Learning

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 18

Week 18

Grade

Not the best week. Still recovering from a cold so I wasn’t able to sit in front of the piano. I found myself comparing my current skills to a far better piano player and I felt down about it. I have to remind myself to compare myself to who I was yesterday and not to someone else today.

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Studying Time - 2 Hours

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A Goal For Next Week.

I’m going to take a break from piano next week and focus on improving my touch typing skills. I’ve always wanted to increase my words-per-minute whilst typing. It’ll be interesting to see if all this time in front of a piano has helped with the dexterity of my fingers.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 17

Week 17

Grade

Not the best week. I’ve been travelling all over and have been feeling a little bit poorly lately. I’m surprised I managed to get any time in front of the piano at all. Still, no excuses!

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Studying Time - 3 Hours

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Video Updates

What Did I Learn?

I’ve now memorised the entire piece, I just need to work on speed, timing and finger placement.

What Did I Struggle With?

The last two bars. It can get quite confusing when my hands start overlapping on one another.

A Goal For Next Week.

Be confident with the piece and complete it once and for all.

Recommended Reading.

A great article about deliberate practice and how to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Read: (Deliberate) practice makes perfect: how to become an expert in anything.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 16

Week 16

Grade

Not the best week with my deliberate practice, I wasn’t able to prioritise time in front of the piano. Going to try and pick it up next week.

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Studying Time - 5 Hours

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What Did I Accomplish?

I finally reached the end of the piece! I played it horribly but I’m chuffed that I managed it. I just need to refine everything and work on my weak points.

What Did I Struggle With?

This

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A Goal For Next Week.

Record myself playing the entire piece. Regardless of how bad it will be.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 15

Week 15

Grade

I managed to spend more time in front of the piano this week and I could definitely hear a difference. Going to try and keep this up!

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Studying Time - 8.5 Hours

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Video Updates

What Did I Struggle With?

Timing. I can’t play a certain section fast enough so I need to slow it down and gradually speed it up.

A Goal For Next Week.

Get to the end of the piece. I’m just 2 bars away!

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 14

Week 14

Grade

I managed to fit in 7 hours worth of deliberate practice with the piano and I can definitely see improvement this week. I need to figure out how I can figure out more time in front of the piano!

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Studying Time - 7 Hours

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Video Updates

What Did I Struggle With?

Getting my fingers to do what I need them to do. I know the cure for this is to constantly keep practicing.

A Goal For Next Week.

Try and learn this:

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Learning Jazz Piano: Week 13

Week 13

Grade

Spent the whole week working on one piece. I’m getting more confident with it, but I’ve slowed down as I’ve reached the more complex parts.

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Studying Time - 6.5 Hours

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Video Updates

What Did I Struggle With?

This page!

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A Goal For Next Week.

Try and reach the end of page 2. Even if it’s played poorly.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 12

Week 12

Grade

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Sometimes I feel that I’m being too hard on myself with the grading system. I’ve studied 6+ hours this week and I still rate myself with a ‘D’. Saying that, maybe it’s a good thing as I’m pushing myself to practice more.

Studying Time - 6.5 Hours

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Video Updates

A Goal For Next Week.

Attempt to learn the entire ‘Mia & Sebastian’ piece.

Recommended Reading.

Doing Dumb Things — AKA — The Most Important Thing I Learned at UCLA Was How to Properly Waste My Time.

An article that validates ‘wasting’ your time on dumb things.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 11

Week 11

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 5 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

A little bit of improvisation, but I wanted to focus on “Mia & Sebastian's Theme”. I’ve given myself a little deadline of learning it by the end of the year. Hopefully, I can do it in half the time.

What Did I Struggle With?

Dedicating more time to sitting in front of the piano.

Recommended Reading.

“Why Following Your Passion Isn’t Always Enough” - An interesting read!

Further Thoughts.

