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#2234182 - 02/19/14 11:03 AM Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input...
WorkInProgress Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/14
Posts: 7
Hey Guys! Completely new to this site. Warning, this is going to be a lengthy post. I just believe giving the most details will lead to the best answers from you guys!

So....I have been "playing" the piano for a few years on and off. I put playing in quotes because I never had piano lessons. I always knew how to read sheet music, but most of my playing has been from playing songs by ear and mocking pianists who post their videos on Youtube.

Currently, I'm playing with a 64 key digital keyboard. I have recently read a short "keyboard for dummies"-esc book. What I like to play are Disney songs, songs from movie soundtracks or video games. Stuff I know. What I know how to play, I can play well, but here is my problem:

I'm trying to get better, but my skills are so scattered. I can read music, but currently I'm attempting to play songs from this book:
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Disn...wCFcY7OgodiioA0
I can read the notes, I understand treble and bass clefts, but I start to have problems when I have to play 4-finger chords and a melody with my left hand.

That's some small background on what I'm doing. I'm trying to find sheet music that matches my level (whether it be beginner or intermediate...etc, but my skill set is so scattered that I have no idea.

Obviously, this is a hard question for you guys to answer. I'm hoping I can get some responses and answer any questions you may have to better understand where I'm at right now.

I appreciate any input

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#2234187 - 02/19/14 11:11 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
ShannonG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/14
Posts: 135
Loc: Canada
I'm in exactly the same boat as you, self taught, probably not progressing along a 'normal' learning curve. I find buying sheet music by song helps, especially if you use a site where you can get a good preview of the music and decide if it's in your range or not. And I find just playing through it, no matter how slowly, builds my skills in areas I'm weak at. I speed up naturally as the song becomes more familiar.

Edited to add: I have tossed at least two songs I downloaded that were way over my current skill level. If it's frustrating to the point of affecting your practice time, put it away for a while. In these days of the internet you can always find something else to play!


Edited by ShannonG (02/19/14 11:16 AM)
_________________________
How did I end up with 3 pianos? Starting to think I may need a 12 step program...

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#2234194 - 02/19/14 11:26 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3485
Loc: not in Japan anymore
WorkinProgress, welcome to PW!! I think you'll find many people who are in similar situations, so be sure to look around at various threads.

Now, as to your question, to be honest, I can't quite tell what it is you're trying to ask. Do you want help with figuring out what level you're at? Figuring out what pieces you should work on? Advice about how to take a more methodological approach to filling in the gaps in your piano skill set?

Also, that sheetmusicplus link doesn't open up to a specific book (at least, not when I click on it), perhaps you could make a different link? That might also help with your question.

Oh, one more thought:

When deciding what sheet music to buy, previewing the first page of music is definitely helpful, but can be tricky because often the most difficult passages don't come until later in the music.

Good luck, and do stick around, this is a great place to learn more about playing the piano!
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2234203 - 02/19/14 11:50 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
WorkInProgress Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/14
Posts: 7
Thank you everyone for your responses so far!

Thank you everyone so far!

To answer one question here is the book I'm having some trouble with now: http://www.amazon.com/Disney-Piano-Solos-Solo-Songbook/dp/0634003887

I'm not even sure what my question is lol. I'm just trying to figure out what my "skill level" is, I don't know if that's useful when looking up sheet music.

Another question I would ask that was answered by one person in my other topic: What's the best way to make progress on a song that I'm having trouble with. Usually incorporating 4-Finger Chords with a bass melody. It's too much for my brain to handle at once. It also sounds wrong, not sure if being digital effects the chords.

