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#1926108 - 07/13/12 01:07 AM starting as an adult
El Barto Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Australia
Hi this is my first post, so i might be asking something that has been asked possibly countless times but I would like to have some feedback related to my individual situation.

I am 34 years old. I have been wanting to be a "musician" all my life. I have had a guitar since I was 12 and during my teen age years I would "play with it" rather than "play it" for hours at the time. same with a little keyboard I had. I was 12 back then and stupid, so I thought I would just teach myself like some of my favourite rock musicians say they did I was offered formal musical tuition by my parents and I said no because "I did not want to study, I wanted to play" so I never in 20 years on an of of picking up the guitar or a keyboard I was never able to learn more than a few notes but never a whole song of piece. I have good ear and I can trick lay people into believing that I play doing a few chords that sound good but that i don't even know how they are named and i don't know more than 6.

I went to medical school and then forgot about music. then I started working and forgot about music and said that i did not have the time.
I think I have a good ear and I see the mathematical proportions behind music.
but I can't play!!! and i decided that this is happening. somehow so I got a piano last Monday.

with that background what i want to ask is:

Am i to old now to play at a decent presentable level at least to have fun playing or play with an amateur band, or at least play for my family? I would like to play some classical music + rock + blues.

How long until I can "play something" and the piano sound like is making music instead of noise. So I know what to expect and don't drop it after 3 weeks.

and where do I start? what do I do in my practice time? --exercises (for finger positions and coordination) ?
try to play a song or a piece? (how do I learn the right technique for a song or piece).
theory? I know some basic theory but i can't read and i think that is indispensable.
scales?

How do I attack this in the most time efficient way. I can practice a couple of hours a day. Remember I am not 12 anymore.


this is very long and I know this possibly the most asked question ever but no one wants to play and make music as badly as i do and I just don't seem to be able do it.

thanks

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#1926119 - 07/13/12 01:49 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
A couple hours a day is quite a lot! Do not worry. It is never too late.

I have an adult student who went from absolutely zero to playing advanced literature in just four years of hard work and practice.

If you can find a teacher, that would be best.

If not, then I'd suggest joining a study group such as the one here. I posted this to another thread recently:

Quote:
Buy a beginner's book and work through it to develop some finger ability (there are many good ones available).

Then, invest in either a repertoire series or collections of standards (again, what my one student is doing right now):

Baroque: Bach Anna Magdalene Notebook, then Little Preludes, then Short Preludes, then Inventions, then Sinfonias or WTC

Classical: Sonatina collection (there are many), then later on, separate sonatas

Romantic: Tchaikovsky Album for the Young, Schumann Album for the Young

Contemporary: Bartok Album for the Young, Kabalevsky Op 39 and Op 27

Etudes: Burgmuller 100, then Heller and Burgmuller advanced etudes

Or choose a series such as Keith Snell or Festival collection that contains these and other non-standards, but in a graded manner. Then simply start working on the pieces until you progress.


You could alter this to fit your specific goals - remove some Contemporary music and add in rock, for example, or blue standards.

To answer your questions separately:

"Am i to old now to play at a decent presentable level at least to have fun playing or play with an amateur band, or at least play for my family? I would like to play some classical music + rock + blues."

No, it is never too late! You may not be a concert pianist, but you can gain a lot of technical ability and musical skill.

"How long until I can "play something" and the piano sound like is making music instead of noise. So I know what to expect and don't drop it after 3 weeks."

It depends on what you mean by 'something.' All my students play something after one lesson. Students who stick with it play better somethings smile

"and where do I start?"

At the beginning! As I suggested, invest in a good beginners book and start! Then, progress onto more specialized materials: rock collection, classical repertoire series, etc.

"what do I do in my practice time? --exercises (for finger positions and coordination)? try to play a song or a piece? (how do I learn the right technique for a song or piece). scales?"

Practice should be split into technical (scales and other finger work), repertoire (applied technique and growing musicality), sight-reading (to improve facility in reading - this can begin with flashcards, then simple note naming, then easy easy pieces, and get more and more difficult), aural training (basic ear training), and theory (see below).

Personally, I would say do not do any finger exercises - they are only useful with a good teacher and even then, only for specific things. Thus, do not worry about Hanon or Czerny. Focus instead of scales/arpeggios/chords/etc and pieces.

In the beginning, all you need is a good beginners book or series, a theory book/resources, and dedication. The rest will add in.

