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#1982711 - 11/04/12 05:05 PM Began playing piano again and confused about notation..
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Ok, had three years of piano lessons as a kid. I liked it as a hobby but never was truly passionate about the music I was playing.

But recently I discovered blues and jazz and wanted to play the piano again to play those tunes. I bought the book Jazz Ballads Piano Play-Along.

Overall a good book with a handy cd to let you know if you're playing it right. But in one bit it goes off and I am wondering if im playing it wrong or whether my hands are too small to play....

On the right hand (upper bar, dont know the correct term) I need to mantain a cord of B flat and E, both below middle C as well as notes as high as B flat on the right of middle C.

I don't have the largest hands, but I tried reaching as far as I can but I can only touch the G key (but im not able to press it).

In some other sheet music I saw some lines which I then assumed indicated that I was meant to play it with my left hand.

I'd like to continue with my left hand, but in the end I'd have to play one key of the upper bar with my right hand and three with my left hand.. Which sounds really cumbersome..

tl;dr : So I'm asking for confirmation here, how common is it to play songs from the upper bar with the left hand?

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#1982740 - 11/04/12 06:52 PM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
The two-staff system most often used for piano notation is usually called "the grand staff". In this system, it is true that notes on the upper staff (usually with a treble clef) are usually played with the right hand, while notes on the lower staff (usually with a bass clef) are usually played with the left. However, this is not a hard rule. There are many exceptions, and it is not unusual to take notes from one staff with the opposite hand. This is sometimes because the notation explicitly suggests that the performer do so (e.g. by the way notes are stemmed or by marks like "m.s" or "m.d."). In other cases, it's just because the performer needs to redistribute notes for hand size.

On the other hand, notating E3 and B3b (i.e. the E and Bb below middle C) on the upper staff with a treble clef seems a little unusual to me (it certainly would require a lot of ledger lines between the staves). I would need to see a scan of the measures in question to understand the fuller context before I could really comment further.
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Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718

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#1982826 - 11/05/12 12:16 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: packa]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Originally Posted By: packa
On the other hand, notating E3 and B3b (i.e. the E and Bb below middle C) on the upper staff with a treble clef seems a little unusual to me (it certainly would require a lot of ledger lines between the staves). I would need to see a scan of the measures in question to understand the fuller context before I could really comment further.
Agreed. Trying to picture it as you describe results in a very strange piece of music. 2 Bbs and a low E? smile

If the notes are written on the top clef and are intended for the left hand, most often the stems and beams will point down instead of up. Either way, a scanned picture will give us more of an idea on how to help.
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#1982862 - 11/05/12 04:07 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: Brian Lucas]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Thanks for the replies thusfar, I went ahead and scanned it. I did the beginning with my left hand but then I had to do four notes with it and only one with my right hand.. I had to do it on a earlier piece but there was a helpful indicator there.



Edited by WinSchutten (11/05/12 04:16 AM)

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#1982870 - 11/05/12 05:22 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I did a passable job sight-reading the first bar and a half.

Simple, you just have to hold the sustain pedal from the start of the first bar until the second triplet in the second bar.
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#1982871 - 11/05/12 05:34 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: Maechre]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Originally Posted By: Maechre
I did a passable job sight-reading the first bar and a half.

Simple, you just have to hold the sustain pedal from the start of the first bar until the second triplet in the second bar.


Thanks, that does help me explain how Im able to play it but how do you tell if I should use the sustain peddle?

I just looked for pedal marks notatoin on google and I see none of the marks here.. I should still hold the A for the total bar ..

I appreciate all the help but I'm just trying to understand. I tried looking for a written explanation already but couldn't find it online.

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#1982872 - 11/05/12 05:46 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
No worries.

Sustain is often (almost always) not actually written and is left up to interpretation.

However, that second bar seems to be the real problem. My hand can only reach a ninth, there's no way I'd be able to play that phrase. The only way I can think to achieve that is a skill that I don't have, and that would be to use a combination of pedals so that only the A is sustained while the lower notes can be played without sustain.

I think this is poorly written. They've tried the typical right hand melody AND chords, but the writing is unreasonable for most people to physically play without using sustain.

If you were accompanying someone with this, you probably wouldn't play the melody, just those chords underneath.
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee

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#1982874 - 11/05/12 06:30 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: Maechre]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
They included a play-along cd with a example playthrough, it doesnt seem to include the pedal. My final guess is that I'm supposed to play the lower note of the right hand cord with my left hand and the higher with my right hand...


I actually bought some sheetmusic books because I ran into some weird problems about impractable playing positions of the hands with free online sheetmusic. Now I know it might as well happens with music I payed for lol.

Thanks for the help, if my solution of playing one of the note of the cord with my left and the other with my right hand doesn't work I"ll try to see if other songs of this book are salvagable.

