Monday, August 24, 2009

Perfect Pitch?

So, we were watching some documentary late night on tv about kids in Russia that went to this music school which was incredible, but they all had to pass some kind of evaluation to get in. We watched the evaluation process where kids would come in and they would sing or play the piano or what not. It was kind of funny listening and saying, "that kid is not getting in!" or "wow, that kid is good!"

Anyway, most of the kids were pretty impressive, but it got to this one girl who was about 8 years old and they sat her down to a piano while an instructor sat at another piano. The instructor would play any note and then the girl had to play the same note on her piano.

Now I would think this is no big deal, but the girl couldn't watch the instructor and so had to play by her own memory to the sound of the note she had heard.

Then the instructor played a few notes in a song or like a little tune, and the girl would have to repeat it. And again this was without looking at what the teacher did.

This girl did it all and I was pretty impressed. Now, we think it is pretty easy to repeat a tune that someone hums or a note someone sings, but I guess that is because we know our own voices and could figure it out, but a piano? I could maybe guess the note higher up or lower on the piano if someone played a high or low note, but to know the exact note someone else plays just by ear and not seeing where they played? Well, we tried this and not Caleb's mom, dad, brother or sister could do it.

So we were interested, and decided to play a little game with Caleb. This is how he did:

Ah, pretty lucky I think, he can tell some white key notes, but what if I try to throw in some random sharps or flats? That will be too hard for him! So I tried:

OK, so he was pretty good. How about if I played a little tune?

Or what if I played some chords?

This one I was surprised at because I didn't want to play the first chord and so played the 2nd chord, and Caleb played them both.

Well, hence to say we were surprised. This is probably no big deal to anyone that plays piano. ??? Can piano players just do this? I mean Caleb is just 6. Finding a note on a piano that is that exact sound is the same as if we were in a choir class and someone sang a note and a person could say, "Yep, that's a B flat." Well, this non perfect pitched mom is impressed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"I'm Not Good at Piano"

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with Caleb. He kept telling me he was not good at piano, and I didn't understand why he was saying that. I told him, "No, you are good." And he kept saying, "But I'm not." I said, do you know this person, and can you play better, and I asked him if he could play better than me or Daddy, and he said yes. I told him how everyone always wanted to hear him play, and isn't that because he was good? He said yes.

So I asked him, "Why do you think you're not good at piano?"

And he says, "It's hard for me to not be naughty when I play piano."

He didn't mean he wasn't good at playing piano, but he meant he wasn't good at behaving when playing piano.

Of course I laughed at this and asked him what he considered being naughty was when playing the piano. He tells me "not sitting on the bench all the way, standing up, playing more when the teacher told me to stop, not going fast enough, having to scratch my nose a lot......"

Poor little kid. We always have to remember he is just 6 years old. He's just a little kid, and yes it is hard to sit still and play piano the way the big kids do. I told him he's not being naughty, it just takes a little practice to learn to sit still or do things exactly right. He doesn't have to be perfect. He'll learn as he gets bigger and it won't be so hard.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Transposing Music?

Interesting enough, Caleb doesn't just play the songs he gets by reading the direct music. In this, we mean many times he will take a piece and transpose it into a minor key. Most of us have no idea how to play the song as it is, let alone change the key to be minor.

Here is a familiar song, but he has changed it into a minor key. This is the spring time song "Popcorn Popping", but here it sounds like the scary Halloween version or like a funeral march.

And then how did he even come up with the idea to transpose it or how did he know what notes even make a minor key?