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#1139089 - 07/16/07 03:37 AM Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
It has been suggested that I start a new topic entitled ' Pure By Ear Pianists.'or as I titled it above. This in response from member 'Rerun'

I would like to know how many pianists on these forums play strictly as the true definition.'By ear'.

This is to have a discussion on playing an instrument by ear. In our case the piano.

The first requirement is to be a pianist that may never have had lessons and has reached an acceptable level of competence and has to a fair degree mastered the piano.

There is a man whom I came across on the website ' Learn Piano Jazz' I will have to get his permission to give his name, to be correct I think.

Anyhow, what he told me after reading my replies on playing by ear, was that I had 'Absolute Pitch' . He then sent me a 5 page description entitled 'The Subconscious in Music'.

Basically this means that you utilize the sub-conscious brain facility. This means you look for the correct sounds from touching the keys till you find the exact notes in the keyboard plus the melody, chords, the bass and rhythm.

It is a function of connecting the conscious mind with subconscious mind whilst playing, in a spontaneous way.

He goes on to say that most people play using their conscious brain. He quotes the fact that blind pianists have a wonderful connection with both conscious and subconscious mind.

I can visualize a piece of music in my head as a sound without humming it, purely a sound. Can you readers do this? On the matter of 'speaking whilst playing' I find that very difficult.

I know I'm very deeply connected with the subconscious, as one day my wife came up to me unseen, whilst I was playing and suddenly stamped on the wood floor near the piano which startled me so much I was in a trauma for about 5 minutes. She was very surprised, so was I and that was a dreadful shock to me. Though it proves the point of complete absorbing of the subconscious in the music being played.

It is often said that pianists make good racing drivers and that has been my experience. I have done some motor racing myself and can see the connection relating to the subconscious brain recall matter.

As someone recently asked " how do I input rhythm into jazz playing ?" I said use your foot to get the beat. My mentor above states this in his paper. You mark the pulse with foot or head nodding. Though some pianists I have seen do neither ! Teddy Wilson for one . Oscar Peterson uses head and foot. Even classical pianists have body and head movements as you will notice.

As I do not read I cannot comment but surely you do that do memorize the score? so being able to play from memory the complete composition as written?

Not all professional classical performers do it without music we find . Then they may have a page turner which is somewhat risky I would think if they made a hash of it ?

The finest pure ear player I have ever seen and heard is Erroll Garner - bar none! A true ear player and keyboard master.

Alan (swingal)

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#1139090 - 07/16/07 06:41 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear swingal...Well, I guess this counts what I am about to tell you? Now 68 years old. When I at 23 years old I regretted not studing piano and I began serious classical piano studies for the first time. After 6 months still in the beginners phase I composed a piece of music that just came to me. I wrote it down from what I heard in my head. My piano teacher had her Master's Degree in Music Ed...piano as her instrument. I had the composition in my lesson book, she pulled it out and asked what is this? I told her I had she said,"Play this for me?" I did... She really got excited. She said, "How did you do this?" I told her and she said you cannot do this as I am your teacher and you play at best a 3 year level piano, mostly not. This is 10 year music it has classical style, I can tell which composer and it is perfectly academic with correct form. She continued to tell me that you not only played this in at 10 year level but you wrote it out at 10 year level... I cannot explain how I did this. You tell me? It was as if I was in a trance. I was going to sleep and the song came to me all at once and over and over again. I walked down to the piano and watched my hands go across the keys without my doing anything. I was so taken back by this. I wrote it down on manuscript paper... as though I had done this many times before. I never had... I would love this solved after all these years... My piano teacher said I was a reincarnation of a composer, she named him and I forgot who she told me as I was so overwhelmed and scared too.
The only true by ear outstanding piano player I know, a friend of mine, close, was offered a TV contract, bar room style piano ,like Joanne Castle, Lawrence Welk, type of piano. I can put you in touch with her. Never had a piano lesson in her life ... Never studied a book. All by ear. She will bring you to tears with her talent. True by ear talent. Please excuse spelling mistakes... Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139091 - 07/16/07 08:53 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
I think everyone should learn how to read rudimentary music notation. Even if you're not very good at it, it's part of being a well-rounded musician. You've got to be able to make some kind of sense out of a written score.

