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#1467424 - 07/03/10 05:45 AM Self-Teaching Support Thread
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
I was wondering whether it might be possible to have a thread that was officially a safe space to talk about self-teaching. I've been searching back threads about the subject, and they seem to all eventually get derailed into arguments that self-teaching dooms one to pianistic hell.

While I respect the right of anyone to believe that, I think it would be a benefit to the community to have a thread, just one thread, where self-instructors can share tips and experiences without being condemned. It seems to me that there are a lot of us doing it but not talking much about it, because it's just not comfortable to bring around here. From my first days on the forum, I have always felt inhibited about talking about my self-teaching experiences, because there's always such a predictable negative response to such discussions.

Or am I just imagining things? Do any other self-teachers feel like I do? Is there even interest in having such a thread? Would we need moderator permission to do this? What do people think?


Edited by tangleweeds (07/03/10 05:47 AM)
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#1467427 - 07/03/10 05:56 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: tangleweeds]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone? Still I'm sure you're welcome to have what you wish in your thread.

Saying that, I'm self learning the violin!


Edited by keyboardklutz (07/03/10 06:06 AM)
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467431 - 07/03/10 06:06 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
Ejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 216
Loc: U.K.
I'm self taught.
I wish I wasn't , but I am. I simply cannot afford lessons.

I know when I have made mistakes, I don't need a teacher to point them out. However it takes me a lot longer to discover exactly why I am making the mistake and how to correct it, than a teacher would take. On my own I acknowledge that I am very much at risk of developing bad technique. However I can only take things slowly and be careful. I cannot change the fact that lessons are too expensive for my budget. My aim is to be a competent piano player though, not a concert pianist.

I don't know if a self taught thread would be of any more benefit than the forum already is to us, but no harm in giving it a try and seeing if it works.
_________________________
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Maya Angelou


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#1467445 - 07/03/10 06:49 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
I'm for it, too. I'm sure the majority of self-teachers here would gladly take lessons, but can't for one reason or another.

I'm curious, what to you various self-teachers (is there a better term?) do to teach yourself piano? There's this forum, of course, but what other resources do you use?

I've read quite a few books on technique: "The Pianist's Problems," by William S. Newman, and "The Art of Piano Playing: A Scientific Approach," by George Kochevitsky, chief among them. I have Barbara Lister-Sink's excellent DVD "Freeing the Caged Bird." I've found a lot of helpful websites and articles through Google. (If you know of one, this is a good place to share it.) Then there's always watching great (and not so great) pianists perform on YouTube, and listening to recordings.

So how do you teach yourself? Or, as in my case, how do you walk through the livingroom blindfolded without banging your shins on the coffee table?

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#1467446 - 07/03/10 06:56 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: tangleweeds]
Cobra1365 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/10
Posts: 261
I am a self teach kinda guy. I'd be curious to see how others are working their way through different phases.

I realize having a teacher can help you recognize bad habits and correct techniques etc. But, there si also that level of satisfaction when you've figured out the puzzle on your own.
_________________________
Started Playing May 2010, Primarily Self Learning, Some Coach Assistance

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#1467450 - 07/03/10 07:05 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Cobra1365]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
But there's always the question, could you have figured it out sooner with a teacher, and so gotten on to other things? And how do you know you've found the best solution?

Self-teaching seems to require a lot of self-reflection and second-guessing. Or maybe I'm just being neurotic.

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#1467452 - 07/03/10 07:12 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone?


Socrates shmocrates. There's a difference between a piece played wrong and a dead baby.

I for one would be very happy to see a thread dedicated to positive energy around self-teaching.

Pianist (after lessons), self-taught guitarist and midwife.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1467457 - 07/03/10 07:17 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: ten left thumbs]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Hey, I too a self taught guitarist! But only a midwife to artistic expression.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467459 - 07/03/10 07:24 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
Ejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 216
Loc: U.K.
Can I please ask to stop the references to dead babies.
Some of us have reason to be sensitive to that one.
Thanks
_________________________
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Maya Angelou


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#1467463 - 07/03/10 07:33 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
mom3gram Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 1131
Loc: New Jersey
Self-taught senior citizen here. I can't afford lessons either - Social Security only goes so far. I also only drive on local roads, and can't travel far to a teacher. But it's more than that. I enjoy self teaching, I practice enthusiastically every day, and as someone said above, it's like solving a puzzle. I too have no delusions about becoming anything more than an old lady playing piano to entertain herself. I too can tell if I make a mistake, and I can usually find information here on Piano World to help me correct those mistakes.

