insight from playing a piano duet to reading music

30 Jan

This weekend, I’ve been practicing a piano duet with one of my really dear friends. We performed today at church and this was a first for many things and also a last. I’ve never performed a piano duet until now. I played the primo and Conky played the secondo. Now I know things that I never knew before, such as the terminology, primo and secondo. Today was the first time I was not nervous to perform in front of other people. Maybe it’s because I had the I-don’t-care attitude and also because playing with a second person takes off the pressure of playing by yourself. It’s a lot more fun playing four hands on the piano, or in this case, three hands. This might also be the very last time I get to play music with Conky since she’s leaving and I couldn’t be more sad about this.

People came up to us afterwards to say thank you for the music and also to say we did a good job. Deep down, I felt guilty for a few reasons. I was given a very short notice to play this duet and I only wish I could have practiced and spent more time going over this song. Conky, who has taken exams and diligently studied the piano can sight read notes with ease. I took piano lessons from the age of 3 until about 14. I stopped after my favourite piano teacher couldn’t teach me anymore. In a way, I thought I was at a level where I could handle any sheet music that crossed my path. Since then, my piano practicing has fluctuated from periodic practicing to deserting the piano. This particular song wasn’t hard to play if I was given at least a week. But going over the music, I couldn’t sight read this piece. I wrote down every single note in red ink. The end result turned into a bigger mess. It’s true that what you don’t use, you lose. I don’t pick up sheet music very often. Instead, I learn a few songs here and there, learn a few patterns, chords, improvise and write a few parts of a song every now and then. I realized I’ve lost the ability to sight read. It reminds me of learning a language or reading a book. You have to keep practicing in order for speed and understanding to pick up. I have always struggled with sight reading, but now I am struggling more than ever. My current guitar teacher, Mat told me I should play with musicians more advanced than me. My World Music teacher gave this same advice to all her students. Playing with Conky on levels beyond me has helped me awake from my musician’s soul. I’ve watched her playing techniques and interpreting sheet music. And I see her deep passion for the piano. A reality of all this is I need to dedicate more time to the piano.

I keep going back to the things I’ve learned from my former guitar teacher, Jeremy. I remember one time I asked him if there’s more to learn. He said there’s always more. This seems obvious, but I never thought about how there is always more to learn. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything and if there were, I would spend all my waking hours playing and listening to music. I’ve tried to find at least 15 minutes everyday to practice the guitar. 15 minutes is better than nothing, but if I want to develop and go beyond my current playing skills, I won’t go far. From now on, I want to challenge myself. I want to devote more time to music in general. But more specifically, I want to spend more time practicing the piano and guitar. Although I do enjoy writing parts of songs, which I hope will one day evolve into songs, I want to play more off of sheet music on the piano. For the guitar, I want to learn more songs by ear. All this being said, this has been a soulfully, music driven weekend. I’ve learned a lot and I’m so grateful and happy I was able to play a piano duet with my musical/nerdy friend. I’ve enjoyed every moment and I would do this all over again if I could.

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