Friday, February 28, 2014

Piano Class Progress and Ear Training

I haven't been posting about the piano class much because...well it just isn't very impressive. But I think it is good for beginners (though possibly moves too fast for a TRUE beginner with no music background).

I get panic attacks about finding notes on the keyboard and about reading the notes on the staff (getting my brain to read both treble and bass clef at same time and not mix them up)...and yesterday the instructor asked us to play 2nd or 3rd intervals and say by ear which was which. When I was playing them and could look at the keys while I listened this seemed easy. They sounded different. But as soon as someone else played them and I couldn't look at the keys I was afloat. Like no idea.

This, of course, is not shocking because I have had a hard time with vocal harmonies in the past. I can't hear them and I can't sing them (unless someone shows me what to sing, I practice it, and then I ignore the other person singing).  I've also never been great at tuning by ear. Only recently have I begun to hear the "warble" of an out-of-tune note...but I still can't tell if the note is sharp or flat.  I even struggle, if you play two notes, to tell you which one is the higher note and which one is the lower note...I have to play them several times and think about it pretty hard.

I'm sure this is a skill that can be learned, but that some people take to it more naturally than others. I'd be on the end of the spectrum that really struggles and would need to work REALLY hard at it and still might never be great at it. I haven't ever really worked at it...and I don't know if I have the patience and interest to work at it.

It frustrates me that people seem to think this is a natural skill and are confused when you can't do it though. It's like they think I'm lying or just not trying hard enough. It pisses me off and makes me feel really insecure.

Everyone isn't good at everything.

I was noticing in class that I'm way better at playing than many of the others. I keep the tempo and play accurately. I can play faster than many.  I also was noticing that while I was bored and noodling around because I couldn't get the interval ear training thing...that I would accidentally happen upon melodies that I recognized and could pick them out by ear. It happened like 10 times.

So it isn't that I'm tone deaf...because I can pick out melodies from memory by ear. I can match pitches by trial and error. And to some extent I know when notes are close to each other or far apart. I just can't tell the intervals. I might know that note one is low and note two needs to be a lot higher...but even though I can hear the melody in my head...I'll have to make a guess to match the second pitch. If I guess wrong I'll quickly guess again until I get it.

Learning the keyboard is definitely helpful for learning the relative position of notes. It took me forever to start to learn that on bass/guitar. On the keyboard it is right there in black and white. It's interesting.

I think the class will be useful, but not earth shattering. I don't think I care about being able to play piano...but it does present one with useful basic skill sets.

TD as Faghat 2/27/2014 at Inferno

For some reason I'm not at all clear on we dressed up like Faghat for a TD show last night. I tried my best to make an ass out of myself with my costume, but no one came to the show. Still, I played great and wasn't nervous at all.

During sound check I asked for some stuff in the monitor (I had to be proactive because nothing was offered) and went though a long stretch of "how's that?" "I'm getting nothing." "how about now" "nope". I was starting to think I was dumb or crazy...but indeed the monitor wasn't working. I gotta say that getting some extra training in sound recently (both shadowing EB and also taking that class with D a year or so ago), while it may not have made me into a sound engineer, has certainly boosted my confidence on the topic. I feel like I know the right terms to use. And I feel better about saying "no, I'm pretty sure that isn't in the monitor, it's in the house." Anyway, they thought they had it fixed but I'm not sure that they did not...but in the end my show mix, even with just the house, was pretty decent. Another boomy bass drum show tho.

I even played Faghatland right (maybe for second time ever) and managed to get structure of Dragonfly correct even without my notes (forgot to pull them out in time).

Hold U Under
Gotta Tell
Whole Damn World
Going Down the Drain
It's Alright

Monday, February 17, 2014

Off You

Been working on "Off You".

Here's a helpful live version. Two basses and one electric guitar. She plays some of the chords in much higher positions than I was (the Cm and Dm in particular).

Thursday, February 13, 2014


So starting group piano lessons tonight. I have no idea what to expect and I have no goals or agendas for the experience. I'm not sure that I've ever taken a class or lesson on an instrument when I really didn't care if I ever actually learned to play was just for fun and basic background info. It's kinda weird.

I admit, though, that it has crossed my mind that if it goes well I might whip out the Casio and steal the "Motorway to Roswell" outro (at 4:07 in video below) from RS after my bass line ends. Or play the organ breakdown in Bam Thwok (at 1:23 in video below...though I kinda love CT playing it on tap guitar).