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#1061646 - 10/16/04 09:23 AM playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Hello Everyone,

I am currently enrolled in a Music Theory class at my local college. I enrolled in this course with the goal of learning the "basics of music" before I started to learn to play the piano (the keyboard really, since I have neither the space nor the money for a piano).

Ofcourse, I couldnt wait to finish the course, to see if I was still interested/excited about my new adventure with music. I went off and bought a small keyboard, thinking of it as an additional "textbook" for the course.

I'm extremely pleased with the course so far, and I think I have a good grasp on the basics covered up to this point (the course ends in December). I have only been using the keyboard to enhance what I'm learning in class, so that I can understand the concepts (and their applications) better. However, I want to start making the transition from using the keyboard for the course, and now use my knowledge from the course to learn to play the keyboard. However, the two activities are very different. Actually playing the keys is a much more physical thing than listening in a class and trying to understand concepts. I'm just not sure where to start...

Practicing simple songs, learning to sight-read, and acquiring fingering technique seem to be the way to get started. Piano teachers are ideal, but I honestly do not have the resources for this at the moment and am working with my professor in the course to suit my keyboarding needs.

So my first question is, what is meant by "practicing scales?" What is the main goal behind this? I know the general composition of a major scale. So does "practicing scales" mean to be able to play one starting from any key? Playing a scale without looking? I dont want to start playing a scale aimlessly and waste my time.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for reading! \:\)

P.S. I have also read many of the other threads on the board, like selecting a good electronic keyboard, and technique development. Thanks to everyone for their helpful contributions.
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Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061647 - 10/16/04 09:41 AM Re: playing in general
Cryptkeeper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/04
Posts: 114
Loc: Belgium
Hi jasper!

I actually never took a music theory class. It sounds boring, just theory and no playing, but you're having fun and that's important.

Studying theory and playing are two different things.
I think the best way you start playing is by playing easy songs (children songs, christmas songs,...).
Easy stuff, to get you familliar with your keyboard.
I'm having piano lessons for about 4 months now and my piano teacher sais it's still to soon for me to learn scales, so I wouldn't start with that.

I would also recommend buying a book to teach you how to play. I'm sure lots of peoply here will have recommendations for books.

Oh, and try to learn songs you like, it will keep your motivation high.

Of course I'm but a beginner myself and I'm sure there will be other and better ideas posted here.
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#1061648 - 10/16/04 10:08 AM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Hi cryptkeeper,

Thanks for your recommendations.
On music theory... it is boring at times, and it was confusing to me in the beginning because I had no notion of measures and how to clap dotted notes and small notes like sixteenths. Forntulately for me, my professor always stresses the use of an instrument to put to use what we learn, so he keeps a good balance.
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061649 - 10/16/04 10:30 AM Re: playing in general
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Jasper-

I noticed you are using a Yamaha keyboard. What model? I'm using a Yamaha EZ-30 model.

As far as books goes, I am using the Alfred's Adult Piano Course Book 1. (I have been learning, self taught, for 7 months).

Alfred Adult Series
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#1061650 - 10/16/04 10:48 AM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Hey Jerry,

I got the Yamaha PSR-175. I initially wanted the DGX-500, but that would have required me to wait until next summer, and I simply could not wait that long. After some reading I came to the conclusion that I will eventually get the Yamaha P90... eventually lol. If my employment plans go as scheduled, I could have it before next fall.
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061651 - 10/16/04 02:57 PM Re: playing in general
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
don't bother with DGX500/505 at all, because they are basically keyboard without weight (too light, even lighter than PSR series i thought as i tried at BestBuy). save your money towards buying a digital piano with weighted keys later, if you are serious about playing and want to continue it for long time.

get yourself a playing piano for beginner book to start, which will teach you all basics you'd need to know.

playing scales is mainly for training your fingers to be familiar with such passages and standard fingerings over such passages, so that you could play these type of passages in some real music pieces easily or at least know how the fingering generally goes over such. such ideas are generally presented in Hanon exercises. but be careful to train your fingers by doing solely Hanon's, because it doesn't train you to play music well and you could get hurt if you don't know the right way to do such exercises or over doing such. another thing to remember is that the fingering provided in Hanon is standard fingerings on scales or apreggios, which does not mean that you could actually use such fingering in some real music pieces. take Mozart's K545 1st movement for example, the scales passages there are not necessarily played best with standard fingering rather than some different fingerings. so, as you've played and learned more, you will know all those things and make your own judgement on fingering of any pieces you play.

