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Topic Options
#1060808 - 10/21/04 03:35 PM Teaching myself
JBeachum Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/21/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Starkville, MS
Howdy. I'm a college student who lacks the time and money to take lessons, so I'm forced to teach myself. I taught myself to play saxophone, though, so it's not as imposing as it initially sounds, plus I have 3 years of band experience, so reading music (the treble clef, at least) is easy.

Any advice for me? I understand counting, rhythm, notation, and the other basics of music, and if I work hard enough at a piano piece I can usually play it (although this is a very tedious process because I'm basically learning it note by note). Any help is appreciated.

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#1060809 - 10/21/04 05:29 PM Re: Teaching myself
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
If getting a piano teacher is not being considered, then I would start with a good adult piano book. Most of the theory will be old hat, but the fingering information and bass clef work will help you.
I used the Faber & Faber Piano adventures. I think a number of people here have used the Alfred series with good success.
Good luck and let us know how you progress.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

#1060810 - 10/21/04 07:46 PM Re: Teaching myself
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
JBeachum I'm self taught of about 3 years now and I'm probably around your age. I've gotten along pretty well now. The most important thing that I messed up in the beginning that you need to do is immediately get all the proper fingerings for the scales and arpeggios somewhere, either from the net or from a method book and start practicing very slowly each scale, making sure to have your ear concentrating intently on keeping the tone even. Next, get some easy pieces and start practicing sight reading. Clementi sonatinas are a good start I think they have them for free along with alot of other music at sheetmusicarchives.net, I think they're opus 36 sonatinas listed under Muzio Clementi.
"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."

#1060811 - 10/21/04 08:26 PM Re: Teaching myself
apple* Offline

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I taught myself for almost 30 years. This forum is a great place to pick up info. I would particularly suggest finding recommendations of a plan to follow.. it might be easier to follow a path than to blindly stab along haphazardly.
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

#1060812 - 10/21/04 11:52 PM Re: Teaching myself
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i saw this book at B&N, which seems a very good book to study with. i started with different ones, but this one is better.


#1060813 - 10/23/04 07:40 PM Re: Teaching myself
James L. Taylor Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 7
Loc: Towson, Maryland
Beachum- I'm 73. Just started nearly 3 yrs. ago to fulfill my lifelong dream. Started with children's books. Very boring at 1st. Gradually improved as time went on. After about 1 yr. started with an instructor, little over 2 yrs. Store closed down. Back to teaching myself. Love it. Play very well, do have some trouble remembering chords. Trouble playing with left hand. Now have over 100 books & sheet music. Thanks for listening and keep at it. Pianoman

#1060814 - 10/23/04 07:53 PM Re: Teaching myself
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Faber's Adult Piano Adventures.

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


#1060815 - 10/24/04 05:35 PM Re: Teaching myself
KevinR Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 3
Loc: Washington State (SW)
My recommended beginners books are both by Lela Hoover Ward. JIBBIDY-F and A-C-E the other book being Sugar and Spice. MAybe you could get the books from a libary to save $

#1060816 - 10/25/04 07:50 AM Re: Teaching myself
kateriniparalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/04
Posts: 139
Loc: Cali

I have a similar situation. I played another instrument for several years, already knew treble clef, etc. I couldn't afford a piano teacher (jeez, lessons are expensive!), so I decided I'd at least take a stab at "teaching myself".

I thought learning bass clef, and coordinating hands together, would be impossible (that's what intimidated me most about making the transition to piano), but, a year or so into this, I'm finding it's not that bad.

The funny thing about piano, which is the complete opposite of my experience with my old instrument, is that very early into playing any given piece, I find that I have it basically memorized. I think this is because I'm lousy at sightreading piano. I still don't have enough of a "mind's-eye" view of the keyboard and distances to read the music while playing, so I end up stuggling through it, measure by measure, and eventually memorizing every piece. With my old instrument, I was very good at sightreading, to the point of depending very heavily upon the sheet music. I couldn't memorize a piece to save my life... no matter how many times I'd played it! I worry that I'm not doing enough to develop my piano sightreading, but memorizing pieces early on also helps me be much more expressive than I ever was with my old instrument. Very wonderful, indeed!

One of my biggest worries not having a teacher is possibly using wrong fingerings that may screw me up down the line. I also wonder if there are other things that I'm doing wrong that I'm not at all aware of, that a teacher would spot right away. I know that many teachers insist that one must take lessons... Then again, I've met some really good, self-taught pianists... I guess it depends, at least in part, on the individual. Good luck!!


#1060817 - 10/25/04 09:32 AM Re: Teaching myself
Mikester Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 1254
Loc: Minneesooota
If you have a good ear for music, I think it can be done. But you should know that a lot of mistakes and bad habits are discovered by a third party, which is why it's good to have a teacher monitor your progress. To just critique you on stuff that you might not notice while you are playing.

#1060818 - 10/29/04 03:04 PM Re: Teaching myself
JBeachum Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/21/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Starkville, MS
Hm. Thanks for the advice, everyone. It's going to be hard but I think I'll get the hang of it eventually. The good thing is that a friend of mine who plays piano said she'll help me out, so I'm ready to learn.

#1060819 - 10/30/04 06:49 AM Re: Teaching myself
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
A friend that can help you can be the equivalent of a teacher. Just find the right course work and have fun.
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".


#1060820 - 10/30/04 07:25 AM Re: Teaching myself
MusicMagellan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1161
Loc: NY
As an addition to the other tips, supplement your learning by reading Chang's online book.

As another self-taught pianist over the many years, I've found no other literature that even comes close in it's utility. It's not perfect by any means. But I suggest it is an invaluable supplement.

The other suggestion? Record yourself! Listen to recordings by professionals of the work you are learning and compare your version with theirs. I promise you, you will learn a piece so much faster that way.
(watch this space)

#1060821 - 10/30/04 10:33 AM Re: Teaching myself
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Yes! - Chang. There are a lot of good ideas there. Thanks for reminding me to keep reading it.

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



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