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#2138193 - 08/24/13 10:21 AM 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am?
Psychonaut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/13
Posts: 234
Hi, 1st post:

Not sure this is the right forum, as I'm not exactly a "beginner", but am trying, in mid-age, to learn to play the piano the right way in terms of rudiments, fundamentals and proper fingering technique. I have played professionally (very low-end, nothing glamorous) in blues club, hotel lobby and rock & roll bar environments, though this was a long time ago, and have no interest in this anymore. I play by ear only (the ear is quite good— if I can hear a melody and chord progression in my mind & have the technical ability to play it, I can pretty much play it automatically), and though I do know the notes of the staff, cannot competently read music. My major interest now is composition, and have a home-built digital audio workstation set up at home for this purpose, including a fully weighted 88 key digital piano (Yamaha P-120) which IMO is adequate for practice.

My goals are:

1) To become at least a marginal "pianist" as opposed to just a "piano hack". I have no delusions about becoming Horowitz (LOL), but merely aspire to be grounded in his world the way an average high school piano teacher might be.

2) Learn to sight read, or least come close enough to be able to know what I'm looking at and be able to run through the material, understanding any technical challenges posed and deal with them through practice.

3) Develop my left hand, and gain true L/R independence. Currently, my right hand can fly around the scales pretty well in any key (though I'm sure my fingering is bad), but my left hand (even though I'm left-handed) is really stilted beyond simple, formulaic bass accompaniments. Rhythmically, the L is pretty much tethered to what the R does, which is severely limiting.

What I've done so far:

1)I found Bach's 15 Inventions, 772-786, online, and downloaded both the sheet music and the MIDI, with the idea of learning to play these from the sheet music, using the MIDI to hear what it's supposed to sound like, which I can then use to compare to what I see on the page. These look hard, but doable.

2) I purchased Legacy Learning System's Learn and Master the Piano with Will Barrow as a virtual piano teacher, a learning set that includes a booklet and a bunch of instructional DVDs.

3) I found sets of major, minor and melodic minor fingering diagrams, with the idea, of course, of getting fluid with proper fingering in every key with both hands.

Does this sound like a good start? I know a real piano teacher would most likely be best, but I don't really have the $$$. Plus I think it's more a commitment to the discipline of practice than anything else, using appropriate learning material.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated, especially in the realm of left-hand development/independence, and I'll be perusing these forums for insight about potential learning tools. Thanks!
_________________________
Yamaha P120, MO6, Steinberg MR816, Galaxy Vintage D, Komplete 8 & various other VIs, Reaper

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#2138211 - 08/24/13 11:01 AM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: Psychonaut]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1860
Loc: Pennsylvania
Well, considering your unique background ....

If you can afford it, the first thing I would do is contact a piano instructor and see if they can help you set a course.

I think it will be a mistake to just grab things here and there see what happens.

Good Luck
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#2138226 - 08/24/13 11:24 AM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: dmd]
Psychonaut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/13
Posts: 234
Originally Posted By: dmd

If you can afford it, the first thing I would do is contact a piano instructor and see if they can help you set a course.


Thanks for your reply. This is an awesome idea!, and one I hadn't thought of. Though I do not wish to take on the ongoing expense of piano lessons, finding a highly regarded piano teacher and hiring him or her for a short-term consult, where she could then propose a course of action based on her assessment of my strengths/weaknesses is something I will look into.
_________________________
Yamaha P120, MO6, Steinberg MR816, Galaxy Vintage D, Komplete 8 & various other VIs, Reaper

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#2138414 - 08/24/13 05:18 PM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: Psychonaut]
Peter C D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/15/13
Posts: 14
Loc: Powell River B.C Canada
Learning anything, you need outside face-to-face contact with a real instructor. Once a month would be better than nothing.
Also,if you need free scores go to the IMSLP site. They have free out of copyright music scores and books on PDF.

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#2138445 - 08/24/13 06:39 PM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: Psychonaut]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
There are a lot of links to discussions of topics that you brought up here you might interested in seeing/reading: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,9159.0.html

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#2138485 - 08/24/13 08:37 PM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: Psychonaut]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Psychonaut,

You are pretty much an exact carbon copy of me. I played by ear all my life. Was in a band for about 3 to 4 years playing the organ in my very early days after high school. My left hand is much like yours, kept with playing bass octaves including the 5th and just followed what my right hand was doing, as you put it. My RH can go all over the place on the keyboard. It is so far advanced compared to my LH. Never learned to read music but I have a basic music background from grade school and high school to have known basic principals when I got started. No formal training whatsoever. A friend of mine in High School taught me how to play a C major and a C minor triad on the keyboard and I figured out the rest of the chords and positions from there. I began figuring out simple pop music chord progressions from there. My left hand playing was based on how my friend played and so I just kept with that technique ever since. It works great but it is limiting. That was 40 years ago....