I at least know it's not me and I shouldn't abandon piano playing.


Edited by WinSchutten (11/05/12 06:32 AM)

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#1982875 - 11/05/12 06:40 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Cool, let us know how it goes! smile
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee

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#1982903 - 11/05/12 08:33 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: Maechre]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Ugh, can't even play the low E with my left hand because I need to hit a C 2 octaves down...

I now included the whole first page of it and captured the bit of music on the play-along cd.

I do think that the play-along cd is played with a midi song rather then actual people playing.. So I am supposed to do this with the pedal after all. But I'd like some confirmation.

I essentially bought this book for this song so I'd like to be able to play it.

I assume that if I need to use the pedal I need to lift it after each bar to stop all the notes from bleeding into eachother.

Right Click and Save for mp3.


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#1982907 - 11/05/12 08:41 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Since that C and Eb chord in the left hand of the last bar is a roll/arpeggio, you're allowed to hit the low C and the Eb can come very quickly afterwards. So with that arpeggio you'll play all five notes in quick succession
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee

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#1982919 - 11/05/12 08:56 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1838
Loc: Pennsylvania
Well, now that you have the whole piece of sheet music up here, I see what you have more clearly.

When you have the 3 staffs, I would only deal with the bottom two.

So, what you have (starting at the top) ...

You begin by playing and holding a C7 chord (C+E+Bb) with your left hand while you are playing and holding D and playing the melody with your right hand.

You can do this (right hand) by holding the D with your thumb while playing the melody line with your other fingers. If this proves too difficult, you can press the sustain pedal for the first measure and 3 beats of the second measure. Then lift up and proceed in a similar manner for the rest of the piece. You have to lift the sustain and begin a new sustain everytime you change chords.



Edited by dmd (11/05/12 08:57 AM)
_________________________
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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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#1982921 - 11/05/12 08:59 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3172
Loc: Maine
In measures 5 and 6, one thought is that if this were being played by a group, different people would play the chords vs. the melody (if the melody were being played at all, and not just left entirely to the singer).

One solution is to not play the melody, but to sing it.

Another solution, if you're not singing (or if you are singing but want the doubling of the melody), and this is what I'd do, is use the sostenuto (middle) pedal to sustain the first chord of m.5, C G (in LH) and E Bb (in RH. Then play the melody in the RH, holding the A up to the very beginning of the third beat of m.6. Then abandon the A, and play the triplets, LH on the lower staff, RH on the upper staff. This does leave out the rest of the A for m. 6, but I think the triplets are more important than sustaining the A.

I say that's what I'd do, but it requires a true sostenuto pedal, as on a grand and on a very few models of upright. In practice, I have an upright with a bass damper pedal for the middle pedal, not a true sostenuto. So then I'd have to come up with some other solution. For example, I might add Bb (an octave below the written Bb) for the LH in m.5, and only play the RH E Bb chord for an eighth note, and then abandon it for the melody. Choosing the Bb to play (an octave lower) in the LH, rather than the E, depends on using music theory to realize that this is a C7 chord, and that the key note in a C7 chord, in addition to the root C, is the seventh Bb. Or I might go a bit farther and decide that E is more important than G, to establish this as a major chord, and play C E B in the LH. Playing notes so close together so low in the bass might sound muddy in any of those solutions, so I might not like the sound of this, or I might just play the shell C Bb.

Or I might transpose the E up an octave, and then I could play it (indeed I could play Bb E in the RH, around middle C) while playing the melody. If I did that I wouldn't double the Bb in the LH, and just play LH C G as written.

Sostenuto pedal is rarely marked. You need to deduce the need for it from the demands of the music.

If the melody and accompaniment were a bit different you could use the damper (right) pedal and then you could also sustain the A. But given how the melody goes in m. 5, and the triplets in m.6, that would result in complete mush.
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#1982950 - 11/05/12 09:56 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: PianoStudent88]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1838
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
In measures 5 and 6, one thought is that if this were being played by a group, different people would play the chords vs. the melody (if the melody were being played at all, and not just left entirely to the singer).

One solution is to not play the melody, but to sing it.

Another solution, if you're not singing (or if you are singing but want the doubling of the melody), and this is what I'd do, is use the sostenuto (middle) pedal to sustain the first chord of m.5, C G (in LH) and E Bb (in RH. Then play the melody in the RH, holding the A up to the very beginning of the third beat of m.6. Then abandon the A, and play the triplets, LH on the lower staff, RH on the upper staff. This does leave out the rest of the A for m. 6, but I think the triplets are more important than sustaining the A.

