Tuesday, November 30, 2004

When we cleaned out the house in Vermont, one of the things we came across was an electronic piano keyboard. It was a pretty nice one, too, a Yamaha which could sound like about a half-dozen different instruments. It had a MIDI interface, too. No one else was claiming it, so we took it home.

A. and I were talking about ways to release some of my stress from work and we came up with the idea of a hobby of some kind. The problem with hobbies is that they take time, something I have in short supply between work and the kids. It would have to be something I could do at home in the evenings after the kids went to bed.

One of the things we discussed was learning to play a musical instrument. I had made an abortive attempt at learning to play the guitar a few years back. I had bought an acoustic guitar and some software to help me learn. One night I installed the software and did the first few lessons with the guitar. Three weeks later I finally got around to picking it up again. The guitar went back to the store and the software is abandoned in the basement somewhere. My only other musical experience was playing the clarinet in junior high school. I was terrible. Since then, the only musical instrument I’ve played is the stereo.

I had always thought it would be fun to learn to play the piano. We actually have an upright piano in the living room which my father-in-law got for us a few years ago. I now had this MIDI keyboard which I could hook up to the computer. An idea was born.

The one part the keyboard was lacking was a power supply, so A. contacted Yamaha and purchased a replacement. I ordered a MIDI to USB interface and the eMedia Piano Method 1 software from Amazon.com. They arrived a few days later, and I set the whole thing up on a table in the basement.

I’ve now been going through the lessons for about a month, about three days a week. I played my first song last night, a little ditty about rhythm that I played with four fingers on the black keys. I really like the software. Combined with the MIDI keyboard, it gives me feedback as to how I’m doing in the lessons. There are videos with a music teacher to explain some of the concepts. There is also an animated keyboard to show you the fingering on the keys.

I’ve done about 20 lessons out of the 316 on the disk, so I have a long way to go, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something. My goal is to eventually be able to play Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (lesson 309). I figure that’s a good year away, but I’m not in any rush.


At 1:15 AM, Blogger Bismo said...

Awesome, jam session time (after lesson 309 at least)!


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