Category Archives: Learning music

Music update

Well, I still like Tango and I still like electrotango / Nuevo tango. However, I have been out of the scene a good while, and listening more to various forms of jazzy lounge stuff, Christian music, piano blues and some classical piano. The piano is because I am thinking about learning to play piano. I invested in a Roland Rubix 22 MIDI box to connect my big mac to my wife’s rather good Casio keyboard. This lets me access the nice sounds that you can make in garage band from the keyboard, and paves the way to connect a serious electronic piano such as the Kawai ES8 – although the ES8 is fabulous as a standalone. I will eventually become the owner of a nice real acoustic upright Yamaha piano, but that may be some years away so if I do start serious lessons – I have a very good teacher lined up – I will need a full-size 88 key piano. The ES8 is one of the more expensive electronic pianos so I would rent it for the first 6 months to be sure I was progressing and it was really for me before buying it. You can rent to buy so all your rental comes off the price when you buy it.

Here are some video links about these items:

Meanwhile, I received an I-tunes voucher as a gift for Christmas from my lovely wife, and I stumbled across some electrotango that I had not heard before. As its from 2016 I realise how out of the scene I have been, so its not new music, but it is new to me, and its so good I want to share it. The album is called DJ Ralph von Richthoven – The Tango Club Night, Vol. 4, There is well over 5 hours of fabulous electrotango in it. Here’s a video and you can buy the album on I-tunes for UKP 9.99 in the UK.

I-tunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/tango-club-night-vol-4-compiled-by-dj-ralph-von-richthoven/1152990341

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Piano progress

Oh my. Last night I practiced C Maj scale and wrote out the positions of the notes on the staves. Today I downloaded and printed off “You Say” the Lauren Daigle hit. I very slowly and painfully figured out and learned and practiced the right and left hand, again and again until… oh wow I can actually, just about, play it. My fingers ache and it does that funny-I -can’t-describe-it-my-brain-hurts thing that your head does when it is learning a motor skill. It actually felt quite emotional, finally achieving something I have wanted to be able to do for many years (actually more than 5 decades).

The weirdest part is I did it in in just 2 days. When I finally got through it with reasonably fluidity and all the right notes it feel like I felt when I danced my very first tango properly and got it right. So I am feeling very encouraged. It is very very early days but I am thinking maybe I really might be able to do this piano thing – assuming my hands hold up.  I’m hoping the aches gradually get less as I develop muscles I haven’t used. I’m struggling to program my brain to sight read the music and translate it into fingers on keys. I have not cracked that yet but I am thinking it will happen as I just keep at it. I am also struggling to make coordinated movements with my fingers to produce the rhythms I can hear in my head but note make the fingers do yet! Did I mention it is hard?

What I am not doing is using any modern electronic cheats or gimmicks. I am doing it absolutely the old-fashioned hard way, plain black and white manual keys and plain black and white notes on paper, because I want to be able to really do this. It is (at least) as hard as I expected but oh my it is also so very rewarding when another bit clicks into place and it starts happening properly.

I am applying all the learning theory that I was taught in Uni , taking breaks, doing bite sized chunks not too big or small, mixing theory and practice, repeating learning at the right intervals and so forth, as this has served me well with physical and mental learning many times in the past. Learning how to learn will save you time and having that skill is not a gimmick. The book I was taught to was called “The Good Study Guide” and it has been updated recently. You can read it for free at my alma mater (The OU)  http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/_data/documents/helpcentre/good-study-guide.pdf

Musical

I have decided to have some piano lessons next year. I don’t yet have a full size electric piano but once I have checked with my piano teacher I will probably get a Kawai ES8. I want portability and as one day I will probably inherit a good Yamaha upright acoustic I don’t want to be buying an acoustic. We already have a nice Casio keyboard and I just bought a Roland Rubix22 box so it now can connect to the big Mac for GarageBand. So I can at least be practicing some basics to hit the ground running. The wee box is nicely held down by a heavy Anglepoise lamp, hidden away but definitely not going anywhere. So as not to drive anyone insane, I can run it all out to some B&O headphones, but using cable rather than Bluetooth as wireless gives a slight delay, whereas wire is instantly responsive.