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#1905032 - 05/29/12 12:47 PM Piano books-self studying
zappa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
Hi there,
I am 39 years old and I do not have any music theory background. Bought music theory for dummies recently as I am aiming at learning to play some piano. Can anybody recommend a good piano book for beginners like me? As well, a good electric piano (price range £200-£500? I am looking after my daughter and working, so not much time left. I think that self-studying is a better option for me at the moment.

Any suggestion would be very much appreciated.
Thanks

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#1905050 - 05/29/12 01:21 PM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
I am also very much a beginner so please take my advice with a lot of salt smile
Music theory and learning how to play the piano are two related but different things (I also try to learn both). Some Piano learning book teach you some theory while you progress in them (I can at least talk for both, Alfred Adult All-In-One and Faber's Adult Piano Adventures) and it is pretty good because you only really need to memorize what you can actually apply on a piano (for someone who learn alone, I would tend to find Alfred better suited).
The problem with this books though is the fact that they were designed to be used by people who also have a teacher (no, I won't tell you "Get a teacher" wink ). So, if you don't know anyone who can show you "how to play", you will need to supplement the book with a lot of youtube watching and it's not always easy for a beginner to discern between the good and the bad tutorials (I would personally recommend you this series of tutorials: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL21598D1259C2C8EE&feature=plcp).

I am sure more experienced players will give you a lot more advices smile
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#1905398 - 05/30/12 05:58 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
I was waiting before giving you more advice because of my beginner "condition" but...
In your budget frame, it seems that both the Yamaha P95 and the Korg SP250 have a good reputation (I personally tried the P95 and it was really nice but the keyboard feel was a bit on the light side, so I ended up buying a P155 with a heavier touch). If you have the possibility, it would be better you find a store and try several models (I know it's hard when you can't play, I have been through that myself smile ) to have a general idea of the "feel" of the keys.
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#1905403 - 05/30/12 06:25 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1362
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Zappa and Jean-Luc, welcome to ABF!
I'm in the self learning side, too. Nice comment Jean-Luc, theory and the act of playing are different experiences. One is related to other but you don't need to be a theory expert to start putting your fingers on keys.
From my 2,5 years of experience (i'm still a "baby" on this matter...), I'd would like to highlight the importance of the love for playing and the pleasure you can get from it. That is the major trigger for me.
_________________________

Youtube channel
Box.com MP3 records

Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#1905499 - 05/30/12 11:30 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2365
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
This is a personal viewpoint for those going on the self teaching route.

It's not a short post. Go make a cup of tea before you start. smile

-------------------------------

I can't advise you on a cheap keyboard. What I can offer are some suggestions to help you choose one. And a book.

Get to a piano store and try the following on a good quality upright such as Yamaha U1/U3 or Kawai K3/K5 or that six figure concert grand if the salesman doesn't mind. smile

Play slow repeated notes to see how many volume levels you can discern between softest and loudest, the forces required between the two extremes, and the controllability - how many volume levels YOU can make repeatedly.

Listen to the different tones. Soft notes are close to one tone from the initial attack to the beginning of its fading away. Loud tones have a strong, biting attack then quickly settle to an even tone before beginning the fade out.

Listen to how long the notes sustain at the upper end of the keyboard, the middle and the lower end.

Learn a simple melody such as Beethoven's Ode to Joy (the European anthem) - just one finger will do, we're not trying to impress anyone here - and play it as many different ways as you can trying to simulate a sweet, gentle flute, a melancholy violin, the garlic tones of a bassoon and the strident tone a trumpet. Listen to how malleable the sound is on a good quality piano - despite your somewhat limited technique.

Then do the same on a good quality digital such as a Yamaha Clavinova, Roland HP series or Kawai CA series. You now have a baseline against which to measure your prospective budget instrument.

Try them out and see which one gives the least compromises for the least money. At the beginning be more concerned with the feel than with the sound. The sound is what it is - deal with it. All it has to do is let you know when you've pressed the key hard enough or soft enough. Bob Dylan doesn't have the voice of angel but he can invoke passion and express music when he interprets a song.