With a couple of hours every day, with some breaks here and there to rest, you will make a lot of progress if you stay focus and passioned!

"theory? I know some basic theory but i can't read and i think that is indispensable."

Yes and yes! Learn to read and study your theory. There are a lot of resources available for FREE online, so don't worry too much about that!

Good luck and welcome!

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#1926214 - 07/13/12 09:53 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 909
Loc: Southern California
The first reply came from a piano teacher, and gave you a lot of good advice. Finding a local teacher tends to be the best way, if a person has the money for lessons.

I don't have those resources, or even a proper piano or digital. I started four months ago and can write a bit about my journey. I found a lot of material on Youtube and websites. If a person can't sight read and wants to learn, there are programs, apps, websites, flash cards, all manner of aids to learn that.

I wanted to get into chords as quickly as possible and looked up free video lessons showing me that. Also proper posture, hand position (one thread at the top of this forum has a short video on hand position) are all important. I also found some videos showing basic scales and two hand scales and learned the most popular ones and practiced them.

Each person learns at a different speed, but I was playing with two hands, and it sounded like music well before three weeks. Each person is different, so the time line may be different, but if a person makes an effort they will see results. Many adult beginners seek out simple or easy tunes that they already know the melody to. These might include children's songs, or popular old tunes. Knowing what a tune sounds is a big thing for me. If I don't know, most are on Youtube.

Any way, it is never too late. There are many, many that started later than age 34, and many post their beautiful music on the piano bar thread and in the quarterly recital thread. It may take a while to reach certain goals, but if a person identifies those goals and works towards them, many will be achieved. I didn't see anything out of reach on the list. Again, the time table will vary for each person.

I dove right in and started practicing two hours a day on average. A few weeks in, I had hand discomfort and took a week off and then cut my practice time to one hour per day. I have years of repetitive stress problems from typing and whistle and flute.

Good luck, keep it fun, and enjoy the journey.


Edited by Sand Tiger (07/13/12 10:14 AM)
_________________________
my piano uploads

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#1926257 - 07/13/12 12:43 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
In addition to the great advice you already received.

I would get one of these books and work on scales/chords etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Scales-Ch...hords+arpeggios

http://www.amazon.com/FJH-Classic-Scale-...ords=fjh+scales

http://www.amazon.com/FJH-Classic-First-...ords=fjh+scales

If you are still interested in learning rock songs I would get familiar with chords and chord symbols and then get a fake book. That way you can have fun playing those songs while you continue to work on other things.

A quick note about chords. If you learn all the major chords. Then you just need to alter them to make other chords. For ex: if you lower the middle note (the 3rd) of a major chord it becomes a minor chord. You may know that already but my point is that it can be helpful to know formula/patterns for how you alter chords you already know to make other chords. Because as in the example I gave just knowing that one alteration you just double the amount of chords you know smile

That way you can learn bunch of chords so you can use the fake books if you chose too.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1926258 - 07/13/12 12:47 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Cookie74 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 137
Loc: California
I have a very similar story to yours. I took a few years of piano as a child and then quit. Then I learned to play the drums (sort of) and took up the guitar in college. I actually got pretty good at the guitar and was in a band and all that.

I always loved the piano though and love classical music. The guitar for me was more of a rock n roll instrument. So when I was about 30 I got a piano and decided to get good at it. The piano can also be a rock n' roll instrument, I guess, but I usually don't play rock with the piano (sometimes).

I'm a lawyer by the way so probably I have similar time commitments as you. I also have 4 kids, but I found time everyday to sit down and practice, usually after putting the kids to bed. Sometimes until midnight or later. I would say no less than a half hour a day, at least five days a week, and sometimes an hour or two if I had extra time.

I think I've come a long way since then (it's been about 8 years) and I am very happy with my progress. I took lessons for a couple of those years and I would still be taking them if I wasn't paying over $300 a month for my kids to take lessons. I would definitely recommend getting a good teacher if you are just starting out. It is invaluable to have someone who knows how to teach sitting next to you and showing you how to do things. Not only that, but they know your skill level and will know the best pieces at your level that will help you progress. If you are doing things that are too hard or too easy, I don't think you can progress as fast.

