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19 February 2009 @ 10:51 pm
Sorry for the massive delay on any updates! Been so busy lately and just kept not getting round to updating this every week!
Here's my lessons for 2009 so far

Jan 2009Collapse )

Lesson 245 - Feb 5th
3rds major - staccato next week
Study 14 - put in some detail
Minuet - finish off
kettle rag and black sheep - half term practice!
Dietro l'incantro - 2 pages and 1 line

Lesson 246 - Feb 12th
Majors 3rds staccato, add on minors
study 14 - finish off
courante - learn
kettle rag - finish off
black sheep - much better
practice extra on middle section
Dietro l'incantro - learn to end

Lesson 247 - Feb 19th
3rds minors F, B and Eb
Study 15 - learn
Courante - finish off
kettle rag - play to CD and bring it with you
Black sheep - " "
Dietro l'incantro - work on continuity

I'm adding on grade 8 scales bit by bit. I have 2 years to decide when to do it (til the syllabus runs out at the end of 2010) so I'm aiming for Nov 09 so if I need more time by then I can always push the exam period back!

I've started Grade 8 pieces a little bit, started choosing what I want to do. I've narrowed the A List down to 2 pieces (Cimarosa and the alternative Scarlatti Cat Fugue piece)
the B List down to 2 pieces (Mozart, 1st mvt of sonata in C minor, alternative piece and the Clementi) annd the C List down to 4 pieces (Prokofiev march, fats wallar, liszt and chopin)

I've just started properly learning (just started as in... today lol) the two A list pieces, Lynda and I agree I might as well learn both pieces if I can't decide just yet as I have plenty of time to do that!

My Grade 7 exam feedback was good! I'm still chuffed with my Distinction
full write up on my feedback sheet coming soon...
29 December 2008 @ 01:17 am
Well, not a proper exam update because I don't have my comments sheet or certificate yet BUT my piano teacher texted me yesterday and told me my results!

130, Distinction!

I am SOOOO happy! I was hoping so much to get a Distinction. I got a Distinction in Grade 1 but... Grade 1 is easy, the higher grades are taken and marked much more seriously so I'm chuffed I actually managed to do it at Grade 7...
This does mean, of course, that I can't get anything LESS than 130 in my Grade 8 exam. I know it'll be pretty bloody difficult but... I have a year to work on it and I'm gonna get a good headstart (I already have the G8 exam book/CDs! And started the G 8 scales in my lessons) so... just have to work hard and keep my fingers crossed

I don't have another lesson until the 8th Jan (I'm missing my lessons SO much, I hate having holiday breaks from them...) so I probably won't get my certificate or anything til then either
a full update with comments included when I get it...

PS. Grade 8 exam stuff; I'm going to have a tough time deciding what pieces to do. Especially List A and B
List C is more obvious which ones I like... I'm loving Alligator Crawl (started learning it! Tricky but I'm getting the hang of it already which is good! I wanted to learn it anyway, wether I do it in the exam or not...) and Prokofiev's march the most

List A I'm getting the hang of the Cimarosa and I'm also liking the Sinfonia (Bach) quite a lot...

List B I have NO idea
perhaps the Beethoven Sonata (not the one in E, the other one, is it in D? Can't remember) and I love the sound of the 2nd Mozart piece but of course I don't have the sheet music for it

well, yes, I have a whole YEAR to decide so... I'm just enjoying playing about with the pieces and getting to know them! And it's not stressful 'cause my exam is soooo far away
it'll be my last graded exam!!
Then I want to go on to Diploma exams but not for a few years... I want a bit of a break and a chance to get my playing up to an amazing level and get a bit more gigging/performing experience

I also want to look for a jazz teacher, I know one that's highly recommended by my teacher and my dad... I wanted to do the exams but I'm not sure if there's much point if it only goes up to grade 5. The pieces won't be that difficult, it would be the scales and improvisation stuff and all that... whatever else there is! I don't know!
But, say, one jazz lesson a month or something. Just to teach me the other side of piano, improvisation and all those weird chords and stuff, I want to know it ALL

