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#1182751 - 04/18/09 04:19 AM So where to start?
Jason Riptide Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 3
Just as a little background, I can kind of read music, and I say this because I can look at the staff and say what the note is and most of things that go on around it make sense to me. I come from a guitar and singing background and want to learn the piano better and more than guitar ever interested me to learn. I can play really remedial things on the piano if I just take a few minutes to figure out what the notes are as I cant just sight read at a lighting speed or anything.

I feel that starting at 20 is already too late for me and I want to get as good as I can as fast as possible. My biggest problem is practicing and keeping myself to practicing technique and new things, this is to say when I sit down I find myself more messing around or playing the few things I do know.

So I ask you very informed and intelligent people, how should I start my piano journey? I cannot afford a teacher so self-teaching is gonna have to do for now. Which series of books should I work on? Would it benefit me more to just learn songs I wanna play and pick up the things that way (this is kind of how I learned what I know of guitar)? How fast should I be burning through piano books? Practice time a day? Basic practice methods and things to repeat?

Any help on this would be phenomenal. My goal is that in 2 years I can be proficient enough to join/start a band using the piano/keyboard as my instrument. I already worry that 20 is too late in life to decide you wanna learn the piano well enough to play it in any professional/musical sense. I probably spend more time stressing over this than I do actually playing the thing.

What would probably be my best approach, short of actually getting a teacher?
_________________________
Amanda Palmer has either inspired me to undertake the greatest journey in my life...or she's inspired me to buy a 350dollar dust collector. Which of these has yet to be determined.

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#1182912 - 04/18/09 11:51 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: Jason Riptide]
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
Surprised no one has replied. I started keyboard at 73 my abilities do come slower, however, I have the time to practice. The time to practice has more to do with improving than age IMHO. An hour a day is about right, less will just take longer.

Where to start. Alfred's # 1 book and your scales. Have to do those scales to get the fingers doing what they are supposed to do. By the time you finish Alfred's # 1 book you will have an idea where you should go next.

I chose lead sheet and fake chord and enjoy playing chord piano. Chord accompaniment to my vocals. The keyboard provides the harmony and my voice provides the melody. I believe you said you come from guitar - go strum your keyboard.

Flash cards cost $4 a pack. Scatter a few packs around and when ever you have a few moments - like during TV commercials - get some study in. Be able to identify and say the name of the note in the same amount of time it takes you to say your name. When you can do that you are ready to start reading standard notation and sounding the note on your keyboard. Not yet ready to read and play music, however, to keep your interest I enjoyed playing from something like this:
http://www.encoremusic.com/piano/1520031_alt_ge.html
Any music store that sells piano/keyboard will have "Big E-Z Note" books.

Good luck

Malcolm


Edited by majones (04/18/09 12:20 PM)

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#1182927 - 04/18/09 12:18 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: majones]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5424
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Malcolm is right on. I had a couple of years of piano in my teens and didn't restart until more than 30 years later, when I was already double your age laugh I started back by playing chords behind melody instruments, and it's primarily what I do to this day. I'd guess that the dance music I play is different from the particular kind of music you want to play, but the principle is the same.

But when I started back I knew *nothing* about chords on piano. I could read them from sheet music, but I didn't know them as chords. So - I got out my guitar :), played a G chord, figured out what the note names were, went over to the piano, played those notes, and voila! I was, as Malcolm says, strumming my piano. And just as you can do inversions of chords on a guitar, you can do them on a piano. Shapes for chords on a guitar? Shapes for chords on a piano. Guitar as a backing/rhythm instrument? Piano as a backing/rhythm instrument.

The Alfred's book is a good start, at least partly because you can join the threads here that are studying it and it helps with motivation. But you can start trying out two-handed piano chord rhythms and changes from the very start, when you've learned which keys on the keyboard make up which chords - which is the guitar-to-piano translation that made the light come on for me. If it's playing piano as a lead instrument and improvising, then the Alfred's will get you started with good fingering habits and reading skills. When you're comfortable with those you can branch out on the threads here that are jazz study groups, fake book study groups, et al. There's lots of resources.