I say that's what I'd do, but it requires a true sostenuto pedal, as on a grand and on a very few models of upright. In practice, I have an upright with a bass damper pedal for the middle pedal, not a true sostenuto. So then I'd have to come up with some other solution. For example, I might add Bb (an octave below the written Bb) for the LH in m.5, and only play the RH E Bb chord for an eighth note, and then abandon it for the melody. Choosing the Bb to play (an octave lower) in the LH, rather than the E, depends on using music theory to realize that this is a C7 chord, and that the key note in a C7 chord, in addition to the root C, is the seventh Bb. Or I might go a bit farther and decide that E is more important than G, to establish this as a major chord, and play C E B in the LH. Playing notes so close together so low in the bass might sound muddy in any of those solutions, so I might not like the sound of this, or I might just play the shell C Bb.

Or I might transpose the E up an octave, and then I could play it (indeed I could play Bb E in the RH, around middle C) while playing the melody. If I did that I wouldn't double the Bb in the LH, and just play LH C G as written.

Sostenuto pedal is rarely marked. You need to deduce the need for it from the demands of the music.

If the melody and accompaniment were a bit different you could use the damper (right) pedal and then you could also sustain the A. But given how the melody goes in m. 5, and the triplets in m.6, that would result in complete mush.


I am sure this was very helpful to the OP.
_________________________
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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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#1982954 - 11/05/12 10:09 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Then there's this pop player's method - yup, the pedal is helpful. But in the 6th measure, I'd never hold that top A down all the way thru - I'd give it a good whack so it was in everyone's ears and then use both hands to play the triplets underneath. People will hear the melody once it's there - and the triplets are what add the flavor/styling/movement to the piece. The swing, too. So go with them.

It's pop music, and there's a lot more flexibility about what the notes are than in classical. So I adopt what works for my hands and skill level, and my interpretation. But the swing/movement/styling is what's important, not the exact notes.

Again, make the melody sing, so that people have it in their heads, and then do what you can to get the rest of the flavor and movement - that's what makes it memorable.

As I say, that's this pop player's method smile I keep getting asked back, and people dance and sing with my playing, so it works for me.

Cathy
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#1982955 - 11/05/12 10:11 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: dmd]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3172
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: dmd
I am sure this was very helpful to the OP.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or serious.
_________________________
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#1982959 - 11/05/12 10:17 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: PianoStudent88]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
I could use the sustain after each cord but then I'd have to repress a note which should play which would ruin the idea of a sustained note with other keys being played alongside it.

I have a older upright piano and it doesnt have a middle pedal which sustains only the keys being played. You could play some notes in a different octave or use different keys, but I'm a beginner and just want to play some sheet music, not rewrite an arrangement.. So this arrangement is unplayable for me..

I assumed that a piano sheet book with a play along cd meant that it was for beginners, but ugh.

But thanks for all the help here, I at least know that it's not me doing it wrong, the sheet music asks for a pedal which I don't have or unrealistically long fingers. I could try and play other songs in here, but after this the author lost my trust to put effort into his sheet music..

Thanks for all the help here, I at least know that it is not my misunderstanding of the sheet music or too small hands for playing, but rather some sheet music that happened to be published without being tested on a piano without a middle pedal or tested at all....

I really want to learn how to play 'Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans' so I'll try to find another book and hopefully check to see if anyone else other then the elongated man can actually play the song.

Again thanks for all the help, it might not have made me capable of playing this song but at least I won't give up on piano playing.

edit: @ jotur/Cathy, hah thanks, not keep the low notes actually down and ignore that it should play for the full bar. I'm still going to write a complaint to the publisher for not actually testing out their songs as written.


Edited by WinSchutten (11/05/12 10:30 AM)

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#1982960 - 11/05/12 10:28 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I think you missed my post smile

Lots of pop sheet music looks like this. People rearrange it, use only the notes they can get to, don't hold notes for as long as they are notated, roll chords that aren't indicated to be rolled, depend on aural illusion, etc, etc, etc. Again, it's the flavor you're after, not the exact notes.

If you're hung up in playing this as if it was classical music, where it has to be played with the notes exactly as indicated, then you're doomed, I say, doomed laugh I'd bet 90% of my pop music looks just like this. I'd never play out if I had to play it exactly, or depend on a sostun.... pedal.

So - don't try to play it exactly. And in particularly, don't hold the A in the 6th measure down all the way thru, and use the left hand on the bottom triplets and the right hand on the top triplets and it will be perfect.

Pop music isn't about the exact notes.

Cathy
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#1982964 - 11/05/12 10:33 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5508
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
WinSchutten - I'm swamped with work until at least Friday this week, and maybe even thru then. But I'll try, on either Fri or Sat, to record this segment for you, and post it here, so you can see/hear what I mean. But it's definitely playable.

So watch this space!