I will get in touch with this guy and see if I can sort something out soon... (I don't really have enough money for more lessons but... hey)
21 December 2008 @ 01:29 pm
Lesson 238 - December 4th

Scales and arpeggios - very good, just work on staccato in contrary chromatics
Allegro assai - lovely expression!!
swedish dance - beautiful!
Willie Waggle - excellent

December 9th - Grade 7 EXAM
this went ok, I didn't majorly mess anything up, so I think I did well... but I might not get the results til after christmas! I hoped I'd get them before but as it's only 3 days til christmas now that's unlikely!

Lesson 239 - December 11th

Study 13 - learn
Gigue in G - learn
Le onde - to bottom of P7
Away in a manger - learn

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Lesson 240 - December 18th

Study 13 - well done, play lightly
Gigue in G - good rhythm, work on fluency
Minuetto - learn to key change
Away in a manger - finish off
Le Onde - slow down & go to end

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Teaching - well, it's coming up to 2 months since I started my new job (as a piano tutor at this teaching studio in town) and it's going really well
yesterday was really fun 'cause it was the last saturday before xmas so we had two big tins out of quality street, everyone was playing xmas songs
in my first lesson I only had one pupil (I usually have 4 per class, on seperate pianos with headphones so I go round them individually. but in my first class I usually have 2 pupils) so we did some different stuff, did some scales, theory, xmas songs (I LOVE doing theory, and I love my last class of the day 'cause they always ask to do theory at the end)
my 2nd and last classes were full so they were a bit hectic but fun!

After work (unrelated to piano!) I randomly decided to get a new piercing on my way home (a vertical industrial in my right ear), I'm glad I did, I love it!

back to piano; I'm working on a piece, maybe to play at gigs... I got hold of the proper piano parts for Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and I also have a piano arrangement of the whole song so I can mix the two together, I've added on the beginning vocal parts and then gone into the proper piano when it comes in, I can now play a piano arrangement of the guitar solo bit and then go back to the proper piano when it comes in at the end!
A few chords are a bit dodgy but it's not as difficult as I thought it would be to play

One last note; I've started Grade 8 syllabus scales for 2009/2010 :) we decided to wait a bit longer this time and aim for Nov 2009 for my grade 8 exam, which sounds good to me! (I did grades 5, 6 and 7 all in the same syllabus block, 07 - 08)
I've had a go at most of the scales and can play *most* of them ok! I notice there are NO contrary scales in this grade?! I don't know why... but I'm not complaining lol
they've added a Whole Tone scale, which is fairly simple to do...
it'll be the chromatics in 3rds and minor 3rd apart annd Bb major legato in 3rds which will be the most tricky things I think
the diminished 7ths and dominant 7ths I don't have a problem with :o)
good thing is I have about a year to perfect them all!

I HOPE I'll get the grade 8 exam book and CDs for xmas but I'm not sure... I really want to hear all the pieces in full (plus the book and CDs cost quite a lot)
right now though I'm loving the Prokofiev march and allegator crawl from C List
There's a couple of Beethoven sonatas in the B List I think so I've had a go at those (I have his complete sonatas in those 3 big gold volumes)
we'll see *fingers crossed*
02 December 2008 @ 04:32 pm
Sorry for the delay once again in updating...
things have been HECTIC

I got a new job as a piano tutor and been teaching for just iver a month now and loving it... I have 10 students, it's at a teaching studio (also a music shop so I get staff discount on sheet music, equipment etc!) and one of the guitar tutors there I actually went to school with! So that was a kewl coincidence...

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My mock exam!

