How do I teach myself to play?

Posted by: tnschaffer

How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 09:34 AM

Hi there, I am new here \:\) .

We were just given a piano and I plan on learning to play and then help my daughters learn.

I know there are programs out there that help adults learn how to play. Is anyone familiar with them? Can you recommend one?

To answer in advance: No I will not consider getting a teacher. We just plain cannot afford lessons.

I am an eager learner and know if I have the right stuff, I can really teach myself how to do this. I am not very familiar with music at all. I like to sing, but thats about the extent of it. So I would need something for dummies \:\) LOL!

Thanks so much \:\)
Posted by: signa

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 09:44 AM

there are some instruction books for beginners that you can find at any bookstores (such as 'teach yourself playing piano' stuff). any such a book could get you started. but to be good technically, you also need to read some music theory and piano technique books for music understanding and physical part of playing skills. i believe one can learn to play piano without teachers as long as one is determined enough and one's purpose of playing is not for a music/performance career.
Posted by: Stanza

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 10:47 AM

One thing that books can not give you is feedback on your playing. So use a tape recorder, or better yet video if you can afford one. What you do and what you think you do are often quite different. Also you might be able to mooch some occasional instruction from a friend or neighbor who plays. Good luck
Posted by: tnschaffer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 11:37 AM

Thanks for the replies. You are really helping me understand this more. I figured that I would need someone with experience to "help" out every now and then. My Aunt is an accomplished pianist and is willing to give me advice sometimes, she just doesnt have time to give me actual lessons \:\) .

Should I just get on google and search for teach yourself piano lessons? LOL!
Posted by: Cindysphinx

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 12:08 PM

One quick idea. I know someone who couldn't afford lessons but who bartered her services in exchange for lessons. So. Maybe if you have some skills that a teacher might need, you could work something out?

Best of luck, and welcome aboard!
Posted by: teachum

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 02:18 PM

There is also a good instructional DVD program called www.pianoforlife.com by Mark Almond.

I have it and it is very good at explaining the piano, harmony, basic music theory as well as teaching you how to make lovely sounds from the beginning. It is done is such a way that even a real novice can learn well from it.
Posted by: jazpianizt

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 04:19 PM

Someone posted this link a while ago:

Free online video lessons

It's some free online video lessons.
I've watched a couple of them - you might want to check them out. There's about 30 hours' worth or so.
Posted by: signa

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 09:15 PM

thanks for the video link, jazpianizt, i am watching Beethoven's one now which is pretty good. i wish i knew this site earlier!
Posted by: Requiem Aeternam

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 08/31/04 09:43 PM

can someone please post that free online book written about learning the piano its very informative but I lost the link long ago and I can't seem to find the site in a search engine
Posted by: folly

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 01:16 AM

Requiem,
Did you mean this one http://members.aol.com/chang8828/contents.htm
by Chang?

folly
Posted by: IntoTheStorm

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 04:44 AM

I would check www.playpianotoday.com

I think it's a good work.
Posted by: mound

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 06:13 AM

 Quote:
One quick idea. I know someone who couldn't afford lessons but who bartered her services in exchange for lessons. So. Maybe if you have some skills that a teacher might need, you could work something out?
I know my teacher has a student who is a massage therapist, they trade lessons for massages.

Seriously though - I'd definitely try to get your aunt on board at first, just to make sure you are physically approaching the instument properly. Bad habits formed early will be hard to break, and you can actually injur yourself if you spend too much time at the keys with improper posture and hand positioning.
Posted by: tnschaffer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 06:30 AM

WOW, thank you so much! I have a LOT to check into here \:\) . I really like the DVD idea...I am a very visual learner!!

You have all been so helpful! THANKS! \:D
Posted by: RKVS1

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 06:50 AM

tns, you might want to check out the FAQ forums here at PW to see other threads that pertain or contain links to instructional sites.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php


Here's one from there that is maybe a bit tangential but may be of use. There should be others, but I didn't have time to look through them all.

Songs and Intervals in forum FAQ - Pianist Corner at The Piano Forums at Piano World.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/18/15.html


There is a current thread that has some good links. If you google, you'll find hundreds of sites, but some are better than others.

Book on Chords and Chord progressions in forum Adult Beginner's Forum at The Piano Forums at Piano World.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/32/117.html
Duane Shin's site is mentioned in that thread and I think his site might help you. He sells things, but also has a series of free video lessons (1/week for 30 weeks or so) that is pretty basic and is geared for the beginner. Here's the link to that part of his site. http://www.playpiano.com/Sampler-Tips.htm


The title of the next thread might throw you off, but it has some other links.
Learning to"fake" in forum Pianist Corner at The Piano Forums at Piano World.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/586.html


A thread about reference sources, some of which are at least partially available online.

