Tuesday, 12 October 2010


over the summer
mrs f purchased a second-hand digital piano
it's quite a posh one
and although i protested loudly at the time over the cost
it's been a good investment
it sure beats bashing away on a cheap insubstantial casio keyboard
so well done mrs f!
the woodle has been going to piano lessons for a few weeks now
and she's doing alright
the teacher recommended quite a good little book
the pieces are nice and short and gradually get more difficult
the main object is to coordinate left and right hands
and to learn to read music from the stave
as chief homework supervisor i'm following woodle's progress closely
while learning a few useful basics myself
i've always been pretty clumsy and uncoordinated
as far as playing the piano is concerned
the principal problem lies with my left hand
as a guitar player i'm just not used to striking notes with both hands
the left hand is only used for making chord shapes
('fretting the strings' in the jargon)
this has restricted me over the years to playing basic oompah block chords
in the vein of music hall and 'my old man's a dustman'
but a few simple tips have been quite a revelation
like the idea of grounding both thumbs on middle c
then working up and down the scale from there
left hand in one direction, right hand in another
as a songwriting tool the piano suggests different ideas
it turns me into a different composer
(though hopefully not into elton john)
lazy guitarists like myself and john lennon like guitar chords
which maximise the number of ringing unfretted open strings
(fret ye not!)
on a guitar you tend to get broadly spaced chords
because of the 5-semitone interval between strings
but on a piano there's no such thing as a fretted string
they are all essentially 'open'
and the keys are all only a semitone apart
instead the lazy piano player tends to work in scales
because this entails minimum movement and spread of the fingers
different possibilities and potentials arise
different clusters of notes
different limitations
(you can't strum a piano!)
i've just written a song on piano which exploits this potential quite well
i don't think i would have come up with quite the same thing on a guitar
not that i have any great ambitions for playing the piano
i just want to improve to a functional level
it would be nice to be able to lead an old-time sing-song or two
round the old joanna
but the main priority, as always, is the songwriting

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