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I had an extra lesson today just to go over some problems I've been having with exam stuff

Lesson 237 - December 2nd

SR 11
Swedish dance - more expressive

it doesn't look like a lot but we did LOADS of aural tests. Singing back I did about 4 of them, sight singing I did a few... questions on the eras of the pieces and such I did 3 I think...
identifying cadences I did about 5

we did some work on my B List piece (the worst of my 3 pieces)
and it's getting better, the more I concentrate on the expression rather than the dodgy arpeggio notes at the end the better it seems to get so... expression is the way to go for me

My exam is on 9th December so ONE WEEK to go!
I can't wait til it's over now
I do generally love doing exams (obviously, or I wouldn't have got up to G7 in 5 years) but it's the month or so before my exam that really stresses me out. Then I get onto the next grade and get my results and certificate and I forget all about the stress and panicking and I can't wait for the next one!
Luckily after this one, if all goes well and I actually PASS it, I only have one exam left!

Then I can have a nice break from exams and work on learning all those amazing pieces I've ever wanted to play
few years later when I feel ready I'll start on the Diploma/Licentiate/Fellowship exams! I'd love to have important initials after my name :)
02 October 2008 @ 05:06 pm
Sorry for the delay in updates!I've been insanely busy with college and work, if I haven't been at college I've been at work so have hardly had any spare time!
Luckily I still have my Thursdays nice and free

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Lesson 228 - October 2nd

The Mill - learn to end
Au vous dirai-je maman - stay the same
scales - all good but staccato!!!
Allegro Assai ]
Swedish Dance } all improving
Willie Waggle ]
SR 2

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Teaching; I gave my 3rd piano lesson today, it went really well! Now we actually have a book and stuff to work from in previous lessons I know what i'm doing (the first lesson was a bit scary 'cause I hadn't got much prepared and hadn't got a proper book to start off with) but once we got the book last week it was fantastic!
I'm pleased to say I'm actually managing to teach someone to play piano and read music and understand it all! Today he seemed much more comfortable playing and reading the music so I was quite chuffed :o)

oh, I have a job interview soon to be a piano teacher at a teaching studio, compared to highly qualified piano teachers it's not paid that much BUT it's paid almost double what I earn right now and it's about the same hours so it would be perfect for me, also I chatted to Nikki on the phone about it (the woman who would potentially employ me *fingers crossed*) and she sounded really nice and chatty, and sounded quite impressed when I said I was grade 7 playing standard. My piano teacher's son teaches guitar there so she was also impressed that Lynda recommended me to her!
So it all sounded very promising but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'll just do the best I can and hopefully give them a good enough impression to take me on there!

The thing is it might be teaching say 3 or 4 pupils in a group (but obviously going round them individually) but.. that scares the crap out of me to be honest. I'm not a public speaker kind of person, I get SO nervous talking infront of groups of people
I'm just not sure how I would go about it?!
I know I want to do it though, it would be a very kewl job to have and actually benefit me in future career plans etc... rather than just working for money's sake (which is what I do now and I can't STAND it)

well, just waiting for the application form to arrive so I can fill it in and send it back, Nikki said once I'd sent them my info they'd get me in for an interview :o)
18 September 2008 @ 12:21 am
Lesson 225 - 11th September

Rondo - finish off
Ah, vous dirai je - learn up to bar 3 - tied notes!!
Dom 7th do C, D and E all with same fingering
SR 25
Allegro Assai - keep that speed, concentrate on staccato
Swedish Dance - accent first note
Willie Waggle - Yeah!

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I have to prepare my first piano lesson on Friday.
I've made some adverts saying I'm available to teach adult beginners piano and my details etc...
I took one to Counterpoint (my favourite, and ONLY, sheet music shop here), they said I could put it up on the noticeboard there and they took my details so they can pass on my name to people who come in asking about teachers (they also know my teacher, Lynda, 'cause she's been getting all her lesson books for her pupils from there for YEARS)
I put one up in this other shop, a little hippi/alternative shop, I always chat to the owner, Kim, 'cause I've been going there for years and as soon as I said I wanted to start teaching piano she told me to bring one of my ads there and she'd put it up for me and plug my name to everyone!