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#1139092 - 07/16/07 09:16 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
Hey Alan,

You can count me in.

I doubt that I have perfect or absolute pitch. I do hunt and peck to figure out all you describe as rhythm, chording, melody, etc..

I would say that picking up a bass line rhythm on a piano to duplicate some recording I've heard (be it a guitar or another type of instrument recording) is the most challenging part of it for me.

The shuffle and some other boogie bass lines; boom and double boom-chucks; the watkins roll; rolling tenths; and a few others, I'm starting to get a pretty good hold of. But there are some others I'm finding a hard time picking up on a piano. Mostly ones that were initially played by guitar.

I was going to put a link to one on youtube for you to tell me how to play it, but I see youtube took it down. I'll see if I can find it elsewhere.

Later gater.....
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#1139093 - 07/16/07 09:16 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
I agree with you and so do the by ear piano players who cannot read music. I have known and talked with though the years.
They tell me they want to learn other styles and they cannot because they cannot read music. This is because their by ear is for one style, popular,or country,or ragtime, etc. they also tell me. Being able to read indeed makes for a well rounded piano player. Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139094 - 07/16/07 09:47 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
Hi Sandra and Reaper (you slipped in there while I was typing),

Sight reading is way over my head I'm sorry to say. It must be great to be able to purchase the sheet music then just sit down and play it and be done with it. I think I'm wired up wrong : ).

You all amaze me with that ability......
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#1139095 - 07/16/07 10:15 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
Ok Alan,

Or any others who may want to figure how to duplicate on piano what these three guys are playing on guitars as the bass run while Dean Martin is singing.

I can do it with double boom-chucks or shuffle but it still doesn't capture what I would like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctLcjz5fNLw

Thanks ......
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#1139096 - 07/16/07 10:28 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rerun:
Hi Sandra and Reaper (you slipped in there while I was typing),

Sight reading is way over my head I'm sorry to say. It must be great to be able to purchase the sheet music then just sit down and play it and be done with it. I think I'm wired up wrong : ).

You all amaze me with that ability...... [/b]
Actually, I often feel the same. Note my use of the word "rudimentary". I can only sight-read very basic music, though I can work out a more complicated score if I really try. For anything beyond beginner notation I slow down quite a bit.

I still see the importance of being literate in music, though.

Listening, imitating, and improvising is where I stand as far as advanced pianism goes with me. I have a very well-developed technique because of my obsession with practicing the scales and arpeggios, but my sight-reading is, for what it's worth, terrible. My strict performances of classical literature from a score never go beyond mediocre.

I think it's a mixture of starting late, having a short attention span, and having a differently wired brain, as you said.

-Colin

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#1139097 - 07/16/07 10:42 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
Hey Colin,

Well, you've gotten my curiosity up a bit. I may give sight reading a go one of these days, as if I had adequate days left : ).

Thanks for diving into this thread, you bring up some great points.

Will ponder it while I sleep,I'm sure.....
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#1139098 - 07/16/07 11:20 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5640
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Well, for what it's worth, I read pretty well, but for much of what I'm doing currently it's a - bad habit. I played in band thru my teens, and had 2 years of piano and was pretty good at reading the notes, but I didn't play music until I started playing dance music with a couple of fiddles a little over 10 years ago. It annoys the dickens out of me to still have to have a chart (of chords/changes) in order to play along, so at the first of this year I just went cold turkey and told the other backers they'd just have to put up with me. So now I can sometimes pick up the chords after a couple of times thru, but if the sheet music has a lot of substitutions for the basic I-IV-V and everyone else is playing those I'm sure I sound awful. So if we're doing something for a gig I have to just memorize the changes because I still can't always hear them - I can hear that there *is* a change, but I can't tell you what it is or play it. Melodies are easier to pick up by ear for me, tho I can't always play them at speed by ear. And in folk music the sheet music for the melody is distinctly not the way the tune sounds, and the good musicians add ornaments and variations and impulses and phrasing on the fly. And reading the music just gets in the way of really learning to listen.

