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#2614427 - 02/14/17 06:15 PM To those of you who learned this style with a teacher..
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Hi guys, to those of you who learned with a teacher, how did your teacher approach this? Did you use method books to learn piano?

Do you learn songs by rote? Do you use lead sheets? Do you play mostly by ear and improvise? Do you read music fluently?

I have a student who wants to learn how to play non-classical music. He's a complete newbie.

Do you think the progression of learning is different for those who want to learn non-classical music?

For example, I introduced rhythm to him today in the context of note values. But I have this hunch that perhaps people who learn non-classical music learn a lot of rhythm by *feel*.


Edited by hello my name is (02/15/17 12:30 AM)
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#2614452 - 02/14/17 07:39 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
JohnSprung Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3740
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By hello my name is
But I have this hunch that perhaps people who learn non-classical music learn a lot of rhythm by *feel*.


In my case, certainly that's true. It's all rubato. MuseScore can play lead sheets precisely as notated, and it's close but no cigar.

Our kind of music originated just as recording was becoming adequate, so we have the advantage of being able to hear how the greats did it. In fact, I can't imagine even wanting to play something I've never heard before. There's way more good music I've heard than I'll have time to get to in this life.

The *feel* comes from hearing recorded music. True for specific tunes and for general styles.

Lead sheets are a great way to start. You need to learn to play a melody line on the treble staff, and just the few chords you need for the song you're working on. With each new song, you learn a few more chords, until you run out of ones you don't know.
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Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2614566 - 02/14/17 11:34 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
dmd Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 3015
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By hello my name is
Hi guys, to those of you who learned with a teacher, how did your teacher approach this? Did you use method books to learn piano?

Do you learn songs by rote? Do you use lead sheets? Do you play mostly by ear and improvise? Do you read music fluently?

I have a student who wants to learn how to play non-classical music. He's a complete newbie.

Do you think the progression of learning is different for those who want to learn non-classical music?

For example, I introduced rhythm to him today in the context of note values. But I have this hunch that perhaps people who learn non-classical music learn a lot of rhythm by *feel*.


No offense, but ....

It would seem to me that your new student needs someone who understands and feels comfortable helping him learn this style of piano. It is quite clear, to me, that you do not.

Just a thought.
_________________________
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Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2614586 - 02/15/17 12:19 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
John-- So do you play everything by ear and lead sheets then if it's more by feel? What if you want to play a piano accompaniment exactly the way someone else did? Say Bruno Mars? sure, there are chords, but wouldn't your improvisation based on those chords be slightly different from the original?
Or, how does https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15-Os2OjtZc become something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15-Os2OjtZc
If you find something on musescore, do you simply copy it by ear? Or do you read the notes?
For example, one of the songs he said he knows how to play is Dr DRE- Still DRE, which sounds like essentially two chords to me.. for me, to figure that out by ear based on the youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CL6n0FJZpk
would be pretty difficult and would take longer. Is this the way you would do it?
This is the way my student learned it -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8i_byNAo8c&t=63s
These things to me.. = not learning anything and also too slow.

For me, to play Still D.R.E., a music score that has been created like this --

https://musescore.com/user/1066221/scores/966901
would be the fastest, because I can read the music. Of course, it has taken many years for me to get to the point of being able to sight-read this.

But what would someone with your background do? Maybe ear training is the best for this approach? Do you just dabble around until you find something that sounds like the original video? Hook your keyboard up to your computer to get it on a score?



Hi Don,
I agree, but this is not really a long term thing. His gf signed him up for the piano lessons. I also charge at a rate that matches my experience.
The thing is too, he said he wants to learn to the "basics of piano", specifically how to read notes, versus playing off of chords and lead sheets. He had a piano book that has popular music with the chords and melody and then the piano part on the bottom that is more difficult. He wants to learn to play that bottom part. I can play that bottom part, but I don't think he knows how long that will take to do it the way I do it, which is to read the notes and to play it exactly the way that is written, basically the way musescore does it when you press play.
Even if he's going to learn how to read leadsheets, he has to start from the very beginning too, in order to read the notes of the melody line, right?
To me, knowing how to play non-classical is the same as classical practically speaking in the sense that if I have the score, I can read notes, read the rhythm, and play it. I do play with lead sheets as well, but it's not something I do exclusively. But it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music. I am not opposed to learning to teach this kind of style, if indeed it does include another approach. I'd like to know what I can do to lead him in the right direction, assuming there may be some shortcuts to arriving at where he may want to arrive. Also, please answer the questions, if you can!