This is topic Music Dictionaries and Encyclopedias in forum Pianist Corner at The Piano Forums at Piano World.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/5170.html


Well, I hope I didn't go overboard on you, and you'll probably have to cull some of the information, but hopefully some will be helpful to you.

Check out MattG's theory classes that you can find here in the Adult Beginners forum. He doesn't really know what anybody looks like, so you could probably sneak in real easy and not get into trouble. \:D
Posted by: jazpianizt

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 07:39 AM

RKSV1 Bob,
Thanks for all the links. Some good stuff to follow up on (as if I didn't have enough, already!)
I've worked with a some of Duane Shinn's tapes, also Mark Harrison's books, and can recommend them both.
I studied with Dick Grove (via video), and Mark Harrison uses much the same approach (they worked together at the Grove school). Really gets at the heart of the matter.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 09:00 AM

Let me see if I understand this ... you can not afford a teacher, but are willing to spend your money on instructional DVDs?

With all due respect, seek out a teacher and take just a few lessons so you can be sure your kids are using correct technique. The reading part of music is quite easy and you can teach yourself that ... learing how to use the correct set of muscles is a one on one situation.
Posted by: newpianoplayer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 09:51 AM

Check out the Piano Discovery CD's by Jump Music.
You can purchase them on ebay.
Posted by: tnschaffer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 10:21 AM

My Aunt can help me a little with the correct technique and other things here and there.

i looked at the DVDs and found that they were about 65.00 for the set. One month of lessons would be around the same.

Why not take advantage of my Aunts free (yet small) amount of help...and maximize that with some DVDS that will most likely last me longer than one month?

I dont know...but it makes sense to me. Let me know if I am being unreasonable here \:\) .
Posted by: tnschaffer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 10:25 AM

Also, this is not for my children, its for me. I will not begin to teach my children until I am a confident piano player.

My oldest is just barely 6, so I have ayear or so before I am starting with her \:\) .
Posted by: Sindy

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 11:37 AM

My advice is to find your children a good piano teacher when they start. Do not plan to teach them yourself even after several years of self learning. You can help them if you teach yourself before hand or you can even learn with the them by attending the lessons with them, doing all the exercises teacher assigned to them, etc.
Posted by: Stevester

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 01:06 PM

I have been working on my own for almost a year. I did get some help early on from my mother who played a heck of a lot when she was younger. You are going to need some help early on and I am sure your Aunt can do that.

I used Faber's Adult Piano Adnventures. Just get the first book without the CD. I found the CD of no use as it did not offer examples but was instead accompaniment. Their Christmas book was also a big help as you know the songs so you already know the timing.

Have fun,
Steve
Posted by: Raging Squirrel

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 04:19 PM

I would recommend Carl Humphries *Piano Handbook*. It's phenomenally well-rounded and informative. Read the reviews at amazon.com.

The only downside is that he teaches you the British terminology alongside the regular terminology, so you may end up thinking in terms of crotchets and quavers and other slightly indecent euphemisms. \:\)

But the book is awesome!

PS. This book is not "for dummies" or "for idiots."
Posted by: Luckychwee

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 06:23 PM

At first I tot of learning myself by buying the cd and I bought one zzzz unfortunately it touches very little on the basics and just after 15 mins or so it goes straight to the song "Oh give me a home" .... I am struggling hard as the method it taught is on rhymatic pattern and not playing melody on the right hand ??? So it confuses me as when I explore more on the net.

So at the end of the day, I think it will really worthwhile to spend a few hundred bucks at least in the beginning to get the basics right. Otherwise, it is so difficult to rectify when you are so use to the wrong method.

By the way, how do you find a good teacher ? Is teacher having ABRSM grade 8 good enough ?
Posted by: TimR

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/01/04 11:48 PM

Just thought I'd mention.

I've had several adult friends who put their children in piano lessons, expecting that they themselves would learn at the same time and avoid the fee.

It seemed to work at first, but after a short time none of them could keep up with their kids progress and they all gave up.

I don't know all the reasons why, but it suggests that the strategy of learning first then teaching your kids may not be optimal. I think that teachers who teach kids get pretty good at it and do better than you might.

Here's what I would do. Pay for a couple of lessons yourself, avoid some early bad habits. then work on your own for awhile, then go back and get a couple more lessons. After that you might get by on self study and some video backup.
Posted by: Luckychwee

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 02:28 AM

The "short time" you mean is like roughly how long and what can an adult pick up from a child ?

