Category Archives: #ECI831MajorLearningProject

The Piano Project: Week 8- Almost at the Finish Line

This week was all about taking the advice I received last week and applying it to my learning. Advice such as:

  • Play one hand at a time rather than learning everything at once
  • Look for the sharps and flats before I start learning a song
  • Take note of the time signature at the beginning of the sheet music

With the help from my colleagues, YouTube, and piano articles online, I am picking up a lot of skills and knowledge to help me in my piano journey. Since I’ve benefited so much from learning the theory of piano, I took some time to read some more information online in the areas I am struggling in.

Here are some things that stuck with me:

  • Before reading sheet music, I need to “stop and think” before I start playing because “it’s much easier to sight read when you are mentally prepared for everything that shows up in the music” according to Pianissimo.
  • I previously read on Daina’s blog that a metronome helped her play the clarinet. I decided to incorporate it into my practice this week, especially since JoyTunes insists that “learning how to keep time and pace on the piano is one of the most important skills a musician has to develop.” The use of the metronome helped me when I was practicing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the collaborative song that I am doing with Brad. I sent him a recording of the piano chords that I played with the use of the metronome so that he can follow the same beat when he plays the bass part.

I had a very productive week with my piano project! However, I still had a lot of frustrations and struggles as I practiced the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and with recording “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” You can take a look at how my practices went this week in my latest vlog. Enjoy!

The Small Victories:

  • I can almost play the right hand melody of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” without error.
  • I am becoming more fluent with playing piano chords, especially the C, D, E, G and A chords.

The Challenges:

  • When I started playing the right hand melody and the left hand chords together for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, I was unable to keep time and play smoothly. I still need some practice with this!
  • I wanted to play chord inversions instead of the chord triads for “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, but I could only manage doing it for a portion of the song.
  • It took me a long time to practice and record the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” because I am new to recording. I tried using Trackd app to collaborate, but it wasn’t as user friendly as I had hoped. In the end, I successfully recorded it on Garage Band.

The Resources:

  • I continued to use the sheet music from Music Notes to help me learn “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
  • I used the metronome feature on Garage Band and I used my new Yeti Mic to record “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I also used the chord charts on Guitar Tab to practice and play the song.

Goals for Next Week

I can’t believe my project is almost done! Even though I am “almost at the finish line” for the formal part of my Major Learning Project, I know that I will still continue to play the piano for enjoyment after this project is completed. I have so much more to learn and experience when it comes to piano and music in general! One thing I know for sure, is that this project has sparked my love for piano, for music, and for learning.


The Piano Project: Week 5- Back at it!

Last week I took a break from my piano project, but it felt good to get back into it this week. Like Catherine Ready was saying… we are already half way through our learning projects! I can’t believe it! I never anticipated that I would enjoy playing the piano this much. Even though I wish I stuck with piano growing up, it’s an enriching experience learning the piano at an older age. Now when I learn the piano, I am more determined to play the right notes and chords and reach my goals.

This week, I took your votes into account to choose the next song I learned on piano. I had an overwhelming response of… 3 votes! Okay, so maybe not as much input as I would have liked, but the majority still wins.

The winning song was Part of your World from the soundtrack of Little Mermaid. Honestly, I am glad that song won the poll. I remember learning this song when I was in piano lessons at a young age, but I didn’t have as much enthusiasm to learn it because I didn’t enjoy the practicing part of learning piano. I feel like I finally have a do-over… a fresh start… a clean slate!

In order to learn the song, I found sheet music online. I also had to revisit the resources I previously used for learning sheet music, because it was difficult to remember all of the notes at times! I put a lot of effort into actually reading the music, rather than just playing it by ear. After learning the right hand melody on my own, I decided to ask my piano-loving friend, Danielle Maley, to help me learn the proper finger placements for the song and answer other questions I had about the piano.

Since this song was longer than what I was used to playing, and more difficult, I chose to just learn the right hand and pick up the left hand chords next week. The song is not as smooth as I would like it to be, so I will also keep practicing the melody. I still want to become more fluent in reading sheet music, and practicing this song is a good way to do so. Along with Part of Your World, I also learned the E major scale. I now know the C, D, B and E major scale. Even though I have a long way to go, things are coming along, just take a look for yourself!

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

  • My friend Danielle was an awesome resource this week! It was really beneficial to meet with her and work through some of the questions I had
  • I used the mnemonic phrases “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” and “F A C E” to help me remember the notes on the Treble Clef

Goals for Next Week

  • I will keep practicing the proper finger placement and reading the sheet music for Part of Your World and if I am ambitious enough…I want to learn the left hand chords too
  • My plan is to learn the rest of the major scales! All I have left are F, G, and A.
  • Since I didn’t get to this goal this week, I still want to learn and play all major and minor chords comfortably
  • I know the Treble Clef notes, but now I want to learn the Bass Clef notes too

For those of you who are learning instruments for your project… Are you finding it hard to complete your goals within a week? Are my goals too ambitious?

Not only am I learning how to play piano, I am also learning the art of goal setting and working through challenges when skills don’t come as quickly. I am glad that this learning project is a process and we can all go at our own pace. On that note, here’s to another week of goal setting, learning, and celebrating successes!


