Notation Software Community Users' StoriesMichael Clarke, Piano player
Mike is a self-described "basic musician, who sees the piano as pure fun." What could be better?
I had my first piano lessons when I was 7. I only took 4 and hated the formal approach so I gave them up. I still remember my first song though - March of the Middle C twins!
I just played by ear after that, picking up tunes slowly. Over the years I got increasingly nice keyboards for Christmas. Unlike many families in England where a piano is almost something sacred that must not be touched unless you have been formally trained, pianos in our house were there to be played and were considered to be a source of fun. It was this experimentation that gave me the knowledge of some fundamental musical relationships, without even knowing it.
I continued to teach myself, just learning simple things or trying to play along with adverts/films as they came on the TV. I remember the tense tune from "Jaws" as the fin appears, or the tune played as Elmira Gulch rides her bike in "The Wizard of Oz". Then a great moment for me arrived - a TV quiz show called "Don't forget your toothbrush" arrived on British TV screens. It was a completely fresh show, and featured a pianist who I now greatly admire - Jools Holland. Each week Jools would be joined by a famous musician. My favourite week was when the guest star was Neil Sedaka. They played "Go Ape". I recorded that show and re-watched it hundreds of times. Then one week the show I had dreamed of arrived. Jerry Lee Lewis was the guest! But he pulled out at the last minute, but in great spirit Jools Holland stepped in, even mimicking The Killer's piano lid bashing before his song. Again I recorded the show and almost wore the tape out re-watching it.
For years I browsed brochures about Clavinovas from Yamaha, and as soon as I got my first "real" job I treated myself to a Clavinova. Due to unexpected circumstances I was soon forced to sell my beloved Yamaha and to fill the gap I bought a stage piano. This was great but lacked many of the features I had enjoyed on the Clavinova, so I went a'searching on the internet and found Notation Composer. I downloaded the demo and bought it the next day - I've never actually felt so happy parting with my money for software.
So now I have most of the features I missed on my Clavinova, but I can enjoy them all the more as I can view the program on a nice computer screen rather than the (comparatively) tiny screen on the Clavinova.
I am slowly learning to sequence MIDI tracks using both real and step time recording. Composer is really helping me in my quest to obtain greater musical knowledge, and when you print out your efforts, it really does look like a page from a music book.
I decided a short while ago to learn piano formally, and I'm progressing happily through my Michael Aaron book!