I know I'm a little all over the place and I apologize! With time this will hopefully be a more concise topic

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#2234283 - 02/19/14 02:13 PM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
Ataru074 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 324
Loc: Houston, TX
Seriously, get a teacher. you don't need the super duper classical artist that charges 500$+/hour. you just need A decent teacher. and considering what you like to play, it won't even need too long to train you enough to have a decently rounded technique to play movie soundtrack reductions and some pop music.

on sheetmusic plus put that book at level "6"... other title at level 6 are usually played after 1 to 2 years of proper training... ( for reference the anna magdalena notebook is at level 4 to 6 and the inventions are at 7 to 9 )

you already know how to read music, you already put your fingers on the keyboard. you might very well need less than one year of proper all around training to be able to play the pieces you mentioned with a better technique.
_________________________
===============================================
working on:
Bach: BWV 871
Mozart: Kv310
Beethoven: Op 14 #2
===============================================

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#2234520 - 02/19/14 09:11 PM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: Ataru074]
WorkInProgress Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/14
Posts: 7
Thank you for the response

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to have someone teach me, it's very difficult to commit to with my current schedule. I'm a busy college student with a few late night classes and weekends with plans.

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#2234544 - 02/19/14 10:12 PM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
WorkInProgress Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/14
Posts: 7
Another problem is:

My current book has be going higher/lower than my 64 key keyboard allows me to go. Is there sheet music made for 64key? I couldn't find any

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#2234556 - 02/19/14 10:33 PM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 972
Without knowing (or more importantly watching) your current skill level, it's hard to give advice on where you are or what you should be doing. For example, is it a problem reading 4 or more notes at a time or a physical problem playing them? Are you reading actual notes or chord symbols (Cmaj7)?

I often suggest for people with some skills to go see a teacher, even if it's just for a lesson or 2. When I work with someone who has previous training, whether it's self taught or with another teacher, I always have to assess where the holes are and what the best course of action is for each student. It's not a one-size-fits-all sort of approach.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
My Sight Reading eBook
My Music

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#2234569 - 02/19/14 11:15 PM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: Brian Lucas]
WorkInProgress Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/14
Posts: 7
Thanks for the response Brian.

To answer your question, it's more of a physical problem/translating the notes to the page problem. It doesn't sound right all the time. I am also reading chords in note form, all the notes showing as opposed to the chord type on top of the staff

I know it's almost impossible for someone to teach me on a forum as opposed to in person. But it's hard to find lessons, especially with my availability so I figured this would be the next best thing to try

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#2234695 - 02/20/14 06:19 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
Ataru074 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 324
Loc: Houston, TX
Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to have someone teach me, it's very difficult to commit to with my current schedule. I'm a busy college student with a few late night classes and weekends with plans.

being in college you're golden. find some music student with the same hectic schedule that would teach you on the side keeping in mind that both of you need to be flexible.
_________________________
===============================================
working on:
Bach: BWV 871
Mozart: Kv310
Beethoven: Op 14 #2
===============================================

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#2234700 - 02/20/14 06:43 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 986
Loc: Italy
Isn't there a music/keyboard class that you can take for some theory and basics? There is much more to reading music than just reading the notes. And I would get an 88-key digital piano if at all possible.
_________________________
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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#2235771 - 02/22/14 01:12 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: sinophilia]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1335
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: sinophilia
Isn't there a music/keyboard class that you can take for some theory and basics? There is much more to reading music than just reading the notes. And I would get an 88-key digital piano if at all possible.


Both good ideas!

It sounds like you've hit a brick wall in your musical progress. One of the things teachers do, is to open doors in brick walls.

A music student might be a good fit. Or not, if he/she didn't have enough experience to figure out how to help you.

I doubt that there are "64-note" arrangements that are worth playing. The market is too small. There's a lot of music that fits in 61 keys (the standard "organ keyboard" for a long time, and a very common "synth keyboard" for the past 50 years or so). 88-key, weighted keyboards have been getting cheaper and better. You should consider one, if you want to tackle "piano music" instead of simple pop arrangements.

If you go through threads on this forum, you'll find lots of people who are having trouble sight-reading, and lots of advice about what to do for improvement.