My next piece of advice would be to treat it as a long term (really life long) endeavor. If you think you are going to be playing Beethoven Sonatas or Chopin Etudes in a few months, then you will get frustrated and probably quit. That's not to say you won't be able to play pieces that you can be proud of within a few months, or even in weeks. Just don't get frustrated because progress is slow--if you stick with it, and work hard, you will progress, and it's awesome when you realize that you can do something that you weren't able to do before.

Now to answer some of your questions directly:

1. Of course you're not too old. This forum would be almost empty if people couldn't pick up piano after 30. If you practice and stick with it, you will be able to play for family/in a band/etc. When I started, I couldn't read music worth a lick. Now I regularly accompany singing at church. In fact, I just played the organ in church last week for the first time and accompanied the congregation. I did fine, didn't mess up. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.

2. You should be able to play something right away--within a couple weeks. Now, it will be something basic, but it will sound like music. Blues is especially something that you can learn fairly quickly and make it sound "bluesy". I'm not saying you will be playing like Champion Jack Dupre in a couple months, but you can learn the basics fairly quickly (especially if you have someone to teach you).

3. Where do you start--with a teacher would be the best. If you can't do that, I guess the second best thing would be to get a method book and go through it. A lot of people on this site have done that, and I'm sure you can get some ideas from them. Personally, I didn't do that because I didn't really know about them. I started by ordering a Scott Joplin ragtime book called "18 Rags in Easier Versions". I wouldn't recommend that for an absolute beginner, though. I remembered enough from when I took as a child to be able to learn those pieces, but they are not easy. Note that they are "Easier" versions, not "Easy" versions. The real ones are difficult, and this book just kind of watered them down a bit. Anyway, a method book like "Alfred's Adult Course" (or something like that) would be better for an absolute beginner. I believe it has theory, technique and songs that are built into the course.

4. How to be most efficient? Seriously, if you can, get a teacher. People on this forum are helpful, but they don't know you, they haven't seen you play, they can't be with you on a weekly basis. A teacher can do those things and prepare a lesson plan that is right for you. Also, regular practice, even if it is 30 minutes a day, is the best. And don't just screw around and play things you already know when you practice. Sometimes I do that, and I don't progress. You have to keep pushing yourself to learn new things. It's hard, but that's how you progress.

Finally, I just want to say that it's totally worth it. If you love music, if you want to be able to play for people or just yourself, then it is worth it and very rewarding. All the hard work pays off, at least it has for me.
_________________________
" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven

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#1926330 - 07/13/12 03:30 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
1) 2 hours a day is a LOT for a first year, since you will getting used to the keyboard and actual coordination. By the third year, 2 hours is too little if you are trying to cram.

2) Learn how to read music and press the keys. This is a lot of fairly simple info to gather for free and utilize.

3) Learn basic theory, rhythms, and exercises like scales and arpeggios, octaves and broken octaves, the circle of fifths, all sorts of chords with 3 and 4 notes, and etc.

4) Play chosen pieces A LOT.

If you rip through 1-3 in a month or two, getting the info and working it, you can then do #4. To get good at #4 will take a long time, but you can learn to play almost anything by doing it again and again and again despite a lack of learning or experience.

To get great at sight reading/playing and improv, you will have to spend many many years with 2 hours/day practice. If you just want to understand piano enough to play 6 or 7 pieces, you can get it all in within a year. No doubt.
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
"Claire DeLune (finally)"

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#1926338 - 07/13/12 03:45 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Cookie74 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 137
Loc: California
2 hours is not too little after 3 years if you are an adult with a family and a life. I doubt that the OP wants to be a concert pianist. It's all about improving on a constant basis. I improve every day, and I certainly don't have time to practice 2 hours a day.
_________________________
" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven

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#1926344 - 07/13/12 03:52 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
BinghamtonPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/11
Posts: 91
Loc: New York
As a teacher, I have to respectfully disagree with some of the advice you have been given. While there is some good information available on the internet and on YouTube, there is also a lot of garbage. Learning proper technique is important, so you avoid problems like repetitive stress injuries and the like.
You've been given some good advice in the posts above, but they give you little idea on HOW to achieve those goals ("learn basic theory, rhythms and exercises like scales and arpeggios" is good advice, but how will you go about learning those things properly?)
There is simply no replacement for having a teacher to guide you, and give you proper advice.
I can help you come up with an effective learning plan to help you achieve your goals, if you're interested.
_________________________
Piano lessons in Binghamton, Vestal, Endicott, and other areas of upstate NY. Specializing in homeschool piano lessons.
www.binghamtonpianolessons.com
Member: MTNA, NYSMTA