So - 20? - no problem whatsoever. You'll have a great time.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1182938 - 04/18/09 12:39 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: jotur]
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
This helped me get my chords going.
1. Start off playing everything on the C scale - all the notes are found on the white keys.
2. Learn these formulas:
Any major chord is R+4+3. R = the root or name of the chord. C chord's root is the C note. So -- C plus 4 means to start on C and walk up four white and black keys to the E note then walk up three more white and black keys to the G note. C-E-G = a C Major chord. OK .....
Major chord = R+4+3
minor chord = R+3+4
diminished chord = R+3+3
sus2 chord = R+2+5
sus4 chord = R+5+2
Extensions
Major 6th = R+4+3+2
minor 6th = R+3+4+2 -- OK you get the idea, I'll not list the minor chords any longer you can figure it out from here.
Major 6 = R+4+3+2
Dominant 7 = R+4+3+3
Maj 7 = R+4+3+4
Recap of the extensions 6th = +2 more. A dominant 7 = +3 more and the maj7 = +4 more.

Much easier on the keyboard. Beyond that you start getting into two handed or broken chords so look them up.

Notice if you stay in the C scale the major AND minor chords are every other white key - and a frozen hand works great.

Have fun.


Edited by majones (04/18/09 12:52 PM)

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#1182940 - 04/18/09 12:41 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: jotur]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Hi Jason,

Depending on the music you are wanting to play, you might find the following books of use after you have learned some basics of playing.

Hal Leonard makes a series of books called Keyboard Style Series. Here is a link to one of the more complete listings of this series I have seen:
http://www.thefind.com/instruments/info-keyboard-style-series-music-book

For a more advanced and broader background in various keyboard styles, check out Mark Harrison's books. He wrote some of the above books, but also wrote The Pop Piano Book. This book starts off with music theory from a contemporary slant and then moves into chapters talking about common accompaniment patterns for many of the common styles in pop / rock / blues / gospel styles. If you really want to get a good handle on music theory from a contemporary viewpoint, look into his Contemporary Music Theory books as well. Here is Mark's website:
http://www.harrisonmusic.bizhosting.com/

If you want to branch into Jazz, check out Mark Levine's books The Jazz Piano Book and The Jazz Theory Book. Here is a link for his site:
http://www.marklevine.com/books.html

I would consider these books goals to work towards, not necessarily ones to start with right away. The important thing is to start - reading and playing music and learning your chords.

Rich
_________________________

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#1182950 - 04/18/09 12:55 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Hi Jason...

I suggest that you find a piano teacher who is willing to give you a lesson or two to start you off in the right direction, and then a lesson every now and then.

Not every piano teacher is willing to do that, however, so you may have to search, or ask a person who plays well for some feedback.

I am a classically trained piano teacher, and performer in a blues and boogie-woogie band, and over the years have had many folks come for lessons, both classical and blues/boogie-woogie who are self-taught.

They all had some form bad posture or bad/finger/hand posture habits that hindered their playing. The sad thing is that those habits would have been immediately noticed by a competent teacher, and corrected before they became ingrained.

Beginners do not typically have the knowledge to recognize those things, and, even if they do have the knowledge, they do not have the perspective of an outside person viewing them to notice.

I know you said you could not afford lessons, but if you want to be a pro, especially in two years, you really can't afford not to have at least a few lessons to avoid pitfalls.

Best wishes in your piano journey.


Edited by rocket88 (04/18/09 12:59 PM)
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1182956 - 04/18/09 01:18 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: rocket88]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
In my view, you need to start hanging with musicians.
If you're going to play in a band, this is going to
be a collaborative effort, and you'll need to start
collaborating right from the start. You can learn more
in 15 min. from a real musician--not necessarily
even a keyboard player--than you can from
15 yrs. of piano lessons. The piano often tends
to attract loner types, but in a band that's
not going to fly.

If Palmer is your idol, you might take take a look
at her background. She was apparently primarily an actress,
not a musician, and didn't begin to take off
until she teamed up with a drummer.

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#1182964 - 04/18/09 01:42 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: Gyro]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Originally Posted By: Gyro
In my view, you need to start hanging with musicians.
If you're going to play in a band, this is going to
be a collaborative effort, and you'll need to start
collaborating right from the start. You can learn more
in 15 min. from a real musician--not necessarily
even a keyboard player--than you can from
15 yrs. of piano lessons. The piano often tends
to attract loner types, but in a band that's
not going to fly.