I’ve been on a slump with the amount of time I can dedicate to learning Jazz piano and I’ve noticed it with my ability to play. Next week I aim to dedicate at least 8 hours a week to learning piano. Otherwise, I’m going to go nowhere.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 10

Week 10

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 7 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

Practicing improvisation

Video Updates

I’m still trying to understand jazz modes and how to incorporate them whilst improvising. I feel like I’m slowly understanding the theory aspect, but improvising on a piano is a whole different ball game.

What Did I Struggle With?

Being able to hold down a bass line on the left hand and improve on the right.

A Goal For Next Week.

Start tackling ‘Mia and Sebastian's theme’ again.

Recommended Reading.

“I’m willing to be bad for as long as it takes, until I’m good….I don’t have a sense of shame.”

An article that talks about the willingness to look stupid in order to learn new skills. This is something I’ve slowly started to embrace.

You can read the article here: A willingness to be bad

Further Thoughts.

There are so many aspects to cover when learning an instrument. Sight-reading, improvisation an endless amount of song pieces. I’d like to get better at improvisation and so I want to spend more time on it. It’ll probably mean that my sight-reading skills will be lacking - as well as other aspects to my piano playing - but I’m willing for that to happen as long as my improve skills get stronger.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 9

Week 9

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 6 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

Tackling jazz modes.

What Did I Struggle With?

The theory behind improvisation.

A Goal For Next Week.

Have a better understanding of jazz modes.

Further Thoughts.

I’ve gone down a worm-hole of learning jazz modes, it’s a fascinating subject that fries my mind at the end of each study session. I’m progressing slowly, but I understand that I need to master this element to help make me a better jazz player.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 8

Week 8

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 7.5 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

Learning jazz modes.

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Video Updates

Working on the piece, “Fly Me To The Moon.” Timing is sightly off and I need to figure out how to solo properly.

What Did I Struggle With?

Being able to solo.

I don’t understand the theory behind it. Getting to grips with jazz modes should help me with that.

A Goal For Next Week.

Get more confident with modes and soloing

Further Thoughts.

Keystation 49

I bought myself a midi keyboard to help me with my learning. There are a few useful learning programs that utilise a midi connection. Also, it’ll allows me to practice without disturbing the whole household as I can plug in headphones. It doesn’t compare to an upright piano, but it’ll be another useful tool to help me learn jazz piano.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 7

Week 7

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 6.5

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What Did I Work On?

Got back to the grade 3 syllabus and started learning “Fly Me To The Moon."

What Did I Struggle With?

Reading rhythm.

A Goal For Next Week.

Try to finish the piece,

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 6

Week 6

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

My first A! It makes up for the no show last week.

My first A! It makes up for the no show last week.

Studying Time - 12.5 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

Theory, Scales, Arpeggios and a bit of La La Land.

Video Updates

I had the ‘La La Land’ soundtrack in my head so I thought I’d spend some time on it this week.

What I’ve learned.

How to fix a sustain pedal! Earlier this week I managed to break the sustain pedal on the upright piano. Rather than paying someone to have a look at it, I thought I’d open up the piano and fix it myself. After a few minutes of opening up the piano and fiddling around, I figured out what the problem was and I sorted it out.

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What Did I Struggle With?

The practice of playing to a metronome is somewhat difficult (and annoying!). I know in the long run it’ll be good for me so I have to keep it up.

A Goal For Next Week.

Start learning a song on the Jazz Grade 3 syllabus.

Best Learning Tips.

Always practice to a metronome. It’ll help with rhythm and timing.

Further Thoughts.

This week I’ve strayed away from the Jazz Grade 3 syllabus to practice a song that I wanted to learn for myself. I realise with the time constraints that I’ve given myself, it’s probably best to get back on the syllabus and try and get as much done as humanly possible.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 5

Week 5

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 0 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

Absolutely nothing. This week was a little bit different, with it being the wedding week of a close friend I made the decision to enjoy the moment and put learning piano to the side. 

A Goal For Next Week.

Start working on the grade 3 pieces.

Further Thoughts.

I don't feel guilty not working on my studies this week as I had more important matters to attend to. Everything should go back to normal in the next few days and I should have better posts to update you on.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 4

Week 4

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 3.5 Hours

What Did I Work On?