Supposing if the child attend the lessons for a couple of let's say 6 months, do u think the parent can learn same as well if he/she also practise and do all exercises given by the teacher ?
Posted by: Roxane

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 11:16 AM

Whether one can learn without a teacher depends on one's aspirations for oneself or one's children. In the beginning, there are many things to learn, such as reading music and finding the right notes on the keyboard. I am sure many people can teach themselves how to do these things. Many teachers working with some good method books can also teach this area well enough.

However, proper playing technique is another thing. A beginner might not realize that playing the piano involves more than just striking the right notes, but how the notes are struck matter greatly as well. While books and videos can describe and demonstrate hand position etc., it is not quite so easy to accurately translate what is read and seen into action. This is where a good teacher can save you years of bad habits by close observation and timely feedback.

Ask yourselves why concert pianists sound so much better than your average amateur player even in simple pieces such as those from Bach's Anna Magdalena notebook or Für Elise (the opening bits)? It has to do with their ability to produce a "full" sound with varied "colour". This comes from good technique, which I firmly believe, requires a good teacher to work with.

The problem, then, is finding a good teacher. The teacher with whom I studied the longest produced at least 2 students who went on to become concert artists, but she never taught me proper technique. Another teacher has a PhD in music but she was more interested in teaching interpretation. My current teacher (no. 6) only has a BMus, but is quick to spot even the tiniest problems with technique and more importantly, is able to tailor her solutions to match each individual's quirks and abilities. She is also great on intepretation.

So the bottom line is at which level is one willing to settle? My approach is to push myself to the limit of my abilities and that demands pefection in the most minor of details. However, I suspect that most people are quite happy just to be able to play songs at Christmas and parties, in which case, one can get by with just knowing the proper notes and chords.

Bear in mind that if proper technique is not established from the beginning, undoing ingrained habits is a long and painful process. And bad technique will hamper progress eventually.

Luckychwee, whether a teacher is good depends on whether he/she knows the proper technique in the first place and whether the person is an effective teacher. Many years ago, I obtained an ATCL (a kind of diploma, beyond Grade 8 ABRSM) in piano teaching, but I know my technique sucked. I was just very good at the written papers and the viva voce. If I were to teach your child then, you can be sure your child's bad habits would have gone unnoticed by me, since I did not even know how to play properly myself. Perhaps you ought to ask the prospective teacher what standard the Grade 8 is; i.e. distinction, merit or mere pass. At least if the teacher obtained a distinction, that would mean he/she can play well.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 01:07 PM

Roxanne, nice post! I learned rather late in life (at 28, I'm now 54) that I was using the incorrect set of muscles and it took me about three months before I could play with the least amount of effort without having to think about it. I was very depressed in starting all over with the 'basics'.

My teachers in high school and several teachers in college (I was an organ major at that time) never really discussed proper technique with me. Technique is the first thing I discuss with every student.
Posted by: signa

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 04:45 PM

there are ways beside having teachers to acquire proper techniques through reading some great technique books written by some well known pianists or teachers or even some learning videos/dvds. of course, having a good teacher is the best way to learn piano, but it doesn't mean someone cannot play properly due to the fact of not having a teacher. there are many talented and intelligent people around who know how to use available resources to teach themselves, and by doing so and watching closely on their own playing habits comparing with the techniques taught from books or video/dvds to make proper adjustments on their own. there is nothing which cannot be learned for those who are determined in improving themselves on technique. to say those piano learners with no teacher can only learn to hit notes or chords but no proper techniques is no more than insult on their intelligence. there are also people with teachers who never learned proper techniques too. so, the fact is that in any category of piano learners, good or bad learners exist, just as the same to say there are good or bad teachers.

i actually didn't want to say anymore on this issue , but felt that it is dangerous to make such a generalization on piano learning to categorize people into only 2 groups: those who learn from teachers and those who don't with assumption that only the 1st group could play piano properly.
Posted by: jazpianizt

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 06:04 PM

I'm with signa!
Especially with the help of modern technology - sound recordings, videos, computers, broadband internet, etc., and all the great teachers who have committed their teaching to various media, and the great musicians who have recorded their music.
Posted by: jazpianizt

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/02/04 06:16 PM

Posted by: Stevester

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/03/04 09:39 AM

I really like Roxane, jazpianizt, and signa's posts above.

I have been working on my own for almost a year and I really wish I could find a teacher I had confidence in because I am at that point in time I am sure a good teacher could help me. It is just that I am also aware a good teacher is very hard to find. A number of years back I worked as a flight instructor and I saw so many potential pilots washout of training because of poor flight instructors.

