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#1111740 - 08/01/07 06:37 AM Sax player seeks advice on Piano
ZeroZero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 303
Loc: UK
This is my first post Hi all \:D

I am already a musician, In my youth I played trumpet and cornet - now play sax.
I can read (in treble clef) though my sight reading is not good because on the sax I remember songs after playing them just a few times - so end of sight reading. Rembering songs for the piano is more challenging of course.
I improvise (Jaz and blues) and write using Cubase and orchestral VSTs etc. I have reasonable knowledge of harmony but my counterpoint knowledge is pretty theoritical - not easy to put into practice.
I would like learn the following
How to read for piano - esp bass clef
Play classical pieces - maybe Bach when I am ready
Play blues - with a view to getting a hammond clone - I dont wish to play jazz piano.
Use piano as an aid to composition - this is probably the most important aim.

At present I am using Bastien Adult beginners course to get moving. I am learning simple folk songs (1 4 5) and taking them through a few keys
I am also making a start on twelve bars. I do find moving the bass triads whilst using the right hand a challenge.

I am trying to be careful with my fingerings

I would be grateful for any tips from you all about how I can proceed.

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#1111741 - 08/01/07 09:05 AM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
Donna R. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/07
Posts: 794
Welcome, ZeroZero.

I'm a true beginner with piano (played recorder for a year or so as a child and messed around with guitar for a while in my teens with a spectacular lack of success), and there are many more experienced people than me on the forum who I hope will offer some advice. But here are a couple of suggestions.

Reading bass clef: try learning some music for left hand only. I recommend John Robert Poe's "On the Other Hand", which is a collection of pieces for either left or right hand alone. Like you, I could read treble clef when I started, and I still remember the shock I felt when I realized the notes were in a different place on the bass clef. "On the Other Hand" helped tremendously to get me reading bass clef more fluently (though even now I still sometimes read treble clef positions on the bass when I'm tired or distracted).

Classical: I really would recommend a teacher. But if you don't want to commit to lessons at the moment, try Carol Barratt's "Classic Piano Course". Bach, even easy Bach, is tremendously difficult for a beginning piano player, because you need a degree of finger independence that's difficult for an adult to acquire. I've spent six months on the Minuet in G from Anna Magdalena's Notebook (which is actually by Petzold, though usually assumed to be Bach) and I've only recently reached the point where I can usually play it without errors and at an even tempo (so long as no one else is listening!).

I memorize all of my pieces and only go back to the music if I'm having trouble with a phrase or to check that I haven't allowed errors to creep in. But I do try to improve my sightreading by reading pieces when I'm not at the piano, and reading the score when I'm listening to music.

Hope some of this is useful,


#1111742 - 08/01/07 09:52 AM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
I've been using Keith Snell's Piano Rep books. They have the advantage of having 11 levels (there are 3 books in each level - baroque and classical, romantic and 20th century, and etudes and a matching cd) with each set of books being so close in level that it makes progression easy.

I have experience with the piano, so the rep books are enough for me. For someone with no experience, I would recommend also using a course. I havn't used Bastian, but have used Faber, Alfreds and John Thompson. Of these, John Thompson is way to hard for most self starters.

I do recommend a teacher for at least a few lessons to make sure that you are on track with posture and technique. So many things are not obvious or require someone to observe your playing that this is really important for beginners. Still, there are many people on the forum that are quite successful without a teacher or with only an occasionaly teacher.

As far as reading the bass clef, the only thing I can suggest is practice. It will get easier with practice.

#1111743 - 08/01/07 10:21 AM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
ZeroZero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 303
Loc: UK
Thanlks for this - yes I will get a teacher - my partner plays classical (reading notes only) and is passing on tips

ANy more insights - keep um cummin

#1111744 - 08/01/07 11:46 AM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4534
Some tips. I get the vague impression from
your post that you have an acoustic piano.
You should get a digital piano with weighted
keys. With this you can play anytime and
anywhere, and with headphones no one can
hear what you're struggling with.