Edited by hello my name is (02/15/17 12:23 AM)
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#2614612 - 02/15/17 01:59 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
JohnSprung Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3740
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By hello my name is
John-- So do you play everything by ear and lead sheets then if it's more by feel? What if you want to play a piano accompaniment exactly the way someone else did? Say Bruno Mars?


I don't do much completely by ear, because I find I get things just a little wrong in certain places (rarely I find I like my version better....). Mostly I start with lead sheets or published books. The lead sheet gets me the right keys for the melody, the right chords, and rough time. Getting time right is what comes from recordings, and a feel for the style.

I don't ever want to play anything all the way through exactly like someone else -- I just cherry pick stealing little bits of the best stuff. ;-)

I'll try to watch the videos tomorrow.
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#2614672 - 02/15/17 08:39 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
john f Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 228
Loc: thailand
He needs to find a teacher who teaches popular music only, no classical. The teacher can be classically trained but should play popular music on jobs and teach popular only. Listen to him play for you. Go listen to him in public on the job if possible. If you like the way he plays, start talking about lessons and go from there.

A classical teacher is what you want if you want to play classical music. However, if he does not prefer pop, play pop, and teach pop, you two cannot communicate properly or effectively.

That is the way I learned piano. However, I played clarinet and accordion before so I could read music very well.

If you are his teacher, please do both of you a favor and have him read this post and then send him on his way to find a pop teacher.

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#2614695 - 02/15/17 10:07 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
dmd Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 3015
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By hello my name is
... it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music. I am not opposed to learning to teach this kind of style, if indeed it does include another approach. I'd like to know what I can do to lead him in the right direction, assuming there may be some shortcuts to arriving at where he may want to arrive. Also, please answer the questions, if you can!


Fair enough.

I have been fussing with this for some time now (5 years or more) and what I have found is this ...

If you wish to arrange your own version of a pop (or jazz or blues) song from a leadsheet ...

You have to have a good understanding of ...

Major scales (in most keys) and how those scales are used in building chords and their inversions.

Then you have to play (out of time) many songs (chords in left hand, melody in right hand) utilizing that knowledge so you become very familiar with many, many, chords.

Then you may wish to try to play those same tunes with chord shells ... 1,7 in left hand, 3 and melody in right hand ... other chord tones as you wish.

Then, color tones ... 9ths, 11ths, 13ths.

All the while adding rhythm concepts to your playing. This is absolutely essential. Without solid rhythm, you can throw the rest away. This may include techniques such as Bass lines, stride, etc ...

Then, upper structure triads ... and fills ...

Then modifying melody for variations.

Then improvisation.

It is not easy by any means.

P.S. The above list is certainly not a complete list of concepts for this style of playing but it gives you some idea of what is involved.

Good Luck





Edited by dmd (02/15/17 10:09 AM)
_________________________
Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2614703 - 02/15/17 10:28 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
Kbeaumont Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Virginia, USA
Quote:
But it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music.


That something else is ears. I can read music but I'm not great at it. I can take a piece of sheet music and learn it. But its painfully slow. But I can play most popular music by hearing it a few times. I can figure out the chords in most cases immediately and hear the rhythm. I might have to experiment a little to get the right inversion of a chord but that is many times evident by listening too. I figure out the chords by singing the melody and playing chords over it. Eventually many songs you will not only hear the progression but the key as well. At that point only certain notes fit so playing solos or melodic phrases is the same. Listening and playing. That's one thing a person who plays only with sheet music misses. They don't develop their ear and cannot figure out a song without that crutch. What may people who play only pop lose in the trade off is technique. Many classical teachers are very good at teaching technique. Their more advanced students can many times play pieces that are beyond my technical skill. But they can't hear a new song on the car radio and come home and play it like the recording. When I play gigs, I have an iPad. The only thing on it are Lyrics. Maybe sometimes 4 or 5 chord names at the top if the song is new. I play a lot with other people. A singer or guitar player will usually hand me a sheet of chords or lyrics, they will play it on their phone and I will then be expected to play it. Sometimes it just me accompanying a singer, with very little practice before the performance.
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#2614728 - 02/15/17 11:38 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
Groove On Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 644
Originally Posted By hello my name is
But it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music.

