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#1003326 - 12/05/04 08:16 PM Any successful teach yourself methods?
chprout Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 33
Loc: Northern Virginia
Hi all. I am signed up with a teacher and will begin next Friday. I would like to know, however, if anyone has had any luck with any of the teach yourself methods that are out.

On public TV the other day, for example, I saw a method by "The Piano Guy". I know there are many more.

Although I definitely am going to work with a teacher, I want to work some on my own also to progress faster.

Any firsthand experience with any good methods would be appreciated.

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#1003327 - 12/05/04 09:51 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
i really don't care for that 'piano guy'. for some total beginners to music and piano, maybe he is ok to start with, but for anyone who has already had some knowledge of music and piano playing or even some other instrument playing, his method sounds like a short cut going nowhere. if you want to read sheet music and learn music, forget this guy and find some other methods. there are many teach yourself type of piano instruction or method books out there to choose from.

personally, i like the book "The Piano Handbook" which teaches you both piano and music plus some history and composer background. there is also a book called "Teach Yourself Piano", which i haven't seen out there in bookstore or online for a while though. my suggestion is doing some search on such books online or in bookstores to see if you like the book, because only when you like it you can finish reading it and learn the most from it.

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#1003328 - 12/06/04 06:47 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
" How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home " looks interesting.

The Piano Guy's book does have some cool tips in it. But it's a pretty steep price for such a thin volume.

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#1003329 - 12/06/04 06:47 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
 Quote:
Originally posted by chprout:
Hi all. I am signed up with a teacher and will begin next Friday. I would like to know, however, if anyone has had any luck with any of the teach yourself methods that are out.

On public TV the other day, for example, I saw a method by "The Piano Guy". I know there are many more.

Although I definitely am going to work with a teacher, I want to work some on my own also to progress faster.

Any firsthand experience with any good methods would be appreciated. [/b]
I would avoid the "Piano Guy". I took a quick look in the bookstore and thought it was more of a "feelgood" method than actually learning to play anything.

If you have a teacher, you shouldn't need too much more. If you need/want more, ask your teacher to give you more!
_________________________
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

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#1003330 - 12/06/04 07:05 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Actually "The Piano Guy" got me started. I never bought his material but I saw him on PBS and almost did. I did a lot of computer research and found what I thought would be better resources which I will list below.

I have been primarily working on my own but I do have two friends who play very well who have given me input as needed. You are going to need someone to help you as you start out. I am at the point I would like to find a good formal teacher and I have initiated contact at a local college.

http://www.fjhmusic.com/piano/apa.htm

Faber's Adult Piano Adventures was a good start for me.

Also, search the archives and you will find a goldmine of valuable information.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1003331 - 12/06/04 07:42 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:
" How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home " looks interesting.

[/b]
I used this book before starting lessons. Well, actually between lessons, but that's another story. Anyway, it's pretty decent, but I don't know if I'd call it a "method." It may depend on what you're looking for--a long-term, step-by-step progression, or a quicker, get-down-to-brass-tacks approach. This book is definitely worth looking into if your goal is the latter.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003332 - 12/06/04 07:46 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Stevester:

http://www.fjhmusic.com/piano/apa.htm

Faber's Adult Piano Adventures was a good start for me.

[/b]
This is what I'm working in now, Book 3A, with my teacher. Fairly traditional method, but I like it pretty well. It also has lots of optional, supplementary books that parallel the main method.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003333 - 12/06/04 10:16 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
markb, I used the two book series. You are the first person I have communicated with who has used or are using the larger format series. I felt the Faber two book series was a good start but the second half of the second book started to bore me, I think it had to do with their musical choices.

