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#1992001 - 11/28/12 03:11 PM Can you play the melody right away?
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
I was wondering if that's a must to become a full fledged jazz pianist or is it just a privilage of chosen few with blessed ear or say talent (whatever you call it),to play what you hear in your head right away on the keyboard .
Like let's say ,you hear a simple melody of a tune you sit down at the piano and play it with your right hand right away.
I need like a few minutes of pecking and noodling around on the keyboard to get it right or close (depending on the the melody,short intervals come easier ).
Now are there certain specific exercises for this besides playing
right hand melodies in every key or interval recognition training.Thanks
_________________________
ado

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#1992095 - 11/28/12 06:36 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Hi ado
I have to work at it. I'm still getting my intervals wrong.
Whenever I learn a melody, I like to slow it down on Transcribe and learn it by ear in the key played by the master. I do one phrase each day: plus transpose by ear to 1 to 3 other common keys.

So no, I personally don't know of alternative methods to arrive at your goal.

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#1992237 - 11/29/12 01:16 AM Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: ado
I was wondering if that's a must { to play the melody right away } to become a full fledged jazz pianist or is it just a privilage of chosen few with blessed ear or say talent (whatever you call it),to play what you hear in your head right away on the keyboard . . .
Now are there certain specific exercises for this besides playing right hand melodies in every key or interval recognition training


Ado,

To state the obvious, learning virtually anything in music is cumulative. That includes becoming “a full fledged jazz pianist”, whatever that means. So, here we go ->>

We start wherever we are, and we work toward wherever we want to be. As we go, any intelligent practice or learning ACCUMULATES in us, and we become more skilful and more musical. It helps if our musical work is regular and methodical and intentional. We know more today than we did last week. We can play stuff now that was “not possible” a month ago. This also applies to remembering what we hear, and then playing it. Equally, imagining a sound in our head, and translating that to the instrument. It starts out hard, and GRADUALLY, with focused work, becomes easy.

Now here’s the important part: Everything that we do well helps EVERYTHING ELSE! If I learn to play minor scales fast, and without looking at my hands, I begin to feel comfortable in, say, Eb minor. My hands “learn” where the proper keys are. My ear knows I need a D-natural if my mind wants a leading-tone. Later, if I see a printed fragment of an Eb minor scale, I do not need to stop and identify each note, because they are already “under my fingers”. Then, when I hear a recording of Summertime, I recognize that it is in a minor key, and have a IMPROVING idea of how to recreate it, melody AND harmony, on the instrument. Even better, if I am improvising, and hear in my imagination a part of the Eb minor scale, my hands already know how to produce that sound.

I mentioned scales, but the same principle applies equally to intervals, and chords. Musical intelligence and skill accumulates, and everything that we do well improves everything else.

Q: Can I play the melody right away?
A: That depends on the complexity, and especially the length of said melody.

Q: Could I always do that?
A: Certainly not.

Q: Will I get better at it?
A: Gradually, but only if I focus on it regularly.
Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1992252 - 11/29/12 03:43 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
Thank you guys,I forgot to mention the melody not yet played ,prepared or practised before on the keyboard.

Like the ability of one to play what he can hum or whistle.

Thank you Lopresti I find very helpful and interesting your reply ,so having memorized and playing the scales without the need of looking at keybord should help

But still what's curious, people normally don't learn or practise humming or whistling scales and yet can copy a new melody this way with ease.(well generally)

How can one develope that conection with you one's fingers that one has with one's voice.
Could it be that the mouth is closer to the brain or that the sound resonates right in the head immediatly while reproduced that it it si easier to hum or whistle.
_________________________
ado

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#1992372 - 11/29/12 11:30 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: ado
But still what's curious, people normally don't learn or practise humming or whistling scales and yet can copy a new melody this way with ease.(well generally)

How can one develope that conection with you one's fingers that one has with one's voice.
Could it be that the mouth is closer to the brain or that the sound resonates right in the head immediatly while reproduced that it it si easier to hum or whistle.

It might have to do with the physical geography, but it probably has more to do with this:
[1] How long have you been using your voice?
[2] How early in life did you start singing?
[3] How many hours per day do you use your voice?
[4] How early in life did you start playing the piano?
[5] How many hours per day do you play?

