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#1046716 - 12/26/08 01:48 PM New to Piano, seeking advice!
tdevseattle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/25/08
Posts: 1
Hello all, happy holidays!

I realize there are many similar "getting started" threads in this forum, but I'm hoping for some advice a bit more tailored to my unique situation.

So, as it seems, I've always wanted to play the piano. I took lessons for a year or so when I was very young (10-12, hard to remember), but it wasn't until this year, at 24, that I realized I would like to give it a serious attempt. Since I'm post design BFA and practicing regularly (hornallanderson.com), I've got some extra time between work and play to take on a new study.

So, like any new venture, I've got a number of questions keeping curious:

1. I've read a lot about private lessons versus self taught, versus online lessons. I think I'd like to spend some time getting acquainted with the piano (a few weeks?) and then start once a week private instruction. Does this seem like the best idea? Also, does anyone have an instructor recommendation within the Seattle city area?

2. I want to buy a digital piano, as an investment and commitment promise to myself. I've been doing a little research and found a great deal on a Casio PX-120 ($350), is this suitable for a beginner?

3. I'm looking for a good book to get started with. I'm certain the eventual instructor will have a suggestion, but I've read a bit about Alfred's series, and would like to know if that's time well spent.

4. I'm really very much into classical piano,though I'd like to play everything from Guaraldi to Brubeck (distant dream, I know). How should I focus my core studies to create the most diverse base to grow from?

5. Finally, I'd like to know more about piano culture - historic and contemporary alike. Could anyone suggest a good read less focused on the practice and more on the culture of the subject?

Thanks so much to anyone who has time to respond, I realize it's a lot!

Looking forward to something more than 'Mary had a little lamb' in 2009.



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#1046717 - 12/26/08 07:49 PM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
Coolkid70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 378
Loc: Irvine, CA
Hi Tony. I'm surprised that you haven't had a response yet -- usually people jump right on top of these kinds of threads.

1) It seems like a good idea for you to get a feel for the piano for just a few weeks. You probably shouldn't carry on for too long by yourself, since all self-learners tend to develop bad habits at one point or another; it will be harder to correct later.

2) I don't have much experience with digitals, so you might wait for somebody else to reply, or check out the "Digital Pianos" forum.

3) I haven't tried Alfred, but it does seem to be a popular series. In contrast, I'd like to recommend other series - perhaps the Bastien method books. They seem to be tailored more for young kids, but I personally think that they can be helpful too.

4) You might want to develop a plan with your teacher.

I will note, since you mentioned Brubeck, that a lot of Jazz of that style comes from classically trained musicians; Brubeck himself wrote music for classical pianists. So, you probably can't go wrong with a classical base.

5) I took a class at my community college called "History of Western Music". We used a book from Norton called "A History of Western Music" (no surprise, of course). It came with a set of CDs with music from each major era, up to modern times. It might be what you are looking for.

(A link: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/music/musichistory/)

This was one of my favourite classes of all time. I don't think you'll be disappointed by studying music history.

That's all I have for now. But be sure to post if you have additional questions.

Good luck!

Kawai K-3 (2008)

#1046718 - 12/26/08 07:53 PM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
1) Yes to a teacher. But, first......
How is your sight reading? Can you recognize and sound a note on the piano in the same amount of time it takes you to say your name? You could brush up or learn how to read standard notation before you make contact if you like. Also some scale work if your fingering is correct. Alfred's book should point you in the right direction on the scale work and flash cards are great for learning standard notation.

2) Fine

3) Yes Alfred's books are great to start with.

4) Talk to your teacher.

5) Talk to your teacher. I think it would help if you could discuss the recommended material together. Or a trip to your local library and ask for help.

#1046719 - 12/26/08 10:58 PM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
1. good idea. i had learned on my own for about 5 years before getting a teacher. you can learn a lot of basic stuff by yourself, but be careful about posture and hand position issues which i would suggest you to watch some youtube lessons so that you could start in right way.

2. a good and cheap way to start. go for it!

3. find an instruction/method book for adults to start working on basics.

4. again, work on basic skills first, not rush to immediately play music pieces, except some really easy ones, and anything from the method book.

5. there're many books about music history or classical music composers. search amazon.com for anything like that. get a few books like this and read, which is what i did before.

#1046720 - 12/27/08 05:07 AM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3273
#1 is not the best idea. The reason is that the human brain is wired to learn the first learnings of something very deeply, so if you learn it wrong, it is extra hard to un-learn and then re-learn correctly.

To illustrate, I sure you have heard that you have only a few quick moments to make a good first impression, and that those first impressions stick.

I have found that this principle applies to learning other things, such as piano.

Here is an example of that.

As a teacher, I have seen repeatedly that if a person learns a mistake with their right hand (RH), and then corrects it, and then learns their LH correctly, they will almost always revert to that RH mistake when they first put their hands together. It is uncanny...I have seen it so often I would bet money on it.

Another person said on these forums that your first teacher is the most important one, because he/she will establish things such as correct body posture at the piano, correct hand posture at the keys, correct fingering, and so forth.

These are things that can be very hard to unlearn. Therefore, I suggest that you start with a teacher, rather than self-teach and then invite the teacher to later on join you in your learning.

Unless you have a very unqualified teacher, this will allow you to start off on the right foot, and have a faster learning curve because you will not have to un-learn things that you learned wrong, and did not know you were doing so.
Music teacher and Blues piano player.

#1046721 - 12/27/08 10:39 AM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
Monica K. Online   blank

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17849
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, tdevseattle! \:\) I would encourage you to check out the piano teacher's forum and send a private message to John v.d.Brook , one of the teachers who regularly posts there. He's located in Olympia, which is probably too far away for you, but he might have some recommendations of good Seattle-area teachers you could try.

I do agree with rocket88 that if you're amenable to lessons, it would be best to start out as soon as possible. A teacher can show you the best way to sit at the bench, hold your hands, etc., all of which are important things to prevent injury, and it would be best to develop those habits from the start.
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#1046722 - 12/27/08 11:55 AM Re: New to Piano, seeking advice!
FormerFF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 476
Loc: Roswell, GA, USA
There are a couple of things you do to get a jump start on your lessons that don't even require a keyboard. You can practice articulating your fingers individually, since you'll need that in order to play the piano and it's not something you usually do. If you have a method book, you can also learn some basic note reading. Many of your early exercises will use the octave that contains middle C and your right hand, and also the octave directly below it and your left hand. If you can learn to associate the note on the staff with its name and the key on your piano, that will speed your progress.

I've briefly played the Casio PX-120, and thought it was a very nice instrument for the price. I think you'll be fine with it for at least a couple of years.
Piano self teaching on and off from 2002-2008. Took piano instruction from Nov 2008- Feb 2011. Took guitar instruction Feb 2011-Jul 2013. Can't play either. Living, breathing proof some people aren't cut out to make music.


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