After Faber I have gone on to The Frederick Harris Music "Celebration Series" listed below. I really like it and have been making very good progress (knock on wood). The Celebration Series has CDs which give representations of the pieces which I find of great help. Their web site is listed below and you can older direct. I must admit I had a very, very hard time making the transition from Faber to Frederick Harris as it is a rather broad leap (very left hand intense, forget the chords).

http://www.frederickharrismusic.com/fhmcUS/Frederick.jsp
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1003334 - 12/06/04 11:26 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Stevester, I started about 1/2way through book 2, as I had about a year of lessons a while back, so we skipped some stuff. At that time, I was using Alfred's and got mostly through book 2. I think I like Faber a bit better, as I like their their selections better. I'm not that picky, though, as long as I'm learning something pertinent.

In addition to the lesson book, I use the performance book and the technique & artistry book.

It's interesting to hear what people think of the various methods. It really seems to come down to personal preference as opposed to one method being inherently superior.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003335 - 12/06/04 02:27 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
markb, There is a lot of very good information in the archives regarding the different methods. I had some correspondence about a year ago on this forum or one of the others on this web site that pointed me in what I think has been a good direction. Unless you have literature you enjoy piano work can become a major pain.


Regards,
Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1003336 - 12/06/04 03:46 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Paret Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 82
Loc: Keller, TX
Click HERE.

Have FUN.

_________________________
Luis D. Paret
K1LDP

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#1003337 - 12/06/04 07:00 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
You might want to check out www.quenmar.com. I ordered the books, which came today (although apparently I need to sign for them, so they're not actually in my possession yet). My understanding is it's a method to play popular music. As there are four basic books and then six advanced books, I think it's much more of a method than just going through a single book. It's designed to be used either as a self-teaching method or in conjunction with lessons. It was recommended to me by another poster here. (search on Sudnow method). If anyone's interested, I can post on it after I get into it a little bit.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003338 - 12/06/04 07:58 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Mark, definitely give some feedback on how it works for you. Who are you going to be accompanying?

I ordered the Sudnow course and I'll be providing a review once I've gotten into it a ways. If nothing else happens, I'll at least be able to play Misty if I'm ever in a lounge bar. \:\)

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#1003339 - 12/07/04 06:13 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:
Mark, definitely give some feedback on how it works for you. Who are you going to be accompanying?

I ordered the Sudnow course and I'll be providing a review once I've gotten into it a ways. If nothing else happens, I'll at least be able to play Misty if I'm ever in a lounge bar. \:\) [/b]
Bob, I'll be accompanying anyone who can stand being accompanied by an undertalented, overambitious pianist-wannabee. Actually, I don't have any real plans yet, although I'd like to get to the point where I could, for example, accompany the chorus at my kids' elementary school, play in an informal band where I'm mostly playing backup/rhythm, etc.

I looked into Sudnow, too, so I'm definitely interested in that approach. Are you also taking lessons?

And speaking of Misty, which song is that? I know a version sung by Johnny Mathis, but maybe there's a different one.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003340 - 12/07/04 07:41 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Misty is the song that starts "Look at me, I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree" and is probably the one by Mathis that you're thinking of. It's an old standard (there are over 100 different renditions of it on Listen.com! ) Sudnow uses it as the first piece to begin learning his method. I'll know more once the materials arrive.

I have to say that having read through the forum on his site, (you get the password once you buy the course), I'm not so sure the course is what I was looking for. I was looking for a course to get me up to speed quickly on improvising from fake books, but it looks like it's primarly for those people who never want to play classical music and only want to learn a few tunes.

I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt though and work through the course, at least for a while, before rendering a verdict.

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#1003341 - 12/07/04 07:46 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:

I have to say that having read through the forum on his site, (you get the password once you buy the course), I'm not so sure the course is what I was looking for. I was looking for a course to get me up to speed quickly on improvising from fake books, but it looks like it's primarly for those people who never want to play classical music and only want to learn a few tunes.
[/b]
Just from reading the Web site, I also thought the course primarily addresses playing from fake books/lead sheets, and that's why I was interested in it. Anyway, please let us know how it turns out.