If Palmer is your idol, you might take take a look
at her background. She was apparently primarily an actress,
not a musician, and didn't begin to take off
until she teamed up with a drummer.


Welcome back Gyro.

May I say that I think you are absolutely right on here.

Rich
_________________________

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#1182970 - 04/18/09 01:49 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: Gyro]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5424
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Gyro
In my view, you need to start hanging with musicians.
If you're going to play in a band, this is going to
be a collaborative effort, and you'll need to start
collaborating right from the start. You can learn more
in 15 min. from a real musician--not necessarily
even a keyboard player--than you can from
15 yrs. of piano lessons. The piano often tends
to attract loner types, but in a band that's
not going to fly.

If Palmer is your idol, you might take take a look
at her background. She was apparently primarily an actress,
not a musician, and didn't begin to take off
until she teamed up with a drummer.


Amen. For the kind of music I play, listening to the banjo players at the old-time festival was the primary place I started for right-had licks. I have always thought of my left-hand as the standing bass or the tuba. For theory, it was the mandolin player in the band I play with - and what an ear he has! Plus, as you say, collaboration is the key - and it can only be learned by doing. It was amazing to me how much there was to learn, in addition to playing the piano, about playing with a group - hearing what the other musicians are doing, how the music as a whole fits together, and so much more.

And I, too, was glad to see you posting again, Gyro. I was afraid the change over to the new formats had lost you somewhere.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1183052 - 04/18/09 06:04 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: jotur]
ihave12fingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 79
20 years too old? No way! I'm 16, and just started piano this year - sure I'm jealous of those 5 year old kids who can play The Entertainer with no problem, but there is still a lifetime to live no matter what your age is.

Since you already know some music theory, it will be much easier for you, I never played an instrument before and taught myself for the first month or so - then I took it as an elective in my school.

I suggest Alfred's Piano Books, they are great. I started out with, and still use, my 61 key keyboard unfortunately. I suggest an 88 key weighted key digital piano for around $500-600 if you plan to play for enjoyment.

Practice at least 1-2 hours a day. Devote some time to learn parts of your favorite pieces to keep you motivated. Practice scales and technique along with some sight reading.

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#1183265 - 04/19/09 03:51 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: ihave12fingers]
Jason Riptide Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 3
Thanks for all of the suggestions people. I definitely plan on implementing most of what has been laid out before me. My biggest fear is that I will develop the bad habits that someone alluded to earlier (which is kind of why I became stagnant on the guitar...bad habits.)

Thanks for the help, loves. Lord knows I'll be floating around these forums (hopefully the better I get, the more I'll have to contribute) so here's to hoping in a while I can be the advice giver to the new peeps coming here for help.

Just have to get started...
_________________________
Amanda Palmer has either inspired me to undertake the greatest journey in my life...or she's inspired me to buy a 350dollar dust collector. Which of these has yet to be determined.

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#1183325 - 04/19/09 08:02 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: majones]
kennychaffin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/09
Posts: 889
Loc: Aurora, CO
Originally Posted By: majones
Surprised no one has replied. I started keyboard at 73 my abilities do come slower, however, I have the time to practice. The time to practice has more to do with improving than age IMHO. An hour a day is about right, less will just take longer.

Where to start. Alfred's # 1 book and your scales. Have to do those scales to get the fingers doing what they are supposed to do. By the time you finish Alfred's # 1 book you will have an idea where you should go next.

.....

I enjoyed playing from something like this:
http://www.encoremusic.com/piano/1520031_alt_ge.html
Any music store that sells piano/keyboard will have "Big E-Z Note" books.

Good luck

Malcolm


73? Really? Thought I was getting a late start at 56. smile smile smile

Great advice above and helpful to me as well.

Apparently the "Best Songs Ever" from Hal Leonard comes in various "levels" as I just got a version of it myself which is slightly different from what I saw at that link.
_________________________
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Print Gallery - Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama

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#1183337 - 04/19/09 08:29 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: kennychaffin]
Chromatickeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/09
Posts: 108
Loc: Georgia USA
20! Too Late!

Laughing my fanny off.

A saying in the forestry industry; When is the best time to plant a tree, thirty years ago. When is the next best time to plant a tree, right now.

PW and the info here will give you a really good send off.

