Pamela – Piano Lesson – 2017.02.20

Pamela’s musical background:

  • Took ~2 years of piano lesson while still a child
  • Played clarinet (first chair) each year in high school
  • Hasn’t played music in 40 years and has been longing to play piano
  • Wants to play songs of the 1950’s from her piano book
  • Enjoys and wants to play light rock, light jazz, christian music… easy flowing, emotional music especially
  • Enjoys listening to the Johnny Mann Singers & Ray Coniff Singers

Musical Aspirations

  • Wants to play to entertain herself
  • Improvement of left hand playing ability
  • Improvement of bass clef sight reading
  • Wants to increase knowledge and recognition of music notation symbols
  • Wants to play mostly via sight-read music
  • Wants to play music from memory
    • Not as interested in playing by ear
    • Improvisation is a lower priority than sight-read music
  • Wants to play piano in church worship team
  • Wants to be able to pick up almost any sheet music for own entertainment
  • Wants to learn and pick out music that focuses on improving left hand technique

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • If you play a “wrong note” you’re almost always 1 half-step away from playing the right note!
  • Biggest challenge currently is playing and reading bass clef lines with left hand
  • Before starting to play any piece of music via sight-reading, be sure to inspect all of the music, including notation for volume, tempo, repeats, etc
  • Use a metronome as much as possible while practicing
  • Keep both hands on the piano, preparing each hand for the upcoming music
  • If you’re ever feeling bored with you music practice, do something to make the piece more challenging for you
    • For example, play the piece at a faster tempo to force your mind to focus
  • Try to keep your eyes on the music literature at all times, instead of the piano keys

Bass Clef Practice:

  1. Point to each note, say the note name out loud, without tempo
  2. Point to each note, say the note name out loud, with tempo
  3. Play each left hand (bass) note on the piano, say the note name out loud, without tempo
  4. Play each left hand (bass) note on the piano, say the note name out loud, with tempo
  5. Play each note on the piano with both hands, say the note names out loud, without tempo
  6. Play each note on the piano with both hands, say the note names out loud, with tempo

Tempo Practice:

Play through your music piece, using a metronome, while counting out loud with the main beats

  • In 4/4, say “1-2-3-4” while playing
  • In 6/8, say “1-2-3-4-5-6” while playing
  • In 3/4, say “1-2-3” while playing

Major Scale:

All major scales are organized as follows:

  • Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step
  • W-W-H-W-W-W-H
    • Example 1: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
    • Example 2: F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F
    • Example 3: G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G
    • Example 4: Db-Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb-C-Db
    • Example 5: A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-A

Practice these scales for yourself to be sure that it is always true!

Proper Hand Placement:

This is very similar to typing on a computer keyboard (or even a typewriter!)

“Find That Note” Challenge:

  • Close your eyes
  • Try to find all the groups of 2 black keys going up the keyboard, left to right
  • Try to find all the groups of 3 black keys going down the keyboard, right to left
  • Try to find all of one specific note on the keyboard, for example, all of the C notes or F notes

Websites to Practice Music Symbols: is one of my all-time favorite music practice websites

Piano Notation reference website:

  • Includes information about music dynamics (piano, forte, etc), rests, notes, and so much more!

For Next Lesson:

  • Practice 1-2 hours per day on your digital piano
    • Focus on bass clef practice, as noted above, using your current music books
  • note naming exercise (at least 10 minutes per day):
  • key signature naming exercise (at least 5 minutes per day):
  • Bring music books and hymnal to next lesson
  • Look through sheet music at church and select the songs you want to learn how to play