OT: Music

I had my Grade 3 Piano exam today, so today I thought it would be kind of fitting to talk about my double life as a musician. :P

 I started learning the piano about… four years ago on the John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course books. (These are awesome books, just saying.) I stayed on these for about a year and a half or maybe two before I started doing grades.

My childhood…

I can’t remember exactly what year I did the exam (I think it was last year actually) but when I actually did the exam I was terrified.

The situation didn’t exactly help my nerves. Before my exam, someone told me the examiner was really nice today, so I went in with high hopes, but when I had her she seemed really stern. I did my exam in a church. I have been back to that church since and it is a reasonably well lit, non-intimidating place. It’s actually smaller than the church I go to regularly. But at the time of my exam, I am absolutely sure that it was double the size, and everything was pitch black, including the piano. There were two spotlights, one on me and one on the examiner. When I was told to do my first piece, I did the first note and froze. I could hear it echo for ten seconds before it finally stopped.

Seriously, this was one of the worst places for me to do a piano exam.

Luckily I passed with merit. “Try not to be so nervous next time!” the examiner said in her report. Well I guess I should have been expecting that.

I skipped my Grade 2 because I missed the deadline for exam admission, so we went straight onto Grade 3.

This time was a whole lot better, because I did it in a small room that I have often been to, and I had a friendly examiner. It almost ended before it finished because I arrived on time but the person before me ended early. When I came down, someone called downstairs to the office and had to say something along the lines of “Yes, we’ve found him, disaster averted…” I made a few small mistakes throughout the whole thing, but then that’s exams for you. At the very least I’ve passed, and maybe I’ll get a merit, or even a distinction, so I’m happy. :D

The problem with my piano playing is that I never practise. I always mean to, but I always forget or don’t have time (because I’m watching very important YouTube videos). Whenever I get round to it, the practice’s are always really short because I just can’t engage myself enough in the playing enough.

Backtracking a little, I started learning Aural around the same time as my first piano lesson (Aural is kind of complicated to explain, but it’s basically about how good your ear is, hence the name). Since then I have had a wide variety of Aural teachers (although my Piano teacher has stayed the same) who taught me in a class of people as opposed to me individually. My first teacher was, in hindsight, so boring it was funny. He also taught my music theory and his idea of making theory fun was to give you theory books that had lots of pictures in. His idea of aural fun was quizzes. We literally reused quizzes he had made years ago again and again and again. We did Christmas quizzes in July.

Then he left and everything went topsy turvy. With aural, there was a mini crisis trying to find someone else to teach us. After one lesson with a really bad teacher, we had another teacher for four or five weeks. She was hippie-ish, but really kind. We learned nothing, but her lessons were awesome. At one point, she literally went on to YouTube and brought up a jazz video and we talked about jazz. At some stage, we spent a whole lesson talking about harmoniums and other Indian instruments.

Then we got another aural teacher who was maybe fifty but really sprightly. She was also really kind (although she actually taught us things). We started lots of inside jokes that aren’t even really jokes, such as ‘terraced dynamics’ and ‘dotted rhythms’, that make no sense to lots of people. No, those terms are not euphemisms. Now we have a new teacher who’s OK, but not nearly as good as the previous two.

Over the years, I have also learnt things like Music Theory and Music Technology (and I had brief stint in a ‘Junior Band’) these are probably the most interesting parts of my music *experience*.

Hope you enjoyed this! I’m sorry I didn’t post during the week!

Joe.

P.S. Should I move the OT posts to every Sunday? Because I am constantly postponing and plain ignoring them because everything happens on a Saturday and I never have any time! Thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “OT: Music

  1. I think I laughed a bit too much at ‘terraced dynamics’ and ‘dotted rhythms’.
    I just barely passed my grade 3 keyboard exam. Mainly because I began playing the song an octave too high. Too many important YouTube videos, and not enough practice I guess.
    Anyway, I hope you pass your exam with distinction :)

  2. I vote no schedules and post when you feel like it. Then you shall never feel guilty!

    Also I’m so envious of your musical talents. I can’t play any instruments besides maracas and the triangle and even that’s pushing it.

  3. I hope you did well! I play the violin, and I also struggle with practicing enough… it’s really easy to think, “I’ll do it once I’m done with my homework”– and then the homework takes up all the rest of my time and practicing gets neglected. But I’ve been trying to make more time this year especially because I’m in a higher level orchestra than last year, and I don’t want to fall behind.

    How do the grades of piano work? We don’t use a system like that. Our closest equivalent, I suppose, would be the seating auditions we do for orchestra, in which we sightread as much of a piece as we can before we make a certain number of mistakes. It’s rather nerve-wracking, even though our director is very nice.

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