Monday, July 24, 2006

One Cool Secret about Learning Piano That I Learned on My Houseboat

At this moment, the temperature in Chico, California is 107 F. It's headed for a high of 111 F today. For many of the days of summer, the daytime temperature here is in triple digits. Pam and I seek relief from this heat by heading to our houseboat on Lake Oroville.

I love being out on the lake in the summer. If I had an Internet connection out there, I doubt I'd ever come into the office until October. Actually, there is one other creature comfort, besides the Internet, that the houseboat lacks. A piano.

It's not inconceivable to have a portable keyboard out there. It's just I never got around to shopping for one. But I still play music out there (along with Pam on clarinet) thanks to two other instruments, a guitar and a melodica.

I've played the guitar since I was about 12 years old. I'm pretty good, but I'm not really good because I can't really figure the thing out. Piano makes sense to me. Guitar is a mystery. So all I really do with the guitar is play chords while Pam plays her clarinet. So together, we make a band (of sorts).

Pam bought me a melodica last November for our anniversary. For those who don't know, a melodica is a miniature keyboard that you blow into while you finger the keys. It has about two and a half octaves, and sounds like a cross between a harmonica and an accordion.

Whenever I learn a new song in the winter, I learn it all at once, on the piano. Whenever I learn a new song in the summer, on the houseboat, I learn it two ways--once on the guitar, and then again on the melodica. So why am I making a point of this?

It turns out that this method of learning songs became my secret new breakthrough. Instead of learning new songs on the piano where I'm trying to do everything at once, I'm now learning the parts separately.

Next time, I'll explain why this has really helped my playing.

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