Thursday, January 29, 2009

the night's like coffee to my tongue...

My music came today! It's very exciting. :) I haven't had new sheet music to work on in a long time. Of course, since I wrote in my last post that I haven't worked on my old music enough to master it, that shouldn't really mean much... but it's exciting to have new stuff, especially since some of the songs are ones I've wanted to learn for a few years now.

I've been practicing my new music pretty much since it arrived, with breaks to cook dinner and then to eat dinner, and now my back kind of aches from my poor piano playing posture, so I'm taking another break to write this. :) As I suspected, they're difficult pieces. If any of you play the piano, you were probably taught to practice new pieces one hand at a time until you're comfortable enough with each separate part to put them together. That method is impossible with this music - at least, it is for me. These songs have tricky timing that I can't count out without playing both parts together. I actually think it would take a lot longer to learn them separately and then have to figure out how they fit together. They don't really make sense without each other.

Speaking of tricky timing, the time signatures on some of these songs are crazy. I think the winner was the song I put on the music player on this page, called Eric's Song, which I'm leaving up for now since I'm talking about it again. Do you know what the time signature on that thing is? 9/8. I don't think I've ever seen that before. I'm still trying to figure out the easiest way to count it out while I play. It's tempting to just time it by ear, but then I get lost in the more difficult passages. Until I can adjust my mind so that the cadence feels natural when I play, I'm stuck counting.

Some songs already seem promising. I wish I could find Momentum on so I could put it up here. It's my favorite song on the album, and it's coming along well enough that I can actually sing parts of it- really, really slowly. The time signature is another one you don't see too often (4/2) but not as confusing to count.

Ok. Break's over. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

waking hour

Every now and then - whenever I happen to think about it - I make a quick visit to just so I can peek at the merchandise page and see if there's any new sheet music there. For the combination of her beautiful voice, poetic lyrics, and wonderful skill on the piano Vienna Teng is one of my favorite musicians. A few years ago all the sheet music I could find of hers - a grand total of three songs, none of them my favorites, but I figured I would take what I could get. They're incredibly difficult, actually, and I haven't mastered a single one of the three. This, I think, is partly because they're not my favorites, and partly because I just don't have a whole lot of patience for practicing the piano. I love to play it, but I don't practice much. I usually wish I could just sit down and play something pretty. Practicing would probably help with that... but the kind of repetition it takes to really drive a piece home can be bothersome to pretty much everyone in the vicinity. Plus I'm just not patient. :)

Anyway, I used to check her website a whole lot to see if any more sheet music would be released. I even sent an email to ask about it - never got a response, which wasn't unexpected. I don't check much anymore, figuring that the first three transcriptions just must not have been successful enough to merit investing in any more. So I was really surprised today when I went to the website for the first time in ages, and the first thing I saw was that her entire first album has been transcribed into a songbook. :)

I've been trying really hard to limit the money I'm spending on myself to just coffee - mostly - but that songbook has been ordered and should ship pretty soon.

I'm excited about it. :) There are some really good songs on this album, a couple of which are ones that I particularly wanted to learn - like the one I've just put up here, which I think is the first song of hers I ever heard. We'll see if that pushes me to actually make more of an effort to practice them. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

"putting the 'prod' in productivity"

Have I told you guys about Write or Die? It's this fantastic program designed to get writers moving by providing tangible consequences for not writing, as opposed to the intangible rewards we usually look forward to, which aren't really as good at providing motivation. You can access it here. Basically, you plug in a word goal or a time limit (I use the time limit). I've started using it on Kamikaze Mode, which means that once I start typing, if I stop for too long my words start disappearing at a rate of about one per second, starting from the last one written. You have no idea how effective this is in keeping my fingers moving on the keyboard. Just today I set Write or Die for an hour and wrote 1278 words before it was over.

And now I'm putting off editing that rough writing by posting this.


Friday, January 16, 2009

up and up

I'm back! I kind of think that most people have stopped reading this blog since I've been such a slacker about posting, but oh well. Some of you are probably still there. Have I ever mentioned here the Demotivator poster on blogging? It seems appropriate. Let me link you to it... here. is the best... in a depressing and yet hilarious way.

I live in Vancouver again, which means my phone has a hard time in the house again. I keep getting voicemails without missed calls. Texts seem to come through ok, and I even had a conversation with my sister, but we got cut off three times in the course of things. I think the moral of the story is that I need to take more walks. Walks are conducive to phone calls. They might also help me sleep better. That would be a bonus.

Today I wrote morning pages for the first time in months. I think I need to make it a habit again. For those of you who don't know, morning pages is longhand stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning for maybe two or three pages. (Three is recommended, but I have small handwriting and it takes awhile.) It's an exercise I picked up when I went through the book The Artist's Way, which was a course on creativity and how to break some of the mental restraints that tend to block it. Morning pages are supposed to be a place to pour out all the hectic thoughts that flood your mind, so you can give them form and see the answers (and more importantly, the questions) more clearly. It calms the mind, because once all those things are down on the page, they're released from your head and not as much of a burden anymore. And it's also utterly unself-conscious writing. You're not meant to read or judge what you've written. It's a safe place to be completely honest with yourself. Kind of like therapy, actually, without the therapist.

I stopped writing morning pages shortly after graduation, because with full-time work and a commute of about an hour each way, it looked like I had to make a choice between morning pages and writing my story. The only way I would have time for both was if I completely stopped spending time with people, and I didn't really like that option. If I could have figured out a way to write that story while driving a car... but, well, I'm not one for dictation, even if I had a way to make good quality recordings. I need to see the sentences I'm constructing. So I quit morning pages, and instead I would get up early and head over to Starbucks to have my tea and spend an hour and a half writing my story before leaving for work. With that time in the morning, I could usually get almost all the way to my daily page goal before ever leaving for work, which left me more time in the evening.

Now, though, I'm feeling the lack of the morning pages. It seems like everything in my life is unfocused. There's too much formless (or vaguely formed) worry in my mind, and I can't get a grip on it without pen and paper. Everything takes form on the page, and I can only solve it when it has a form. So I started this morning, and it actually already helped. That's enough incentive for me to keep at it.

So once again, I'm back. Back to the blog, back to morning pages, back to people, and back to life, and I'm putting up a new song to mark the occasion. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009


Wow, two posts in one day! A record!

Don't forget to read the one below; it's moderately important for people who actually visit this page, which apparently you do.

I was just overcome with the need to share this video with you:

Go watch it, and don't forget to smile! :)