My teachers' approach is "Sound Before Symbol". So they have me internalizing musical concepts and ideas first before assigning a symbol to it. It's a very different approach from the traditional method of starting with the score.

(and I may not be a good example since I'm an adult re-beginner who took 6 years of lessons as a teenager)
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#2614799 - 02/15/17 04:19 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: dmd]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By dmd
Originally Posted By hello my name is
... it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music. I am not opposed to learning to teach this kind of style, if indeed it does include another approach. I'd like to know what I can do to lead him in the right direction, assuming there may be some shortcuts to arriving at where he may want to arrive. Also, please answer the questions, if you can!


Fair enough.

I have been fussing with this for some time now (5 years or more) and what I have found is this ...

If you wish to arrange your own version of a pop (or jazz or blues) song from a leadsheet ...

You have to have a good understanding of ...

Major scales (in most keys) and how those scales are used in building chords and their inversions.

Then you have to play (out of time) many songs (chords in left hand, melody in right hand) utilizing that knowledge so you become very familiar with many, many, chords.

Then you may wish to try to play those same tunes with chord shells ... 1,7 in left hand, 3 and melody in right hand ... other chord tones as you wish.

Then, color tones ... 9ths, 11ths, 13ths.

All the while adding rhythm concepts to your playing. This is absolutely essential. Without solid rhythm, you can throw the rest away. This may include techniques such as Bass lines, stride, etc ...

Then, upper structure triads ... and fills ...

Then modifying melody for variations.

Then improvisation.

It is not easy by any means.

P.S. The above list is certainly not a complete list of concepts for this style of playing but it gives you some idea of what is involved.

Good Luck





Hi Don!

Thanks a lot! Really interesting. I understand the harmony on a theory level, because I took theory as part of piano studies and harmony class in college. I suspect that some of what is going on in popular music at least on a foundational level is the same as what is the foundation of most classical music, which is western harmony, but perhaps in a different language which might make for the confusion. But to what extent, I'm not sure. If you analyze classical music, you come up with similar things. So major/minor keys, chords (I, ii, iii, IV etc), inversions (root, 1st, 2nd)... (augmented, minor, diminished..)
1,7 and a 3 in the right hand is what I would call a dominant chord with the 5 missing. Color tones, sound like the 2nd, 4th, and 6th, but above an octave.

So do you listen for these extraneous things (color) in a recording typically, or do you listen for only the basic structure, I'm thinking the melody and the chords and add in your own color/variation? My problem with playing with lead sheets, is I could play every song the same way. My left hand in particular finds something that works and then wants to do it for everything. Same with guitar strums, I guess. So rhythm definitely seems to be the hardest part, hearing the rhythm that is unique in a song and reproducing it, pairing a rhythm with a melody that is somewhat at odds with it and not stumbling over your fingers.

that's where those rhythm practice sheets that someone else posted.. (Nahum maybe?) would come in handy..
Just thinking out loud..
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#2614802 - 02/15/17 04:22 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: Groove On]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Groove On
Originally Posted By hello my name is
But it seems like many people who play non-classical music are actually not good sight-readers and are good.. something else. I'm trying to learn what this something else is, about other methods people use to play this type of music.

My teachers' approach is "Sound Before Symbol". So they have me internalizing musical concepts and ideas first before assigning a symbol to it. It's a very different approach from the traditional method of starting with the score.

(and I may not be a good example since I'm an adult re-beginner who took 6 years of lessons as a teenager)


This sounds great and makes a lot of sense! Thanks.
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#2614836 - 02/15/17 06:04 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
dmd Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 3015
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By hello my name is
So do you listen for these extraneous things (color) in a recording typically, or do you listen for only the basic structure, I'm thinking the melody and the chords and add in your own color/variation? My problem with playing with lead sheets, is I could play every song the same way. My left hand in particular finds something that works and then wants to do it for everything. Same with guitar strums, I guess. So rhythm definitely seems to be the hardest part, hearing the rhythm that is unique in a song and reproducing it, pairing a rhythm with a melody that is somewhat at odds with it and not stumbling over your fingers.

that's where those rhythm practice sheets that someone else posted.. (Nahum maybe?) would come in handy..
Just thinking out loud..


From where I sit ...

You are getting way ahead of where this student is (beginner you said ?).

