Getting Started

Welcome to my practice diary. I need a goal of some kind, so I'm keeping this little diary as a way to set little goals along the way of learning how to play the piano. Many, many years ago (approximately 35!) I played String Bass, so while I am not new to music I am new to piano. Thank you for any comments, thoughts, or suggestions. 

 

Currently: I'm working on the Menuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook. I'll post progress notes/videos here. I began playing piano just last April. We purchased a nice grand piano for our younger son (some of you will know Thurmond from other TB events) in January, and so after a few months of piano ownership I decided to dust off an old dream of learning to play. 

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    • Michelle R
    • Michelle_Russell
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    https://youtu.be/bRoMPzrASI4

    The beginning of the Menuet: Interesting - I have worked on keeping my wrists level and then when I record myself, I forget all about wrists! Hopefully, that will get better as the month progresses and as I try to focus on it. I think that because I type so much, and my wrists have something upon which to rest when I type, that when I go to the piano the learned wrist position takes over. 

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  • I love your ornaments! Looking forward to hearing more of the piece :-)

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      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Leah Olson Thank you! My son helped me to learn how to do the mordents, and Ben Laude  gave an answer to someone on trills in the last "Ask Me Anything" that was very helpful, too. I'll hopefully have the next part ready to record in a couple of days. 

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    • Michelle R
    • Michelle_Russell
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    I'm attempting to learn (and memorize) 1/4 of this piece each week. I made it to week 2 and have it learned and memorized with only slight pauses. Still working on wrist position - lowered the bench and it helped - but thinking about wrist as well as fingers and music means that the flow of the piece is just not there (ie, not making it a menuet). I'll get there! I'm super proud of myself for having learned any of it, and it feels wonderful to be able to play this little bit of music. :-)

    Still having trouble with my strange little finger. I remember when I played Bass as a teen that my little finger would often get stuck in position (bow hand), and it seems that there may be a ligament issue that is something I cannot correct.

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    • Michelle R sounds like it's coming along nicely!

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      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Natalie Peh Thank you, Natalie! I've wanted to play piano since the age of 9 when my brother was allowed to have lessons but I wasn't. Now that we have a piano in the house for my son, I decided it was time to dust off that old dream. I get a little frustrated with myself when my brain and fingers get tangled up with each other, though. But except for those little frustrations, I'm having a lot of fun with this Menuet and am already wondering what I should learn next.  :-) 

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    • Michelle R It's great that you started playing the piano! So glad that you are having fun :)

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    • Michelle R
    • Michelle_Russell
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Week 3 update - still on schedule to have the piece "learned" by the end of next week. Today, though, all I can say is "ACK!" I'm seeing and hearing improvement, but it's almost like my brain stutters on occasion. I've been working on smaller segments, keeping them at tempo without the annoying pauses, but when I put it all together, the hesitations come back. 

    My son is quite encouraging - he said, "I really like how I can hear both voices." 

    Goal: to have it memorized and able to play through entire piece by next Saturday, 29 October. Then for November, I can improve upon it, and find another short piece to learn. 

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    • Michelle R
    • Michelle_Russell
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Week four update: I finished memorizing and can make it through the piece with only a few mistakes (and some tempo irregularities!). I've noticed in memorizing this piece over the past month that my memory has improved in other areas as well. Not a bad side-effect! I'll learn some Mozart for November while continuing to work on this piece, adding the repeats and seeing what fun I can have with it. 

    To anyone who listens to the video, I apologize profusely for the missed note on the final chord. Yikes! Sorry!

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    • Michelle R Fantastic! I'm so glad you're pleased with your progress because you should be. Bach is always a mental workout because it requires a lot of independence between the two hands. I really liked your articulation, and I think you captured the spirit of the piece. Beautiful tone as well. I think that's a good choice to memorize if you really enjoy the piece. I can't get to the same place of freedom when I'm reading a piece versus playing it from memory. It does take longer, though. Have fun with Mozart. Can't wait to hear!

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      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Leah Olson Dear Leah, thank you so much! My initial long-term goal is to be able to play Bach's 2-part Inventions (later long-term goal is Bach fugues). I'm still a ways off from achieving that goal, but there was a moment with this piece when things suddenly clicked and I found some freedom in my playing. That was quite a wonderful feeling. 

      I was happy with the articulation, too, but now I want to learn more about voicing and phrasing. My son, thankfully, is happy to help me with that. Right now I'm just doing what feels and sounds right to me, but without really knowing what I'm doing. It would be nice to do things on purpose and with knowledge. I appreciate your feedback and encouragement. If I can get the repeats and some additional ornamentation figured out I might give the Community Concert a try when it rolls around again. 

      Thanks again, and happy playing! 

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    • Michelle R
    • Michelle_Russell
    • 12 days ago
    • Reported - view

    Well, I spent the last two weeks trying to learn a short section of the Mozart C Major Sonata K545, knowing it was above my level but choosing to challenge myself. I didn't get very far, but it was time well spent. Now, I'll return to my original plan which is to learn a short Mozart piece in two weeks: Minuet in G, K.1e (yes, another minuet in G...I'll branch out after this one).

    I'm still working on the previous piece - now that I pretty much have all the notes under my fingers, I'll work on a steady rhythm as there are still a few places where I get finger-tied and pause, or slow down. Once I have the rhythm more steady I'll consider adding the repeats with ornamentation.

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      • Leah Olson
      • Leah_Olson
      • 5 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Michelle R I think stretch goals are always worth it. K545 is a gem, and you'll be ready to play it before you know it. Looking forward to the next Minuet!

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      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 5 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Leah Olson Thank you, Leah. I hope to have a recording done this weekend. 

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      • Leah Olson
      • Leah_Olson
      • 13 hrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Michelle R I came across a piece you might like. A Sonatina in G Major by Beethoven. You can find the score on IMSLP. Might be a nice thing to try after your minuet :-)

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      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 9 hrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Leah Olson Thanks for thinking of me, Leah! G Major is such a happy key - we probably already have this since my son loves to play anything by Beethoven. 

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