Monday, January 17, 2005

Piano Lesson

Had a great piano lesson today. I love my piano teacher. If you're in the Asheville area and are looking for a good piano teacher, I highly recommend seeking out this talented woman.



I played the Mozart pretty well. It didn't sound as good as when I played it for friends last night, but it was still pretty good. Not long ago, I asked Deborah why she doesn't "make me memorize things." (Every now and then I start sounding like a nine-year-old piano student instead of a mature adult.) She said she'll never make me memorize anything.



Well. I suppose I can memorize things on my own, but if I'm not being made to do it ... I'm not going to make time for it. And a big reason I'm even taking piano is so that I can sit down at any old piano and start playing beautiful classical music. Without using the sheet music as a crutch. I want to build a by-memory repertoire outside of my old stand-by pieces (Maple Leaf Rag and the middle section of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu).



So I basically asked, "Please make me memorize things."



"Okay. No problem."



So now I'm to work on memorizing the Mozart.



Then we moved on to the Dett. Whew, but that piece is hard. I point-blank said, "I can learn to play the notes, but I need to know what's going on, theory-wise, in this piece. 'Cause it doesn't make a whole lot of sense right now. And I know it'll be easier once it makes sense theoretically."



So we went through the sticky sections of the Dett, measure by measure, analyzing it. So much fun! Deborah even dug out her comp study materials from when she was studying theory for her D.M.



And guess what.



The music has AUGMENTED SIXTHS in it!!



Woo-hoo! That's what I'm learning in theory! I love it when things overlap!!



I doubt that Deborah has ever seen a student get so excited about an augmented sixth before. I nearly jumped off the piano bench. I was just so happy to have a clue as to what was going on musically in this rather dissonant-sounding (at times) piece.



How often does a piano teacher have a student ASK them to make her memorize things? And then say, "I want to understand this theoretically instead of just blindly playing it." And then shouts, "Woo hoo!" when the topic of augmented sixths comes up?



I am such a nerd. N. E. R. D. Nerd.



And, um ... I'm ... proud of it. I think. (gulp)

7 comments:

  1. So, you tell me what type of Aug. VI it was after studying. ;-) Options: There are three types; German, French and Italian. Wonder which one would be your favourite...

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  2. There was one French and one German ... and I think I like the French sixths the best. :-)

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  3. Hmm... I think I like the French, too. German is the most common one as it must be always followed by a dominant in conventional writing. I think I also like the Neapolitan ii's. Have you ever encountered that as well, which was Brahms's favourite?

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  4. And a tiny, but a very helpful detail that I was taught just after becoming a PhD student (!):

    When you study harmony, you start labeling the chords on the score by using Roman numerals - e.g. "I" for the tonic; "IV" for the subdominant, etc. While doing this, if you also wanna indicate whether the chord is in major or minor mode, just capitalise them only for major ones. Ex: "I" for the tonic in a major key, "i" for that in a minor key. Or "III" in a minor key, and "iii" in a major key. You'll see that, for instance, the superdominant chord is always a minor chord in both major and minor keys and you can label it as "ii", not "II". Anyway... It made life easier for me. :-) Sorry if I overexposed...

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  5. That's OK. :-)

    Actually, I started writing I for major and i for minor, etc., when studying theory back in college (when I was minoring in music and struggling through theory classes). You're right, it does help.

    Only thing is, there are different "schools of thought," apparently, for how to write certain things in theory. For example, I'm learning (I think) that you indicate a diminished chord with a little degree symbol and a half-diminished with a degree symbol with a line through it. My piano teacher, however, uses the degree symbol (sans line) for half-diminished and a "d" for diminished. Or something like that. And I'm learning to circle non-chord tones, whereas she puts squares around them. The squares actually make more sense to me -- NCTs are like "square pegs in round holes," so to speak. Oh well, it's good to learn several different ways of writing the same thing.

    Hope you're enjoying school as much as I'm enjoying piano and theory!

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  6. Oh, yes! I use your method, so we both use the same labelling method. When I say I LOVE harmony, I am sure you exactly know what I mean. :-)

    The school is going OK. But, if I decide to have a Ph.D. again, I'll think twice. The biggest challenge I have ever had. Writing the first chapter of my dissertation... Or am I procrastinating? ;-P

    Read your to-do list. Wonder if you have already decided the tonality of your symphony. Will it be in C minor, your favourite key? [I hope I remember correctly.] Anyway... Don't leave it unfinished like Schubert. ;-) And if you really intend to start soon, I recommend you to use the Sibelius software, my favourite music notation programme for PCs. Funnily enough, it is also the name of the composer whose songs I analyse. :-)

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  7. Emrah, I will look into getting the Sibelius software. I don't know if I'm ready for that yet, but I know I'll be before long. Thanks!

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