And that is the Misty I know.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003342 - 12/07/04 09:36 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Rafi Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Denver, Colorado
The key thing is to be working on music that you like to hear. If you're playing "Camptown Races" or "Three Blind Mice" you're going to lose interest.

Work with your teacher to find something you really would like to be able to hear and play, and that is accessible to you.

The other important thing of course, is to practice, practice, practice.

Once you've learned the fundamentals, it really is up to you. No teacher can Force you to learn, it is your own effort that will get you there. Teachers provide guidance, inspiration, etc, but only you can put in the necessary time.

I guess you could say that that has been a successful teach yourself method for me.

"A lesson repeated 100 times cannot be compared to a lesson repeated 101 times."

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#1003343 - 12/07/04 10:30 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
The key thing is to be working on music that you like to hear. If you're playing "Camptown Races" or "Three Blind Mice" you're going to lose interest.
[/b]
Hey, those just happen to be my two most favoritest songs! ;\)
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003344 - 12/08/04 02:24 PM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Sherry Lassie Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 2
Loc: Hot Springs, Arkansas
I was turned onto the Scott "The Piano Guy" Houston approach a year ago and it changed my life. I always wanted to play songs that I liked - not that boring stuff in classical books or that teachers push. Playing by chords may be the "easy way," but unless you want to play classical music, and only want to play for your own enjoyment and play songs you like, this is probably the best way. I think it is a music preference issue. I am thankful for all of Scott's humor towards playing piano.

Sherry Lassie

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#1003345 - 12/09/04 06:29 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Despite methods such as Houston's or Sudnow's often receiving less than favorable comments on some threads, I think it's important to keep in mind the widely varying needs/goals of people learning an instrument. The methods and books that teach shortcuts to playing certain types of music often are a great fit for some people. For others, they don't meet any needs. It's wonderful that Houston's approach had a great result with Sherry. Maybe it's not something that I'd elect to do, or for many/most others around here, but I think people should always consider someone's musical goals before trashing any approach.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1003346 - 12/09/04 07:19 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
Hi all,

I just had to pipe in here and give a little advice to those people exploring alternative playing styles (i.e. non classical from a fake book). There is a class of keyboards called arrangers that are specifically designed for these methods. They emulate the one-man band sound by providing complete accompinament from the left hand chords that you play. This accompinament makes what would be a rather unexciting piece sound fantastic, full and very musical. I can't stress enough how motivating and enjoyable this can be.

Quite frankly, playing musically from a fake book on a piano requires almost as much, if not more skill than a classically trained pianist. To make the music sound full, requires an extensive knowledge of bass runs, left hand patterns, various chord voicings and good improvisation skills.

I guess my point is that if you wish to learn to play keyboard (POP music from a fake book) then buy an arranger keyboard, but if you pant to play classical then purchase a piano (digital or accoustic).

All the major digital piano vendors sell arranger keyboards so you shouldn't have any problem trying one them out at you local music centre.

Arrangers DON'T have weighted keyboards so they can not be used as an alternative to a piano for classical training. This shouldn't be an issue if POP (everything other than classical) is the style of music you intend to play.

BTW:

I have both and wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes when I get really frustrated at the piano thinking I'm never going to get good, I just move over to my arranger and open a fake book. What a mood booster!!!

Cheers,

Rodney

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#1003347 - 12/09/04 07:25 AM Re: Any successful teach yourself methods?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rodney:

Quite frankly, playing musically from a fake book on a piano requires almost as much, if not more skill than a classically trained pianist. To make the music sound full, requires an extensive knowledge of bass runs, left hand patterns, various chord voicings and good improvisation skills.
[/b]
Good point. It's not that hard to get started on basic pop/fake book playing, but to go beyond that takes a lot of work. You're only given a musical framework--maybe the name of the chord and the melody. You have to figure out the best voicings, rhythm, bass lines, etc. for the situation (e.g., playing solo or accompanying). I'm still at the very basic level but hope to get better when I devote a little more time to it.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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