Boogie Woogie · 12 December 2020

I like to play music. Guitar, mandolin, piano, even harmonica. I do not play any of my instruments enough, but I find myself drawn to them more and more the longer this pandemic rages on.

The more I think about music, the more I am drawn to the piano. I am not even sure why. After all, I have only taken a few lessons. And the one lesson that has stuck with me the most is the one day lesson that I took to learn how to play chords on the piano. That several hour course has stood me in good stead for many years. I can play lots of chords and the ones I do not know, I can create from a cheat sheet that everybody got at the course. I also have a few songs that I know or kinda know how to play.

The thing with piano is that I have never really gotten the hang of playing both hands. At least not with different notes and rhythms at the same time. I can play the same notes in different octaves, but I have a difficult time getting my left hand and right hand to work together when they are not doing the same or very similar things.

Come to find out that there is this newfangled thing called the internet where you can find just about anything. I found a couple fun exercises to practice to help me get better at the piano. One exercise reinforced a lesson that our church music director told me I needed to do to get better. He and the internet told me that I ought to learn the different voicings of chords. And the internet showed me an interesting way to do that. (By the way, if you do not know what a chord is, a simple definition is that a chord is a set of different tones that sound good together.) And so I have had fun learning different voicings of at least a few chords.

Unfortunately, chords are not the only thing I want to play on the piano. Fortunately, the internet has brought me to Boogie Woogie.

Boogie Woogie is a style of playing piano that has the 12-bar blues as its roots. Or I suppose that it is really just a style of playing 12-bar blues. I have been watching this guy, Brendan Kavanagh, on YouTube. He calls himself Dr. K, and he has a bunch of videos of himself playing piano on public pianos. They are entertaining pieces, but I found out that he has some boogie woogie lessons too. So I have watched a few of them to see if I could put a little boogie woogie into my piano.

The fun thing about boogie woogie is that it is all about the left hand. Okay. Not all. But the thing that holds boogie woogie (and maybe the blues) together is the bass line. Which is the piano left hand. The left hand walks around the notes of the chord to make a fun bass line for whatever song. I have enjoyed learning a couple different left hand movements in a couple different keys. My next step is learning some right hand stuff and putting it all together. Who knows where that will take me.

(I know I said that I was not going to write much more about the pandemic, but I need to say this. The longer we continue having to be isolated, the more I realize that I can learn so much. I can read more and learn more. I can play more and exercise more. And I can be more musical than I have been when I was not so isolated. Do not get me wrong. I always had those choices before, but like most people, I did not think as much about improving myself until I was forced to be more or less isolated from the world. Thus ends the lesson.)

I do like music, and the longer we stay in quarantine, isolated from each other, the more I realize that I need to get better at playing music. If just for my own well-being and sanity. I do not have any delusions of grandeur. (Writing has helped me figure out that I can live in obscurity forever.) I just want to get better at playing the instruments that I have. And long after the pandemic is just a memory, boogie woogie and music in general are some things that I can have a little fun with.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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