Why Music?

Posted on 15 December 2010

I’ve spent much of the past 6 months trying to figure out what I do and don’t want my life to be.  Last night, in discussing my progress or lack thereof with a friend, I brought up music as something that I see helping me along.  Saturday, I turned up 80s tunes and sang in my living room, and I could feel the goodness.

I sat back down at the keyboard I’ve mostly been looking at, watched a Youtube video to try to pick up a few chords that went together.  After getting used to playing them the way they were in the video, I naturally started playing with what I later found out was arpeggio — playing the individual notes in a chord separately — and I started to get something that sounded somewhat like No One by Alicia Keys.

I really like finding these things by accident.  My entire life, I’ve learned through experimentation more so than formal training.  Playing music gives an immediate feedback loop, and doing it on a USB keyboard plugged into a PC means that not only can I hear and record, but the software that I’m using (Music Creator 5) has a view called "piano roll" where I can see the notes which I played and I don’t have to rely on my ears alone.

I can’t imagine a better scenario for self-learning.  I just don’t have a clear goal yet.

I think that my next step should be to try to learn a complete song, but I’m not quite sure how to approach it.  I’ve been mostly playing with my right hand, which is something from which I’ll have to move on, but I think that what’s probably best for me to do is to try learning small parts very well, achieve "muscle memory", and then add complexity.  Just like I did with typing.  I no longer look when I type, but I never learned how to use the home row and "touch type".

Another friend went to see Ben Folds last night, so when I spent some time at the keyboard last night, I decided that I would learn the first part of the melody from Brick.

I think I’ve got most of the muscle memory for this bit down pretty well, but I’m not sure if I should move on to other parts, try to get timing and pressure right, or find another song I’m willing to straight-up commit to.

I know the timing and pressure vary within this sample, but even just being able to get to this point so quickly is encouraging.

Here’s what I’ve got so far…

It’s time to move past "testing the waters", though.  I’m desperately searching for a song I can commit to learning in whole, and will stick through simply because I love it.  Of course, it also helps if it was written for piano, and on the simpler side… 

I’m open to recommendations…


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