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#1031789 - 12/23/08 11:15 AM Systems Similar to Miracle Piano
JagNut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 24
Loc: Arlington Texas
Greeting from a total newbie:

This is my first post to the forum, although I suspect I will have many questions in the future.

I am 62 and retired, and I just finished a two-year restoration of a 69 XKE. About 15 years ago, I rebuilt an 80-year-old small grand that I still have. With plenty of time on my hands, I think my next "project" will be to fulfill a lifelong dream of finally learning to play the piano, at least a little.

Back then, I tried the Yamaha Electone course. I faithfully attended lessons once per week for two years. I finally became frustrated with the results of those lessons (I think the real goal of the lessons was to sell keyboards). My playing sounded unininteresting, mechanical and boring (full chords in the left hand, melody in the right). I am quite sure I never really developed any sight reading skills. Rather, after constant repetition, I simply memorized the patterns of the notes and fell back on the finger numbers. What little I learned has been mostly forgotten.

I am determined to learn what I can on my own and I have read all the caveats about doing so. But I think I have both the time (several hours per day) and the determination to do it (please, no flames). I’m sure that, at some point, I will turn to a teacher.

Back when I was taking lessons, I had a Miracle Piano that I find still works once I got the software running under Vista. Each lesson is oriented around a simple tune (e.g “Twinkle, Twinkle”), left hand, right hand, both. Additional practice pieces are also provided for that skill level. I am finding the lessons to be very useful, forcing me to use the proper fingering and to play in time with the metronome. Every practice piece is graded (by the software) for note accuracy and rhythm. I don’t move on to the next piece until I can score 100 percent in both areas, even if it takes hours.

The Miracle Piano System gets very positive review at the Piano Education Page, and I believe it to be an excellent tool for self-teaching. Unfortunately, the company went out of business many years ago. I find little mention of it when I search the PW forums. And, despite all of the online material I have found, no one seems to have tried to develop a similar, more modern, inter active system.

Does anyone know of a product that is similar to Miracle Piano?
_________________________
Glen

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#1031790 - 12/23/08 12:53 PM Re: Systems Similar to Miracle Piano
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The single most important thing about
playing the piano is to not look at your
hands as much as possible when playing
with sht. music. This improves reading,
because you can then concentrate fully
on the score. This has the further benefit
of allowing your hands to find the best
fingering and technique on their own,
with no special effort on your part;
thus, you no longer have to bother with
reading finger numbers on the score
or worrying about if your technique is
right, which greatly simplifies playing.
Note that the black keys are your best
friend, because, sticking up above the
white keys are they do in a uniform
pattern of twos and threes, they aid
the hands in finding the white keys without
looking--you wouldn't be able to distinguish
one white key from another otherwise
(a piano with all white keys would be
all but unplayable).

So, you just plop both hands (don't practice
hands separate) down on the keyboard in
the vicinity where the music is to be
played, and, with your eyes glued to the
score, you simply start playing and
let your hands take care of all the work
of finding the right fingering and
technique.

From this one most important thing, all
other skills and requirements for playing
develop naturally, with no special
effort on your part: sight-reading, ear
training, improvisation, posture and
carriage, the right physical development
for playing, playing by ear, transposing,
memorization, rhythm, accent, rubato,
creativity, etc.

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#1031791 - 12/23/08 06:06 PM Re: Systems Similar to Miracle Piano
timeturner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/08
Posts: 26
I'm not familiar with the product you mention but I did a search and according to Harmony Central there are 3 programs considered "similiar" to the Miracle Piano System. They are:

eMedia Learn to Play Keyboard Pack
GForce M-Tron Pro Virtual Instrument
eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method Deluxe 2 CD-ROM Set

They may not be what you are looking for but at least they are something you can take a look at and see. I hope that helps!

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#1031792 - 12/24/08 12:00 AM Re: Systems Similar to Miracle Piano
JagNut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 24
Loc: Arlington Texas
Timeturner: Thanks for the tips. I may have to check out emedia

 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:

So, you just plop both hands (don't practice
hands separate) down on the keyboard in
the vicinity where the music is to be
played, and, with your eyes glued to the
score, you simply start playing and
let your hands take care of all the work
of finding the right fingering and
technique.

Gyro,

All I can say is "I wish it were so," but I can't belive it is. Nor does your advice seem consistent with everything I think I know about piano lessons and the various methods.

I do believe that, at some point, many things probably will become somewhat automatic. Even now I feel I have several chords "in my hands." However, you make the process of learning piano sound like some sort of random act, rather than a purposive exercise. It seems to me that the connection between the score and the keys is something that has to be learned - and I don't believe I have ever learned two complex things at the same time (e.g HS versus HT).

For instance, I have spent considerable time with an program from emusictheory.com (found online and recommended in the FAQ) reading random notes on the staves and applying them to the proper key. As I become more comfortable with this, I find that my ability to play simple pieces from the score is improving as well.

What you suggest seems viable given an unlimited amount of time, but it seems to me that a more traditional approach is likely to pay quicker dividends.
_________________________
Glen

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#1031793 - 12/24/08 04:00 PM Re: Systems Similar to Miracle Piano
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I used to do it the standard way that I
learned in lessons as a child: settle
on one fingering scheme at the start and
stick with it each time you play the piece,
which has the seeming advantage of enabling
you to learn a piece fast because you use
the same fingering each time.

But I eventually abandoned this because
of problems it caused. You end up
having to write in every single finger
number, which on anything longer than
one page soon becomes impractical.
You don't really know what the best
fingering is at the start, and so
the fingering you devise at the start
is likely to be less than optimal.
The fingering might have to change
during learning because with experience
you see that something is better, but
you resist this because of all the
time you've invested in the fingering
scheme you devised at the start, so
you stick with fingering that is less
than optimal.

You have to rely on memory to play
because you're playing with one exact
set of finger movements, and moreover, one slip
in fingering derails your playing; and
relying on memory causes your sight-reading
to deteriorate, which will eventually
stymie you completely: you can no longer
read, and you thus can't learn anything
new.

To avoid writing in finger numbers you
tend to rely on whatever printed fingering
there is, but the score fingering was
devised by some hack editor based on
his hand and psychology, and this
can't possibly fit another person
individually. And so you're forcing
your body to play with something that's
unnatural for it, and when you do
that your body will eventually rebel
and not allow it to continue. This
is why so many classical players burn
out or quit or end up "just playing
the notes."

With the not looking at your hands
approach all of this is eliminated
in one stroke. You no longer have
to look at or write in a single finger number
and long pieces are no problem. Changes
in fingering during learning a piece
your hands take care of automatically.
All fingering is natural because your
own hands devised it. Because the
fingering is your own you play music
instead of "just the notes." Initially
you might take longer to work up
and memorize pieces, but as you gain
more experience with it this should improve.
And memorization done is way is more
secure because everything is done
more naturally and in a way that is
fitted to you individually.

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