The action, the feel of the keyboard is what determines your relationship with the instrument and, if you're going to be learning on it for some time, all the other pianos you're ever going to play. Ever! This is why people recommend good instruments.

A Clavinova is a big outlay but if you keep it for ten years, and I've kept mine for 23, it's going to cost less money than the tuning costs of a regular acoustic over that time. In other words, after ten or so years it's free! It won't take you to Carnegie Hall but it will take you as far as most people are able to go in a normal lifetime.

-----------------------

Now, as to books, I don't know many method books but the Faber and the Alfred series have a lot of devotees here and I'd take that as a strong recommendation. But I do find these method books slow.
I would recommend you tackle pieces like Burgmüllers Op. 100, Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook and Clementi's sonatina's well within the first year.

You don't have to play them fast. You don't even have to get as far as half speed. You do have to get used to playing scales passages, broken chords, broken thirds, arpeggios and trills and interpreting them. I also believe you have to get used to memorising them. As a supplement to your method books do two bars a day of more advanced pieces (not advanced pieces, just more advanced than the method books) and start memorising them.

Play the same two bars, dead slow, every day until you have them in your head and your fingers then move on to the next two bars. Play over the bars you've memorised at the weekends and, trust me, the speed will come of its own accord. You never need to rush memorised pieces. You will eventually play them at the speed you hear them in your head. You don't ever have to play any faster than you can control. Once they're memorised they all have the same difficulty level - none. It's like having the answers to a quiz. You know the answers or you don't - they're not hard because you know them. They might have been hard to learn but that's over now. Once they're in your head you can keep them forever. And you can play them as easily as you recite your name and address.

This will give you scales and arpeggios in a musical context and by memorising them they will take deep root in your fingers. There is no better or faster way of improving your overall technique than memorising pieces replete with technical passages.

You also have to get your hands working independently for handling polyrhythm, like quavers in one hand and triplets in the other or a shuffle rhythm against straight quavers.

Set your metronome for 60 to 80 bpm. Slower than that and it's difficult to judge the timing. If you have an electronic one set the beep to sound on every fourth note. (If you have a mechanical one get either an electronic one or a drum machine.) Find the shortest note in the piece, usually a semiquaver (sixteenth note), and play them every fourth beat. If the metronome is going beep-dit-dit-dit play the semi's on the beep and use the dits to prepare your fingers. This might sound slow but it imparts deadly accuracy. As long as you always hear it and play it with this kind of accuracy you will seldom hit wrong notes. Once you have a long enough section in your head, around eight bars or so, let the tempo develop until it's about right for the piece as long as you maintain accuracy.

Pieces up to moderato I usually play up to tempo nearly all the time, faster pieces I play around half to three quarters speed nearly all the time. I hardly ever play fast pieces up to tempo except at the weekends. I will not accept wrong notes. I always finish with a slower tempo before I put the piece to bed.

If you don't have a teacher listen to as many good artists as you can, for free, on YouTube. Watch close ups of the hands for all the different ways the fingers hit the keys, and all the different ways the fingers leave the keys. Spot the difference (and hear it) between playing from the fingers, the hands, the wrists, the forearms, the shoulders and from the base of the spine.

I do recommend this book. It's not a method book, it's not a list of pieces. It's not cheap. It is good. It covers technique, phrasing, practising and performance. It won't replace a teacher but it will cover most of the gaps and help avoid pitfalls.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Principles-Technique-Interpretation-Kendall-Taylor/dp/0853600732

My copy is falling apart at the seams. I can't give a better recommendation than that. I had a teacher for eight years, a damn good one too, but this book has got me through some difficult patches that I've had since then and even during my lesson years.
_________________________
Richard

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#1905582 - 05/30/12 02:10 PM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zrtf90]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1362
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Wow, what a post! crazy
_________________________

Youtube channel
Box.com MP3 records

Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#1905648 - 05/30/12 04:08 PM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
zappa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
Thank you for all the replies.
I will read all of them more carefully at the week-end.
I have tried a couple of pianos and one of them was Yamaha P95. I liked the feeling.
Thanks again.
Keep posted.