I use primarily the Alfred Adult All-in-one book, and have several other books either given to me or purchased used from Ebay for variety. I read both this forum and the teacher's forum, and use what information works for me, and leave the rest behind.

I actually don't feel intimidated on the ABF forum, as I know that there are a lot of us who started out self-teaching, and a lot of us who will continue to do so. Do I believe that I would make better progress with a teacher. Of course I do. But I also think the strain of keeping up with assignments might just take the fun out of it too.

If there is a self-teaching thread, I will participate in it.
_________________________
mom3gram

ALFRED'S ADULT BOOK 1 GRADUATE


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#1467472 - 07/03/10 07:43 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
Ejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 216
Loc: U.K.
The first thing I did, was look back at the mistakes in my guitar experience. My parents , not knowing any better, sent me to guitar lessons as they could not buy me a piano. The teacher was as useful as a chocolate teapot.
In my first years with him, he gave me photocopied music, and some half decent method books. Only as a child, I did what he wrote in my notebook and that was it. I did the exercises and the pieces. I skipped the theory in the music books, and as an 8 year old I really should have had theory presented in a much easier to understand format, never mind it being ignored altogether.

It didn't take long before I was the star pupil, prospective students came for their trial lesson before mine, so they could stay and hear me play. Their parents were no more knowledgeable than mine, it sounded good, therefore it must be good.

When he eventually put me forward for grade 3 exam, I had to learn all the theory, prepare for aural etc by myself. I had a month to learn scales !!

The lesson I have learned is that theory and scales are important. If something sounds good, that is not the sole indicator that it is good. I realise that no single method book will teach me everything. The pieces in Alfred's I view as exercises, foundation building blocks. I supplement with Czerny studies as well as scale , broken chord and arpeggio techniques. I learn chords in inversions and understand how they are built. I try to learn a piece by looking at the music, by look around me and then back to the music, then close my eyes, then look at the keys. It is surprising how focusing on different things gives a different awareness of finger movement and positioning, and dynamics.

Forums like this, with its variety of opinions are invaluable.
You tube is useful, so long as you can tell the difference between a bad performance and a good one.
_________________________
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Maya Angelou


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#1467473 - 07/03/10 07:45 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
Here's a good website:

http://www.musicalfossils.com/

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#1467476 - 07/03/10 08:03 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: moscheles001]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Here's a nice quote from Fossils:
Quote:
In my B major scale example, if I play an A-natural instead of an A sharp, that's what I'm learning to do. If I say to myself, "No! That's not right! It should be an A-sharp!" as I play it wrong, it makes no difference. If I get mad at myself and call myself a stupid imbecile, it still makes no more difference than if I swear at my computer.

Most of us are confused and think this kind of talking helps us learn, as if announcing our mistakes somehow makes us improve. It doesn't. Perhaps these words are more to protect our own egos as if announcing the mistake first will keep anyone else from accusing us of making one. This is like a preemptive internal attack to ward off an external attack.
http://www.musicalfossils.com/kin.html
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467478 - 07/03/10 08:11 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
Ejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 216
Loc: U.K.
How true.
It is so easy to practice mistakes.

What do you think is the correct approach to fixing a recognised mistake ?
_________________________
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Maya Angelou


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#1467480 - 07/03/10 08:14 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Quote:
Words can be useful though. They can be used to help us diagnose an error and guide us to the difference in the kinesthetic sensation between the correct and incorrect key. For example, "I'm playing an A-natural instead of an A-sharp. How does it feel different under my fingers as I play the A-sharp instead of an A-natural? It's a black key and, in fact, feels quite different from the white key of A-natural. So this is what I need to feel under my finger when I get here."