For the past two years I've been studying theory I never had and I'm understanding it well. As for notation: I know the staves, the notes, key signatures and I've written music using software but I can't read efficiently enough to just start playing something off the bat. I can still use written music to my advantage though. Time will tell if my reading develops into something better.

Having an ability to play by ear is a gift and it's a real skill. Don't knock it. Many people can't distinguish sound to be able to anything much on the keyboard without the written music in front of them. I love being able to figure out the chords to music. It has become a passionate pastime for me. Theory is more important to me than being able to play by written music however, I do want to be able to understand written music and I've come along way in that regard.

Reading music is not the same as being able to play by written music. It's a completely separate skill set. Knowing theory well is an absolute must for any musician IMHO and if you're weak on theory you should have no trouble brushing up with the experience you already have. Think of those who are blind and became successful singers and musicians. A lot of theory is based on notation, I should say. Anyway, like you, I want to do more with my left hand as well and I've been practicing different things. That's all I can say about that.

Lastly: Playing by ear is something I will never give up. It's too ingrained in me and as I said, it's a gift and a skill and I love doing it. I don't just play by what I can hear. I can't hear everything and I can't play everything but I can make music on the fly. It's a kind of freedom that not everyone is able to enjoy. You may not be able to read now but never think that playing by ear has left you in anyway inadequate as a musician. Quite the contrary. You may be more in touch with music than you realize. That's what I've learned here.

So tell me how you got started on the keyboard...

BTW: Welcome to Piano World!

Russ
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
Casio PX130
Yamaha AP Upright

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#2138625 - 08/25/13 04:11 AM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Psychonaut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/13
Posts: 234
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Psychonaut,

You are pretty much an exact carbon copy of me....

So tell me how you got started on the keyboard...

BTW: Welcome to Piano World!

Russ


Hey Russ,

Wow,interesting and awesome post! You do sound like a carbon copy of me. And don't get me wrong. I don't at all diminish the ability to play by ear, improv on the fly, and have no desire to ever stop doing that. I completely agree with you that this is a gift to be grateful for, not something to be dismissed as in any way inferior to formal classical competence or excellence. I want to, rather, augment what I can already do, applying both conventional technique and formal musical knowledge to make what I can do better. Whenever I hear pianists who obviously have this gift, but also have true limb independence and clear theoretical understanding of what they're doing, I admit to being envious. (I wish I could do that!)...

I think I get what you mean about the importance of music theory, which I know almost nothing about. I just think in terms of chordal progressions and melodic lines. There reaches a point of complexity where I know how to play it, but I don't know what it's called, and then another, further point of complexity where I can get lost entirely. They say Mendelssohn had both a genius ear and a photographic memory, enabling him to play long, complex passages after a single hearing. I have a good ear and a very ordinary memory, so I can't do that. After a few bars I may well forget what I just heard, especially if its scope is beyond the standard, formulaic structures of the various popular music forms. And then, if you were like me, you no doubt know the feeling of "falling into" a musical idea that worked really well, except you don't know or can't remember exactly what you did, so you can't do it again. This is extremely frustrating.

And technically, I would at the very least like to be able to play what I CAN hear and envision, which is where the lack of L/R independence is so crippling. And poor fingering plagues me with "oops" moments where I'm not positioned to play the notes I wish to play next, which leads to either stutter, compromise or slop.

How I got started? Not really an interesting story.... Teeny-bop, sounding out pop songs, then blues, older type jazz. Learned how to mimic (albeit crudely) the grandiose schmaltzy easy listening stuff with the heavy arpeggiated sound (which is not to disparage that)... Not really a modern jazz buff (though there are always exceptions, such as Miles Davis's mid-late '60s experimental period)— my tastes run more toward conventional major and minor key melodic lines and harmonies. Simple, strong pre-Schoenberg Post-romanticism tonal sensibilities are what tend to move me, including later 20th century and 21st century developments in this vein, which involve rock and what I've heard referred to as "post-rock", using digital-age tools...

... In short, I learned how to do a few things, enough to have fun, bong out "Brown Eyed Girl" in dive bars, impress girls and get by in my youth, but never put in the work to take it to the next level. Now I want to learn how to do that. I also want to believe I have enough of a background so that what might otherwise take years can be accelerated into weeks and months, but have no real idea if this is the case.

But again, I don't aspire to become Michael Jordan. I just want to learn the rules of basketball, to learn how to pass, dribble and make a jump shot, if you'll pardon the metaphor.

Thanks for the thoughtful post and the welcome!
_________________________
Yamaha P120, MO6, Steinberg MR816, Galaxy Vintage D, Komplete 8 & various other VIs, Reaper

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#2139047 - 08/26/13 02:34 AM Re: 1st Post. About Beginning from Where I Am? [Re: Psychonaut]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Hey, I've been busy. Haven't had a chance to get back with you again but I will. Just wanted to let you know.

Russ
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
Casio PX130
Yamaha AP Upright

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