Your role in his journey will start with where everyone starts. Learn the layout of the keyboard and relationship to notes you see on a staff. Play notes you see on staff. Learn scales (in all 12 keys). How chords are formed with scale notes. Play simple tunes with Chords given on leadsheet.

That will take you many months to a year or more.

And on and on ....

You will be learning right along with him.

You may wish to tell him that.

You probably should try to find a method book that addresses these things somewhat. There are a ton of HOW TO books about jazz cocktail piano and blues piano and pop piano.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2614916 - 02/15/17 11:32 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
rintincop Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1809
I get those kind of students a lot.

Pop today uses triad chords, rarely anything beyond triads other than sus 4 or sus 2 for color.
Listen for the roots to hear the progression, then figure if each chord is a major triad or a minor triad and how many beats each chord lasts. Jot it down by chord name on a blank sheet of paper (not music paper) so you don't forget...
for example: ||: Ami | G | F | G :||

Most pop songs are 4 chords or less. That hip hop Dr DRe is only two chords Bbmi and Fmi, hip hop uses fewer chords than most pop...those "producers" know less harmony than any other producers in pop.

The most famous "4 chord pop formula is I V vi IV ("Let It Be","Don't Stop Believing", etc...) C G Ami F (OR SOME VARIATION OF IT, ie: re-order the sequence)

This video is almost true: "The 4 Chord Song"



These few songs helped me "hear" the chords:

I IV is "rock" ("You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Imagine")
I V is "classic" (Ode To Joy, many folk songs)
! V IV or I IV V is the "combination" (blues, salsa, rock, pop, classical)
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#2614924 - 02/16/17 12:31 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
rintincop--

I IV and V is what I hear in most songs, sometimes a vi as you said in pop. This is what I hear in church and traditional songs (classic) as you say, and especially children's songs as those are simpler. When it gets outside of I, IV, and V, and the occasional vi, I start struggling to hear out what the chord they are using is. I find the hiphop is kind of a strange sound to me, but it looks like it's just in a minor key?

the joke with the Pachelbel chord progression.. anyone seen this? it's pretty funny.. basically that it's everywhere, and it really is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPLp_gInC-o&list=RDXPLp_gInC-o#t=35
"punk music is a joke, it's really just baroque!"

dmd -- "How chords are formed with scale notes." Can you expand on that? Besides that in a major key, I believe it's, I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii diminished typically if you build triads in the key. What else?


Edited by hello my name is (02/16/17 12:34 AM)
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#2614982 - 02/16/17 06:37 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
Rerun Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 1153
Loc: Louisiana

Hey hmni, there are a gazillion tunes written using I vi ii V ... "Heart and Soul", "Silhouettes", "Auld Lang Syne", etc.. Ears unwind a lot of music if you/your students allow them to. I vi ii V is an option right from the I IV V progression if you spend a lesson with students and listen as you play the two options. Ears get to where they automatically recognize many progressions without much thought at all.
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#2614994 - 02/16/17 07:05 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
Rerun Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 1153
Loc: Louisiana
Quote:
So rhythm definitely seems to be the hardest part, hearing the rhythm that is unique in a song and reproducing it, pairing a rhythm with a melody that is somewhat at odds with it and not stumbling over your fingers.


Yep, rhythm is the gorilla in the room but the most fun to decypher (a least for me). I'd tell you to start learning LH rhythm patterns; 4 beat boom chucks, 3 beat boom chucks, short arpeggios, the shuffles to take care of some rock and 12 bar blues, New Orleans style, Alberti bass, etc.

Ears start to recognize what patterns work with different tunes ... so many choices, so little time. grin

Playing piano is not unlike solving a good cryptoquote only you are using the ears and 88 keys.


Edited by Rerun (02/16/17 07:07 AM)
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"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2615040 - 02/16/17 10:22 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
dmd Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 3015
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By hello my name is
dmd -- "How chords are formed with scale notes." Can you expand on that?


I am just referring to the concept that when you see a chord symbol, you build that chord by selecting scale tones.

Cmaj7 = 1,3,5,7 tones of the C major scale.

Bbmin7 = 1, b3, 5, b7 tones of the Bb major scale.

This enables them to build chords as needed when trying to work through a tune from a leadsheet.



Edited by dmd (02/16/17 10:23 AM)
_________________________
Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur

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#2615052 - 02/16/17 11:02 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: dmd]
john f Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 228
Loc: thailand
DMD said in a post above ---

From where I sit ...

