July 31, 2018 at 6:02pm

Piano Piece Pick #15 - And so it goes that Billy Joel's 13th (and last) album would be entirely classical compositions, and not a single piece would be performed by him.

As you hear the Air (Dublinesque) from his Fantasies & Delusions album, played beautifully here by Richard Joo, you can't help but marvel at the talent of the incredible "Piano Man" born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Here's to many more years, Billy!

... See More

Piano Piece Pick #15 - And so it goes that Billy Joel's 13th (and last) album would be entirely classical compositions, and not a single piece would be performed by him.

As you hear the Air (Dublinesque) from his Fantasies & Delusions album, played beautifully here by Richard Joo, you can't help but marvel at the talent of the incredible "Piano Man" born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Here's to many more years, Billy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70fiAUFniNQ

PS - Yes, the intro to "And So it Goes" (also from Billy Joel) does sound very similar to the Air (Dublinesque), that I shall add a link to it below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHO6a2H-pqY

Enjoy.

I know I did, playing the Air (it was excellent) and listening to Billy Joel. You can find Fantasies and Delusions at the Esplanade Library.

July 20, 2018 at 11:33am

Book Intro #1 - "Play it again: An amateur against the impossible" by Alan Rusbridger. This is an inspiring book by the Editor of the Guardian, one of the world's foremost newspaper. Alan, who gave up the piano at 16, gave himself a year to learn Chopin's Ballade No. 1 forty years later, and this book deals with his focus, discipline, and desire. It is, above all, about the sanctity of one's inner life in a world dominated by deadlines and distractions. A great read - available at NLB (... See More

Book Intro #1 - "Play it again: An amateur against the impossible" by Alan Rusbridger. This is an inspiring book by the Editor of the Guardian, one of the world's foremost newspaper. Alan, who gave up the piano at 16, gave himself a year to learn Chopin's Ballade No. 1 forty years later, and this book deals with his focus, discipline, and desire. It is, above all, about the sanctity of one's inner life in a world dominated by deadlines and distractions. A great read - available at NLB (Esplanade, Tampines, Woodlands, and Jurong).

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Gavin Koh

A short video about Alan's book by Alan himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwJKGEWarAk

July 20, 2018 at 11:34am
Gavin Koh

Currently going through this book and must say it's very well written and full of insights. The content is laid out in the style of a diary and I especially love the ending where Chopin's Ballade... See More

Currently going through this book and must say it's very well written and full of insights. The content is laid out in the style of a diary and I especially love the ending where Chopin's Ballade is analyzed thoroughly page by page, section by section - kind of like an amateur climber tackling the Matterhorn, one cramponed step at a time.

July 20, 2018 at 7:31pm
Adrian Huang

Very inspiring.

July 31, 2018 at 3:39pm
Gavin Koh

Absolutely!

Here is a single paragraph from the following entry "Friday, 25 March":

Lunch with Noriko Ogawa today. She's just flown from Japan and looks emotional and sombre. I... See More

Absolutely!

Here is a single paragraph from the following entry "Friday, 25 March":

Lunch with Noriko Ogawa today. She's just flown from Japan and looks emotional and sombre. I suggested a couple of weeks back that she might give a Kings Place concert in aid of the Japanese tsunami relief appeal. She immediately agreed - and promised to play the G minor Ballade. After a single course, we steal off for a very quick lesson in one of the rehearsal rooms in Kings Place. She begins by playing the piece to me. I realise that this is the first time since I started on this journey that I have heard the piece live and played by a 'proper' pianist. I've of course sampled numerous recordings on YouTube and iTunes, but nothing in the flesh. She plays it with incredible power and certainty - especially given the inner turbulence she must be feeling after such personal exposure to the tsunami, which has wrecked the concert hall where she most regularly plays. The piece today has an extra dimension - the sheer elemental feeling of some of the passages, that sense of being almost out of control, or rather in the control of wilder external forces. At the end, she seems shocked by what's happened. We both sit there in silence for a few moments. Noriko then asks me to play. I struggle - even though it's a new Steinway O - to make the piano sing, to tease a delicate sound out of it. On Saturday at Fish Cottage I was flying on my newly arrived Steinway. Further evidence that progress is not linear.

July 31, 2018 at 5:15pm
May 25, 2018 at 10:13pm
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Goh Zensen

Haha, cos many of Chopin's works (both his piano concertos, his Ballade No 1, Waltzes in Bm, Am, C#m and Nocturne in C#m) are in the minor key!

June 28, 2018 at 7:24am
Liew Soo Hin

Ah, nice improvisation there, Zensen. I don't have a flair for improv.

July 2, 2018 at 8:40pm
Mabel Ong

Sorry, what's improvisation? ?

