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unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:44 pm
by rookie
Well, my harp learning started to come on apace a while ago, so of course, I went right out and bought a keyboard which practically killed it off right away.
But anyway, possessing as I do no musical knowledge (some say talent) whatsoever, I got a couple of beginners' books but never quite got comfortable with them - partly as I have no inclination to play the likes of Row Your Boat and assorted Abba crap.
So a month or two ago I got hold of that David Barret Cohen DVD - Improvising Blues Piano 1, I think its called - and it really blew me away. Starts you off with a typical 12 bar shuffle - with the right hand pretty much echoing what the left's doing - and I've more or less got two variations on that nailed down. Am absolutely delighted - never in my wildest dreams thought I would be able to play anything like that - I could die tomorrow a happy man.
But here, finally, is the question - I've tried to move on to the next right-hand riff, which is 'divorced' from the left hand rhythm, and I'm really having trouble keeping such a simple bass line (C&G, C&G, C&A, C&A, C&G, C&G etc) on track while I'm doing something totally different with the right hand. It's the old rubbing stomach/patting head conundrum, so has anyone got any tips on how to keep the rhythm going? Apart from practice, practice, practice?

I need a good sign-off line.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:52 pm
by snakehips
Hi there !

It just takes time to get it !!

You probably have got it already !!

I say, just keep playing what you can do over and over until it becomes second nature. Try this more complicated riff every once in a while. One day it will happen - all of a sudden you ill be able to do it (more or less). Practice that - then you've got that nailed - time for the next bit to learn. And so on ..........

Just keep at it !

Good luck, it will happen.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 6:21 pm
by jeffl
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jan-25-06 AT 02:38 PM (EST)]"apart from practice,practice,practice..."? Not really. However,listening to some of what you want to play like can help. In that regard,I'd like to recommend (since you like harp and piano) that if you don't already have a Rod Piazza CD, you may find it beneficial to get at least one. Rod is one of the most successful harpers of our time,and his wife,Honey, is a great "Boogie Woogie" piano player,with one of the strongest and most pronounced left hands in the business. Even though they play with a bass guitarist, Honey's relentless left hand can be heard throughout their music. She plays alotta left hand triads and walking lines,and listening to her should help you cement those patterns in your head. Another technique I was taught that helped me to manage different rhythms going on at the same time is to get away from the piano,and just use your hands to slap on your knees....pound out one rhythm on one knee,and pound out walking rhythms,or eighth or sixteenth notes on the other knee. Use a metronome if you need could help. That stuff would be construed as practicing,however. Keep that vision in your mind.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:04 pm
by rookie
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jan-31-06 AT 09:05 AM (EST)]"That stuff would be construed as practicing,however. Keep that vision in your mind."

No, Bubba, it's not that I mind practising - far from it, especially when I'm trying to play cool shuffles etc. Just hoping that there might be some magic tips that would help - and your knee-slapping idea sounds great. It's something you can practice anywhere - in fact, I'm trying it now, under my desk at work, but am conscious of a few quizzical looks, so will leave it until tonight. I'll get in touch with the Piazza delivery boy re your other suggestion. (Sorry)

And as Snakehips says, it might kick in one day. Certainly over the weekend, it didn't sound as bad as the first time I tried it - although I am worried that I'm brainwashing the incorrect rhythm into myself as I relentlessly try to get it down...

Am sure it will come in time - even echoing the left hand with the right seemed tough at one time, but it feels natural now.


RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:26 pm
by jeffl
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-01-06 AT 07:28 AM (EST)]Hey Rook,it's funny you brought this up when you did.... I had a tune in my mind occasionally during the last coupla weeks,and when I tried to play the rhythms,which included just a loping left hand dotted quarter note followed by an eighth,and slide guitar like triplets on the right hand,I couldn't keep it going after chord changes. I was getting frustrated,cuz it's a common rhythm pattern I've played on many other tunes. So,I just started droppin' down on my piano stool every time I walked thru the living room,to work on the tune for just 5 minutes,instead of beating myself with it for multiple half-hour sessions. After a few days,it started to come out of the fog,and I only started feelin' much better about it yesterday.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 1:02 pm
by rookie
Bubba, I lost you somewhere after 'loping left hand' for a while, but I know what you mean about the short practices. Have been doing that over the past few days (TV commercial breaks provide a great opportunity for the little and often approach) and it's definitely getting better. Not got it nailed down by any stretch of the imagination, but particularly if my mind wanders rather than concentrating on it too much, it seems like I can manage it a little easier.
Which reminds me - I often find that whatever I'm practising, if I'm doing it just before bedtime, it's always that little bit better when I come back to it the next day. Doesn't have such a noticeable improvement if I practice in the morning...

