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Exploration in C Part 1

I have decided to do an in depth exploration of keys as my personal project in my piano journey. Throughout the years, I likely have played pieces in every key! With this project, the idea is to get intimate with every key.

What flavour does it have? How are different modes used to create variety? How can I use this key to express myself?

While exploring, I intend to learn classical music and pop music in the key in question. There will also be listening exercises, improv exercises, transposing exercises, and composition exercises involved when needed! Quickly said, this is an expansive project, designed for me to gain a deeper understanding into every key. Along the way, I will be practicing notation, rhythm and technique.

We begin with C major.

C Major Part 1

My initial feelings towards this key: clean, classic, easy going and bright

I first warmed up with the technique I knew in C; this included parallel scales, arpeggios, chords and formula pattern. I quickly noticed that my formula pattern could use some work in coordinating my hands. This task has been added to my to-do list.

Then I googled through IMSLP piano pieces in C major. I landed on Mozart’s Sonata in C major.

While sightreading through the Sonata, I noticed that the high register in C major sounds innocent. It almost has a childish twinkle to it. The sound is clear, whimsical and and light.

I also thought the accidentals were very noticeable in a land of white keys. They added an immediate contrast and peaked my ear’s interest as it flew by.

The timing is not necessarily easy in the intro of this piece! I decided to slow down the piece considerably to work on the rhythmic structure of the piece. When left unchecked, I felt myself play faster and faster through the scale-like runs.

Stay tuned!

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Finger Mapping of Keyboard

Finger mapping of the keyboard encourages development of music theory and independence of fingers. A maze of black and white notes to beginners, EN Music Studio’s piano lessons aim to help students recognize patterns on the keyboard in a meaningful way.
Visual mapping refers to the ability to have in our memory where a particular note is on the keyboard. Sometimes, you see piano players playing with their eyes closed. They know where the notes are just by touch!

What We See?

In basic terms, a diatonic scale can be broken down into 12 semitones, or half steps. That’s the distance from one key, to it’s immediate next white or black key. This distance is equal in between each key. This is the tricky part!; visually, some people feel like it does not appear equal. You can tell that the distance is equal by the pitches heard when playing them. Every 12 semitones, you can see that the pattern of black and white notes visually repeat. The notes are also correspond, however at an octave higher or lower.

What We Feel?

Lost? This is a common feeling among piano beginners. Not only is this visually and audibly confusing to begin with, most students launch right into looking at written music too. The result is a struggle to coordinate our eyes, our ears, and our fingers.

Finger Mapping

This is why finger mapping is an important part of learning how to play piano. If the piano player has a strong ability to recognize where notes are on the keyboard by touch, they are able to focus their attention in other places.

This encourages creativity in our improvisation sessions, as students are able to recall the note they want, when they want to. With increased finger mapping, students will be able to plan phrases ahead of time in their head, and then execute it.

This also encourages written music or classic music practice. With less attention devoted to finding the right note, students are able to see larger patterns in phrases, and see smaller details like dynamics and articulation

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Music in The House

Music In The House

Remember when your child (or you!) were first learning your native language? We know that even though babies can’t understand the grammatical complexities of language, we know that they are listening.

That is how we start music lessons! The first step is listening. While many children start piano lessons at school age, they may or may not have had music exposure in their early life. Most children will have had exposure to nursery rhymes and preschool tunes, but have they had exposure to the instrument that they are going to have lesson for?

In the context of piano lessons, it is important to expose them to the sounds of the piano. The easiest way, is to find music they know (from preschool? that you sing to them?) played on the piano. This way, they can connect the two; music with words and music without words are different…but similar!

As a preschool teacher, I often noticed that the children regurgitate things they have heard on TV or YouTube. On a similar note, I have noticed that children spontaneously burst out into songs that we sing in group time. If children hear more piano music in their daily lives, it is conceivable that they would also process the information and begin to produce it.

Noteworthy, I also notice that preschoolers speak very much like their parents, and the teachers. This makes sense, as we are their main source of language inspiration in these early years! With this in mind, I encourage all parents to also participate in playing the piano. Not only can parents participate in the students’ learning, but also learn with the child. By learning with the child, the parent can identify with the child and their musical journey.

Summary:

  1. Play music in the house!- Not only can music set an enjoyable mood, children are indeed listening to and processing the musical information.
  2. Play piano yourself!- Students are encouraged when they see their parents participating, and this could lead to fulfilling bonding experience.
  3. Encourage their playing- even in the beginning stages. Even when their music is still babbles, encourage it! Just like we encourage toddlers to use their language.