Having reached this point, words are no longer useful. The sensation of the correct key is the information pertinent to playing it right. Feeling the sensation of the A-sharp is the crucial information: sensation that words cannot adequately describe.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467483 - 07/03/10 08:23 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
BenPiano Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: US
Hi, self taught here too. I'm afraid of the possibilty that having a teacher (or searching for the "perfect" one) would make piano work, and not fun, as it has been for the past year.

I honestly would rather play badly than not play at all.
_________________________
Learning to play since June 2009.
My piano diary on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/afpaSTU1096
<- 10+ ABF recitals

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#1467485 - 07/03/10 08:27 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
Ejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 216
Loc: U.K.
blush Yeah I know.. read the rest of the article before replying.. LOL , I will read the rest , when toddler goes to bed , I don't always learn best while a two year old is jumping up and down on top of me.

I can't resist asking though, how do we do this in practice ?
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?
_________________________
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Maya Angelou


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#1467486 - 07/03/10 08:27 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
It can help to ask why the mistake occurred. Sometimes, I'll repeatedly make a mistake in one hand, only to discover it's because the other hand is not secure in what it should be doing at that point; fixing that hand fixes the other hand, too.

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#1467502 - 07/03/10 09:18 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: moscheles001]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Agreed. There are many 'types' of mistake - one grievance I have against teachers is they often just correct, rather than help you search for the source of error.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467508 - 07/03/10 09:42 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Ejay]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1048
Originally Posted By: Ejay
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?


I often watch my hands when I miss a note. I am still working on being able to sense exactly what my fingers/hands/arms are doing while playing. But I have an incomplete sense of what that all looks like, so often I can identify what is not working right by watching myself play. I would try then to look at the fingers to correct the problem, then look away from your fingers and remember what that feels like.

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#1467531 - 07/03/10 11:24 AM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Arghhh]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
I had both lessons and was self-taught. Did classical with lessons from 6-18, and learned jazz on my own.

Both have their pluses and minuses. With a good teacher, you'll develop strong technique, theory, musical skills.

But the real improvement comes with practice, just like any sport. You need to work on specific things 1000's of time so it becomes natural.

It depends on what you want to self-teach. I've tried learning guitar on my own. Didn't get too far. I can imagine I'd fail miserably if I tried to learn the violin from scratch.

For proper finger/hand technique, get a good classical. For ear training, you can work on that yourself. For jazz, learn the basics WELL and forget about all the rest until that.

If you expand on what you want to learn, people may be able to offer better advice.

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#1467574 - 07/03/10 12:29 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: mom3gram]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
Perhaps we can compile a list of resources for self-teachers.

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#1467608 - 07/03/10 01:29 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: mom3gram]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1079
Loc: California
When I have not taken lessons, I don't progress very much. I progressed the most taking a group class at our community college. That was a good setting for me.

On the other hand, I don't like weekly lessons. It's too frequent. Once a month is good for me, but I don't have a teacher close by who teaches blues/jazz.

I find the next best choice for me are online lessons, although there still isn't the motivation to practice as much.

If our community college offered pop/jazz/blues piano, I would definitely be there.

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#1467633 - 07/03/10 02:26 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: tangleweeds]
Viktor Engström Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 22
Loc: Sweden
I have pressed the keys on a piano since quite early, but not until last year, at the age of 18, did I start to take the playing a bit more of a hobby than just plainless hammering. The first melody I learned with both hands was the Tetris A theme with both hands, and since then I have tried to learn themes and melodies that I feel I want to be able to reproduce myself. I enjoy listening to most genres within music, but the melodies I focus to learn is mostly ones from video games; those are some of the songs which have affected me greatly during my growth.

I believe my musical ear is quite developed and I am able to find the correct notes for melodies. However, I have sadly not tried much to learn melodies directly by ear, for no reason at all. After I had learned Tetris I read up on how to read sheets to be able to learn the songs I desired at that time. I am now able to read sheets at a very basic level; it takes a moment for me to find the correct key that the sheet tells me to play. Other learning methods that I use include random videos on the internet and a certain application called Synthesia. I have use of the ear in all of the methods I have until now tried, to hear if the key I pressed was the correct one and could be used in the melody.