White Rabbit - 60's, 70's & 80's classic rock, southern rock and blues rock band - Binghamton, NY.
www.thewhiterabbitband.com

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#1926350 - 07/13/12 04:12 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: BinghamtonPiano]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: BinghamtonPiano
As a teacher, I have to respectfully disagree with some of the advice you have been given. While there is some good information available on the internet and on YouTube, there is also a lot of garbage. Learning proper technique is important, so you avoid problems like repetitive stress injuries and the like.
You've been given some good advice in the posts above, but they give you little idea on HOW to achieve those goals ("learn basic theory, rhythms and exercises like scales and arpeggios" is good advice, but how will you go about learning those things properly?)
There is simply no replacement for having a teacher to guide you, and give you proper advice.
I can help you come up with an effective learning plan to help you achieve your goals, if you're interested.

The reason most people do not offer detailed advice immediately is to hear from the poster first so we can assess how well we've identified his needs and what we should provide.

You are absolutely correct that there is a lot bad material on the internet. Of course no one here would recommend something bad over the many good.

As far as teachers go, that is simply not an option for many people. And I say this as a teacher, because I understand this. Offering a learning plan will only go as far after we discover more of his background and desires.

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#1926353 - 07/13/12 04:16 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
1) 2 hours a day is a LOT for a first year, since you will getting used to the keyboard and actual coordination. By the third year, 2 hours is too little if you are trying to cram.

3) Learn basic theory, rhythms, and exercises like scales and arpeggios, octaves and broken octaves, the circle of fifths, all sorts of chords with 3 and 4 notes, and etc.
I have to disagree with some of this, sorry!

I do not think 2 hours of practice in the beginning is too much or a lot. It is all about how you use those 2 hours.

A beginner could be learning 4 songs, for example. He will spend 25 minutes on each, breaking those 25 minutes into smaller chunks for sections of the song, thus learning more per day and finishing it. Finally, that leaves 20 minutes for technical work.

Or any other plan. There may be such a thing as too much practice, but most people do not ever reach that point smile

And I do not think that a beginner should jump into a strict technical routine including the things you've mentioned. I would never allow a student to do octaves so early, as it is a very difficult technique that can create great tension and cause many problems if they are not sure on how to relax and move. You should start technique slow and gradually build up.

I personally enjoy the Keith Snell series for technique, if I have students buy books. It is more expensive in the long run, but it is wonderfully graded and logical, and introduces so many different things to be done.

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#1926379 - 07/13/12 05:05 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Cookie74]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Gotta disagree with you disagreeing, Para O, but only because I went down that road and found the limitations first hand. Sure, some can get around the barrier or have natural aptitude for music and piano, but I'd assume a vast majority doesn't.

In my first six months of learning I ramped up into 3 hours/day to learn faster and it was like running up against a wall. Those first months (or year) should be taken slow and deliberate, but not too slow to be useless. An hour a day was my personal end. Anything more was spinning wheels. After about a year I could jam in much more, these days doing 3 hours/day, and it was completely useful and productive.

Might not be everyone's experience or ability, but I doubt I am alone in that understanding... since I've seen others talk about it as well. The worst thing for a starter is complete frustration from a lack of understanding of possible pitfalls.

As for the "more than 3 or 4 hours practice is useless" line of wisdom taken from some unqualified sayings by past composers/pianists, I believe those might be misinterpreted. I bet a growing intermediate pianist can go for 8+ hours per day and get payoff in memorization, or skills and understanding, if studying the right stuff. For a virtuoso it is probably useless to go beyond 3 hours a day, but the skills are already honed and it is mostly about keeping dexterity at that point.

Originally Posted By: Cookie74
2 hours is not too little after 3 years if you are an adult with a family and a life. I doubt that the OP wants to be a concert pianist.

He clearly states what he wants, and I clearly explained what it would take if he wants to be able to be fluid. I also pondered that he might not want to be so fluid but merely play a few pieces.

If you want to CRAM efficiently, like he was describing, you should use as much time as possible once you are coordinated with reading and playing. It does take a while to get coordinated, but then he can really up hours.