I think your answer might lie in there somewhere.
Ed

_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1992382 - 11/29/12 11:47 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Good ideas. Might I add that you also want to work on your weaknesses and not just build up on your strengths? I am a singer and played some instruments that play single-note melodies so this part comes easy to me. (Strictly amateur). My sense of harmony and chords are relatively primitive and undeveloped, and rooted in Common Practice. So if I hear that kind of music, I could easily get the melody and a bit less easily derive some basic I IV V chords from it. But if the music has modes, a blues scale, whole tone, it would be very hard. I could stick with what I'm strong in, or I could start working with the weakest links. I've chosen the latter and am noodling around with chords.

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#1992439 - 11/29/12 02:16 PM Can you play the melody right away? [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Hey KeyString,

Excellent point about focusing music work to retain strong areas while building weaker ones.

Did you mean your study of chords is ROOTED in Common Practice? It is early in the day, so you are not sneaking one past me just yet.
Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1992679 - 11/30/12 03:40 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Ed, there was no word play and no "sneaking" of anything. I was balancing out your idea of using one's strengths - which is a good idea - with also seeing what one is still lacking and building that as well.

My study of chords is as diverse as I can make it. My old relationship to music before I studied anything was based subconsciously on Common Practice music because that's what I knew.

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#1992773 - 11/30/12 10:53 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
. . . knowing your penchant for double-entendre . . .
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1992780 - 11/30/12 11:08 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
. . . knowing your penchant for double-entendre . . .

Non-existent.

Let's not throw this thread off track. It is hard enough to make ideas understandable when people are trying to learn, or to understand when one is a learner.

Again, the main idea is a blend between your proposal to use the strengths we have, together with mine to strengthen what we do not yet have. That is the idea I want to bring across.

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#1993073 - 12/01/12 04:23 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: LoPresti]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
[quote=ado]
[1] How long have you been using your voice?
[2] How early in life did you start singing?
[3] How many hours per day do you use your voice?
[4] How early in life did you start playing the piano?
[5] How many hours per day do you play?



I got this idea according these five points ,we can hum or whistle melody (without the need of practising scales with it) because we use our mouth more or longer then we play piano.

It's 10 am and I already spoke gently,softly and also shouted(kids misbehaviour)and thas stimulated different intonations and modulations of the voice and still havent played a note on the piano.

So the reasonable deduction is ,the more one plays the instrument the better one can then articulate the melody with it.Bingo
_________________________
ado

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#1993164 - 12/01/12 11:24 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
.


Edited by keystring (12/01/12 05:30 PM)

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#1993388 - 12/01/12 08:25 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: keystring]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: keystring
.


What's your point?
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1993393 - 12/01/12 08:42 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy
Originally Posted By: keystring
.


What's your point?


Haha. I shouldn't write late at night. It gets wordy and, um, pointless?

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#1993677 - 12/02/12 02:20 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
In any case, back to the OP, I also can't play difficult melodies the first time I attempt them either. Part of the reason is I don't have perfect pitch, and also might have difficulty singing the melody completely accurately as well. For example: Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn, has some intervals that probably would be hard for many people to sing or play accurately. Most diatonic stuff is much, much easier.

I've found that if I memorize certain interval leaps within a melody I'm able to reproduce it much better on the piano in any key, but I'm not sure if this is going to lead to me having better ears. I suspect it will just establish my understanding of those intervals in those songs. Ear training by itself has always been a drag to do, and so I tend to focus on it only within other things. It's probably not the best approach.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1997110 - 12/09/12 09:17 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
good discussion. This might build to it for you, OP

http://www.jeff-brent.com/Lessons/suggest.html

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#1997405 - 12/10/12 03:08 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
Thanks ,that's a great site full of practical wisdom .
_________________________
ado

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#1998065 - 12/11/12 09:22 PM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
I really envy people who can play not only simple melodies but the accompaniment, including the real chords in the right inversions, by ear.

But playing a simple melody is probably within everybody's reach. (provided you've got sufficient keyboard geography down to get your finger on the note you want. That's a struggle for beginners but you're probably past that.)

The nice thing about learning to play by ear is you no longer have to memorize. Somehow i think that's really profound!

Start small. As Norman Bolter says, start with what you CAN do. Hee, hee. But do a little bit each day. It adds up.

Melodies that are easy are those that are major key, diatonic, with predictable intervals. It's no coincidence that those are also the characteristics of popular vocal songs.

