Do I get to sit at the piano today??

I have managed it — to sit on the piano stall and look at the keys! OH MY SWEET…. the keys are filthy! My guilty ‘mum head’ comes over me — my girls have been playing this piano for the last million years and I have only just noticed the state of the keys!! Have I forced them to endure years of neglect and the risk of dreadful disease by my slovenly ways???

So the first thing I do is disinfect the keys of the piano, well if I am going to use it, I want it to look pristine!! I apologise to the old dear for neglecting her for so long and give her a good clean so she is all shiny again now!

Now I am thinking that if I am going to have my hands on show whilst filming this blog, maybe I need to think about my appearance too, no one wants to see wrinkled old hands with grubby finger nails do they? So my next task is to decide what nail polish will look good in the blog. Just tried gold sparkly nails, far too tacky I feel! I have plumped for a reddy pink colour — I do hope you approve!

On page 4 and 5 of the magic book, we learn about pitch and that notes are written on a five-line stave. From what I understand, in lay person speak, a stave is like a lined exercise book page but with the lines are really really close together and grouped into five lines at a time.

Piano music use two staves joined together, the top one for the right hand and the bottom one for the left hand, this is called the grand stave. This is getting technical now, but I think I am still on the case. The book gives me a little area to practice drawing treble clefs and bass clefs, that takes me back to school when I remember drawing swirly clefs all over my music book, I thought I was pretty artistic at the time.

The activity at the base of the page is ‘how to sit at the keyboard’, obvious I would think, on my arse??? But no, it is not that easy you see, always sit in the middle of the keyboard, that I guess is so I can reach all the keys from one central point. Use an adjustable stool, that is not going to happen, I will put up with the secondhand wooden stool I acquired in slightly dubious circumstances (ask no more!). Sitting with my back straight, shoulders in a relaxed position I have to imagine there is a string attached to the top of my head pulling me upwards, gives me backache just thinking about sitting like that!

The next test is how to keep my fingers over the keys, curved with wrists level with my arm, imagining I am holding a ball under each hand, think that is pretty straightforward. My feet are both firmly on the ground…

We then read about the keyboard itself, I have noticed that the keys are grouped in black and white notes, I hum the 1982 tune ‘Ebony and Ivory’ sung by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.

‘Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony 
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?’

The most important note I am looking for is the ‘Middle C’, all life starts from middle C I am led to believe. It is so important it has it’s own line on the stave (confusing). This is called a ledger line, I think it looks like an afterthought — some bloke invented how to write music but forgot the most important note — thought “oh bugger, what am I going to do with the C now?” and stuck it at the bottom of the stave.

Middle C position.

I am to find all the ‘Cs’ on the keyboard, that is quite easy, it is always the white key before the set of two black keys, got that down to a fine art. Then I have to find all the ‘As’ on the keyboard, hang on, that is a bit of a curve ball, I have not had any information about A, so that taxed me a little!

The last bit of advice on page 5 is — always keep relaxed and don’t forget to breathe!

Turning the page, I see we are now starting on Units, it feels like progress!

Join me for my next instalment in my quest to learn how to play the piano from complete novice to Grade 1 Standard with no professional teaching.

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