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#1061652 - 10/16/04 06:40 PM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
I see. I guess the best way to start learning is to start doing! I will get that recommended book for the moment and probably will end up getting more later.

Thanks for the tips! :-)
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061653 - 10/17/04 09:14 AM Re: playing in general
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
one more thing: since you start from a keyboard, be sure to turn on the "touch" (touch sensitive/response) button. without it, the sound produced from each key you press will be the same (loudness), whether or not you actually press a key down hard or soft or with different speed. this will give you an illusion that you actually press down the keys with the same amount of effort/force, which is not the case because every finger may have different strength. at least, the 'touch' button will give you a sense of such difference, so that your fingers will be properly trained to play evenly. this is important to know from the beginning, otherwise, some day when you play on a piano (with weighted keys) you would notice your fingers are so inadequate to play on those keys.

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#1061654 - 10/17/04 10:29 AM Re: playing in general
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi, Jasper:

About the scales thing--and arpeggios, and chord progressions... here are a few reasons why you should work on them:

1) Learning key signatures. If I tell you the piece is in a major key with 2 sharps, you should more or less automatically know it's D, and the sharps are F# and C#. You shouldn't need to do more than glance at the key signature.

2) Getting used to playing the black keys without freaking out. There's nothing "harder" about a key signature with lots of sharps or flats, once you know the general feel of playing them.

3) Learning the standard fingering. Although I agree that there are times when the standard fingering won't work, I think in the majority of pieces, it will work. Even if you have to switch the fingering for some reason, if you know that huge mess of notes is really just an ascending G major arpeggio, say, you won't be panicked when it occurs in the music.

4) Increasing dexterity. You will need to teach your fingers how to move across the keyboard in all sorts of ways. Scales and arpeggios, in particular, are great ways to get your fingers in shape.

5) Helping sight read--particularly with chord progressions. This is a godsend when you're playing more contemporary music, since the basic chords are almost always the same. If you can recognize the shape of a 7th chord on the printed page, for example, you'll find with practice that you just need to look at the bottom note of the chord and its shape to know what the chord is.

Good luck!

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#1061655 - 10/17/04 12:35 PM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Unfortunately my keyboard is not touch sensitive, which is pretty annoying. I do enjoy hearing the different sounds that are made just from pressing with varying degrees of force, and also the feel of the heavy keys pushing their way back up... something I can only feel at school on their pianos. I stay there a little extra every time just so I can practice on their pianos for at least 30 mins. Thanks signa.

As for key signatures, I recently memorized those for class :-) I know right off the bat how many sharps each scale has, but I have to think to know which ones are sharp. Same for the flats. I'll work more on this, I dont really have a problem with "memorizing" stuff.

I think I have a head start on dexterity . ;-)

And finally, I know that sight reading will be difficult for me, but I'll work on this from the beginning. I'd rather try not to be deficient in anything, although I'm not running for DiBlasio :-P
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061656 - 10/17/04 06:24 PM Re: playing in general
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Jasper-- it will be easier with a keyboard. Did you learn the "circle of fifths" in your music theory class?

The sharps and flats come in a specific order, following the circle of fifths. The first sharp is F#, go up a 5th to D#, up another 5th to G#, up to C#, etc. It's easy to "see" on a keyboard, IMO.

For flats, go down instead. The first flat will be Bb, down a 5th to Eb, down another 5th to Ab, etc.

Loved the Rubik's Cube clip... is that you?

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#1061657 - 10/17/04 06:58 PM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Yes, I studied the circle of fifths. That made it a lot easier to learn the scales. I definitely noticed the patern on paper, but havent really looked on the keyboard. I will look for that next time I practice so that I can make a better connection in my mind with the fifths on the keyboard. (btw, these are exactly the little tips I really enjoy reading on this forum \:\) )

Also, anyone notice how the major scale is like two identical mini scales repeated? ;-)

And yeah, thats me in the clip :-) My name is Ral, Jaspers are the school mascot name. I am a Jasper :-)

Gracias, Nina.
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061658 - 10/17/04 07:06 PM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Forgot to mention. I came from the bookstore a few hours ago. Went there to get a Schaum's Outlines book and they didnt have the one I needed. Since I didnt want to leave empty handed I decided to look for the Alfred's Adult Series book that was recommended. The Piano Handbook by Carl Humphries was there, but the pages were mangled. Too many people cheesing off the free reading they're allowed to do in the store. They had like three other books on piano. What an embarrassment. This is supposed to be Barnes and Noble... in NYC!!! It will be a long time before I step foot in a "brick-and-mortar" bookstore again.
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061659 - 10/18/04 05:55 AM Re: playing in general
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Nina-

