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Old 04-17-2008, 11:55 PM   #21
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sure wished i could play but the ivories only tease me. took lessons for years as a little kid. i can read music. i can play by ear but only on one hand. i never could coordinate the hands unlike . my brother figured it out. mom played classical beautifully. one of my old friends is an incredibly talented & published song writer. mom used to insist she sit and play for us when we were kids. i'll never forget this one time when we were just little stoned so my friend wasn't, well, quite at her best. but mom, always enthusiastic and encouraging of the talents in others, thought my friend did just fine.

my best friend who i buried a few years back also played great and even received royalties from music he composed for daytime t.v. (he always got very excited when a check came in.) i even have an uncle in the songwriter's hall of fame. alas, the talent eludes me. but i so enjoy musicians, you have no idea.

mom managed to play even through most of alzheimer's disease. we got her a double room so we could set it up like her home but the grand would not fit so we got her an upright. even when she could no longer speak sentences, even though arthritis had so badly twisted her fingers that one almost made a 90 degree turn, still she could play the classics. at the end though, her repertoire melded into a medley of partial pieces surprisingly played together fairly well.

i can hardly listen to moonlight sonata without breaking into tears today.

i call this photo of mom "legs"
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:33 AM   #22
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LG4NB - that's a great photo. Just wanted to say how I really enjoy your stories about your mom. She sounds like a wonderful person and your vivid anecdotes make me wish I'd known her.
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Old 04-18-2008, 09:58 AM   #23
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On a more practical note, do you memorize more by muscle memory, or can you picture the music in your mind as you play it?
I find this very interesting, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. For me, if I start out trying to memorize something, then it begins with a mental process like this:
Left hand starts with F and E, like the 1 and 7 of a Fmaj7 chord. The F stays, and the E goes down chromatically to Db, then down to C and up to E again. On the right hand, start with F and A thirds, like the 1 and 3 of the chord. They alternate and then go down a minor second, and up with three notes of the scale, then up a minor second and down with three notes of the scale.
That's basically how I think of the start of Blue Rondo a la Turk, which I'm memorizing now. Listen to it, and the above description makes sense. The description isn't comprehensive enough to describe what to play, but with the memory of how the song goes, it is sufficient. The above is a very accurate description of how it's stored in my mind at this point.

Very quickly, that semi-verbal memory fades, and is replaced by "muscle memory." Then, if I try to think about what notes come next, I'm screwed. I have to just hear the music and let it flow. It's critical that I choose a fingering early on, and stick to it.

If I don't explicitly set out to memorize something, but play it a lot, the mental process is skipped.

At no point do I picture the notes on the page.
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:23 AM   #24
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LG4NB, what is the story behind that wonderful picture? It was taken by a professional, right? Was that your house/piano?
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:25 AM   #25
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LG4NB, what is the story behind that wonderful picture? It was taken by a professional, right? Was that your house/piano?
That is a fabulous, very sensual photo, LG4NB!! Thanks for posting it.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:19 PM   #26
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That is a fabulous, very sensual photo, LG4NB!! Thanks for posting it.
Yes, sensual and elegant at the same time--she had great legs!

Do you have tapes of her playing, LG4NB? Maybe when it is not too sad for you anymore, you can listen to her piano-playing again from those tapes.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:31 PM   #27
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Boy! Would my son ever be jealous of Maurice...a Bosendorfer. You lucky dog, you!
Me, I am still trying to master the harmonica.
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Old 04-18-2008, 07:14 PM   #28
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thanx all for your generous comments. she really was something to know. makes it that much harder to be without her. i was a very lucky kid.

i love that photo. i had a 35mm for a while before it got stolen by so-called "gypsy thieves" (finally replaced it with a digital some 10 or more years later). anyway, i used to experiment with photography. mom never got over how our trip to visit colleges for me turned into a photo safari of me taking pictures of every dumpster we passed. never had lessons but i had some artistic training while studying architecture. my dad had a dark room when i was growing up and, surprise, i've got extended family in very professional photography as well. so maybe it is in my blood because ever since i was a kid i've always gotten nice comments on my photos.

i still remember taking this shot. the dining room, piano area, sitting room & living room is one large space. i was entering the room from the far side and mom was playing. it just struck me, all those legs, the piano legs, the piano seat legs and of course mom always had those great legs. the white house, the white carpet, the white piano, mom's white dress. the copper and those tan legs of mom's. so i grabbed my camera and hit the carpet. one shot. nothing posed. completely candid. not bad for an amateur.

what was amazing about her piano playing was she played with such emotion and grace, but away from the piano, well, i'll just say i don't think anyone ever called my mother graceful.

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Yes, sensual and elegant at the same time--she had great legs!

Do you have tapes of her playing, LG4NB? Maybe when it is not too sad for you anymore, you can listen to her piano-playing again from those tapes.
sure wish i had flipstress. thought about it after the fact. though first my dad was into 8mm and then my step-dad was into videography so i have something like 30 or 60 (some duplicates) video tapes to review. am hoping i find her playing on one of those.
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Old 04-18-2008, 07:44 PM   #29
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LG4NB, you are a very talented photographer.
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:04 PM   #30
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still remember taking this shot. the dining room, piano area, sitting room & living room is one large space. i was entering the room from the far side and mom was playing. it just struck me, all those legs, the piano legs, the piano seat legs and of course mom always had those great legs. the white house, the white carpet, the white piano, mom's white dress. the copper and those tan legs of mom's. so i grabbed my camera and hit the carpet. one shot. nothing posed. completely candid. not bad for an amateur.