no replies as yet, it's only been a couple of days though... actually one day!

but I'm starting to teach my friend piano, we're having the first lesson on Friday (He's getting them for free, as long as he pays for his own books. So he gets to learn piano and I get to learn how to teach! SO it's a big learning curve for both of us)
but I'm really excited, I've been lesson planning, it's fun! I think I'd really like 1 to 1 teaching, especially teaching something that I love so much

the good thing is I only started less than 5 years ago so I remember completely what it's like to start from scratch and not be able to read music or anything like that...
plus I like to think I'm a patient person!
My mate also said he's a terrible learner, slow at picking things up so if I can teach him I can teach anyone! It's a good place to start I think

Anyway, oh, tomorrow I have to pay in £57 for my Grade 7 exam fee (yikes), I can understand the price going up per grade but why does it have to go up PER YEAR on top of that?!
Grade 8 this year is something like £65? When I take it (2009/2010) it'll be £70 something!
but it's worth it...

PS. 2 months from TODAY (18th) it'll be my Five Year Piano Anniversary!
02 September 2008 @ 01:49 am
Things are starting to pick up a bit for my band (Retro Soup) :o)

we had a rehearsal in Sheffield on Sunday (and booked in for another one this Sunday)
I even got my stage piano there, my whole family (well, me, parents and sis) went to Sheff for the day too so dad and I had to sit in the back with this 88 key stage piano across our knees, it wasn't the most comfy 40 mile trip I have ever taken...

but the rehearsal went VERY well. First time I had the drum kit set up infront AND my stage piano beside me AND my microkorg ANNND my own microphone all wired up to a PA
Joel only has to bring his guitar and voice!

We managed to work out about 7 songs we can play live (in all our recordings neither of us play just one thing and a LOT of our new album is electronic and created on the computer so we had to work out how to translate that to live instruments)
we have to have backing tracks, obviously, we're only human and there are only 2 of us... so we're mainly just using drums as backing tracks and I'm doing mostly piano and synth work live but we have a Muse cover (Supermassive Black Hole) I play drums/backing vocals to and Fell (our fave song off the first album) that I play drums to and backing vocals
we have a nice acoustic number (from our new album) with me on piano and J on acoustic guitar setting


check out some of our new album stuff (Glitch)

we even MAY have our first EVER gig at christmas in Sheffield. (Bear in mind we've been together 2 and a half YEARS and never once gigged. Doesn't help that we live 40 miles apart) J's cousins always play at xmas and said we should definitely play too
and J's cousin's gf (Ruth, loverly, I first met her at one of the xmas gigs and then again when me and J went to stay in London to see Muse and stay at his cousins' place. She's a fan of our stuff ;)) has this new club night in London and really wants us to go play there some time

anyway, leaving you with a photo (crap quality photo taken on my phone) of J and his guitar in our rehearsal studio from Sunday (you can see my korg and stage piano next to the drums in the background, that was my little niche)

30 August 2008 @ 01:33 am
Lesson 224 - August 28th

Rondo - learn to the end
Sonata - 3 pages revise
Allegro assai - needs to be all one standard. Maybe slow down til it is
Swedish dance - repeat line ??
Willie Wagglestick - love it!

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My gig;
it went amazingly well

I got 8 people there to support me this time, I managed to nag people til almost everyone agreed to come and see me play. My friends FINALLY saw me play live for the first time ever and that made me really happy
My band mate came to see me too and said it was awesome

I played my Nocturne! It went down pretty well. I left it til my 3rd set, 2nd to last piece (I ended on my Muse medley which is long and epic) mainly so I had lots of time to get used to the piano and be properly relaxed and warmed up by the time I got to it!
I didn't really mess any of it up, just a tiny bit messy in parts but I just hear every tiny wrong detail because I'm so harsh on myself and I've had to live with this piece every day
it's been driving me insane. Actually insane. BUT my hard work has finally paid off and I've managed to memorise the piece, not play it perfectly but it's at the point where all I have to do is keep playing it and it will eventually be perfect... I've learnt it all fully but now it needs time to... mature and be played at more of my gigs before it reaches perfection