I am also grateful for the list of tips. In fact, I think I will print it out, and put it with my other material. Signa, I am fortunate to have a touch response button on my keyboard. Until about 2 weeks ago, I was not using it. After reading a post about it in the Keyboards forum, I began using it immediately. What a difference it makes in my playing! I was also advised to turn off the lighted-keys feature, which I did. Again, another dose of reality that I had been missing. I appreciate this forum. Thanks, jasper for starting this informative thread.
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#1061660 - 10/18/04 07:53 AM Re: playing in general
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
jasper_garcia,

Glad to see you join our group.

Nina makes some excellent points above and I always enjoy her posts.

I would suggest you get hold of a copy of Faber's Adult Piano Adventures Book # 1. I also ordered the CD but it is not a sample of what to play so it was of no value to me. I have posted their web site below. I liked the Faber series and with your music theory background I think you can work on it on your own. It was a good start for me and it should be for you as well.

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

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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#1061661 - 10/29/04 02:59 PM Re: playing in general
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Another reason for learning scales: Knowing scales will help you improvise.
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markb--The Count of Casio

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#1061662 - 11/03/04 02:55 PM Re: playing in general
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
Hey Folks,

To follow up...

I ended up purchasing a copy of Carl Humphrie's "The Piano Handbook."

The exercises are clearly focused and he includes a good mix of theory in all the sections. I am going slowly with the book, as I'm in no rush, repeating the exercises (not all in one sitting ofcourse) until I feel I can play it well enough, and have understood his hints for the fingering.

The book also included a cd with the recording of many of the exercises, which is very helpful. I feel the book was a good buy.

The whole "hands together" thing is gonna be tough...
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
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#1061663 - 11/03/04 08:37 PM Re: playing in general
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i like this book, as i looked it over at a book store. i wish i could use this one to start with, but only found another piano instruction book far less thorough than this one then. it is a good book containing a lot of information not only piano playing but also music itself. i just recommended this book to a friend whose son is going to learn playing piano.

it's no hurry, if you could learn basics well, you would have less trouble later...

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#1988082 - 11/18/12 09:23 AM Re: playing in general [Re: Nina]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Originally Posted By: Nina
Jasper-- it will be easier with a keyboard. Did you learn the "circle of fifths" in your music theory class?

The sharps and flats come in a specific order, following the circle of fifths. The first sharp is F#, go up a 5th to D#, up another 5th to G#, up to C#, etc. It's easy to "see" on a keyboard, IMO.

For flats, go down instead. The first flat will be Bb, down a 5th to Eb, down another 5th to Ab, etc.

Loved the Rubik's Cube clip... is that you? thumb


This is also an old thread but I am new and trying to review/learn as much as I can from this forum
Loving it so far
Not sure if I misinterpreted the above post but I think there is an error
Isn't the first sharp position G not F?
Then D as mentioned above
Just making sure

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#1988104 - 11/18/12 10:34 AM Re: playing in general [Re: jasper_garcia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Look at the key signature at the start of a piece of music. The first sharp is F#, key of G, the next sharp is C#, key of D.
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#1988252 - 11/18/12 05:41 PM Re: playing in general [Re: Schroeder II]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
Originally Posted By: Nina
...

The sharps and flats come in a specific order, following the circle of fifths. The first sharp is F#, go up a 5th to D#, up another 5th to G#, up to C#, etc. ...

Loving it so far
Not sure if I misinterpreted the above post but I think there is an error
Isn't the first sharp position G not F?
Then D as mentioned above
Just making sure

The first major key is G major, and in the key of G major there is one sharp - F#. The second major key is D major, which has two sharps - F#,C#. So you keep the sharp you had before, and add one sharp.

You are thinking of the names of key signatures, and Nina is thinking about which notes get "sharped" - hence the confusion.

It is important to say "G major" rather than just "G" since there are major and minor keys. wink

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#1988283 - 11/18/12 08:04 PM Re: playing in general [Re: jasper_garcia]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
This is an old thread, but just a quick tip:

B Major is the easiest scale to start with, when it comes to playing. (Not C Major)

It fits the shape of your hand. smile

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