Great picture Lazy ! Your Mom sounds amazing !
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:32 AM   #31
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I would have thought that was a professional photo shoot with a professional model, etc. Everything's perfect, leg position, sandals, ankle curvature, drapes, dress, lighting, all white except the two plant leaves, no dust. Great job.
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Old 04-19-2008, 08:15 PM   #32
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Well, I'm more of a 'keyboard' player than 'piano' player. Had about a year of organ lessons in 8th grade, pop stuff - no classical training. I owe it to Paul Revere and Ray Manzerak.

The obligatory youtube link:



Incredible, Ray jams with a 16 YO kid at his backyard graduation party - talk about a dream come true!

And here is Ray, bad video/sound, but great solos on Light my Fire...



I love music, love playing, but just was never very disciplined about it. When I see someone play well, I regret that I wasn't more serious - but I still have fun with it. I'm even more amazed that I didn't get serious about after retiring - I have the time, why not invest some time in really learning? I can't explain it, but I don't. Maybe someday (this thread did inspire me to get up and bang out a few tunes).

One thing I did get disciplined about - I was mesmerized by the blues at a young age. I spent hours learning various blues runs, and trained myself to play them at high speed. That's part of my problem, I got the 'muscle memory' of those blues runs so infused - it's like riding a bicycle. Even if I don't play for months, I can still do high speed blues runs that would impress people that don't know better. Kinda reinforces not practicing.

Owned an old upright for a while - trained myself to play blues and boogie/stride on that. Not well, but fun enough for me.


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I find this very interesting, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about this.

If I don't explicitly set out to memorize something, but play it a lot, the mental process is skipped.

At no point do I picture the notes on the page.

I've only spent a little time thinking about how I memorize stuff. I do know that I absolutely have to work at it. As long as I'm looking at the music, that is my 'cheat sheet' and I probably won't know it from memory. I have to consciously work on getting away from the paper.

I didn't think about until you mentioned it, but on a memorized piece, I don't think about the written notes either - it's a different kind of way of thinking about the music. Notes within the chords/scales, patterns, relationships, the 'physical' layout of the reach of the notes. I can easily 'play' Light My Fire' on a desk, and hear every note in my head. But I haven't looked at the sheet music since 1970.

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Old 04-19-2008, 08:48 PM   #33
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Another great 'Light my Fire' link. Listen to Ray explain the whole development of the song, the Bach influenced intro, the John Coltrane influenced solos, and the making of the 2:45 single.

Ray Manzarek on 'Light My Fire' : NPR Music

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Old 04-20-2008, 09:53 AM   #34
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As I recall, The Doors were pretty pissed unhappy when they heard the radio version of LMF.

Aside, Ray also played the bass lines...
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Old 04-20-2008, 01:54 PM   #35
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I don't play the piano "yet". My uncled ER to Argentina this past year and left me a beautiful piano. I decided I would just keep it as decore. But....., I discovered that on YouTube you can get free piano lessons....oh the joy of You Tube!!......I have always wanted to play the piano, but my parents were always LBYM so it was out of the question.
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Old 05-27-2009, 04:16 AM   #36
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This is an old thread but interesting. Maybe other newcomers will be too.
I can only play fake books and just for my fun, I even wear the headphones at my Yamaha CLP-230. Well, with its own amp and speakers, it sounds terrible. I wished I could play like TromboneAl, maybe someday into my ER, I can get to play a Brubeck. By the way, I'll try to practice the "edgy 10th", my big frustration has always been having to roll the open voicings.
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:38 AM   #37
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What level player are you, what's your background, what do you like to play, what type of instrument do you have, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a player

Level - currently none
Background - had a player piano in the house as a kid. I loved to load up a roll and watched the keys as the music played. Fascinating!
Oldest sister took formal lessons and taught me the basics. I could read music easily, had the discipline to sit and practice, technique was pretty good, but had no ear or rhythm. Hated the accursed metronome for its perfect timing, as I had very little.
I took real lessons for 1 year in freshman year of HS. Felt like I was expected to follow older sister's footsteps.
Today...
Instrument - Picked up a used violin for next to nothing and have it on my list of ToDos for FIRE. I have played it (not to music) to get the feel of the instrument and see if my hands and wrists can take it. So far, not enough recovery to be able to get going.
My goal is to teach myself how to play fiddle , not classical.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:30 PM   #38
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Just have to chime in with my two cents worth. Took eight years of classical as a kid but never played seriously except for the required recitals. This was just something mom wanted. Started playing clarinet cause the folks found one to buy cheap. Played in the high school band but switched to trombone cause it made more noise and they needed trombone players (cannot have a band with only one trombone). Found it easy to learn. End of high school was the end of my music playing till I married wife #2. We ended up with a spinet piano and an organ. My taking classical taught me to read music but its hard to do playing pop music as a duet with the wife. She taught me to chord and we enjoyed our musical evenings together switching back and forth from piano to organ. Thirty seven years later those days are long gone but we still have a Yamaha Grand keyboard. Never use it so it is destined to go to granddaughter who wants to take piano lessons. Guess those days are gone forever and I still miss it. I really enjoy the new concert pianist Lang-Lang. I think that is the spelling but pronounced like Laung-Laung.
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Old 05-27-2009, 08:16 PM   #39
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Great story Johnnie36. I wished my wife got some interest in playing some music instrument with me. Like you, my son took up trombone first, and then trumpet at the high school band. He loved the piano, though, and I had a guitar I had once played quite a bit , so we would jam together for hours after dinner...good old times. Music can bring the family together for sure.
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