I have not taken any lessons yet, and I do not plan to in the close future either. I do not know even a fifth of the terms that are commonly used within the world of piano, but I feel that I am moving forward at a pleasing pace. I do play one session on the piano atleast once if I have a piano close by, and within them I play both the melodies I have learned, and the ones I have yet to play fluently.

I do not inherit much knowledge about the theory of piano playing, and the items I use to learn melodies are questionably able to help me gain more of that knowledge. Yet, I do feel that I learn much by playing the songs, not only to play the song in question, but also how music works. I know much more about chords than I did before, I learn which keys works well with others in combinations, and how to move the hand up and down certain chords and arpeggios with more ease than before. I believe much of the playing is based on logic aswell; if it is uncomfortable doing a movement, change your posture and setting of hand to match up with the difficulty.

I am hobby pianist, performing for my relatives and friends, and for their friends and relatives. It does not require much to get to play at other pianos if you are visiting someone: "Oh, you have a piano!" "Yes. Do you play?" "Aye, I am within the learning phase right now". The music I play are not melodies that everyone knows of, mostly because of the reason I mentioned before; these are melodies from video games. My friends have a blast though since most of them have either played or seen the games which has the music, and that is the most important for me.

What I meant with all this greek was that the methods I use are not what one would use to become a perfect pianist; in ten years I might still not know what it means for a piece to be played in a certain key! I play the piano as a hobby, as said, and I will most certainly want to keep it that way. I am neither a prodigy nor incapable of playing at all, I want to take care of my ability to produce somewhat recognizable sounds on an instrument.

Most melodies I have learned is from the Zelda games, but I also play random pieces, of which "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" - Michael Nyman and "Korobeiniki" (russian folk song) are included. I am yet to be able to play the primary fluently, but I am working my way there!

Sincerely,
Viktor
_________________________
"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else"

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#1467652 - 07/03/10 03:07 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Viktor Engström]
blueston Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/09
Posts: 271
Loc: MA, USA
I am mostly self taught but didn't break out of complete amateur status (incapable of real live performance) until I went to a good teacher for a few years. Then I realized I wasted MANY years, and wished I could have gone to this teacher 15 years ago. Oh well, there was some benefit to self taught, because I initiated it I will always have an internal desire to play, got to choose music I was interested in, and went at my own pace etc.

Anyway my take on the best thing to do is alternate- 2-3 years teacher, 2-3 years self exploration, 2-3 years different teacher, 2-3 years self exploration, 2-3 years with 3rd teacher and so on...

Learn from many different teachers as possible. Then when you are on your own, take time to explore in depth topics you would be unable to concentrate on with full weekly lessons going on.

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#1467655 - 07/03/10 03:08 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Viktor Engström]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2375
Loc: Virginia, USA
I'm always impressed with you self-tought folks who can make progress. I finally broke down and got a teacher 2 months ago and I have learnt more in those months in the last 20 years. That's not to say everyone needs a teacher but I obviously did.

Regarding mistakes. My teacher generally finds the mistakes I haven't found since I've corrected errors I've known about on my own. So if you don't have a teacher, make sure others who you can trust to be honest do give you feedback. Record yourself. Watch yourself critically.

Force yourself to develop a harder repetoire and keep going through the problem areas.

In other words, do all the things I didn't do wink
_________________________
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#1467656 - 07/03/10 03:09 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: Viktor Engström]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3551
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Self-teaching going on 5 years and still srongly motivated and loving the journey - you know what good piano music should sound like and if what you're doing doesn't sound like that then keep working on it until it does - that's all the instruction you need - and, yes, see the Chopin quote below.

Besides, maybe it's the teachers who instill all the bad habits anyway...

I'm fully supportive of a thread like this - great idea - keep it going!

JF


Edited by John Frank (07/03/10 03:10 PM)
_________________________
Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.

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#1467679 - 07/03/10 03:48 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: TrapperJohn]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
I would love to have a good teacher. I'm sure the teachers here wouldn't like to be accused of being the source of bad habits.

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#1467684 - 07/03/10 03:54 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: moscheles001]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
With a teacher chances are you'll get bad habits, on your own you'll definitely get them. With a good teacher sky's the limit.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1467717 - 07/03/10 05:46 PM Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread [Re: keyboardklutz]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
So those of us who can't get a teacher are just doomed to failure?

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