So pick one you know very well. Every day I flip to the next page in a hymnal or songbook, and keep flipping as needed until i find one i know really well. That makes a huge difference. Then I close the book and play it in that key. Then, one small phrase at a time, in 12 keys, just a few bars. I play it on trombone, or occasionally on a valve or keyed instrument. You'll never need 12 keys, that's not why you do it. It forces you to think. You must think the note name AND the sound AND the fingering. And when you lose your place, STOP! Don't go fumbling for the note, stop and think. That's why my teacher this past lesson had me start using a valve trombone occasionally, because on slide I can find the right note when i get off, without thinking, but on valve I can't. I've started on recorder as well, well actually as badly. Hee, hee. And it all helps for piano and sight singing too.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998729 - 12/13/12 01:40 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: TimR]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
That's really interesting Tim ,I also play a litlle slide trombone and litlle better valve trumpet and find it easier to play melody on it then on piano. However besides the chromatic one I hardly can play other scales well on valve trumpet and play it for fun only a few years now, while on piano I started over 20 years ago, have the scales down and been through jazz theory books.



Edited by ado (12/13/12 01:42 AM)
_________________________
ado

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#1998813 - 12/13/12 08:40 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: ado
That's really interesting Tim ,I also play a litlle slide trombone and litlle better valve trumpet and find it easier to play melody on it then on piano. However besides the chromatic one I hardly can play other scales well on valve trumpet and play it for fun only a few years now, while on piano I started over 20 years ago, have the scales down and been through jazz theory books.



So even though you have the scales down better on piano, you can play melody by ear better on trombone or trumpet? That might argue that scales are not as critical to playing by ear as other skills.
Or it might be that scales are automatic on piano and you no longer think, but thinking is important to playing by ear, at least at first.

A curious thing happened to me on trombone scales. As you know, it is an asymmetric instrument, in that some keys require much more awkward reaches and patterns than others, and choice of "fingering" is a bit key dependent. So long ago I spent a couple years doing one scale per week. Every day I played that scale from the bottom to the top of the range (something I would never do now, that was backwards). I played two notes at a time rapidly alternating, then the next two, etc., over the entire scale. Then three notes, then four, then five.

This did two things. It made me thoroughly familiar with all major scales, such that no key signature however strange would ever throw me in the music. Six sharps? Eight flats? (yes, you run into Bbb in brass music) No problem, bring it on. And I worked out for myself what fingering pattern I would use in any given key.

And then. I injured my rotator cuff, and switched to left handed. The scales were gone. Mentally, I could no longer remember what notes fit the scales.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998833 - 12/13/12 09:43 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: LoPresti]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
[. . . learning virtually anything in music is cumulative. . . As we go, any intelligent practice or learning ACCUMULATES in us, and we become more skilful and more musical. . . . . . Everything that we do well helps EVERYTHING ELSE! If I learn to play minor scales fast, and without looking at my hands, I begin to feel comfortable in, say, Eb minor. My hands “learn” where the proper keys are.

So, Tim, I believe your personal experience perfectly validates, perhaps in REVERSE, my belief. As one accumulates musical ability, there is a structure built within. When one takes away a part of that structure - in your case, a foundational part - that structure is no longer the same. To your point, even part(s) that should logically not be effected, can be rendered broken.

Out of curiosity, why wouldn't one play scales from the pedal-tones up unto the stratosphere, and back down again? (Just as lip-slurs, long-tones, alternating thirds, or anything else?)

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1998837 - 12/13/12 09:55 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: LoPresti]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

Out of curiosity, why wouldn't one play scales from the pedal-tones up unto the stratosphere, and back down again? (Just as lip-slurs, long-tones, alternating thirds, or anything else?)

Ed


Certainly one can do it either way, and must eventually be able to do it either way.

But I've come to think that at least for beginning and intermediate players scales should be done upside down, starting from the top, going down, returning, rather than the standard start from the bottom, going up, and returning.

The reason is that the embouchure setting required to play high is more efficient and more correct than what you may get away with playing low. You can bring your high set down, you can't bring your low set up.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998841 - 12/13/12 09:59 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: TimR]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
That makes a lot of sense, Tim. Thanks.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1998887 - 12/13/12 11:32 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: LoPresti]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
High notes can be played with muscle or with technique.

When you start low, you tend to use strength to go higher, and that builds a habit. It works, but only so far.