You are getting way ahead of where this student is (beginner you said ?).

Your role in his journey will start with where everyone starts. Learn the layout of the keyboard and relationship to notes you see on a staff. Play notes you see on staff. Learn scales (in all 12 keys). How chords are formed with scale notes. Play simple tunes with Chords given on leadsheet.

That will take you many months to a year or more.

And on and on ....

You will be learning right along with him.

You may wish to tell him that.

You probably should try to find a method book that addresses these things somewhat. There are a ton of HOW TO books about jazz cocktail piano and blues piano and pop piano. END

I say that this, DMD's post, is probably the most accurate and correct advice you have been given so far.

I learned from a pro who performed in hotels and restaurants and weddings in Cebu Philippines. He was classically trained, however, he also had years of performing non-classical gigs. I already knew how to read music but knew no chords. I had to learn all triads in all 12 keys first plus 6th, 7th's, dim7ths, and 9ths. After that he taught me from a lead sheet, melody line with chords written in above the line. He taught me each number exactly as he played on a gig. I only took lessons for 20 months and then moved away. However, even tho I could read music well and understood a lot about music I had to learn the chords. So even tho I had a musical background it took me almost three years from start to finish before I could play and get peoples attention. There is no short cut. You must learn to read the single note melody on a lead sheet and how to play chords in all inversions keeping the melody note on top.

One more thing, everyone talks about ear training and I agree. If you start young and have good hearing, you should learn to use it in music. However if you have a hearing defect, as I do, you can learn to sing the song, at least to your self if you sing badly. Do so in the shower or alone at home. Let it all hang out like you are a pro. Then when you play the song, sing it to your self while playing. Feeling and rhythum will be in the song even if you cannot tell one note from the other by sound. I am living proof of it, I have been almost deaf since mid 50's in the army.

I am sorry if I offend anyone with my post or opinions. I admit, I am a very opinionated grumpy old man, but I do not let that bother me, it took me 78 years to get that way. Good Luck.

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#2615120 - 02/16/17 02:10 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: Rerun]
JohnSprung Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3740
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By Rerun

Hey hmni, there are a gazillion tunes written using I vi ii V ....


Yes, it comes from the circle of fifths. Look at the circle and at the progression iii vi ii V I.
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#2615190 - 02/16/17 04:49 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
rintincop Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1809
Originally Posted By hello my name is
Hi guys, to those of you who learned with a teacher, how did your teacher approach this? Did you use method books to learn piano?

Do you learn songs by rote? Do you use lead sheets? Do you play mostly by ear and improvise? Do you read music fluently?

I have a student who wants to learn how to play non-classical music. He's a complete newbie.

Do you think the progression of learning is different for those who want to learn non-classical music?

For example, I introduced rhythm to him today in the context of note values. But I have this hunch that perhaps people who learn non-classical music learn a lot of rhythm by *feel*.


This is the original post. It then links to a hip hop song. I say reading music has no advantage in learning hip hop songs. It actually would be avoiding the issue. Hip hop producers don't use written music. It never serves their goal. There are thousands of good pop musicians who never learned to read. The Beatles and Stevie Wonder for example.

That video somebody posted showed exactly how to play the 2 chord keyboard part on that hip hop song. That is exactly how a teacher must teach non-readers. Show them slowly how it goes and how looks on the keyboard. Break it down. That is basic teaching. The teacher must learn the keyboard part from YouTube before each lesson. You need to stay a step ahead. We are in a new era.

Meanwhile learn to hear simple chord changes. Play simple chord progressions over and over on the piano to get the long term memory of how chords sound (hint: the root movement is the best clue).Pop music always uses simple chord changes.

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#2615307 - 02/16/17 11:23 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: john f]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By john f


I learned from a pro who performed in hotels and restaurants and weddings in Cebu Philippines. He was classically trained, however, he also had years of performing non-classical gigs. I already knew how to read music but knew no chords. I had to learn all triads in all 12 keys first plus 6th, 7th's, dim7ths, and 9ths. After that he taught me from a lead sheet, melody line with chords written in above the line. He taught me each number exactly as he played on a gig. I only took lessons for 20 months and then moved away. However, even tho I could read music well and understood a lot about music I had to learn the chords. So even tho I had a musical background it took me almost three years from start to finish before I could play and get peoples attention. There is no short cut. You must learn to read the single note melody on a lead sheet and how to play chords in all inversions keeping the melody note on top.


