or accidentals on sheet music!

Short YouTube videos really helped me when I needed to understand something to continue with my planned lesson! Learning the black keys will be an ongoing learning process when they come in songs and different scales.

After I learned the basics of reading flats and sharps, I was able to move along with my lesson. The next scale that will be displayed is the G Major scale that has one sharp note (one black note).

g major scale

Notice the sharp sign in between my treble clef and the time signature, the line it is on is telling us that everytime that note is played it must be played as a sharp! In this case, all F notes must be played as F sharp (#F).

Now that I am starting to get the hang of my transitions and black keys I decided to go a little farther with my scales, incorporating both black keys and tricky transitions. The last scale mentioned in this post is the D Major scale. This scale has two sharps (#F and #C) and some tricky transitions that took a lot of repetition to somewhat master!

d major scale

Check out the video below and let me know how I did with is tricky scale!

Well, that is another week of my learning. It has been a very busy week with me practicing every night because repetition is truly the key to learning piano. I am very pleased with how my learning project is moving along and hope all my readers feel the same way!

Stay tuned next week when I tackle the pedals!! Very excited to start!

Lesson 3: There is more to piano than just making noise

After learning the basic fundamental skills one needs to be able to play piano at a beginner level, I decided to go further with my studies this week. You will notice that this weeks blog post does not have much playing but more explaining and diagrams. I learned a valuable lesson this week: You need to not only play but also understand what you are playing. After testing my knowledge of reading sheet music, I quickly learned I needed to grow my technique and terminology to begin playing scales which is the next two weeks lesson plans! That is why this week focuses mainly on understanding sheet music, I have decided to learn how to write sheet music to help me grow a stronger understanding and appreciation towards the instrument I am learning to play!

Let’s start with technique:

Mentioned in my last blog post, my short fingers have become a slight problem to mastering key skills on the piano. I have gained two new techniques this week that will help me further on throughout my project.

Crossing over is a method that is used when you need to play more than five keys with five fingers. You simply cross over either your middle finger or your ring finger depending on how many keys you need to reach and continue playing. The other skill I have learned during this week is crossing under, where you thumb crosses under your hand to reach past you 5 home keys! These skills not only help you reach past your home position on the piano but also forms a fluidity that sounds beautiful! The video below demonstrates both crossing under (which is first) and crossing over (which is second)! Check it out!

Now Terminology:

Being able to read sheet music is the most important part when it comes to learning how to play the piano. In my previous lesson you see me playing successfully, however, that is because I was taught with the notes given to me with the corresponding keys that go with those notes. Once I learned the tune, I memorized it which allowed me to just play without fully understanding. This section shows my new knowledge when it comes to understanding sheet music and all the little components needed to be successful! I have always been a visual and hands-on learner so I incorporated learning how to write sheet music on paper as well throughout this lesson.

  1. The Basics to Sheet Music

When reading sheet music you must begin by understanding the symbols that are on every piece of sheet music you will study. Above is the picture of labeling a basic Grand Staff. A Grand Staff is both the Treble Clef and Bass Clef that results in one big staff (The Grand Staff). The treble clef was tricky to draw at first, probably because I am not very good at drawing but I got the hang of it using this resource found here! The bass clef was much easier! The treble clef is mostly played with the right hand (for my level of playing) and the bass clef is usually played with the left hand! Lastly, every piece of sheet music always has a time signature! The time signature is the numbers after the treble and bass clef that allows the learner to understand how many beats are in each measure. The common time signature is 4/4 which has four beats in each measure. For beginner purposes I do not see myself moving out of this time signature but who knows! A great resource to have a deeper understanding of time signatures can be found here!

2. Treble Clef and Bass Clef Notes

The picture above describes the notes found on both the treble clef and the bass clef staves. I had some understanding of these notes, but teaching myself how to draw and place the notes have allowed me to gain a deeper understanding that allows me to read the notes without the corresponding letters underneath!

