Monday, February 18, 2013

Simply Music and Creativity Beyond Compare




Roland Digital Piano


On the Monday after I completed my Artist Residency at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC, I had my first piano lesson.....after a very long break from my childhood lessons.  

During the years between these two events, I developed this feeling that I could play the piano much like someone who plays by ear but that was not the case.  I kept feeling that there was some veil between me and being able to play and if I could just find my way through that barrier I would be able to play and express myself musically.  I had no idea that on a very real level that was actually possible.

Back in the fall I was looking over a listing of courses to be taught through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute here in Clemson.  You may be familiar with OLLI as it is called which is a national organization with branches around the US.  The focus of this group is to promote life long learning for mature adults in both academic and recreational pursuits and share that with others.  A course titled Simply Music caught my eye.  This course was an introduction to the piano and it is taught in an unusual way - First you learn to play.  Then you learn to read and write music.  

This technique was founded by Australian Neil Moore and is now taught worldwide.  I met the teacher, Elaine Fredendall and decided to begin lessons in February.  Elaine is an excellent teacher.  Enthusiastic, experienced, and fun.  We share a love of the creative process and at the end of my first lesson she loaned me a book, Creativity Beyond Compare by Forrest Kinney.  Kinney is a pianist, composer, educator who himself has developed a program which teaches piano in a unique manner called Pattern Play. 

I had the book just overnight so I quickly read through the parts Elaine had underlined and the chapter introductions.  This convinced me I needed a copy.  The book is out of print so you will need to find a used copy.  ( I have learned that the book IS NOT out of print.  You can purchase a copy at : http://patternplay.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=89) This book talks about creativity in ways I haven't read before although I have formulated many of the same thoughts myself while both working as an artist and as a teacher.

The basic premiss of the book is that we are born to create but much of our education has convinced us that only special people have talent.  Only special people can paint, or play music or be wonderful dancers, writers, etc.  His point of view is one where these gifts are there for those who work to find them.  No, he isn't suggesting that we will all do everything equally but.....well you just need to get a copy if there is something you have been wanting to do and are fearful or before you sign your child up for lessons (of any type) to be told he/she doesn't have any talent.  

Today I will have lesson three.  I have learned two pieces and I have written a second ending to one of those pieces.  I've played an amazing duet with Elaine in which I improvised my part....and it sounded great!  The goal is to be able to play, from memory, 50 pieces at the end of a year.  Only 48 more to go.


The piano pictured above is the style of piano I choose.  It is a Roland and fits nicely in the corner of my dining room.  These pianos are lightweight, affordable and fun.  Because the piano is digital, I can put on a headset and play without driving anyone nuts.  Maybe when I can play 100 songs I'll get the Bosendorfer Emperor with the golden cherub riding a fish.



Bosendorfer Emperor

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Thank You Thank You
for spending time at studio 24-7!
I love hearing from and I promise not to play too loud.
Remember, Commenting is FREE!!!

11 comments:

  1. How exciting!! How long are you playing every day? What songs have you learned? Keep us posted!

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    1. Thank you Kathy, I will keep you informed. I have been practicing first thing in the morning and then short sessions throughout the day and before bedtime. The music is not anything you would know but rather the pieces are written to familiarize the student with the piano, the sounds and the relationships. The music is played with both hands from the very beginning. There is a book of musical notation but you are not encouraged to use that in the beginning. Rather, you are taught to memorize the pieces, improvise on the pieces, build confidence in yourself as having musical ability and much later you are taught to read and play other people's music. You have a lesson which is supported by CD's for reinforcement at home. These CDs teach each piece and each piece is played in several ways. The program is strong on the creative potential of the student as a musician and writer rather than on becoming a performer of traditional works. I think this is why I was attracted to trying this. There are small children who have lesson before and after my lesson and I love watching what they can do and the pleasure and confidence the lessons give.

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  2. I am more than impressed with your life.

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    1. You are a sweetie. I do occasionally have a good day. xo, T

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  3. Great! I started playing the piano at the late age of almost 30 (I had been playing violin and viola before) and have been taking lessons on and off since then and absolutely love it. But I will try to get a copy of this book, this sounds like a very interesting approach, because I always take very long to learn to play a piece so that it satisfies me. Good luck, have fun, and don't wait too long to get the Bösendorfer. I started on an upright, but got myself a grand piano after just over a year. Makes such a difference!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! Wow! a grand piano. I know you are loving it. Simply Music does allow students from the very first to play music that sounds good while learning to move around the piano, learn patterns, and build skills at listening all while having a good. Congratulations for following your passion.

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  4. Terry, serendipitious to read this on your blog. I've been thinking so much about how I love to sing and to make music; played the piano as a teenager and find myself longing to play an instrument. But I told myself it's too late, I'm too old (I know I know, smack on the head for that thought!) Banjo and folk songs? Guitar and Joni Mitchell tunes? Or piano and all the jazz and classical works I also love?? Is it not just amazing how that wellspring of creativity wants to voice itself in every way imaginable?! I'm loving that you are following that urge to play and in this digital age, what a great option the Roland is. You're amazing.

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    1. Thanks you Jeanne! Great to hear from you. By all means, find a teacher and pursue your desire to express your musical side. Since my childhood lessons I have owned an organ, a ukelele, a much smaller digital piano, an accordion and a drum...but I've never had a teacher! The Simply Music system is perfect for me as it immediately encourages and supports creativity while you are building your skills. I look forward to hearing about your musical adventures. It's never too late.xo, T

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  6. Well done Terry. Congratulations of taking on expanding your natural musicality. Keep playing and trust the process. You're in great hands with Elaine, she's a wonderful person and a fantastic teacher.

    Neil Moore

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    1. Wow! Hello Neil!!! How gracious of you to comment. You have developed an amazing system to teach piano (and I believe accordion). If I had been taught this way as a child I would never have stopped. I just finished a session at the piano working on further improvisation for Night Storm. I can't believe I can begin to do this after a total of 3 lessons!!!

      Elaine is just excellent. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful person and teacher trained to share Simply Music.

      Thank you for stopping by. Terry

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