When done correctly the double high Bb (on trombone, or double high C on trumpet) takes no more effort than an octave below or even two. Certainly my teacher's double is effortless.

So are my high notes, on those rare occasions I hit them. <g>

But then, I'm a Reinhardt believer, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998944 - 12/13/12 12:55 PM Can you play the melody right away? [Re: TimR]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Replace mouthpiece with Jet-Tone, problem solved!

(Do they still make Jet-Tones?)
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1999250 - 12/14/12 03:39 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: TimR]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
Originally Posted By: TimR


Or it might be that scales are automatic on piano and you no longer think, but thinking is important to playing by ear, at least at first.



Think or not to think that is the question ,I am not sure if I think or intuitively suggest to myself the notes on trumpet as I'am playing.

Sometimes when I try to play scales(maj,min,pen,dim etc.)in different keys with trumpet(without solfege)and find it difficult to think what note comes next and(or)size of the interval, I just sit down at the piano play it there and then copy the melody of the scale on the trumpet by ear. And this works faster for me though I'am not sure if this is good or bad. Sometimes it feels like cheating grin
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ado

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#1999315 - 12/14/12 08:49 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Ah.

So when you play by ear, the mental process is different on piano than on trumpet.

On piano, you have to think the next note, so you have to consider the interval required, maybe the key, etc. And you're struggling with this.

On trumpet, you can reflexively just reach for the next sound you want. And you do this comfortably.

How did you get to that point on trumpet? Will the same method work for piano?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1999676 - 12/15/12 03:50 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
I can not say I get the melody right immediately on trumpet but I get it easier then on piano,from the start of my trumpet encounter on the flee market I just played it for fun and mostly easy pop ,folk and classic melodies that I know for a long time.I learnt chromatic scale up and down and from the beginning it was a lot of mistakes and stumbling but after a while it started coming together.

What helps I think with trumpet is that immediatly as I hear a wrong note coming I make sort of cromatic slide to the correct or(better sounding)one,this after while and with the fast ability for chromatic scale becomes sounding like sort of intented effect and adds a certain flavour to melody ,here I might add that it resembles sort of like balkan gypsi interpretation sound.

I wonder if Balkan Gypsies also learn instruments in similar fashion,I mean just playing melody with no or minimal scale exercises .
_________________________
ado

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#1999692 - 12/15/12 05:53 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
ado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: france
I just had this idea ,so I write it down before I forget it.

Now it occured to me while brushing my teeth ,why I can ascertain melody notes better with trumpet then with piano and this might also be applicable to human voice.

The sound created with trumpet originates with vibration of the lips and resonates through mouth and head bones to the ears so basically you don't hear it first coming from outside but from inside while on piano the sound comes from outside to your ears and when you realize the incorrect note it is too late to correct it because it is already in the air.
But when you sing the note , play it on trumpet or other mouth instrument it starts resonating first in your mouth ,head bones and then in your ears from inside before it is out in the air and comes back to your ears from ouside(and ears of others)
So it can be edited ,,corrected'' before it goes out,now all this happens in mili or micro seconds,imperceptible time.

On guitar or piano the resonation is farther away and comes through the fingers or abdonmen or chest in case of acoustic guitar so this theory can not be as effective although I believe it has it's influence.But that's another story

Now I should probably go and do some piano exercises instead writing out this speculations , which could also be a perfect nonsense.

But who knows ,it seems logical to me (today)
_________________________
ado

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#1999751 - 12/15/12 10:14 AM Re: Can you play the melody right away? [Re: ado]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: ado
I just played it for fun and mostly easy pop ,folk and classic melodies that I know for a long time.I learnt chromatic scale up and down and from the beginning it was a lot of mistakes and stumbling but after a while it started coming together.



Some of the difficulty with playing by ear comes when the melody is not quite known. At least that's been the case for me. Sometimes I think I know the tune, but don't really have it down and be able to think it clearly. That was kind of a revelation for me when they asked me to play with a praise and worship band. I found to my surprise I could play by ear, after 40 years of thinking that skill was beyond me, but i had to really know the piece.

Of course on brass instruments the note won't sound unless you buzz your lips at the right pitch, so you learn to think notes accurately. Piano has both the advantage of not needing to think the note to get the pitch, but the disadvantage of not requiring it, so you don't hear your mistake until you've played it.
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gotta go practice

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