My Very Own Experience & Overcoming Frustration of Playing Piano And Keyboard.
I actually had decided to tell you about myself later in this course, but I think that by reading the following, you’ll understand how all these concepts had an important and deep impact on me. I hope that step-by-step, I’ll help you discover how to see music in a whole new way throughout this entire course.
So… I would ike to share my personal story with you…
I began playing piano more than 15 years ago, what seems to me like a long time, but to tell you the truth, I can’t say all of those years were easy and enjoyable. In fact, I went through many teachers, and I got frustrated many times . So disappointed, that I even stopped my piano training many times . Luckily I didn’t give up, and always tried again, believing that the next piano teacher or the next piano lessons, would give me what I was really needing...
If you’ve taken training for many years, you may have probably had the same feeling at one time or another. Piano classes that seem to take you nowhere, with no certain goals defined, and lots of effort that doesn’t seem to pay off, especially if you’re with the wrong teacher.
Well, for me, it was like that for many years. Years passed, and yes, I could learn new popular songs, but I wasn’t feeling that my piano playing skills were considerably improving, and most of the time I felt I was going nowhere, so I stopped and started again many times.
Then about six or 7 years ago… I decided to give it another try. I started on my own with classical music. I even set for myself the challenge of learning how to read scores on my own… and started with Bach.
I don’t know why, but I wanted to learn the hard way and wanted to advance at a fast pace. So I managed to play the easy Minuets and then went quickly off to play even a short three voice Fugue, which at that time was actually over-complicated for my level.
Then, I decided it was time to find a Classical teacher and I started playing the Bach Inventions. At that time, I considered the pieces to be impossible (especially Invention No. 8), but I wanted to play them badly enough, that I managed to read and play them, and so I was very glad.
Ultimately I began playing harder pieces I love. Chopin, Beethoven, as well as Bach, are quite a few of my favorites. I genuinely became quite good, and could play the pieces at a good speed, with correct technique and dynamics, and I was getting quite a lot of attention from family and friends.
Then, as I started to have more responsibilities, I began having less time and I couldn’t practice the pieces any more. Some pieces took me few weeks and sometimes several months to prepare. It was difficult to make time to practice. I began taking classes every 2 weeks… then every month… and then I quit. It was not just that I was not having enough time. Actually at that point, I had totally reached my maximum frustration level. I had managed to play an English Suite from Bach, a very difficult but lovely piece which I had spent more than two months to fully prepare, and things didn’t turn out so well. I had fallen in love with that piece and wanted to play it very much, but my teacher had told me that it was out my reach; that even if I managed to play the notes right, it was a concert-level piece and I just wouldn’t get it right.
I insisted, and after more than three full months of studying the same piece, I had almost practiced it to ‘perfection’, playing it with the correct dynamics, transmitting the desired feelings, and giving an expression to each of the separate voices correctly, along with all the music details to make it sound like a concert recording. She was surprised and delighted with my progress, and told me I had proven her wrong. I knew it so well; I literally played it sometimes with my eyes closed. I was really happy with my piano skills.
But that same summer, I went on vacation and didn’t have a piano for one entire month… …and when I came back…I had lost all my skills. I couldn’t play the piece any more. There is this famous historic composer’s quote: “One day without practice, I can tell the difference. Two days… and t he orchestra can tell t he difference. Three days… and the audience can tell the difference.”
I was actually surprised by this quote when I heard it for the first time and even asked myself: then imagine a month! Ha-ha! Sadly… even though I could still play most of notes… all my technique, dynamic details,
and everything I had meticulously practiced for months… was definitely lost after the month without practice. So, I was extremely frustrated… I felt that more than three months of continuous effort in preparing that piece had been thrown into the garbage… my frustration had reached its maximum level. I didn’t want to quit the piano... but since I couldn’t prepare for classes, I decided to end them.
My teacher kept telling me that I was very good and that I should continue with the lessons. Crazy as it sounds it all was very real, hard and intense. Now comes the interesting part. That year passed away, and I kept playing without any lessons. But then, unexpectedly, I met my brother’s friend who told me that he was studying with a piano teacher that knew a lot about music theory and that the teacher taught it in a really interesting way. Then, I realized that with all the pieces I had played, I had never actually known what was going on! And so… I was always stuck. I was just reading notes from a score and playing them without really knowing the actual ‘meaning’ of those notes. In this way, every new piece was as difficult as the previous, as I couldn’t find out what was common between each piece, nor could I predict what was going to happen while I was playing. Actually, I realized that songs and scores had been like a set of instructions and that I actually did not really grasp them. So I decided to learn music theory so that if I didn’t have time to practice, at least the principles would stay in my head and wouldn’t leave me… as my piano technique had …And so I met this teacher and told him that I wanted to have classes every 2 weeks since I didn’t have enough time. And he told me that he wouldn’t give me classes every two weeks… that I had to go every week, or he wouldn’t give me classes at all, and that if I didn’t have time we would prepare during the class. And so, I did start classes with him, and he first changed my piano lessons to something I could enjoy more without stress. The interesting part is that he knew both about classical music - he had studied seven years in a music conservatory- and also was a jazz player. He knew the best of both worlds. I began learning easy things that completely changed my piano life, such as how to harmonize a scale, how to find chord types and ways to build relationships between various harmonies. I discovered the relation between chords and scales and how they produce harmony through creating more tension or release, and to predict how scales and chords are going to sound by applying this basic concept. I was finally understanding the logic behind music. For me it was an amazing change. From then on, I began composing my own pieces – something that I considered a ‘distant dream’ and that I thought would forever be out of my reach! And every time I was busy because I had to study or work, I would just sit at the piano and freely improvise. It was so rewarding... and -it is so rewarding!
I changed from ‘interpreting’ music to being able to transmit my own… and that for me was such a difference. It really gives me a chill when I think back on all of this. The real beauty and the possibilities of music began to be seen. It was so wonderful at that time. I even found one of the old Chopin waltzes that I used to love to play and tried to look at it from another point of view. By analyzing the harmony, I was able to transpose the entire waltz to a new key. I was even able to improvise parts of the melody and change it on the fly! And pop, rock, or even jazz songs, which were actually hard for me (as I didn’t know how to follow the chords and how to play them) are now much easier as I can recognize the chord structure and harmony behind them. Now learning to play songs is much faster and much more enjoyable. So … for me, music changed completely in the last years. I can tell you – and many musicians would agree – there is nothing in the whole universe that can compare once you discover that level of music-making! Fortunately, I have been able to find many talented people that share this vision of music and are working together with me, pursuing this same dream. Unfortunately, it took me almost ten years to discover these concepts for the first time. Most of the time when I discuss these concepts with other musicians and ask them why it is that so few music players (not just pianists) know these simple but powerful concepts, I get the following response: “Because of the way it’s taught, Rod. Most of the teachers in my experience, never reached the point we have been discussing today”. So I want to transmit to you these simple but powerful methods that changed everything for me.
I’ll be sharing with you everything I learned… throughout this course and the upcoming lessons! You’ll get to enjoy content that combines all of my experiences and the concepts that helped each of us get to a new level of piano learning. Thanks for reading about my personal story, now yes, I hope you enjoy the upcoming training and I am open to any questions or comments you might have. Thanks.