July 20, 2018 at 9:33pm
Goh Zensen

Mabel, improvisation in music is a huge topic which I can conduct an hour-long talk on it. To summarise, it is to make variations to the original music (instead of adhering strictly to its... See More

Mabel, improvisation in music is a huge topic which I can conduct an hour-long talk on it. To summarise, it is to make variations to the original music (instead of adhering strictly to its original score) via a few means. For example, one way of improvisation is to substitute some of the chords used (or even adding new chords in between existing chords). Another way is to play out the chords differently (e.g. from broken chord style to rhythmic style). Adding or changing other textures/layers such as counter melodies and bass lines also constitute improvisation.

Some singers or solo instrumentalists improvise on the melody by changing some of the notes occasionally. Jazz improvisation, on the other hand, allows complete composition of melodic lines along the original music's chord progression.

More advanced improvisations can include addition of new sections (such as adding/replacing an original interlude), employing modulations and change in rhythm/time signature.

July 21, 2018 at 12:17am
July 10, 2018 at 1:19am

Piano Trivia Time #3 - [Click images to browse]: Which of the following four music instrument spare parts belong inside a piano?

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Gavin Koh

The answer to this is picture number 3 of 4. It is called an agraffe and this particular one can be found in a Steinway grand.

July 18, 2018 at 8:07am
Gavin Koh

The primary purpose of an agraffe is to hold down the strings near where the hammers strike up. They keep the strings from being lifted up by the hammer blow and pulling them out of tune. At the... See More

The primary purpose of an agraffe is to hold down the strings near where the hammers strike up. They keep the strings from being lifted up by the hammer blow and pulling them out of tune. At the top of the piano's range, the agraffe and the plate it screws into would get in the way of the hammer, hence other alternatives are employed..

Using agraffes is generally more expensive and it is generally considered "better" than not using them. It is however, but one small factor in the design and build quality of a piano.

Agraffes are also not necessary on uprights, although some do have them.

July 17, 2018 at 7:22pm
Gavin Koh

For completeness sake: Picture 1 of 4 is a point screw for a Yamaha flute. Picture 2 of 4 is a violin Bridge. Picture 3 of 4 is a grand piano Steinway agraffe 7/32". Picture 4 of 4 is an Octave... See More

For completeness sake: Picture 1 of 4 is a point screw for a Yamaha flute. Picture 2 of 4 is a violin Bridge. Picture 3 of 4 is a grand piano Steinway agraffe 7/32". Picture 4 of 4 is an Octave Rocker Key for Selmer saxophones.

July 19, 2018 at 10:41am
July 3, 2018 at 11:21am
of 1
Gavin Koh

The answer to this question is Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, Op. 66. The song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbow" is based off the captivating melody featured in the Largo section. You can compare the... See More

The answer to this question is Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, Op. 66. The song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbow" is based off the captivating melody featured in the Largo section. You can compare the song by watching an excerpt of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1qrz5h2QWs

July 10, 2018 at 1:32am
July 8, 2018 at 12:24pm

Some of the best piano pieces for a funeral are listed below. What would you add to or remove from the list?
1) Death of Åse, Peer Gynt Suite 1, No. 2, Op 46, by Edvard Grieg - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEcZ22XVPus
2) Prelude, No. 20, Op. 28 by Frederic Chopin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeX4X_1_lo0
3) Enigma... See More

Some of the best piano pieces for a funeral are listed below. What would you add to or remove from the list?
1) Death of Åse, Peer Gynt Suite 1, No. 2, Op 46, by Edvard Grieg - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEcZ22XVPus
2) Prelude, No. 20, Op. 28 by Frederic Chopin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeX4X_1_lo0
3) Enigma Variations, No. 9 (Nimrod) by Edward Elgar -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz8DVpcyLZM
4) Lacrymosa (from Requiem), S 550, by Mozart/Liszt -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKl4B75td70
5) Ave Maria, S 558, No. 12 by Schubert/Liszt -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCucnn-95nY
6) Symphony No 1, Mvmt 3 by Gustav Mahler -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3pu8migxZQ&t=28s
7) Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, No. 7 (Funérailles) by Franz Liszt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadS7DEHSKM
8) Piano Sonata No 2, Mvmt 3, by Frederic Chopin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL_HFnnywEU
9) Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPHSHZssOLs
10) La Cathédrale Engloutie by Claude Debussy -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-4qAxZ0F6s

July 1, 2018 at 12:39pm

Do you think there will be an impact on technique/playing/dynamics if most (70%) of the weekday practice is done with the muted pedal (middle pedal) on the upright? Reason for that is because the practices can only start from 9:30 pm or later.

of 3
Liew Soo Hin

90% confident that it will have a negative impact. A lot of learning comes from the ability to feel the keys/hammer, and to control how much / fast to strike them. Your reactions / responses are... See More

90% confident that it will have a negative impact. A lot of learning comes from the ability to feel the keys/hammer, and to control how much / fast to strike them. Your reactions / responses are according to what you heard, and you train your muscles memory based on these. Unless the training is purely for getting notes right, at the stage where expression doesn't matter, and just accuracy matters.