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:02 pm
by meilankev

Thanks for posting!!!

Certainly practice will improve your abilitites, and repetitive practicing will help ingrain these patterns in your head to where it becomes second-nature (and therefore allows you to play something different with your right hand). This is true.

But don't allow yourself to get too discouraged if this takes longer than you had hoped. And by all means, don't lament that you think you will never be a decent Blues piano player if you can't maintain a standard left-hand Blues riff (for example, while the right hand is improvising). This just isn't true.

I've been playing Blues for over 40 years now, and it is unlikely that anyone has had more of a love affair with a piano than I have. I perform for folks on a regular basis. But I have always been very weak with the left-hand, as it can play only the most rudimentary garbage. When I'm singing, it's just playing very basic bass lines (while my right hand is messing around with the chords). And when I'm improvising, my left hand moves up and plays the chords (while my right hand does its thing). At all times, my right hand is my Michael Jordon, while my left hand is my Luc Longley. They still make a team, but they are nowhere near equal contributors.

Yes, because of my limitations, there are avenues of Blues music that I either need to bastardize to fit my style of playing or ignore altogether (and you know what they are). This is a shame. So undoubtably, there is some real benefit to your being able to better utilize your left hand, and make it as strong as possible. Otherwise, those avenues may be closed to you, also.

But it's not the end of the world if you don't, and the Blues can still be your refuge and companion.

Good luck!!!

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 1:40 pm
by rookie
Thanks for your words of comfort, guys, but I still haven't got this sorted by any means. I initially thought I was making progress, and then realised that it was probably because I was no longer listening through headphones, which does make the bass stand out more, and therefore makes mistakes much more obvious.

I've tried Bubba's knee-slapping suggestion but the only thing it's really done is given me a whole new grudging respect for drummers.

I think the main problem I'm having is that the tempo is much faster on the right hand, although even when I consciously try to slow down to the same tempo I still get it wrong. So as a last resort, I'm going to get absolutely pissed (in the British - i.e. horrendously drunk - sense of the word) and see if that helps any, by making me not think about it too much. Won't it be great if that works?

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:07 pm
by ricochet
When you get horrendously pissed, don't puke on the keyboard.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:20 pm
by jeffl
Keep at it,Rookie! Jus' keep at it! I've been playin' alot more piano at home lately (with the headsets on,after-hours,or before hours),and I've been workin' on some of the same stuff you guys are talkin' about. It just amazes me how improvements come in fits and stops,and then it's over--you get it down. You won't be the first to notice the improvements,cuz they're so gradual,but if you do a recording of yourself now,and practice frequently if not regularly,you can record yourself again a year from now,and you'll hear the difference.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:39 pm
by rookie
Sadly, the alcohol didn't help at all. Surprising, that. So I've bought a guitar.

But before you all say, don't give up etc etc, I have no intention of doing so. Though I now need to work out how to practice plankspanking, gob-ironing and 88ing every night and still have time for everything else...

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:02 pm
by jeffl
What else is there?

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:45 pm
by rookie
Well, there's reading about the blues, watching DVDs about the blues, going out to see blues... I was also gonna make some cheap comment regarding the pleasures of the flesh, but if you're a true bluesman, you don't have no woman, do you... That's my excuse anyway.

RE: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:59 pm
by jeffl
I agree with you Rookie,that there's not enough time to do everything in a day. I always figured 28 hours in a day would've allowed enough time for what I like to squeeze into a day. I used to occasionally take my day off and jus' sit and listen to music for 4-5 hours,and occasionally sit down at the piano and learn to cover a tune,to take to the next Wednesday jam. I don't think I've learned a new song,except for what I learned at rehearsals, in months. I've even thought I should get back to writin' some tunes on piano for racked harp,but I haven't taken the time.

Re: unanswerable question...

PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:59 am
by cishi
Learning the piano may be difficult for beginners but as long as you're eager to learn and with constant practice sooner you'll be surprise you can play like a pro :D