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Topic Options
#1077657 - 10/21/04 11:53 PM Learning the Piano
sydek Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/21/04
Posts: 1
My background with music is easy to summarize. I do not have one.

I have really never played an instrument or learned how to read music. However, I am very interested in learning the piano. I have a couple of quick questions if you guys could help me out with.

1.) Can I learn to play the piano without a piano teacher (that is just reading books, tutorials online and software etc.)?

2.) What is the best way to learn how to play the piano? A teacher, reading books on how to play the piano etc.

3.) Should I learn how to read music before I buy a electronic keyboard or piano?

4.) Can I learn to play using a electronic keyboard (prices are cheaper that is why I am asking). And if yes, what are the pros and cons learning this way over learning on a full size grand piano?

And if you have any resources that would help me learn that would be great. If you would like to share your experiences about how you started playing, or about starting to play in general that would be helpful also. Thanks!

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#1077658 - 10/22/04 12:02 AM Re: Learning the Piano
bachophile Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 742
your questions have been dealt with a lenght in many threads on this site.

to save u time, use search function and im sure u will find tons of info.

but for the short answers..IMHO

2-teacher, practice practice practice
3-up to u
4-keyboards (88 key) are fine at first, for the long haul, get a real one.
"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen

#1077659 - 10/22/04 08:09 AM Re: Learning the Piano
JoeB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/03
Posts: 671
Loc: Northern California
My answers:
1. You can learn to play without a teacher, but it is usually much better with a teacher. Reading books etc. may help, but learning to play the piano requires a lot of actual playing. A teacher will keep you focussed and help you make better use of your time.

2 A good teacher and practice.

3. Just learning the notes and note values is not a big deal. Playing them is.

4. A keyboard will work for a while. Even a cheap keyboard will work for the first few months. A good weighted keyboard could last you a while. Eventually you will need a piano.
"How, Monsieur, you care not for music? You do not play the clavecin? I am sorry for you! You are indeed condemming yourself to a dull old age!" - Fouquet

#1077660 - 10/22/04 08:29 AM Re: Learning the Piano
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ

You can learn without a teacher but I think you'll progress much slower and you may learn some bad habits that will have to fixed later on (which is very difficult). If you don't have the $$$ for a teacher, that's one thing, but if you can afford it, get a teacher.

Get a teacher and they will teach you to read music. The best way to learn reading music is to play it.

A real piano is always prefered. However, you may want to start with a keyboard for a few months to see if you like it.
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

#1077661 - 10/22/04 12:05 PM Re: Learning the Piano
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Sydek, welcome to the Adult Beginners forum. It was funny reading your post because those were the exact questions I starting asking about two years ago. I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to figure out what I should do. Fortunately, I was able to make the decision to get a piano teacher and an acoustic piano. About 4 months after I started playing I found Pianoworld. I wish I was like you and had found PW first to help me with all of this.
Use the search function and you will find answers to everything you asked.
Good luck and keep us up-to-date on your progress.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

#1077662 - 10/22/04 02:56 PM Re: Learning the Piano
WhitingH&G Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Mid-Atlantic
You can definitely learn piano without a teacher but the issue is whether you will learn it well (or well enough to keep your, or anyone else's, interest). I tried teaching myself about 15 years ago but I did not get very far. Last year I started taking lessons (at age 38!) and truly fell in love with the instrument. I started with a series of group lessons (a class of 4 people) for adult absolute beginners at a local music school. There were two semesters with 10 lessons in each. Now I'm taking private lessons every other week or so. If at all possible, I recommend taking at least an introductory series of lessons from an instructor. Memorizing notes, scales, chords, theory, etc. on your own is relatively easy. But there are essential basic things like posture and technique that are hard to pick up from a book. Also, the most important lesson my instructor has taught me is that there is a difference between "typing" the right notes and "playing" the notes right. He constantly stresses that everything you play should be done with feeling and he lets me know when the feeling is lacking. That kind of instruction is invaluable and impossible to get without a professional's help. I also find lessons to be a great motivator for practice. I make time to practice not only because I love playing and want to get better, but also because I want to be prepared to get the most out of each lesson.
As for buying a keyboard vs. a piano, you may want to hold off on buying a piano until you're sure you want to play the instrument. I started out with an electronic keyboard and bought a used piano when I was sure I wanted to keep playing.
Great questions. I wish you the best of luck!

#1077663 - 10/22/04 06:14 PM Re: Learning the Piano
Junior Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 1
Loc: New York, NY
Have you ever look at this site?



#1077664 - 10/22/04 06:35 PM Re: Learning the Piano
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
You are going to need some type of instruction, at least that is my opinion. It should be formal lessons from a good teacher or even just regular pointers from a friend that knows how to play well. There is no way I could have gotten started and made progress on my own.

Faber's Adult Piano Adventures is a good first book.
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".


#1077665 - 10/22/04 07:21 PM Re: Learning the Piano
fojae Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 60
I am learning without a teacher. I took 6 piano lessons about 15 years ago. About 8 months ago I got interested again and have been having a great time teaching myself. Get yourself a cheap digital that has midi file playback so you can hear what pieces sound like while you are learning them. I think the casio privia px-100 has this feature along with 88 weighted keys.

Learning without a teacher is working well for me so far. It all depends on your goals and what kind of a person you are. I love to practice and I don't need a teacher to motivate me. I have a great time banging away on pieces that are much too difficult for me; I hardly think about dynamics, articulation, and phrasing at this point, and no one else would want to hear me play, but it doesn't bother me. I still enjoy just getting the notes (mostly) right.

