Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Professional Help

It's been over a year since my last post; now three years from the start of my quest.

During this last year, I haven't done quite as much sight-reading as I did during the first two years, since I've had a lot of gigs and have been working on other piano tasks. I've done a good bit more non-sight reading, that is, reading the same piece repeatedly to get better at it instead of memorizing it. I have even performed a simple piece from music -- a first for me.

I've continued improving, but way too slowly.

But today, I took my first lesson with an accomplished teacher who is confident that she can help me improve faster! This is big news.

During the lesson she had me sight-read a very simple classical piece. I did a great job at demonstrating how poorly I sight-read. I was hampered a bit by not having the right glasses, and by performance anxiety, but in general I think I communicated my level of skill in this area.

Some of her initial comments were:
  • I should spend much more time analyzing the piece before I play it, checking all the way through for what will be happening, noticing patterns, thinking about the key, etc.
  • Intervals are indeed important, and I have to get better at thinking about intervals instead of individual notes. I should be thinking more of relationships between notes. One exercise is to say the interval out loud ("second," "third," "fifth," etc.) either while playing or away from the piano.
  • I need to always practice not stopping or slowing down; I should make rhythm the first priority.
  • It's best to start at a slow tempo, and work my way up.
  • I should think more about where I'm looking. Not only looking ahead, but also making sure I scan up and down, and not get locked into just the treble or bass clef.
  • I should pay attention to the fingering suggestions, seeing them as something that will help me.

I'm optimistic that this is going to help, and I will keep you posted!