GCD: Artistic Expression
I have started playing the piano when I was four years old, and am still continuing to practice new skills and play new songs for more than eleven years. It took a long time (maybe six years) until my technical skill was at a level that I could sight-read and play an intermediate-level song. Back in elementary school and middle school, I practiced the piano almost every day. When I had just started playing the piano, I didn’t practice until I was told to do so, because it felt like a task that I had to do. But I soon learned that listening to and playing music is really enjoyable and started to practice by myself. In high school, it became more difficult to balance out assessments with other activities, so my practice time decreased, but even then, I practice at least four times a week, because I knew just how much practicing is important and that these skills are something that cannot be developed short-term, but could be lost quite easily if I don’t practice for a while. I usually practice playing the piano by starting with Czerny no.30 that I am currently working on (to get the fingers get moving) and playing the repertoire. Choosing what songs to play is also a very fun part of playing music. I listen to pop music, but I also love listen to classic music. It’s interesting to listen to and play pieces composed by composers of different era.
Video Clip of a piano concert when I was 11.
Before I transferred to YIS, I didn’t really learn a lot about music theories, but I got to know so much more about them when I transferred at the end of 7th grade.
In music class, one of the fascinating things that I learnt was about chords. I always questioned how composers created songs that sounded so pretty and nice to listen to. I learnt that there were different types of “keys”, and chords from the same key sound nice together. I also learnt about arrangements and composition during class, so I became interested in composing and improvising songs on the piano. I researched more about different types of chords (not only major and minor), and came to love the seventh chords and sus 4 chords. It became a hobby for me to find interesting chord sequences and to improvise melodies against a simple chord sequence (like vi, IV, V, I) for on and on until I was satisfied.
I used to wonder about how music has an image of “creativity” and “expression of your identity”. This is because when I learned about the technical skills, they were about playing each notes clearly with the correct rhythm, dynamics, and so on, and it felt like I was just trying to replicate what was on the sheet music. It was enjoyable to play, but it didn’t feel like I was expressing myself. I also didn’t particularly like the abstractness of things like expression, especially when I was young. “Will the music sound differently if I played it with different emotions?” This was the kind of questions I had, and when I actually tried to play a piece of music with different emotions, they didn’t sound different to me at all. Because of this, I struggled to understand how composers and performers expressed and conveyed themselves through music.
I realized recently that being able to work on expression of the song means that the performer has sufficient skill and experience. My piano teacher told me that many young children like to play songs at fast speed and that it is difficult for them to play a slow-tempo song, because it requires patience. I think that as I grew older, I learned to be more patient and appreciate the beauty of slow songs without showy features. I also realized that it’s not about thinking about the emotions and feelings inside my head while playing, but that I have to express these things through my whole body. The sound that the notes create depend on the slight difference of touch, and I feel that playing the piano is like dancing with it, because dancing could be choreographed, but the dancer might add few things here and there to make things more interesting and enjoyable for herself. Not everything is written on the sheet music, so adding a tempo change or dynamics and deciding the articulations is to an extent up to me to decide.
Music is one of the sources of energy for me. If I were to never be able to play music, my life will become very dull. Now with more technical skills and understandings of expression, it is one of the means I can most honestly express myself.