I'm extremely happy I stuck with it though, it feels like a big turning point in my learning, that I've managed to completely learn and play n public (without messing up and being boo-ed etc...) a grade 8 + piece which I thought was always out of my league and not something I could achieve any time soon

AND, ontop of that I managed to make £35 out of the buckets left out for people to put change in!
Last gig I made arout £12
So it's a big difference and a good amount of money to make from a 'busking' type gig (the venue don't pay me so it is just busking indoors on a grand piano. Yes a STEINWAY grand)
I think they polish the piano keys a lot 'cause they're always so slippery, took me a couple of piece to get used to it and not have my fingers slipping on all the keys!
I started my first set with pieces I knew off by heart and had been playing for a looong time so I could warm up and not worry about messing up

in my 3rd set (the best set in my opinion) I also played TWO of my band's songs;
Crossed Paths piano instrumental (from our first album last year)
and Shutdown (from our new album Glitch) which is the big piano finale piece I composed (my band is kind of... experimental/electro. So it was interesting when Joel added his vocals and added all this megaphone stuff at the end where my piano kind of goes a bit dark...) it's onw of my favourite compositions. No, it IS my favourite composition

I have another gig on 11th October, so looking forward to that. I may aim to get my exam pieces gig-worthy by then to test them out in public, if I can play them in public I can certainly play them for an examiner
and another gig on 29th November
both at the Drill Hall, I love playing there

Ah. I want to start teaching piano (only part time). A friend of mine from work wants to learn piano so I said I'd teach him for free if I could test out my teaching skills on him and learn how to teach basically
So it'll be a big learning curve for both of us
I think we should be organising the first lesson after this week when I have my new college timetable sorted out and know when I'm free to teach

I'm quite looking forward to it :o)
he also said he's a terrible learner so if I can teach him then I can probably teach anyone...
19 August 2008 @ 12:54 am
sorry for the update delay! I've had masses of "life" going on and haven't had a piano lesson this week (my teacher's away) I'm not having one this Thursday either and I may have to move my lesson for next week aswell 'cause I have to enroll on my new college course (I start hairdressing college!) on the morning of my lesson (nice timing!)

Lesson 223 - August 5th

Scales - good effort
Rondo - move on when ready
List B Swedish Dance
Allegro Assai - well done
Willie Wagglestick

another kind of... mixed up week. I'm working SO hard on my Chopin nocturne to get it perfect for my gig (THIS saturday) that I've been neglecting scales especially and most of my lesson pieces. But Lynda doesn't mind, she knows my gig is important to me and she's away for 2 weeks (my lessons start again on 28th August) so when I resume to my normal lessons I'll be working much harder on my actual lesson stuff, by that time my gig will have been and gone anyway! (my next gig isn't until 11th October!)

the last three pieces are my exam pieces, Lynda said there's not really any problem with my Clementi or the jazz piece, my main struggle is the List B piece (Swedish dance) but she's not worried about it at all and is pretty confident I can get them all perfected by the time my exam arrives

talking of which I should have to send my name off/PAY EXAM FEES next month, yikes. Grade 7 is something like... £58 this year?! next year Grade 8 will be £60 something (it increases every year and every grade is more expensive obviously)

my Chopin piece; I'm getting so stressed out about my gig, I'm too hard on myself.. it's a background gig so no one (bar my actual friends) will be listening that much
but I want it to be perfect, I've worked TOO hard on it for about 5 months not to get it perfect...
I've just memorised it. I managed to play the entire piece without the music the other day (for the first time)
funnily enough it's the slower bits at the beginning I have trouble memorising. It's so easy to play them and sight read them at the same time though so I do know it but having the pages there infront of me is a security thing I guess
the difficult bits are the bits I find easier to memorise because I've worked extra hard on them and in a way I know them better than the easier bits. I can play the harder bits completely from memory no problem (pretty much the entire last 2 pages I don't have to look at the music), it's just managing to play them perfectly which I can't quite do yet...