Hello grumpy old man,
Three years is not so bad! How did he teach you the chords? I mean he could have theoretically just tossed you a chord sheet, couldn't he have? And you'd learn to piece it together based off of that? But he must not have, since you learned from him for 20 months.
I'm teaching someone guitar right now. I gave her a chord chart. It felt like I handed her almost all I know. Of course she has to practice, but all the information is there on that chart.
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#2615310 - 02/16/17 11:34 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: rintincop]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By rintincop

There are thousands of good pop musicians who never learned to read. The Beatles and Stevie Wonder for example.


How do people who make tabs do it? Are they just naturally talented? Are The Beatles and Stevie Wonder just.. talented? It just seems that the process for becoming Stevie Wonder is very fuzzy, but I'm hoping that's just because I don't know what that process exactly is. In contrast, the process for becoming a concert pianist is rather stepwise, there are even levels assigned to pieces of music. Volumes upon volumes of books.

Originally Posted By rintincop

That video somebody posted showed exactly how to play the 2 chord keyboard part on that hip hop song. That is exactly how a teacher must teach non-readers. Show them slowly how it goes and how looks on the keyboard. Break it down. That is basic teaching. The teacher must learn the keyboard part from YouTube before each lesson. You need to stay a step ahead. We are in a new era.


Ok, but he already learned this song from YouTube. Wouldn't it make more sense to teach him how to make that Youtube Video? It's not that he wants to learn Bruno Mars, I think he wants to *be* Bruno Mars....
I don't see how teaching someone to copy the notes like that Youtube video does is helpful at all.

Originally Posted By rintincop

Meanwhile learn to hear simple chord changes. Play simple chord progressions over and over on the piano to get the long term memory of how chords sound (hint: the root movement is the best clue).Pop music always uses simple chord changes.


I can hear simple chord changes, that is... I also play guitar, so I, IV, V. That's my idea of simple. Most children's songs use I, IV, V (I play guitar.. for kids). But sometimes, even when I play for children I get it wrong, I go to the IV when it should have been a V, for example.
Also, it seems there are other things going on in pop music. After I, IV, V, and a vi, I start to feel like a fish out of water, asking what *is* that sound I hear? Or maybe it's inverted or something else, and it sounds different so maybe I can't recognize it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwK-WAnIWIw
For example, this. The chords, per ultimate guitar, are Cmaj7 and Am. I cheated and looked it up. Alright, but if I play Cmaj7 and Am on the piano, it's still not going to sound the way they are playing it exactly. And it sounds like there's a line going on in there (do you figure this out by pressing keys on a piano until it sounds right?) or is there a pattern to this? (called.. a Bass line??)
How do you learn to hear chord changes? Specifically, how do you practice this? Sorry if this is a silly question.

Actually, what I really want to know is, so based on your video, many pop songs are four chords, but the way those four chords are played is what seems to make each of them unique, ya? So.. how do you get that uniqueness? It's much like learning strum patterns on a guitar perhaps? I use almost the same couple of strums for every song! But it gets old. Or I use the same arpeggio pattern for every lead sheet I play on the piano. I mean, how many different ways can you really play four chords? I guess a lot....


Edited by hello my name is (02/16/17 11:53 PM)
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#2615311 - 02/16/17 11:35 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: dmd]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By dmd

I am just referring to the concept that when you see a chord symbol, you build that chord by selecting scale tones.


Got it. This I can teach him.


Edited by hello my name is (02/16/17 11:42 PM)
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#2615312 - 02/16/17 11:36 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: Rerun]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Rerun

Hey hmni, there are a gazillion tunes written using I vi ii V ... "Heart and Soul", "Silhouettes", "Auld Lang Syne", etc.. Ears unwind a lot of music if you/your students allow them to. I vi ii V is an option right from the I IV V progression if you spend a lesson with students and listen as you play the two options. Ears get to where they automatically recognize many progressions without much thought at all.


Originally Posted By Rerun

I'd tell you to start learning LH rhythm patterns; 4 beat boom chucks, 3 beat boom chucks, short arpeggios, the shuffles to take care of some rock and 12 bar blues, New Orleans style, Alberti bass, etc.


