The scales are teetering, or, trying to get the most out of piano practice away from the keyboard…

This has been a week full of starts and stops, especially writing or music wise. I thought up and rejected half a dozen different blog posts because as I thought about writing them the ideas seemed trite or self-evident (or if I asked a question, it was answered before I even opened a web page to do some research).

The same things happened regarding piano. I find it strange that despite doing very little with the piano, my teacher is pretty impressed with my understanding and progress so far.

I was super excited to practice for a few minutes on piano, and closer to an hour on guitar last night. I ended up playing til about 1 am (which did NOT help me wake up this morning). I’m impressed with how I’m picking things up with guitar, and am just eager to keep going.

I’m not sure why I’m having so much more trouble with piano and doing practices. Or making time to practice. I like my teacher, she’s enthusiastic and totally helpful, so it’s not like “ugh, I can’t believe I gotta do this.”

If that was the case, I would’ve quit already, especially since I’m the one paying. I want to get better, but I’m not sure what I’m missing.

I can take a few guesses, but the biggest one is practice time. I’m doing my best to prioritize it. Now that the school year’s begun and I have my next door neighbor over early every morning, I could have a built in time to either go ahead and do one instrument’s practice til his bus gets here, or reserve that hour and change for basic chores.

Something tells me piano would be the best thing, really. And maybe I could teach him a thing or two, since he wants to learn.

But even with the books i have, the piano methods and everything, and all this music I’m eager to learn…why have I not gone farther?

I think it’s that I need to learn how to practice away from the keyboard.

Yeah, I know–whaaat?

Well, I can practice guitar several ways, one of my favorites of which would be the PocketStrings. It’s a collapsible fret-board that I can put in my bag or pocket. We’re focusing on memorization of chords right now, and when I get a few minutes here and there, I can check my finger positions at random. I don’t need an actual guitar.

But how to practice piano without a piano? Or a mock piano?

Piano Fingers GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHYI’m trying to figure that one out, especially when my schedule gets wonky again (a couple people quit and next month is all over the place with driving and all). So, it’s definitely time to get it right and figure out a way to practice piano AWAY from the keyboard.

I’ve got an idea how to practice on my own at the keyboard when I’m not quite sure what to play or need to try something new courtesy of this blog post (I’m going to implement it in the morning).

As far as being away from the keyboard (which is gonna happen quite a bit at random times til at least the end of October), I’ve gotta figure out some way to get at least the fingerings and chords right.

But other than buying a roll-up keyboard to take with me (reviews are mixed everywhere I look and I don’t wanna spend nearly a hundred bucks on ANOTHER keyboard), I don’t know how I can check myself. I wanna learn by touch. But that’ll be tough to do without keys to touch.

On the other hand, maybe this would be a good month to try what this one guy was suggesting on his post: visualization. Visualize playing the pieces perfectly, or the scales, or whatever. Visualize the fingers hitting the right notes over and over and when you get home, play with the keyboard and see how it works.

I think I’ll give that a shot–I just hope it works even if you’re not really sure of the scales and chords and whatnot…but I guess I’ll find out. At the very least I can make sure to get the beats and note values right, make sure I know the counting and write down notes about the notes and such before I hit the keyboard.

Forehead, meet desk. Why the hell didn’t that come to me sooner?

Well, I guess I know what I’ll be working on when I got four or five minutes between things at work this week.

Maybe, just maybe, I won’t spend a bunch more money trying to get piano practice going right along.

Another thing I realized as I started to read these blog posts is that something’s been majorly missing from previous attempts at practice: a goal. I am essentially going through the first Alfred adult teaching course book, and learning as I go. However, I am not focused on improving any particular piece or anything yet.

I forgot all about “The Girl From Ipanema.” My teacher asked me to bring a song that I wanted to work on, and this one seemed the easiest in one of my easy piano books that I really liked. Well, she hasn’t brought it up in a few weeks.

Somehow, I put the book up when I was cleaning and forgot all about it. That explains a lot. I need to do some basic learning when I’m at the piano and yes, do the exercises. But I need to make sure to practice that song a little every day, too. That’s a good summation for a practice session.

I’m having a lot of forehead-meet-desk moments lately.

Time to clean up the kitchen and relax a bit, and rework my practice plan for the week. I’ve got a Hanon workbook to go through also, and it’s a helluva workout for my fingers. Time to put that in the page, too.

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