When I began my keyboard lessons, Jay told me that "the most important thing to remember is that Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge". I was confused and asked him what boys and fudge have to do with playing a musical instrument? Well his mnemonic devices helped me learn the lines and spaces of the treble and base clefs quickly and easily. The hard part was recognizing the notes quickly and getting my fingers to do exactly what I wanted them to do, when I wanted them to do it. There's a lot going on at the same time! Recognize the note on the sheet music, find the right note on the keyboard, hold it for the correct length of time, do or do not use the damper pedal... Okay, this is hard!
During the first month, I spent so much time just leaning the proper techniques, practicing scales, and playing simple songs such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had a Little Lamb (and why would anyone want to sing about being Down in the Valley anyway). I kept asking Jay when we would get to the fun part. He kept telling me to just keep practicing, and he promised it would pay off. So I did. I practiced 2 hours a day like he told me to, and sometimes more. It became easier to play the scales and to play the notes from sheet music. I got to play songs that were a little bit more complicated, but they were still songs that people sang like 100 years ago.
Jay asked me if I wanted to learn how to play by ear, as well as read music. I said that I thought that was something that only musical geniuses could do. He told me that some people are naturally gifted and can pick that up right away, but he said that some people can be taught. He told me that I had a good ear and that he could teach me. I told him yes, I wanted to learn to play by ear. He told me that there would be a lot more work. I was ready for it. I learned the 12 major chords and I learned about chord progressions. Jay gave me charts and diagrams and there was a lot of memorization. One day, Jay gave me the assignment of picking out a popular song that's a favorite of mine, listening to the chorus, playing the melody of the chorus on the keyboard, and writing the notes down on a piece of paper. He told me to make sure that I had a recording of the song at our next lesson. I did as he instructed. It was pretty easy to listen to the melody and play it.
At my next lesson, Jay told me to look at the notes that I had written and to tell me what key the song was in. I didn't answer right way, but then I recognized that there were no sharps or flats, so I said "Is it C?" Then Jay told me to play the melody with my right hand, and to try the common chord progressions for the key of C with my left. I hummed the song as I played, and I found a progression that fit! I was actually playing the song, and it actually SOUNDED LIKE THE SONG! "OMG! I'm playing my favorite song!" Jay was excited, too. He told me that this is his favorite part of teaching, when all of the hard work pays off and it all clicks, and the fun part begins. He told me that of course, I still had a lot to learn and a lot of practicing to do. He told me that he would teach me some embellishments that would really make the song sound good.
Jay instructed me that for my next lesson, I should write down the notes of the melody for the rest of my song, and below those notes to write the chords, and to practice my song (but don't forget to practice my scales and practice my sheet music songs). Well, playing my favorite song will not be work at all for me. I am so excited!
Jay told me that I have a nice singing voice and that I should try out for the performing choir when school starts. Really? Me? That's not something that I had considered before. I guess I sort of frowned because then he said that he thinks it will be a good fit for me, since I like to perform and I love music. He told me that many of their musical numbers include choreographed moves, and he told me I would be really good at that part. He told me that they also read sheet music, and that I would learn some music theory. I told him that I would consider it.
When school starts, we will continue the lessons, but we will cut back to 1 lesson per week, and I will cut my practice time back to an hour a day, 6 days a week.