3. Note Value and Rhythm

Now that I have gained confidence in reading sheet music I can now move onto understanding the values of different notes and the rhythm that follows those values.

The whole note: The whole note is held for the whole time of a measure, in the picture above, the whole note must be held for 4 beats!

The half note: The half note is held for half the time of a measure, in the picture above the half note must be held for 2 beats.

The quarter note: The quarter note is the note I have been working with up until this point. This note is held for a quarter of the time in a measure, in the picture above a quarter note must be held for one full beat.

The eighth note: The eighth note is held for an eighth of the time in a measure, in the picture above the note must be held for half a beat.

The video is a short tune that incorporates all the skills and terminology I have described above! Can anyone guess what song it is? Let me know in the comments!

4. Time to take a rest!

In piano, there are also times that indicate a break in the song must occur. These are called rests! Just like the different note values, there are also different rest values!

Whole Rest: Pause in the song for the whole measure, in this case, the song must pause for 4 beats.

Half Rest: Pause in the song for half the measure, in this case, the song must pause for 2 beats.

Quarter Rest: Pause in the song for a quarter of the measure, in this case, the song must pause for 1 beat.

5. Dotted Notes:

A dotted note plays for the same duration as it’s original value plus half of it’s value!

Whole dotted note: 6 beats

Half dotted note: 3 beats

Quarter dotted note: 1.5 beats

Eighth dotted note: 3/4 beats

6. A Tie

Lastly, I have learned a tie. In music notation, a tie connects two notes of the same sound to form one long single note.

You do not play the second note, the second note just indicates that the first note is still being played into a different measure and using more beats than normal!

To pull all of these new terms that have been engraved into my brain over the past week, I have learned a tune that incorporates all new techniques discussed above! This week off of class has sure been a busy one! Check out the tune below!

See you all next week when I tackle beginner scales that help me improve my fluidity in playing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 2:Those finger stretching chords…

I have learned many things this week regarding my learning project, however, there is one very major thing I have learned… MY FINGERS ARE TINY!! For lesson 2 of my learning project, I focused my learning on the basic chords for piano, which I did not think was going to be as hard as it was with such small hands. Let me begin by telling you what a piano chord is, a piano chord is when you play three notes at the same time with the same hand, a better definition can be found here. When critically thinking about the mechanisms needed to be able to successfully play a chord you must…

  1. Be able to multitask (which I am getting better at) and,
  2. have long enough fingers to reach the notes you are trying to play together (I lack in this department)

Now after much hand stretching, I was able to figure out a way to play each chord quite successfully. The chords I learned to play this week was from the amazing resource on piano chords that can be found here. Along with this new resource I found about chords I also continued to use my primary resource, Flowkey. This site helps me by going through step by step lessons and allowing for repetition which is key when someone is learning something for the first time! Below is the G chord being taught on flowkey!

2018-05-22 (4)

After I learned the basic chords, I then went on to put the chords into songs. I started with some simple songs where my right hand played the melody while my left hand played the chords. Check it out below!

 

The next progression I made was changing the tempo of the song being played. Again in the video below my right hand is playing the melody while my left-hand plays the chords. Notice the improvement and confidence from the previous examples!

My last progression for this lesson was switching what hand played what. In the video below my right hand is now playing the chords while my left-hand plays the melody.

This progression was the hardest for me to learn because I practiced the playing the chords only in the left hand so when it was time to switch my right hand did not have the muscle memory that my left hand made throughout all the repetition!

Overall, I am very pleased with how this weeks lesson went and I am excited to hear all your guys feedback! I want to continue working on my fluidity through my notes in hopes it will stop sounding so choppy, but that will take time! My next lesson takes a further look into technique and beginning to read sheet music! Stay tuned to see how that turns out!

I need to go now though, my little fingers have had quite the workout today!