July 2, 2018 at 8:39pm
Yoke Ping

Albert and Soo Hin, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have the inkling that the current situation is not ideal but unfortunately, it is unlikely to change. I love my upright and would like to... See More

Albert and Soo Hin, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have the inkling that the current situation is not ideal but unfortunately, it is unlikely to change. I love my upright and would like to keep it in its original form. :)

Will keep the muted practice for getting the notes right or for loud passages. I agree that the softer/more delicate passages should not be practiced with the muted pedal at the first instance. If the passages are meant to be soft, I think it is still ok to practice without the muted pedal even at 10+ pm or 11 pm. :p

July 4, 2018 at 8:44pm
Liew Soo Hin

Definitely a challenge for you, if you can only practice in the late night. Unless you fix your room to be sound-proof!

July 5, 2018 at 1:29pm
June 22, 2018 at 1:11am

Been seeing some Casio digital pianos popping up. Any recommendations?

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Mabel Ong

Not familiar with the various models. So, you're only looking to buy digital pianos?

June 23, 2018 at 2:02pm
Gavin Koh

Read review websites like these:
a) https://azpianonews.blogspot.com/2012/09/... See More

Read review websites like these:
a) https://azpianonews.blogspot.com/2012/09/review-20122013-digital-pianos-...
b) https://digitalpianoreviewer.com/

And why not try a shop that let's you try out on various digital pianos? Just google for "buy digital piano singapore" and look out for shop reviews.

June 23, 2018 at 9:16pm
Linette Choo

Ya, I'll go down to shops to try, but I'm just afraid to be swarmed by too many models, and I dunno how to choose between them.

June 27, 2018 at 11:42am
Goh Zensen

There is only 1 model to choose from. Please PM me.

June 28, 2018 at 8:01am
June 19, 2018 at 1:16pm

Should I buy digital or normal piano to start learning piano? Should I get one or just play at school or teacher's place? Any advice? Thanks.

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Linette Choo

Wow, thanks Zensen! That's very comprehensive. ?? I have mixed feelings la. For me, it's good to start playing casually. But if I can progress well (god knows), might as well take some exams to... See More

Wow, thanks Zensen! That's very comprehensive. ?? I have mixed feelings la. For me, it's good to start playing casually. But if I can progress well (god knows), might as well take some exams to prove something? Definitely not to become concert pianist like you mentioned. I'm working, so, being able to play at night is a big deal to me, cos that's the time I probably can practise (I hope so!) ?

June 23, 2018 at 2:09am
Goh Zensen

That being the case, I'd recommend that you start small by buying a digital piano. If space or mobility isn't a constraint for you, I'd recommend a full-fledged one with 88 keys. Depending on your... See More

That being the case, I'd recommend that you start small by buying a digital piano. If space or mobility isn't a constraint for you, I'd recommend a full-fledged one with 88 keys. Depending on your budget, a high-end one costs S$2,699 while an entry-level one costs S$700. Mid-range will be around S$1,699. But if you are space-conscious and prefer it to be more mobile (so that it can be moved around easily), then I have a 76-key version ($400+) and a 61-version (also $400+) to recommend for you. If you are ultra-budget conscious, it will be $269.

June 23, 2018 at 8:19pm
Linette Choo

Ya, I think I'd go with a really cheap one at the start. Just gonna start learning, don't think I'll need that many keys. 61 keys sounds a lot to me already. Lol.

June 27, 2018 at 11:46am
Goh Zensen

61 keys (5 octaves) is really the minimum you should start with. This is because any shorter (e.g. 49 keys, 4 octaves) won't allow you to play it with both hands (meaning right hand on melody and... See More

61 keys (5 octaves) is really the minimum you should start with. This is because any shorter (e.g. 49 keys, 4 octaves) won't allow you to play it with both hands (meaning right hand on melody and left hand on bass and chords). Also, you'd need to look for a model that has touch response/touch sensitivity. This is because some very cheap ones don't come with this, thus no matter how soft or hard you strike the keys, the volume/loudness is the same, which makes the music you play sound monotonous/robotic/expressionless!

June 28, 2018 at 7:26am
June 22, 2018 at 12:00pm
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Mabel Ong

What's Usai? Looks like piano keyboard.

June 23, 2018 at 1:58pm
Gavin Koh

Definitely not! A typical piano octave has 12 keys - 7 white keys jutting forward and 5 black shorter keys. Ignoring the colors, we can say a typical piano has a 7-5 configuration. The Usai... See More

Definitely not! A typical piano octave has 12 keys - 7 white keys jutting forward and 5 black shorter keys. Ignoring the colors, we can say a typical piano has a 7-5 configuration. The Usai keyboard however has a 6-6 configuration - a "balanced" combination. If you color the keys on the Usai, you will find that F#, G# and A# wind up as three keys jutting forward, hence they are painted black up front.

June 23, 2018 at 8:49pm
Gavin Koh

Read more about it here: http://www.balanced-keyboard.com/

June 23, 2018 at 8:50pm

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