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Category Archives: About writing/reading/playing music

Learn music even without reading notes…with “flowkey”

Learn to play the latest popular songs the fun way through flowkey at http://tinyurl.com/qxsz5hw.

It’s great interactive learning, and you play along with videos exclusively recorded by piano teachers and professional pianists. Thus, you learn the correct technique and hear exactly how each note should sound (including expression).

With their great tutorials (which actually wait for you), you don’t even need to be good at reading notes.

All kinds of musical styles and genres are available, including many of my arrangements.

To find my arrangements, just type “Joyce” into the search bar on the top right corner.

 

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The “Piano Rake” – a great tool for beginners

pianorake1Here’s another great tool for beginners (and anyone who needs help locating notes)!

The Piano Rake©
pianorake2Created by Australian pianist Joe Bourke

“A fantastic tool for accelerating the early stages of Piano studies; specifically note-reading and comprehension.”

  • Made from durable silicone rubber and fits all pianos and keyboards
  • 100% Refund Policy

Check it out


here: http://www.thepianorake.com/
Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k_XFLtsPqE Read the rest of this entry

New Piano App by JoyTunes

I was recently introduced to a pretty amazing (and FREE) piano app by JoyTunes. Check it out here:  http://m.onelink.me/290e8c51

Just download it onto your iPhone or iPad, put it on your piano/keyboard music stand, and you’re set! No cables to buy or to connect. The app uses your phone/tablet’s mic to “listen” to you play. You can have great fun learning to play the piano like a game from day one 🙂 Many skill levels, so even “pros” (like me haha) can enjoy themselves.

So go ahead, give it a try! http://m.onelink.me/290e8c51

Still here? Ok, here are some videos for you to watch 🙂

 

Reviews – https://youtu.be/mHYtxYvx0HE
Official video – https://youtu.be/nAfiwR77wNI
Simply Piano app review – https://youtu.be/SZr2FEkD7LE

 

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How to Start Learning to Play the Piano

Some viewers have told me that they are thinking of learning to play the piano, and asked me for tips on how to start.

Here is one of my answers:

Firstly, learn the basics, either from a teacher or online. What are the basics?

1) Learn the correct technique from the start – always play with your hand shaped as if you were holding the top of a smallish balloon. Keep your fingers curved when you press keys down (don’t let your first finger joint collapse). This will ensure good control of your fingers. It’s the difference between walking with strong ankles and with wobbly feet 🙂

2) Learn letter names of each key on the piano – there are only 7 actually. Learn where they are in relation to the black keys. This should help: http://www.true-piano-lessons.com/piano-notes-chart.html. Once you’ve learnt this, you can already try learning simple songs from tutorials! If you can’t remember the notes, jot them down onto a piece of paper. Eg. Twinkle twinkle – C C G A A G,  F F E E D D C, G G F F E E D, etc. Make your own scorebook of your favourite songs 🙂

3) Learn how to read notes on a stave. This is a very useful skill…and it’s NOT quantum physics, so don’t be afraid to try 😉 You can start here: http://www.true-piano-lessons.com/piano-notes.html

4) Develop aural skills. You need these so that you can play by ear. There are plenty of games and ear training software and smartphone apps for this, so Google them, or check out Google Play or the App Store and enjoy learning 😉

5) Watch lots of pianists on YouTube to see their fingering techniques. Knowing how to choose the right fingering enables you to play smoothly. Learn some fingering techniques like 1. stretching your hand 2. contracting your hand, 3.turning thumb under the fingers, 4. turning fingers over thumb, 5. changing fingers while holding down a key.

6) Be very patient with yourself. Learning an instrument takes time and thought. Acquiring good, independent control of your fingers and hands might (and usually does) take YEARS 😛  Analyse where and why you make mistakes, search for solutions (from your teacher/friends/online) and write reminders to yourself. You can’t remember EVERYTHING, so write it down and practise it correctly until it becomes an automatic thing to do.

All the best…and have great fun!

If you found this helpful, do browse through my other posts in the “About writing/reading/playing music” category 🙂

Controlling dynamics in each hand independently

Some viewers have said, ” I have a problem that my left hand plays as loudly as my right hand. Could you please tell me how to control my left hand’s strength?”

Here’s one of my answers:

Bring your mom’s/your  kitchen scales next to your piano. Using your RH, press on the scales until it goes as far down as it can (maybe to 1kg or 1.5kg). Using your LH, press it down lightly…maybe to 300g. Now, at the piano, play each hand with the same amount of force and listen to how loud it sounds. To make a loud sound, you need to “push” the keys in FASTER. For softer sounds, you relax when pressing the keys. The trick is to do this at the same time in a different hand.

Then practise a simple exercise first, separate hands, then together eg. C D E F G F E D C, visualising RH pushing the keys further in than LH for EVERY NOTE. Most people can do the first note, then they forget the others. Play slowly and carefully, making every RH note much louder than LH. If you practise like this every day, you’ll soon learn how to control the tone in your hands independently.

Here’s another answer:
To train yourself to play varying dynamics, the kitchen scales will be the best aid 🙂
Sit at your piano, with the scales nearby (preferably at the same level as the keyboard) Put one hand on it as you would on the piano, then start putting varying pressure on it. Use that same degree of pressure/weight/strength on the piano and see how loud it sounds. Learn exactly how many grams you’d have to “push” to make a pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff. Then learn how to create crescendo and diminuendo while playing your fingers one after another – 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 (repeat), 1 3 5 3 1 3 5 3 1 (repeat) and in all kinds of patterns. Alternate just 2 fingers, accenting one and making the other softer. Then increase the number of fingers involved. Basically, you want to learn how to control each finger to produce whatever tone you need from it. 
 
Hanon technical exercises are good for this. They are repetitive and easy enough for you to concentrate on technique (without worrying about reading notes). Choose different dynamic patterns to practise. Eg. alternating loud and soft bars, choosing 3 dynamic levels for 3 consecutive bars (increasing then decreasing), accenting different notes of each group etc. You can use the exercises to improve your skill in articulation (legato, staccato, non-legato, slurs) as well.