. Charles

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#2235840 - 02/22/14 07:36 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1194
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
How about Piano Marvel? Not free, but a lot cheaper than a teacher in the flesh, and you can try it for free one month.

https://www.pianomarvel.com/

This program here, which is free, plays MIDI files and shows where the notes are on a keyboard. It is free and open source.

http://midisheetmusic.sourceforge.net/

Two fine options for improving sight reading.
_________________________
My YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/thenorbass1

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#2238344 - 02/27/14 08:07 AM Re: Not Sure Where I'm At. Would Love Input... [Re: WorkInProgress]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
I compiled the main points of your distrait posts into this:

Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

Hey Guys! I always knew how to read sheet music... Currently, I'm playing with a 64 key digital keyboard.
What I like to play are Disney songs, songs from movie soundtracks or video games.


That is fine. I play a cross section of everything from 1750 classical to 2011 anime. You can learn to play in a specific genre; the key is to start playing things that you have a desire to play and a passion to learn. Later on you might expand outward for various reasons. This piano forum has all sorts--not just classical piano students.

Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

Here is my problem:

I'm trying to get better, but my skills are so scattered.

I can read the notes, I understand treble and bass clefts, but I start to have problems when I have to play 4-finger chords and a melody with my left hand.


Define your skills. Make a list of what you deem necessary to a skill set. WRITE IT. Make a list. it should be something like:
1) Timing
2) Reading
3) Pedal
4) Finger span and fluidity
5) Range of expression
etc.

Rate yourself on each point. Then go forward and improve on them. If you need timing help--use a metronome; if you need reading skills--spend time reading and playing tons of new pieces you never saw before; etc.

I assume 4-fingered chords in Disney means arpeggiated chords? Or are they harmonic (all notes at once)? You should go repeatedly over difficult sections and try again and again with both hands or single hands to make it work. You'll find that these early problems evaporate with time and effort, even if they seem ridiculously difficult now, they will seem ridiculously basic in future.

Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

I'm trying to find sheet music that matches my level (whether it be beginner or intermediate...etc, but my skill set is so scattered that I have no idea.
I'm just trying to figure out what my "skill level" is, I don't know if that's useful when looking up sheet music.


That is always a vibrant topic. The answer is... there is no serious answer. Those "levels" they assign academically or within publications are a mixed bag of subjective labeling. They are made by unrelated people making their own approximations.

Beginner is obvious, though. Advanced is fairly obvious, because they do require a lot of skill and experience. The "intermediate" label can mean almost anything.
I've played "intermediate" pieces that seem like baby pieces. I've played "intermediate" pieces that were insanely complex and yet labeled intermediate.

My recommendation: find a piece you REALLY want to learn, and then you should play it a lot until you master it. Simple. Through doing so you will either quickly learn a piece you love or expand skills over time learning a piece you enjoy to play. Either way you have a piece you enjoy, but the difficult ones will expand your abilities and provide you with heightened accomplishment.

There are probably no pieces in modern movie-pop that are written on truly advanced levels, and most are rather simple or basic. The difficult ones require speed or strong rhythm.

Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

What's the best way to make progress on a song that I'm having trouble with?

Usually incorporating 4-Finger Chords with a bass melody. It's too much for my brain to handle at once. It also sounds wrong, not sure if being digital effects the chords.

I know I'm a little all over the place and I apologize!


The digital sound only becomes a problem when it is too far from sound of the original you are studying.
Change the voice of the digital piano/keyboard to be more like the original song, so you can mimic the piece better in your ears.

Just keep working the 4-finger chords. That's a basic technique you have to learn by applying yourself to.

Originally Posted By: WorkInProgress

Another problem is:

My current book has be going higher/lower than my 64 key keyboard allows me to go. Is there sheet music made for 64key?


I've never seen sheet music advertised or labeled as "FOR 64-KEY INSTRUMENTS!"
So I think you will have to contemplate getting a 72 or 88. I had a 72 (or was it 76?) key midi Yamaha cheapie, and I quickly switched it out for an 88-key Yamaha digital cheapie piano which I still use. There weren't many pieces which went so high, but because of 1 in 10, I made the choice and opened the wallet. You should think about buying up or dropping specific pieces.

Good luck with your studies!
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
"Claire DeLune (finally)"

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