Lesson 1: Getting to know my Piano

First off I would like to say that pianists make it look a lot easier than playing piano actually is! When learning how to play the piano you can not just jump right on to the piano and learn to play, there is lots of basic knowledge you must gain before even touching the keys. Posture and arm positioning are key concepts that allow you to perform your best while sitting at the piano. Your arms must stay light and airy, which will then allow your fingers to move through the keys without resistance! Although posture and arm positioning are very important, they are not the most important skills you must gain before you begin to play. A beginner player must understand the home keys on the piano and finger numbers before playing. The picture below will show you the keys and the finger numbers:

This week I began with the basics. I started with learning my finger numbers, basic keys, and my posture while sitting at the piano. After I knew the basics I then went on to learn the basics of playing. To start, I found a great app called Flowkey that takes the learner through lessons, this will be my primary source for my learning project. I will also be using other sources as I continue to progress, some of these sources will be sheet music, how to videos, and much more! It is amazing how many references you can find to teach yourself piano!

I began by using just my right hand to play simple melodies that stayed in the C position (this is like home base for piano players). I caught on pretty fast when learning to play with my right hand, and I was even able to read the notes off sheet music as I was playing, which was a huge achievement for me! Below is a video of me playing the first song that I learned on the piano using only my right hand!

After learning the basics with my right hand I then moved on to working just with my left hand. I found that my left hand was a little more challenging than my right, I found that weird since I am left handed, and my left is my dominant hand, but who knows? I again went through learning the basics just using my left hand, below is a video of me playing just with my left hand!

Once I understood how to play with both of my hands separate, I decided to then learn how to play together. This was tricky at first because I had to multitask and read the notes for both hands while they were trying to play simultaneously with one another. After a lot of practice on this skill, I believe I have done very well for my first lesson at the piano. Below is the video of my hands playing simultaneously with each other.

After reviewing all that I have learned throughout the week, I can say I am very proud of how much I was able to learn once I set my mind to it. There are a few things I want to focus on throughout the rest of my project such as, fluidity and being able to read the notes without hesitation. Repetition is key in piano so if I continue to practice a little bit each day I believe I will do well in this learning project! Stay tuned for next week where I will be working on chords and improving my technique!

 

 

Time to dust off those old keys!

I am super excited to announce that I have decided to take up the art of learning how to play the piano for my EDTC 300 learning project! My mom and dad bought a piano many years ago when I first showed interest in playing and then I got busy with other activities and never started lessons. As of right now, I know nothing when it comes to playing the piano! Now that the opportunity has come for me to teach myself something significant I have decided that I will take up a past interest of mine and dust off those old keys! I am curious about how fast I will be able to pick up the basics of piano and hope after this project I continue to teach myself. I plan to use mostly online sources like musictheory.net, Music Theory Academy, Youtube and many more that I will find as I go along. I also hope to use some community resources like some family friends that play piano who could also give me some important tips throughout my learning! I want to display my learning process through blog posts that include both pictures and videos that show the progress I continue to make each week!

Knowing that learning how to play the piano will take me awhile, I plan to start early this week. I think a good place to start is by learning the basic notes that many chords and songs will be using. After I understand the individual notes and the differences in sound that each note makes I want to then move on to being able to read the notes. Once I am able to read the notes I can then move on to combining both playing and reading at the same time! I have never been the best at multi-tasking but I guess it is time to start! After learning the very basics I will continue my progress by starting with simple chords and songs and moving up in level as my muscle memory and confidence improves! By the end of my learning project, I hope to be able to play a song all the way through using the foot pedals, white and black keys without a book or notes in front of me! This may be a big leap from not knowing anything but, having a goal to reach for will help me stay dedicated throughout the weeks!

This project will not only teach me the basics of piano playing but will also improve my ability on online searching and learning with internet instead of learning through lectures and classes. To succeed in this project I understand that I need to keep myself organized and dedicated and will be doing that by sitting at the piano every day and learning piece by piece. This project will benefit my self-learning skills, technology skills and confidence levels with myself.

Stay tuned for my progress through my Learning Project, EDTC300 thanks for the challenge!