Cathy
_________________________

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#1982967 - 11/05/12 10:38 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: jotur]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Originally Posted By: jotur
I think you missed my post smile

I'd bet 90% of my pop music looks just like this. I'd never play out if I had to play it exactly, or depend on a sostun.... pedal.
Pop music isn't about the exact notes.

Cathy


Hah, your post wasn't there when I begun typing. The training I had as a kid was fairly classical so I was under the understanding I should play it exactly as portrayed.. But then a lot of these types of songs have these quirks in em which you should just ignore.. Ok,. Much thanks.

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#1982971 - 11/05/12 10:45 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: jotur]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Originally Posted By: jotur
WinSchutten - I'm swamped with work until at least Friday this week, and maybe even thru then. But I'll try, on either Fri or Sat, to record this segment for you, and post it here, so you can see/hear what I mean. But it's definitely playable.

So watch this space!

Cathy


Much thanks for the offer,, but now I know to let go and not stick to it 100% I'll know to just leae those notes go and just play the higher melody notes. So going through all the bother of learning and recording for me isn't needed, although the offer is much appreciated.

I'll practise this song with this and try to record it to post on here to show what I actually managed with all this help lol.

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#1983003 - 11/05/12 11:55 AM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: Maechre]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Originally Posted By: Maechre
Since that C and Eb chord in the left hand of the last bar is a roll/arpeggio, you're allowed to hit the low C and the Eb can come very quickly afterwards. So with that arpeggio you'll play all five notes in quick succession


The english wikipedia page which I read first didnt help much, but the dutch one specifically mentioned that for piano a arpeggio chord is one which cant be played as written down and therefor just played in quick sucsession as you explained here..

Honestly this is a relief. But the play along cd didnt help much with the midi music still playing the chord notes along other notes..

Funny to see that both Maechre and jotur were right lol. But the sheet music didnt include the arpeggio line when you need to hit both a low E and a high Bb but it is there later.

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#1983007 - 11/05/12 12:10 PM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
A quick note about pedal. You mention that you play it when it is written in the music. It would be helpful to get a feel for what it does so that you can choose to use it deliberately. I'll risk writing what you probably already know.

The strings have a "damper" on them. When you press a piano key, then the damper lifts, the hammer strikes, and the string can vibrate. When you release the key, then the damper falls down again, stopping the vibrations. Think of plucking a guitar string, and then putting your hand on the string - the sound will stop. The pedal's job is to lift the damper so that the string can continue vibrating even after you release the piano key. (I have a silly picture of two tiny people living in my piano who take turns holding the damper off the strings.) A digital piano has this behaviour programmed in.

Right now you are following instructions and getting the results. When the music says "pedal" then you press the pedal and get the musical result. You can also work the other way around. Experiment with the pedal and holding notes and releasing notes, so that you can get a feel for how it all functions. Then try deliberately for different effects. If you do that, then when you come to a piece like this, you can say "I want that note to keep ringing while playing these other notes. Can I do that by having the damper hold the note? Will other things get blurred that I don't want?" Then experiment.

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#1983058 - 11/05/12 02:07 PM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: jotur]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Originally Posted By: jotur
So - don't try to play it exactly. And in particularly, don't hold the A in the 6th measure down all the way thru, and use the left hand on the bottom triplets and the right hand on the top triplets and it will be perfect.

Pop music isn't about the exact notes.

Exactly Cathy!

Most times, including the melody in the piano part to accommodate those wanting to play it solo style is a matter of "copy and paste" into the piano part. If you or someone is singing, ignore the copied melody. If you're playing it solo style, you'll have to ignore some of the long sustains where it doesn't make sense. Like Cathy said, non-classical arrangements are far less strict.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
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My Music

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#1984293 - 11/08/12 06:23 PM Re: Began playing piano again and confused about notation.. [Re: WinSchutten]
WinSchutten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Nederland
Ok, I think I just played that first page fairly acceptable. My piano is getting tuned for the first time in 13 years tomorrow so I'll hold off recording it till after wink.

I got one decent voice chat mic for my computer that is very clear and should be good for recording it with. I'll confirm that the recording is good before posting it here though. But all the help has been really appreciated!

Btw, I couldn't access the inspiration thread on the stickied post, personally Proffesor Longhair is a inspiration. As he only seriously began playing in his 30s and is now the most famous player of new orleans style blues. (I got another book with sheetmusic of his songs, but I'm going for some slower jazz first lol. But I got no clue if he is mentioned in that thread or not).

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New Topics - Multiple Forums
Repeated note legato
by noobpianist90
09/01/14 02:16 AM
"Y.Becker" # 6839 (pin)
by Maximillyan
09/01/14 01:54 AM
Why are semi-concert grands so expensive?
by ColinDS
09/01/14 12:07 AM
AMEB Grades
by Patonpiano
08/31/14 11:22 PM
Hearing loss
by Tango Vic
08/31/14 11:09 PM
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