This was a reply to his needs and wants, not yours.
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
"Claire DeLune (finally)"

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#1926390 - 07/13/12 05:29 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
Cookie74 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 137
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
He clearly states what he wants, and I clearly explained what it would take if he wants to be able to be fluid. I also pondered that he might not want to be so fluid but merely play a few pieces.

If you want to CRAM efficiently, like he was describing, you should use as much time as possible once you are coordinated with reading and playing. It does take a while to get coordinated, but then he can really up hours.

This was a reply to his needs and wants, not yours.


Since he clearly states what he wants, can you point me to where in his post he says he wants to cram? He said he wanted to make the most efficient use of his time. He also said he wanted to "have fun playing," and "play with an amateur band." When you say, "2 hours is too little if you want to cram," I think you are being discouraging, rather than encouraging. You're also being unrealistic for 99% of working adults.
_________________________
" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven

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#1926398 - 07/13/12 05:42 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 1801
Loc: Rocky Mountains
If everyone's gotta disagree to disagreeing, by disagreeing to disagree without a disagreement there is no real disagreeing to disagree with!
Now what was the question?
I forgot.
Let me go ask Rossy's Basset Hound.
_________________________
Ron
Ingrid, my beloved VPC : "Play it Sam....For old times sake...Play it for me...I'll sing it with you...Play me again, Sam."

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#1926401 - 07/13/12 05:48 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Sand Tiger]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
The first reply came from a piano teacher, and gave you a lot of good advice. Finding a local teacher tends to be the best way, if a person has the money for lessons.

On that note, I like your advice better than that of the piano teacher, because you mention a teacher and he did not.
Originally Posted By: ParaOtras
In the beginning, all you need is a good beginners book or series, a theory book/resources, and dedication.

From these books combined with "dedication" will the OP know that he is moving right and sitting right? Playing the piano is not just about pressing the right keys to get the right sound. And it involves the whole body, not just the fingers.
Originally Posted By: ParaOtras
Practice should be split into technical (scales and other finger work),

I risked doing scales on my own without a teacher, since I did know something about practice from lessons on another instrument. It created damage and is the hardest thing to undo among all the things I need to work on with my teacher.
Originally Posted By: ParaOtras
repertoire (applied technique and growing musicality),

Where does the technique come from without a teacher?

In terms of theory, I suggest to always combine real experience in music with theory. If you are learning about intervals, play them and listen to them. If you are learning about major and minor chords, play, listen and experiment. That is a good combination.



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#1926415 - 07/13/12 06:19 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 337
Loc: Midwest USA
Having a good teacher (avoid the bad ones) is best.

You will be tempted to wing it by learning chords; resist the temptation. Learn to read music. This is an enabling skill that will serve you well the rest of your life.

You did not jump into practicing medicine without first taking some biology, chemistry, anatomy, etc. Same with piano. You need both certain skill sets and some time spent working with those skill sets.

There is music written for most all skill levels that is real music. Many classical pieces have been rated for grade level. I thought it was linked in the "Important Topics for Adult Beginners" on the first page, but apparently not. I'll see if I can find the link, or maybe someone else has it.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.


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#1926436 - 07/13/12 07:15 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Para Otras]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: keystring
On that note, I like your advice better than that of the piano teacher, because you mention a teacher and he did not.


Please, read:

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
If you can find a teacher, that would be best.

I always suggest a teacher first. Of course, I take into consideration that not everyone can afford one or has other reasons for not being able to find one, so I supply other information. And I am a woman, thank you.

Quote:
From these books combined with "dedication" will the OP know that he is moving right and sitting right? Playing the piano is not just about pressing the right keys to get the right sound. And it involves the whole body, not just the fingers.

No, but they are a starting place. Not everyone has access to a teacher. I also never said or implied that playing piano is only about the fingers. What I was trying to tell the original person is that there is no need for too many resources in the beginning, that he should find himself a strong method book and begin it as a means of introducing his fingers into controlling themselves for a beginner's level.

Quote:
I risked doing scales on my own without a teacher, since I did know something about practice from lessons on another instrument. It created damage and is the hardest thing to undo among all the things I need to work on with my teacher. Where does the technique come from without a teacher?

Again, not everyone can afford a teacher. There are also plenty of ways around this. You can record yourself playing scales and put this on Youtube so others may view and comment.

Quote:
In terms of theory, I suggest to always combine real experience in music with theory. If you are learning about intervals, play them and listen to them. If you are learning about major and minor chords, play, listen and experiment. That is a good combination.