When you start on classical, I would
advise staying away from Bach. All the
books say you have to play Bach, but
this is a cliche, and a person can become
a fine piano player without playing
a note of Bach (or Hanon, another
composer I would advise staying away

This thing about fingering can make
piano playing a nightmare and can take
all the enjoyment out of it--here,
early on, you're getting the idea that
you have to have the fingering exactly
right or you won't be able to play.
Instead of this approach, I'd recommend
playing from the sheet music and not
looking at your hands as much as possible.
Use the black keys, which stick up above
the whites in a uniform pattern, as a tactile
aid to finding your way around without
looking. When you play without looking
at your hands, you can focus on the score
more and your sight-reading will improve.
And, when you don't look at your hands
while playing with the score,
your fingers will tend to find the best
fingering--and technique--on their own,
with no special effort on your part.

I'd also advise doing some playing with
a coin on the back of each hand. This
is the way pianists were taught in
the 17th to 19th centuries. What this
does is to limit extraneous wrist and
arm movements and get you playing from the
fingers mainly, the simplest and most
efficient way to play.

I'd also advise getting a jazz theory/method
book to supplement the Bastien course.
Jazz books, in a seeming paradox, are
very old-fashioned in their approach.
They teach in the way that teachers
taught in the 17th to 19th centuries,
when pianists composed the music they
played and were expected to improvise
on the spot. They teach an old-style,
hands-on, real world type of theory,
with a lot of old-fashioned ear training
drills--you don't get this in piano
lessons or in classical theory textbooks,
because classic players don't compose,
and there is no classical composition
or improvisation today.

#1111745 - 08/01/07 11:58 AM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18116
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, ZeroZero!

I agree with Gyro about the digital, although not for the same reasons. Given that a major goal for you is to use piano as an aid for composition, a digital piano would, I think, be very helpful in that regard by allowing multiple-track recording and use of different effects. I still remember being amazed at the button on the Clavinova I tried that would display the sheet music notation for whatever noodling you had just played. \:\)

If you look on the nonclassical forum and/or search the archives, you'll see several threads on improvising blues (I believe pastafarian has started a couple), including a study group following along a relevant method book for improvising blues. You may find something like that helpful.

p.s. I agree with DragonPianoPlayer that the best way to learn the bass clef is sight-reading practice. When I started piano I was fluent on the treble clef but miserable on bass clef. (I'm a former accordionist.) It probably took me 4-6 months to become fluent with bass clef, but I finally got there.
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#1111746 - 08/01/07 12:34 PM Re: Sax player seeks advice on Piano
ZeroZero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 303
Loc: UK
Thanks for the replies. I have already got a digital - a gem rp700 which sounds and plays good for me (cant get ppp though).
The advice about not looking at fingers is what I am doing I am learning folk songs, then playing them with my eyes shut until I know them off by heart. I am also ensuring that I know what goes on in the harmony too. As for Jazz books I have a few many of the Aebersold book and Mark Levine's book Coker and others also subscribed to Jazz mags for some years - the thing about jazz is its focus on 2 5 1's which although present in other musical forms is not the dominant change - most pop and rock goes for 1 4 5 which is why I am going for folk songs at present. I should like to know more about classical form, and I am sure 2 5 1 and 1 6 2 5 1's and the rest will play a part here.
I already have a full surround system Cubase Studio with all the gear I need for recording. I have used Cubase for years - using score to create my VST lines - but I find this way of writing to be too exact and 'wooden' I am learning piano partly to get more natural feel and partly to increase my knowledge of harmony and counterpoint.
As I have said I also love the blues and hope to eventually take a hammond on gigs with my sax - good combo I think. I am having terrible trouble with the leap from root chord to fourth and fifth at present - but I suppose its just a bit of time.
I would definitely be interested in getting some lessons from a creative painist in my area St Albans UK


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