A Heavy Load

Last week I blogged about altering my sleeping pattern in order to get more out of my day and keep up with my music goals. Here are the reasons why I decided to do this.

where-lots-of-work

Every time I practice my accordion I always create more for myself to practice next time. I like to spend a bit of time improvising as this is such a great tool when it comes to composing. Most of my improvising tends to explore one idea such as a simple chord sequence and rhythm, and then coming up with new melodic ideas that go with this. I’ve also tried playing along to some of my favourite tunes and seeing if I can add anything new to the piece, or at least play the right notes. This combination is how I’ve been creating my parts for the 5 cover songs that we’re currently playing in the band which I joined. Each practice we seem to spend the last 15 – 30 minutes improvising to some simple chords and rhythms, but the rest of the time we work on these covers. As well as practicing these covers I also like to practice and develop the pieces which I’ve been writing for my accordion. I’m hoping to get them to a good enough level where I can play them busking in the summer. But it’s always good to have a few popular songs up your sleeve which people already know, so I’ve also started learning some solo accordion covers. Now this is already a lot of stuff to be practicing, so let’s increase the work load by changing instruments.

The piano. I’ve also noticed myself  improving on the piano and whilst I originally only practiced for 30 minutes to an hour a day, I can now easily sit in front of the piano for 2 hours straight. I’m still practising from the books that I have, but I’ve also been creating compositional ideas by playing around with different chord progressions and melodies, much the same as when I’m improvising on the accordion.

Then there are the online courses that I’ve been taking. I started out just doing one, then I increased it to four and now I’ve managed to get it down to two, which I’ll be keeping it at until probably around June. But that is not enough. I’ve got some music theory books which I’m also reading and working through, plus a tone of tutorial videos on how to use Logic Pro X, which I’ll be starting soon.

Now you can see why I’ve altered my sleep cycle!

Piano Progress

I went home a few weeks ago and had a go on my parents piano. Since then I’ve had a breakthrough moment where I’ve come off book and started making stuff up. They’re mostly just chord progression but nevertheless I feel the improvisational skills and play by ear skills I’ve been teaching myself on the accordion translating across to my piano playing. I’ve still got a long way to go as I’m only on piano book 13/40 in my series. So if I’m already feeling successful now, I can’t wait to hear what I produce after I’ve finished the series.

Upright Piano

I’ll be heading to my parents place again in April for my sisters wedding, so I’ll be able to have another go on the piano then. It’s surprising what a difference there is between a real one and a keyboard.

I’ve Joined A Band

If you didn’t already know, I play the accordion. The term I prefer to use though is “learning the accordion” as I’ve only been playing it 6 months or so, and I’m by no means a pro. But I love playing it and am having fun teaching myself, so eventually I’ll get to the stage where I simply say I play the accordion.

Anyway, I’ve joined a band and last Thursday was our first practice. It was amazing. Perhaps not in performance quality, but if the amount of fun I had was measured in £s, then I’d say I hit the jackpot.

The great thing about it was that none of us had been in a band before and that we were all meeting for the first time. And some of us hadn’t actually been playing for too long on our chosen instruments, which is great because it doesn’t put too much pressure on anyone and gives us all room to grow.

We had 5 songs which we all briefly looked at/listened to before. I made myself a chord sheet for each to prompt myself, which I shared with everyone, and spent about an hour going through them by myself before we met up. I first started off with the left hand, making sure I was playing the right chords and then built a rhythm into it. Then I tried making something up with the right hand, before attempting to bring them both together. I then built on all this when we practiced together.

I found that after the first practice I’d already felt an improvement in my playing. Each time I play a new piece then the hardest thing I find is playing two different rhythms with two different hands. However, once I’ve got the hang of one set of rhythms I can pretty much play any series of notes using that set of rhythms. But change the rhythm to just one hand and if it’s a rhythm set I’ve not played before then I’m back to square one, playing both hands really slowly together and then speeding it up. Because of the songs we were playing, it meant I had to play a lot of different sets of rhythms which I had not played before. But thankfully I picked them up pretty quickly. I still needed a bit more practice on my own of some of these but the ground work was there, so I’ve been practicing all week and I can play them a lot smoother now.

I can also move a lot easier around the chords on the left side of my accordion, as I sometimes had to move up or down several rows. This is particularly difficult because I can’t actually see my left hand and only one of the 48 buttons feels different. The rest of the buttons feel identical, so it can be pretty easy to get lost.

I got back home about 23:15 and couldn’t get to sleep for hours because I was buzzing too much after the practice. So I’m sure it’ll be another restless night tonight, as we’ve got our second practice later this evening.