Friday, May 29, 2009

My Teacher bought me new Books!

Just a post to list down the new books which my teacher bought for me:-

1. Jazz, Rags & Blues Book 1 by Martha Mier
[Suppose to be very comfortable for me to learn on my own, with the intention that I can learn pieces on my own for personal enjoyment, and at the same time work on my sight-reading. So, which means, she will not be going through with me, but if I have any questions, I can always ask...]

2. Music in Theory in Practice 2 by Eric Taylor
[Because I am an adult student, so I am using this book. For young children, they use other books which has larger fonts and pictures to keep them interested! As of now, she will not move on to Grade 2 Theory yet, until I finish the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 1", which should be about another 2 more months to go...]

3. Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2
[Ya, I haven't finish Book 1 yet, but because she will not be going down to the shop very often, so being "kiasu", she bought this book for me first. Because this books will have pieces from all the period, she thought would be good for me to continue with this series. But I might move on to another series upon completing this book. Let's see how...]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Impressionist Period (1890 to 1930)

Impressionist Period is the fourth period of music (European) which I am exposed to, where repertoires in this period were composed between 1890 to 1930. For a more detailed historical background of repertoire created during this period can be found here:

As repertoires during this period are of a higher standard, there is almost no pieces which is of my current level. Hence, the ones which I learnt and played are all composed by Dennis Alexander, who is one of the author of the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 1" which I am using.

Claude Debussy is one of the very famous composer for this period, and these pieces are very much influenced by the impressionist paintings by Claude Monet.

To play music of this period, we need to take note of the following:-
1. The melody is often based on pentatonic scale (whole tone scales), giving an Eastern sound. And Debussy love to compose using the black keys only.

2. Use the pedalling as suggested. If none is given, experiment with full or half pedal. Keep pedal down on long bass notes. Pedalling is used almost throughout the pieces. The pieces are played composed for piano. Hence, there is a heavy use of pedal to create the necessary mood. Because of that, trills are not used to extend a note. The pedal is used instead.
3. Introduction of una corda (u.c.) pedal is often indicated to give certain parts a different colours/tone.

4. Pieces in this period is usually very expressive and uses the full range of dynamics, from ppp to ff.
5. Does not follow a structure, and it will not sound nice by playing the notes individually. But when combined with all the expression and play the whole piece as a whole, it will give a unique impression.
6. Often include Eastern scales (pentatonic scales) and sounds imitating bells and gongs.

Jazz Music!

Had been so busy for the past few weeks, that I didn't have the time to update my blog! So, finally after all that mad rush at work, I get the time to review what I have learnt so far for my piano. Haha!

Ok, so far, I have completed the first 3 periods of the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 1". Namely, the Baroque period, the Classical period and the Romantic period. I don't particularly like any of the period, but maybe the repertoires which I am exposed to is still very limited given that I am still in the very early stage of my piano learning.

So, to do something different rather than going through page by page through my basic diet, my teacher exposed me to another kind of music. Jazz piano. Jazz is an important and distinctive American contribution to 20th century music. While the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery" is the European music over different periods. I played a piece from the book "Jazz, Rags and Blues Book 2", and the piece is titled "Jelly Bean Rag". According to my teacher, this is considered as a Grade 2 piece. Well, took me 3 weeks to master the whole piece. This was over 3 pages, first time having to practice with page turning while playing. Not easy.

Good to try something different, and currently, back to my "textbook", I have moved on to the 4th period, which is the Impressionist Period...