Archive for October, 2011


Do You Hear What I Hear?

Monday, October 31st, 2011
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Buckle your seatbelts and don’t try this at home on your own, kids. Duane tells the truth: children should not use his program solo, but under a parent’s (or other responsibile adult’s) tutelage. So because I want my children to learn the piano, that means that I need to learn the material first.
Piano lessons for kids
Doesn’t always happen that way. Either that, or we have to check into the “responsible” part.

Sometimes, the kids watch the DVD before I do. Which leads me to now realize: they are tone deaf, music-deaf, and possibly deaf-deaf, if their ability to listen to me is any indication. The wonderfully-simple, familiar music which the piano crash course uses does not ring a bell with my teens and tween who hail from a foreign land.

So I sing it for them, either the tune alone, or words and all (which could be a life-scarring experience in itself, but they’ll survive, hearty souls that they are). Then they try to follow the music and duplicate the sound, at least with the melody.

Doesn’t compute. They rush it in spits and spurts, mashing the keys like pureed potatoes. Connecting the dots and stringing the notes together is proving to be more difficult than I imagined.

So I go into my very detailed, musical note-reading explanation.

“If the note goes UP on the staff, then the sound of the music goes HIGHER,” I make my voice high and squeaky. “If the note goes DOWN on the staff, the sound of the piece goes LOWER,” I employ my best double-bass rendition.

There is a flicker of recognition. Houston, we’re making contact. I let them listen to Duane’s marvelous playing on the DVD, where it’s so clear and so carefully measured, no long pauses between notes, no playing the right hand melody at another time than the corresponding left-hand chord….

Slowly, they get it. We tap out the beat, also slowly. They think it’s hysterical to hear me singing in slow-mo. I’m glad that they’re being entertained so inexpensively.

Step by step, we’re getting there. I find myself playing simple songs from CDs, and the radio. My hand directs as a choir director would, not in time to the music, but moving up and down, demonstrating for them the notes moving upward or downward. Their musical attempts on the piano start to take shape, and sound like something recognizable.

The slow mastery leads to self-confidence and the desire to do more. We schedule small, every-couple-of-weeks recitals in the family room and can tell that they’re making a greater effort when others are going to hear them play a piece or two.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing that we open to anyone outside of our immediate, nuclear family. That might result in some Three Mile Island kind of meltdowns. Instead, we use the force of positive sibling peer pressure to spur them forward and let them know that others are making music, too.

Finally, we’re hearing a few songs that need no gift of interpretation to decipher. It’s music to my ears.

———– Copyright 2011 – Alexandra Bartologimignano

(Alexandra jets here and there with her two boys, two girls, one husband, and two dogs, while chronicling their larger-than-life adventures at http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com———–

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Extended Chords – 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths

Friday, October 28th, 2011
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Do you love the sound of those big, fat chords that you hear some pianists play? What you are hearing is often extended chords – chords that have been extended beyond the octave range, such as 9th chords. But how do you play them? My hands are small, and I can’t reach a 9th. And even if I could, I don’t have enough fingers to play an 11th or a 13th.

The solution is to divide the chord into two parts — either using both hands or…..watch this short video and you’ll understand:

For a wonderful course on what to do with chords, please click on Piano Playing.

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Four-Note Piano Chords & How To Form Them – Watch Video

Thursday, October 27th, 2011
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The basic chords of music are TRIADS – 3-note chords composed of various intervals of the scale based on the root, 3rd, and 5th and their alterations. To form a 4-note chord you simply add a note of the scale such as the 6th, 7th, or major 7th to the basic triad. This short video demonstrates how this works:

For a COMPLETE course in chords click on “All The Chords In The Whole Wide World!”

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Chord Inversions: Root Position, First Inversion, Second Inversion

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
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Any chord can be turned upside down simply by taking the bottom note of the chord and putting it on top – an octave higher. There are 3 positions of any 3-note chord (triad): root position, 1st inversion, and 2nd inversion. Watch this short video and you’ll grasp it quickly:

For more information on inversions click on Chords UpSide Down

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How To Form & Play Diminished Chords On The Piano

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
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Diminished triads are formed by lowering the 3rd and the 5th of a major triad. (A triad is a 3-note chord). Remember that a major triad is formed from the root, 3rd, and 5th of a major scale. Watch this short video:

For more information on diminished triads click on Diminished Chords

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