Between Learning Bach and Beethoven for Piano

I just started learning piano a month ago. So far, I’ve only touched two pieces. I can now play the Bach Prelude in C, BWV 846.

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On to Hoffmann Academy Free Piano Lessons

As of today, 3 weeks after taking up James Rhodes’ methods to learn JS Bach’s Prelude in C, BWV 846, I’ve generally gotten it down to play the notes all the way through without mistakes. I’ll need lots more practice to get some feelings, dynamics, and such into it to make it sound better, but I can do that 3 minutes at a time if I wanted to now, having memorized it and being able to play it well enough to have people think it’s beautiful. All credits to Bach, though, cause my playing ain’t doing the music any favours. That’s how good it is! So on with the show!

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Learning to Play the Piano, James Rhodes’ Style + Extra

About a month ago, I saw an article on the BBC, with video, about pianist James Rhodes and his attempt to teach the masses to play a Bach prelude (in C, BWV 846) on the piano in six weeks at about 40 minutes per day. I thought it was convincing. I liked how it wasn’t about scales and other monotonous piano and mandatory musical teachings. And I thought six weeks at 40 minutes a day was a reasonable commitment I could commit to just to see if I could do it as a catalyst to a more serious attempt at learning piano. So off I went to order a cheap keyboard and James Rhodes’ How to Play the Piano book, to be supplemented by his website, to learn the piece below!

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The Music of Lubomyr Melnyk

Through 2016, I’ve been slowly discovering the music of Lubomyr Melnyk on Accuradio, my favourite online radio source (free), via their solo piano channels. Melnyk is a German born Canadian composer of Ukrainian origin who plays “continuous music” on solo piano (mostly). A link to the term in the previous sentence will explain what it is to you technically, by Melnyk himself, as I’m not nearly qualified enough as a musician to explain it. All I know is I LOVE it! It reminds me of Phillip Glass’ music (Glassworks), though I don’t know if the two were that much similar. They just sound similar to me, and similarly great!

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An Étude in is a music composition webware. It allows you to compose sheet music online in their website, play it and share it as a follow the music style video. Copying and pasting code is about as complicated as it gets for social bookmark style sharing, but the entire package is brilliant. This despite a few shortcomings still present in Beta 3 version.

Isn’t the free world wide web great these days? Everything is going on-line via webware, and “software is so passé” according to CNET and I can’t say I disagree. Their blog has like 10 entries a day on webware for crying out loud! Soon, we’ll only need to get the same scripts on our electronic devices (far more than just computers) and the browser will serve as the means for everything. We will only need the scripts on our electronic devices for when we don’t have a reliable connection and might lose data.

The latest webware I happened upon is sheet music composition software at I learned about it from Wesley Fok in his awesome weekly columns called Apps We Love in the Globe & Mail (Canadian paper). Being a bit of an amateur musician, who happened to have composed something like 15 years ago, I not only got to try the site, but I had personal vested interest.

I found the site to be fairly good, though not yet at the quality of expensive software like Finale. You can still do quite a lot with this software. I’m sure there are many things people wish it had, and it will with progressive versions, but this is great for now. The only thing I found on this first go that was disappointing was I could not change tempo in the middle of a piece. They’ll get that sorted out soon enough as it’s just timing and is a digital fix.

But more than just music composition, you can share the file and have multiple people work on it. Then you can share it on blogs and such. They give you some codes and you just throw it in somewhere. It doesn’t quite work for every platform yet. I can’t embed it in my post, for example. However, I can collect it with my VodPod account and widget to the right. I just put those codes from into the collector, it gives me a page to view it, and I can link the URL to the text like here.

The computer “performance” is less than stellar without the ability for me to indicate tempo changes that were all over this piece. It loses a lot of its life without the appropriate tempo changes. However, I’ll take it just to be able to share it. When the better beta versions come out, I will update it.

As for my étude, it was something I composed to get around stupid and horrible sounding exercises. I was teaching myself piano, cowboy style, you see. Jump in and shoot. Ask questions later. I had no piano training, but I was teaching myself to play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (video below) because there were many nights I needed to play it for therapy in the moonlight coming through my bedroom window.

Wow! That video link has over 6.5 million views!!! Talk about timeless! Beethoven gone majorly viral!

Etude in C, Op. 1 No. 1, by Minh Tan (original manuscript)

Etude in C, Op. 1 No. 1, by Minh Tan (original manuscript)

Anyway, there were some things about piano playing in that Sonata I was really being challenged by so to get around it, I composed aptly named étude style pieces. I only ever got around to completing one, but I have held on to it like a Beethoven original manuscript. Lo and behold, 15 years later, serendipity, synchronicity and karma had given it a better purpose and meaning in my life. I had it to try and share with the world. It did get a public viewing I never allowed it after all! Life really kicks you know what when you can have skeletons of this sort in your closet!

It’s instances like this, actually, which have happened frequently in my short life thus far that led me to write my six-word memoir as being

Everything done will mean more later


Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.0