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#559443 - 11/08/07 08:51 PM My Piano Problem...
Outrageous Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 7
Loc: Bloomington
I've played piano for several years as a child, and have recently started playing agian.. I am fairly advanced with classical music, have played Pathetique, Moonlight, and several other works around that level.

I can read through a peice and eventually learn it, but here are my problems: I have no idea what diminished, or 3/5/7 chords mean, or how to relate any of that to music. I only know the major white key scales by heart, and I have NO ability to improvise, or a clue how to start. In this sence I am almost new to piano, but very technically suave, and one who can read and conqure music.

Do you guys have a good approach at how I could get better at the things I am missing? A good book or lesson to get me started? Hope I explained myself well, Thanks for reading.

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#559444 - 11/08/07 11:03 PM Re: My Piano Problem...
Tenuto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 550
Loc: U.S.A.
You need a good teacher. Do you have one?

#559445 - 11/08/07 11:14 PM Re: My Piano Problem...
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
all you have to do is to either find a music dictionary (or online one) or go to this site:


a diminished whatever chord means a half-step short from original chord (7th). i'm sure you can find more detailed explanation over the theory or music dictionary site.

btw, you don't need a teacher to tell you that unless that's what you prefer.

#559446 - 11/09/07 09:52 AM Re: My Piano Problem...
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12390
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
As far as improvisation goes, dont' worry about scales or chords just yet. You already have the ability. Start simple, improvising a melody (only one note at a time) on all black keys. At first, you probably won't know what to play, and that's alright, just start doodling on the keys. Once you've done that for a few days in a row (or if this was easy, you can proceed right away), then do the same thing, black keys only, but this time, try to direct your melody a bit. If you feel it should go up, then go up. Think how far you want it to go (step, skip or leap), and don't leave out repeated notes as an option either. Melody is the most important part of most compositions, and so starting here is the most logical way to get improvising. I would continue this until you can start thinking of actual pitches in your mind, and then finding them on the keys. You may proceed to improvising on all white keys during this process, however.

Once you become good at improvising melodies and finding pitches you "hear" in your mind, then you are ready to proceed to chords. The most importnat chords in most western music are I IV V (then return to I). If you are unsure about what these are, brush up on your music theory. The website that signa recommended is a good one for this, or if you prefer a book to work out of, Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory is excellent for this. A teacher can really help you through all of this, but it can be done on your own, it just may be a bit harder.
private piano/voice teacher FT
Petrof 9'2, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

#559447 - 11/09/07 10:44 AM Re: My Piano Problem...
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
I never improvized or really employed much theory until I took up some guitar. Most all modern and jazz pieces are pretty much chord based and people use lead sheets for chord strums and arpeggios. It is interesting that most guitarists don't read music but understand scale modes and progressions pretty well.

Anyway my point is to play along with a "backing track" (see below for some free ones). So let's say you play along with one in A minor. You can just noodle around on your Ami scale and play some appropriate chords,ie Ami,Dmi, E7 when needed.

Hearing the chord progression will help the theory make sense. Learn the I,IV, V7, progression in a few keys, learn a few related major, minor, and blues scales, and just have fun.
With the backing tracks you don't have to "carry the whole musical load", just jump in and out of the mix.

Go to

Both sites have loads of mp3 "backing tracks".

There are also CDs out there as well for around 10 bucks.
Estonia L190 #7004
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#559448 - 11/09/07 11:03 AM Re: My Piano Problem...
Will335 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/02/07
Posts: 105
Loc: Southampton
On the subject of improvising - I think about 50% of this skill is listening and 50% having faith in any idea you come up with as you're playing: The best thing is - an improvisation doesn't have any rules, you make the rules up as you go along. So, keep it simple - start with c,f#,b or repeated staccato quavers or eb+d, c+d, eb+d, c+d, eb+d and then let the music decide where it wants to go - Imagine your spontaneously compsing a piece rather than improvising.
My website

#559449 - 11/09/07 11:06 AM Re: My Piano Problem...
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Hello, Welcome to Piano World as a new member. I had a classical piano background and wanted to learn Big Band improv mostly, how to read fakes sheets in general too, improv in general with no music. I went back to studies after I hired a very good classical piano teacher who knew how to arrange music, improv Big Band, himself,etc, very professional gentleman, this is very important they know how themselves to teach you to be the most professional sounding you can with your degree of talent. This very qualified teacher will bring out all of your talent if given a chance with time. A piano teacher who is graudate of a well known conservatory of music usually has these skills to teach you all of this. This is a very academic pursuit and needs more education to be your best possible. A gift to yourself. I treasure this extra music education , and feel grateful, every time I sit down to play the piano. Good luck in your adventure of piano studies. Cheers, Sandy B
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06


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