Very helpful, thanks! I do mostly arpeggios for my LH patterns. Prob boom chucks too, if it's what I'm thinking of. For New Orleans, shuffles, that I want to look into.


Edited by hello my name is (02/16/17 11:41 PM)
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#2615316 - 02/16/17 11:40 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: Kbeaumont]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Kbeaumont
But I can play most popular music by hearing it a few times. I can figure out the chords in most cases immediately and hear the rhythm. I might have to experiment a little to get the right inversion of a chord but that is many times evident by listening too.

Jealous! I would probably need to listen a hundred times, if not more. Is this just something you're able to do or did it develop over time?

Originally Posted By Kbeaumont

I figure out the chords by singing the melody and playing chords over it.

I do this too, but I get frustrated if it's a weird chord and I can't figure it out.


Originally Posted By Kbeaumont
but the key as well.

shocked do you have perfect pitch?
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#2615319 - 02/16/17 11:56 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: dmd]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By dmd

From where I sit ...

You are getting way ahead of where this student is (beginner you said ?).


Learning for myself too smile

Originally Posted By dmd

Your role in his journey will start with where everyone starts. Learn the layout of the keyboard and relationship to notes you see on a staff. Play notes you see on staff. Learn scales (in all 12 keys). How chords are formed with scale notes. Play simple tunes with Chords given on leadsheet.

That will take you many months to a year or more.

And on and on ....

You will be learning right along with him.

You may wish to tell him that.

You probably should try to find a method book that addresses these things somewhat. There are a ton of HOW TO books about jazz cocktail piano and blues piano and pop piano.


Thank you.
Looks like I better hit the music store. I hope they have rhythm patterns in those books..
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#2615325 - 02/17/17 12:27 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
john f Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 228
Loc: thailand

Hello grumpy old man,
Three years is not so bad! How did he teach you the chords? I mean he could have theoretically just tossed you a chord sheet, couldn't he have? And you'd learn to piece it together based off of that? But he must not have, since you learned from him for 20 months.
I'm teaching someone guitar right now. I gave her a chord chart. It felt like I handed her almost all I know. Of course she has to practice, but all the information is there on that chart. [/quote]

I learned to use a counting system. Major chords. Root C - count 4 keys using black and white - now you on E - count 3 more keys and now you are on G - play all three together and you get a C triad. I had to do that over and over until I memorized the notes of the chord. Then I played a left hand run using notes from the C triad as follows: C G C over the thumb with finger 2 to E then thumb to G. Now go back to E on down to C and return up to E. All eighth notes. So for one measure in 4/4 you play left hand as follows, all in 8th notes.

C G C E G E C E

Now at the same time play the C triad in root position with r.h. on first two 8th notes in l.h. Then play 1st inversion of C triad on second two 8th notes and so on. I put the pedal down at the beginning of the measure and up-downed the pedal for the next chord. I followed the circle of 5ths,4ths, depending on which direction you go. I played all triads as described above starting on C, then F, Bb, Eb....

After I learned those 12 triads I was taught the minor triads. Count from root note to 3 and land on Eb, count 4 more and you are on G. Played together Cm chord. Then I learned C6, Cm6, C7, CM7, Cm7, diminished chords, and finally C9. I played each chord and learned each chord by playing the above mentioned l.h. run and in r.h. playing the chord in root position first, the first inversion and so on.

I learned all chords counting half steps. Makes it easy if you get confused on a chord, just pause and count the steps to see if you are on the correct notes. You ear players can correct it by hearing but with a hearing problem you do not think it sounds right, re-check the fingering by counting.

After I could play the major and minor triads he started on the songs with lead sheets. I just played all chords as triads until I had the other chords where I could play them well. Being retired and having nothing to do all day I played some in the morning and some more in the afternoon, and then before bed I played more chords before bed. I learned all of the above mentioned chords in the first month. About 6 hours a day at the piano.

On minors play the major 3 as a minor in the l.h. run. Eb instead of E on the Cm chord.

I am not classical trained. The only lessons I ever had anywhere near classical were at age 10 in public school on clarinet. Mostly all I did was learn to read music. So I am not very good with musical terminology. I hope you understand what I wrote above. I explained this once before when I first joined here on piano world. Maybe it is somewhere in the files.

Hope this is helpful.