This week was quite tricky as I was unable to get any time in front of a piano, so I tried to focus on theory and work on my sight-reading. As you can see from the chart above, it didn't go too well.

What Did I Struggle With?

Committing to learning.

Further Thoughts.

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting somewhere in the south of France with no piano in sight. I'm currently here for the week celebrating a wedding, so I'm going to be a bit lenient with my studies and accept that I won't be able to get much done. I'll pick it back up when I get back.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 3

Week 3

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 6 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

After randomly listening to 'Jealous' by Labrinth, I felt inspired to try and learn the piano parts. I found a (free) music sheet and read it at a painfully slow pace. Nonetheless, it was good to see where I am with sight reading. I'm not great, but I'm getting there!

Video Updates

A little clip of me playing the piece. This is after about 3 hours of practice.

What Did I Struggle With?

Sight reading quickly.

A Goal For Next Week.

Since I won't have a piano in front of me next week, it'll be to focus on the theory side of music.

Further Thoughts.

I thought I'd break up the monotony of scales and arpeggios and try to learn a song. Sight-reading was slow and painful, but I got there in the end. 

Still got a long way to go!

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 2

Week 2 - Circle of fifths.

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 7 Hours

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What Did I Work On?

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Circle of fifths. A method to help you understand all the keys on the piano.

What Did I Learn?

A piano exercise that helped me learn the circle of fifths. 

What Did I Struggle With?

Dedicating more time on the piano.

A Goal For Next Week.

Get comfortable with arpeggios.

Useful Article.

"There is nothing more valuable than the practical skills you can learn when you throw yourself into the deep end of a venture."

An article that talks about the art of learning a new skill.

Further Thoughts.

Working on scales and music theory can get boring but it's essential that I continue working on it as I need to get my foundations strong, I know I'm going to need it later on.

Learning Jazz Piano: Week 1

Week 1 - And so it begins...

A - 12 hours, B - 10 hours, C - 8 hours, D - 6 hours, E - 4 hours, F - 2 hours

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Studying Time - 11.5 hours

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What Did I Work On?

Scales. An endless amount of scales.

Video Updates

End of week review of where I am with my scales.

What Did I Struggle With?

Sight reading, which is the reading and performing of a piece of music. It's like learning another language. Fortunately, I have experience with this.

A Goal For Next Week.

Get to grips with the circle of fifths.

Useful Article.

An article that outlines how I pay for my learning.

Starting Point

I'm not starting as a complete novice. When I was seven my parents forced me to learn classical piano. After a handful of classes, I went home crying to my parents telling them that I didn't want to continue. Unfortunately, I got my way and to this day I regret not sticking with it. Throughout the years I've taught myself chords and always played by ear, but I never was confident in calling myself a musician because I didn't know the theory behind it. Hopefully, by the end of this project, I would have settled that.

Learning Jazz Piano: Introduction.

Time for a change.

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After dedicating 10 months to learning Swedish I have decided to move on and focus my attention on a new skill, jazz piano.

Although I didn't reach the level of fluency in another language I am able to converse at a basic level. I've learned a lot about the process of learning a new language and I will take that with me when I break down the skill of learning an instrument.

Grade 3 in 3 Months.

I always remind myself of what Robert Greene said,

"Give yourself arbitrary deadlines to meet certain standards, constantly push yourself past perceived limits."

With that being said, I too want to set far-fetched goals and push myself past my limits. In three months I managed to learn enough Swedish to surprise my girlfriend, this time, I want to attain a grade 3 level in jazz piano.

Can it be done? Who knows. I guess we'll find out.

What will happen to my Swedish?

I really enjoyed learning a new language and it's something that I'll still be using whilst conversing with my girlfriend. Although I won't be studying the language as intensely as before, I'm sure the skill will not go to waste. Even though I didn't reach my goals I learned a lot along the way. Below are a few links that highlight my Swedish learning journey.

Surprising my girlfriend.

10-month Swedish progress.

An infographic of my journey.