I do think that many people gravitate naturally towards being able to read easily or play by ear easily, but I definitely think musicians should be exposed to playing by ear. It is *tragic* \:D to be tied to sheet music if you want to play jigs, reels, waltzes, old-time, gospel, et al et al et al, with a bunch of fiddles, mandolins, guitars, etc. And music stands look dorky \:\) So reading music may come in handy sometime - I like Joplin - but for me the real music didn't start coming until I only had chord names in the left hand and it freed it to find its own runs and rhythms. It's the only reason that anything I do from sheet music has any real *music* to it at all - I've begun to put into my fingers and the music what I've heard listening to Bob Wills or Jerry Lee Lewis or whoever, and I never would have done that if all I ever did was read sheet music. It's a hard habit to break, but I'm getting there.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1139099 - 07/17/07 02:50 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Thanks for the input so far.

I must emphasis that I'm in no way saying non- reading is an option or even a good idea.

Classical or non-improvisational music is basically wrong to play other than as written, correct?

I have the greatest admiration for all 'proper' pianists, who read and memorize the score. However, nothing can alter how your brain is designed and it's a fact that some people like me have always had the means to play what is in the memory based on the music stored in the subconscious function of the brain. We see the keyboard as a sound producer and know what each key sounds like.

Singers read music and can produce that sound by their vocal chords,now that's clever! I cannot sing a note in tune.

Also it is not necessary to play in the specific key as default or composed when playing non serious music.

Indeed it's good practise to be able to play in other keys in popular or jazz. Comping to singers seems to cause the pianist to adapt in cases where the singer is off-key. Or need to have a slight tone variation.

I,m hoping to have a response from Kramer who also plays this way. Seen on the other topic of the 'Wow factor'

In simple music as one learns as a beginner, it's so difficult to overcome the urge to play the notes you know are correct. I found this out when I escorted my younger sister aged about 8 to the piano teacher. She would be practicing at home and I knew which note she would play next.

I don't think it's 'on' to start and learn to play by music if you are born with the strange ear method. Though very useful and worthwhile I'm sure.

It is an unusual thing but as I said, Erroll Garner could not read music at all, but went on his own way and made a fantastic career out of playing by this method. Cut short tragically at an early age of 55 in Jan.1977 dying of Angina.

If you take 'proper' taught sight reading pianists who then play a 'song' in their own jazz style, they have not written it down. So they too have learned to domineer the keyboard and play improvised music,in their style. They have memorised as non-reading pianists do. The end result is the same surely?

They did a TV program,called something like 'My marvelous brain' the other day, about a small boy aged about 5 or so upwards who could play classical music fantastically. It was based in the U.S.

This was said to be due to a certain type of brain that is different from normal. Don't ask me to describe it. Except that it's something to do with the lobes and their placement.

I cannot remember that much about him but he was introduced to Lang Lang and they together played a short piece of duet classic. The boy was then going to play at Carnigie Hall.

Alan (swingal)

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#1139100 - 07/17/07 11:19 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
glyptodont2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/07
Posts: 45
What is interesting is to read a piece of sheet music that appears to have been written by someone who plays by ear.

I am playing sheet music for "Jambolaya." The entire piece is based on just about four chords. They tend to repeat in patterns. It looks like someone took the melody line and put about three basic chord variants against it.

It sounds pretty quick and dirty, but it sounds pretty good actually and can be played very fast.

Still, if you want to honor this by calling it an arrangement, it is pretty weak at best-- just hack work for the market.

If a person were able to play by ear quite well, they would waste their money to purchase this particular item of sheet music.

