Monday, December 15, 2003


A little while back I might have mentioned trying a new approach to working on sight-reading/piano-playing. So I've been trying that out for a few weeks now with some Joplin tunes. I've been working on playing the Swipesy Cakewalk all that time (as something constant to try to get decent at) but then I've also been cycling through others. I spent a week each on Magnetic Rag and the Sunflower Slow Drag, and now I'm starting the Pineapple Rag. They're all in B-flat, and of course they're all in the same style, so there's a lot of similarity for them to reinforce each other. But there's still enough difference that I can practice my sight-reading. I find that after a week on a piece, even just playing it once a day, I've got it in my head enough that the reading practice isn't doing as much good anymore, but it's given my hands a better chance to actually learn something from it than if I were just playing something different each day. So that's when it's time to move on (I can't play a piece in any remotely presentable way at this stage, of course, but that's not the point). Today was sort of cool because I actually noticed myself doing one of the things they always say you're supposed to do when sight reading, which is to recognize shapes and formations in the notation, rather than reading each individual note. I've known that advice for a while, but this was the first time I really noticed myself applying it in a useful way. Very encouraging.

Another good thing about this practice is that it's gotten me liking the key of B-flat a bit more. It's never been one of my favorites, but it's pretty heavily represented in Joplin tunes, so getting to like it is good. (Flipping through the book, I see absolutely nothing in some of favorite keys, like B minor or E major. Sounds like a future composition project.) The E-flat episodes have a particular lack of appeal for me, but the Pineapple Rag might change that a bit. Those C-flat chords thrown into it just make everything so much cooler.

At some point I want to start working on classical stuff again, too. The problem with that is that I'm much less confident about figuring stuff out on my own without lessons. Someday I'll have to seek out a teacher again. Of course, it may have to compete with possible singing lessons, an idea planted in my head by Mom recently. So many things to learn....

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