the trouble is the more I practice in a session the worse I seem to get, even though peple around me keep telling me it's getting a hell of a lot better every time I play it
I've worked on it SO much it's got all mushed up in my ears and I just can't hear it clearly for what it is
I hope I manage to get it right for my gig, I'd be GUTTED if I had to pull it out of my set list considering all the hard work I've put into it
31 July 2008 @ 11:40 pm
Lesson 222 - July 31st

Rondo - stay with 2 pages
Nocturne - finish off
Sonata - well done
List B - as last week

my lesson was shorter today, it was put back 20 mins so we had less time (lessons are *supposed* to be half an hour long but mine usually overruns to 3/4 of an hour because I have so many pieces at once to play through)

So we missed out scales today and the jazz piece 'cause Lynda knew I hadn't really practiced it
my MAIN concentration this week had been my Chopin Nocturne (I have about 3 weeks til my gig now and it has to be ready by then. Well, it doesn't *have* to but I'd LOVE it to be ready with all the hard work I've put into it! It's ALMOST there I can see the end so it just has to go on my next gig set list) Lynda doesn't mind because she knows I've put so much hard work into this piece so isn't too worried that I'm not practicing my other stuff

Rondo is my Mozart piece (2nd to last in my white book) it's gorgeous, not TOO difficult but didn't go to the end just yet due to lack of practice
Nocturne - is now officially a Finish Off! I'm still neatening out the lh arpeggio bits and 4th page but I'm not stopping/hesitating at all now even if I do miss notes out or mis-hit... the main thing in a gig situation is to keep going nomatter what because if you stop, hesitate or go over the bit you've just gone wrong on you draw so much more attention to the fact you've messed up!
It's now mainly neatining the WHOLE thing up, putting LOADS more expression into it, looking at the tiny tiny details... so I have to finish this off to a decent standard by Wednesday (my next lesson, I have Castle work on Thursday next week so had to reschedule my lesson)
But all in all I'm quite proud that I've managed to stick with this piece for THIS long, 4 months, I never even have exam pieces that long so this is a LONG time for me to work on a piece AND this is the first Grade 8 + piece that I've fully learnt and stuck it out to the end, which I'm quite pleased about, now I've done it once I can do it with ANY advanced piece!

Sonata - it was ok! I'm actually getting better at the 4th page, I'm getting the hang of the octave-type semiquavers... before they were just 'notes' now I'm starting to get the pattern of them... but this piece was pretty good considering I'd hardly touched it all week

List B - as with my other pieces, hardly even played this all week so pretty much picking up where I left off last week!

it's been quite nice these past 2 weeks or so, I don't really concentrate on one piece at a time, I love to do LOADS of pieces at once. But it's been a nice change working on this one Chopin piece (don't get me wrong, I've been playing a million other pieces for my gig coming up but only one other new piece, another Chopin, Prelude in E minor which is quite simple to play but sounds beautiful so I'm adding it to my gig set list. I have also been sight reading a lot of Clementi sonatas, quite easy ones, but not so easy that they're boring, they're the kind of standard I can just learn by myself and not need any extra help with and can learn without too much difficulty so those would be good to add to gig set lists, specially if I do another Classical Night) most of my energy has gone on this one piece and I've never worked on a piece so intensely before, I've enjoyed it!
Especially since I can see the end of the piece now and all my work is paying off :o)
of course the work isn't over just yet.
I have to perfect it at home THEN I'll have my gig in 3 weeks or so and can really see which bits I'll need to work on for playing in public (because it's completely different to playing at home, it changes the way you play pieces lol. Well it does to me anyway) when I've perfected it to a gig standard then I'll have properly nailed the piece!