The Piano Project: Week 4

Sometimes, life doesn’t always go as planned. It can be beautiful one minute, and heartbreaking the next. This week, I received news that a friend of mine passed away. When something like that happens, it makes a piano project seem trivial. It seems to put everything else into perspective and makes everyday tasks seem small. It felt out of place to make a vlog this week detailing the piano notes I learned to read, or the major scales I learned to play. When something tragic happens, all you can really do is reflect, mourn, and feel.

Have you every been there?

This week, instead of making a vlog, I thought I would give myself permission to grieve the loss of a friend. Instead of going through the motions and pretending everything was okay, I wanted to be honest with what I went though this week. In light of the circumstances, I will postpone the goals for my piano project until next week. When death happens, the small things stop… and that’s okay.

I hope this reminds us all to take a step back, hug the ones we love, and when we face tragedy of any kind, may we all give ourselves permission to reflect, mourn, and feel too.

The Piano Project: Week 3- Technology Trials

Has technology ever failed you? Has it ever frustrated you or let you down? Well, this week it did for me. Let me explain…

I was SO excited to have an online lesson with my friend through FaceTime this week. I loved the convenience of learning piano without leaving my house. During the call, I showed her all of the major chords I have learned in the past two weeks, and most recently, the B major chord that I had so much trouble with last week. We talked about goals I was having difficulty achieving, and what I wanted to learn more of.

She spent a lot of time teaching me about chord inversions, which according to Uber Chord, are when “notes of a chord can be reshuffled in any order… (and) will still remain the same chord but no longer be in ‘root position’”. I practiced chord inversions through the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the song that I learned the first week, and played it for her during the call. As she listened to my piano playing, she gave me tips and advice on how to improve my skills.

via giphy

After the call ended, I was thrilled with what I learned from her and how helpful the FaceTime piano experience was. Which brings us to the part in the story where technology failed me.

Did you know that when you use the screen record feature on your iPhone, it doesn’t automatically record the audio?

I probably should have done a little more research before I dove right in. Fortunately, I am going to take this as a learning experience. I did some digging afterwards and found out that all you have to do is change a setting on your phone. Conner Carey lays it out really clearly in his article “How to Screen Record with Audio on an iPhone”. All you have to do is hold the Screen Record button with 3D Touch and click “mic on” for the audio to work when you screen record. It’s as simple as that!

I found another silver lining through all of this. I learned how to overlay a video in iMovie! I watched the tutorial video from CalTalks Tech and quickly picked up on this new skill. Now you can take note of this amazing feature too!

Other than my screen recording mishap, I feel like there was a lot of success this week. I am becoming more comfortable playing notes and chords because of the practice I am doing with scales. I continue to gain more confidence with my skills and I am becoming more fluent with my piano playing. I hope that you notice my improvements and see just how much I have learned in the past three weeks in my latest vlog. Enjoy!

The Small Victories:

  • I can play the B major chord and the B major scale!
  • I learned how to play chord inversions for the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • I figured out how to turn audio on for Screen Recording on the iPhone
  • I learned how to overlay a video onto another clip in iMovie

The Challenges:

  • Technology… enough said
  • Playing more than 3 major chord inversions
  • Reading sheet music properly for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, since I am used to playing piano by ear. Similar to Daina’s experience with the clarinet, I have also “not spent enough time becoming familiar with sheet music”, which makes it hard to understand the notes I am supposed to play

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

Goals for Next Week

  • I want to learn another song with the focus on reading sheet music and using proper finger placement, considering I only played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star again this week
  • I want to have another lesson with someone through FaceTime, Skype, or in person, but with the technology working properly this time!
  • I want to learn and play all major and minor chords comfortably. I was thinking in order to practice the chords, I could get someone to say a chord to me (in person or through FaceTime again), and I will have to play it on the spot with my keyboard.

So my question for you is:

  • What song should I learn next? Should I start preparing a song for Christmas? Should I do a classic? Answer in the poll and I will choose the winner!

I am looking forward to my fourth week of learning piano! It’s been a learning experience so far, especially since I am using a vlog to document my process. Hopefully my improved piano playing skills next week will be music to your ears.


The Piano Project: Week 1- The Struggle Was Real

This week, I focused on the basics with piano because I am fairly new to the instrument. Oh yeah, and did I mention I’m new to vlogging too? That in itself was a learning curve! In my vlog, I share a bit of my process during the first week of my Piano Project. Don’t forget to keep reading after the video because I give some more insight on what I did this week, what challenged me, and what my goals are for next week. Enjoy!

The Small Victories:

  • I learned how to read the notes on the treble clef
  • I successfully played the melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • I learned how to play the chords and melody together for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • I successfully edited my first vlog! (with the help from my friend)
  • I learned how to use the Picture over Picture feature on iMovie

The Challenges:

  • Playing a repetitive song over and over on piano can get frustrating (and annoying) at times
  • Finding time to practice piano on top of homework and teaching can feel overwhelming
  • It’s hard to film yourself for a vlog and not feel ridiculous sometimes!
  • It’s also hard to be authentic and real on camera. Sometimes I would film a clip over and over because I felt like I didn’t look good enough, or I didn’t sound intelligent enough, or I just wasn’t satisfied. In the end though, I went with all of the original clips (what you see is what you get)

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

Goals for Next Week

  • Learn finger placement on the piano
  • Learn the D scale
  • Learn the D, E, F, G, A, B chords
  • Learn another basic song

Stay tuned for more progress, and hopefully, less struggle!