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#1119412 - 01/10/05 06:48 AM New player..where do I begin..
hmr516 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/05
Posts: 36
Loc: Merrick, Ny
At age 56, having never played a piano, I took the plunge and bought one. It should be delivered in the next few days. I need help deciding how to approach this as a learning experience. I cannot decide if I should take lessons, try to learn by myself a few months and then take lessons,or purchase one of the teach yourself courses, such as the Sudnow course. I am so new at this, I cannot even answer the following question, which I have been thinking about..That is, do I want to learn to play piano correctly, or do I want to be able to sit down and play a few songs. I do know I am not interested in learning classical pieces, but that may change if I can actually get my two hands and brain to function on the same level. For you older beginners, what approach did you initially take, and did it work for you? Did you change your thought process if your initial choice didn't work? i would love to hear your responses. Thanks.

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#1119413 - 01/10/05 06:55 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Good questions, definitely.

Tell us more about you. Have you played an instrument before? Can you read music?

Regarding your lack of interest in classical music, this may very well change when you get into it a bit. I wasn't interested in learning classical stuff, really. I just figured I needed to play some to get my fingers moving independently from each other. Now, I like classical music. I think classical music sounds much better when you're the one playing it!
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#1119414 - 01/10/05 07:00 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
hmr516 wrote: "I am so new at this, I cannot even answer the following question, which I have been thinking about..That is, do I want to learn to play piano correctly, or do I want to be able to sit down and play a few songs."

Hello, and welcome! In my opinion, I think this should be answered in order to decide where you want to go learning-wise. Yes, there are do-it-yourself methods that can teach you to play certain types of music at a fun, recognizable level. Anything beyond that, though, I'd recommend lessons. Here's a link regarding the issues: http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/6630.html

Again, in my opinion, if you're not sure what you want to do, the quickest, cheapest way may be to get one of the teach-yourself methods (I could recommend some, and there are others discussed on this forum, such as Sudnow and Scott Houston), and, if you decide you want something different, you can find a teacher.
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#1119415 - 01/10/05 07:43 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
hmr516 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/05
Posts: 36
Loc: Merrick, Ny
I played the accordian in public shool a long long long time ago. I can read music, which is a lot different then having the written note go from the page, through my brain, and down to my fingers, especially when my left hand and right hand would both be vying for attention. What I cannot decide on at the moment is whether I want to spend evenings ( I still work ) playing scales, or playing a few tunes. I think that if anyone here has had a good experience trying the teach yourself method, I would probably try that first. Of course, if I later take lessons, I presumably would have to "unlearn" everything that type of course would teach me.

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#1119416 - 01/10/05 07:54 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I see no reason why you shouldn't teach yourself. Many here have quite a lot of success with that.

Should you decide to go with a teacher, either now or eventually, you'll want to find someone who doesn't mind teaching you with repertoire rather than lots of scales and exercises, though. Some teachers can be stubborn and inflexible about deviating from the methods they typically use, especially if they haven't had many adult students.

In my case, I tend to balk at scales and exercises, especially exercises. It was like pulling teeth to work my way through Hanon, and I'm still not finished after 5 years. I just can't (or perhaps won't) make myself learn something that isn't fun when I'm doing this for fun. I find I can push myself when the reward is a piece I can perform and enjoy, but my eyes glaze over when the reward is just moving on to the next exercise.

Anyway, good luck!
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#1119417 - 01/10/05 08:24 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Welcome hmr516, (um, how 'bout a first name in your sig?).

I started out with a book that explained the keyboard layout and the bare basics. Then I hired a teacher after a couple weeks. I'm very glad that I did. A teacher can at least double your learning speed.

You have to ask yourself if you're willing to futz around on your own, hitting walls and stumbling blocks and practicing inefficiently, or if you want to hire a teacher and make significant progress in short order.

One caveat, if the teacher insists on Hanon, find another teacher. Just my opinion.

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#1119418 - 01/10/05 08:44 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Welcome, hmr516.

I'm 38, been learning for 10 months, self-taught (so far). I'm using the Alfred's Adult All-In-One Piano Course.

This forum is unbelievably helpful. (Now, the Coffee Room, well, that's another story...)

[Yeah, yeah, cut & paste is a beautiful thing.]
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#1119419 - 01/10/05 01:38 PM Re: New player..where do I begin..
MLT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 356
There is nothing wrong starting out without a teacher for a few weeks or months, but after you have the notes down I would try to find one. You will be amazed at your progress.