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#2615345 - 02/17/17 03:55 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with a teacher.. [Re: hello my name is]
Nahum Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 1841
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By hello my name is
I hope they have rhythm patterns in those books..
Please:

https://www.amazon.com/Pop-Piano-Book-Mark-Harrison/dp/0793598788


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#2615348 - 02/17/17 04:08 AM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: john f]
Soo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/05/16
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By john f


I learned to use a counting system. Major chords. Root C - count 4 keys using black and white - now you on E - count 3 more keys and now you are on G - play all three together and you get a C triad. I had to do that over and over until I memorized the notes of the chord. Then I played a left hand run using notes from the C triad as follows: C G C over the thumb with finger 2 to E then thumb to G. Now go back to E on down to C and return up to E. All eighth notes. So for one measure in 4/4 you play left hand as follows, all in 8th notes.

C G C E G E C E

Now at the same time play the C triad in root position with r.h. on first two 8th notes in l.h. Then play 1st inversion of C triad on second two 8th notes and so on. I put the pedal down at the beginning of the measure and up-downed the pedal for the next chord. I followed the circle of 5ths,4ths, depending on which direction you go. I played all triads as described above starting on C, then F, Bb, Eb....

After I learned those 12 triads I was taught the minor triads. Count from root note to 3 and land on Eb, count 4 more and you are on G. Played together Cm chord. Then I learned C6, Cm6, C7, CM7, Cm7, diminished chords, and finally C9. I played each chord and learned each chord by playing the above mentioned l.h. run and in r.h. playing the chord in root position first, the first inversion and so on.

I learned all chords counting half steps. Makes it easy if you get confused on a chord, just pause and count the steps to see if you are on the correct notes. You ear players can correct it by hearing but with a hearing problem you do not think it sounds right, re-check the fingering by counting.

After I could play the major and minor triads he started on the songs with lead sheets. I just played all chords as triads until I had the other chords where I could play them well. Being retired and having nothing to do all day I played some in the morning and some more in the afternoon, and then before bed I played more chords before bed. I learned all of the above mentioned chords in the first month. About 6 hours a day at the piano.

On minors play the major 3 as a minor in the l.h. run. Eb instead of E on the Cm chord.

I am not classical trained. The only lessons I ever had anywhere near classical were at age 10 in public school on clarinet. Mostly all I did was learn to read music. So I am not very good with musical terminology. I hope you understand what I wrote above. I explained this once before when I first joined here on piano world. Maybe it is somewhere in the files.

Hope this is helpful.


That's how I learned as well!! I haven't come across anyone else who does that - so it's an odd relief to find I'm not alone. (I've gotten weird looks from other pianists when I explain it. I think they see it as 'too simple'.) I got it from a book called 'How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons' and it has served me really well. I can construct chords easily(maj, min, dim, aug, sus, 7, maj 7 -- as you know they can all be easily constucted with a bit of counting!) and have become reasonably comfortable at playing from lead sheets. I also transpose by counting the semi tones which is pretty straightforward. (I mostly play to accompany myself and I have a low voice so end up transposing pretty much everything down!)

I'm now doing lessons in pop piano (with a view to moving on to jazz) where I'm learning more about the theory behind how the progressions work (and why). Until now I just played whatever chord came next and didn't really think about why that chord worked why another one might not.

It's been interesting to see that in some areas I'm way ahead of a lot of the class most of whom are classically trained - I'm very comfortable constructing chords, sight reading a lead sheet and coming up with a simple left hand pattern - but way behind them when we get to the theory of scales and chords of the scale etc. For me the biggest revelation has been that it is actually easier to hear the chord changes than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong I still have a long way to go there - but previously I thought that was some sort of magic skill people either had or didn't have - but now I can see that it's something I really can do if I put in the effort.


Edited by Soo (02/17/17 05:39 AM)

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#2615474 - 02/17/17 01:53 PM Re: To those of you who learned this style with at teacher.. [Re: Nahum]
hello my name is Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 388
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Nahum
Originally Posted By hello my name is
I hope they have rhythm patterns in those books..
Please:

https://www.amazon.com/Pop-Piano-Book-Mark-Harrison/dp/0793598788



There you are Nahum! I thought that was you. Thanks.

Is there a book you would recommend for jazz? Apparently R&B chords and jazz chords are typically the same, per this guy. http://www.pianolessonsonline.com/r-b-piano-chords-lesson/


Edited by hello my name is (02/17/17 02:18 PM)
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