At this point in time I am going to keep working on my own but I am keeping my eyes open for a good teacher. Just someone I could meet with occasionally to keep an eye on what I am doing.
Posted by: tnschaffer

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/03/04 08:12 PM

I am not looking to become a concert pianist, nor to raise any! \:\) . I simply want to make some nice music on our piano. To be able to play hymns on Sunday morning, to play a few christmas songs and such... That is about the extent i am looking for \:\) .

I appreciate everyones replies here! I will continue in my quest of teaching myself...with an occasional check in from my Aunt (who may not be a "good teacher" but has been playing EXTREMELY WELL for 22 years \:\) .

thanks for all the food for thought!!
Posted by: TimR

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 09/07/04 04:00 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Luckychwee:
The "short time" you mean is like roughly how long and what can an adult pick up from a child ?

Supposing if the child attend the lessons for a couple of let's say 6 months, do u think the parent can learn same as well if he/she also practise and do all exercises given by the teacher ? [/b]
I think you were asking me.

Please do not consider me an expert. I am a beginner on piano. I have played brass instruments all my life (I'm in my 50's now) and sung in choirs. I read music well, I understand the basics of theory, and I know how to carve practise time out of my daily schedule. I have no idea where you are starting from. I have just started taking piano lessons, because I think a month of lessons may save me six months of trial and error and wrong turns. Or more. If I did not take lessons, I am relatively sure I can still teach myself to play piano - but it will surely be less efficient, and at my age who knows how many years I have left?

Okay, I'll give you an answer, but it is probably wrong. I think you need one month of lessons, and then to follow your child's lessons for five months, and then return for another month of lessons, and at that point you may know enough to make a decision.

By the way, I would be completely honest with the teacher. I would tell him/her you are short of time and/or money, and would like to try putting your child in lessons for six months, and you will take one month and may come back in six months for a followup, and get their input. Maybe they have experience with adults and infrequent lessons.
Posted by: James L. Taylor

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 10/23/04 08:04 PM

I just told another player I started out teaching myself with children books. I have been playing for nearly 4 years. Had an instructor at $18.oo, half hour. Store closed down and back teaching myself. She was a good instructor but kept me on one song for months at a time. Felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. Every day I learn more and more and play better day by day. She had me play "Solace" at a recital cause I played it so well. I ruined the song, as I was scared stiff.
Posted by: cranky woman

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 10/24/04 07:04 AM

Also, this is not for my children, its for me. I will not begin to teach my children until I am a confident piano player. [/b]

In regards to teaching your children - I have been a successful piano teacher for over 18 years (affiliated with a university for 14 yrs). I've also taught workshops on teaching children piano throughout the U.S. I also have 3 children of my own. I thought teaching my children would be an ideal situation since I have the knowledge and ability and have been successful with hundreds of other children. Boy, was that a disaster! :rolleyes:

I found that teaching my own children just did not work. They had a real difficult time separating teaching from criticism. (no matter how positive and careful I was with the words) I can't tell you how many times I heard "how do you know?" or "but I did it right! You don't know anything". I did find, however, that my boys were more receptive than my daughter (maybe a mother/daughter thing?). As soon as I placed them with a good teacher our parent/child relationship improved dramatically. The teacher could say the exact same thing that I did, but it didn't come across as a personal attack. I was able to be a listener and a cheering squad which is the perfect spot for a parent to be in.

Anyway, from a parent/child situation, I would recommend finding another teacher than yourself. I know $$ is an issue, but a previous post suggested offering a trade. I have had successful and unsuccessful experience here as well. I've had cleaning, massage, appliances and landscaping trades. Just be sure to spell out exactly what you will offer and what you will receive in return. This can be a great solution for all parties if handled correctly. Neither party wants to feel as if they are being taken advantage of.

Another thought, I have had transfer students come to me self taught. Yes, you can learn some things on your own. My experience with transfer students has been quite frustrating. Usually they come with such poor training that we have to start over or they have developed such bad habits that it is virtually impossible to correct. (usually poor fingering and bad hand postition) You would be wise to do whatever you can to find a teacher instead of learning on your own.

Good luck!

Cranky Woman \:D
Posted by: ragtimebg

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 10/25/04 03:34 PM

I have taught myself to play the piano, after a couple years of early lesssons. If I could redo my life, I'd take more lessons.....
Posted by: Stevester

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 10/26/04 06:36 PM

JLT's comment above scares me - "months on a song at a time". I would go nuts spending that much time on a piece.

That is one of the reasons I am going it alone for now. If I got a teacher like that I would probably be burning up Duracells in my metronome. Tick, Tick, Tick, Bing.
Posted by: Jerry Luke

Re: How do I teach myself to play? - 10/26/04 07:41 PM

Mine goes Bing, Tick, Tick, Tick... ;\)