This is very solid advice.

However, "get a teacher" is not solid advice. It is only a small note, which may not apply to everyone.

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#1926439 - 07/13/12 07:18 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
Gotta disagree with you disagreeing, Para O, but only because I went down that road and found the limitations first hand. Sure, some can get around the barrier or have natural aptitude for music and piano, but I'd assume a vast majority doesn't.

In my first six months of learning I ramped up into 3 hours/day to learn faster and it was like running up against a wall. Those first months (or year) should be taken slow and deliberate, but not too slow to be useless. An hour a day was my personal end. Anything more was spinning wheels. After about a year I could jam in much more, these days doing 3 hours/day, and it was completely useful and productive.

Might not be everyone's experience or ability, but I doubt I am alone in that understanding... since I've seen others talk about it as well. The worst thing for a starter is complete frustration from a lack of understanding of possible pitfalls.

As for the "more than 3 or 4 hours practice is useless" line of wisdom taken from some unqualified sayings by past composers/pianists, I believe those might be misinterpreted. I bet a growing intermediate pianist can go for 8+ hours per day and get payoff in memorization, or skills and understanding, if studying the right stuff. For a virtuoso it is probably useless to go beyond 3 hours a day, but the skills are already honed and it is mostly about keeping dexterity at that point.


Again, it is about the type and quality of practice, as well as what you do with that time. Simply putting 2 hours in every day would be a waste, you are correct. But if you use that time productively, then no, it is never too much. I'm sorry, but I don't see how it was 'spinning wheels' from this perspective.

I agree with you on the 3-4 hours being a waste if you are actually talented. Most of those concert pianist weren't learning many new pieces or techniques. They were set in their own ways. But I also don't think any intermediate player is practicing 8+ a day, at least not normally. That to me would be far too much.

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#1926440 - 07/13/12 07:21 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Para Otras, I did indeed miss the line where you said "If you can find a teacher, that would be best." Apologies.

I was stressing that we play with more than the fingers because self-taught people very often do think that the piano is played only with the fingers. Therefore I try to use the word "body" for example, to counter that tendency.

Having few, but reliable resources, is a good idea, and counters being overwhelmed.

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#1926448 - 07/13/12 07:30 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: keystring]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: keystring
I was stressing that we play with more than the fingers because self-taught people very often do think that the piano is played only with the fingers. Therefore I try to use the word "body" for example, to counter that tendency.

Having few, but reliable resources, is a good idea, and counters being overwhelmed.
You are absolutely correct. The fingers are just part of the equation.

Unfortunately, as much as you tell people this, they will always believe the fingers are the key. Hence the reason there are so many who spend days doing nothing but scales or Hanon.

I believe it's important to have someone guide you through this, to almost force you into this very odd perception that is not common because it is not 'logical' in the same manner. Sadly, teachers are not a necessity but a commodity and I understand that.

These people will have to work much harder than most in order to come to that realization with the music they play, not the sounds they make.

One of the things I like about many new materials is that they are beginning to include bodily descriptions: wrist roll, wrist drop, arm staccato, shoulder weight, etc. Hopefully this will be the key to introducing people to playing piano, and not moving their fingers smile!

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#1926542 - 07/14/12 03:12 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
El Barto Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Australia
Well, thank you for all your responses.

reading at all of them I'll tell you what I've taken on:

1. I am starting my search for a teacher (how often should I see the teacher?)
2. I am starting to review some theory.
3. I am getting some books, Chords and the suggestion of getting a blues chord book seems fun.

now, 1st stupid theory question. when I see the notes on the staff what tells me on which octave I am supposed to play it?

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#1926543 - 07/14/12 03:18 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: El Barto
Well, thank you for all your responses.

now, 1st stupid theory question. when I see the notes on the staff what tells me on which octave I am supposed to play it?


Does this help? smile

Finding middle C and other notes

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#1926625 - 07/14/12 09:58 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Just do eeet!

I'm 31, I could only make a few pathetic sounds from my guitar.

Initially I was a bit of a piano cheater. I sort of fell into it and found myself enjoying it. I felt I had to find something better to do that get drunk and troll IRC and internet forums every evening.

Using a lighted key keyboard I actually learnt how to play Casio's version of MoonLight Sonata movement 1 in three days.

Then Casio's version of Fur Elise. Both of which were super confidence boosters.

