23 Nov 2003 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

I'm still confused

bytesplit, I'm afraid I'm still confused. It doesn't help that you were deliberately vague in your response. Recall that I asked you to spell out for me clearly why you are so angry with me. I'm not one for catching on to subtle hints. Please try again to explain it to me, in such a way that I can understand what you mean.


I've been persisting with my piano practice, sometimes more than two hours a day. I'm afraid my real piano (a Baldwin Howard upright, inherited from my grandparents) didn't help Bonita's sinus headache any, so I set up my electronic keyboard so I could play with the volume turned down low, or with headphones.

It also means I can practice late at night without bothering the neighbors.

I got through book one of Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist. That's the first twenty exercises. At the end Hanon says to play the first book once or twice a day for a while until you know it well, so that's what I did, playing it twice a day for about a week.

Previously I only had book 1, but I ordered the complete edition from the local music store, with all three volumes in one physical volume, with sixty exercises. When I got it yesterday, I looked ahead at some of the later exercises and felt very intimidated.

But today I played the first volume and then exercise 21, the first of the second volume, and had a pretty easy time with it. Each exercise is generally a little harder than the last. I figured today that by the time I got up to the exercises that I find so intimidating I will have spent so much time playing the earlier exercises that it won't be so hard. Hanon takes you in little steps.

I can tell from playing my own pieces that it is making me a better pianist. I used to improvise all the time but after a while I stopped making up anything new, and then quit playing entirely. But I feel more skillful now, and when I try to improvise, I am able to play new things.

I prefer my real piano to my electronic keyboard, but the reason I got the keyboard (a Fatar controller, which I selected because the keyboard feels like a real piano keyboard) was that I wanted to record MIDI files when I improvised, so that I would have a record when I created anything new.

Sometimes I would come up with new stuff, but unless I memorized it, I would forget it. Writing down the notation is such a pain, so I was never willing to do so. Having a MIDI file means I don't need to worry about losing stuff.

I'm going to record the MIDI files on my iBook, and have been looking for a simple MIDI recording application that works on OS X. I'm going to try the demo for Metro 6 SE, and maybe buy it if I'm happy with it, but even that is fancier than what I need.

All I want right now is to be able to play into a MIDI file, and play back and see the notes for selected sequences. I'm not looking to create sequences in an editor, rather I want to keep a permanent record of all of my practicing in the event I ever come up with anything worth keeping.

I'm not the only one who prefers a real piano to an electronic keyboard. I have a young beagle named Jacob, who likes to sing. He is really quite musical. But he is very traditional. He totally ignores the Fatar, even when I have it turned up loud. But when I play my upright piano, Jacob starts to sing. I worry about ever trying to record my piano again, that I won't be able to play without a canine soloist accompanying me!

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