I started piano about a year ago now, probably a little over, but I am not counting too closely. I have a beautiful Roland piano in white (not my first choice, black was sold out but now that I have had it for so long, I can’t imagine it being any other color).
I think there are many reasons to start piano, but there have to be much better reasons for keeping piano, as it requires a lot of discipline, a lot more discipline when people find out you are playing piano and go into their 5 years of lessons, or how their child is playing the same piece as you.
My piano teacher is an upbeat Russian woman, a far cry from my first teacher who was a laidback and uninterested Taiwanese man who was more interested in telling me his opinion on China than his opinion on my C Major scale. She never says no to any pieces but is strict on things that I do choose so that we have to finish them.
I thought I’d keep a record of pieces I played in my first year so that hopefully, next year I can revisit them.
If you are hoping for some clips of me playing, think again, my confidence in piano is terrible if not non-existent and I can’t even play for my cats. All links are youtube videos of others playing.
Satie – Gnossiennes 1, 2, 3 (Satie September) – (link) Minimalist charming Satie, a hauntingly beautiful set of music that was easy to approach in my first few months of playing. I wanted to play the Gnossiennes because my first piano teacher earlier in the year made Gymnopedies terrifying.
La Valse De Amelie – Yann Tiersen – (link) I remember being asked to play the more popular piece from this movie Comptine d’un autre été but turning it down because it is kind of a meme on r/piano so we stuck with this one, which is just a bunch of arpeggios. It sounds very impressive when played.
Chopin – Prelude Op. 28 No. 4 – (link) When this piece was suggested I was floored, Chopin! Already! I spent a long time trying to master this one, one bar in particular kept tripping me up until I had so much anxiety that I would start to lose my rubato and just panic.
Sakamoto – Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – (link) A dream piece, it still is, I spent at least two months solid trying to get this huge piece under my belt that included just about everything that I hadn’t seen before, octaves, jumps, polyrhythms, and by Christmas I could successfully play it.
Vince Guaraldi Trio – O Tannenbaum – (link) I started my Christmas music too late and should have started practicing these in October, not late November lmao. Jazz is really difficult.
Grieg – Arietta – (link) Starting to practice pieces for my ABRSM exam (level 4)
Bach – French Suite (Minuet & Trio) – (link) More ABRSM music (level 4) which was so incredibly frustrating that I actually was put off classical music for months and played absolutely anything but classical.
Sakamoto – Seven Samurai Ending Theme – (link) The chord changes in this piece are so dreamy, I can’t even. Even now when I play them they seem so majestic and powerful. Sakamoto really pulls me through dark spots, I find his music so relatable.
Radiohead – Daydreaming – (link) Finally cracking open the Josh Cohen book that I purchased a year before, to go along with his “beginner tutorials that someone, even someone who has not played a piano” can follow. My teacher laughed at this, because DayDreaming has a ton of polyrhythms in it that make it impossible for beginners, but I picked it up fairly quickly.
Joe Hisashi – One Summer’s Day – (link) I started a small scale concert series for my cats over the summer and introduced theme concerts, this was one of the first pieces I tried to pick up on the piano along with Satie, and it was a nightmare then. Now it came easily
Joe Hisashi – Princess Mononoke Theme – (link) Part of the theme night, a simple one page relaxing take on the Princess Mononoke Theme
Jean Yves Thibaudet – Dawn – (link) Still not completely finished, the broken arpeggios at the end are intimidating, but still one of my favorites so maybe I will pick this back up this fall.
Mozart – Fantasia in D – (link) What possessed me to pick up this piece? Entirely above my skill level, a classical piece (I have been afraid of Classical for a month or so) and Mozart, who is known for being completely unforgiving, but I finished it in record time. The opening sounds like rolling thunder, it is fun to just play the opening exposition to warm up.
Mozart – Sonata K545 in C Major – (link) Back in love with Classical, I wanted to play a Sonata and picked one that promised to be the “Sonata Facile” or easy sonata, but unforgiving Mozart gave me plenty of accidentals that made this C Major “facile” into the opposite. Finished this in 6 weeks, and got tired of hearing it forever.
Sakamoto – Amore – (link) Polyrhythms and chords, basically my two biggest enemies combined into one song. We ended up pressing this into vinyl and sending it to my dad as a gift, I am most pleased with this song, even if the vinyl took at least 20 takes to get right.
Waltz for JB – Brad Mehldau – (link) Picked this up on a whim and got sick of it quickly after, some difficult chords but overall it gave me a taste of jazz and some time with the metronome. After finishing it I went back to classical.
Beethoven- Bagatelle Op. 119 I – (link) A light classical piece that I really liked listening to, my favorite composer is Beethoven for his drama, only about 40 bars in this bagatelle made it a quick learn and actually is this year’s ABRSM Level 5 piece.
Mozart (Thalberg Transcription) – Lacrimosa – (link) I saw this on one of those obnoxious light up youtube channels but could not get over how hauntingly beautiful this piece was. I picked it up almost immediately. My teacher was not impressed with the choice, as it is quite a difficult piece and I am still dedicating time to just the chord shapes, but such is life.
Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata 1st mvmt – (link) I feel trite learning this piece because every beginner pianist wishes to learn it, and I read someone recently saying they discount pianists who like to show off with this piece, but I played it recently during a thunderstorm here in Shanghai and it was definitely satisfying.
My biggest shortcomings are technique (I hate Hanon, and scales) and performance, hopefully I will be able to post more recordings (at least soundcloud recordings) here going into the next year to get over my big fear of performing for others.
In year two I will devote more time to this so I can hopefully pass my ABRSM exams and perform for family and friends.