I have the opposite problem. I can read music well, but have no improvisational ability.
_________________________
[Same person as former Glyptodont -- Some sort of system problem with forum.]

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#1139101 - 07/17/07 11:40 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
"Classical or non-improvisational music is basically wrong to play other than as written, correct?"

A point that is more than pedantic (I hope) is that all notation is an approximation. "Classical" music might be the most precise notation, and you would generally play the written notes, but the timing, duration, volume and so on of those notes is not precisely defined by the notation. This is why two pianists will produce two legitimate but different versions from the same score. The only way to play exactly as somone else does is, paradoxically, by listening to them.. ie by ear.
Of course, for most people it is quicker to start with a score than to pick out a complex piece by ear.. but you will see recommendations in other threads that playing by ear is the better way to learn jazz pieces. In between is a range of different approaches. Personally, although I can read moderately well, my most useful learned skill is to play from a pad or lead sheet.. but this wouldnt be much good if I wanted to be a concert pianist. Better stop, I am getting boring:-)
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1139102 - 07/17/07 11:58 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
Swingal,

Because you're probably one of the oldest persons here and therefore have a *long* history of playing by ear, I was wondering if you would grace us with a recording or two of your favorite tunes? I am very curious as to what you sound like, considering that you're completely self-taught. \:\)
_________________________
No idea what chords you are playing? Reverse Chord Finder Pro will tell you!

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#1139103 - 07/17/07 04:27 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I will get around to doing a recording sooner or later. I have a tape recorder and must remember to plug it in then forget its running, or I will not relax enough to the let the subconscious work at its best.

Alan (swingal)

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#1139104 - 07/17/07 04:38 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Cathy, Sounds very good to me you could throw down the faked sheets etc.in such a short time. My brother had his band for 7 years, full time, keyboard, piano, before he could throw down the fake, lead sheets and play all by ear he admitted to me once. Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139105 - 07/18/07 02:05 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
To Reaper,

I think your improvisations are very interesting and highlights the great purpose of what a pianist receives into their sound senses, together with the emotional feelings that constitute our very soul.

Conversely,the sounds listeners of other people's renditions receive may well be different and have other reactions to the soul. We shall never know!

Without that difference, the world of music would be a dull place.

I have mentioned 'beat' as being essential to the jazz format and I particularly enjoy highly talented virtuoso performances such as Oscar Peterson's and his strict adherence to a solid beat. Sometimes he has to play chords at double speed to get the beat in,in time in a phrase.

Alan.

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#1139106 - 07/18/07 02:23 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
To rerun,

Sorry I missed your question on the Utube recording of 'Memories are made of This' by Dean Martin.

As they seem to use a rhythm comping on a sort of Latin-American beat, it should be possible to use the bass line with that same beat on the piano.

Alan

PS. just played it on my 'Fake' piano AKA the digital. It's in 'F' and the base can be added, not too hard after all.

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#1139107 - 07/18/07 07:53 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
To Alan,

I'll delve into that bass line tonight, and thanks. Did you get my email response off of the forum?

Methinks my "Vista" email system has run aground again. Very few things run properly with MS Vista; it's becoming more apparent.

Thanks again....
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#1139108 - 07/18/07 10:42 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Hi! Rerun. no I didn't get an email from you, that is if you sent it to one of my 2 AOL email addresses. Or did you use the private message facility on this forum?

Perhaps I should look on the other forum where I first saw you.