James

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#1183348 - 04/19/09 09:18 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: kennychaffin]
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
Originally Posted By: kennychaffin

Apparently the "Best Songs Ever" from Hal Leonard comes in various "levels" as I just got a version of it myself which is slightly different from what I saw at that link.


I've noticed this and because of it I'm not above dumbing down a piece so I can play it.

Malcolm


Edited by majones (04/19/09 09:20 AM)

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#1183394 - 04/19/09 10:49 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: majones]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1437
Loc: Australia
If you have a grounding in guitar, then I assume you have a knowledge of the chords required to play any particular song.
It is now just a matter of transferring those chords to piano or keyboard.
If you don't already, I would suggest studying basic scales, and how chords are formed from those scales, (which keys on the piano are required for each chord in any given song you wish to play.) For example, major chords are formed from the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of any major scale. Minor chords, consist of the 1st, flatted 3rd, and 5th, etc. There are many chord sheets to be found all over the intenet. Then just 'vamp' playing the chords with both hands ( possibly to a rhythm track) until you are comfortable with them. After that, it is just a matter of picking out some melody, or harmony lines with your right hand, and maybe a bass line with your left. Easier said than done, maybe, but it is more a matter of 'hearing what you see', and 'seeing what you hear'. Practice will get you to where you want to be, and as others have said, playing with others will dramatically speed up this process.
Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.
Good luck,
Rob


Edited by R0B (04/19/09 10:58 AM)
_________________________
Rob

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#1185702 - 04/23/09 07:57 AM Re: So where to start? [Re: R0B]
xnapoleonx Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/09
Posts: 40
I'm the same age as you are, I started in december with the same fears about age etc. as you have.

The first book i'm using is 'Piano for dummies', really takes you up from the basics and gives you a reference base.

I know it's not the best method, but I usually prefer taking songs I like already and I study them through sheet music/video tutorials.

For me it's the most fun way to do it..
_________________________
Piano resources for beginners by a beginner
http://tutorialpiano.blogspot.com/

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#1187993 - 04/26/09 10:20 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: xnapoleonx]
J.W. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Iowa
I started lessons at 33, and a couple months later (when I had to discontinue them, but that's another story) was at the Minuet in G level. I don't really know if that's good or not, but it suggests that 20's no problem. I'm getting back to it now, two years later, and I'm not worried.

I also work in fine arts management for a college, where many of the students taking piano lessons have never touched a piano before. One young man started as a complete beginner his freshman year, and was playing Beethoven sonatas and Chopin ballades by the time he graduated. A passion for the music and a willingness to work are, I think, more important than when you start - though this guy probably had some sort of freakish innate talent.

Want it, work for it, and you'll be surprised at how you can progress. You might not be Ben Folds or Billy Joel in two years, but I'd wager you'll be able to hold your own.
_________________________
Revolutionary Etude aspirations, Minuet in G abilities.

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#1189341 - 04/28/09 07:14 PM Re: So where to start? [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
Garbo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 25
Loc: Oak Park, Ca
Rich,
These are great books and I recommend them, too. I live near Mark Harrison and was referred to him after a year of Simply Music Instruction. I've been playing on and off since I was eight (I'm 55 now) and didn't know a lick of theory. Unbelievable! Addicted to sight reading my large collection of music but couldn't play anything well. Finally buckled down 18 months ago with private lessons. Started with Mark in January. He immediately threw me into 7-3 voicings and I bought all his theory books! I have spent countless hours learning music theory, extended, altered chords, modes, blues and jazz rhythms, turnarounds, and so on. It's just beginning to click. This stuff is just plain hard work and memorization until suddenly it becomes familiar, it's not new anymore, and music is made and even improvised. I have no one to talk to about this so I guess that's why I'm here on the forum. Talking a break from left hand blues drills to rest my back. I suspect that my biggest obstacle is trying to learn it all all the time! Have to narrow my focus. I've resolved to stick to my lesson assignment and 3 pieces only for awhile: Fur Elise, which i have almost completely memorized, Debussy's Arabesque, which fascinates me every time I play it, and, of course, Claire du Lune. So much music, so little time. I've decided to live until I'm 85, that gives me 30 years to finally become the pianist that I have only just realized I am! Anybody else overwhelmed with the theory?
_________________________
Camille

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