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#1905707 - 05/30/12 06:43 PM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1198
Loc: Toronto
Hello, I am new here (to this forum), but have an idea which may help you. Please see recent post I made (link below) which explains more and has (by way of attachments) everything you need to know about learning piano in five pages.

An exert is here
"The reason for the publication of this instruction is to help you in learning to play any piece of music published with chord-symbols above the melody line ..."

IMHO, the quickest/easiest way to learn to play. Plus if you like it, I can give you lots of scores to work on (written with melody and chords only) to get you going. Just let me know ...

Reply to "my site reading sucks"

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=45717.msg506118#msg506118

Hope helps.
_________________________

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#1906633 - 06/01/12 04:21 PM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
zappa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
I really liked the the below comment from your link (www.pianostreet.com):
" Look constantly at the music not at your hands. (This helped me more than any other sigle suggestion. For those of you who had formal typing lessons back in the day . . .)"

I did take typing lessons long time ago and I am very very fast...I will try the same technique.
Thanks

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#1908733 - 06/05/12 10:54 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
frankeric Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/11
Posts: 50
Loc: colorado
I'm self studing now for 6 months. Been playing piano for 1 1/2 years. What I'm finding out is that music theory is needed as you move along in your learning. I've completed Faber's AA books. The theory is very limited so I always have my MT for dummies handy. By the way there is a much better theory book, IMO, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory 2nd edition by Michael Miller, don't like the use of the word Idiot/Dummy but so be it. I got it from my local library. I wish I had found this first off, but better late than never.
One final note: I think for the first 4-8 months, if you're a beginner, a teacher will move things along much faster than on your own. Also, I started with a Yam P-95, for 2 months before buying a new M&H A.
frankeric

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#1908739 - 06/05/12 11:03 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zappa]
FirdausRazak Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 10
Loc: Banned
are there any of you guys are starting to learn piano lessons, or an advanced player already looking for some new stuff , check out this website, there are some products at special promotion with some bonuses . please do not hesitate to have a look !
the techniques and necessary thoughts are given as well based on experiences of these skillful and fine pianists with their students to enhance this technique of piano learning .

[ad link removed]


Edited by YD (06/05/12 11:53 AM)
Edit Reason: Ad

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#1908763 - 06/05/12 11:16 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: FirdausRazak]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1846
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: FirdausRazak
are there any of you guys are starting to learn piano lessons, or an advanced player already looking for some new stuff , check out this website, there are some products at special promotion with some bonuses . please do not hesitate to have a look !
the techniques and necessary thoughts are given as well based on experiences of these skillful and fine pianists with their students to enhance this technique of piano learning .

http://firdaus.toppianocourses.com/


You know ... I used to buy these types of courses in my effort to find the perfect method for me. I still look at them and then I stop and resist the temptation. I can do this now because I have learned that what will make me a better player is practice. Then I go to the piano and practice.

Now, that does not mean that those courses are not filled with useful information. If you cannot get a live teacher they may be very good for you. However, once you have one then do what it tells you to do and resist the temptation to think that a different one will be better. It may very well be. But, in my opinion, just practicing what you already have will work better than buying more courses.


Edited by dmd (06/05/12 11:30 AM)
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#1911784 - 06/11/12 09:18 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: zrtf90]
zappa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
I read your e-mail some time ago but I never had time to tell you thank you for your advise and your long message. I have decided to buy NP-11. The piano arrives today. So excited. Still waiting for my books (bought Alfred series for adults).
I will try Burgmüllers Op. 100, Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook and Clementi's sonatina....hopefully in the very near future.
Thanks for the advise and keep posted.

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#1911786 - 06/11/12 09:21 AM Re: Piano books-self studying [Re: frankeric]
zappa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
I would love to have a teacher but at the moment it is no possible.
Thanks for book recommendation.

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