#1077666 - 10/22/04 07:59 PM Re: Learning the Piano
LudwigVanBee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/04
Posts: 83
Loc: USA
Learning without a teacher is working well for me so far.
How could you possibly know? A "cheap digital" is sure to keep you from learning anything after six months at most. I know from experience. This is directed to rank beginners. Don't be fooled into thinking the piano is a simple instrument that can be learned with ease. Would you be interested in learning to fly without a teacher? You wouldn't get off the ground. Same with piano.
_ _ ___________________________ _ _
"There are no shortcuts to anything worth doing." Beverly Sills

#1077667 - 10/23/04 06:43 AM Re: Learning the Piano
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

While you are not using a teacher now you did take lessons in the past. I had questions early on which you may not have had because of your previous experience.

At this point in time I am working on my own using Frederick Harris's Celebration series. I am certain I will have formal instruction some time in the future.

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


#1077668 - 10/23/04 08:45 AM Re: Learning the Piano
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
fojae, you are doing fine without a teacher. i believe that not everyone needs a teacher, but of course most people do, and i always believe there are some genius among us regarding music and piano. but when they say you need a teacher, they are right in some sense, because it makes things a lot easier having a teacher to guide you on your playing and getting an instant feedback. while teaching yourself playing piano is much harder (but not impossible), you need more discipline on your own and need to study from various resources in order to advance your skills. getting some good piano playing technique books (not instruction books) is a must for those without teachers and yet serious about playing piano. having such books is like having different teachers to give you a lot of advice you need. i wouldn't get discouraged by the advice of getting a teacher, because ultimately it is up to an individual to work towards his/her goals.

#1077669 - 10/23/04 08:50 AM Re: Learning the Piano
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
I tried the first two months to work by myself. I bought several books, like Alfreds Basic Adult Piano Course, and I was learning many of the basics, and playing very simple stuff. I think my adult male ego wouldnt allow me to see a teacher when I didnt know nothin'. \:\) It was slow progress, but I hit the wall trying to learn to play two hands together, it just wasnt happening for me, so I sought out a teacher. This was definitely the right thing to do. And it does not seem very expensive - it seems the least of all the other expenses involved, instruments and books, but probably the most helpful.

I'm not real sure what a teachers purpose actually is - Appropriate lesson planning, theory and helpful advice, pointing out dumb mistakes early, answering dumb questions, and above all motivation I think. I work really hard to please my teacher, where I surely would slack off for myself. This seems to make a big difference.

But the teacher only has 30 minutes a week. And in fact, we spend much of that time discussing theory, and very little of it at the piano. I dont know how typical it is, but the piano seems mostly just to verify progress, which doesnt take long. This is something we have to learn for ourselves, the teacher cannot do it for us. But the teacher certainly seems the most efficient way to get it done, correctly.

#1077670 - 10/23/04 09:04 AM Re: Learning the Piano
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
1.) yes

2.) a teacher

3.) either way. with a keyboard/piano it will make reading music easier

4.) yes, but most keyboards don't have weighted keys (like piano's). so depending on what your goal is: playing piano eventually or playing keyboard forever, you may have to make a decision later on which one to buy. starting on a regular keyboard is not impossible even if your goal is to play piano some day. but be sure to get a keyboard with at least a 'touch sensitive/response' function button, which at least will give you a sense whether or not your key pressing action is even or with equal force of each finger. this is important because later on, when you switch to piano, only evenly trained fingers will make the transition much easier. the best and not too expensive choice is getting a digital piano (with weighted keys) to start, the cheapest of which would cost about $500.

#1077671 - 10/23/04 09:40 AM Re: Learning the Piano
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Hi Sydek

I am a 10 month newbie student, wannabe pianist. I would agree with the folks above that recommend finding a good teacher. While you may learn to play notes on your own you most likely will take much longer to get there. Furthermore and most importantly, playing the piano is more than just playing notes. I firmly believe greater progress is realized through efficient use of your practice time.

I spent about 6 months with a teacher that was always telling me how well I was doing with little input on phrasing, dynamics and technique simply because she didn't know how to teach me this. How could you possibly learn this on your own without someone pointing it out to you? As my current teacher told me and I tell myself everyday, the real practice begins after you learn how to play the notes. Btw, I'm 55 years old so it is never to0 late. What may turn out to be "too late" is learning poor habits that are difficult to correct down the road. Good luck!

#1077672 - 10/23/04 02:02 PM Re: Learning the Piano
fojae Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 60
How could I possibly know? Very simple: I enjoy doing it. What else is there? At my age, there can't be any plans to make a career out of playing piano, and I have no plans to play for others as an amateur.

Everyone has different goals. We all attempt to approximate the markings on the page to different degrees: some try to play every slur, trill, stacatto, pp, ff, etc... exactly as written. Some don't care so much about that stuff and just try to get the rhythm and the pitches right. And some are in between.

As I get better at the rhythm and pitches, I may start doing more with the other stuff, or I may just try to play harder pieces with more enjoyable pitches and rhythm.

Also, a cheap digital with weighted keys might be the only way for some people to get started.

One of the advantages to learning the piano is that nobody gets hurt if you screw up, unlike learning to fly a plane. And if you have a digital you can put on headphones and nobody's ears will get hurt. Also, with piano playing, as with any art, it's much harder to define "screw up" or even "crash and burn" than it is with plane flying.

Originally posted by LudwigVanBee:
Learning without a teacher is working well for me so far.
How could you possibly know? A "cheap digital" is sure to keep you from learning anything after six months at most. I know from experience. This is directed to rank beginners. Don't be fooled into thinking the piano is a simple instrument that can be learned with ease. Would you be interested in learning to fly without a teacher? You wouldn't get off the ground. Same with piano. [/b]


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