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BASIC Piano Melodies Series – 10 Year Anniversary November 13, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Other/TO.com news.
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“This video is to show how to play the basic melody of this song, right hand only. This is meant to be a basic piano video and not a piano skill video. It’s for people who can’t play piano that well, to be able try to play a bit and enjoy piano. I learn the melodies of the songs by ear (meaning I don’t use sheet music) and play them at a slower speed for others to like and learn. There may be some mistakes but hey, no one’s perfect.” – Video descriptions of my piano videos.

The simpler reason I make piano videos; I enjoy anime and music. When I get the melody stuck in my head, I want to be a part of the music. By playing alongside it, I feel I can truly immerse myself in the power and emotion of the song. I make these videos to share my interests to the world, hopefully to reach people who feel the same.

It’s been 10 years since I started this series, and looking back on all those years I’ve progressed and done a lot with it. I’m grateful for all the viewers and feedback that I’ve gotten, whether good or bad, and I don’t plan to stop making these videos any time soon. Let’s look back at how this all got started, as well as how I make these videos, for anyone who’s curious anyways.

History

On a whim on Sept 26, 2008, I made a quick little video for YouTube using nothing else than my first laptop’s built-in webcam. It was me playing the melody of the Negima anime opening theme “Happy Material”, the first anime that got me into non-mainstream anime that wasn’t readily available in the US.

Over a year later on November 13, 2009 I made a piano video that would become the first of my Piano Melodies Series. As I was watching through the Shakugan no Shana series, I decided to play some of the melodies from the songs from the anime in a single video, hence the name “Basic Piano Melody”.

The style of my piano videos for those first few years was to play and record multiple melodies from either a single anime series or theme. As I could only record at the college’s piano rooms and not at home due to not having a great setup for it there, it took time to get the footage. Which meant I was consistently putting out Basic Piano Melodies videos every month or so.

A couple of years later, I changed how I produced my piano videos to both ease production and decrease the time needed to produce videos by making each one focus on one song, rather than multiple. This allowed me to produce piano videos more often with better quality, which in turn increased views and subscriptions. This was the transition to the Basic Piano Melodies videos. A couple more years later, not much changed except that I wanted emphasize the BASIC part of my piano videos. I now capitalize the word “BASIC” in my BASIC Piano Melodies videos, as I have mentioned in all of my piano video descriptions that I am in no means a good piano player, just someone who enjoys music and tries to share that by using my play-by-ear skill to transcribe the melody into its simplest form.

This was generally how I used to record my piano videos, later upgrading to a Canon EOS Rebel T3.

The hardest part of the process of creating my piano videos wasn’t really the practicing of the melody or editing of the videos. Rather it was just having a convenient place to record them. I didn’t have a decent enough set up at home that I wanted to use for recording, and I wanted to stick to a real piano as long as I could. From the beginning up to the end of 2017, I used piano rooms available at my local college campus, but as time went on it became harder to use them, due to a combination of policy changes, and me no longer being a student there.

Synthesia

Starting last year onwards, I finally made the leap from recording real piano footage to recording MIDI for the digital keyboard program Synthesia. This made things a lot easier for me, as I could finally do everything from home. I was already using my keyboard, a Yamaha PSR-170, for practicing and recording MIDI to create sheet music. I used to use a program called MidiPiano to record the MIDI for the longest while, but more recently found a much better software called MidiEditor. Switching MIDI programs allowed me to more accurately record as well as do minor edits to the sequences already done.

Creating the Videos

Since then, not much has changed. Whenever an anime song sticks in my head, I have an urge to play the melody out on my keyboard. A little practice later, once I’m confident that I can play it though, I connect my keyboard to my laptop and record the MIDI. I listen to the TV size version of the anime song using earphones and play alongside it. Once I have a good take recorded, it’s on to creating the actual video footage. I switch over to my desktop where I use Synthesia to play out the melody. I record Synthesia using Fraps, to create both an original speed and slower versions. I also then create the title cards for the BASIC Piano Melody videos with the paint.NET program, using either album or anime related artwork alongside the main info of the video.

With the assets recorded and created, it’s time to put the video together. Using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, I edit it all together as you see them in my videos, though in the old days (The first couple years) I used good old Windows Movie Maker. They’re then uploaded to YouTube; most of the info in the video description is from a template that I copy from previous piano videos, I just change the parts that I need to for each one. The same mostly goes for the video tags, listing all relevant items, and copying it for their Piano Tutorial counterpart.

That’s pretty much the whole process I go through to make this content. One thing though that I should be doing more after uploading is advertising it on my social media. I tend to forget to post them on Facebook and such, and sometimes when I do remember a few days after, I feel that posting it late lacks relevancy to the original time of uploading. It may not help much, but any help is better than none in getting the word out that a new video is out.

Feedback

Feedback from viewers and subscribers is always something to expect from making YouTube videos. And while a great amount of them are positive, the negative ones I either think of them as constructive or just missing the point of the video. I get a bunch of comments mentioning how poor my piano playing is, and that is true. It’s not like I’m hiding it, or that I’ve mentioned about it in every video description. These piano videos are BASIC, and always will be. Maybe they’re trying to help me, but I’d rather not try to compete with other anime pianists on YouTube, as I don’t see much people do what I do.

As for when people make requests for certain songs I should do, as much as I would like to indulge them, I usually only do songs that I get into sync with. Most of the time the songs I do are new ones that are part of the current anime season, or ones from a favorite artist/anime series. If a request aligns with that then I’ll probably consider doing it for a video.

 

The Future

I don’t have a grand plan for improvement or expansion, but I will keep this series going as long as I’m able or willing to. I may not have the viewership that I used to have in my prime years (2014-2016), but recently I’ve had a bit of an uptick of viewers so I know that my content is still relevant to what some people want to watch. I guess this piano series is tied to my love for anime as well, as the majority of the songs I do are from them. The only way things may wind down with these videos is if I start to stray from anime, but I don’t see myself doing so any time soon. As small as my channel is on YouTube, I will always be proud of the piano videos I make, regardless of how unprofessional my piano playing is. These are made for people like me, someone who enjoys these kinds of music and wants to try to play them on piano but doesn’t have much experience doing so. Starting with the BASICS from me, taking that first step, you can learn to see if it’s something you want to do. If you want to go to the next level, I will gladly recommend other YouTubers who also make fantastic anime piano videos.

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