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#1067146 - 11/23/08 11:40 PM What's best at this point?
Keysnoob Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/23/08
Posts: 1
Hello all, I just discovered what looks like a wonderful forum.

I'm wondering if I can get some advice on piano playing given my situation.

I'm 29. My "musical history" is thus...I was active in high school/church choral groups when I was a little younger. I also played the hand bells for my church in my teen years which was really my only experience sight reading music.

I've played guitar since about age 13 and have become by all means quite good at it. I play entirely by ear and am well-versed in all the standard classical/jazz/blues/rock scales and chord shapes and am very capable in most musical scenarios on the guitar.

I've been writing my own music since my late teens and also have some experience on the bass guitar and drums.

At this point I want to be able to add in keyboards into my music. That is my primary goal.

I'm not interested in sight reading music for all practical purposes. Now before I get hung out to dry for saying that, I'm not in any way opposed to doing that or saying that it is not necessary and will cross that bridge if needed.

I basically want to be fluent enough with a piano that if I'm working on my own music or with others in the writing process that I can contribute.

I want to learn chord shapes, playing by ear and piano songcraft.

Now, let me add the "catch" into the mix. There are only a couple of piano teachers in my (very rural) area. Neither one has a compatible schedule allowing me to take lessons so at the moment it looks like I will be at least starting with some sort of home-study course.

Given all of the above...where should I start?

Thanks so much in advance for any insight you more experienced people can offer.

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#1067147 - 11/24/08 12:36 AM Re: What's best at this point?
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2080
I honestly thought when I read "the catch is..." that you only have one hand or something... Anyway. I'm 29 also but started with piano already in my late teens, but still had to work without a piano teacher for almost all of my learning.

I think that for songwriting keyboard stuff the fastest thing would be to start working immediately with lead sheets, which you may be familiar with from guitar. The melody is written, along with the chords. If you go this route, this much sight reading you will have to learn, but it's only one note at a time. After doing a bunch of songs in this way you'll become familiar with a lot of chords.

I find it extremely helpful to transpose a song I've learned as a lead sheet into all 12 keys. This takes a lot of time, especially the first three or so times, so it depends on how much time you're willing to devote to the piano.

The only trouble with lead sheets is you tend to get into a cycle where everything sounds similar, since your left hand tends to produce the same rhythm on the chords unless you teach it something new. The way to get new rhythms is either to listen to recordings and reproduce the rhythm on a variety of songs, or to learn to read music.

If you need to learn the basics, like what the chords mean (which keys make a C7 etc.), I think there are a good number of resources available. All you need to know is which notes are which on the piano (A-G etc.), and then you need to know how many half steps up to count in order to get all the notes of a major chord, or a major7 etc., and then you can apply that to the lead sheets. To learn the melodies you would have to learn how to read traditional sheet music, but it is pretty easy to learn if you're just doing a melody. Maybe you know the basics though...
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

#1067148 - 11/24/08 01:33 PM Re: What's best at this point?
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
You might want to pick up a book and scales and the Piano chord encylopedia for now. I think they will give you a good overall view of how the chords and scales are laid out on the keyboard.

These are two books that I like..
Scale book:

Chord book:
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

#1067149 - 11/24/08 10:41 PM Re: What's best at this point?
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, Keysnoob. \:\) It sounds to me like you are well-equipped to make very fast progress in piano. My only advice would be to seek out at least one lesson, formal or informal, from somebody trained in piano who can show you the proper posture, bench position, and way to hold your hands. Playing with the wrong posture etc. can lead to injury down the road.
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#1067150 - 11/24/08 10:54 PM Re: What's best at this point?
Rosanna Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/07
Posts: 1360
Loc: San Francisco Bay area

It seems like some course from Duane Shinn, or Ed Weiss (quiescence music), or Yoke Wong, or Pianomagic, or David Sprunger (mainly accompaniment) may be suitable. You can google those and find some free stuff to peruse. You can do a search in this forum too. There are often free lessons on Youtube from many other sources.


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