In-Depth #3

My In-Depth project has been progressing well. In addition to Isn’t She Lovely, I’ve begun to work on a new piece, Fly Me to the Moon. My mentor said that she feels like these are both very good selections for me, as the chords are somewhat simple, and they both have repeating sections, which allows me to try a few different approaches throughout the verses. She also mentioned that these pieces, although containing similar elements, have a different enough style that it allows me to try a few different types of techniques. I haven’t selected my final piece yet, but we discussed some potential options.

What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

During my sessions, I’ve noticed that my mentor has an effective way of teaching me this specific skill; since the point of my project is to be able to improvise piano accompaniment, I need to learn what kind of chord structures, patterns, etc will be effective in certain situations. My mentor helps me by giving me suggestions on certain chords and rhythms to try, and then gives me the freedom to adapt and try new things as I get more comfortable. I also enjoy the fast pace of our sessions, as it allows us to get a lot done in the short time we have together while I can do my own self directed learning on my own time. 

What learning challenges emerged?

So far, my biggest learning challenge has probably been re-adapting to an effective practicing schedule. Since I took piano lessons in the past, I know what kind of schedule is necessary to build muscle memory and make progress. After taking a break from actively practicing piano, I’ve noticed that I’ve struggled to re-establish a consistent practice schedule.

What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions?

Although this isn’t a strategy to use during a session, I feel that I could learn more effectively if I further improved my fundamental knowledge of scales, chords, sightreading, etc. During meetings, I occasionally feel like I’m held back by the time that it takes me to read the charts, and if I spend some more time working on fundamental technique, I’d probably get more out of each session. 

I also feel like I could get more out of each session if I wrote more comprehensive notes on the music I’m playing. Most notably, my teacher gives a lot of suggestions on potential elements to add to certain parts of the piece, and I could probably have more to work from if I more clearly recorded each suggestion and why it would be effective. 

Finally, I also feel as if I more clearly articulated my ideas for each piece. Since a lot of my project is improvisation-based, my mentor and I often talk about different things I could potentially incorporate. Often, when I’m at home, I try lots of different approaches, but I don’t keep a record of them, so it becomes difficult to recall them during a conversation. To aid this issue, I can write down certain things that I tried and liked. This way, I can discuss it with my mentor, and I also have a good way to see that kind of thing I like to incorporate. 

I’m really happy with what I’ve accomplished so far on my in-depth, and I’m having a great time re-exploring a skill that I let become “rusty”. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks of my project!

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