My fingering was awful it was which ever finger was nearest. And I had no real idea about expression or key velocity as long as it was the right note or chord it was fine.

I then used synthesia to learn a few other scores. (notably the proper version of Fur Elise and also Everyday by Carly Comando). I then realised I was merely learning songs and still really did not know how to play piano at all. Since I was doing monkey see monkey do type learning.

I went through numerous teachers.

Many of who were pleasantly surprised this grade 0 piano student could play difficult pieces from memory.

Until settling on my current one (the guy mentioned in another thread retired). I've just had my 15th lesson (one a week ) proper instruction after only 4 months. And the difference is huge.

The first step is the biggest, I took tiny steps not wanting to waste money by taking interim tiny steps before finally getting some proper instruction. Although I am not interested in exams. My teacher has been hinting about doing my grade 1 as I've plenty of time to practice.

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#1927562 - 07/16/12 02:04 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Cookie74 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 137
Loc: California
You should see the teacher once a week for at least a half hour if you can. When I was taking, it was actually every other week, but it was for 45 min. Longer lessons are more helpful, but 30 min. a week is probably the norm.

As for which octave to play when you see the notes on the staff, you need to find middle C and either go up and down from there. (See, this is why a teacher is helpful, my explanation is probably not very helpful, but if I could sit next to you for one minute at the piano, I could explain it easily.)
_________________________
" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven

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#1927850 - 07/17/12 03:12 AM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1369
Loc: Cameron Park, California
since the thread seems to be fleshed out in most all other directions quite thoroughly, I'll simply contribute this link to a free online book about piano practice and how one might effectively establish a routine: http://www.pianopractice.org/book.pdf

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#1928071 - 07/17/12 12:25 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
FormerlyFlute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 232
Loc: Maryland
34 y. o. is young! I started at age 53 and have been playing for 6+ years now. Still at intermediate level due to life responsibilities, but enjoying every minute.

My grown daughter's boyfriend (who plays guitar) was around when I was warming up for my lesson last month. I stated that I didn't think I was going to have a good lesson that day because I wasn't playing well. He said "I thought you sounded really nice. I wish I could play that well"

So, it's all relative. Just keeping moving forward. "Onward through the fog."
_________________________
Brodmann PE 187 Strauss

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#1930688 - 07/22/12 12:49 PM Re: starting as an adult [Re: El Barto]
TwinkleStarLimbo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Colorado
And now for an old fart beginner's point of view: I started playing 10 months ago. I initially tried learning without a teacher and realized I couldn't figure out how to make the music sound like the recordings that came with the books. So, I finally decided to find a teacher.

The first teacher wasn't for me so I searched for another and we are doing great. We have a very symbiotic teacher/student relationship--we work together rather than the classic "do as I say approach" most teachers employ, which works well for me.

My teacher works with me in selecting my "big" music and she had a fit when I told her I loved Chopin's music and wanted to learn lots of Chopin (she apparently didn't care much for Chopin but has since fallen in love with his music as well). It may make her work for her tuition but I have to work harder because I selected the music. It's grueling learning Chopin at this early stage of learning, but the payoff is well worth it.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In the beginning, we started with a method book (we used Alfred's Adult All-in-One) and when she felt I was ready (about 3/4 way through the method book), we moved over to a classical music series, as that was the direction I wanted to go.

I practice roughly to 2 hours a day:

- start with scales/arpeggios, and Hanon or Czerny (if needed per teachers instructions)
- play 20-30 minutes of previously learned music I like to play
- work on my current learning pieces (I usually have 5 or 6 going at a given time)

I usually break up my practice into two sessions a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Some days when I can't sit down at the piano for longer periods, I'll break it down into smaller chunks throughout the day (not as effective but at least I get the practice time in).

At 10 months, I am working on Mozart's Ah.. Vous Dirais-je Maman (or as I like to call it, Twinkle Star Purgatory.. lol), Bach Invention #2, Clementi Sonatinas, Chopin Nocturne in Cm and Chopin's Waltz in Am and a couple of songs from my Exploring Classical Music Series book.

With a good teacher, REGULAR AND CONSISTENT practice (I can't stress this part enough), and a love for the music you're playing (this is key, as you will drag your feet and lose interest if you do not play what you like), you can do well.

I will never be a concert pianist (which was never my goal), but I do play in front of family and friends at their request (they're all masochists, in my opinion.. lol)


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