Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hello, I’m a self-taught person who plays piano

Pianos are one of the most popular and beautiful instruments around. Just think about it: Those black and white keys have the ability to play any kind of emotion, any kind of singsong tune. It’s amazing! And once you learn how to play, it’s hard to stop. You can sing along to your favorite songs or rock out on classic classical. It’s no wonder I started to play piano.

Okay, so before I tell you my thought process that went into this decision of self-teaching myself, let me give you some kind of background. Everyone has their own story.

So, my interest started back in kindergarten. Someone had given us a keyboard, and I was fully aware of this new toy in our house. I tried playing songs at that time, but back then I was hoping that when I placed my fingers on the keys something would just happen. Nope. I wondered how music came out of this thing. Did one just randomly press keys? Because when I tried doing that to “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”, it wasn’t working out. And off I went telling my mom.

Turns out that my mom had been taught piano when she was younger, and was quite good. She hadn’t known the notes though, because she had learned by Do-Re-Mi (which I still don’t get to this day). Nonetheless, she agreed to teach me. We went and bought some random beginner piano books, and started playing. I had to learn the notes on my own, and so far I had barely known the G Clef. I would read the lessons and fill out the worksheets and follow the directions and strictly obey whatever the hell that book told me to do. I taped a piece of paper with the notes on it on the wall, and taped the note names down on the piano keys. Now I realize that relying solely on those notes instead of my memory was not the best idea, but I got along. I would learn the songs and play them to my mom, and when I got the “ok” to go ahead, I did. That was the start of my piano adventure.

Eventually, sometime after first grade, mom’s job got in the way. She stopped teaching, and I slowly stopped committing. It wasn’t until fifth grade that I started being interested again. That’s when I began band. Since we had to actually memorize the notes this time, I started to play better on piano. Using my friend’s old piano lesson books, I taught myself once again out of those. And somewhere along the way, I learned the Bass Clef.

I finally convinced my mom to enroll me in piano lessons in 6th grade. We even bought an actual piano! During those two years of piano lessons, I learned the basics and discovered that I didn’t perform well in front of crowds. I would start to shake, freeze up, get all stiff, panic, break a cold sweat, the works. But God knows that I worked hard. Once again, I was a late-starter. I’m used to being one of those. It’s a disadvantage, but I always pull through.

My first idea to self-teach was at my cousins’ house. They are two sisters, who have a natural ability to play. In and around the piano were scattered books and sheet music, remnants of how much time is spent there daily. Like me, their mother also used to play the piano. They were self-taught, and have turned out just fine. They took formal lessons briefly when they were older, but the majority of their years were purely independent. As I looked through piano books, a saw notes-to-self scribbled along the margins, and pencil marks dotting the staffs like ants . Their mom led them through a piano book filled with progressive songs that got more difficult farther into its pages, and they continued to and worked hard to keep on playing.

When I started talking to them about piano, I discovered that they had learned things through self-teaching that most likely wouldn’t be found in a formal class. Like me, they have found out that along the lines you gradually start to gather little nuggets of information here and there. You find things out on your own, you figure things out on your own, and you get wiser on your own time. I can’t explain it, but somehow all of the knowledge collected throughout studying and experience will piece itself together. My mom told me that she’s noticed a pattern; those she knows who have taken lessons when they were younger have long forgotten how to play, although the people who have taught themselves still play to this day (like my cousins and my uncle). They can play any time and anywhere, and most of them use some sort of chord technique to play. I have just started to delve into chords on my own. Because of studying genuinely based off of their own interests and decisions, it seems that they have developed a deeper¬† ground with their music. Of course, this pattern doesn’t apply to everyone, especially if a student is practicing to become a concert pianist or something close to that when he grows up. Or maybe they just have a born gift. I don’t know.¬† All I’m saying is that self-teaching isn’t half bad if you have the discipline to stick with it.

Finally, that life story is over. Moving on.

Here would be my most general guidelines for self-teaching piano, or basically trying to achieve any sort of goal in mind. This especially helps if you were born an introspective freak who over-analyzes things to the point of stress and frustration (That’s me!)

  1. Strong Determination Commit people! You aren’t going to become a genius __________ overnight. Don’t give up. Be a bull, be a big, bad bull!
  2. If You Love It, Why Stop? Eventually, if you think positive and keep moving forward, there’s no way you can’t improve, am I right? Just keep on swimming, keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swimming, swimming
  3. Set Goals GOAL WRITING ISN’T FOR WEENIES! It’s what gives you a drive to accomplish, some kind of motivation to keep going. Make it personal, and reward yourself with a victory donut when you succeed. If you don’t write your goals down, they are only wishes waiting to come true. (A little cheesy, but true) I keep post-its on my wall with a bunch of goals. And when I finish, I keep it to track my progress. Make goals positive and specific. Decide whether it will be long term or short term.Look up goal setting on the internet, there are tons of information about it.
  4. Never Think You Are The Best otherwise there will be no room for improvements
  5. Be Inspired Spark your imagination. Try to have your goals be always on your mind. This way you’ll always see opportunities to learn from. Things to do? Practice, find a role model, record tips, look up videos on youtube about interests, order books, anything to get you closer to what you want to be. Be proactive.

And Good Luck!

Honoring Tyler Clementi

Although I may not know all the details, I do know that this incident has brought together a whole nation. Strung by the lines of sorrow, mourning, faith, and even a flicker of hope, the death of Tyler Clementi represents more than just a simple hate crime. It brings up all things that others definitely need to be paying more attention to: bullying, equality, suicide, gay rights…

Inequity in a world where all of us are ultimately human beings.

I don’t think that those two students had a right to do what they did. What started out as probably a joke ended up as an indelible wrong. They probably didn’t mean for it to go as far as it did. On the other hand, if the suicide didn’t happen, who knows how much farther they would have gone? What were they expecting to achieve by exposing someone on the internet, which they had absolutely no business in?

I don’t know.

It still shocks me that something so tragic has happened so near to where I live. People don’t expect nation wide matters to happen near a peaceful, quiet town. It has caught everyone off guard. It is also a harsh lesson everybody needs to learn from, so we can prevent things like this from happening ever again.

In memory of Tyler Clementi

Forever Remembered

Future of tomorrow

a warm candle in our hands

trying to forget the sorrow

that passes like a heavy smoke

Though there is hope in our sad eyes

illuminating the night like a flame

that drags out before us

with weary hands