Alan

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#1139109 - 07/18/07 04:12 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Members, Recently I asked on our teacher's forum."Should we play classical piano as the composer intended?" This is how I was taught classical piano in the 1960's by two teachers who both had Master's in Music Ed and piano their instrument. I got back 30 pages and loved and appreciated every word. I am now returning to classical piano after many years away so I wanted to know their opinions and suggestions... If any of you want some info on this let me know. I printed every word. Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139110 - 07/21/07 10:36 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Floyd Cramer style piano... Does anyone play this style and could help me understand the theory of his style please? Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139111 - 07/21/07 10:39 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Sorry I meant to post this elsewhere senior moment I guess. Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1139112 - 07/21/07 11:05 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
paul milando Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/06
Posts: 265
Loc: westfield Indiana
I play piano and many others instruments. I have
played with everybody from Dizzy Gillespie to
Donald Byrd and the Blackbirds. All by ear and sight.
Check out my site www.music-for-the-soul.com
I have a natural sense of pulse and I try to find
the right notes. I call it the Mother tone. I have an unorthodox style of playing the piano.
I grew up hearing and watching old Nicklelodeons
and trying to play 4 handed parts. I produce
BIO-SONIC cd's that help the balance the hemi-spheres of the brain. Playing the piano by ear is
harder than with your fingers \:\)
_________________________
Talking about music is like dancing about art. If the truth will set you free, what do prunes do?

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#1139113 - 07/21/07 06:34 PM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
I had a look at the site - highly entertaining -thankyou. I guess it is my stupidity, but I couldn't find any music to listen to - please help me. As a former biologist (Cambridge University.. the scientific equivalent of Dizzy Gillespie, I guess), I would be particularly interested in listening to music "tuned to DNA resonance"..
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1139114 - 07/22/07 01:25 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
To 193866,

quote;-Floyd Cramer style piano... Does anyone play this style and could help me understand the theory of his style please? Sandy B

Please could you help me hear his style I may have heard it but cannot remember.

Kind regards,

Alan (swingal)

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#1139115 - 07/22/07 07:03 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
Alan - if you have access to youtube - search on his name and you will find several clips - in fact even easier - here is a link for you..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM2OJZn5Kkw
I think this is very distinctive of his style.
If you have any problem with the link, let me know
regards
tom
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1139116 - 07/22/07 07:07 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
PS- I just noticed we seem to have crossed threads here:)
Tom
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1139117 - 07/22/07 08:28 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
rajoo_dup1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/10/03
Posts: 17
Loc: india
HI, I AM RAJOO FROM INDIA.THIS FORUM IS REALY VERY INFORMATIVE TO ME. I AM ALSO INTERESTED IN BUYING A PAIR OF CM 30 CUBE MONITOR SPEAKER OF ROLAND FOR MY DP FP-5 OF ROLAND.I WOULD APRECIATE ANY COMMENTS/SUGGESTION REGARDING THIS UPGRADE.MY QUESTION IS WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POWERED SPEAKER OR STUDIO MONITOR OR REGULAR KEYBOARD SPEAKER? I WANT FOR MY PERSONAL PRACTICE PURPOSE AND FOR ROOM AREA APPX.225 SQ.FT. CM 30 CUBE IS 30 WATT POWER. WEATHER IT IS SUFFICIENT FOR MY ROOM AREA?I WILL GO FOR PAIR FOR STEREO.OR ANY R MONITOR? CM-30 HERE IN INDI AVAILABLE @US$350/- FOR PAIR.PL HELP ME AS I DONT HAVE CHOICE TO COMPARE WITH ANY OTHER SPEAKER.PL YR ADVICE AND SUGGESTION WILL HELP ME IN MY SELECTION. THANK U ALL IN ADVANCE AND PL NOTE I DONT KNOW ENGLISH WELL SO PL DO NOT MIND MY LANGUAGE.

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#1139118 - 07/22/07 08:34 AM Re: Pianists who cannot read.
rajoo_dup1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/10/03
Posts: 17
Loc: india
HI I AM RAJOO FROM INDIA. I AM SORRY IT IS WRONGLY POSTED MY POST SO PL EXCUSE ME

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Piano evening at my teachers house
by Peter071
11/27/14 10:04 AM
Freelance collaborative pianist - money issues
by MiguelSousa
11/27/14 10:02 AM
Help for this student.... Notes!
by IPlayPiano
11/27/14 09:44 AM
Free collection of intermediate to very advanced Xmas music
by pianoloverus
11/27/14 09:39 AM
Some observations about digital piano
by TonyB
11/27/14 09:36 AM
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