When I started piano I believed that making music was essentially a technical exercise that could produce an emotional response. Now I understand it to be an emotional exercise that has to be done technically correct (mostly).

If your goal is to be able to plunk out a few old tunes that sound about like you have heard others play them, then by all means, teach yourself. If however you wish to make music and do it well then at some point you will need a teacher. Finding a good one is a whole new topic.

Best of luck,

Kirk

P.S. I disagree with Bob about Hannon, its not all pain and gore.

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#1119420 - 01/10/05 02:19 PM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Heh, heh. Let the Hannon wars begin!

Seriously, I think Hannon is OK, provided you're given lots of other repertoire. You need balance, that's all.
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#1119421 - 01/10/05 06:11 PM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Hen3ry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 43
Loc: Longmont, Colorado
I'd like to chime in here if I may.

When I first received my piano (and a box of music), I attempted to "learn" to play using a series of method books. Personally, I got hung-up when; 1) I didn't know how a passage was meant to sound or what some markings meant and 2) I didn't know when to move on - I'd struggle with some -very- simple excercise for days on end - thinking I had to get it before the next piece, etc.

Finally, I got a teacher. For me, this is what I need. I've been at it three years - there are times when I believe that I could progress just as much as I am without the grief ;-) But, in reality, my teacher pushes me much harder than I would push myself. In other words - he understands when I've learned what I need to learn (well ... at least I think he does;-) from a piece, then moves me on.

So one suggestion is, try it on your own for a while, see how it goes. When you hit a wall you may be better prepared to "interview" proprective teachers.

I also have to defend dear Mr. Hanon. I'm a bit of a fan actually. My teacher had me do one ercercise per week - so I'd play that one excercise every day for the week - then move on to the next. First through the first Part, then from the beginning through Part 2 and finally from the beginning again through Part 3 (there are 3 Parts (60 excercises in the Complete Hannon). Now he says "I have plenty of technique", now I need to learn to use my brain (like being able to walk and chew gum me thinks!). Anyway, he's pulled me off Hanon for awhile and I'm sort of having withdrawals. You see, I can actually "play" Hannon! It doesn't sound like much, but it's rewarding in a funny, "underappreciated" sort of way.

Anyway, I believe Hanon has it's place - if not overused.

Just my $.02 (US)

Kevin

(I think I'll sneak off an bang out a few scales with the headphones on while no ones looking;-)

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#1119422 - 01/10/05 06:58 PM Re: New player..where do I begin..
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hen3ry:
Personally, I got hung-up when; 1) I didn't know how a passage was meant to sound or what some markings meant and 2) I didn't know when to move on - I'd struggle with some -very- simple excercise for days on end - thinking I had to get it before the next piece, etc.[/b]
#1. I make sure I find recording(s) of the pieces I am studying and I have a book on reading music that lists just about every marking I might come across.

#2. THIS IS ME! THIS IS ME! Stupid 'Mexican Hat Dance' song!

\:D
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#1119423 - 01/10/05 09:27 PM Re: New player..where do I begin..
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
congratulations on your new piano! welcome and you are not alone. i played accordion before as well and could read music before i started learning playing keyboard/piano. with such a background it is much easier to learn to play piano yourself (just as i did), unless you feel the need of a teacher. follow some instruction/method boods/video to learn some basics first, and then focus on sight reading training to reach your goal.

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#1119424 - 01/11/05 08:50 AM Re: New player..where do I begin..
WhitingH&G Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Mid-Atlantic
Congratulations on your new piano!
I would recommend finding a piano teacher or school and taking a couple of months worth of "introductory" lessons (say 10-12) to start out with. Then if you want to, you can continue on your own. I started playing in 2003 at the age of 38. I went to a local, well known music school in my area that offers classes for all levels of players. I began with an adult group class where I learned the basics of piano playing. I'm now doing individual lessons.
I think it's better to start out with a foundation that includes the right habits rather than to try and correct bad habits years down the line. There are lots of little details like posture, hand shape, pedal usage, dynamics, etc. that my teacher has explained to me in a much clearer manner than I've found explained in piano instruction books - which I've looked at to supplement my learning process. Also, though you may be a self-starter, I find that regularly scheduled lessons spur me to put in practice time.
It's like they say about golfing - a good instructor can do more for your swing in 5 minutes than an hour at the practice range flailing away on your own.
It seems to me that if you've invested the money and energy into purchasing a piano, an additional investment of money into lessons is a good idea.

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